Capitals

Blue Jays hire John Gibbons as manager again

201211200801288880980-p2.jpeg

Blue Jays hire John Gibbons as manager again

TORONTO (AP) Blue Jays President Paul Beeston couldn't believe it when he learned the Blue Jays had the chance to land three star players from the Miami Marlins last week. He was equally surprised when his general manager told him he wanted to hire John Gibbons to manage the Blue Jays again.

``They were back-to-back shockers,'' Beeston said with a laugh.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos unexpectedly hired Gibbons as his new manager on Tuesday, a day after a megadeal with the Miami Marlins reinvigorated the roster and raised expectations the Blue Jays will make the playoffs for the first time since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Only Kansas City and Pittsburgh have longer playoff droughts.

``I said `Are you serious?''' Beeston recalled. ``Forget about him being an intellectual, he's a baseball guy. And those are the guys you really want in your organization.''

Gibbons managed Toronto 2004-08 and had a 305-305 record, making him the third-winningest manager in franchise history.

He succeeds John Farrell, who spurned Toronto for his dream managing job in Boston. Gibbons takes over a very different team from the one Farrell managed.

The surprise announcement came a day after the Blue Jays completed the trade to acquire All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Toronto agreed to the trade last week and Commissioner Bud Selig approved it Monday. The Blue Jays, extraordinarily busy in this offseason, also finalized a $16 million, two-year contract with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.

Gibbons said he never imagined he'd be hired by Toronto again.

``Who wouldn't want to be here?'' Gibbons said. ``The front office has put together a legitimate contending-type team.''

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is well aware the AL East has gotten even more competitive because of Toronto's recent moves.

``I know the sleeping giant that exists up there. It's a great baseball town,'' Cashman said in a conference call with New York beat writers. ``Last year wasn't a true reflection of how good they could have been because they got derailed with injuries and unexpected underperformance.''

Anthopoulos said he wanted someone he was familiar with. Anthopoulos was an assistant GM when Gibbons managed Toronto. Gibbons joins Cito Gaston as managers serving two stints with the Blue Jays.

``I don't know that there was anybody better in terms of managing a bullpen, connecting with the players, connecting with the front office, holding players accountable,'' Anthopoulos said.

His best season was in 2006, when Toronto went 87-75 to finish second in the division - the same season he had a well-publicized blowup with players Shea Hillenbrand Ted Lilly. Gibbons said he regrets the physical altercation with Hillenbrand and called it a black eye, but Anthopoulos defended him and said if you can't play for Gibbons then you can't play for too many guys.

Gibbons most recently managed the San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League in the San Diego Padres' organization last season. He also had three seasons as the Kansas City Royals' bench coach.

Gibbons joined the Blue Jays' coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher and was promoted midseason to first base coach. He served in that capacity until replacing Carlos Tosca in 2004. Before joining the Blue Jays the first time, Gibbons spent 11 seasons working with the New York Mets.

Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays have gone beyond what they thought the payroll could be, but said he was promised that if the right opportunity came along ownership would spend. The payroll stands at $120 million as of now.

Anthopoulos said he didn't expect to make such a splash this offseason. He said he first targeted Johnson and but quickly learned Reyes and Buehrle were also available. He told Beeston he knew it was a lot of money, but said Beeston encouraged him and checked with the owners, Rogers Communications.

``I always felt when the opportunity was right that Rogers would invest in the ballclub,'' Beeston said. ``We've spent the money, now let's go out and win.''

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

alex_smith_otas_2_ap.png
Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler