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The case for Charlie

It’s July 30th and the Blue Jays have finally returned home to face the Kansas City Royals. Before the start of the game the Jays held a pre-game ceremony to let the fans welcome the Jays back. The following day I posted what would become my most interacted tweet (minus Utah’s plane hitting birds, but never mind that).

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Charlie Montoyo is a stoic manager. Very rarely do you ever see him get upset. In fact, he’s only been ejected four times in 387 game

Yet on July 30th, Montoyo cried. Society has shaped men, telling us that it’s “unmanly” to cry, yet on July 30th, Montoyo cried. They were tears of happiness because he knew Canada’s team was back.

So why keep this man as the manager? He’s made some poor decisions and he “isn’t a world series winning manager”. To that, I ask, why? More importantly, I ask why can’t he be?

Charlie is a human being, he learns from mistakes:

As players gain more experience in the big leagues, so do the managers.. Montoyo isn’t perfect, but he sure has adjusted certain aspects of his managerial style. Remember when Blue Jays players attempted to lay down a bunt with two strikes early in the season? The last time I remember a player doing that was Breyvic Valera on August 20th. Even before then it was phased out of their tactics.

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He’s adapted and learned from his previous mistakes. Want another example? Sure! The Jays played in Dunedin against the Rays on May 21st. The game went to the 12th inning before Charlie made a pretty bad mistake. Instead of trying to get out of the top of the 12th without allowing a run, Charlie and the Jays intentionally walked two batters, loading the bases. He attempted to get a matchup he wanted and it backfired as Francisco Mejia hit a grand slam on the first pitch.

Has Charlie made that mistake since? You guessed it, nope. 

His bullpen management isn’t nearly as bad as we think:

Let’s use this May 21st game again as an example of how depleted his bullpen was. Anthony Kay started the game and only pitched 4 innings. In relief came Travis Bergen, A.J Cole, Jordan Romano, Tim Mayza, Tyler Chatwood (last game before he started to struggle), Joel Payamps and Jeremy Beasley. Two of those guys are high leverage. Bergen, Cole, Beasley and Kay are all in the minors. Tyler Chatwood and Joel Payamps were traded because when they got healthy, their bullpen options were better. The bullpen wasn’t bolstered until the front office went out and got pieces such as Cimber and Richards. When a team is given minor league pitchers for their bullpen, they’ll struggle. That’s not on Charlie.

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Every season his team has gotten better:

Obviously a huge part of this is because of the front office’s free agent signings as well as trades. However, every single season the team has continued to improve since Charlie took the reins. 2019 was a tough season as evident by the team’s .414% win percentage. The COVID season was a drastic improvement to .533% and as I write this, the team’s win percentage sits at 0.561%.

Again, the front office has a role to play in all of these records as they construct the team. However, if you read the accompanying article released on Wednesday, you’ll see that a lot of criticism is unnecessary. He isn’t perfect, but Charlie will continue to manage as long as the team improves each season.

As a 31-year-old manager in 1997, Montoyo led the Rays rookie league team to a winning record. In the 1998 season, he led his Low A team to the a division title. In his 21 seasons managing, he has had a winning season 14 times. If Charlie has good players, the team will have good results.

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Good vibes, the good edition:

Think about it, when have you seen a manager participate in a home run celebration. When have you seen a dugout have this much fun? Montoyo could be considered a player’s manager, but in all honesty that’s the best kind of manager. From all accounts, the players love him.

Sept. 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (4) puts on “The Blue Jacket” after hitting a home run during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Kucin Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie is not old school:

The Front Office will continue to employ Charlie Montoyo. There are quite a few reasons, but I think one of the biggest is that he isn’t old school. As I mentioned, Charlie started managing when he was 31. He spent all his time with the Rays organization, one of the most innovative and best run franchises in all of sports. 

Baseball is really the only sport where advanced analytics has a place in the game. You can predict with accuracy where a ball will be hit depending on the batter. You know how to get batters to swing. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a manager that can consume this data and put it into action?

Personality matters!:

An interesting discussion started in one of my college classes about how managers and coaches treat their players. The old “coach yells at player” style has not been resonating with the younger generation. To be frank, no, it doesn’t work.

To be a manager, you have to have good interpersonal skills. You have to understand that each player has a different personality. Charlie Montoyo understands this. You can have the best tactics in the world, but if your players don’t trust you, if you aren’t a good leader or if they despise you, it’s unlikely you’ll get results.

Let’s use an “old school” shouty manager. Remember that sacrifice bunt list I mentioned at the start of the article? Would you like to take a guess who has the fourth highest sac bunt rate? None other than Tony La Russa.

Stop shouting at me!:

Tony La Russa is a “good” manager because he’s “won” two titles with the Cardinals. That looks impressive and you know what, maybe he was good in 2006 and 2011, but is he still good after the analytics boom in the mid 2010s? Absolutely not.

Screaming and chewing your player out in press conferences or in dugouts doesn’t resonate with players anymore.As I mentioned, yelling at a player doesn’t work. Tony La Russa doesn’t care as he’s already chewed out two of his own players this season.

Yermin “Lewis” Mercedes hit a homer on a 3-0 count with a position pitcher pitching. Of course old school Tony La Russa runs his mouth in the press conference selling out Mercedes. Before this, Yermin slashed  .364/.410/.984 in 139 plate appearances. It’s safe to say this wasn’t going to last forever, but his slash line after that game in 123 plate appearances was .162/.236/.443. It could be the league figuring it out, but I truly believe it was the manager being a butthead.

Let’s conclude:

I believe the Jays will win the World Series. I also believe the Jays will win the World Series with Charlie Montoyo at the helm. Is he perfect? No. He makes mistakes as all managers do. However, Charlie’s personality is that of a good manager and he has a decent track record to boot.

What’s more is that Charlie has continued to improve from season to season and even during the season.

As always, follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.