Rookie or recycled skipper to replace Gibby?
Jays may consider rivals’ success with first-time managers
TORONTO — John Gibbons will finish the season as the Toronto Blue Jays manager but then what?
If, as has been speculated, there is an end-of-season parting of ways between the Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons it will be an amicable one.
The situation regarding the final year of his contract has been discussed behind closed doors with GM Ross Atkins. Gibbons has also publicly stated that if push comes to shove he would prefer not to be a short-term manager for a long-term rebuild. Gibbons will earn his guaranteed salary of just under U.S.$2 million whether he works somewhere else or not in 2019 and the Jays will be able to appoint a manager they believe is best for their young rebuilding team moving forward.
That Gibbons is in that chair two years into the Mark Shapiro/ Ross Atkins regime is a bit surprising, but it was not a charity case. Atkins honestly believed after ’16-17 that Gibbons was a top-10 manager in the game.
Now with both sides seemingly comfortable with whatever the future holds, it would seem unlikely that Atkins and Shapiro have not thought about some sort of possible list of replacements.
With that in mind and understanding that a comfort level is important with whoever occupies the manager’s office, here is a helpful list of nine possible candidates to replace Gibbons, if he is not back. The candidates within each category, rookie and recycled, are listed alphabetically.
Major-league rookies (5): Baseball is very much a copycat sport and the success this season of rookie managers Alex Cora with the Red Sox and Aaron Boone with the Yankees opens the door for others without experience that have never managed at the major-league level. Here is a list of rookie candidates.
Sandy Alomar Jr: The Cleveland first-base coach was on the Blue Jays’ short list in 2010 when John Farrell was hired and once again was mentioned in 2013 when Gibbons was named. Of course Alomar already has a connection with the current Jays in hall-of-fame brother Roberto and his dad Sandy Sr.
Stubby Clapp: Fresh off of a second straight manager-of-theyear award at Memphis in the triple-A Pacific Coast League and with the parent club St. Louis Cardinals removing the interim tag from manager Mike Shildt, the window of opportunity has opened for 45-year-old Canadian baseball legend Stubby Clapp to look elsewhere for a managerial job.
Clapp was the hero of the 1999 Pan-Am Games, a tournament that raised Canada’s national program to the next level. He has played and coached for his country in many international tournaments. The Windsor, Ont., native coached briefly in the
Jays’ system and his hiring would be well received.
John Schneider: A former minor-league catcher in the Jays’ organization, Schneider has been working with the franchise’s young prospects since 2008. He managed double-A New Hampshire to a playoff spot this season and has coached most of the young players that will be with the Jays in ’19. At the very least, the 38-year-old should continue to rise through the system with an assignment to triple-A Buffalo.
Tim Wallach: The former Expos’ all-star third-baseman is currently bench coach with the Miami Marlins. He was on the Jays’ short list of candidates in 2010 when Farrell was hired and was of interest again in ’13. He spent seven years as a majorleague coach with the Dodgers mixed with experience as a manager in the system. Wallach is one of Terry Francona’s best friends. Atkins and Francona are very close. If he asks, the Indians’ skipper will give a glowing recommendation.
Chris Woodward: A Jays’ utility infielder for six seasons, 19992004, he is currently third-base coach for manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers. Roberts began his playing career with Cleveland and is friends with Atkins. Woodward, 42, was on the majorleague staff of the M’s in ’14-15 before moving on to the Dodgers. His wife Erin is from the GTA.
Recycled skippers (4): It would seem that for a rebuilding ’19
Jays roster MLB experience would not be a prerequisite. However, as we pointed out comfort and familiarity are important to any front office and there is always a large group of candidates that have prior experience that will apply. Here, listed alphabetically, are five of those.
Manny Acta: Cleveland hired Acta as manager from ’10-12, fired him near the end of his third season, with Alomar Jr. filling in for six games before eventually being replaced by Francona. The 49-year-old Acta has 890 games as manager with the Nationals and the Indians. He is currently bench coach for the M’s.
Brad Mills: Another protégé of Francona’s in Philadelphia, Boston and now as bench coach in Cleveland, Mills was a teammate of Tito’s at the University of Arizona and again with the Expos in the early ’80s. Mills had his MLB managerial opportunity with a bad Astros team in ’10-12, fired in August of his third season, but with rave reviews from players about his handling of a young team.
Mike Redmond: The former major-league catcher was described as a rising star within the Jays’ organization in single-A at both Lansing and advanced-A Dunedin by GM Alex Anthopoulos, but was hired away as manager by the Miami Marlins in ’13, fired in his third year. The 47year-old is currently bench coach for the Colorado Rockies.
Eric Wedge: Wedge joined the Jays front-office in player development in January 2016 and has had to deny rumours that he is manager-in-waiting for Gibbons. The 50-year-old Wedge once managed the Bisons and has a home in Buffalo, then moved on to be Cleveland’s skipper from ’03-09.
First base umpire Jansen Visconti throws Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons out of a baseball game against the Yankees in the sixth inning in New York on Aug. 19.