TORONTO — Feeling like an outsider who’d hit his ceiling with the Toronto Blue Jays, Marty Brown resigned as manager of the Buffalo Bisons after three years in charge of the organization’s triple-A affiliates.
The news, first reported by Sportsnet early Friday evening and confirmed by a late-night release from the Bisons, leaves Alex Anthopoulos with an important hole to fill at a key grooming stop for the club’s top prospects, though the GM is believed to already have some candidates in mind for the job.
Brought to the Blue Jays in 2011 by former manager John Farrell – who as farm director with the Cleveland Indians hired the former Cincinnati Reds infielder to manage the Bisons for the first time in 2003 – Brown had been reconsidering his future since the 2013 season ended.
A veteran of 12 minor-league seasons as a manager plus a five-year stint as a skipper in Japan, and due to turn 51 on Jan. 23, the tipping point came in the last few weeks, when he was passed over for the first base coach’s gig on manager John Gibbons’ big-league staff, an assignment that went to Tim Leiper.
In an interview with Sportsnet, Brown was full of praise for the well-regarded Leiper, but the experience underlined to him how, "Toronto has a lot of friends and people they feel obligated to, and I’m not one of them. I thought it would be good that I move away and find out if I can do something else to help out me and my family."
"I want to try and do something where I can move forward because managing, I’ve been pretty stagnant for the longest time," he added. "Even the interview Toronto so gratefully gave me this year, they already had a guy in mind, and it was kind of a courtesy interview in my mind. I still really appreciate that, but I’ve been at this a long time, and in my mind I deserve more. I just want to try move on and maybe I can help out another organization in another field."
Among the things Brown is considering is a move into scouting in the Pacific Rim, where he still has strong ties from his four seasons in charge of the Hiroshima Carp and one year running the Rakuten Golden Eagles, home of pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. His wife is from Japan so there’s also a familial pull to the region, but he remains open to anything player-development related as well.
"I know a lot of the international players and I feel good about what I can bring on the development side or the scouting side to whatever organization," he said. "Nothing against the Blue Jays, after 17 years of managing maybe it’s time I move on and do something else because opportunities haven’t really presented themselves for me to move forward and better myself."
During his three years with the Blue Jays – the first two at Las Vegas before the organization moved its triple-A affiliate to Buffalo – Brown did his part to make players better. He graduated several prospects to the big-leagues and, especially during the past two seasons, had to juggle through constant roster adjustments as the Blue Jays ran players up and down because of injuries.
Asked which players he’d keep closest tabs on, he replied: "I really enjoyed guys like Travis d’Arnaud, who’s now gone, Adeiny Hechavarria, I really enjoyed him, Anthony Gose has been a project but I consider him a very good friend. He can be very difficult, but what a talent. Moises Sierra has been a young up and coming project."
"As a triple-A manager you want to get guys to understand what you want to do as an organization, and sometimes young players in this day and age have a sense of entitlement – I’ve been here, I’ve done this, I need to be there – and sometimes it becomes a problem with managers as it looks like you’re blocking their way," Brown added. "That’s not the case, there has to be an element of consistency. I’ve always looked at it as I take each and every one of these kids and try to get the most out of them, put them in situations to succeed and make them better. That was the way I approached my job."
Between the ascendant players worried mainly about taking the next step and the descendant players embittered by their situation, managing at triple-A can often be a thankless, draining task. Some who have done the job describe it as the most difficult level to manage because of the various resentments, challenges and competition that must be dealt with.
"It does become exhausting," Brown acknowledged, but added, "I still love the field, I’m going to miss the field and who knows, I might be back on the field next year. I hope so. I just don’t know this was the best scenario for me. I wish the Blue Jays well, Alex has his job cut out for him as general manager, he wants to do the best he can do for Toronto and Canada. I just didn’t really feel like I was a part of it, to be honest with you."