Blue Jays: Giving credit where it’s due to the front office

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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A general manager is one of the most criticized jobs in baseball, but I think it’s time we give credit where it’s due to the Blue Jays’ front office.

There are few things that baseball fans love to argue about more than roster building, whether it’s the free agent market, or dreaming up possible trades. And unless your team is coming off of a championship, most fans usually have an opinion about their team’s front office.

I’ve certainly been one of those people over the years, and I can’t imagine that’ll change any time soon. That said, I’m ready to tip my cap to the Blue Jays’ front office for the work they’ve done over the last few years, specifically when it comes to the 2020 season.

Not only did they go through a stressful few weeks wondering where the Blue Jays would play their home games, they managed to get Buffalo ready in very short order, even to the approval of the commissioner. More importantly, they’ve really put together a strong roster both for the 2020 season, and for what looks like a very bright future. We talk about the strong young core that’s been built in Toronto a lot around here, and with good reason, but I’ve also been impressed with the veterans that were added to the team this past off-season.

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Hyun-Jin Ryu looks like a very wise investment so far, and he’ll make his 6th start of the season tonight against Tampa Bay. He’s been borderline untouchable over his last three starts, and has already earned 0.9 bWAR. His veteran presence has been very important to the success of this young squad, and I imagine that will be a big part of his value over the next 3+ seasons. That said, he’s a legitimate ace, and he’s made Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro look pretty good for getting him to sign as a free agent.

Beyond Ryu, the area that stands out the most to me has been the bullpen, which has been a very pleasant surprise. They have found tremendous value from arms like Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, and A.J. Cole, who were all acquired this off-season to give them some depth, and have all outperformed expectations. Then there’s the group of starters turned into relievers for this shortened 2020 campaign in Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, and Ryan Borucki. Each of them has been so good in their current roles that it has to be creating some conversations about the future in the front office. Even Shun Yamaguchi has looked much better recently, and then there’s Jordan Romano, who looks like he could be a dominant future (current?) closer. With all due respect, it’s been surprising how little the Blue Jays have missed Ken Giles.

I’m not suggesting that the front office has done a perfect job of roster building, and even with the relatively successful start the team has had, the rebuild and the work isn’t over. That being said, I’m more confident than ever about the direction that the franchise is headed, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling. For a front office group that has been criticized a lot over the last five years, the narrative may finally be changing.

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It’s going to take more than a .500 record to make Atkins and Shapiro popular figures in Toronto, but I believe they’re on the right track, and for this stage of the rebuild, I’m even ready to give them credit where it’s due.

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