Tag Archives: Don’t doubt the Cito

Lose one to win two

“His velocity was down, he’s a guy normally up at 95, 96 m.p.h., but tonight he was down at 91 and 92. I think next time you’ll see him back up there.”

Gaston agreed Morrow might have been affected by the layoff. But he wasn’t about to deviate from an organizational plan to protect its young pitchers from overwork.

“Sure, pitchers are like milk cows, you gotta milk them,” Gaston said, laughing. “But this kid is going to be a big part of our future, and we’re looking out for him. You might lose one tonight but you’ll win a lot more down the line.”

That’s what Cito Gaston had to say after the Oakland Athletics beat Brandon Morrow back on August 17. That, of course, was Morrow’s first start after his spectacular one-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The fact that Morrow had such a sub-par outing against the Oaklands and the fact that his velocity was down had a number of Jays fans worried that Cito had ruined Morrow by leaving him out to throw 137 pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter against the Rays.

This tidbit didn’t help calm the worry warts either:

That long layoff was welcomed by Morrow. He revealed in the days after the one hitter that he had trouble sleeping that night, and that he felt drained physically.

I’m no biology expert, but I do know a little about psychology. When you go through an exciting and nerve-racking experience — like I can only imagine being the verge of a no-hitter can be — you’re going to feel drained physically and likely have some trouble sleeping. Think about how you feel after, say, a job interview or some other stressful situation and multiply it by whatever factor performing in front of a huge audience adds. That’s a bit of stress there, so there’s a chance he had trouble sleeping because of the mental toll just as much, or maybe more than, the physical toll.

Anyway, back to Cito. I doubt a lot of the moves Gaston makes — jerking around Travis Snider being chief among the doubts — but Cito’s really proving that, if he likes you, he really knows how to treat you right.

Leaving Morrow out to finish the game against Tampa — for his first career complete game, I might add — even though he wasn’t gunning for a no-no anymore and his pitch count was well over 100? That’s got to do wonders for the confidence of a guy who’d been screwed around so much by his previous team that he never really had a chance to develop.

Standing behind Morrow after he pitches horribly in the next start and not even showing any doubt at all that the pitcher would be back to his regular self next time out? Again, the right thing to do.

Did it work? You betcha. Morrow dominated the Yankees on Monday night. Not only did he dominate, but he threw even harder than he did against Tampa.

All of Morrow’s pitches averaged one m.p.h. faster against the Yanks than they did against the Rays, except for the curveball, which was just over one m.p.h. slower. And Morrow racked up 12 Ks in 6 IP that night.

I’m not saying that Cito is totally responsible for Morrow pitching so well, but he’s doing something right. Morrow’s always been known as a guy with a ton of talent who’s had trouble harnessing it. Maybe the confidence Cito is showing in him is what’s helping him get over the hump.

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Good Morrow

What can you say? The Jays are awesome.

If you’re the kind of person who sees something great and then thinks “it’s all down hill from here,” then this is the team for you. Let’s just take a look at the last week:

• Toronto strolls into Yankee Stadium and takes 2 of 3 from the Yankees. Can’t get much better than that, right?

• Toronto comes home to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays and that bad, bad man Brett Cecil dominates in the opener.

• Saturday afternoon, Game 2: We all know what happened in that game.

• This afternoon, series finale. Surely there’s got to be a letdown in the cards for Jays fans, right? Brandon Morrow disagrees.

Morrow’s was probably the best game ever pitched by a Blue Jay — and I mean that without hyperbole. Complete game, shutout, 8-2/3 of no-hitter, 17 strikeouts. Simply astounding work from the No. 3 starter.

I know this Jays team is built for the future, but it sure is fun watching them now. With the flashes of brilliance we’re treated to on a regular basis, it’s hard not to imagine the Jays making a post-season run in the very short-term.

P.S. Like most Jays bloggers, I don’t see eye-to-eye with Cito (probably because he’s such a huge man. TWO WORLD SERIES!) but I gotta say I was happy to see him let Morrow finish the game. It would have been  easy to pull him after he gave up that one hit in the ninth — I probably would have done just that — but leaving him in to finish it out was class. Dangerous class, to be sure, but Morrow didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those rare moments where The Manager’s insanity actually brings a little smile to my face.

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R.I.P., optimism

If you’ve read either of the pre-season Jays’ round tables I’ve participated in, you know that I had what many might consider to be unrealistically high hopes for the upcoming season. In both, I predicted the Jays to finish with a record of 80-82. Most win totals predicted were well below the number I threw out there, but with all the potential power in the lineup and a belief that the pitching would come together as it always seems to, I was feeling optimistic.

Funny how much one little announcement can completely change your opinion.

I like Brian Tallet. With his goofy facial hairs and ridiculous hats, how could you not have a soft spot for him? The problem is that as much as I like Brian Tallet, I like the idea of the Jays winning more.

I truly believe that Tallet could help the Jays win. I think he’s useful out of the ‘pen and spot starting when needed. You might even be able to convince me that seeing him as the No. 5 starter to open the season wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, that’s where I (and, I think, most) expected him to be. “Your No. 5 starter, Wolverine!”

But then the Jays announced the rotation.

Brian Tallet, Toronto’s No. 2 starter.

All the optimism drains from my system.

Then I see that the oh-so-clever Cito is playing jokes on people today. Just look at the hilarious lineup card he posted before the Jays’ loss to the Yankees earlier today.

Maybe the rotation he announced was another poor attempt at humour?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’re so lucky.

All we can do now is hope that the reasoning behind it has, well, some reason to it. Tao’s got a thought that makes the move seem a little less crazy. So does the @TheSouthpawWR.

I’m really pulling for one of these guys to be right. That would mean that Cito’s only mostly (instead of completely) running roughshod over this team.

Either way though, the 80-win prediction does seem rather stupid right now.

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Blue Jays are people, too

the cito gastonRandy Ruiz spending too much time on the bench.

Jeremy Accardo being banished to the minors.

John McDonald basically never playing. Ever.

Kevin Millar not only still being on the team (THANKS, JP), but getting a pretty significant chunk of playing time.

A complete lack of in-game management.

Just a few things that have aggravated Blue Jays fans throughout this 2009 season, even leading to some calling for the removal of Cito Gaston — something that was almost unthinkable after the team’s great 27-14 start to the season. Cito’s moves were questionable, but the team was winning, so “don’t doubt the Cito” became a bit of a refrain around these parts.

Turns out I was wrong to give the Cito the benefit of the doubt. The team’s been awful since the great start, and those things that aggravate the fans? I’m there’s a bit more to it than that, but the players are turning on Cito as well.

I don’t know what Paul Beeston’s plan is for next season. I don’t know if the payroll’s going up or down; if the team’s going to make a run for the top or the bottom of the American League East. The one thing that’s clear is that no matter which direction the team heads in, Cito shouldn’t be at the helm. And that’s too bad.

I know it’s a popular sentiment around the Jays blogosphere, but I want to like Cito. He was in charge of both World Series teams — teams that shaped my youth. I hate to see it end like this, but it must if the team has any shot at doing anything positive next year.

From the CP story:

For his part, Gaston said he has no regrets about how he’s treated his players this season.

“If guys aren’t happy with whatever happened here, then they’re looking at the wrong person,” Gaston said after the team’s final home game last Sunday.

“If they’re unhappy, they have to look at themselves, because I certainly treated everybody in a way that I’d like to be treated as a player and how I’d like my manager to treat me. If they’re grumbling, they’re grumbling because they didn’t do their jobs. They had opportunities.”

I’ve worked in places where the people in management have formerly done the jobs of the people they’re managing. I’ve had managers who have done the job recently and I’ve had managers who did the job a long, long time ago. Typically the managers who have done the job recently can relate to their employees easily. The managers who did it a long time ago generally seem to have forgotten the challenges the workers face and don’t seem to completely grasp how times have changed.

I’m no professional athlete, but I imagine that can generally hold in all jobs.

Cito last played pro ball in 1978. I’m sure there are differences in how today’s players now and the players of ’78 would prefer to be treated.

It hurts, but fire Cito. Please.

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Free Johnny Mac

“Don’t doubt the Cito.”

April 22. Bottom of the 11th. Game tied 7-7. Two runners on. One out. Kevin Millar coming to the plate. Texas replacing a left-handed reliever with a righty. Lyle Overbay on the bench. Cito, of course, sticks with Millar instead of pinch hitting Overbay.

Bringing Overbay in to face the righty only makes sense. As Mr. Burns once told Darryl Strawberry, “it’s called playing the percentages. It’s what good managers do to win ball games.”

If Mr. Burns gets it, why can’t Cito?

So I took to tweeting my displeasure with Cito’s non-move. “Where’s my Overbay?”

Back in the real world, Millar strode up to the plate, worked the count to 2 and 2 and then drove a gapper to left-centre. Vernon Wells came in to score and the Jays won.

Shortly after the game ended, Jeff Blair dropped the quote at the top of this post: “Don’t doubt the Cito.”

It’s some sage advice. Despite the seemingly incompetent moves Gaston makes on a somewhat regular basis, it’s hard to doubt a man who’s lead his team to the best record (71-47) in baseball since taking over midway through last year. The team is winning and doing it in an entertaining fashion to boot. I’ll take that over agreeing with every decision the manager makes.

john-macdonaldStill, there’s one thing that bothers me: I miss Johnny Mac.

I’m not going to argue that he should be playing over Scutaro. Marco’s been great, and I don’t want that messed with at all.

But I do find it sad to see the best defensive player in the game — the Prime Minister of Defence even — being used as nothing more than a pinch runner.

Unless things change and Johnny Mac starts seeing a bit of playing time — it hurts to say this — I’d like to see him traded in a month or two when teams start making moves.

Surely there’s a National League team (it can’t be AL, seeing perform his magic against the Jays would be painful) that could make good use of someone like the PMOD. His talents are some that deserve to be appreciated. I’m willing to set him free, even if it’s just so I can see the occasional highlight-reel play.

Of course, it would have to be in an actual highlight reel and not down at the Dome, but I’ll take what I can get.

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Romero out, Cito still awesome

BASEBALL/

In an attempt to protect the health of a promising young pitcher, the Jays have placed Ricky Romero on the 15-day disabled list. Apparently he’s got a muscle strain and a little time on the sidelines should heal him right up. Nothing to worry about, hopefully (I know it’s hard to think that way when this team has a history of turning “sore backs” into Tommy John surgery, but let’s try to be positive.)

While the injury may not be worth worrying about, what is worth worrying about is how the Jays are going to replace him in the rotation. Romero’s been the Jays’ best pitcher so far this year (sorry, Doc) posting a 2-0 record in three starts with a 1.71 ERA, 1.095 WHIP and a 3.25 K/BB ratio.

Based on how spring training transpired, it would seem likely that either Brad Mills or Brett Cecil will be called up (apparently some early reports say that Cecil will get the call) but Romero, based on his performance so far, will be extremely difficult to replace.

The way this team is swinging the bats though, maybe it’s not all that important that the new guy fills Romero’s sizeable shoes.

Thoughts on last night

cito-gastonSince he took over the club midway through last season, I have been a huge Cito supporter. I don’t always agree with his managerial decisions (didn’t when he was winning World Series either) but it’s clear that the man knows how to handle a team. The 62-42 record since he took over is evidence enough for me.

Despite my support for the man, the recent negativity swirling around the blogosphere has apparently affected my judgement. Last night I took to twittering some tweets (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous) about my disagreement with certain decisions the Cito was making.

Using Snider as a pinch runner, then having him bunt?

Not using Overbay as a pinch hitter in the 11th?

Maybe Cito really was losing it.

But we all know what happened. Snider stayed in and successfully layed down an important bunt.

Overbay didn’t pinch hit for Millar, and Millar drove in the winning running.

The lesson of the night, as Jeff Blair so excellently put it, Don’t doubt the Cito.

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