Hayhurst on Jays: Gibbons not to blame

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. (CP/Chris Young)

Why is it so hard to just accept the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays are playing bad baseball? Why does it have to be manager John Gibbons’ fault?

Is it impossible that ultra hyped players can’t play up to par? Does the manager, a guy all the players like, really have some super power to hamstring all of them at the same time, without their notice?

I was there for every game in spring training. At the start of it, everyone knew the stakes felt the intensity of the expectation. They all wanted to win. Come the end of it, everyone looked ready to do their job. Gibby did all the things other managers would do to prep their players. In fact, spring training lasted longer than usual and Gibby had to back players off to make sure they had enough left in the tank to make it through a full 162-game season.

There have been no glaring tactical errors through this first month. No lack of intervention or ejection.

The roster has been shook up multiple times. Hot hands have been placed in roles to maximize their production trends. Players in need of a platoon have received it.

Chemistry is good, and has been since the start of spring. Confidence is shaken but not demolished. Communication channels have been open and no static has been reported.

The team knows and confesses publicly what it should do to improve. The veterans all accept their failure and are trying to rectify it. The young guys are all trying to step up.

Any gripes any fan has would only be the result of the current record. There is not one single substantial thing to hang on Gibby for this start.

Could it be that the team is actually as cold and playing as bad as we analysts keep saying, and that’s all? No evil mastermind bringing them down from within? That the pitchforks and torches are unwarranted?

Seriously, all this #firegibby talk, as if he’s the kryptonite of the club; it’s ludicrous. He’s liked. He’s loose. And he does a WAY better job with the pen and young players than Cito Gaston.

I’m not saying he’s the best, or that he won’t hang if the team goes into the tank all season. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, this team is letting him down more than he’s letting them down — especially when you stop to consider that he’ll get fired over the 25 players that aren’t doing their job.

Gibby is not the culprit. He didn’t smash Jose Reyes’s ankle. He didn’t make J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus strike out a zillion times. He didn’t make Brett Lawrie miss a clutch liner or R.A. Dickey struggle and pinch his neck. He didn’t wrench on Josh Johnson’s elbow or strain Lawrie’s oblique. He didn’t infest Rickey Romero’s brain with gremlins. He didn’t hurt Jose’s back or make Edwin Encarnacion start cold.

So why should he hang for it?

Yeah, the Jays are playing bad baseball-that’s a fact. But firing Gibbons isn’t going to change it. It’s a bad start. The one we all feared. But the only way out is through the fire, not through a firing.

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