Well, you’ll probably have read about this thirteen times by the time you read my little take here but, as you’ve probably heard, John Gibbons‘s contract option for 2015 has been activated.
In a roundabout way, it’s a show of faith in the 51-year-old manager of the Blue Jays. You see, he had a rather convoluted contract that basically said that if he wasn’t fired before January 1, a contract option was activated, guaranteeing the year following the next one (h/t to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet).
Since Gibby wasn’t hosed before January 1, 2014, he gets 2015 guaranteed and a similar option for 2016 is added. The same mechanism is in effect every year so, as long as Gibbons doesn’t get fired before the New Year, he’ll get that extra year’s severance guaranteed in case he does get fired somewhere along the way. Whoever negotiated that contract is welcome to come and represent me.
Personally, I don’t think this is a big deal. Sure there are Gibby haters out there who can’t stand anything he does and have been calling, repeatedly, for his head ever since he took over and the team underperformed. A manager’s job is to put players in a situation in which they can do their best. To me, Gibbons has done that. He manages the bullpen well and makes (generally) the “right” moves on the field but I really think that the best thing that he does is allow the players to be who they need to be.
Without going to extensively into the evidence for Gibbons’s effectiveness, just the fact that Tony Rasmus (@FlorenceFalcon0) has tweeted on many occasions that Colby Rasmus is as comfortable in Toronto (under Gibbons) as he’s been anywhere as a professional ballplayer is clearly a good thing. Colby himself went on the record and expressed how he thinks that “John Gibbons has got a little bit better idea [than John Farrell] how to handle [the pressure].” Under which manager did Colby Rasmus have the best season of his career? Under John Gibbons, regardless of which measure you use (rWAR or fWAR).
Gibbons lets the players be who they have to be. Sure, some players had awful years last year (no, I’m not going to depress you by listing them) but, again in my humble opinion, I think a lot of that has to do with the players themselves. The manager can’t go out and play but he can try to make the players feel as comfortable and as relaxed as possible. Baseball isn’t like football or hockey; you can’t play baseball well all riled up with the kill switch on.
You have to be relaxed and focused to excel in baseball. Gibby does that as well as anyone, so good on him for his golden parachute. It doesn’t mean that he won’t get fired if the club goes in the tank again this year. It just means that the Jays will have to pay him for another year of service even if he does.