June 21, 2008

The More Things Change...

I guess it doesn't matter who's managing the Toronto Blue Jays. They simply cannot score runs. The second Cito Gaston era began last night, and the result was one that Gaston's predecessor John Gibbons was all too familiar with: a 1-0 extra innings loss.

God damn this set of Blue Jays hitters. They are ridiculously inept. Not only could they not win one for their new manager, they couldn't even plate a run in 12 innings. Against Zach Duke and the fucking Pittsburgh Pirates! Not one.

I'm sure John Gibbons felt Cito's pain last night, for it was the same old story: great pitching, zero execution, runners left on base, and another loss. The losses are adding up. That's why Gibby, and half his staff, weren't in the dugout yesterday, replaced by the old guard. Last night's loss was the Jays' sixth in a row, and pushed their June record to 4-and-13. Shit's ugly right now. We're last in the AL East, 10.5 games behind the Red Sox, and 9.5 games out of the wild card (I need a hug).

To make matters worse, Roy Halladay, who was dominant again last night, took a line drive off the side of his head in the 7th inning. Facing a two-out, based loaded jam, Doc took a screamer off his temple, and the ball then ricocheted right into the glove of Scott Rolen to end the inning. It was a frightening play, although Halladay was able to walk off the field under his own power. The Jays are saying he's day-to-day, so look for Doc to be out of the lineup until September. Remember, Aaron Hill was only supposed to miss a couple of days after he hurt his noggin, and he's not coming back any time soon.

As for the unemployed John Gibbons, he's a great human being. Even after he was given the pink slip by his good friend J.P. Ricciardi, he had nothing but good things to say about the franchise and team, thanking the organization for the opportunity to manage and wishing the players well because he's "still a big fan of these guys and I want to see them succeed." Stay classy, Gibby.

I'm going to miss the laid-back Texan. He was a good manager and, ironically, he leaves with an even 305-305 record as Blue Jays manager. It seemed as though the Jays were always treading water with him behind the wheel. Never a push-over squad, but never one that truly competed either. And I didn't realize it until I read it somewhere, but turns out Gibbons had the third-longest tenure as Jays manager in franchise history.

Hopefully there now will be some serious soul-searchage going on in the club house. It's time for the hitters, one through nine, to look in the mirror and realize that four quality baseball people are out of work because of their inability to get the job done.

Does the return of Cito Gaston and a new batting coach mean that the Jays are suddenly going to start hitting and scoring some runners when they're 90 or 180 feet away from home plate? If last night was any indication, the answer is a resounding no. Yesterday's bullshit game simply proved that Gibbons' firing was not because Gibbons wasn't getting the job done, but rather a move to shake up the team.

The thullards over at Drunk Jays Fans can't believe that Cito's back, and think J.P. Ricciardi made the move in order to take the heat off himself after he publicly dissed Adam Dunn. I couldn't disagree more. Clearly, this move was in the works for at least a couple of days. It was only a matter of time until it had to be done, as the Jays are at least going to make an attempt at salvaging this season.

While I am a sucker for nostalgia, I don't think bringing back Cito is about trying "to bribe its fan base into having restored interest in the team by trying to capture a piece of its long-passed glory years." What other manager is out there with two World Series rings on his resume and who has some knowledge of the Jays current roster? Nobody but Cito. It's about damned time he got another gig as an MLB manager. And he said it himself, his heart has always been in Toronto.

I do agree, though, that this does reek of some desperation on J.P.'s part. And I'm fine with that. He should be desperate. The team he put together is sucking complete ass and if this ship doesn't get turned around, it's likely that these are also Ricciardi's final months as general manager of the Jays. As they should be. This was supposed to be a playoff team. At the very least, a competitive team.

When it comes to the Jays' offense, there's really not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said. Getting shutout by the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 12 innings, is simply inexcusable.

You know what I do miss, though? The home run. The Jays have hit 49 home runs this season, good for 28th in the league. Alex Rios, who's only hit three bombs this season, last touched them all on May 1st. May fucking 1st. (For more on how much Alex Rios sucks this year, check out The Mockingbird.) Scotty Rolen has only hit three jacks in 51 games. Don't get me wrong, he's been great, but the Jays need more power production from everybody in the lineup, especially Rolen, Rios, Wells and Overbay.

I was extremely excited about last night's ball game. It was great to see Gaston in the dugout. But when the game ended I was left with a foul taste in my mouth, thinking that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

A manager, whether its Gibby or Cito, and his staff can only do so much. Wake up Blue Jays hitters. Please.

*UPDATE*: Interesting column by Dave Perkins at The Star about Cito. Perkins calls him "a player's manager" who made "good players play." Perkins also gives an interesting history lesson. Cito, in his first go round in Toronto, took over a struggling Jays squad back in May 1989. The team was 12 games under .500 when Cito arrived. The 1989 Toronto Blue Jays ended up making the playoffs...