I was going to make a list of people that have been rumored to have a chance at the Jays manager job, but The Southpaw beat me to it and he has a pretty complete list. I think it would be a fun little project to give odds on each candidate, maybe after the weekend. Southpaw has his list in the order of most likely to least likely. Many of the guys listed I would consider 1000 to 1 shots at best. Please not Bobby Valentine. I wonder if Sal Fasano has a better chance than he thinks. I agree that he should get more time to learn the craft in the minors, but then the team seems to really like him.
The Globe and Mail has a profile of Tim Wallach who would have to be in the top 10 of possibilities.
Everyone else is writing about Jose Bautista. Why not join in.
We all know that he is just the 26th player to hit 50. Most of the names on the list come from 3 different eras: Babe Ruth's time (1920's and 30's), Mickey Mantle's time (mid 50's to mid 60's) and then the bulk of the seasons are in the steroid era (mid 90's to mid oughts). The big outlier of the group is George Forster who hit 52 in 1977. He was the first to hit 50 since Willie Mays in 1965 and the last till Cecil Fielder in 1990.
Jose will also become just the 14th player to hit 50 homer and walk 100 times, if he takes four more walks this year. He'll be one of the very few on that list not to have many of those walks be of the intentional variety. Jose has only been intentionally walked twice. I'd imagine mostly because it took opposing teams a while to get the message that he was hitting with such power, because his batting average is relatively low and because Vernon Wells had a hot start to the season. Bautista hasn't had an intentional walk since June 10.
Richard Griffin wrote about Bautista in the Star today and talks about how much credit Cito Gaston deserves. Clearly tones and tones. First of all, what other manager would have played Bautista so much last year when he hit .235/.349/.408?
It is a tough thing for a manager to be patient with a player. You see it all the time, a player has a bad start to the season and folks are calling for him to be taken out of the lineup or rotation. A manager has to pick the players he thinks are the best options and stick with them. They have to be much more patient than us fans. Of course, we can all point to players that Cito has been too patient with, we all have seen Brian Tallet come out of the pen often enough.
Griffin has this quote from Cito:
"If you work hard and have the desire to succeed in anything in life, I've always believed that you can do anything you want," Gaston said. "If you're willing to work hard enough and sacrifice things to do it, it will happen for you. The big thing about Bautista is he's coachable. Anytime you're coachable, you have a chance to get better. Anytime you're not, you don't get better."
That's overstating things some, no matter how much I would like to hit 50 home runs, it ain't going to happen. And I'm as coachable as anyone. In a less stupid example, no matter what you did with Kevin Millar, last year, he wasn't going to become a useful player.
Cito and Dwayne Murphy deserve credit too for finding the method and the words that clicked with Bautista. It can't be easy. If it was easy, everyone would hit 50 homers. I never can figure how much credit batting coaches deserve. We gave Cito a lot of credit for Aaron Hill and Adam Lind last year, does that mean he deserves blame for this year? I'd rather stay away from giving the coaches too much credit or blame but they did something right here.
When I was in Boston, Jon Lester did a good job against Jose and was quoted in the paper saying the secret was to change speeds and locations. It really sounds like the way to get anyone out. Easy to say, tough to do.
The question will be can he continue to hit like this? I don't really see why not. He won't hit 50 every year but I can't see why he can't hit 30+ for the next few years. He swings very hard and the ball comes off his bat like a rocket. Timing when to start the swing will always be the important thing. Like most hitters, he'll have slumps, but he is willing to take walks so the slumps won't be as bad as with players that won't take a walk.
Congratulations on an amazing season Jose. You gave us all something to cheer about.