According to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Blue Jays have fired Charlie Montoyo from the manager’s gig and have shaken things up in Toronto.
This is the unfortunate result when a team underperforms, and that’s exactly what the Blue Jays have done so far in 2022 when they were expected to take a strong step toward World Series contention. The season is not lost as they are still 46-42 and in the midst of a battle for a Wild Card spot, and it looks the Blue Jays wanted to make a significant change before things got out of hand. After losing nine out of their last 11 games, it’s an understandable decision.
That said, it is fair to blame Charlie Montoyo for this mess?
On one hand, I’ll submit that the performance of a team is ultimately on the players, but it’s also the responsibility of the skipper. Montoyo may not be directly at fault for the underwhelming first half from several of the Blue Jays’ stars, or the injuries they’ve had to navigate as a club, but he is responsible for steering the ship in general. Even the 56 year old would tell you that.
Many of us have questioned his in-game decision making over the past couple of seasons, and even the lineup card that comes out with regularity. That’s going to happen with any manager, especially when a team disappoints like the Blue Jays have, and that’s part of the job that I’m sure Montoyo understands. However, it’s clear that something wasn’t clicking in the clubhouse this season, and it was surprising how little the Blue Jays did to try and right the ship at times.
Having said all of that, I do want to defend the now former Blue Jays skipper a bit here as well. As much as I’m a fan of Ross Atkins and the front office for the most part, I think we’ve witnessed some shortcomings in their work from this past offseason. The pitching staff doesn’t have the depth that many of us expected or that the team needs to compete in the AL East, and that’s the case for both the rotation and the bullpen. You can’t win the race if you’re not working with the right horses, and I’m not sure that a different manager would have been able to squeeze a much better result out of this team over the first 88 games.
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There’s also the reality in today’s game that the coaching staff is more of an extension of the front office, and specifically, the analytics department. One of the many reasons that the Blue Jays hired Montoyo was because he lined up with their philosophies as far as strategy. For example, the Jays have been one of the teams using the shift to the extreme compared to their competition, and that’s not entirely a Montoyo thing. I’m not making excuses for him, I just feel it’s important to note that this is about more than just one mind at work here.
At the end of the day, the Blue Jays had to do something, and shaking things up with the coaching staff was always a possibility. I wrote about it a few days ago, and frankly, I’m not surprised this is the ultimate resolution. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Blue Jays made a few other changes right away either, or more likely, saw significant turnover with the coaching staff after the season. My assumption is that John Schneider will take over in the interim, and perhaps this is will also be an audition for a guy who has felt like a “manager in in waiting” for a while. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, it’s possible the Blue Jays want a significant change in direction, voice, or style of management.
The unfortunate reality is that the Blue Jays have disappointed so far this year, and being in a “win-now” window doesn’t afford them the time to waste a season that they should be contenders. Their core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer, Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, etc, won’t be young and in their prime forever, and the Blue Jays are going to have to make some tough payroll choices over the next few years. This 2022 campaign represents one of their best chances to win, and the front office just proved the urgency with their decision here on Wednesday.
Is it fair that Montoyo ultimately serves as the scapegoat for how this season has gone so far? Not exactly, but it was clear that the Blue Jays needed to make some sort of change, and taking the blame is all part of the gig for a MLB manager.