After the outstanding season the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen put together in 2013, many earmarked the Jays’ pen as a team strength heading into 2014, even touting a possible excess of arms. However, reality didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2014, and bullpen coach Bob Stanley will pay the price for it, as first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
Stanley was a late winter addition to the Blue Jays coaching ranks, getting promoted in early January to take the role previously held by Pat Hentgen after the latter was forced to step back due to the health conditions facing Hentgen’s father. Previously, Stanley had spent two seasons as the team’s pitching coach at Triple-A Buffalo
After ranking 9th in baseball with a 3.37 ERA and ranking third in bullpen strike-outs in 2013, the team slid badly in 2014. The Blue Jays ranked 25th in baseball with a 4.09 ERA, 12th highest in hits allowed, 5th highest in home runs surrendered, 8th in walks allowed, 21st in strike-outs and 20th with a .248 batting average against.
Of course, not all of the issues can be blamed on Stanley. However, the timing of slides by Steve Delabar, Sergio Santos, and Casey Janssen, coupled with injuries to Neil Wagner and the still missing Esmil Rogers didn’t do Stanley any favors. Ultimately, the Blue Jays needed to find something to help provide a bit more leadership in that role for 2015.
As Davidi reports, the top candidates to step into the role are all in the organization already, with Bisons’ pitching coach Randy St. Claire, pitching coordinator Dane Johnson, and minor league roving instructor Rick Langford all seen as favorites.
Additionally, Davidi notes that the other remaining coaches are all expected to return, which means that pitching coach Pete Walker, hitting instructor Kevin Seitzer, first base coach Tim Leiper, and third base coach Luis Rivera will all be back with the team in 2015. The only wild card, also noted by Davidi, is bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who is being interviewed in the near future for the open manager position with the Minnesota Twins. However, it is worth noting that Hale has been a perennial managerial candidate the last 3-5 years, but has not been able to turn an interview into a job as of yet.