The Toronto Blue Jays may not have entered the 2014-15 offseason with the intention of making any coaching changes. However, as a team looking to make improvements, they aren’t necessarily shutting out any opportunities to better the ballclub either.
According to a recent tweet from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Blue Jays could be courting an upgrade over incumbent Hitting Coach Kevin Seitzer.
It comes as no surprise that the Blue Jays, and any other team with an opening at Hitting Coach would be hot on the trail of former Yankees Hitting Coach Kevin Long. Despite being let go last week in a coaching shake-up with the Yankees, Long is highly regarded for his work with batters. However, he fell victim to a team that scored the third-fewest runs in the American League, even if the fault lay more in injuries and aging superstars than it did in the work done in the cages.
However, prior to the 2014 season, Long has perennially been regarded as one of the top hitting instructors in the game, regularly placing the Yankees offense at the top of the league rankings. That will make him a hot commodity for many teams, with the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, and New York Mets among them.
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That all said, the Toronto Blue Jays still have an incumbent in Kevin Seitzer they may not be ready to part with. After all, Seitzer has a strong history with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and is only one season into his tenure with the club. The Blue Jays would likely want to make sure they are making the soundest judgement possible with Seitzer before cutting him loose.
The reviews on the field looked a bit mixed though. The communication between Seitzer and the players seemed strong, with many consulting with him throughout the course of the game, and there were definitely some solid results. Noticably, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie bought into Seitzer’s up-the-middle approach, with Lawrie starting to show some big improvements, slashing .281/343/.438 over his last 25 games before hitting the DL. Additionally, the team placed 7th in team batting average, 5th in runs scored, and 5th in wRC+.
Unfortunately, the Blue Jays also saw a major dip in their power production in the middle months of the season, and Lind’s almost disappeared entirely for the season. That ultimately hurt the team’s playoff push, regardless of whether or not it was to blame on Seitzer or the multitude of injuries, notably to Edwin Encarnacion. That was a valid issue that has haunted Seitzer’s approach during his previous stop in Kansas City, and ultimately cost him players confidence and his job there.
Whether or not that is playing a part into the Blue Jays turning over the stone with Kevin Long remains to be seen, but given the Blue Jays penchant for power, there is no doubt that his approach would work well with Toronto’s line-up. Still, the team will want to tread lightly unless they are completely sure this is the path they want to take.
Still, it’s an intriguing thought, and as a fan, I’m pretty sure we’re up for a good change. And this would seem to be a very good change.