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Photo Credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The case against Charlie

As I laid my head on my fairly hard pillow to slumber, I had a sudden spark of inspiration for an article, in fact, it’ll be a two part article. It may come off as controversial, but I think Charlie Montoyo is here to stay and if I’m being honest, he should stay. Many people may disagree, but in this article I’ll give you the most common reasons for fans wanting Charlie to be fired.

As I started writing this article on August 31st, he had already made some questionable decisions. In fact, I truly thought they were out of the race as they were 4.5 games behind in the wild card. While he had made some questionable decisions during the course of the ongoing season, the perceived underachieving cannot be pinned on him in the slightest.

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I’ll be running through the arguments (without belittling you) and giving my take on the perceived incompetence of Charlie. In the next Montoyo article, I’ll be giving you my arguments as to why the Blue Jays should retain him for the 2022 season and beyond.

I complain about bunting:

If you’ll spare me the time, I will rip into bunting. If you know how dumb bunting is, skip to the next section. If you want to hear me rant or think bunting (more specifically sac-bunting) is a good idea, it is suggested you read this.

Bunting is dumb. Like it’s actually terrible. I actually think that bunting is acceptable in my opinion. If a left handed player (or right handed) is heavily shifted and has a huge hole to the left (or right), I actually understand them trying to lay down a bunt as it surprises the infield. Reese McGuire is a good example of a player that *tries* to do this.

Another acceptable instance to bunt is when a player in the top percentile such as Jarrod Dyson bunts for a base hit. He has the speed to get there and his hitting ability isn’t great, so bunting makes sense.

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No, I will not include pitchers bunting in the NL. This portion is talking about stuff that makes sense and not having a DH doesn’t fit that category.

Those are bunting scenarios that actually make sense. Bunting against the shift which surprises the infield and bunting for a base hit when you have speed. Want to know when bunting gets dumb? When you want to move runners. Sacrifice Bunts are incredibly dumb. Not only does it decrease your chances of actually scoring in an inning, it also gives a team a free out.

Pitchers are throwing harder than ever before. Pitchers have movement on their pitches like never before. Asking a player to bunt (when it’s use has become severely limited even from 20 years ago), is madness. 

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This is a perfect segue into how Charlie Montoyo uses bunting.

Charlie’s criticism… Bunting:

I mentioned earlier that I do question some of his decisions. This is one of them. Charlie sometimes decides to put a bunt play on in high leverage spots. A recent example of this and one that is heavily used, is the August 20th game against the Detroit Tigers. Keep in mind that I wrote this on August 31st, so this may be forgotten, especially since the Jays have been on a tear.

The Jays had just been swept by the Washington Nationals. They return home and play against the Detroit Tigers. Although the Tigers have been better since the first few weeks of the season, the Jays should have won this series. The key words are “should have”.

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In the game in question, the Tigers tied the game 1-1 after a wild pitch (that Kirk should have caught) scored the runner from third. Tied in the bottom of the ninth, both Hernandez and Gurriel walked to put runners on first and second. Instead of allowing one of your best hitters, Alejandro Kirk to bat, the decision was made to bring in Breyvic Valera to sacrifice hitter.

It is also important to profile the relief pitcher for the Tigers. Gregory Soto throws. This is obvious as he’s a pitcher, but he throws HARD. He’s in the 99th percentile for fastball velocity. Bringing in Beryvic Valera to bunt against a pitcher that easily hits 100 mph is not the decision.

The bad decision doesn’t end there as Gregory Soto is also in the 5th percentile of BB%. His BB/9 this season sits at 5.5, which is yikes (I think he’s someone the Jays should target this off season). So up until the decision was made to pinch hit Valera for Kirk, Soto had thrown 12 pitches, only four of which were for strikes.

Taking out Kirk who had a BB% of 8.1 and a K% of 12.1% at the time against a struggling pitcher who still can throw 100 mph is not a great idea. Taking him out because you’re worried about grounding into a double play is not a great idea. Bringing in Valera to bunt against a hard throwing pitcher is not a great idea. Making Valera bunt on an 0-2 count is not a great idea (considering on the homestand he hit a double to tie a game against the Red Sox).

Want some dramatic irony? The next batter, Randal Grichuk, grounded into a double play. Teoscar Hernandez, who had the first walk, never touched third safely.

However, I just spent quite a lot of words describing one incident in recent memory. Why? Well, the fact is that the Jays don’t attempt sacrifice bunts nearly as much as Blue Jays fans believe.

This doesn’t cover failed sac-bunts, but let me ask you what you consider a failed sac bunt? Is it when you get down to two strikes and have to swing? Is it striking out when attempting to bunt? Is it not moving the runners? I find it impossible to believe that the Jays are the only team that have been this unsuccessful when attempting to sac bunt. 

Let’s take a look at sac bunt rate. The calculation for such is Sac Bunts/chances to bunt. This doesn’t include pitchers (so NL teams won’t be all at the top). While it doesn’t include unsuccessful bunts, it just goes to show you how little Charlie and the Jays actually try to bunt.

The Jays have the 8th lowest rate and the 10th lowest attempts, meaning that the team really isn’t a team that sac bunts on the regular.

Charlie gets the batters to bunt with two strikes:

To keep this point short, this is something that happened early in the season and has diminished as the season has progressed. Yes, Valera got the Aug. 20th bunt down with 2 strikes, but other than that, are you able to give me an example since mid-June? People tend to forget that just like the players, managers also get better as they gain more experience. We’ll cover this in the next article

The bullpen:

I don’t agree with this argument in the slightest. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, Charlie isn’t responsible for who is in the pen. Whoever is playing on the roster are the players he can use. This is up to Ross Atkins and Co.

Secondly, it’s easy to criticize someone based on simple conclusions. “Why isn’t Player X in this spot??” As fans, we quite frankly have no idea who is available to pitch in certain games. There have been a few times since I even wrote this point that we were unaware of who was available in the pen until after the game and I’ll give you a few examples.

Upon his return from injury, Mayza was not used back to back for quite a while. Ryu was taken out of his start at the top of the 7th in New York after 80 pitches. We didn’t know why until after. Berrios was taken out after 7 on September 14th, we didn’t know why until after.

The biggest reason is the fact that until the Jays went and acquired Trevor Richards, Adam Cimber, Joakim Soria and others was because the bullpen quality wasn’t good. Kirby Yates? Injured. Julian Merryweather? Injured. If blame is placed, it would have to be on the front office. However, injuries happen and it sometimes derails a season’s team. Thankfully, August 31st Brennan was incorrect about the Jays chances, but I disagree with placing blame on Charlie for this.The fact is, once he had good arms in the pen, the relief staff actually performed. It’s been rock solid for the past month or so.

Not pinch hitting players in key spots:

Hello, future Brennan here. Everything except for edits were from when I started this article on August 31st. On that day, I asked on Twitter what everyone’s complaints about Charlie were. While this point didn’t pop up on that day, it arose on September 14th.

The Jays were down 2-0 to the Rays in the 8th. 2-0 to the Rays is basically 1,000 to the power of 1,000,000. Essentially, you aren’t winning that game. However a manager should be making moves to try to win the game.

Charlie did not do that. He had the opportunity to pinch hit Alejandro Kirk for Reese McGuire with two outs. Kirk gets on, McGuire doesn’t. Reese strikes out and the inning is over. Maybe Jano’s health was in question after falling off the bench and he didn’t want Kirk as a defensive substitution. There are many things that us fans don’t know watching the game. If Jano is good to go, yeah, this is a mistake, but even still this is not something Charlie is messing up often. Let’s move on and not argue on Twitter.

Charlie Montoyo doesn’t stick up for his guys:

Let me ask you a question, do you believe a manager screaming at the umpire actually motivates his team to do better? Maybe it does, I personally think it doesn’t. A common complaint I see against Montoyo is that he never sticks up for his guys by getting kicked out. 

I don’t agree with this in the slightest. Yes, I miss John Gibbon’s slow trot to the field knowing he’ll be ejected, much like a cow walking to impending doom. However, I really don’t think the manager getting kicked out of the game actually impacts the team.

There is a fair argument when Brandon Hyde talked trash to Robbie Ray on September 10th, but even then, Charlie’s job is to manage the bullpen. He does that to stay in the game. Also Robbie Ray is a big boy and can stand up for himself.

He’s a “Good Vibe” Manager:

This can be taken in both a good or bad way. Let’s start with the bad way because I’m a natural pessimist. It’s September 11th and Ryu is on the mound for the first game of a double header. After 2 innings, Ryu has allowed 5 earned runs. It’s the bottom of the third and the Bad Birds of the East are threatening again. With the bases loaded and one out, Charlie comes to talk to Ryu.

Ryu convinces him to keep him in the game and then proceeds to allow a two run double, allowing 7 earned runs in. I actually had a problem with this. By the same token, when he pulled Tyler Chatwood on May 23rd, many people wanted him to stay in the game and clean up his mess. I had no issue with taking out Bergen because that is the winning move. Leaving in Ryu was not the winning move.

You may disagree, but I won’t insult you! Follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I am literally going to start the “Why they should keep Charlie Montoyo” article after I send this in.