Cito Gaston may be committed to the individual players, but in doing so he’s alienating his team as a whole.
It appears as though his philosophy is to instill confidence by giving his players respect, and with that respect comes a very long rope. Unfortunately, sometimes that rope can very quickly turn into a noose.
It was an all too familiar scene once again last night where in my opinion, Cito Gaston mismanaged the game once again. Clinging to close 2-1 lead, Cito opts to send Shaun Marcum back out to finish the game.
Given Marcum had a fairly low pitch count to that point, but it’s not like he was dominant start to finish. Shaun Marcum has also never pitched a complete game in his career and the deepest he went into a game this year was eight and two-thirds innings, so he also had that working against him.
I wasn’t exactly crazy about the decision to bring Marcum back out, but I could live with it at the time. Then he gives up two singles to lead off the ninth and Cito Gaston is still sitting on his hands hoping Shaun Marcum can work his way out of it
Now I’m not a ballplayer or anything nor do I claim to be, but if I’m Shaun Marcum and I let the first two batters get on base in a 2-1 game, I would fully expect to be pulled from the game.
Is my ego a little bruised because of it? Maybe … but I would understand why that decision has been made – it was my own undoing. Unless you’re someone like John Lackey, you’re not resenting your manager for giving you the hook.
If Cito pulls Marcum from the game at that point, it’s not that he doesn’t have confidence in him anymore, it’s that Cito wants to give his team the best chance to win the game.
The same thing goes for Kevin Gregg the night before. After the fourth walk issued to the Rays in the ninth, Cito Gaston should have taken the ball from Kevin Gregg and gone to the bullpen.
The problem was Cito used up all his bullets by using Shawn Camp and Scott Downs for less than ten pitches a piece in the prior inning, and really had no other choice but to stick with Kevin Gregg.
That’s when the Blue Jays needed one last bullet in the chamber to finish off the Rays, but all they had were BB’s.
You don’t get any bonus points in baseball for “making your players feel good” or “sticking with your guys” because it’s all measured in wins or losses. The more and more Cito Gaston is trying to show his commitment to the individuals, it’s costing the Blue Jays wins.
If you listen to Bob McCown’s interview with Buck Martinez from yesterday on The Fan 590, you can tell Buck is definitely on Team Cito and is a fan of keeping players in their set roles.
In fact, there are a few points where McCown and Martinez actually get pretty heated on the issue, but it sounded like the classic armchair manager vs. manager arguement.
The armchair manager says if you can tell your struggling is closing, then you pull the rug out from under them and hope the next guy can close it out. The manager essentially says you have to stick with your closer or starter because he’s “your guy”.
In my mind it’s the equivalent of the explanation “because I said so”. That’s what drives me nuts about Cito’s style of managing – if things are going bad, he sits back and is reactive to situations when he should be proactive.
So when a player is in a slump and they’re hurting, how do you help them heal? Do you keep running them out there time after time hope they magically get better, or do you give them some time to lick their wounds?
If you’re Cito Gaston, it seems like the solution is the former of the two.
I understand that the guys on the field are the ones who win and lose the ballgame, but ultimately somebody has to be held accountable for when things go wrong.
And the person who should bear the brunt is the manager: Cito Gaston.