You know how hard it is to find a picture of a third base coach that shows him from the front. - Tom Szczerbowski
Another in our run through of profiles of potential replacements for John Farrell. This time it's Brian Butterfield's turn.
Brian Butterfield is 54 and currently the Blue Jays third base coach. His father is Jack Butterfield who was Yankees' VP of player development. Jack died in a car accident in 1979.
Brian was a light-hitting middle infielder in the Yankees' system from 1979 until 1982 and then played a season for the Padres A team. He didn't hit for much average and even less power but would take a walk. His minor league line: .249/.351/.288 with 1 home run, 113 RBI in 397 games mostly at the A level. He was a good defensive player.
Brian started as a roving infield coach for the Yankees in 1984 and coached at various Yankee minor league team the next few years. In 1989 he managed their low A team to a 48-27 record and then moved up to manage their mid-A team. He moved up to first base coach with the major league team in 1994-95. In 1996 he joined the soon to be Arizona Diamondbacks, doing all sorts of jobs in helping get them ready to put together a major league team, scouting, managing a minor league team and being a roving infield instructor then joined the major league team as third base coach for 1999-2000.
When the Diamondbacks fired Buck Showalter, Butterfield went back to the Yankees to manage their A-Ball Tampa Yankees to a 77-62 record and to the Florida State League Championship.
He started the 2002 as manager of the Yankees' Triple-A team, but left in June to become the Blue Jays third base coach, and he'd been with the team since, coaching third, except for a couple of seasons a bench coach.
Butterfield has always been thought of as a great infield coach. Many players have credited Brian's work in helping them become a better infielder.
His Chance in Toronto:
Heck of a question. I have no idea what way Alex is leaning.
I was pulling for him, the last time we went through this, and I'm still hoping the Jays give him a shot. He was, at least if we can believe the reports, a finalist last time around. Butterfield is very well respected by the players, and everyone else in baseball. I've watched him work with infielders and he doesn't seem to have a problem letting players know when they aren't doing what he wants. I don't think there would be a discipline problem
He has a ton of experience in baseball and yet is willing to try new things, as we saw with the infield shifts this year. I think he has enough contacts and friends that he would have no troubles finding good people to fill out the coaching staff.
After the troubles of the last month, I'd be really happy if we picked someone that has already demonstrated his loyalty to the team. I could live the rest of my life without finding out a Blue Jay manager would rather be working for someone else.
Butterfield is also as likable as anyone you'd want to meet. All the Toronto media likes and respects him, not that likability is at the top of the list of qualities a manager needs, but it doesn't hurt. It also wouldn't hurt my feelings to have a manager that actually knows my name.
We did an interview with him (here is links, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). He's has been nice enough to say hi a few times since. The year after that interview we went down to spring training, and one game had seats right in the front row, right by Butterfield. He came over and said 'hi' in between innings early in the game. Later in the game, the Jays had runners on the corners and Brian was going through an elaborate series of signs, and over his shoulder he said 'there's no play on Tom'. Quite funny.
Anyway, I think he'd be good as a manager. I've seen a couple of people on Twitter says 'he's a coach not a manager', which seems silly to me. Most managers start as coaches. But then I think most of the guys mentioned as possible managers would probably do a good job, I think Brian Butterfield would do a good job. And, I think, showing loyalty to a coach that has been loyal to us would be a good idea too.