The Toronto Blue Jays President, Mark Shapiro spoke with Jays From the Couch about why Charlie Montoyo will be a good manager
Former Blue Jays bench boss, John Gibbons followed up back to back playoff appearances with the Jays in 2015 and 2016 with back to back losing seasons, 76-86 in 2017 and 73-89 in 2018. His tenure in Toronto had essentially run its course and it came as a surprise to few people when it was announced that he would not return in 2019. After an extensive search, on October 25 the Jays announced they had hired Charlie Montoyo as their new manager.
Montoyo has an impressive resume in professional baseball. He managed the Tampa Bay Rays’ AAA affiliate Durham Bulls from 2007-2014. His career MiLB managing record is 1,341-1,211. In 2015-2017 he served as the Rays’ third base coach and in 2018 he was made bench coach. Though Montoyo has clearly paid his dues in baseball, he wasn’t necessarily one of the more well known managerial candidates being considered for the job. Jays fans understandably want to know as much as they can about the man being entrusted to lead the team in to the future.
Jays From the Couch’s Shaun Doyle recently spoke to Jays president Mark Shapiro and one of the many topics covered was Montoyo:
SD: “What are the expectations of a new manager and are they different or unique for Charlie Montoyo? What do you expect to be different under his leadership?”
Shapiro: “…I think one of the things we felt was very powerful about Charlie was his collaborative nature that aligns with our nature as a front office. Charlie is someone who, by nature, is inclusive, is open minded, is humble and I think Charlie is going to want to draw on every single person out there, whether it be a coach and their experiences or the front office and their experiences to ensure we have every resource in place that is possible to help our players be the best they can be…”
It has been well publicized that the Jays are going with youth. They are rebuilding what they hope will be a solid core of MLB players in hopes to return to being contenders and ultimately back to the playoffs in the future. 2018 saw players such as Ryan Borucki and Lourdes Gurriel jr continue their career development at the major league level, 2019 is likely to bring more of the same with other young players. In order to give these players their best chance at success, choosing a manager with the right qualities was key.
Shapiro and the rest of the front office believe that Montoyo fits this bill very well, both in terms of his personality and professional experience. Shapiro continued “I think that is taking advantage of all the emerging analytics out there and how that can impact both maximizing the potential of our players’ talent as well as maximizing the potential of how we play the game, execute the game, lineup, bullpen, defensive alignment, all those things.” The Rays organization is known for being frugal, for trading away arbitration eligible players, yet somehow they often manage to exceed expectations in terms of wins and losses with the resources that they have.
2018 was no exception; after trading away several established MLB star players before and during the season, they finished with an impressive (all things considered) record of 90-72, good for third place in the AL East division. The hope is that Montoyo can bring a similar philosophy to the rebuilding Jays and get the most out of young players and the team as a whole in terms of in game strategies – maybe some “outside the box” type of moves such as openers which the Rays used in 2018, that could possibly translate in to exceeded expectations for the Jays as well.
Shapiro finished his comments on Montoyo by adding “…With Charlie it’s not about Charlie, it’s about how we tap into the best resources and are using them to win games.” The Jays 2019 coaching staff has a wealth of experience from various organizations. Pete Walker and Luis Rivera are returning as pitching coach and third base coach respectively. Bench coach Dave Hudgens served as hitting coach for the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros. First base coach Mark Budzinski was previously first base coach for the Cleveland Indians, AL Central champions for the past three seasons. Hitting coach Guillermo Martinez spent time coaching in the Jays minor league system. Field coordinator Shelley Duncan spent time as a player and coach for a few MLB organizations including the New York Yankees. Major league coach John Schneider, who some considered a strong candidate for Jays manager, managed the Jays’ AA affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats to an Eastern League championship in 2018.
The front office has surrounded rookie MLB manager Montoyo with coaches who have varying backgrounds from some of MLB’s most recently successful organizations. Here is hoping that his humble, collaborative, “team first” personality will draw on these minds in 2019 and beyond. It will be exciting to see what he can accomplish.
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