If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan, and you happen to like Tim Raines (and really, how could you not?), then you had some extra incentive to celebrate over the end of the year.
That’s because the team added the potential future Hall-of-Famer and to its minor league staff on Monday. Although the former Montreal Expos star will work primarily within the Blue Jays farm system as a baserunning and outfield coach, it is reported that he will work with the big league club during Spring Training in 2013.
Good timing, too. With the additions of Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio to the fold, the Blue Jays have added more overall team speed than we’ve seen in the last several years. Having someone around who might know a thing or two on how to maximize their output couldn’t hurt.
As you might recall, ex-manager John Farrell had something of a personal mission to implement an aggressive baserunning element to the team during his tenure in Toronto, something that yielded what could probably be called mixed success, since we’re trying to be nice and all.
On the other hand, the stolen base wasn’t a significant part of the arsenal during current manager John Gibbons‘ first time with the Blue Jays in the mid-2000′s – will the presence of Raines, a former base-stealing phenom with an incredible 808 SBs (84.7% success rate) over his 2500+ game career, have any impact on Gibby’s approach the second time around? With the current roster, you’d have to think that base-stealing is going to play a significant part in whatever success that the 2013 Blue Jays hope to attain.
Or, you could say that Raines’ hiring is just another hiring of a coach, and normally, I’d agree. That said, considering that the team had its fair share of baserunning blunders in ’12, particularly from players like Brett Lawrie (who stole 13 bases just a 61.9% success rate last year, compared to 87% in ’11), the timing of the decision to bring in someone like Raines as a baserunning coach seems particularly directed – even if he’ll only really be around during Spring Training.