Blue Jays: Gibbons safe in a trendy MLB world

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 5: Manager John Gibbons
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 5: Manager John Gibbons /

Even though the recent fad with MLB managerial hires has been to go with younger skippers, age has nothing to do with it in Toronto, or for John Gibbons.

There was a time in the MLB that whenever an organization fired their manager, they would seek out the most experienced options on the market. You wanted to find someone who had been there and done that, and could teach their ways to a fresh group hoping for the same result.

These days many teams are hiring first time managers, younger than ever and occasionally without any coaching experience at all. The latest example is Gape Kapler being hired by the Philadelphia Phillies. At just 42 years old, Kapler was serving as the head of player development with the Dodgers before his new gig was announced yesterday, and played his last game in just 2010.

At the same time, many of the experienced skippers have already been dismissed, including Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, and John Farrell, all who guided their teams to the playoffs in 2017. Expectations are pretty ramped up when you’re in those markets, but one could argue that it could or should be the same in Toronto, especially after the previous two seasons.

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After the disaster that was the 2017 campaign for the Blue Jays, many fans have been asking why John Gibbons‘ job is safe, especially when the above mentioned names have lost their jobs. As plenty of rivals seek out a “new age” thinker the dugout, Gibbons appears to be the polar opposite with his laid back, “let ’em play” attitude. Don’t let his southern charm fool you though.

I don’t know a lot for sure about the Blue Jays, but I know that Mark Shapiro developed a reputation as a forward thinker, and an leading mind in analytics while in the Cleveland Indians organization. When he was handed the reigns in Toronto’s front office, he inherited John Gibbons as the last manager that Alex Anthopoulos had hired, and many thought he would dismiss him at the first opportunity. When the Blue Jays made the playoffs and the ALCS in 2016, it didn’t seem fair to let him go at that point. However, if Shapiro wanted him out as manager, he has every justification he wants after a 76-86 season in 2017. And yet, Gibbons will return with a strong endorsement from Shapiro, and GM Ross Atkins.

If Gibbons was the old school type who wouldn’t listen to the scouting reports or advice of the front office, he wouldn’t have a job. It has nothing to do with the length of his contract, or what he’s done lately in Toronto. It’s clear that he’s got a solid working relationship with Shapiro and Atkins, otherwise they would move on to “their guy”, and find someone who shared their vision for how the team should be lead by the coaching staff.

Baseball has gone through fads as the latest generation of managers have been hired. Recently it was a must to have a former catcher, and lately we’ve seen teams go with younger, more analytically driven bench bosses. Meanwhile the Blue Jays are sticking with John Gibbons, and you can bet there is more to the equation than what we see on our television screens.

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