John Gibbons has led the Blue Jays to back to back ALCS appearances but his job may be on the line if the Blue Jays fail to reach the World Series in 2017.
The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays have one clear goal for the new season: win a World Series. Anything short of their goal would be considered a disappointment, even after reaching the ALCS in back to back years. With an aging roster and a new regime, the Blue Jays may enter a time of rebuild if the current core of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin don’t get the job done, and the phase shift could signal an end to John Gibbons’ time in Toronto.
Gibbons has been with the Blue Jays organization for 11 years. He was first hired by former GM J.P. Ricciardi as a bullpen catcher and was promoted to the managerial job in 2004. This is John Gibbon’s 2nd stint with Toronto as he was again hired by Alex Anthopolous in 2013, five years after he was replaced by Cito Gaston. During his tenure as the manager of the Blue Jays, Gibbons owns a 339-309 overall record and hold’s the team’s single season record for ejections.
It is easy to question the level of respect for John Gibbons in the Blue Jays clubhouse. The incident that strongly suggests a lack of influence is Gibbons’ altercation with Josh Donaldson in a game against the New York Yankees. After a frustrating at bat, Donaldson returned to the dugout and threw his bat near his manager. A short, heated argument between Gibbons and Donaldson ensued and the reigning AL MVP had to be restrained by teammates Tulowitzki and Josh Thole. The two quickly played down the situation in a comical fashion but it is still worrisome when a team’s best player exchanges tense, heated words with his manager.
Managing Player Health
John Gibbons has been praised by both the players and front office for his ability to manage player injury and fatigue throughout a grueling season. A lot of credit must be given to Gibbons for his management of the roster during an important time in the Blue Jays organization. The handling of Aaron Sanchez‘s innings limit, Marco Estrada‘s back injury, and Donaldson’s thumb injury are just a few examples of obstacles that Gibbons handled with admirable professionalism and decision-making. With a group filled with aging stars and volatile rookies, John Gibbons’ ability to manage a roster is an extremely valuable asset to have.
The Lineup and the Bullpen
A key characteristic of Gibbons’ managing style is his lack of change. Whether it’s the order of the lineup, or the use of his bullpen, it can be months before Gibbons’ tries out something new to bring his team out of slump. There are two ways to handle a slump, but Gibbons is very reluctant to consider the latter option.
- Proven players have to get out of a recent funk. They have done their job at a high level year-in year-out, so the best option is to resist change and wait for the player to break out.
- The current strategy is obviously not working. The lineup or bullpen needs a little shakeup. Perhaps getting a new lead-off man or a hot AAA reliever can spark the lineup or bullpen.
Unheralded Leader or Lame Duck?
John Gibbons is the man hired to lead the Blue Jays in 2017. He has his skills and limitations, and his managing style is nothing unique or special. But with a Blue Jays roster filled with dynamic young stars and seasoned vets, perhaps Gibbons is just the right person at the right time.
What do you think, Jays fans: is Gibbons an unheralded leader or is he a lame duck?