Now that perceived top candidate Eric Wedge will be donning a Seattle Mariners uniform on opening day 2011, that leaves the Pirates in a position to take a look at what's left. The front office has interviewed many candidates ranging from Carlos Tosca to Bo Porter to Dale Sveum.
Myself and others have been campaigning for names such as Phil Garner, Tony Pena and Ken Macha to become the new Pirates skipper. None of these guys will have a chance at the job though.
Let me introduce you to the guy that will eventually get the job. That man would be John Gibbons. Now the first question many of you will ask is "Who is John Gibbons?" The rest of you will utter something along the lines of "What the (insert any swear word you like here)."
Several sources including ESPN's Buster Olney have indicated this is all but a done deal. I've tried but haven't been able to confirm anything except that Gibbons interview went very well.
Gibbons isn't exactly the sexy pick that Pirates fans were longing for. Many will be very upset over this choice and probably rightly so. I've stated over and over that this is a hiring that the Pirates absolutely can't screw up. The window for this young team to succeed will likely be a short one. The Pirates can not afford to drop the ball on this decision. If they do, well then many expected them to do so anyways.
What does Gibbons bring to the table?
He served as the Toronto Blue Jays manager from 2004 (the final 50 games of the season), where he replaced Tosca, until June 2008. In his first full season as a big league skipper, Gibbons led the Blue Jays to an 80-82 mark. The following season, Toronto finished 87-75, good for second place in the very tough AL East.
Overall, Gibbons is an even 305-305 as a major league manager.
Currently, he's serving as the bench coach for Ned Yost in Kansas City.
What has been his downfall though is that he's had many confrontations with his players. Gibbons is a his way or the highway type of guy, which is actually something the Pirates could use at the moment.
In 2005, pitcher Dave Bush showed up Gibbons after he removed him from a game. The next day Bush was on his way to the minors. Shortly after he was traded to Milwaukee.
More controversy showed up in 2006 when Gibbons challenged infielder Shea Hillenbrand to a fight after Hillenbrand posted negative comments about Gibbons.
Again in 2006, Gibbons got into a shoving match with pitcher Ted Lilly. After giving up seven runs in an inning, Lilly refused to come out of the game. When he finally did, Gibbons followed Lilly into the clubhouse and the two got into it.
Finally, there was the 2008 controversy involving Frank Thomas. Gibbons benched Thomas, who was not happy about it. It didn't matter that Thomas was hitting .167 at the time.
Pirates fans seem to want fire out of their manager. If that's the only thing you're looking for, then you should like Gibbons. He doesn't let the inmates run the asylum. It doesn't matter how much money you make, which actually doesn't apply to the Pirates situation or what the name says on the back of the jersey, you will play hard for Gibbons.
He's been viewed by others around the league as a total team guy. Everyone will buy into his way or they won't be there.
If Gibbons gets the job, you can bet the Pirates won't be dogging it on the field for much longer.
Most people want a manager that will change the culture. Eliminate being lazy on the field. A guy that the players would run through a wall for.
While Gibbons isn't the popular name Pirates fans have been looking for, could it be he's the perfect guy for this job?
While he wouldn't have been at the top of my list, or near the middle for that matter, maybe the Pirates need a no nonsense type of manager like Gibbons.