OK, so I’ve calmed down a little since hearing the fucking ridiculous news that Cito Gaston will be back managing the next season, and… look. I’ve said here many– many– times that I really do think Cito is awesome… just not as the manager of a Major League Baseball team that isn’t the early-90s Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Gaston while the team was doing well last season, even though it appeared as though he was fairly fucking useless. Then things started to go south a bit. Then a lot. Then it got to the point where last year became the most dispiriting shitshow of a season I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch.
No, it was hardly Cito’s fault that the team became so unwatchable, but he sure as shit did not help. Meaningless games were made unbe-fucking-lievably meaningless by the insistence on running a guy like Kevin Millar out there over and over and over. By fucking around one of the decent bullpen arms in the organization, Jeremy Accardo. By hitting one of the worst hitters in the American League, Vernon Wells (9th worst OPS+ among the 75 qualifiers), either 3rd, 4th or 5th for all but 35 of his 684 plate appearances (and Alex Rios, 5th worst, had more than twice as many PA hitting third than any other spot in the order). By fucking around Travis Snider and Randy Ruiz. By running Jesse Carlson into the ground. By continually refusing to make the most basic, obvious defensive substitutions and pinch hitting decisions. (And don’t even get me started on the bizarre public statements he made– about stretching out Accardo to start, about Barajas not being back, and throwing the bullpen’s beloved Beej under the bus (even if that last one kind of made sense).)
Seriously, the season became an unwatchable mess for any fan who likes, while watching their team, to give some thought to what moves they’d make in order to best put the club in a position to win. You know… people who pay attention. Which is why so many people around here are absolutely gutted to have it spelled out so plainly that Beeston and Anthopolous either don’t have the smarts or the balls to do what’s right for the organization and end this fucking madness– I’m surprised, actually, how few people were calling me an asshole for yesterday’s post.
Speaking of yesterday’s post, in the interest of clarity, let’s review a couple points, just to make sure we’re on the same page about why this is insane…
1) If the team is going to cut payroll, start fresh, and make 2010 a development year, Cito is not the right man for the job. Yes, he helped bring along Adam Lind, and yes, John Olerud and Shawn Green overcame his managerial tendencies to have good careers– and maybe you can argue they were the better for having him– but Cito showed all season, and all during his previous tenure, that his loyalty to veterans way too often trumps any notion of doing what’s best for young players– assuming you believe that the best way to get used to hitting MLB-quality pitching is with experience hitting MLB-quality pitching, and I have no idea why you wouldn’t believe that.
2) If the team is going to raise payroll and try to compete next year, the margin for error is way too thin for a manager who pisses on defensive substitutions, pinch hitters, the importance of on-base at the top of the lineup, has no grasp of what meaningful statistics are (was Cito not justifying playing guys against certain pitchers because they’d had success in 10 at-bat sample sizes, for example?) and mismanages the bullpen the way Cito does. Yes, I’ve said many times that a manager doesn’t really have that much impact on a team’s overall success– it’s mostly on the players– but obviously that’s not quite right. There’s a qualifier missing. A manager doesn’t have that much impact on a team’s overall success, as long as he’s putting his team in the best possible position to succeed. You’d think it would be a given that a manager would do this, but evidently not. So, no, a manager can’t magically make his team that much better, the way that people were constantly upset that John Gibbons didn’t. But I’d argue it’s far easier for a manager to have a negative impact on his team.
3) If the team is going to keep payroll about the same… that would be about the biggest fucking waste I’ve ever heard of in my entire life. To burn two full seasons? For what? It makes absolutely no sense– in which case, I guess Cito probably is the man for the job, because keeping him around makes about exactly as little fucking sense.
4) And what almost sucks as much about this as the fact that we’re going to have to watch another year of Cito’s on-field shit parade is that, like I’ve said many times, it’s another, bigger step towards absolutely destroying the legacy of one of the most beloved baseball men in the country. I honestly don’t want to do that– I just don’t want to watch another season of this bullshit either. And… I guess maybe people really are dumb enough to fail to notice how utterly fucking terrible Cito is for another whole year, but I’m pretty sure that the more they see of him, the more likely it is that they clue in. Why put him, and us, in that position? To pander to nostalgia? Ugh. Plus, this is all really on Beeston’s head– another guy who seems intent on torching his legacy– who looked bad enough already by burning a year before he formally took the job of president. And it makes Anthopoulos look either completely castrated or just plain retarded– I mean, I almost understand Beeston being clouded by loyalty to his buddy Cito, but Anthopoulos not being willing or able to convince him otherwise? Holy fucking fail. The whole thing is just insanely fucking stupid.
Now… again, it’s only for a year, which is the silver lining here. And maybe they have some moves in store that will improve the team so dramatically that my argument about the margin for error being too thin for a manager so willing to piss away opportunity will be completely destroyed. But… even though it does seem odd that Cito would even want to come back if payroll was going down and the team was going to suck, let’s be serious… this is just Beeston giving a handjob to his buddy at the expense of the fans they need the most– the ones who actually pay attention and like baseball enough that they haven’t turned away from this shit franchise yet.
Thank fuck for the World Cup.