Blue Jays incoming president Mark Shapiro is walking into an uncomfortable situation in Toronto, and without a general manager in place, he’ll temporarily be the face of the franchise. With one quick stroke of public opinion, however, he’s already being painted as the enemy.
Mark Shapiro did not ride into the Rogers Centre this morning and tell Alex Anthopoulos to clean out his office. It’s a convenient narrative to dream up, but it’s false. Shapiro and Anthopoulos are two individual situations that must be viewed as such, and the wheels have been in motion on this process for some time now.
It’s critical to look at this entire story from Shapiro’s side of the matter because, outside of the not-so-confirmed rumor that he “scolded” Anthopoulos for his handling of prospects at the deadline, the two paths do not directly overlap. When the Blue Jays first began to court Shapiro, the club was hovering around .500 while the names of David Price and Troy Tulowitzki were not yet in the vocabulary.
I suspect that, early in negotiations, Shapiro expressed an interest in returning to the baseball and player personnel side of the job. And could you blame him? The Blue Jays, at the time, had a farm system boasting several blue-chip prospects, not to mention a Major League roster bubbling over with talent and a much larger payroll than Cleveland’s. Shapiro had every right to ask for that. It was his job offer, and his own desired role is part of Shapiro’s individual storyline. Not Anthopoulos’.
Across the table with Anthopoulos, it’s been reported throughout the morning that money and term were not an issue in negotiations. The obvious leftover factor, then, is role. Anthopoulos is a smart man, and recognizes that he would be a sought-after young general manager in this league. Either during or following the 2016 season, he’s certain to be the hottest front office name in baseball. So if he was going to return, it would be on his terms.
Obviously, those terms weren’t met. After the year Anthopoulos just had, should he be expected to return with 75% or 90% of the final say in player personnel decisions? Clearly not. That’s Anthopoulos’ storyline, and while it’s influenced by Shapiro’s, the two do not operate in conversation with one another.
This is not in support of Shapiro, of course, but it’s unfair to paint the incoming president as the “bad guy” before his first day on the job. He did what was right for himself based on his own professional aspirations, and that didn’t mesh with those of Anthopoulos. It’s a train wreck, but if we’re placing blame, let’s put it a rung above Shapiro.
There exists the possibility, as well, that Mark Shapiro is good at his job. There’s also the potential that Toronto’s next general manager is good at their job. The 2016 season does not start this afternoon.