The Toronto Blue Jays introduced GM Ross Atkins at a press conference today with president Mark Shapiro. Here’s what you need to know
Ross Atkins met the press today in Toronto alongside president Mark Shapiro, giving fans a valuable first look at the man who is filling the role vacated by Alex Anthopoulos. The first impression was a fairly strong one.
After a lengthy introduction from Shapiro in which Atkins sat nervously by, Atkins offered an opening statement and in the strangest of ways, his evident nerves may have appealed him to a Blue Jays fan base that’s already grown frustrated with a more robotic Shapiro. Atkins thanked the Blue Jays for “Welcominnn… Welcomin-inn… Welcomin…ing” him to the organization. A wonderfully humanizing moment.
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Shapiro opened by giving a great deal of praise to Tony LaCava, a “special human being” who has performed what he considers to be “extremely impressive work” over the past month. He revealed that he interviewed four separate finalists for the general manager’s position, ending with two right choices in Atkins and LaCava. Interestingly, Shapiro claims that he also sought external help late in the search to ensure that he was not being swayed by bias.
Atkins was also extremely positive regarding his new colleague, saying that he’s been “overwhelmed by the leadership of Tony LaCava and the character of Tony LaCava”. The most important short-term takeaway from this press conference is that LaCava will continue to lead the front office through the Winter Meetings and remainder of the offseason, with Atkins saying he’s there to “support and compliment” LaCava throughout the transition.
LaCava will apparently “lead” the Blue Jays through these Winter Meetings, which is logical. He obviously has a much stronger knowledge of the organization from top to bottom at this point, along with the balls that Toronto currently has in the air on the free agent and trade markets.
Atkins also comes across as a “player’s GM”, if that’s a label you believe in. He stressed his desire to create a culture throughout the organization, singling out the Dominican Republic and Venezuela as key areas to continue establishing roots in. Atkins is fluent in Spanish and has spent points in his career involved with the Latin American baseball operations team in Cleveland, making this a logical transition.
He also referenced former Blue Jays Marco Scutaro and John McDonald as two men that have helped shape him personally and professionally. For some context, McDonald is just one year younger. Atkins repeated that he values an organization where players are treated individually and with respect, from the stars down to 16-year old international signings.
With Atkins not being a relatively well-known executive among fans, it was valuable to put a face to the name. Press conferences rarely offer us much, or anything at all, but the takeaway from this should be a relaxing of the fear of the unknown.