Facing the possible departure of two key players in the batting lineup, the Blue Jays will have at least some certainty as John Gibbons will return as manager for the 2017 season.
While the Blue Jays made their second ALCS in as many seasons, the job security of Gibbons doesn’t seem like it should be in question. Gibbons’ return for the 2017 season should seem largely non-revelatory.
However, with so much turnover in the front office over the past season, it was never clear if Gibbons fit in the plans of new team president Mark Shapiro and new general manager Ross Atkins. Shapiro gave a significant vote of confidence following the team’s game five exit from the ALCS though:
“There's no panic. He believes in the talent, he believes in his players, he believes in the process and he believes in all the work that's been done to date. That gives us confidence, that gives the players confidence and the belief to hold true to the bigger picture. That's a separator."
Atkins shared similar sentiments, saying that the Blue Jays’ desire is “for [Gibbons] to continue to lead this organization on the field, and his desire is the same.”
While the results of the organization certainly feel like a vote in Gibbons’ favor, there’s not much doubt that Terry Francona out-managed Gibbons; particularly in game three, when Trevor Bauer’s start turned into a bullpen affair involving the use of seven pitchers—none recording more than five outs.
While Gibbons doesn’t seem to be the best tactician in the league, his bullpen management is also likely above average. Furthermore, being out-managed by Francona over one series is one thing, but having your lineup unable to produce runs is the actual culprit for the team’s loss. Lineup and bullpen management can only go so far, getting shutout twice and scoring a total of eight runs over five games falls squarely on the players.
Gibbons’ current contract was restructured when Shapiro and Atkins took over. Instead of automatically renewing, it now expires at the conclusion of the 2017 season. It will be interesting to follow whether or not Shapiro and Atkins look elsewhere for a 2018 replacement, but on-field production could help Gibbons’ case once again.