Thursday, January 6, 2011
Free Agency Be Damned: A Look At The Toronto Blue Jays Coaching Staff
Thank Jebus for Proctor and Gamble, because Bounty paper towels did a great job cleaning my vomit off the floor after I read about the Carl Crawford signing.
The dude is now the highest paid outfielder in history and he's not once hit 20 home runs or knocked in 100 RBI's.
Meanwhile in Colorado, Carlos Gonzalez has an erection—but I digress.
I needed to step away from the insanity of free agency, so I decided to take a closer look at the re-vamped Blue Jays coaching staff. Since the beautiful (overly sentimental) departure of Cito Gaston, GM Alex Anthopolous has hired former Red Sox Pitching Coach John Farrell as his replacement.
I'll admit I knew little about Farrell before the interview process began. However, his pedigree with young arms like Bucholz, Papelbon and Lackey, not to mention endorsements from respected baseball people like "Un-named GM" really impressed me.
In the end, I was sold after watching the press conference where his hiring was announced. Relatively platitude free, Farrell seemed like an honest, straight shooting guy with the requisite savvy needed to relate to today's pampered athlete; he also appeared to have a nice blend of older brother aloofness and cool dad authority that seems to gel with young players.
The proof will be in the pudding, but he will nonetheless be a refreshing departure from the comatose managerial style of Cito Gaston.
Zombies eat brains; Cito ate my soul.
So without further ado, here is my humble examination of a few key (non-managerial) Blue Jay Coaching hires.
Don Wakamatsu - Bench Coach:
I'm not sure what was more alarming about this hire: The fact that Don was just fired by Seattle because the Mariners sucked, or because he doesn't look even remotely Japanese.
Either way, I needed to really dig into this.
Turns out Tokyo Don was a career minor league Catcher who built a reputation as a superb game caller. If only he could hit a lick, he may have played more than nine MLB games.
Why is this significant? Catchers are great observers of the game and as a bench coach, his perspective will be a nice counter balance to the pitcher Farrell.
Not to mention his ability to craft the finer points of J.P. Arrencibia's emerging talent.
Torey Lovullo - First Base Coach:
Lady-ish first name aside, I'm really excited by this hire. Lovullo actually interviewed for the Dodgers in 2006 and the Pirates in 2007, while he was the Manager of the AAA Buffalo Bison's (Cleveland).
Most recently, as the Manager of the Red Sox AAA affiliate Pawtucket team, Luvollo brings a wealth of experience for such a young guy, as he won't turn 46 until late July.
In short, Luvollo is a natural leader and his talents as a utility infielder and teacher offer insurance in case Brian Butterfield departs.
Pat Hentgen - Bullpen Coach:
Outside of a stint in the minors, this is a great place for a first crack at MLB coaching.
Know the line-up, know the hitters tendencies, work on the pitches and game-plan to get the one to three outs needed from the arms in the pen.
As I evaluate this hire, it's tough separating my insatiable love for Paddy Hentgen, the former Blue Jay and Cy Young winner, from Coach Hentgen, member of John Farrell's staff.
However, this move intrigues me.
I fully realize that there is an undercurrent of pandering nepatism involved here; be that as it may, Hentgen is no shrinking violet nor party hack.
On the contrary, Pat won a Cy Young due to balls and brains. He was never a lights out type like Halladay or Clemons, nor was he a sharp shooter like Maddux or Cliff Lee.
Rather, Hentgen was known as a pitcher who would throw strikes early, and then break your ankles with a 12-6 curve if you gave him the count.
It's this combination of courage, tenacity and craftiness that could provide a marvelous influence on Toronto's collection of talented young arms.
Conclusion: Homerism notwithstanding, this an exciting young managerial staff.
Adding this kind of fresh talent to a group that already includes Batting Coach Dwayne Murphy, Third Base Coach Brian Butterfield and Pitching Coach Bruce Walton further enhances an already strong posse of baseball minds.
In other news, the Yankees jack up their offer to Cliff Lee.
Where are those paper towels?