Cito’s Mismatched Mismanaged Misery Continues

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.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

12 thoughts on “Cito’s Mismatched Mismanaged Misery Continues

  • June 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Actually your perspective like many other Toronto fans that don't really understand the psychy of baseball is what drives me nutz! Did you not hear Buck? He nailed it and just like meathead McCown you didn't listen and just reacted! Cito isn't reactive, if he was he'd be jumping out everytime someone walks a batter or two. This was one game of many.. lighten up!

  • June 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Sly, thanks for the comment. While I commend Cito for sticking with his players and trying to help them out, I think he's failing to recognize when his players are maybe not at their best.

    On Tuesday, I don't think Gregg should've been used in the first place. But at that point, Cito didn't have any choice but to use Gregg since everybody except for Lewis and Percey were still available.

    Last night, I can see why Cito wanted Marcum to finish the game. A chance to go out there for the complete game victory and Marcum was relatively sharp up until that point. However, after those two singles, Marcum should've gotten the hook.

    In the grand scheme of things, these are just two games and I might be overreacting a bit, but it's just so frustrating to see games like these slip away in the ninth.

  • June 3, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Very well thought out post.
    I too am getting ridiculously tired of these decisions (or non-decisions) by Cito. We really should have expected this given that these are the exact reasons why he was fired so many years ago and quite possibly the reason why he went years without getting another opportunity.
    While I understand the rational that you want “your guys“ to feel comfortable out there, I really think that your job as a manager is to recognize when you need to vary your approach and make changes. Cito simply does not have what it takes to be a manager. Yes, he manages egos well and yes, he has some type of swami-voodoo that works for hitters but in the grand scheme of things he is a below-average manager that under-utilizes his bench, mismanages his bullpen and alienates his non-stars along the way.
    Unfortunately having been a baseball neophyte when the Jays were World Champs this display has me questioning exactly what Cito was doing back then. It was an image that I thought was untarnishable but it appears that Cito has found a way.

  • June 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Anon, I just keep telling myself that it will all be over at the end of September and Cito will walk off into the sunset, but he's not making it go by any quicker.

    I think Cito has a "set it and forget it mentality" when it comes to the lineup and the bullpen. That would explain why it took him nearly three months to finally break up Rios/Wells in the 3 and 4 spot last year, and why it took him so long to push Overbay down after he's been struggling.

    Back in the day, it was WAMCO all the way – Cito really didn't have to do much tinkering, and White/Alomar/Molitor/Carter/Olerud would just go out there and destroy the competition night after night.

    But this is 2010 now – Cito can't use that same coaching strategy on this young group of players. He shouldn't be afraid to tinker around with things to see what fits best.

  • June 3, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I personally think Cito is doing a good job. I have always liked and respected the guy. True he stays back a bit too often (see Lyle Overbay batting 5th for WAY too long), but all in all you can't really argue with his success.
    However – I'm with you from Tuesday night. I was yelling at the TV to get Gregg out of there. There are some nights when players simply don't have it. Gregg clearly didn't have it on Tuesday. I think he messed up big on that one…

  • June 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Jeremy, I know I'm being hard on Cito, but it's just because I really want to see this team succeed.

    It's easy for us to sit back and armchair manage the game, and in hindsight maybe Cito would make a different decision.

    But there are just some head-scratches he pulls off that I can't fathom why in a million years he makes certain decisions.

  • June 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I'm with Sly and Jeremy. I think the reason the Jays are getting such great results as a whole is the result of Cito's philosophy.

  • June 3, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I must say that Cito's swing first and ask questions later approach with the hitters has certainly worked to this point. I however would not be the first to point that this is simply not a sustainable strategy.
    I agree that the results are there for now but the question I have is What would the results be if we had a manager that didn't go to sleep after the first and wake up sometime just before BP the next day?

  • June 3, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Ian, I've seen this line of thinking elsewhere, and agree with it. You have a very rational line of thinking there.

    I don't think there's a magic formula to it. I think showing confidence in your players is fine, and has worked in some cases this year (Jo-Bau, Buck). But how is hanging them out to dry showing confidence? If they're struggling, wouldn't continuing to struggle possibly hurt them mentally?

    Gregg should have been pulled once he was obviously struggling, and same with Marcum, who pitched well enough to win yesterday.

    I'll make the point that the ninth inning meltdowns might be the equalization of all those ninth inning comebacks early in the year, as that sort of thing should even out over time.

  • June 4, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Mattt, I guess we'll see next year with Cito out of the equation of these young kids continue to flourish. Let's definitely hope so!

    Alex, that's the thing – the kind of offense the Jays are playing right now is very tough to sustain, although the did it through the month of May heavily with the long ball. I'd imagine that the Jays would AT LEAST have 2 or 3 more wins if Cito didn't sit on his hands.

    Dave, exactly – Cito wasn't doing Kevin Gregg any favours after he issued his fourth walk. That was Gregg's undoing and he knew he screwed up (although he probably though Angel Hernandez had a lot to do with it).

    I guess things will eventually even out as the season progresses, but these losses are really tough to swallow especially since the Blue Jays were so close to actually sweeping the series.

  • June 4, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Great article. I agree with your points and I'm not even sure where I stand on this matter, and I commend you for picking a side… a fairly unpopular side it seems.

    Cito is a great manager in a lot of respects, he doesn't over-manage as some do, like pulling guys too early etc, and he does instill confidence in his team by constantly sticking with them, despite slumps or bad performances.

    As a fan, I find this disturbing; the Rios and Wells 3/4 that you mentioned drove me insane last season , but if Rios got his shit back together last year like he has now, Cito would have looked like a genius. He knew Rios had the talent, and I think we all did too, and it obviously just was a matter of time (that amount of time was about a season and a half apparently).

    In the Kevin Gregg situation, I think Cito knows he doesn't have many better bets. Downs and especially Frasor have been suspect, and putting Rommie in a high-pressure situation like that just wouldn't make sense.

    Like I said, I agree with you here, Ian, but I think I'm trying to talk us both into being able to cope with Cito for one more year.

  • June 4, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Ted, it definitely seems like people are on one side of the fence or the other in Cito's managing strategies.

    I don't discredit Cito at all – it's not like he's blowing every single game for the Blue Jays. It's just that there are some small decisions that he makes (or doesn't make) that definitely come back to bite him in the end.

    Only four more months and it will all be over!

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