The Runner Sports

Toronto Blue Jays’ Front Office Responsible For Letdown 2017

Whenever a sports team is failing to live up to expectations, there are three groups of people that often get blamed: The players, the coaches, and/or the folks in the front office.

For the Toronto Blue Jays, you can definitely blame all three groups when it comes to understanding how this team is last in the American League East.

With the exceptions of Marcus Stroman and Justin Smoak, pretty much every other Blue Jay is playing significantly worse than last year. This includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki.

Obviously, manager John Gibbons will get his fair share of blame. He’s failed to piece together a quality lineup this season. He refuses to play small ball when it’s necessary, and his management of the bullpen is atrocious in many ways.

But take a peek up at the front office, and you may see president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins — two men who haven’t exactly done a lot to help the Jays in 2017.

Previous GM Alex Anthopolous got Bautista, Donaldson, Tulowitzki, Estrada, and former Jay Edwin Encarnacion in trades without having to give up any big stars. His acquisition of David Price at the trade deadline two years ago essentially propelled the Blue Jays into the ALCS.

Anthopolous left the Jays after his contract expired in 2015. What have Shapiro and Atkins done to make this team better? Not a whole lot.

Kudos for choosing to re-sign Estrada and picking up Happ instead of getting into a bidding war for Price. But then they decided to trade ideal leadoff man Ben Revere to the Washington Nationals for struggling reliever Drew Storen. Toronto hasn’t found a good leadoff hitter since.

And when the Jays lost to the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 ALCS? Gibbons himself said the Jays needed more speed and athleticism. As it turned out, living and dying by the home run wasn’t enough to capture the AL pennant.

So what did the Jays front office do? They let Encarnacion go in free agency, they re-signed a fading Bautista, and signed utility man Steve Pearce. They were in on Dexter Fowler and Josh Reddick — two slick lefties with great speed and outfield defense. But the Jays didn’t offer enough money to land either.

Alright, so they missed out on some marquee free agents. Fair enough.

But thus far in 2017? The front office has done zip to help out the lineup. There are guys like Howie Kendrick, Ben Revere, and Dee Gordon that could be had on the trade market. The former two are free agents this winter, and Gordon’s been linked to the Jays in trade rumors. So what’s the holdup?

Anthopolous traded for Price two years ago when this team’s rotation was a disaster. He traded for Revere when the Jays needed a leadoff man. He traded for Tulo when the Jays needed to upgrade their defense.

But so far, the Shapiro-Atkins regime hasn’t done a whole lot to convince fans that they’re just as committed to building a champion like Anthopolous. They’ve been way too conservative with the money, and they haven’t made any moves to fix this woeful lineup.

2017 has undoubtedly been one of the most disappointing in Jays history. It’s not entirely on the front office, but they definitely deserve just as much blame as the players and coaching staff.

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Alex Hoegler

I'm a graduate of the journalism program at Langara College in Vancouver, B.C.

I've been an avid sports fan since I was seven years of age. A lifelong follower of the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Blue Jays, my passion is to deliver news through writings while building bridges with other sports fans.
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