The Blue Jays have hired a couple of unexpected names to their coaching staff in Charlie Montoyo and Dave Hudgens, but both are excellent additions.
When it became inevitable that John Gibbons wouldn’t be back as the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays for 2019, we knew that he wouldn’t be the only one to go. Surprisingly it looks like a couple coaches such as Luis Rivera and Pete Walker may be retained, but generally it’s not a surprise if there’s a pretty sweeping change.
At the helm of the ship is now Charlie Montoyo, who if we’re being honest, wasn’t among the original list of candidates that were being talked about to take over for Gibbons. For many baseball fans (including several of my friends), seeing his hiring was a surprise and resulted in text messages of “who is that?” flying around all over the country.
The thing is, the closer you look at Montoyo’s resume the smarter the hiring looks. He’s a man with a lot of respect around the game, a long track record as a manager throughout the minor league systems in baseball, and someone with recent success in Tampa Bay. He’s a sharp-minded, bilingual speaker, and now that we know a little more about him, I think I can speak for most (many?) Blue Jays fans that it makes a lot more sense.
The same could be said for the new bench coach in Dave Hudgens, whose hiring was announced on Wednesday. Hudgens also comes with a long track record of coaching, and recent success with the Houston Astros as their hitting coach. In fact, after looking at the numbers it almost makes me wish the Blue Jays had hired him to take over for Brook Jacoby as the hitting instructor, but it makes sense that Hudgens would be looking for a promotion. Ian Hunter noted on Twitter yesterday that the Astros have had the best wRC+ in baseball since Hudgens has been their hitting coach, and hopefully he’ll have a similar effect on the young Blue Jays coming through the system.
Personally, I love the fact that both of these men have a long track record of experience. I understand the temptation to hire a young rookie coach like Alex Cora or Aaron Boone, especially given the recent track record of success for those types, but that’s generally a backwards way to think if you ask me. Having experience doesn’t preclude any coach from buying into the modern way of thinking about the game, and I think it’s safe to assume that both men are on coach with that.
The Astros and Rays have been among baseball’s leaders in lots of these new categories, whether it be launch angle or spin rate, or generally just milking the absolute most out of unexpected stars like the Rays seemed to do on the regular. Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro knew what they were looking for, and it sounds like they’ve found it.
Of course, the results will eventually speak for themselves, and hopefully Blue Jays fans will have a little patience for a year or two. The roster is undergoing a rebuild, and while there are many exciting prospects on the cusp of stardom, it’s still going to take a little time before this team is ready to compete again, regardless of how good Montoyo or Hudgens are at their jobs.
At this point though, I’m a big fan of the experience, the reputation, the knowledge from other organizations they bring from them, and maybe most of all, that the Blue Jays didn’t just follow the trend.