Tag:Kirk Gibson
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:31 pm

Gibson driving himself, Diamondbacks for more

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Kirk Gibson hasn't stopped.

The Diamondbacks manager seems as driven as he was last spring, his first as a big-league manager. He's as determined as ever to live up to Sparky Anderson's legacy.

"Sparky would be proud," he said Wednesday, looking out at the Diamondbacks' well-organized workouts.

Gibson's first full year as a manager was a success, with the Diamondbacks grabbing a surprising National League West title and Gibson winning NL Manager of the Year honors.

But Gibson and his coaching staff still changed a few things this spring, notably putting a much bigger emphasis on pitchers hitting.

"We hope it will help us let the starters go longer in games, and tax the bullpen less," Gibson said.

Most National League teams use the designated hitter early in spring, to provide extra at-bats for the many position players in camp. But Gibson had his pitchers hit Wednesday against the Indians, partly because he wants Trevor Cahill to get as many spring at-bats as possible.

Cahill came to the plate just 12 times in his three years with the A's, and with one infield hit and two sacrifice bunts his only successes.

"He swings decent," Gibson said.

Cahill is 24, and he said he last hit regularly in high school.

"I have no power, but I spray the ball around pretty well," he said.

Diamondbacks pitchers led the National League with 58 hits and a .186 batting average last year, helped by Daniel Hudson hitting .277.

Can they do better this year? Can the Diamondbacks do better than their 94-win season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Brewers?

I don't know that, but I do know that their manager seems every bit as into it as he was a year ago.

Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:03 pm

NL MVP? Give me a day (or three)

I see Scott Miller went with Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp for National League MVP.

Today I agree with him. Yesterday I didn't. Friday I did.

He had to decide today, because our editors demanded a column. I have until Thursday, the day after the regular season ends.

Braun or Kemp?

Their numbers are similar. Braun took his team to the playoffs. Kemp played in a tougher ballpark, and with much less support in the lineup.

I've heard the arguments. I've heard from Kemp fans who say I'm crazy to even consider anyone else, and from Braun fans who want to know how I could vote for someone whose team hasn't played a meaningful game in months.

Normally, I wouldn't. Until last week, I barely considered Kemp as MVP.

He's having a special season. He deserves to be considered.

As of today, I'm not voting for him. Tomorrow, maybe I am.

All that matters is what I think Thursday. And we're not there yet.

As for the other awards:

AL MVP: An equally tough choice, but Scott's right, it's Justin Verlander. No single player has dominated this season the way he has.  I was a Curtis Granderson supporter when September began, I've been swayed by Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, but it's Verlander who should (and likely will) win.

NL Cy Young: I hate to go against Roy Halladay, but I love to go against Scott. So it's Clayton Kershaw, in a very, very close call.

AL Cy Young: I love to go against Scott, but I'm not crazy. It's Verlander, and it's not close.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, and with apologies to Ron Roenicke, who did a fantastic job, it's not close.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, whether or not his Rays end up in the playoffs.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel.

Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:40 am

Gibson believed D-Backs could win -- and they did

Did anything think the Diamondbacks could win?

Yeah, someone thought that. Kirk Gibson thought that.

Kevin Towers thought it, too.

I know. I heard it. In February.

"If you say you [can't], then you've got no shot," Gibson said then.

He said they could. He told them they could. He made them believe they could.

And now they have.

Our spring training headline read: "If team is anything like Gibson, watch out."

They are like Gibson, as much like him as any team could be. They play hard. They don't give up. They don't give in.

And now they're the National League West champions.

Is it all Gibson?

Of course not. It was Towers who built the bullpen, and the signing of closer J.J. Putz was the biggest move.

But you know what? Gibson was the one who recruited Putz.

"He pretty much sold me," Putz said in June. "He said things were going to change."

No team has changed like the Diamondbacks have. No team gets more credit from rival scouts.

No team has had a turnaround like Arizona's, from a 97-loss joke to a 91-win (and counting) champion.

Gibson didn't do it by himself. He would never tell you he did. In fact, over the last month, Gibson has tried to do anything he could to deflect attention, and to focus it all on his players.

Sorry, Kirk, you deserve the attention.

You believed before they did. You believed before anyone else did.

And you were right.

Posted on: August 17, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:50 pm

Diamondbacks are the true surprise team

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pirates have fallen back under .500.

The Indians have fallen out of first place.

The summer of surprise in baseball seems to have ended a little early . . . unless you count the Diamondbacks.

And why shouldn't we be counting them?

"These guys have been flying under the radar," said Lyle Overbay, who spent the first four months of the season with the surprising Pirates, and is in his first week with the surprising Diamondbacks.

They lost more games last year than the Indians did. They looked as bad this spring as the Indians and Pirates, too.

And almost three weeks into August, the Diamondbacks began play Wednesday 3 1/2 games up on the defending World Series champions.

They're far from the point that we should consider them a lock for the postseason, and in fact that 3 1/2-game lead shrunk to 2 1/2 games on Wednesday night. It's worth remembering that the Padres held a four-game lead over the Giants on this date a year ago, and that the Diamondbacks held a 4 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers in late August 2008.

"We fell apart at the seams [that year]," Justin Upton said.

It took two years to put them back together, two years of 90-plus losses. It took two managerial changes, a general manager change, and enough roster turnover so that Upton, Chris Young and injured shortstop Stephen Drew are the only regulars remaining from that team.

It took Upton becoming a true MVP candidate at age 23, after a winter in which the Diamondbacks briefly considered trading him away.

But here they are, the only one of baseball's surprise teams that's still in a playoff spot, a spot that would most likely see them right back here in Philadelphia in six weeks' time. Here they are, the surprise team that got overlooked while we were focused on those other surprise teams.

"That's OK," Young said. "If everybody's talking about you too much, maybe your head gets too big. But if nobody's talking about you, maybe your confidence gets down."

The Diamondbacks seem to have little problem with confidence. They're 3-1 this year against the Phillies, including a Tuesday night win in which they became the first team ever (in 53 attempts) to come from behind in the ninth inning to beat Roy Halladay.

"We feel like we can play at this level, no doubt," Upton said.

The Diamondbacks came into their clubhouse after that game and watched the second-place Giants lose in extra innings against the Braves. But those who were there noticed that the Diamondbacks weren't fixated on the Giants, and didn't spend much time celebrating their loss.

"As long as we win, it's fine," closer J.J. Putz said.

As with so many other things that Diamondbacks players say, those words could easily have come out of manager Kirk Gibson's mouth.

There's no doubt that Gibson sets the tone for this team. They believe in themselves the way he believed in himself, and they fight back the way he fought back (as evidenced by their big-league high 35 come-from-behinid wins).

He would never want to admit surprise, because he begins every season thinking his team can win. Besides, he would never celebrate staying in the race through mid-August.

"We'll stay humble," Gibson said. "We've accomplished nothing. We put our head in there the first day of the season -- the Diamondbacks are in. The only thing we can say now is that the Diamondbacks are still in."

They're still in, while the Pirates have slid out and the Indians are in danger of doing the same.

There is a surprise team in baseball this year. The Diamondbacks are it.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:03 pm

The All-Star invite Kirk Gibson didn't decline

PHOENIX -- Years ago, Kirk Gibson was one of the guys skipping All-Star Games.

He didn't blame injuries. He just told them he didn't want to go.

So how funny is it that in this year where the focus is on all the guys who aren't going to the All-Star Game, one guy who is going -- for the first time -- is the Diamondbacks manager.

"My dad and I used to bicker about it," Gibson said Monday. "He's getting his wish. I just wish he would have been able to see it."

Gibson insists he doesn't look back with regret. But when I asked him what he'd tell one of his players who was thinking about declining an All-Star invite, Gibson said, "I might tell them a story about Kirk Gibson."

Why didn't Gibson want to play in the All-Star Game?

As he said, it's a long story. He talks about wanting to recharge for the second half. He talks about how in 1988, his first year with the Dodgers, he was away from the Midwest for the first time in his life and wanted to go home and spend the break with his family.

He talks about the injuries.

"I was pretty banged up," he said.

But the fact is that he could have gone and didn't.

"I made a decision and stuck with it," he said. "I made my decision. Now I'm here as a coach, and I know I will enjoy it.

"I'm not saying it was right [to decline]. It was a decision I made."

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 9:21 pm

All-Stars on Jeter: 'He's Mr. Baseball'

PHOENIX -- To hear some people tell it, there are people upset with Derek Jeter for his decision to skip the All-Star Game.

Maybe so, but all I heard about Jeter on Monday was praise, respect and amazement at his 5-for-5, 3,000th-hit day Saturday.

"For him, that's fitting," Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. "At this point, he's Mr. Baseball. I'm disappointed he's not here, but only in the fact that I'd like to be on the same field as him."

Bruce, like many All-Stars, was able to see the 3,000th hit on television. So was Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, who was riding an exercise bike in the clubhouse.

"I was super happy for him," Polanco said. "Jeter is one of the best, if not the best, person in the game."

"It couldn't have happened to a better person," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun agreed. "And it couldn't have happened in a better way."

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who wears No. 2 because of Jeter, agreed. Tulowitzki said his only regret is that he doesn't get to see Jeter this week.

"I feel like I got robbed twice, because he was on the disabled list when we went to New York," Tulowitzki said. "It would have been great if he was here, but at the same time he's got to do what he's got to do."

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, a longtime Jeter admirer, said he saw the 3,000th hit.

"Who didn't watch it?" Gibson asked. "A special day. It was meant to be. The great thing is that the perception of Derek Jeter is the truth. There is nothing phony about Derek at all."

The truth is that Jeter's not here. And the truth is that he's still held in great, great respect by his fellow All-Stars.

For more All-Star coverage from CBSSports.com, click here.

Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:19 am

3 to Watch: The honoring Sparky edition

The home team is honoring Sparky Anderson this weekend at Comerica Park.

So are the visitors.

The Tigers will finally, belatedly, retire Sparky's No. 11 in a ceremony on Sunday. The Diamondbacks -- the first-place Diamondbacks -- will show that baseball as Sparky taught it still works.

It's ridiculous that the Tigers waited until this year, until Anderson died in November, to do this. It's great, and perfectly fitting, that they chose to do it this weekend, with Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and the team that they have tried to craft in Sparky's image in town to see it.

"Sparky meant the world to them," Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said, and anyone who knows Gibson or Trammell just a little bit knows that's 100 percent true. "He was their mentor, and their idol."

In the three years Trammell managed the Tigers, with Gibson at his side as a coach, they tried hard to teach the game as Sparky had taught it to them. For various reasons, mostly a lack of talent on the field, they lost 300 games and were never in first place after April 17.

Now Gibson is in his first full year managing the Diamondbacks, with Trammell at his side as bench coach. And this time, the Diamondbacks are in first place, ahead of the World Series champions, in the final days of June.

This time, with better talent, baseball as Sparky taught it is working the way it worked all those years for Anderson.

"I think Gibby gets the majority of the credit," Hall said. "I'd also give a lot of credit to [new general manager] Kevin Towers, and to the coaching staff. They're all on the same page like I've never seen a coaching staff."

They play baseball the way Gibson teaches it. He teaches baseball the way he learned it from Sparky.

Is there any better way to honor a Hall of Famer?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When he took over for Mike Hargrove four years ago in Seattle -- after Hargrove stunned everyone by quitting in the middle of a long winning streak -- John McLaren said: "I have always wanted to manager, but not on terms like this." OK, John, how about these terms? The Nationals have won 11 of 12, and Jim Riggleman just stunned everyone by quitting. Oh, and this time, the team is saying you're only the interim manager until they find a new interim manager, maybe by Monday. Have fun, and bring us a win, in Nationals at White Sox, Friday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field.

2. The last time Tim Wakefield pitched in Pittsburgh, Jim Leyland was the Pirates manager. And Barry Bonds was in left field. The Pirates were a playoff team. And Wakefield was pitching for them. He's appeared in 574 major-league games since then, none of them in Pittsburgh. Now he returns, in Red Sox at Pirates, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at PNC Park. As an added bonus, perhaps Red Sox manager Terry Francona will put Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield, for the first time in six years and just the second time in his big-league career.

3. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said that Gibson has been looking forward to this weekend's series in Detroit, but mostly because he'll get to see his family. But you've got to believe it means something to him to take a first-place team into town, and you know that the Sparky Anderson ceremony, to be held before Diamondbacks at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park, will mean a lot to him. You also know that Gibson's main goal this weekend is to win games. "That's the way they were brought up by Sparky," Towers said.

Posted on: May 17, 2011 3:10 pm

Gibson: Never an All-Star, now All-Star coach

Yes, it's true, Kirk Gibson never played in an All-Star Game.

But the way people in Detroit remember it, you might want to put an asterisk by that. The way they remember it, one big reason Gibson never made it to the All-Star Game as a player is that he didn't want to.

Now he's going to the 2011 All-Star Game, as a National League coach. Gibson's Arizona Diamondbacks are hosting the game, and NL manager Bruce Bochy invited Gibson to join the coaching staff. This time, Gibson accepted.

Should Gibson have been an All-Star as a player?

Sure. In 1985, he had 18 home runs and 61 RBI at the All-Star break. But the Tigers sent six other players to the game, and Gibson took the time off.

"His excuse was that it's better I stay healthy for the club to win a world championship than to play in a meaningless game," longtime teammate Jack Morris remembered. "I think Gibby has figured things out [now]. I think if he had to do it over again, he'd go to the All-Star Game."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com