By: Adam Pasternak
The MLB season is only a few weeks old, yet many are already skeptical about this year’s Blue Jays team. They currently own a 11-13 record, which is good enough for third in the AL East right now. A few years ago, people would have been pretty happy with that. Well, ever since the Jays acquisition of David Price at last year’s deadline, the expectations haven’t stopped growing. To put it in simpler terms – it’s World Series or bust – and an 11-13 record to start the year just doesn’t cut it. So what’s the problem with the Jays?
I hate to say it, but I think the biggest issue for Toronto is the decision making by manager John Gibbons. He’s a great person and his players love him, but that’s just about all he is – a good person (not a good manager). His old-school ways just haven’t panned out thus far, as recently seen in their last series against the White Sox. Marco Estrada was pitching a gem of a game, having shut-out the AL’s top offence for six innings. Even though he had already hit 100+ pitches, Gibby thought he would let Estrada try and squeeze out another inning. While I don’t necessarily have a problem with sending your hot starting pitcher back out there when you’re bullpen has been struggling, Gibby should have had a way shorter leash on his starter in that seventh inning. We all know what happened. Estrada let two White Sox batters reach base and eventually get into scoring position (with two outs, if I might add), loaded the bases, and then Todd Frazier broke the game open with a bases clearing double. Estrada should have been taken out right after that first batter reached base. Plus, his pitch count was at 114 – a regular season career high for Estrada. To put this situation in perspective, last night Miami Marlins starter Adam Conley took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. After recording the first two outs of the inning, manager Don Mattingly took him out of the game. Conley was at 114 pitches (sound familiar?) and Mattingly didn’t even flinch to take him out of the game. While some people thought, “well, the guy is throwing a no-hitter, why take him out?” Mattingly was more concerned about his team, both caring about his young pitcher’s arm and about his team winning the game. Personal accomplishments come second to team accomplishments, and that’s the problem with Gibby – he’s too nice of a guy. He wants his players to accomplish great things, and sometimes gets blinded by that and it ends up hurting the team.
Now, obviously there are many other issues with the Jays other than Gibbons – you can’t always blame the manager – but I think firing Gibbons would be a necessary wakeup call for the Jays. The Jays players have been playing pretty lethargic of late, not showing enough energy or passion, and maybe a managerial change is what they need. No player wants to see their manager get fired, as it is a reflection of their play on the field. The manager only has so much control of a game, he doesn’t get to take the field and make those split second decisions. But he is in control of who gets to play, and when they get to play – and thus far, those decisions have been awful. Remember the first series of the year in Tampa when he called on the now DFA’d Arnold Leon in a tight eighth inning, instead of the highly touted Drew Storen? Leon then proceeded to screw everything up, and the Jays lost the game. That’s just one of the many poor decisions Gibbons has made this year.
The Blue Jays have a lot of work to do, and luckily for them – the season is still very young. There is lots of time for the “Boys in Blue” to turn things around, Gibbons included. GM Ross Atkins should also be keeping an eye out for available relievers, as the Jays bullpen has been absolute garbage this year (minus Drew Storen and Roberto Osuna). Brett Cecil is not the same pitcher he once was, and he should not be pitching as much as he has to start the year. Hopefully when Franklin Morales comes off the DL, he will get some much needed rest. R.A Dickey also has to go – just throwing that out there. He’s 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA – that just doesn’t cut it, especially for $12M a year. Plus, every time he pitches it means the useless Josh Thole has to take Russell Martin’s spot in the lineup.
If the Blue Jays had to pick a silver lining to this disturbing start to the season, it would be their superb defence. The Jays are 11th in errors, giving up only 11 of those, and are 7th in team fielding percentage. It was numbers like these that, along with the historically great offence, propelled the Jays to their success last season.
So to conclude, don’t panic just yet Jays fans. While there is a lot going wrong for the Jays right now, there is still tons of time left to turn things around. I really hope Gibbons can prove me wrong and start making some better decisions and as long as he stops being so stubborn, I think he can. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, and to see who is here and who isn’t come seasons end.
Do you think the Jays can turn things around? Should Gibbons be fired? Comment your thoughts below!
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