Why Firing Ross Atkins and John Schneider is a Misguided Call by Frustrated Blue Jays Fans

Blue Jays GM and Manager Firing Debate

DETROIT—For a team that has reached the playoffs three times in four seasons, labeling the Blue Jays as unsuccessful would be incorrect. Since 2019, the Blue Jays haven’t played a single regular-season game while eliminated from playoff contention.

However, watching the Blue Jays has been difficult for over a year now. Last season, despite strong pitching and defense, they barely edged out the Seattle Mariners before getting swept by Minnesota in the playoffs, scoring only once. It was arguably the least enjoyable playoff season in franchise history, acknowledged even by club president Mark Shapiro.

“This season was a grind,” Shapiro remarked last October in his end-of-season media conference. “It was not ever easy. It was extremely frustrating and challenging. I’m not sure why, we still won 89 games … I can’t remember a season that felt more like an effort.”

Over the winter, general manager Ross Atkins aimed to add up to four bats but, after missing out on Shohei Ohtani, shifted focus to pitching and defense. This strategy has backfired as the team’s performance has not improved. Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers marked the 20th time in 51 games the Jays scored two runs or fewer, leaving them at 23-28, three games worse than the same point last year.

Some fans advocate for drastic measures: fire everyone, trade the rest, and rebuild around a few players like Davis Schneider and Danny Jansen. While this reaction may seem extreme, a significant portion of the fan base wants Atkins and manager John Schneider gone.

This frustration overlooks a significant contradiction. If Atkins did a poor job assembling the team and Schneider managed it poorly, it’s puzzling given Schneider’s highest winning percentage in Jays history at .551. Even legendary manager Bobby Cox follows at .549, with other notable names trailing behind.

This suggests that either Atkins built a team capable of winning more often than it does and Schneider is underperforming, or Atkins assembled a mediocre team and Schneider is maximizing its potential. Both scenarios cannot be true simultaneously.

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Despite the team’s 0-4 postseason record under Schneider, it’s worth noting that even Cito Gaston’s teams started 2-9 in the playoffs before winning consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.

Schneider isn’t to blame for the Jays’ offensive struggles. His role is to position players for success, and his winning percentage indicates he’s done this well. Closer Jordan Romano, who has been managed by Schneider in both minor leagues and Toronto, firmly stated, “Zero,” when asked how much blame the coaching staff bears. “They’re not out there playing for us. They support us and make the right decisions. It’s up to the players. We’ve just got to do a little better.”

Thus, while fans may dispute individual managerial decisions, Schneider’s success contradicts the widespread dissatisfaction. Similarly, Atkins transformed a 95-loss team into a consistent playoff contender, albeit one that hasn’t fully lived up to expectations.

In conclusion, logic dictates that both Atkins and Schneider can’t be entirely at fault. Acknowledging this contradiction is crucial in evaluating their roles in the Blue Jays’ performance.

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