While Charlie Montoyo may have landed himself in a great spot for potential managerial success, fans will have to be patient with him in the early stages of the rebuild.
When a big league franchise moves from being a contender into a rebuilding phrase, it’s arguably as much of a transition for the fans as it is for the front office and the players. Obviously the direct impact of such a thing is much greater on the players, but as professionals they also understand that this is the way things work in the life of a professional athlete. Some fans aren’t able to let go as easily.
The 2019 season could very well end up being a test of loyalty for some boosters of the Blue Jays, especially if the young team continues to struggle as they have for the last two seasons. If that happens (as expected), it’ll be for a different reason though, and not because of underperformance from high paid veterans. This time it’ll be because of a young roster that needs the MLB experience in order to compete to the height of their potential, and there are plenty of young players who fit that description in Toronto these days.
In the middle of everything stands a new manager, Charlie Montoyo, who was hired away from Tampa Bay where he spent last season as their bench coach. A well-respected baseball man who has served in the minor leagues for many years, he seems like a fantastic fit to guide the talented players coming through the rigours of the big leagues over the next few years.
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There’s no doubt in my mind that Montoyo knew exactly what he was signing up for as the skipper of a rebuilding club. I wasn’t in the room, but I’m confident that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro explained their plans for at least the next five years during the interview process, and that Montoyo’s philosophies about a rebuild are part of the reason he was hired. And while he’s going to be expected to eventually deliver a winning team in Toronto, to expect any significant success in year one is probably something that all parties understand to be a long shot.
I’m hoping that the fan base understands this as well.
I’m not making advance apologies for Montoyo, or for Atkins or Shapiro for that matter. What I am saying though, is if the Blue Jays go through a year of growing pains as expected, Montoyo is the last person that should be blamed for it.
That’s not to suggest that he won’t be able to have an impact on games next year with his managerial decisions, but are we going to fault him when the Blue Jays run a plethora of rookie arms to the mound to fill out their pitching staff? They’re going to need time to adjust before they thrive, as will the talented prospects on the other side of the ball.
What will be much more important is seeing how much the young players develop next season under his tutelage, which is something that the average fan has a lot more difficulty identifying. Even then, we can’t exactly fault Montoyo if a young player like Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., or Ryan Borucki ends up needing a little more seasoning in the minor leagues. It happened to Roy Halladay early in his career, so it can happen to anyone, even a future Hall of Famer.
I’m sure the Blue Jays will have plenty of ways to evaluate their new skipper’s work next season, but I’m confident that the results in the win-loss column will be near the bottom of the list. Hopefully the fan base can understand that too and give Montoyo a fair shake.