The Toronto Blue Jays hired Charlie Montoyo to manage their young, inexperienced team, but are about to present him with his biggest challenge
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The Toronto Blue Jays hired Charlie Montoyo to be their manager when the team was rebuilding, making an old roster young again. His main job was to help the young kids get acclimated to life in the big leagues, to bring out their talent and nurture their development. Winning wasn’t the priority. But, the talent that his roster contains would not need much time to prove themselves. Now, as we approach the 2022 season, Montoyo’s job has become much more difficult and meaningful.
In October, 2018, the Blue Jays hired Montoyo, taking him from the Tampa Bay Rays organization where he managed at every level, including AAA for eight seasons, seven of which saw him winning seven titles in the South Division of the International League. In 2015, he was called up to be their third base coach. Montoyo’s experience in the analytically driven Rays system certainly gave him a perspective the Blue Jays were trying to adopt along with his being bilingual (being from Puerto Rico likely had something to do with Jose Berrios staying in Toronto long term). But, perhaps, one thing that gave him the edge over other candidates is his vast experience leading young players to winning seasons while allowing them to develop, a skill that would be valuable for them entering the 2019 season…and beyond.
With future cornerstone players about to make their big league debuts, Montoyo had a very simple task: acclimate these youngsters to the everyday life of being a major leaguer AND to put the finishing touches on their development. That should be rephrased. It is a simple concept, but not a simple task and Charlie was up for it. While 2019 really only showed us flashes of what Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio could do, we can’t deny that there are clear signs that two of the three – it should be noted that Biggio has performed when healthy – have blossomed under Montoyo. The degree to which he directly impacted them is almost impossible to know, but as the manager, he certainly deserves credit.
As we are about to begin the 2022 season, the Blue Jays’ roster has a core that is the envy of baseball and when you think on the growth since the beginning of 2019, it is very impressive. Beyond Vlad and Bo, think about the hitter that Teoscar Hernandez has become, think about the growth we’ve seen from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. These are just two more examples of the success that Montoyo has had. Again, we may never know how much he, himself, is directly responsible, but he’s the boss, so led the way.
With an MVP finalist at the heart of a very dangerous offense, a starting rotation that could go toe to toe with any other in MLB, an improved bullpen and likely one more big addition to come, the expectations of Charlie Montoyo have changed. His club is coming off a 91 win season, but missing out on a playoff spot by just one game. This, after expanded playoffs allowed the Blue Jays to gain entry into the postseason, only to be bounced rather quickly. While the 2020 playoff appearance may come with an asterisk for some people due to the season being only 60 games and more teams advanced than normal, the 2021 season showed that this team is not a fluke. Finishing 20 games above .500 meant that they were ready to challenge for a championship. Once again, they did all of this under Montoyo, who was making his transition to winning, as opposed to developing.
The 2022 season is shaping up to be a big one for the Blue Jays. The front office has made several moves to build that behemoth that President Mark Shapiro spoke of way back when. For them to put this many resources into their roster, they expect to win. They absolutely wouldn’t be making the moves otherwise. Montoyo’s in game decisions will be and the front office will certainly be providing him charts and whatnot to ensure he makes the right call. They expect their manager to win games now. The players have arrived. It’s win time.
Montoyo has experience in analytics, builds relationships with his players, speaks English and Spanish and has used these skills to put the Toronto Blue Jays in position to challenge for the playoffs, and make a deep run. Expectations are high from the front office, perhaps as high as their payroll. The fans are literally vibrating with excitement over how good this team is. The Blue Jays manager is now responsible for bringing home a trophy.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.