With Toronto Blue Jays fans clamoring for big changes throughout the organization following their epic postseason failure, one has to wonder whether manager John Schneider will survive the offseason purge, if there is one.
Despite GM Ross Atkins' recent comments, ensuring that Schneider will be back, one has to wonder whether that's the whole truth, considering this front office's problem with openness and transparency. There are countless instances of managers or coaches being given a vote of confidence only to be blindsided by their dismissal shortly after.
It wouldn't be shocking to see this front office turn around and give Schneider the heave-ho tomorrow. The current regime has a penchant for looking out for themselves and keeping up appearances, made exceptionally clear by Atkins' appalling performance at his year-end press conference.
It's not entirely accurate to say that John Schneider single-handedly tanked the season with his decision-making in the Wild Card Series. The analytics-heavy approach, and by extension, the front office, obviously had a large hand in influencing the mind-boggling flawed game plan. But Schneider was the one who blindly carried out the plan despite what the eye test was telling everyone with a pair of eyeballs.
So now the questions about his future in Toronto are swirling like an Autumn wind storm, especially with so many experienced MLB managers recently relieved of their duties and no doubt looking for work.
Which managers should the Blue Jays avoid?
The Blue Jays have a few options if they choose to evaluate all the candidates, but perhaps it's best to skip a couple.
Phil Nevin was let go by the Angels after the season ended. While there's word that the players weren't happy with the decision, he might not be the right fit for Toronto. He has about as much experience as John Schneider, after taking over the interim job when the Angels fired Joe Maddon part way through last season. Sound familiar?
In 268 games (Schneider has 236) managing two generational talents in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, Nevin finished with a 119-149 record. To be fair, he didn't have much else to work with.
Buck Showalter recently announced he wouldn't return to the Mets in 2024. An old-school manager might be what this Blue Jays team needs, but nobody will want to bring the stench of the Mets' wildly disastrous 2023 season anywhere near a team that is facing its own crisis.
Is Gabe Kapler the answer to the Blue Jays' managerial woes?
That leaves Gabe Kapler, who was ousted from San Francisco's dugout with three games left in the season.
As they're on the West Coast, far from the day-to-day concerns of the battle for the AL East, you may not be familiar with the Giants' current situation. A team that finished 79-83 and fourth in the NL West, Kapler didn't have the roster to seriously compete for the playoffs. By some miracle, he managed to keep them in the Wild Card race up until the final week of the season, but a steep slide at the end of the year doomed his tenure.
Perhaps there's something behind the scenes we're not privy to, but his release seems like a strange move for an organization that was competitive this year despite the personnel Kapler had to work with. And boy, did he ever work with work what he had.
If you think the Blue Jays and John Schneider had a lot of moving parts this season, you haven't seen anything. The feisty Kapler has about as many moving parts on his teams as anybody.
Last season, he used 1.63 pinch hitters per game, the most by any manager and the third season in a row he led that category. This year, he used 1.34 pinch hitters per game. The Jays used .70 per game. Kapler's certainly not afraid to make moves and manages to squeeze as much production as possible out of the potential of his players based on the matchups presented.
Kapler has spent five and half seasons as the bench boss in the majors, two with the Phillies and three and a half in San Francisco. He has put together a 456-411 record, including a 295-248 record with the Giants. He took them to the postseason after a first-place finish in 2021, a year in which he won the NL Manager of the Year, but lost in the NLDS to the Dodgers.
Not afraid to speak his mind, the 48-year-old Kapler would be a breath of fresh air in Toronto after the docile managerial styles of Charlie Montoyo and John Schneider. While he would undoubtedly have to adjust his in-game approach, with a more talented roster in the Jays, he might be the person best suited to light a fire under the players' behinds and get the team in gear to achieve their full potential.