Blue Jays expected to commit to interim manager John Schneider

Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider has been in the job just two months and yet the 42-year-old lifer already looks like a seasoned veteran.

Making the transition from big league manager to manager isn’t easy. Coaches become the good guys, the confidants. They gain trust through one-on-one work with the players, and they avoid blame when the organization makes a decision those same guys don’t like.

Managers don’t have that luxury. While the modern day skipper solicits feedback from staff, scouts, analytics and front office executives, he is always the one who has the final say and he is the one who explains the rationale. .

It’s one thing as a coach to tell a player that you believe in him and support him despite the difficulties on the pitch. It’s quite another, as a manager, to deliver that message while explaining to the player that he’s been benched or moved into the line-up.

Not everyone is up to it. Workplaces around the world are filled with great co-workers or low-level managers who were visibly in over their heads once they got promoted. Some go mad with power, others are too scared to leave their desks. That didn’t seem to be a problem here at all.

« I think it’s just about being brutally honest and open with guys and letting them understand why certain decisions are made, » Schneider said hours before the New York Yankees officially won the American League East with a 5-2 victory over the Jays. Tuesday night in another home run game for Aaron Judge.

« If that leads to tough conversations, that’s great, you want guys to be competitive and not just sit back and say, ‘OK, I’m good with anything. It’s different when you’re making the decisions, but as long as you have a reason and can explain why we collectively think it’s the best, the guys are professional and understand that.

Since taking over from Charlie Montoyo on July 13, Schneider hasn’t shied away from making those tough decisions. When Bo Bichette was struggling earlier this year, he was moved down the lineup. When Teoscar Hernandez made a few nonchalant plays, he found a place on the bench.

There was another example on Tuesday after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was slow to come out of the box and fell short of second on a potential brace in sixth. Schneider made no apologies, calling it « inexcusable », while adding that his star player « absolutely needs to run harder ». More importantly, he said the play would be taken up with Guerrero later that night.

The in-game management was equally seamless. Schneider doesn’t care about ego, he makes the decisions he thinks benefit the Jays the most. But he also knows that each player should be treated differently. Some guys need a kick in the ass, others respond better to encouragement. Getting to know what motivates each player is key to getting the most out of them every night.

« I’m an open book, » Schneider said the day José Berríos suffered the loss after giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings. « I think I’ve had enough conversations with guys that they understand why I think the way I think. I think a lot of my work isn’t just about saying, ‘Hey, that’s me. , it’s us who collectively try to seize our best chance to win ».

« You have tough conversations with really good players, and I like that. I’m open to that. I think that’s a big part of my job. But you can’t make everyone happy every day. I totally understand that too.

One of those situations happened on Monday night when Schneider took out Anthony Bass before intentionally stepping on Aaron Judge. Bass’ frustration was noticeable but, when the situation was later explained, the Jays reliever not only accepted the move, he praised it.

It’s hard to quantify what all of this means. There is no statistic that assigns a numerical value to a manager. Even if there were, it wouldn’t account for the things that happen behind closed doors.

Montoyo wasn’t the reason the Jays were playing below expectations earlier in the year, just like Schneider isn’t the reason his team is on the verge of making the playoffs. The players are the ones who determine this, but it’s still hard to get rid of the feeling that this group is in much better hands than it was before, subjective as that may be.

« He’s the same way he was in the minors, » Guerrero, who was coached by Schneider at Class-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire, said in an earlier interview. “I have always had great respect for him, as a manager and as a friend. I will support him in whatever he does. Everything went very well.”

Schneider, whose interim tag will expire at the end of the season, admits he sometimes allows himself to reflect on what the future might bring beyond 2022. It’s a job he’s been waiting for almost 15 years old and, now that he has it, the Florida native doesn’t want to let it go.

This decision, however, is beyond his control.

« He’s definitely a good long-term candidate, we’ll continue to work on that and feel good about his leadership going forward, » Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “Whether or not (he) will end up being the manager is not our objective, not because we do not have the greatest respect for the work he has done, but all our energy is deployed to win tonight and the next day. ”

The priority is to carve out a place in the playoffs and, after the Jays’ loss to New York, their lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the first joker fell to one game. Their magic number to clinch a playoff berth remained at three, pending the outcome of Baltimore’s game against Boston on Tuesday night.

A new deal for Schneider might hinge on how the Jays perform in October, but it shouldn’t. Schneider has shown he’s fit for the role, and a series of best-of-three wildcards won’t tell us much more about the man than we already know.

Listen to Deep Left Field:

In no time, Schneider proved he has what it takes to lead the Jays in the present and the future. When the offseason rolls around, the Jays should prove it by signing him to a long-term contract.


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