While we all are waiting on the edge of our seats for some sort of Blue Jays news regarding a free agent signing (or two), there is some news that could tide us over, at least for a little while. According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, the entire big league coaching staff will return for 2016. It might not be the news you were looking for, but it is something.
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When new club president, Mark Shapiro, took over at the beginning of the month, it sparked a rather uneasy time in Blue Jays Land. Alex Anthopoulos had left in a move that left us confused. And, in an effort to maintain some consistency, Shapiro announced that manager, John Gibbons, would be returning to lead this team for another run at the AL East title. At the time, we’d heard that the rest of the staff would be invited back, but that nothing had been agreed upon.
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On the one hand, some would say that it doesn’t really matter who the coaches are, the players on the field will dictate how the next season will go. They are the ones performing. And, there is some truth to that. But, when things don’t go right, the first people to catch blame are the coaches, which indicates a belief that they do have an impact. Where you stand on the issue will decide just how much this news means to you.
But, we should look to it as a good thing. It indicates a staff that is on board with whatever philosophies have been relayed to them. It also indicates an organization that (on some level) wants to maintain success and consistency. Keeping the coaching staff in tact will help add normalcy in a time of relative uncertainty.
DeMarlo Hale will return as bench coach. This is an interesting move in that Hale is widely respected and could end up with his own managerial position one day. He was up for the Blue Jays job not too long ago. Brook Jacoby will return as hitting coach with his assistant, Eric Owens. How awesome would that job be? Imagine being the coach for this team.
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It might be easy to say that their job is a cake walk given the potent offense this club has. But, consider the work that has gone in to guys like Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins. This tandem has done a great job working with the young hitters and will look to make gains next season as well.
Base coaches, Luis Rivera and Tim Leiper will also bring their talents back to Toronto. Rivera will man third base again and hopefully will not have to deal with instances of gaffes like certain guys seemingly just falling off third base. Leiper will work the first base side again. This is exciting news since he’ll be close to the Royals dugout when they visit. Perhaps he’ll be able to continue his maturity lessons with Yordano Ventura.
Perhaps the most difficult job of all goes to Pete Walker, once again. Depending on what happens with the rotation and, consequently, the bullpen, he’ll be tasked with jobs like transitioning Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna. He’ll also have the unenviable task of trying to get Drew Hutchison right. That is not an easy undertaking.
So, while much of the future of the Blue Jays in 2016 is undecided, there is at least one part of their organization that we can bank on. Keeping the coaching staff in tact may not be groundbreaking news, exactly. But, if it had gone the other way and the staff didn’t accept the offer to return, the potential turmoil could be harmful. Instead, familiar faces will look to lead this team to another title.