The Toronto Blue Jays brought back John Gibbons to manage a Major League Baseball team that has added five All-Stars and at least $165 million in payroll this offseason.
Gibbons, 50, managed the Blue Jays for parts of five seasons from 2004 to 2008 and compiled a 305-305 record. He succeeds John Farrell, who took the same job with the Boston Red Sox last month.
The Blue Jays yesterday finished a 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins that brought All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and John Buck to Toronto. The team also signed All- Star outfielder Melky Cabrera, who batted .346 last season before being suspended for violating the sport’s drug policy.
“Front office has put together a legitimate contending- type team,” Gibbons said today at a press conference in Toronto. “Now it’s the manager’s job and coaches’ job to pull it all together as a team.”
The Blue Jays were 73-89 last season, fourth in the five- team American League East. The team hasn’t made the postseason since winning World Series titles in 1992 and 1993, and has finished higher than third in the division once in that 19-year span.
Gibbons took over as manager of the Blue Jays midway through the 2004 season, leading the team to a 20-30 record to close the year. He was fired 74 games into the 2008 season following a 35-39 start, and last season managed the San Diego Padres’ Double-A affiliate in San Antonio.
Toronto General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said his decision to rehire Gibbons was based on instinct. He acknowledged that some fans and media members might not support bringing back a manager for a second stint.
“I’ve got more conviction in this hiring than I’ve had in any,” he said. “If I am going to be wrong, I am going to be wrong doing what I believe in.”
Johnson and Buehrle join a starting pitching staff that had just one regular with a winning record last season, Brandon Morrow. Toronto’s hit .245 as a team last season, 11th in the 14-team American League.
The Blue Jays also added outfielder Emilio Bonifacio in the trade with Miami, which was approved yesterday by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Toronto parted with seven players, including shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and pitcher Henderson Alvarez, and took on $165 million in salary, according to MLB.com.
The Blue Jays were 154-170 during Farrell’s two-year tenure. He left the club last month to return to Boston, where he was the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007 to 2010.
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