By Bob Elliott
Is general manager Alex Anthopoulos back next year?
Will manager John Gibbons run the Blue Jays show in 2015?
Questions are being asked and they are valid as a team that occupied first place for 61 days (36% of the 172-day season) battles to finish with a winning record.
Yet, neither is the primary question to be answered before 2015 plans unfold.
First, Rogers Communications has to decide whether president Paul Beeston.
Beeston’s contract is up at the end of the season.
Is he ready for retirement? No.
But the man has options: a return to the commissioner’s office for a job similar to the one former New York Yankee manager Joe Torre has. Or like the one Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa had before joining the Arizona Diamondbacks. Beeston and outgoing commissioner Bud Selig became pals after Beeston returned to the Jays. But Beeston did not support the Selig-endorsed candidate — incoming commissioner Rob Manfred at last month’s owners meetings in Baltimore.
Will the new-look commissioner office’s look at Beeston’s support of Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner as just a business decision or hold a grudge?
When Beeston was the CEO of Major League Baseball we recall him telling his pal Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports the only team he’d work for — if not the Blue Jays — was the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Does the hockey club have an opening for someone in management who has enjoyed success both at the gate and his team has won?
Some of Beeston’s friends say he isn’t coming back.
Others say he is.
He isn’t saying.
“The first thing we have for next year, is to sign Paul Beeston,” said Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar, “and not for one year, not for two years, but for a long-term.”
It should be pointed out that Alomar is not exactly a neutral observer when it comes to observing the front office. Alomar alone showed enough talent in his five years in Toronto to have his name on the Level of Excellence and get elected to Cooperstown wearing a Blue Jays cap.
Beeston hired Alomar to work with Jays minor leaguers in 2011.
“Paul is a true leader,” said Alomar. “He knows the game. He’s loyal to his players, the former players and most important he’s loyal to this city.
“We couldn’t find a better guy than that. Paul is the guy you want, if you want to win.”
The Hall of Famer has worked with young infielders and the Jays actually asked him to work with Emilio Bonifacio and MaicerIzturis last season — about the end of May. A tad too late.
The former second baseman has toured the country at the Honda Super camps raising money for JaysCare Foundation to drop the cost for high schoolers of last week’s Tournament 12. Lloyd Moseby called him the hardest-working Hall of Famer in baseball.
Beeston was hired in 1976 and was with the Jays until 1997 when he headed to New York to work in the commissioner’s office until 2002, although he still maintained the same Rogers Centre office he did that June day the building opened in 1989.
Rogers hired him as interim president to replace Paul Godfrey in 2008 and then hired him full time. The Jays are in their 38th season and Beeston has been here for all but five.
If Beeston does not return?
Then the future of Anthopoulos and Gibbons remains uncertain.
Educated guess: Beeston returns.
GM Alex Anthopoulos.
The Jays are now 0-for-21 years making post-season play. Four men have been in charge of running the Jays since Cito Gaston flashed the three-run homer sign to third base coach Nick Leyva, who relayed it to Joe Carter to end the 1993 World Series:
Pat Gillick (one season), Gord Ash (seven), J.P. Ricciardi (eight) and Anthopoulos (five) were in charge during this famine, now the longest-running in the industry now that the Kansas City Royals having clinched a spot.
With Gaston managing Anthopoulos’ first team the Jays won 85 games, then 81 and 73 games under John Farrell who was a good manager (he guided the Boston Red Sox to the 2013 World Series), but was a bad hire here (he wanted to leave after his first season) as the GM and manager seldom saw eye to eye.
Gibbons, who Anthopoulos got along with in his first tenure when Anthopoulos was assistant GM, was rehired to guide the Jays in their all-in season.
They won 74 times. And this year they are trying to finish with a winning record after dropping out of the race.
The GM signed Dioner Navarro to replace J.P. Arencibia and it was a good addition, but can the GM be faulted for not adding salary if the ivory tower types at Rogers Communications do not give approval to spend?
The Jays says the money was there, the “good deals” were not.
If money was not an issue why ask the San Diego Padres to pay all of the $4 million remaining on third baseman Chase Headley’s contract? The Padres paid $1 million of Headley’s contract when he was shipped to the Yankees for third baseman Yangervis Solarte and minor leaguer Rafael De Paula. San Diego asked the Jays for third baseman Juan Francisco, outfielder Kevin Pillar and lefty Sean Nolin.
The Jays say they would not part with prospects after moving youngsters Henderson Alvarez and Adeiny Hechavarria, plus prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Nicolino, Noah Syndergaard and WuilmerBecerra to the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets.
Should the Jays have made adjustment and lowered their expectations to get help at the deadline?
How many years is it going to be until the Yankees and Red Sox both miss post-season play? Both have not missed in the same season since 1993.
He signed Ricky Romero who was an opening day starter and an all-star and was paid $7.75 million to pitch at triple-A Buffalo this year and Romero will earn the same next season.
Anthopoulos has a year remaining on his five-year contract extension.
Best guess: Anthopoulos isn’t going anywhere.
Manager John Gibbons
Gibbons makes $900,000 US this season and is signed for next year.
Of course the Jays could wake up the day after the season is over and make a change, but Gibbons will be paid for next year and head home to San Antonio, birthplace of Jays managers (San Antonio natives Gaston and Gibbons have managed 2,693 of the 6,029 games the Jays have played in franchise history).
Tired of reading how their manager — whether it was Carlos Tosca or Gibbons in his first tenure — were lame-duck managers entering a season on the final year of their contract Anthopoulos erased the problem. The Jays added an option clause, so if Gibbons is the manager on Dec. 31, he will be paid for 2016. And so on and so on.
One man in Gibbons corner is Mark Buehrle in his 15th season having pitched for Jerry Manuel with the Chicago White Sox, OzzieGuillen with the Sox and the Miami Marlins and Gibbons.
“To me John Gibbons is the best, along with Ozzie,” said Buehrle, who said he was not concerned with in-game managerial moves or second guessing whether a pitcher was hooked too early or left in too long.
“I’m concerned with off-the field stuff,” he said. “My father had knee surgery. Gibbons said ‘go home, be with your family.’ Some guys will have someone sick at home and say they may need a day off or how they might need to go home. He’ll say ‘go home, we’ll find someone else.’ He’s an awesome family man.
“I love John Gibbons, if he’s not back I’ll be disappointed,” said Buehrle.
Best guest: Gibbons returns.
All of which means a Beeston-Anthopoulos-Gibbon trifecta with zero casualties return after another lost season … one which had so much promise as late as July 3.
Elimination dates: Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees were eliminated by the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday afternoon.
That means the final four games of Jeter’s 20-year career will be meaningless. Before Thursday’s final game at Yankee Stadium he had played 2,745 games in his career — only one of which was meaningless in his 20-year career.
The Blue Jays final five games don’t mean a thing bringing their total of meaningless games to 337 since 1995 (the 1994 World Series was not played due to the strike) for an average of almost 16 “who cares?” games a season.
That was not the case in the old days: from 1985-to-1993 the Jays won the American League East five times, usually taking things down to the final weekend. In all, they played 25 meaningless games — an average of under three in those nine seasons.