Well, that was a fun press conference, if nothing else John Gibbons should bring a little more personality to the dealings with the press. Farrell was kind of bland. Gibbons will be entertaining.
Gibbons was certainly a signing that came out of no where. He's not the flashy choice that a lot of us were expecting, he's not exactly a high profile signing. People expecting a high profile name like Joe Torre or Bobby Cox got a surprise. I got a surprise too, he wasn't on my radar. I think he is a good choice, it looks like he and Alex get along and that might be as important as anything.
What can we expect from Gibbons?
He doesn't bunt much. In 2006 we bunted less than any other team in baseball and each of his seasons with us he didn't bunt much. We were always in the lower half of the league in sacrifice bunts when he was manager, though his last season with the team (or half season, he was fired mid-season) we were closer to the top of the league in bunts but then we had David Eckstein and Joe Inglett, but usually he didn't bunt much. Course John Farrell and Cito Gaston didn't bunt a lot either.
He doesn't order a lot of intentional walks either. In 2005 we gave out the fewest intentional walks of any AL team and each of his seasons we were near the bottom of the league. I really like that, intentional walks generally are a bad move.
My memory of Gibbons is that he liked the hit and run. I know there is a quote out there somewhere of him saying that the hit and run was a good way to get a hitter out of a slump. He might be right, take all the decision making out of the batter's hand.
Beyond that, Gibbons was willing to platoon and was pretty good with putting together batting orders. He'd try things, move guys around some. And, again my memory, he liked guys with good on base percentage, getting guys on was important to him.
He seemed to be good with the bullpen, it's taxing my memory, but I don't remember having too many complaints with how he used the pen. A former catcher, he seemed to have a good sense of when pitchers were tiring. That would be a pleasant change from the last couple of years.
A lot has been made of the handful of troubles he had with players like Ted Lilly, Frank Thomas and, the most mentioned by people talking about Gibbons, Shea Hillenbrand. Maybe because I remember guys like Earl Weaver, Lou Pinella, Billy Martin and other 'old time' managers, that really doesn't bother me. Gibbons ran a tight ship, He insisted the players remember who was running things. Maybe it's the last couple of seasons with Farrell, or Cito before that, but I'm happy with a manager like that. I'd like to think guys won't be trying to steal third with 2 outs. I can't imagine Brett Lawrie trying to steal home with Jose Bautista at the plate, if Gibbons was the manager. Mistakes will be addressed.
Most players, it seems, liked and respected Gibbons.
Not that I didn't have problems with him. He didn't have a heck of a lot of patience with young players. His last season with the Jays, Frank Thomas self destructs and we get rid of him (without much of value to replace him). About the best choice was a young Adam Lind. Adam had 19 bad at bats and he was sent back to the minors. After that we were treated to the two headed Mencherson monster. There is a question of how much of that mess was Gibbons and how much of that was J.P. Ricciardi. Obviously a stronger, smarter, GM would have said 'stick with him for a while', JP wasn't that GM. The best thing Cito did, after Gibby was fired and Cito took the job, was to insist that Lind get called up.
In Gibbon's defense, he knew he was near the end of this time with the Jays by this point, maybe he didn't have the luxury of being able to be patient about anything. But he did seem to have a clear preference to working with veterans over rookies.
I'm sure there were any number of potential managers that would have been a good choice, I was pulling for Brian Butterfield, and I'm sure he would have been fine. But Alex had to pick someone he was comfortable dealing with, someone he knew he can argue with and then, after the argument is over, be able to continue working with. Alex knows Gibbons, he knows they can get along. So I'm good with the choice. Mostly I'm happy he didn't pick Jim Tracy.
Cathal Kelly has a nice story about John Gibbons here.