Archive for the ‘Gibbers’ Category

gibberspantsFIX

John Gibbons will be the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, “unless something crazy and unforeseen happens,” reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports this evening. And while those of you who oddly, desperately want him gone might be inclined to cling to the slight hint of a door left open that he’s not entirely in the clear — though… actually you all just seem to enjoy venting like children without worrying if there’s the slightest logic behind what you’re saying, as long as there’s a finger to dumbly point, so you probably secretly want him to stay — the big takeaway from Heyman’s latest is that ol’ Gibbers is pretty damn safe. As he should be.

“Team higher-ups are said to be planning for next season without even a thought they might consider changing manager,” Heyman says. “ Team higher-ups are said to like Gibbons and are especially pleased with his in-game managing, which they view as excellent.”

I tend to agree. Yes, September has, at times, been a bit unsettling, but it’s likely at least some of the weird moves we’ve seen have come at the behest of Gibbons’ boss. I think it’s just as likely that some of the moves haven’t been quite as bad as they’ve sometimes felt. In fact, I wrote about that just today in the comments section of a post here, expounding on the somewhat curious decision to bench Colby Rasmus when the club was still in clearly in the hunt for a playoff spot. “Given the season he’s had, and what Gose had done in the big leagues, and Pillar in the minors, until that point, there’s at least an argument for having played those two over Colby, even when the season was on the line,” I wrote. “I’m not sure it’s an argument I buy, but it’s not a slam dunk one way or the other — especially when you consider that all of Rasmus’s offensive value is all tied up in his once-in-a-while power (40 extra base hits in 376 PA), while Gose was actually doing a much better job at avoiding outs, which as the ninth guy in a top-heavy lineup isn’t maybe as bad as the wRC+ makes it look.”

Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter what I think or anybody but those “team higher-ups” think. Which… um… actually would be slightly more comforting if not for some of the additional stuff in Heyman’s piece.

Team management believes the culprits for a so-so last few months that basically ended Toronto’s playoff hopes to be the bullpen woes and a spate if injuries to middle-of-the order bats Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, and more recently, Melky Cabrera.

Now, those are obviously the easiest excuses to make. They’re the ones that won’t cause a ripple like the more honest, “We insanely went with a second baseman who couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag, had no depth to cover for the inevitable happening, and then when the third baseman went down we were even further up shit creek except for those few weeks when Juan Francisco wasn’t hot garbage — oh, and our bullpen completely went to shit, and our five-win centrefielder turned back into replacement level dreck.” And, of course, as Heyman notes, “Toronto people don’t talk about the team’s finances,” so they certainly couldn’t have said that much of the reason for their inability to add better players to their roster was money related, or what others did, which is that the club “had no extra money to add players at the deadline.”

So… maybe we shouldn’t worry about the nature of the club’s anonymous excuses to a national U.S. reporter?

Yeah, let’s not worry about it! Gibbers is back! Most likely!

Is Gibbons’ Job In Jeopardy?

gibbersgun

“Anthopoulos not tipping hand on Gibbons’ status” reads the headline from a piece published Tuesday evening at BlueJays.com by Gregor Chisholm, and… wait, what? Gibbers is in trouble???

John Gibbons, as you may be aware, has a contract that automatically adds an extra year to his deal every January 1st. That, according to the GM, is apparently all you need to know about whether he’ll be back.

“He’s under contract,” Anthopoulos said when asked if he was going to take care of the situation. “He’s always under contract, pretty much. I don’t think there’s anything to take care of and I think he has done a good job.”

Oh. Well that doesn’t sound so bad. Much ado about nothing, right?

Er… hold on a second. There’s more.

“He’s under contract,” Anthopoulos reiterated. “I’ve said this before, I’m a big believer that no matter what position — grounds crew, administrative assistant, manager, coach — you support them until you don’t support them.

“Until they’re no longer in this position, you support them. That position is going to be that way — whether you’re 100 games over .500 or we’re struggling. We always support our staff.”

So Anthopoulos supports Gibbons?

“Every employee,” Anthopoulos said. “I wouldn’t make anything more of this.”

Yeah… so that’s definitely a bit odd. What’s more, as Gregor pointed out on Twitter, the comments are considerably different than what Anthopoulos said in response to similar questions last year.

From BlueJays.com on Agosto 27, 2013:

“There’s never been any thought in that respect at all,” Anthopoulos said when asked if Gibbons will be returning.

“John is our manager, and we expect him to be. But I understand what the response is. When you’re not playing well as a team, these are the things that happen. You talk about the GM, the manager, you talk about the players … people want a reason, and changes usually come when players aren’t playing well and teams aren’t performing. I think that comes with the territory.”

. . .

“I actually think [regarding] the in-game managing, he has done a great job,” Anthopoulos said of Gibbons. “I think it’s so easy to pin results on one person. I think it’s convenient. I could say that for myself. I could say that for certain players, for the manager. I just don’t think blame falls on one person.

“When we’re playing the way we have, I just don’t think it falls on one person; it’s collectively. There’s blame to share — that’s probably the best way to put it. I just don’t believe it’s one thing, and that’s the issue.”

I like what 2013 Anthopoulos had to say a whole lot better. He maybe wasn’t entirely full-throated in his vote of confidence, but it’s a long way from “you support them until you don’t support them.” In fact, what he said on Tuesday was uncomfortably reminiscent of the comments he made as John Farrell’s tenure was winding down, telling reporters that a manager’s contract simply sets his rate of compensation, the implication being that it was irrelevant whether or not Farrell was going into a “lame duck” year — so irrelevant, apparently, that they needed to structure Gibbons’ contract so as to entirely avoid the issue. *COUGH*

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gibbersconsternation

Via Sportsnet (and their YouTube channel, which is apparently a thing that exists) we now have video of John Gibbons’ outstanding answer following today’s game, a 7-4 walk-off win in which he was ejected following a horseshit use of replay… and a whole bunch of less-than-impressive umpiring that was on display.

Not less-than-impressive? John Gibbons.*

Did I mention #GibbyTheBest?

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gibbersgun

This item is probably better suited in a link dump, and I’m really just parroting the excellent work of Ben Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi here, but what the hell, here it is:

In a piece at Sportsnet, the aforementioned Benny Fresh lets us know that the option on John Gibbons’ contract for 2015 has been picked up by the Jays, and a new option for 2016 has been added to his contract by the club. Oh, but don’t be fooled. This wasn’t the produce of some tense sit-down negotiation between Alex Anthopoulos and his manager’s agent (presumably just ol’ Gibbers himself in a fake moustache and sunglasses with a sandy briefcase full of cocktail napkins that he uses to draw contracts up with — “Why yes, I’m his agent. Lon’s my name… uh… Lon Chibbons!”). No, it happened automatically, because of a stipulation in his original contract, and because Gibbons had made it all the way to January 1st without getting fired.

Hooray?

Nicholson-Smith explains that Shi Davidi explained a year ago how it all works:

The way it works is that as long as the Blue Jays don’t fire him prior to the following Jan. 1, the option becomes guaranteed with another option added to the back end. For example, if Gibbons makes it to 2014, his 2015 option vests with another option added for 2016.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the big-leagues, although that’s unconfirmed, the structure essentially means Gibbons will be operating on a perpetual two-year contract, eliminating any in-season intrigue on how his contractual status affects his standing.

Nifty. Except, perhaps, for that fact that Gibbons is now guaranteed to get paid for the 2015 season, whether he’s here, or whether he’s ejected through the windshield of another flaming wreckage of an April this year. But I’m sure he’s not making so much that it really matters anyway, and at least we won’t have to read a bunch of insufferable stories about how he’s a lame duck.

It probably also means I’m going to have to read a whole bunch of half-brained comments on this post about what a waste of a manager a bunch of dolts think Gibbons supposedly is, but that’s not really so bad. And it wouldn’t be the first time.

Otherwise… it doesn’t really change anything. Good for ol’ Gibbers, though. Smart man that Chibbons.

gibbonspants

It’s not just Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of his key front office lieutenants who are down in Orlando this week– where, according to a Jeff Passan tweet, all kinds of trade talk is going on, despite the fact that not much has become concrete just yet– as the Jays’ field manager is down there as well! Ol’ Gibbers met with the media this afternoon, and Gregor Chisholm was kind enough to try to scratch down some of his patented Gibberish (some of which needs a helping hand to resemble proper English), providing a transcription of the session at his North of the Border blog.

In the previous post I noted the comments that Gibbons made regarding the possible moving of money from the rotation to the bench, depending on what the Jays are able to do on the pitching side. Here are some other highlights…

On J.P. Arencibia…

The writing was on the wall for J.P.  I mean, [there] was kind of the sentiment [that] you guys [were] ready to get rid of him too.  Not that we were, but you guys were pushing that way.  That was a joke … But you know what, personally I’m going to miss the guy.  You know what, I think wherever he ends up, I think he signed with Texas.  I think that’s official now.  I think he’s going to do a good job there.  I really do.  What can you say about him?  He wanted to be in that lineup.  He got beaten up pretty good.  But I think he’s still got a bright future.  Just came to the point in time there at Toronto where it was probably best to go the other way.

This topic has been exhausted, and… I don’t know. If Gibbons wants to feed the us-vs.-them thing with the media, or if he just wants to make it clear he’s got his player’s– or former player’s– back, sure, that’s fine. And even if I thought that was bullshit (and I might!), I can’t really fault him for any of what he says here. He’s not wrong that it’s for the best that Arencibia left, and he’s not exactly wrong that the media howled for his departure, either. Much of that was warranted because of his play, of course, and some of it was warranted by some of his attitude and actions. But as I’ve written before, it’s not like Maicer Izturis or Melky Cabrera or Josh Johnson took the same level of shit as J.P. did, despite that fact that they all were probably, somehow, astonishingly, worse. Just kinda hard to separate it all from how he handled it, at this point.

Anyway, something that I think I can fault Gibbons on is his absolute fawning over Ryan “.214/.243/.310 line against triple-A left-handers” Goins as a possible starter at second base for the club. Ugh.

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gibbers

Don Mattingly was nearly fired in the middle of this season. John Farrell showed precisely zero magic while leading his un-bearded charges in Toronto for two years. Jim Leyland and Mike Matheny are two of the most absurdly old-school managers, tactically, in the game. Yet these are the managers who… er… managed to get their teams into baseball’s final four this season. It sort of flies in the face of all kinds of things, doesn’t it? Turns out magic is bullshit. Pulling teams to victory by strength of will is bullshit. Winning before the gift of Yasiel Puig is bullshit. Tactical perfection is bullshit.

It’s all kind of bullshit, isn’t it? And yet, through the sheer force of lazy metaphor, baseball managers are “generals” who “take” a team to the playoffs, or “take” the previous year’s version of a team to some kind of new strata of achievement.

Dumb, huh?

Of course, it’s not entirely bullshit. Those of us interested in data and the scientific method and tangible understanding and the quantification of as many aspects of the game as possible– i.e. those of us who’d rather think like those in the game’s front offices, as opposed to those willing to accept laughable spoon-fed legacy narratives– often get accused of not believing in things that can’t be quantified, but that’s hardly the case. Yes, the endgame of many advanced statistical pursuits is assigning appropriate value to something, and that does tend to marginalize some of the more abstract, or superstitious, notions about how the game works, but that doesn’t mean anybody thinks we’ve boiled down a manager’s potential impact to its bare essence. On the other hand, though– on the side of those who need to open their bloody minds to their thorough, hilarious lack of understanding of how it can all possibly work– when assessing a manager’s impact, in addition to questioning that which we know we don’t know, we all probably need to think a little bit more about what we think we do know.

Sorry to get all Dick Cheney Donald Rumsfeld on you there. What I mean is, not only is it important to ask questions about the absurdities–  like about Farrell’s sudden gain of managerial magic, or how it’s possible that tactically inept managers can manage to “lead” their teams so deeply into the postseason– but some of things that we take too easily for granted.

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gibbyclash

In each of their two current pieces on the subject, the Toronto Star has a poll up about what the fate of John Gibbons should be. The one in Cathal Kelly’s evenhanded piece, in which he states emphatically that “in every instance, the specific fault for each incremental failure that led to this long slog into mediocrity lies with the roster,” is buried at the bottom. The one in Damien Cox’s puddle of goo is practically front and centre– at the end of his sharted out rant, but in the middle of a bigger pile of ramblings on a number of topics.

Not that I’m suggesting placement has all that much to do with it, but at the time of this writing, Star readers are about 82% in favour of Gibby being shitcanned.

This is, of course, incredibly dumb, and rests on foundation of assumptions that crumble easily with a nanosecond of thought, but which are so ingrained that people will defend them like you’re questioning the existence of God– which, given what they seem to think about a manager’s magical powers, you essentially are.

“Nobody could fairly blame Gibbons for all that has gone wrong,” Cox fully admits.

“At the same time,” he continues, “he’s hardly come in and re-set the table or established a new winning culture.”

Well, then, I guess he’s dogshit, because he hasn’t met some magical expectation that I’ve created for him in hindsight in order to mask the fact that I can’t be bothered to challenge the hopelessly dumb idea that all the injuries and underperformances that sank this year’s club somehow lead back to the manager’s office, and whatever establishment of a winning culture he totally cocked up by not sufficiently filling Josh Johnson or Brandon Morrow or R.A. Dickey with the kind of winning mentality that only winning winners win with (and would have prevented them all from getting hurt to varying degrees, apparently).

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