Overheard and Understood: Cito Gaston Getting Off Managerial Carousel
But as the end of his managerial career approaches, Gaston claims no twinges of wistfulness nor sentimentality -- "So far I haven't," he told FanHouse last week.
There are indications Toronto will name its next manager within days of the season's end. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield deserves consideration -- if passed over, he could wind up coaching third in Baltimore for Buck Showalter, with whom he worked in New York and Arizona -- as does Yankees third-base coach and native Ontarian Rob Thomson. Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is thought to be on Toronto's list as well.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said he hasn't had the managerial search on the front burner until now and wouldn't comment on candidates or timing.
"I'm just going to let the process play out," he said. "It's an important decision, and it can't be rushed. I think the timeline will determine itself."
It promises to be a wild offseason for managers, with as many as 13 teams making a change. Some have a head start: the Orioles moved (relatively) quickly to get Showalter, and the Braves and Blue Jays have known all year that their managers were retiring at season's end.
But unlike Bobby Cox in Atlanta, who is chasing the ultimate parting gift, Gaston knows his season ends when the regular season ends Oct. 3. After that, he moves into a consulting role.
"I've been here before," Gaston, 66, said. "I was out of managing for almost 11 years [coming back in 2008 to replace the fired John Gibbons]. It's nothing different for me. I'm still going to be part of the organization, as an advisor. I'll go upstairs and sit with the [team] president most of the time and watch some games."
Gaston's main post-managing goal is to travel. He has three major treks in mind: Western Europe; New Zealand and Australia; and South Africa.
"I want to get back to it," he said. "I did a lot of traveling before I got back into [managing].
"I just want to see some of the world before I get too old and can't move around."
Anthopoulos praised Gaston's work as a lame duck.
"There are so many great attributes you can attach to Cito," Anthopoulos said, "but I think the two that come to mind first and foremost for me are professionalism and class. The way Cito approaches everything in life is why he's had the career he's had and is as well-respected as he is."
Others see Gaston as disengaged at times. Last week he went on a mini-rant about players and staff spending too much time at the ballpark ("The earlier you get out of here, the more you care about the game. That's what they said. But it ain't about that. A lot of it's [flipping] eyewash."). And occasionally he refers to the Jays organization as "they."
The next manager has to contend with the AL East but has some nice pieces in place: six players who have slugged .450 or better in 2009 or 2010 and some pitching (Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and prospect Kyle Drabek).
"You have five [No.] 3s pitching out there," Gaston said, "that's pretty damned good."
Gaston is 899-840 for his career -- 71-66 this year -- with the 1992-93 World Series titles. He has one final goal.
"The only thing I'd like to see us just to finish up good," he said. "If we finish up good, we finish up above .500, it'd be great."
Overall, the managerial shuffle should be fascinating. Imagine this possible -- not necessarily likely -- scenario:
• Joe Torre leaves the Dodgers as they look for ways to cut costs;
• Dusty Baker, dissatisfied with the contract extension offered by the Reds, going to L.A., where he played eight seasons;
• Tony La Russa, his contract up with the Cardinals, goes to Cincinnati in a reunion with general manager Walt Jocketty (they were together in Oakland and St. Louis);
• And Torre goes to the Cards, where he played (1969-74) and managed (1990-95).
OK, a long shot. But somewhat plausible.
Around the Majors
• What Arizona does with its general manager and manager positions will say a lot about the status of team president and CEO Derrick Hall. While Hall is said to be a great admirer of former San Diego GM Kevin Towers, (a) could the Diamondbacks, still paying fired GM Josh Byrnes, pay Towers what he would seek and deserve, based on his experience; and (b) would Hall concede some power to a strong GM?
Hall is also said to be enamored of interim manager Kirk Gibson, who could wind up with the full-time title.
• The Angels are on pace to score 697 runs, which would be 186 fewer than last year. No team has had an offensive drop-off like that since the 2004-05 Giants, who lost Barry Bonds to injury and scored 201 fewer runs than the year before.
• An official from another team who has seen the Orioles before and after Showalter took over as manager said Baltimore -- 20-13 under Showalter -- is more "focused" and working harder since the change.
• Adrian Beltre seems sure to decline his $5 million player option and hit the free-agent market, and one strong suitor could be Detroit.
• What NL rookie has a higher slugging percentage than Jason Heyward, more total bases than Buster Posey, more RBI than Mike Stanton and a higher batting average than Tyler Colvin? Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker.
• In 75 games, from June 12 through Sunday, the Mariners scored 221 runs, or 2.9 per game. That's the worst 75-game offensive stretch since the 1988 Braves, and the worst in the AL since the 1980 Jays.
• If he pitches in the Sept. 27-29 series, Toronto's Brett Cecil can become the first lefty to beat the Yankees four times in a season since Chuck Finley in 1996.
• David Wright is fourth in the NL in RBI, seven from the top spot. Only one Met has ever led the league in RBI: Howard Johnson in 1991.
• Kansas City's Billy Butler has hit safely in 96 straight series.