Blue Jays front office dissed badly in anonymous poll of 40 MLB executives

Zero votes, unlike Alex Anthopoulos and their former colleagues in Cleveland.
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Over at The Athletic, an anonymous poll of 40 executives (subscription required) across Major League Baseball was made public. The parameters and mandate of those polled were as follows: “Many had experience as the primary decision-maker for a team, either in the past or the present. We asked each executive to rank the top five front offices in baseball and assigned a point value to each position — 10 points for first place, seven points for second place, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth. The answers spanned big markets and small. Some of these franchises have experienced incredible turnover. Some are the model of stability. Some of these front office groups have been doing this for quite a while. And some are just getting started.”

So Blue Jays fans, where did our front office led by team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins rank? Well, they didn’t receive a single vote, which is pretty telling of how they are viewed by their peers and contemporaries.

Three front offices received over 100 points in The Athletic’s poll, led by the Los Angeles Dodgers with 19 first place votes and 284 points, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays (12 first place votes and 258 points) and the Atlanta Braves (3 first place votes and 130 points).

The Dodgers, led by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman received glowing praise. As The Athletic noted, “The Dodgers have never missed the postseason under Friedman’s watch, winning the division in eight of nine seasons, collecting three pennants and ending the franchise’s championship drought in 2020. One executive described a first-place vote for the Dodgers as “self-explanatory. They are elite at everything.” Billy Gasparino, the scouting director recently promoted to vice president of baseball operations, has drafted well despite picking in the latter half of the first round every summer. The farm system continues to churn out prospects. The roster tends to be well-managed.”

Jays fans may be miffed to read the praise heaped on former Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos. Now president of baseball operations in Atlanta, the article points out how "AA" ended the Blue Jays’ 21-year postseason drought in 2015 before walking away from the gig that winter.

“Alex Anthopoulos does a tremendous job,” one executive said. “There’s nobody more engaged, open and honest about things. He’s had stops along the way and he’s adapted and learned over time.”

While we’re on the subject of honesty, I’ve long argued that Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins should be fired; now in his ninth season in the job, Toronto sits at 13-13 and is tied for 4th place in the AL East, 4 games back of the talented, young Baltimore Orioles and a juggernaut New York Yankees lineup, powered by the four-time Silver Slugger Juan Soto and 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge.

The Blue Jays’ farm system is bottom third based on Baseball America (subscription required), ESPN and MLB Pipeline rankings; and, despite a top ten payroll of $225M and projected luxury tax payroll of $246M per Spotrac, the Blue Jays have not won a single playoff game since 2016, when the team ran it back to the American League Championship Series with top ten by WAR who had all been acquired by Atkins’ predecessors.

To add insult to injury, the Cleveland Guardians under team president Chris Antonetti, who succeeded Mark Shapiro there, received 2 first-place votes and 101 total points. Current GM Mike Chernoff joined their front office under Shapiro as an intern in 2003. 

But The Athletic didn’t even bother to mention Shapiro or Atkins when they listed prominent executives to spend time in Cleveland, highlighting only Derek Falvey of the Minnesota Twins, David Stearns of the New York Mets and Carter Hawkins of the Chicago Cubs.

This Toronto front office is disrespected by their MLB peers. Whether or not they can use that as a chip on their shoulders or not remains to be seen. However, after nine years in Toronto, the clock is ticking on this front office building towards postseason success like Alex Anthopoulos in Atlanta and Chris Antonetti in Cleveland.