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Blue Jays: The pressure is on for Charlie Montoyo and Ross Atkins

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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While every MLB managerial hire is a significant development, the Blue Jays’ hiring of Charlie Montoyo is the biggest decision of Ross Atkins’ career so far, and there will be a lot of pressure on both men in the next few seasons.

The Blue Jays finally announced that Charlie Montoyo would be the 13th manager of the ball club, breaking the news on Thursday afternoon.

Montoyo comes for the Tampa Bay Rays and spent last season as their bench coach, and three seasons prior as their third base coach. He’s got a great deal of minor league managing experience as well, including a successful resume, and a highly respected reputation around baseball.

Still, Montoyo’s hiring was a bit of a surprise, maybe only because of the fact that his name hadn’t been linked to the Blue Jays in any rumours before Thursday’s announcement. They had reportedly interviewed several other candidates like David Bell (hired by the Reds), Rocco Baldelli (hired by the Twins), and also Brandon Hyde and Joe Espada. There was always a fifth mystery candidate all along, and there’s a pretty good chance that it was Montoyo, or else he really impressed late in the process.

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The 53 year old will take the reigns from John Gibbons and will be tasked with guiding the Blue Jays through their rebuild, which began late last season. He also represents the biggest decision of Ross Atkins’ young career as a big league General Manager, and arguably one of the most significant choices in Blue Jays team history.

There will be very little expectation for the Blue Jays to win next year, and I hope the fan base keeps that in mind when they go through some inevitable struggles. That’s what happens when you choose to tear down the roster and try to build a winner from the ground up, and I doubt that any skipper would change that destiny for the Blue Jays in 2019m so hopefully we can cut Montoyo some short term slack at least.

However, this franchise has a great deal of talent on the way in their minor league system, and it’s not just Vladimir Guerrero Jr. that I’m talking about either. There are many other elite prospects including but not limited to Bo Bichette, Nate Pearson, Cavan Biggio, Eric Pardinho, and more, as well as those that got a taste of the big leagues last year like Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Ryan Borucki. Yes, the Blue Jays are embarking on a rebuild, but if things are done right then it won’t be a long one.

Montoyo is obviously a key cog in how things work out, and the Blue Jays’ brain trust clearly has faith that he’s the right man for the job or they wouldn’t have handed him such an important role.

As the youngsters continue to arrive in the big leagues the new bench boss will be tasked with getting the most out of them at the highest level, and the potential appears to be very big. Baseball America ranks their minor league system as the third best in baseball, and with the #1 individual player being Guerrero (and Bichette appearing in the top 5-10 spots on some lists), winning will become the expectation sooner than later.

It sounds like Montoyo’s new contract is for three years with a club option for a fourth year, which should be an appropriate timeline to see if he’s the right guy for the job by the time the Blue Jays are ready to truly compete again. I don’t think it’s fair to expect that in 2019, or maybe even in 2020, especially with the loaded Red Sox and Yankees in the same division, and the Rays having a strong system as well. However, if the Blue Jays don’t look like they’re headed in the right direction by three years from now, the length of Montoyo’s contract, then there’s a good chance that both he and the Blue Jays front office would be on the way out the door.

While I admittedly don’t know a lot about the newest manager of the Blue Jays, I will say that I trust that he’s a good hire, and I’m more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until we’ve seen him in action for quite a while. This rebuild is going to take some time, but Montoyo’s impact on the development of their young stars will be the biggest difference between a short turnaround, a longer rebuild, or in a worst case, an unsuccessful one.

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Given the talent in the minor league system and the excitement around the future of the Blue Jays, failure isn’t an option, and the pressure is definitely on for both Montoyo, and the man who hired him.

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