With Toronto Blue Jays fans demanding big changes throughout the organization following their epic postseason debacle, one has to wonder whether manager John Schneider will survive an offseason purge if one occurs.
Despite GM Ross Atkins’ recent comments assuring Schneider’s return, one has to question whether this is the whole truth given this front office’s problems with openness and transparency. There are countless cases where managers or coaches received a vote of confidence, only to be blindsided by their firing shortly thereafter.
It wouldn’t be shocking if the front office turned around and empowered Schneider tomorrow. The current regime has a penchant for self-care and keeping up appearances, as Atkins’ appalling performance at the year-end press conference made especially clear.
To say that John Schneider single-handedly ruined the season with his decisions in the Wild Card series is not entirely accurate. The analytics-driven approach, and therefore reception, clearly had a major impact on the astonishingly flawed game plan. But it was Schneider who blindly followed the plan, despite what the eye test told everyone with a pair of eyeballs.
So now questions about his future in Toronto are swirling like an autumn storm, especially since many veteran MLB executives have recently been relieved of their duties and are no doubt looking for work.
The Blue Jays have several options if they decide to evaluate all prospects, but it may be best to leave a few out.
Phil Nevin was released by the Angels after the season. While there are reports that players weren’t happy with the decision, he may not be a good fit for Toronto. He has about the same experience as John Schneider, having taken over the job on an interim basis when the Angels fired Joe Maddon at the end of last season. Sounds familiar?
In 268 games (Schneider has 236), managing two generational talents in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, Nevin finished with a record of 119-149. Truth be told, he had nothing else to do.
Buck Showalter recently announced that he will not return to the Mets in 2024. An old-school manager may be what the Blue Jays need, but no one is going to want to carry the stench of the Mets’ wildly disastrous 2023 season anywhere near a team that’s struggling with its own crisis.
That leaves Gabe Kapler, who was dropped from San Francisco’s bench three games into the season.
Since they are located on the West Coast, far from the daily concerns of the battle for the AL East, you may not be familiar with the Giants’ current situation. A team that finished the season 79-83 and finished fourth in the NL West, Kapler didn’t have a squad that could seriously contend for the playoffs. He somehow managed to keep them in the wild-card race until the final week of the season, but a steep decline at the end of the year doomed his tenure.
There may be something going on behind the scenes that we’re not privy to, but firing him seems like an odd move for an organization that has been competitive this year despite the personnel Kapler had to work with. And boy, did he ever work with the job he had.
If you thought the Blue Jays and John Schneider had a lot of touching performances this season, you haven’t seen anything. The feisty Kapler has about as many moving parts on his teams as anyone else.
He used 1.63 pinch hitters per game last season, the most of any manager, and led that category for the third consecutive season. He used 1.34 pinch hitters per game this year. The Jays used 0.70 per game. Kapler is certainly not afraid of moves and based on the fights presented, he is able to get the most out of his players’ potential.
Kapler spent five and a half seasons as a bench boss in the majors, two with the Phillies and three and a half in San Francisco. He compiled a record of 456-411, including 295-248 with the Giants. He took them to the postseason after finishing first in 2021, a year in which he won NL Manager of the Year honors but lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers.
Not afraid to speak his mind, Kapler, 48, would be a breath of fresh air in Toronto after the compliant managerial style of Charlie Montoyo and John Schneider. While he would undoubtedly need to change his approach to the game with a more talented Jays lineup, he may be the person best suited to light a fire under the players’ butts and get the team ready to reach its full potential.
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