Thursday, September 16, 2010

CitoCity Claims Several Casualties

By

Image courtesy of @GarrettBauman
Some people might call it complete madness, but Toronto Blue Jays fans are all too familiar with the architect behind "CitoCity".

As a manager with just 16 games left in his tenure, Cito Gaston's decisions continue to boggle the minds of fans and analysts alike. His old school baseball mentality and loyalty to his veteran players is not only his biggest strength, but his biggest weakness as well.

With a team like the Toronto Blue Jays which is very heavy on young talent, the manager has struggled to push the development of his younger players and instead has leaned predominantly on the veterans.

CitoCity has claimed many casualties along the way, but these are perhaps the biggest victims:

J.P. Arencibia

Within the organization, there's nothing more frustrating right now than stalling the development of this franchise's catcher of the future. And that's exactly what Cito Gaston is doing with J.P. Arencibia.

J.P. Arencibia has not started a game behind the plate since August 18th, and has a grand total of four at bats in the month of September.

Just in case you wanted an explanation for the lack of playing time, Cito Gaston announces on Wednesday that John Buck will get the majority of the playing time behind the plate because he wants his number one catcher to reach 20 home runs. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

I understand that the manager really wants to be loyal to John Buck and let him play out the season, but why does it matter when neither Buck nor Cito will be here next season ... yet J.P. Arencibia is wasting away on the bench.

So who is Cito Gaston really trying to help out here: John Buck or the Toronto Blue Jays?

Then just a few weeks prior, Gaston says he doesn't plan on using Arencibia against playoff contenders because he wants to field his best team to play against the likes of the Bostons and New Yorks.

What the hell does that matter? You can't protect JPA from the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays forever ... eventually, he's going to have to hit against them.

Travis Snider

Moving onto our next victim of CitoCity, it's none other than Travis Snider. Recently, Snider has escaped the clutches of CitoCity for one reason or another. Methinks it had to do with Alex Anthopoulos having a stern talk to the manager about playing the team's prized outfielder every day.

If it were entirely up to Cito Gaston, he'd still be platooning Fred Lewis and Travis Snider in left field. It's funny because earlier in the season we were begging the manager to move Snider up in the lineup, and now we're begging him to just pencil Snider in the lineup in the first place.

Much like the situation with J.P. Arencibia, by refusing to make Travis Snider an everyday player, Cito Gaston is inherently delaying Snider's development in the big leagues while he continues to accrue service time. 

Jeremy Accardo

I suspect this one has a little bit to do with the front office politics as well, but both Jeremy Accardo and Cito Gaston have not made their feelings for each other a secret. Accardo feels he was lied to, and for some reason or another the manager just does not like him.

You have to feel for a guy who was signed to a $1 million dollar contract at the beginning of the season and thought all this drama was behind him, only to encounter it all over again like some horrible sequel reminiscent of "The Hills Have Eyes 2".

Since Cito was so enamored with other members of the bullpen these past few seasons, Accardo rarely saw any playing time. When you come to the ballpark and are almost certain you're not going to pitch that day, I can't imagine it makes for a great work environment.

Randy Ruiz

There's no question in my mind that Randy Ruiz was poised for a breakout season in 2010. Unfortunately, he  had to fight tooth and nail just to make it onto the Opening Day roster ... but that was not the highest mountain Ruiz would have to climb.

Cito Gaston's reluctance to platoon Lyle Overbay or even give him or Adam Lind the day off meant Randy Ruiz' at bats were few and far between. In the first month and a half of the season, Ruiz only started seven games and collected a grand total of 62 at bats.

Even as a bench player, how can you be expected to be effective at the plate when you're lucky if you get to swing a bat even once a week?

In Conclusion

If Cito Gaston wasn't under the protected wing of Paul Beeston following last year's clubhouse mutiny, there's no way he comes back to manage for the 2010 season.

I suspect Alex Anthopoulos wanted to fast track the search for a new manager, but decided to pick his battles wisely and instead let this one go the way of the President since Cito was walking at the end of 2010 anyway.

The managing style of Cito Gaston may have worked very well during the veteran-laden lineups from the Blue Jays golden era, but this is an entirely different team that needs to be managed with a much more aggressive approach.

The Cito Gaston Farewell Tour officially comes to an end on Sunday October 3rd in Minnesota, and you can rest assured I will honour him with a slow clap; but not because it will be the end of an era, because it will be the dawn of a new one.

11 comments:

  1. This may be an incredibly stupid concept, but I've had success with it in Baseball Mogul (hey, if it works in a game...). Is there any advantage to letting service time accrue while a player is still developing so that they become arbitration eligible with no real stats to back up their case? That way a team-favourable deal could be worked out over a long period of time for an (on average) better yearly rate extending through the player's prime?

    Jussayinzal

    @FunkmasterC

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  2. Ruiz isn't doing that great in Japan. You really want to blame that one on Cito Gaston?

    What's frustrating about Arencibia is that he doesn't have to be the catcher to get playing time. Especially for the time Edwin was on the DL. He could've DH'd with Lind playing LF/1B.

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  3. Chris, that's a great point and I didn't even think of that. It's one advantage to having the players log service time but not at bats. Ideally though, I'm sure AA would prefer to have Arencibia & Snider getting playing time rather than having leverage in arbitration.

    shk66, from what I saw from the update on Ruiz at Mop Up Duty, looks like he has 10 HR in 253 at bats. By all accounts, the power is there - he just needs the playing time.

    You're right: Arencibia could've been taking hacks at DH while Lind played first. Who did he choose to use as DH? Fred Lewis.

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  4. The Buck and 20 HRs deal is something I won't soon forget. That's got to be the epitome of Cito Madness. Just when you think he can't get any nuttier, he goes and pulls that one out of his hat. Well done, Cito Gaston. Well done.

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  5. The one good thing that I think Cito did was possibly get Toronto a little more respect throughout the league. I could be totally wrong but he definitely has a history both playing and managing. After the recent manager experiments I think he may have helped in that regard.

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  6. Navin, there have been many idiotic things the manager has said since coming back in 2008, but like you said ... that one pretty much takes the cake. Also, let's not forget when he mentioned that he'd rather have Edwin Encarnacion play third base so he can get a nice fat contract in the off season. I'm sure the players love him for it, but the Blue Jays front office must be losing their minds.

    Mattt, he did help raise the profile of this team but arguably any other manager could have done the same thing. I'll give him one thing - the combination of Cito Gaston and Dwayne Murphy were a great tandem to get this team hitting tons of home runs as well.

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  7. heh, the irony of keeping Arencibia away from playoff contenders is that he had that monster 4-for-5 debut day against - guess who - the Rays.

    All you can do now is just shrug your shoulders, come out to say goodbye at the final home game, thank him for the two world series, and be stoked for 2011.

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  8. sadp, fair point - he did guide the team to two World Series, but it's time for a new era and a new manager. I am definitely stoked!

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  9. Let's just hope this is *really* Cito's swan song.

    I'm betting that there will be a chorus of "one more year" heard from some dim corridor of the Skydome, as soon as the Jays fail to sign the most coveted unemployed manager(s) (and rest assured, they WILL not get the pick of the unemployed managerial litter).

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  10. Gaston needs to be fired NOW..even if it happens on the last day of the season. Jeff Kent, David Wells, and Jimmy Key (though Jimmy left town quiet and all), none of them could play for the guy, among many others. He held Green and Delgado back for YEARS!!
    So why are we surprised that he dicks Snyder and Arencibia around?
    The guy is pure poison, just like the best baseball mind ever in Toronto figured...that would be Pat Gillick, who has absolutely no respect or use for this idiot.

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  11. Roberto, I remember back a few months ago when folks were speculating whether or not Cito would come back. All I was thinking was "please, no". I think if Butterfield wasn't next in line, they may have brought Clarence back as interim.

    Anon, I totally share your frustration and understand where we're coming from. I wonder how many players from his first tenure as manager also had a problem with Cito? It's funny because most folks seem afraid to say any ill will towards him, so I bet there are others out there.

    Oh well, on 16 more games. 16 more games.

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