Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Different Kind of Call Up

Here’s a question: When is Charlie Montoyo going to get called up?

The unthinkable is thinkable, as Xavier Hernandez’ departure demonstrates. Charlie Montoyo is probably going to depart some day. Why not try to get some thoughts out there for us all to worry about?

As readers will quickly notice, there’s a lot that I don’t know about how the process might work. So let’s see if we can make this something of a “plug and play” item. That is, I’ll put down some thoughts, leave some obvious holes, and folks can plug them for me — either by making a comment or by direct email, either way works. Just pick out one of the many “don’t know” statements below and jump in.

We know about players going to the majors, often enough for the first time in September. But when does a championship-quality manager go to the majors? Probably not in September, but he does eventually leave.

The basic circumstance is this: There really isn’t anything to be done in Triple A that Mr. Montoyo hasn’t done and done superbly.
  • He has gotten the Bulls into the International League playoffs by winning the South Division Championship four years in a row.
  • He has gotten them into the finals of the Governors’ Cup three years in a row and we are about to see how the fourth try goes.
  • His team won the Governors’ Cup last year.
  • He was just named International League Manager of the Year.
  • The Bulls also won the “National Championship” last year. (Careful readers know I don’t think much of that title. Nevertheless, the Bulls did win the game and as much by good managing as much as by good play.)
  • His won-loss record with the Bulls is 569 - 223 for a .568 winning percentage.
In addition to getting his teams into championships, Charlie has managed or coached several international teams, all-star teams, futures teams, etc.

That’s the teams, but minor league management has a lot to do with developing players. From the distance of where we sit in the stands, this also seems to have worked very well. Many of the Rays on the 2008 championship team and this year’s team worked for Montoyo before heading to St. Pete.

So you have to think that some day Montoyo is going to be packing his bag to leave Durham for greater challenges.

Just how does that work? The basic answer is that I don’t know. It does seem like the front line major league managers come from among the manager/coach ranks of other major league teams. So the obvious first step is for Charlie to get “called up” to a coaching (e.g., bench coach, third base coach) position.

Would that be with the Rays? Again, I don’t know how that works. I suppose that, like most folks in professional sports, Charlie is on a year-to-year contract. So I’d guess it to be unlikely he would jump ship in the middle of a year, but after the year is over, no idea.

He’s been managing in the minors for 14 years, and, I think, has been with the Rays for his whole managing/coaching career. So it would make sense that if he’s going to move up, it would be within the Rays system. What happened in Seattle this year is very unlikely to happen in the Rays’ system. Is there a process for moving up in the Rays system? Again, I don’t know.

I suppose the argument could be made, from the Rays’ point of view, that Charlie is making more of a contribution to the Rays by being in Durham that he would be able to make in St. Pete. And there’s quite of bit of merit to that argument, assuming that the compensation goes along with that view. If I were Charlie, however, I would suspect that that line of thinking comes mostly from folks trying to protect their jobs in St. Petersburg, not necessarily from those with his best interests at heart.

And you’ve got to think that money has something to do with it. Does Charlie make more running the Bulls than he would coaching the Rays? Again, don’t know.

Do coaches have agents? Don’t know.

Do coaches/managers shop around with different teams? Seems that way, but not sure about that.

One thing for sure: Charlie Montoyo is too young and too successful to stay with the Durham Bulls much longer without some really good reasons.

There you are. Of course, very unlikely we’ll see a September call-up. But will Charlie Montoyo be back for next spring?

Jump in, especially if you’ve got a good link that explains how this sort of thing works.

Finally, let me add this disclaimer:

I've never even met Mr. Montoyo. All I really know about him is what I see from the stands. And I like that a lot. If it were up to me, I'd like to see him stay for years to come. Who else develops great players and wins championships the way he does?


  1. To answer your very last question...

    I don't know.

  2. Not sure if the Herrara's comments the other night brought this up or not, but in case it's not, I'll recap what he and the Baseball America guy were saying (sorry I forget the guy's name).

    Basically they said it's rare to see a direct AAA -> major league manager jump. The thought is that you have to prove yourself in the majors first. They then went on to say that the Ray's current bench coach is getting looks as a possible manager and if that happens it's possible Charlie would be summoned up there for that role.

    This is consistent with the past if you recall because Bill Evers got called up for that exact position. He eventually retired, but he wasn't exactly young. I could seem Charlie going there and progressing.

    Unfortunately, Bill's replacement was John Tamargo, who wasn't horrible, but wasn't great. Rays dumped him quick though. So I think it's fair to say the Rays seem to care about the AAA manager role.

  3. Tamargo was the manager the first year I was watching the Bulls closely. It wasn't until near the end of the year that I figured out that he was a key part of the problem with Dukes and Young. That is, he just didn't know how to manage them, although both young men were real challenges. Remarkable turnaround from that year to the next.
    Didn't hear that conversation, but it sort of fits. Also seems to me that Charlie might be a good third base coach.