Hall of Fame inductee Bob Elliot was the first to break the story about John Gibbons (re) hiring as the Blue Jays field boss for 2013, Monday night. Gibbons, who last managed in the Bigs back in 2008, compiled a 305-305 win loss record in parts of 5 seasons at the helm of the Toronto Blue Jays and becomes the 2nd Manager to be rehired by the club following his replacement by Cito Gaston.
Initially, I wasn’t thrilled by the re-signing having still viewed the former Blue Jay in a bad light following a couple of run ins with some former players during his last stint with the club. Of course, when these incidents happened (2006) I was 19 and barely tuned in to the finer side of the game. Long before I started writing a blog or digging deeper in to articles posted online, my views of Gibbons became tainted and I’ll admit that following his departure from the club in 2008, I never really gave him much thought.
6 years has passed and I have found myself maturing in to a better kind of Blue Jays fan. When I started combing through the media content on his return to the club prior to Tuesday’s presser at the Dome, I began to see a number of positives surrounding Gibbons and his future with this team. Positives that 6 years earlier, I probably would have just swept under the rug as I continued to bash him on his ability to handle such characters as Ted Lilly and Shea Hillenbrand.
* Just to clear things up, Lilly was in the midst of a terrible game when Gibbons came out to the mound to relieve his left handed starter. Few people know what words were actually exchanged between the pair in the dug out tunnel but we have all been at that point of frustration with ourselves or others around us. It happens in the Bigs too, folks. As for Hillenbrand, the 30 year old infielder was a known cancer in the clubhouse and had openly challenged both the team & Gibbons on several occasions before things came to a head. Following what happened this past season (Vizquel’s comments), don’t we want a manager that not only can stand up for himself and his decisions on the field but one who is not afraid to put a player in his place when things go south?
First off, I heard both John McDonald and Frank Catalanotto come on the radio and have nothing but positive things to say about their former skipper. The impression that I got from them was such that Gibbons was a real communicator and was able to level with guys in the club house while gaining their respect. Personally, I hold what both of these former Jays say in high regard knowing that the pair of them are straight shooters who’s dedication on and off the field have been strong points thought their respective careers.
Gibbons has been in this situation before and for the most part he excelled in it. The Blue Jays brass saw an opportunity to make a charge at the AL East in 2006 and like in 2012, they opened up the pocket books and landed some serious Free Agents during the off season. Lyle Overbay, Bengie Molina, B.J Ryan, Troy Glaus and A.J Burnett all signed on to join a Toronto team that featured such stars as Vernon Wells and Alex Rios and the result was an 87-75 win loss record. Under their Manager John Gibbons, the Blue Jays finished 2nd in the AL East, Their highest finish since divisional play began however they could not overtake the Yankees as they finished an even 10 games back of the Bombers.
There has been a lot of talk about Gibbons not being picked up in a managerial position following his tenure with Toronto. Well guess what, Cito Gaston was also never picked up after he too got the axe despite the fact that while being at the helm, the Blue Jays appeared in 4 American League Championship Series and won 2 Fall Classics. You can take that for what it is… The sad truth is that only Bobby Cox and John Farrell have landed Managerial jobs with other clubs following their runs with the Blue Jays.
At the end of the day, Gibbons is an Anthopoulos pick. In Gibbons, AA receives a manager he can trust and work with as the pair try and better this team. Whether or not Anthopoulos had this type of relationship with Farrell is between the 2 of them however following the news conference Monday afternoon, it sounds as if the Blue Jays GM is comfortable with this decision. Alex Anthopoulos has done a lot to earn our trust as Blue Jays fans and personally, I see this signing as no exception.