Goodnight, John Boy
As per an official team release, the coaching staff for your Toronto Fightin’ Gibbers is all but in place, with Demarlo Hale taking a spot as the bench coach as expected, Pete Walker moving up from bullpen coach to the full-on grown up pitching coach, Chad Mottola fulfilling his internet-determined destiny by becoming the Blue Jays new hitting coach. Luis Rivera gets a promotion to third base coach while Dwayne Murphy slips down a few runs to outfield instructor and first base coach. The bullpen coach position remains open – with Pat Hentgen possibly slipping into that role, suggests Mark Zwolinski.
Which means former pitching coach and long-time staffer Bruce Walton joins Don Wakamatsu at Kinkos, printing off copies of his resume and rehearsing answers to “what are you greatest weaknesses?” interview questions. Walton’s tenure as pitching coach was a rocky one, as nearly every pitcher under his watch saw his arm explode or at least randomly catch fire for a few innings.
What’s a coach worth, anyway? Dwayne Murphy become a tidy scapegoat for Blue Jays fans, his outward distaste for on base percentage and perceived “go up there and smack a tater!” mentality rubs some people the wrong way. This is an entirely simplistic and probably unfair characterization of Murph’s approach but it stuck.
Chad Mottola comes in with a sterling reputation gained during his time as hitting coach from the Jays Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Which, if we’re being frank, is akin to being named “Miss Fort McMurray” three years running. Much was made of his work remaking the swing of Travis Snider, who blistered the National League to the tune of a .293 wOBA after all his time with Mottola.
Judging coaches on results is a dangerous game. How much of last year’s injury trouble is linked to Walton’s tutelage? What about Farrell’s usage? Can we credit Murph for Edwin Encarnacion’s breakout or does his success owe more to the time spent with a private hitting instructor at the urging of Robinson Cano and his father last winter? (Ed note: fixed.)
Rivera’s promotion seems nice on a warm and fuzzy level but, again, what do we really know about his contributions? It isn’t to say any or all of these coaches haven’t formed important bonds within the clubhouse and each other, it is just difficult to put a finger on.
Congrats to all new hires and promotions and thoughts go with fancy-writing Wak and guy who lives in Canada Bruce Walton. Shrugged shoulders all around…