Despite September 26 being known as “John Gibbons Day” in Toronto, the former Blue Jays manager would be a bad hire for the Kansas City Royals
With several teams already interviewing their next potential managerial candidates, the Kansas City Royals appear to be taking their time. Hopefully, they are doing their due diligence for all candidates instead of just waiting for November 21 to announce Mike Matheny as the next manager. That date will also coincide with when new owner John Sherman is officially handed the keys to the front door as well as the annual MLB owners meeting in Arlington, Texas.
One name that the Royals have recently been linked to is former Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons, who reportedly sent a resume to several clubs in need of a new manager, including the Royals. Gibbons, 57, was the Blue Jays manager from 2004 to 2008 and again from 2013 to 2018. He compiled a 793-789 record. His best season with the team came during the 2015 season when he led the Blue Jays to a 93-69 record but was bounced in six games by the hometown Royals.
"“Fired a year ago by the Blue Jays, Gibbons is an unabashedly old-school manager. He is 57. He realizes many in baseball would consider him a long-shot candidate, given the trend toward younger managers with little or no experience in the job.” – The Athletic"
While I can certainly admire that he wants to get back to what feels natural for him, hiring John Gibbons would feel like hiring Ned Yost all over again if I am being honest. A manager with a 0.500 record and gets tossed a few times a year, the Royals would be extending the mediocrity for another few years until he’s likely fired.
However, Gibbons has been historically bad at challenging calls on the field. The fact that he had the lowest number of successful challenges during the 2016 (38.8 percent) and 2017 (26.7 percent) seasons, it’s hard to fathom him being a good fit for this young crop of talent that the Royals will be bringing up in the next couple of years. Besides, with all the technology that these guys have, it’s actually quite amazing his challenge success rate is so low. Just for comparison’s sake, Ned Yost’s challenge success rate was 82.1 percent last year and 70.2 percent for his career.
And finally, we’ve reached perhaps the most important point. Gibbons has a track record of getting into altercations with his players. The most recent event came on August 16, 2016, when he and Josh Donaldson exchanged words in the dugout and had to be separated by a couple of teammates. That’s the last thing the Royals, under new ownership and direction, would want to happen.
If you recall Gibbons’ altercation with Ted Lilly in 2006, Lilly refused to hand over the ball when Gibbons signaled for a bullpen arm and the two got into a shoving match in the clubhouse. It screams Lou Piniella to me and that’s not the direction the Kansas City Royals should head with their managerial hire.
"“Contrary to popular notion, Gibbons is not anti-analytics. But as a manager, he probably would go with his gut more often than a lot of front-office types prefer, especially when it comes to his starting pitcher.” – The Athletic"
That’s not exactly comforting either given that his gut was wrong 61 and 73 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively.