Friday, 20 June 2008

Desperate times call for....

Well, the most vocal of the fans have insisted for two months now that times were desperate. It is a measure of just how good this team seemed on paper that so many were so very dissatisfied with the results. It is odd then, that so many are so quick to want JP's head for putting together a team which, in March, filled them with such hope.

That aside, if the general consensus is that it's time for a desperation move (and even a realist about the numbers like myself would agree that a normal sideways type move is not enough to shake the bad juju around this team - if you are going to make a move, it does have to be a bold one) and if you listened to JP with Wilner Wednesday night, it was clear he was driven to the very edge (so much for the guy who "doesn't seem to care") and so the stage was clearly set for a bold move.

Now, whatever you might think of Cito in this situation, there was a limited number of things that the Jays could do that would really be a "game changer" and this was probably the only one in which the logistics come together in their favor. So, there were only three real choices here:

1. Stick with Gibby and watch the maddness slowly consume us all;
2. Bring in some interim flunky who would not be able to reverse the bad juju and write off the season as lost; or
3. Make a bold, desperate, stab at a magical turnaround with what I'm sure even JP and Cito would admit is a bit of a Hail Mary Pass.

In that context, I don't have an issue with this move. I'm not sure at all what I think of it beyond this season, I'd have to give it more thought. In the meantime, here are some quick hits I want to get on the table:

A. Cito is not the manager that his legend among many Jays' fans suggest, but he is, I think, a good fit for the team JP has assembled because he is notorious for preferring veterans and this is not a team which relies on youth (outside Jessie Litsch);

B. Bringing back the old coaches is more questionable but if Cito really is here for the short haul he might as well not have to break in new people he hasn't worked with;

C. John Gibbons is a guy who can win in the right situation and I look forward to seeing him do well in his next major league managing position. This was a situation that got beyond what he could have reasonably been expected to turn around;

D. Gary Denbo is a victim of circumstance. No one comes that highly recommended and single handedly destroys a team's hitting ability;

E. It is excellence that the Jays didn't fire Butterfield, in fact, that leads me to some raw supposition which I can't prove but which I think might be an ideal way for this to play out:

I suspect that we may well see Cito insist that he is here only out of respect for the franchise and he has no ambition to manage the team beyond this year (albeit it also raises his profile for another long term job with another team). I think that he will be understood by all as a guy who is here to stop the bleeding and provide a radical change of direction for THIS season because small measures would not do.

I imagine that in the offseason he will step aside, and that the Jays will give the job to Butterfield. If you are wondering why not do that now, my answer is that hiring Butters now is not enough of a "bold stroke" to alter the landscape of this season, and if this season continued down the tubes under Butterfield it would undermine his effectiveness in the future.

I think, if that plays out as I envision, it is a VERY smart way to play it.

As for my buddies at DJF and the theory that JP is covering his ass on the Dunn fiasco, I am not so conspiratorial because of two things: first, it is obvious that the on-field results demanded action now if action was ever going to happen; and second, JP telegraphed the move by bragging about Cito in the same conversation that he ripped Dunn. I think one can infer from that comment that JP knew then what he was going to do with the manager's job so the timing is coincidental.

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