Blue Jays: Leadership pressure is on for Charlie Montoyo and his staff
After the Blue Jays dealt Kendrys Morales to the Oakland A’s on Wednesday, Charlie Montoyo is going to have to be an even stronger leader for the youth on his new team.
I don’t know about you, but I had been sold on Kenrdrys Morales’ importance to the 2019 version of the Toronto Blue Jays. We’ve been set up to expect a team that likely won’t contend this year, so having a respected Spanish-speaking veteran on the team made a great deal of sense, especially with emerging youngsters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and others learning the MLB ropes.
However, the Blue Jays decided to go another route on Wednesday, agreeing to send Morales to the Oakland A’s in exchange for minor league infielder Jesus Lopes, as well as some International bonus pool money, which could come in handy down the road. I doubt it was so much about the return for Morales as it was about opening up more playing time for more emerging youngsters, as there are plenty of them in Toronto these days.
That part of the equation is definitely a good thing, as Morales’ departure likely means we’ll see Rowdy Tellez with the big league club sooner than later, if not for Opening Day. It also means we’re that Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, and some of the other Blue Jay options should be able to get into the lineup with more regularity, which should make the juggling act for new manager Charlie Montoyo a little easier. However, the even more exciting move is that it sounds like Anthony Alford will be the first one to benefit, and anyone who was watching this spring knows how well he performed.
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Where Montoyo’s job might have just gotten a little more difficult though is in the leadership department, as Morales was expected to carry a pretty heavy load in that regard this year. The Blue Jays do have a number of useful leaders in their clubhouse like Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, and several of their veteran acquisitions this winter, however, they are lacking the same Latin-American presence without their switch-hitting DH in the clubhouse, and Montoyo and his staff will need to recognize that absence.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to paint a picture that makes it seem like the young guys need a babysitter or anything, but moving from minor league baseball into the big leagues is an enormous step, and anyone could benefit from mentorship through a transition like that. Morales would have been a big help in that regard, but his absence could be even more valuable in that in creates more opportunity for playing time for others.
All that said, it’s not the end of the world as long as the coaching staff recognizes the change in their jobs without Morales hanging around. Montoyo had even gone as far as to say it was like “having a second manager in the clubhouse”, and that sort of thing has more value than people like to give it credit for. Still, the Blue Jays saw an opportunity to create more playing time for their emerging talent, and managed to get some value in return from Oakland as well.
With all due respect to Morales, it was a no-brainer for the Blue Jays, just as long as Montoyo and his staff pick up the mentorship slack.