September 14, 2007
Jays manager confidentTeam brass has faith in Gibbons
By KEN FIDLIN -- Sun Media
John Gibbons will not lose his job for the failure of his Blue Jays to earn a playoff spot for the 13th consecutive year but he's not letting himself totally off the hook, despite a vote of confidence from his bosses.
Blue Jay general manager J.P. Ricciardi said yesterday that, after consulting with team president Paul Godfrey, Gibbons will be back as manager of the Jays next year, despite the fact his team fell short of expectations.
"At some point, it's time to fish or cut bait," said Gibbons before last night's game against the New York Yankees. "And for us, that time is now."
By "now" Gibbons means in 2008 because the 2007 season has deteriorated, for a variety of reasons, into a dismal struggle to finish at .500, rather than make a run at the playoffs.
"There were big expectations coming in and we got hit pretty hard early on with some injuries. But I tip my hat to these guys," he said, waving a hand toward the locker room. "We could have folded, too. These guys have plugged away, but we weren't able to get to where we wanted to be.
"That seems to have been the case around here for the last couple of years. We need to get beyond that now and achieve something. It's time. We have the talent. Regardless of the circumstances, when you're a team that is expected to accomplish something, and you sink a lot of money into the enterprise, results are what you want and results are what you're measured by.
"That's the bottom line in this game."
In the past three years, the Toronto payroll has jumped from about $45 million to $85 million US and while that seems like it should pay off in the win column, be aware that Toronto still ranks right in the middle -- 15th -- among Major League Baseball's 30 teams in player compensation.
Ricciardi has been saying for the past several months that, because this team was so hard-hit by injuries to key players, it deserves a mulligan on those big expectations, at least until next year. Until yesterday, it wasn't entirely certain that Ricciardi included his manager in that blanket reprieve.
"Paul (Godfrey) and I met about a week ago and we went over the team and things that we thought were good and what we thought were not so good," Ricciardi said. "We had a good discussion about what direction we want to go and I think we both felt that Gibby definitely deserves to come back.
"It's hard to judge a manager when he doesn't have his full club. We thought he did a good job for us last year and he has done a good job again this year. It's just that we've been operating under difficult circumstances. All of us would just like to have our full arsenal at one time and then be judged after that. On that level, he's deserving of coming back and having some success with this group."
Gibbons is finishing his third full season as Toronto's manager and with the 2-1 win last night against the N.Y. Yankees, he evened his managerial record at 260-260. He was granted a contract extension through 2008 this past spring. Next spring, he knows the heat will be turned up a notch.
"If you don't get there, sooner or later, reality sets in," Gibbons said. "That's just the way it is.
"I try to run it the right way. I try to make the best baseball decisions that I can. I try to get the most out of these guys that I can and I can live with the results. If you start worrying about your job, I don't believe you can think clearly. You've got to look at it as a whole season, not just one game or one week at a time.
"When you're the leader of a team and things are expected, everything falls on you and I don't mind that.
"That's one of the beauties of the job because if it turns out the way it's supposed to and the team is successful, you get rewarded."
And if not, you become bait.