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Blue Jays to bring back John Gibbons as manager

Nov 20, 2012, 1:02 AM EDT

John Gibbons AP

While all indications were that the Blue Jays planned to bring in a retread as John Farrell’s replacement on the bench, who knew it’d again be one of their own? John Gibbons, who managed the team from 2004-08, will reclaim the job, the Toronto Sun reports.

Gibbons had a 305-305 record in three full and two partial seasons in his first stint at the helm of the Jays. It was his only gig as a major league manager. When he was fired after a 35-39 start in 2008, he was replaced by another former Jays manager, Cito Gaston.

The hiring, expected to be officially announced Tuesday, will come one day after the team officially acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson and left-hander Mark Buehrle in a 12-player deal.

Gibbons’ original Toronto stint is best remembered for his confrontations with players Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly. Hillenbrand was traded just a few days after taking on Gibbons, while Lilly and Gibbons made up not long after their blow-up.

Still, the bigger problem with Gibbons was his tendency to stick with underperforming veterans. Part of it was the hand he was dealt, but he always seemed to be most comfortable sticking with his veteran role players.

Maybe that won’t make much of a difference now, since the Jays have assembled a high-payroll team and don’t have a bunch of prospects knocking down the door (they still have some talent, but much of it remains at least a year or two away from the majors). How he handles the bullpen will be a big key for him, particularly if the Jays fail to acquire an experienced closer. They have plenty of talented arms, but it remains to be seen whether Gibbons will favor experience over talent. After all, this is a guy who once let Miguel Batista rack up 31 saves.

  1. canadabaseball - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    :'( no why!
    AA what are u doing

    • dcfan4life - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:31 AM

      He did go 500 in some tough seasons against some really good Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox teams with far weaker talent than he has now. He knows the team, the players, he has a history. Wouldn’t Jays fans rather have this than a first time manager considering your division?

      • indaburg - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:16 AM

        Correction: except for the couple of months he was manager in 2008, he faced the awful Devil Rays from 2004-2007.

        I am a little underwhelmed by this choice, maybe unfairly so. After all the loud splashes of the past week, I expected a showier name, not a retread of the past. He did manage them to winning records a couple of times. From what I understand, he gets along well with the GM. How well does he manage a bullpen? Can he handle some of the strong personalities on that team?

      • historiophiliac - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:25 AM

        But, but, the rabbi. 😦

      • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        The Rabbi was funny as were Valentine, Guillen, Tracy, Riggleman and Acta. He provided a great laugh.

      • indaburg - Nov 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        Ha.. yeah, there goes your most excellent Jays rabbi bobble-head suggestion, ‘philiac.

        Just saw Gibbons’ press conference on MLB. He’s saying all the right stuff, “Get the most of these guys and get out of their way” and so on. We’ll see.

    • cur68 - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

      I would have preferred the rabbi over Gibbons. Still, his “stand and take pitches” strategy was more a product of Riccardi than his own idea. Lets see what he’s got now that he’s got elite sluggers and pitchers. The next step could be a pitcher or some updates on Drabek’s & Hutchison’s rehab.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:32 PM

      AA is doing exactly what he said he will do. He is letting his gut do the hiring.

  2. prosourcetalk - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:20 AM


  3. soxfan1966 - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:31 AM

    Y’know … Bobby V was available and all fired up to move to the Great White North …

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      The Jays refused to trade Farrell for Valentine. I wonder why? Never mind!

  4. canadabaseball - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Rather have seen Ozzie hired. Fu$k this sucks they had Butterfield and Alomar even don was better then this
    AA screwed up

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Relax! Take 10 deep breaths and let it all hang out. This team does not need a star manager. All it needs is a good traffic cop who wants to be here.

  5. badintent - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Another Larry Bowa ! Good God !

  6. jaysfan64 - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Gibbons is actually a pretty good baseball guy…he’s highly thought of by a lot of the local insiders here who also know that he got a raw deal when he got fired.. I’m sure he’s learned a lot since the Lilly and Hillenbrand episodes here…having said that the Jays don’t have any guys like that now..he knows how to manage a pitching staff (he won’t burn up the bullpen!) as well as running a good, tight clubhouse, taking no crap, and tolerating no stupid bonehead plays….guarantee Lawrie will be reined in somewhat..this fits AA’s credo of “guys deserve a second chance”..some fans might not like it but the more I think about it Gibby could just be the “right guy for the organization, for the market” they need in the manager’s chair…

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:34 AM

      You are absolutely correct about Hillenbrand and Lilly.

      A very interesting choice. He has a much better record than Acta, Tracey, and Riggleman. As I have written many times, Olney did not have a clue about who the Jays would hire. Elliott was the only reporter doing decent research on the Jay’s search.

      Remember what AA said “As I have said many times before, if you hear a rumour about us it’s almost always not true.” That is why I and most Jay’s fans did not take Olney seriously.

    • cur68 - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      I agree too, jaysfan. This could be ok. He won’t try and upstage the players and get his mug on TV all the time, he’ll be hungry for the chance to prove himself and this time no JP Riccardi getting in his way.

  7. sfm073 - Nov 20, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    Anyone who has managed or coached at the major league level is a good “baseball guy”, but it doesn’t mean you’re a good manager.

  8. buffalo65 - Nov 20, 2012 at 5:54 AM

    Good hire. No one knows how a manager will turn out anyways. Torre was useless before going to the Yanks. Give it a try.

  9. coolhand5930 - Nov 20, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    What is this article going on about? When Gibby was there first go around, they had no youthful talent to speak of. Who did you want playing more? Russ Adams, John Ford-Griffin, or Fransisco Rosario? Seriously. I’m pretty sure the ex-manager you’re eluding to is Cito Gaston. So perhaps your opinion should only come out when you’ve done your homework.

    And they have Casey Janssen to close games, who filled in quite well for Santos when he went down.

    He managed splits well and players were accountable. Over the top? Maybe, but Hillenbrad was a cancer, and Lilly was in the process of blowing a 10 run lead that game. I wanted to punch him at the time too.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

      You were not the only fan who wanted to punch out Lilly during that game. Hillenbrand certainly was a cancer. He had problems on other teams also.

  10. bigtrav425 - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    wow…just wow….

    • heyblueyoustink - Nov 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      I know! All these Canadians posting on the same article, i’m in shock! Where did they all come from!?!?! 😉

      • mazblast - Nov 21, 2012 at 12:40 AM

        Canadian parents, most likely.

    • jaysjunkie - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      That is exactly what I was going to post. Man, AA is nothing if not unpredictable. I must admit, this news does throw a bit of a damper on the enthusiasm I’ve felt for the last week.

      • jaysjunkie - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:06 AM

        BTW, I was referring to the “wow…just wow…” post, not the other one.

  11. Mark - Nov 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    “How he handles the bullpen will be a big key for him, particularly if the Jays fail to acquire an experienced closer. They have plenty of talented arms, but it remains to be seen whether Gibbons will favor experience over talent. After all, this is a guy who once let Miguel Batista rack up 31 saves.”

    Casey Janssen (2012) – 9.5 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 2.54 ERA
    Casey Janssen 2010-2012 – 8.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 2.87 ERA
    Oh, and they have Sergio Santos who will be healthy coming into the season.

    So why exactly do they need to acquire an experienced closer? Their current closer and potential fall back in Santos is a cheap luxury most teams don’t have. And yet you want them wasting money on relievers? Have you followed the Jays? That’s all AA has been acquiring lately.

    As for Gibbons – he’s a better option than a lot of the names in the media. It’ll be interesting to see how he does.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      Mark has been right on in the comments I have seen from him. To be fair to Matthew, he tries to follow 30 teams plus their farm systems. It is not possible for him to know each team in depth.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        So why exactly do they need to acquire an experienced closer?

        Probably because y’all are looking at the word closer, and not the word experienced. Not saying it’s right, but in the last three years Janssen has 24 saves in 188IP over 173 appearances*. Janssen could probably thrive in the role, but “teh fear!” and “pressure” of the 9th inning leads some to believe you need someone who has been there before.

        *interesting thing to note. Janssen has “finished” 74 of the 173 appearances, but only has 24 saves. Guess he’s done a lot of mop-up duty.

      • Mark - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        They also have Sergio Santos as a “fallback” option. They’ve got a couple of guys with experience. Again, the point is that with how many bullpen options the Jays have, there’s no reason to be paying for an “experienced closer”. Look at how well Fransisco Cordero did last year – he was the “experienced closer” and arguably one of the worst pitchers in the league.

        You and I both agree that the title closer is stupid, but given the bullpen depth for the Jays and the potential options in Santos/Janssen, there still isn’t a need for an “experienced” closer.

        And for the record, no, he hasn’t been doing mop up. He was the set up man in 2011 and 2012 until they realized he was their best option to close.

  12. richwizl - Nov 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Hey, even Steinberger took Billy Martin back a couple times; this might work.

  13. paint771 - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM


    As I said a few days ago, I had a feeling that any manager pick would be underwhelming because, well…it’s a manager pick.

    I hadn’t thought of bringing Gibby back, honestly. One thing that was always said of him is that he ran a tight ship, which, with this club, will be imminently valuable. You don’t run the risk of the unknowns of bringing in some new guy trying to get a handle on a totally new environment, and nor do you run the risk of an internal hire who may be TO used to that environment and not inject anything new. Seems a solid choice to me, although I’m not doing cartwheels or anything because, again, it’s a manager pick.

    Although now I have to go look up what Gibby’s been up to the last six years.

    • paint771 - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      Oh and one thing to remember in Gibby’s favor, Matt: he was the guy at the helm the last time the Jays infused a bunch of high profile acquisitions into the club (in 2006, Burnett, Overbay, Ryan, Glaus, etc.) and went 87-75 that year, finishing second (best finishing since 1993). So he’s done that rodeo before.

      Oh, and to answer my own question above, he was KC’s bench coach for three years (which I now vaguely remember) and last year was the AA manager for the Padres organization (which I did not know).

    • paint771 - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      Oh, and can we start taking over/unders on a John Gibbons / Brett Lawrie fistfight?

      • indaburg - Nov 20, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        You read my mind. It won’t be a dull summer in Toronto.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM

        See, they *need* the rabbi. Sigh.

      • cur68 - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        There won’t be a fight. Lawrie listens to Bautista. When he was away due to injury Lawrie was really lost there. Trying way too hard. Now there’s a strong manager and the veteran slugger whom Lawrie respects. You watch. The kid will be focused and in the game. All the little power struggles and over aggressive moves will be at a minimum. It wasn’t just Lawrie either. Anyone who watched the out field saw Rasmus constantly cutting off balls that should have been corner outfielder flyouts without calling the other fielder off. He did it when it was a rookie there. I saw him nearly run over Gose a handful of times. Each time the rook would say “call that thing, man”. Each time Rasmus would ignore him. No way that crap goes on with Gibbons and Bautista. Gibbons is a pretty calm guy but he is definitely in charge. Still wish it was the Rabbi over Gibbons, though. Sure hope he can speak spanish.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        Hmmm, some combination of Spanish and Yiddish…what would that be? Yanish? Spiddish?

  14. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Nov 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Weak. I couldn’t stand this guy the first time around.

    • proudlycanadian - Nov 20, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Condolences once again!

  15. jaysjunkie - Nov 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I’ve had a couple of hours to digest this news now and after watching the press conference with Gibbons and AA, I’m actually more on board with it. It’s certainly a ballsy move on AA’s part.

  16. bklynbaseball - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Wasn’t this the guy who claimed to be in the Special Forces or something?

    • jason9696 - Nov 20, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      That was Tim Johnson. He said he was in Vietnam but he never was.

  17. cshearing - Nov 20, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    @bklynbaseball: No, you are thinking of Tim Johnson.

  18. K. Harker - Nov 20, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I should give it a chance, but my initial reaction was, “why are we going back to what didn’t work?” After all the trade talk, I was getting excited about our team, and this has put a bit of a hiccup in my giddy up. He knows ball, which is encouraging, but as a manager, he’s been OK at best. I guess I was just hoping AA had an ace up his sleeve, or at least a more exciting get. Crossing my fingers Gibbons’ record is more indicative of the players and owner than his own faults.

  19. mazblast - Nov 21, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    IMO Gibbons did about the best that could be done with the team The Great J.P. assembled. I’d look at the lineups the Jays were fielding and say, “That’s not gonna do it”.

    This time, he has bigger guns, more ammo, and a general manager who seems to have a clue.

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