Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pit and the Pendulum

Let's start with this: it's not fair.

Then again, fair's got nothin' to do with it.

No matter the level of genius or motivation or scrappy gritty leadership a manager demonstrates, the Pink Slip is coming for him, sooner or later.

And that time is creeping sooner for John Gibbons. Let's face it: Gibby was on borrowed time to begin with, seeing as how even his best moments we're never quite up to snuff. Now, the blade is getting closer, the walls are heating up and closing in, and the eternal pit of unemployment is gaping hungrily below him. His time's almost up.

The fact is that this team, with the way they have played since April of 2007, is a bad team. At best a middle of the pack team with an outside shot at contention, this team has played to the lowest ends of its potential. This is a team that is going to have to scrape and claw to regain its traditional slot in third place in the AL East, never mind contending for a Wild Card berth. And does the responsibility for the assembly of players on the field fall with Gibby? Not especially.

Gibby's managerial decisions have been marginally better in the later part of 2007 and early in 2008, but again, that's not going to help him make the case for continued employment with this club. It's a bottom line business, and the bottom line shows the Jays four games in the red.

We don't want to make any guesses as to the when and how it happens, nor do we want to take excessive glee in his downfall. Know this: If Gibbons gets canned, it's not likely the start of a turnaround for the 2008 Jays. It's more likely to be the start of another three-to-five year cycle of re-evaluation and rebuilding.

Gibby ain't Jimy
What we're going to hear in the days that follow Gibbons' firing are a lot of analogies to the 1989 Blue Jays, who shitcanned Jimy Williams and went on to win the division. That kettle there ain't this kettle here.

Jimy was a hard ass manager who had lost the respect of some of his players. He didn't have the people skills to manage a group of young players (a fact that would be replicated in Boston and Houston), nor could he deal with a team that was transitioning from one era to the next.

And while Cito had initial success that year, the teams that eventually won the World Series three and four years later were significantly different from the one he took over. The 1989 Jays made the best of a down year in the AL East (their 89 wins would have put them in fourth in the West that year), but they weren't a championship team that just needed Cito to unlock their potential.

The incremental changes made in each year throughout that period (including the acquisition of Mookie Wilson in 1989, the elevation of John Olerud and Pat Borders in 1990, and the acquisitions of Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar and Devon White and the emergence of Juan Guzman in 1991) made the Jays a radically different and vastly improved team by the time of their back to back championships. It wasn't Cito, it was the personnel.

If the current Jays think that they can move forward by continuing to champion mediocrity with long-term deals to players who don't even remotely belong amongst the elite at their position, than this is going to be a much longer process indeed.

1 comment:

the ack said...

oh yeah tao? well, how about this......PPPPPLLLLLLAAAAYYYOFFS.