A couple of years ago, the news that one of the Jays' old-timey heroes was coming back into the fold as a coach might have had us dancing on one leg and singing choruses of "goody-goody-gumdrops". But yesterday's announcement of former Cy Young winner Pat Hentgen's return to the fold full time as the Jays' new bullpen coach has elicited much less from us.
Not that we're not happy to see him back, because there are few former Jays on whom we look more kindly than Hentgen. (You wanna think Shaun Marcum is a bulldog? We once saw Pat Hentgen dive headfirst to beat a runner on a play at first. That's nails.) Plus, we've appreciated that Hentgen has shown a willingness in the past to serve in whatever role the Jays' brass asked of him, rather than just allowing himself to be paraded before the press at Spring Training.
Still, we're showing a bit of restraint on the announcement because:
a) We've seen a long list of other celebrated former Jays make their way onto the coaching roster (Lloyd Moseby, Ernie Whitt, Garth Iorg, Buck Martinez), and none of them blew our minds in terms of their contributions; and,
b) We really don't much have much of a sense of what the bullpen coach does, and before Pappy Walton's ascension to the title of pitching coach, we might not have given more than a moment's thought to the role.
Neverthless, we're eager to at least pay a little more mind to Hentgen, and watch his evolution in the coming years. Might he become a future pitching coach? Or will he be the Chief of Tomfoolery in the bullpen, teaching the youngsters how to administer hotfoots and get phone numbers from the ladies in section 136?
The rest of the staff
If you're looking for a theme to just about everything we're writing lately, it's something like "I don't know what I don't know, but I know that I don't know...so...I dunno." So don't expect much in the way of declarations one way or another on the rest of the Jays staff.
But we can say that we're optimistic about the Jays bringing in Don Wakamatsu, given that some folks have told us that he's tactically strong and gets a bum rap because of how lousy his team was last year. Also, we're happy to see Dwayne Murphy return as the Professor of Power/Hitting Coach, given that it is difficult to quibble with last year's results. Add him to Pappy and Butter, and you've got a good core that will provide some continuity for the players.
The new first base coach, Torey Lovullo, is apparently an old pal of Farrell's, and was rumoured to be coming in as the new bench coach. We're actually relieved that Lovullo, a long time minor league manager, and the skip in Pawtucket this past season, didn't get the nod as Farrell's 2-I-C just yet. It's nice to have a familiar face on the staff for Farrell, and someone who he can trust implicitly...but we're not sure how that sort of (sorry) cronyism would have played with the players and a staff full of guys who were somewhat on the outside of The Manager's crew of old chums.
The sad note here is that Omar Malave, the Jays' first base coach this year, is not on the staff at this point. A lifer in the Jays' organization in a way that few others can claim, we're hoping that the Jays find a role for the long-time minor league manager, especially given the strong Latin contingent coming to the fore, and the lack of a Hispanic voice on the coaching staff for next year.