If passive managing was the fashion required to produce champions in baseball, one would rightly assume bench managers wouldn't exist. The fact that they do, in spite of Toronto Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons reluctance to assume the role, makes one question his value as he appears to be a well-paid spectator, interested merely in the full-access to the clubhouse spread. In contrast to his conduct, the finest illustration of his importance lies in the teams mediocrity under his passive reign.
Managing is about pushing the right buttons at the right time. Simple but vital are coordinating the tangible fundamentals like batting order, fielding position; technical maneuvering in the form of controlling base runners and utilizing a pinch hitter and the bullpen moves. These are things that John Gibbons has (tragically) only recently adopted and integrated into his managerial collection d'armes. Lacking however, is a consistent effort to control the intangible side of the game by nurturing his players' psyche.
On countless occasions I've espoused the montra: team identity is essential to success. It's here where Gibbys glowing mismanagement affects the Blue Jays the most. His lack of psychological influence on this squad makes them the best team in the MLB at finding a ways to lose. They've stranded more men than Mary Rose, have their right-fielder playing center (and vice-versa), and continue to flounder in the standings as a result.
Insisting that the bats will come around won't make it so; having a definitive batting order and a set role for every guy on the team will. Instead, the Gibbons pencils in his lineup card much the same way children enjoy their Lite Brite – pull a colour out of the pile and toss it in to make something special. But, unlike the spectrum of coloured pegs in the aforementioned kids game, all Gibbons has to choose from is grey – arguably by his own error.
Gibbons shuffles his players so frequently they have all melded themselves into jack-of-all-trade types, ostensibly mastering none. Indistinguishable from one another the Jays diffuse the responsibilities fulfilled by winning teams. In this, the irony of their battle with .500 during Gibbys tenure is brilliantly personified. Without a role, the player lacks a specified purpose, and the team lacks a distinct identity. On Gibbons squad, guys don't hit for power or average, they just hit. They approach every at-bat with the blind ambition of a little leaguer swinging for the fences in desperation, unlike winning clubs whose approach to the plate is calcuated and meticulous.
Granted the players have contributed their share of failures, leaving only a fool blaming John Gibbons exclusively. However, his shortcomings seem to account for a great deal of the issues with the Toronto Blue Jays and their lack of mental focus and clutch execution. Gibbons needs to stick his neck out and establish a role for every player according to a winning philosophy. Place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of those most fit to carry the load, and ride that wave of newly-minted identity as far as the bastard will carry you.