Jays have faith in manager Gibbons

Jays have faith in manager Gibbons

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays put an end to all the fuss surrounding manager John Gibbons' contract situation a year ago by inking him to a one-year extension during Spring Training. The same chain of events has yet to occur this time around.

Gibbons insists that leading Toronto's troops in the final year of his contract isn't a big deal, and Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi is quick to praise the results during the skipper's tenure. On Saturday, Ricciardi went as far as saying he believed Gibbons would be at the helm for Toronto for years to come.

"I think Gibby will manage here a long time," Ricciardi said. "All of us, at one point or another, are in the last year of our contract. Gibby knows he's in good standing here. We like him a lot and the players like him."

With such support streaming from Ricciardi, he was quickly asked why Toronto wasn't willing to offer Gibbons an extension similar to the one-year, $650,000 contract accepted by the manager a little more than a year ago.

"Well, we'll see," Ricciardi offered. "We'll see how the year goes. We've got some expectations this year -- like we've had in the past. We'll see how they play out."

After finishing second in the American League East in 2006 and posting a winning record again last season despite a high volume of injuries, the Blue Jays are hoping for strong results in the upcoming campaign. That being the case, a slow start could possibly spell the end of Gibbons' time in Toronto.

"We are one of nine clubs that have back-to-back winning years," Ricciardi said. "So we are doing something right. We just have to find a way to [win 90 or more games] and make it [to] where we're playing in September with a chance to get into the playoffs. I think that's a big issue."

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"We thought we had a good club the last two years," he added later. "Injuries aside, we thought we'd be a club that'd be in the 90s in wins, and I think Gibby did a really good job last year getting us to finish the way they finished. Health is a big factor with everybody, but we're no different than anybody else."

The 45-year-old Gibbons replaced Carlos Tosca as Toronto's full-time manager in August 2004, and the manager has posted a 270-266 record in his time leading the team. In light of all of the health woes suffered by the Blue Jays in recent years, Ricciardi said he's impressed with Gibbons' results early in his managerial career.

"He's done a good job here," Ricciardi said. "He's over .500 as a Major League manager. If you go and look at some of the great managers in this game -- the [Joe] Torres and guys like that -- the first five years, I don't think they were over .500 and [Gibbons] is doing it in a tough division. We feel really confident in Gibby."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.