With latest failure, it’s time for the Blue Jays to end the Ross Atkins experiment

After eight seasons as GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, Ross Atkins has been unable to get the alchemy right on building a World Series Championship roster. He’s gone through three managers, and will leave his successor with an old team, bloated payroll and weak farm system. It’s time to end the Ross Atkins experiment.
Detroit Tigers v Toronto Blue Jays
Detroit Tigers v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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Zero AL East Pennants, 0-6 playoff losing streak

In the current competitive window, the team has three ALWC appearances since 2020. However, they have zero playoff game wins to show for it, getting blown out by Tampa, Seattle and now Minnesota. They also have zero AL East pennants since Atkins was hired.

In fact, to reiterate how mediocre this team was, they finished in 3rd place in the AL East in 2023, 12.0 games back of a much younger and more talented Baltimore Orioles club. The reality is that 89 wins was a regression for the 2023 Blue Jays after 92 wins last year and 91 wins in 2021.

The contrast with the Twins also couldn’t be more clear. While the pitching staffs were reasonably comparable (Jays staff ERA 3.79 ranked 4th in MLB compared to the Twins 5th ranked pitching staff ERA 3.87), Minnesota had more offense, scoring 776 runs in the regular season compared to Toronto’s 738. They had an OPS of .811 with RISP which ranked 6th in MLB and showed up in the wild card series with two Royce Lewis home runs in game one, and a key Carlos Correa run scoring single in game two.

More importantly is how the Twins were built. While the Blue Jays playoff roster didn’t feature a single first round draft pick made since Ross Atkins was hired after the 2015 season, the Twins featured three of their own top picks since then, including Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff and Matt Wallner, as well as 2nd rounder Ryan Jeffers. Byron Buxton, who is injured, was their 1st round pick in 2012.

Toronto featured the 4th oldest roster in MLB on the final day of the regular season at an average age of 29.6. They had the 5th highest luxury tax payroll allocation at $252 million, which will generate an estimated $4 million luxury tax penalty. And, their farm system is currently ranked 25th by MLB Pipeline, with only two top 100 prospects in 21-year olds Ricky Tiedemann (#33) and Orelvis Martinez (#93).

Sound familiar Blue Jays fans?

An aging roster, with a bloated payroll, and a ‘bare cupboards’ farm system? Sound familiar Blue Jays fans? That was the same narrative we heard when former GM Alex Anthopoulos decided he didn’t want to accept a demotion to collaborate with the newly hired team president Mark Shapiro after 2015. Anthopoulos was Toronto GM for six seasons. His predecessor J.P. Ricciardi was here for eight seasons, and prior to that, Gord Ash was GM for seven seasons. None won a World Series in Toronto.

All Anthopoulos has done since leaving is build an Atlanta Braves team that’s won six consecutive NL East pennants and the 2021 World Series. He acquired 22 of the likely 26 players on the Braves 2023 playoff roster, and they won that championship despite superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., being injured.