Well now, part 2 of this epic seems almost redundant at this point, doesn't it? The players go public with locker room discord, and Ricciardi walks the plank instead. Collateral damage? Smokescreen? Cushion for Cito? Part 1 of "The Plan" (TM)?
It remains to be seen how the rest will play out, but one thing is for certain: the issue will not die. Despite the protestations of Cito and Paul Beeston, this is not simply the griping of a few isolated malcontents. The problems are widespread, as documented here in this excellent and comprehensive piece.
Cito's lost the clubhouse.
The case against Cito:
You can't fire the 40 man roster
I touched on this above, but the front office is fooling themselves - and nobody else - if they believe the complaints are isolated and a "non-story". They aren't, and it is. Sample quotes (see the link above for full text):
"There are issues, obviously. If something obviously of that magnitude comes out, obviously there’s some truth behind what comes up. It’s tough for something like that to be stirred up and completely be fabricated."
Say what you want about Vernon, but his shittacular season should not come into play in this analysis. He's a long-tenured Blue Jay with obvious clubhouse pull. If Wells says there are issues, then rest assured, there are issues.
"think there are some things that need to be addressed, yes..........I think everybody pretty much feels the same, for the most part."
If team good guy Aaron Hill says there's a problem, well.....
"I've got nothing for you guys on that. Any concerns or views I have will be expressed, but to the right people."
Well, you didn't expect Doc to give it up, did you? But that's quite the non-denial.
That's the leadership of the team. Those are the guys who dictate the locker room vibe. You still think there's no problem? There's a problem.
You can't just stay out of the way with this roster
Cito won with superstar lineups. That, my friends, is no small feat. Managing egos and getting the most from each individual is a skill to be praised. Despite his critics, Cito was a master at running the machine.
The Blue Jays of 2009, however, are not the same machine. You can't just roll with "your guys" and let the chips fall where they may. It's not working. It hasn't worked. It's not going to work. The team needs active management and someone adept at finding the right formula. Cito seems either disinterested or incapable of taking up the task.
If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging
Cito's reaction on hearing the news that his players were unhappy?
“I’ve treated everybody with respect, so I’m not sure what their bitch is”
Well now, don't bother trying to make amends or get to the bottom of things, I guess. You're the boss, Cito, but your stubborn streak is killing you. It's killing the team. Were the players right to air the dirty laundry? Probably not. But it's out there, now, and both sides are going to need to come together if a contented medium is going to be reached. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Cito's all that interested in changing.
Jeremy Accardo, BJ Ryan, Travis Snider, Rod Barajas
This one's the shocker for me. We all remembered Cito as the ultimate player's coach - a guy who would go to the wall for the players, and consequently have them run through it for him.
What happened? Giving an obvious bullpen asset the bum's rush out of town, and never embracing him upon his return from exile? Ripping his closer and bullpen leader (justifiably or not) while still a member of the team, and further trashing him publicly months after the fact? Taking not so subtle shots in the media at the "coachability" of the team's young star - a player the Jays desperately need to develop into the middle of the order hitter once envisioned? Speaking of his starting catcher as an afterthought and announcing he likely won't be back before the season is even over?
If you're confused, join the club. That's not the Cito that I remember. And that's not the Cito that I want to remember.
A coaching staff divided
Quite honestly, I'm not sure this is all on Cito's shoulders, but it's his job to pull together a cohesive staff - inherited or not. The divide between "Cito's Guys" and Gibby's holdovers is, quite frankly, embarrassing.
If Cito stays, I'm fairly certain that there's no way that excellent coaches Brad Arnsberg and infield guru Brian Butterfield will return. The front office had better think long and hard on those ramifications.
The blame game is almost irrelevant. The damage is done. Word is out that the players don't like playing for Cito Gaston. If - and I realize the massive nature of that "if" - ownership does decide to open the wallet and enter the free agent dance this offseason......what player in their right mind would join this circus?
For that matter, what young player on the team would sign an extension with the black cloud of uncertainty hovering above? And is that worth risking for a manager who admittedly is only likely to stick around for one more year regardless?
And in the end....
...this is painful. It's painful because all we want, as Blue Jay fans, is to think fondly of Cito and watch him guide the team to success. It's becoming more and more apparent that is a scenario highly unlikely to unfold.
So where do we go from here? Paul Beeston better have an answer, because it seems like more and more fans are choosing to tune out than stick around.