It’s about balancing development and competitiveness but when the scales need to tip in one direction, Gary Allenson favors player development every time.
The new Buffalo Bisons manager was officially introduced Thursday morning at the annual Hot Stove Luncheon at the Adam’s Mark hotel.
Allenson becomes the 19th manager in the modern era for the Bisons, taking over for Marty Brown, who left the organization to pursue other jobs in baseball.
The 58-year-old Allenson was promoted from within the Toronto Blue Jays organization after managing at Double-A New Hampshire last year. He helped to develop some impressive talent including players who figure to be on the Bisons roster this year, among them starting pitchers Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin and catcher AJ Jimenez.
“At the minor leagues we like to win, but we have to develop players,” Allenson said. “That’s why you leave Sean Nolin in the game in a jam in the sixth inning because you want to see how he works out of it. That’s why a guy you should pinch-hit for because he’s in a 1-for-22 slump you don’t because he has to learn to get out of it. It’s different every game but with your prospects you’re going to leave them out there and develop them and hope things turn out for the best.”
But that doesn’t mean winning in Buffalo isn’t still high on the minds of the Toronto brass, including Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, who was in Buffalo for the event.
“You talk about development and winning and winning is a big part of it too, here,” Anthopoulos said. “We talked about that from the day we signed on. It’s not to say that development isn’t important but winning is part of this. Having someone who has been at this level, won at this level, has been at the big-league level and has the respect of the players, it was nice to have an in-house candidate. So it was a pretty easy decision.”
And that’s why the Blue Jays felt Allenson was the right fit for the job in Buffalo.
Allenson is entering his 20th season as a minor-league manager. With New Hampshire in 2013 he guided the Fisher Cats to a 68-72 record and third place in the Eastern League East Division.
Allenson has spent eight seasons in the International League, previously leading Louisville (1998-99), Ottawa (2003) and Norfolk (2007-11).
He also brings six years of Major League coaching experience to the Herd, working three years with the Boston Red Sox (bullpen coach 1992-93, third base coach 1994), and three with the Milwaukee Brewers (first base coach 2000, third base coach 2001-02).
As a player, Allenson was drafted as a catcher by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1976 draft and spent six seasons with the Red Sox before finishing his career with 14 games for the Blue Jays in 1985.
“He managed our Double-A team in New Hampshire with a lot of success but before that, he has great experience as a player at the Major League level and as a staff member,” said Charlie Wilson, director of the Jays’ minor league operations. “Gary shares our vision of player development but I can also tell you he’s a competitive guy. He loves to win and I think that will be a great mix here in Buffalo.”
Joining Allenson on his staff is Richie Hebner. The 66-year old spent last season as the hitting coach in New Hampshire. Randy St. Claire will be the pitching coach. The 53-year-old spent last season working with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.