Not that it is a surprise, but everyone is reporting that John Gibbons will be back next year, barring a major shake up in the Blue Jays organization. It is possible that Paul Beeston would step down and, if they replaced him with someone with a strong baseball operations background, that person might replace Alex Anthopoulos and, in turn, might also replace Gibby. But since there is apparently no movement on Beeston leaving, I'd say that's a long shot.
I'm ok with Gibbons staying. I think he's been fine as a manager. I disagree with some moves but I'll never find a manager that I agree with all the time. I'm sure, even if I was manager, I'd find things to complain about.
To me, the number one thing that Gibby and Alex, or whoever the manager/general manager turns out to be, have to figure out this off-season, is how to keep the players healthy. We are stuck with the turf and it does seem to add to our injury problems. We have more hamstring and back troubles than anyone. Next year it is important to figure out how to keep guys healthy.
It's not just the ones going on the DL, it's the nagging things that guys are playing through. Jose Reyes seemed to be playing through hamstring troubles all year and, despite missing 16 games at the start of the season, still played 138 games at shortstop, with 5 games to go. He's gotta get more rest or play DH some. Edwin Encarnacion has been fighting hamstring and back troubles, and yet has played everyday except for his time on the DL. Bautista did DH 13 times, but most of those games came in July when he was already hurting. Maybe next year, we can be a little more proactive and give him days at DH or days off as a regular thing to try to stay ahead of the nagging injuries.
It is a long season and some of these things are going to come up, but it does seem that we get more of them than most teams and it does seem to be a function of playing on that hard surface. But, we are stuck with it, at least for now, so let's find strategies to deal with it, as best we can. Maybe pregame activities can be modified to keep guys off the turf as much as possible.
There is going to be a new turf next year, but I'm guessing it still won't be the optimal surface for playing baseball. Gibby is going to have to figure out ways to get guys days off from the field. And Alex is going to have to find us bench players that allow Gibby to sub them in without getting the feeling that he's punting a game. It is easy to say you are going to rest players, but, when the games start to count, it is tough not to go with your best lineup.
Other things Gibbons could do for me?
- Develop some patience. The team decides that Jeremy Jeffress is going to make the roster out of spring training, then., 5 days later, we decide he's terrible and if have to be rid of him, even though we can't bring up anyone that was optioned out at the end of spring yet. If you are changing your mind about players in less than 10 days, there is something wrong. Or the stupid things like bringing Esmil Rogers up for one game and then sending him back down, exposing him to waivers. You can't be losing guys because you want someone to sit in the bullpen for one game. Of course I'm not sure if this is on Gibby or Alex, but, between the two of them, they have to buy some patience for next season.
- The same goes for players in the lineup. I got tired of Juan Francisco too, but he's a better choice at third base than Munenori Kawasaki or, against RHP, Danny Valencia. Yes I hate watching him strikeout too and his range at third base could be approximated by putting up a scarecrow at the position, but giving up on him entirely was short sighted and impatient. I'd say the same about Colby Rasmus, but there must have been stuff going on behind the scenes there. Still, while we had a shot at a playoff spot? Maybe bench him for a couple of days, see if that shocks him into better behavior, but man....if the choice is him or Pillar against a right-hander or Gose hitting .189 with a OBP of about .246 since his return, with a playoff spot on the line, you gotta go with Rasmus.
- And the bunting, especially early in games....Gibby, your first time with the team, one of the things I liked about you was that you didn't bunt. This year, 33 successful bunts (I don't want to try to count the unsuccessful ones). That was more bunts than the average AL team. I get that some of it is the, how to put it nicely, lack of true major league hitters in the lineup, but there is no excuse for bunting early in the game, unless it is NL rules and you have a pitcher up.
Beyond that....I'm pretty much ok with Gibbons. He seemed to get better at reading when to remove R.A, Dickey from games, a major complaint of mine earlier in the season. I'm ok with how he uses the bullpen. Yes, I get there are people that are going to hate his 'body language' or his accent or that he has bad knees. I find that those complaints disappear with wins.
And his players seem to like him. We haven't had a player mutiny for a long while.
Of course, if it was my job to decide his fate next season, he'd have a very very short leash.