While watching the Jays battle the Bronx Bombers this weekend, I couldn’t help but think that the best candidate to replace Cito Gaston next year might be coaching third base for the New York Yankees. Now in his 21st season in pinstripes, Corunna, Ont., native Rob Thomson has the baseball savvy and championship pedigree that an up-and-coming Jays team could desperately use.
Yes, I admit that the idea of all-Canadian managerial battery (Alex Anthopoulos as GM and Thomson as manager) has significant appeal to me as a Canadian baseball junkie. But Thomson wouldn’t be getting the Jays job because of his citizenship. His qualifications are impeccable. A catcher and third basemen during a brief minor league career, Thomson started coaching in the Tigers organization in 1988, before he became third base coach for the Yankees Single-A Fort Lauderdale squad in 1990. During his two-plus decades with the Bombers, Thomson has coached, managed and served in player development capacities. In 2008, he managed three games for the Yankees in Joe Girardi’s absence to become the first Canadian to manage in the big leagues since George (Mooney) Gibson piloted the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934.
Clearly Thomson is qualified to be a big league manager. But would he leave the storied Yankees to come to Toronto? That’s a question you’d have to ask Thomson. Unfortunately, I’m not in New York this weekend. But we do know that his wife, Michelle, is from Stratford, Ont., and that Thomson does return to the Southwestern Ontario region fairly regularly. Thomson also often speaks of how proud he is to be a Canadian and wishes that he could be involved with the Canadian squad in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Unfortunately, one of his key Yankees duties is to run Spring Training, a role that prohibits his WBC participation. With this in mind, you’d have to think that this is a job that would have some allure for Thomson.
In recent weeks, a rumour surfaced that former Jays catcher, Sal Fasano, is a candidate to replace Gaston. In my view, the best candidate to be the Jays manager in 2011 is the Canadian coaching third base for the World Champion Yankees.