Blue Jays manager John Schneider would always return

The Blue Jays’ search for a new manager was not a search at all. Ross Atkins knew he had his man all along and on Friday morning he made it official.

About two weeks after being eliminated in the American League wildcard series, the Jays removed manager John Schneider’s interim tag. As part of the deal, the 42-year-old signed a three-year contract with a club option for 2026.

Despite a shocking slump against the Seattle Mariners, this move had been long overdue. Schneider received rave reviews inside the clubhouse during the run-up to the postseason, and after the Jays were eliminated, several players expressed hope that he would return.

The front office shared similar sentiments. Atkins and company were impressed with how Schneider got through a three-month job interview and guided the Jays to a 46-28 record after replacing Charlie Montoyo in mid-July, securing the advantage of the field in the first lap along the way. There was increased accountability under his leadership and more frequent one-on-one meetings with players.

The verdict seemed inevitable and yet the Jays took their time before making an official announcement because they take time for everything. It wasn’t about considering potential free agent managers like Bruce Bochy — who was hired by the Texas Rangers on Friday — Joe Maddon or Walt Weiss. Nor was it to consider other internal candidates. This was to confirm that everyone was on the same page.

So the Jays spent the last two weeks making sure their views aligned with Schneider’s, and then the two sides reached a deal. After previously managing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette at Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire, Schneider’s new contract is set to expire the same year they become eligible for free agency.

« I like to talk about things, » Schneider said, referring to his communication style during a press conference on Friday afternoon.

« It seemed to work for me as I rose through the ranks, the players reacted to it and you have to evolve as you go. I’ve always been an open book, whether it’s easy conversation, a difficult conversation. I think having the conversation and more often than not, players appreciate that.

Schneider was a popular man in those parts until the Jays were dispatched following a devastating loss to the Mariners on October 8. After blowing an 8-1 lead, he took a lot of heat for his decision to retire starter Kevin Gausman with two outs in the sixth inning and not use reserve outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. as a defensive backup.

If anyone thought these moves would cost Schneider a shot at a full-time job, they don’t fully understand how this organization works. Yes, final decisions are made in the dugout, but there is a level of preparation for every match that affects almost every department. Fans might have been surprised to see Gausman eliminated, but most of those involved in the prep work weren’t.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider, right, receives a team jersey from general manager Ross Atkins after announcing a three-year contract for Schneider to remain the team’s manager at a conference in press in Toronto on Friday.

  • Last month, a fan expressed his hope that the Toronto Blue Jays would bring John Schneider back as coach next season and he got his wish on Friday.

Atkins did not challenge Gausman’s decision, he defended it at a press conference earlier this month. The Jays general manager pointed to Tim Mayza’s typical ability to keep the ball on the ground and a three-hitter pocket he was best equipped to face. He pointed to Jays scouting reports that they were comfortable with switch hitter Carlos Santana at bat on either side of the plate.

The move backfired in stunning fashion. Mayza threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded, then served a three-run homer to Santana. Soon after, the Jays’ lead completely crumbled and they were sent to a 10-9 loss. It was a bad look at the time, and it remains one today, but since everyone was on board, it was never necessary to scapegoat a single individual and the public defense of Atkins was revealing.

« I think one of the most appealing things about John is his preparation, » Atkins said Friday. « It allows him to be agile in the game. There’s so much work done before. You can’t think of every single one of them, you’re definitely trying to…but the agility is huge and being able to lean on experiences and ultimately trusting your process to make decisions about when has to be there. It was obvious to us that he was ready to have that trust to be agile.

The Jays’ season ended controversially, but from that standpoint, they made the right decision by not letting it get in the way of a long-term deal. A week before the post-season, a column appeared in this space suggesting that Schneider deserved the job and that one disappointing game shouldn’t be enough to change the long-term vision, especially when the front office was in trouble. agreement with the movements.

After Schneider took the reins, Teoscar Hernandez was benched twice for not doing everything on the field and on the basic paths. Guerrero was singled out in a post-game presser for not running out of ground balls. Bichette, a mainstay at the heart of the Jays’ roster for the past three years, fell a few spots until he started to warm up.

Some of these difficult conversations did not necessarily take place under Montoyo. With Schneider, public messaging has been better, and according to the players, internal communication has also improved. These are all steps in the right direction and more changes should come now that the interview has become a full-time internship.

« I’ve learned a ton in the last three months and a ton in the last four years, » said Schneider, who joined the Jays’ big league staff in 2019 after beginning his managerial career with the Jays’ Gulf Coast Rookie League nine years ago. .

« It’s a very cool dynamic to have the platform to give your opinion and say what you think, ‘Hey, that’s how I feel in the dugout’ and understand how the objective numbers work out. align with certain strategies, but also understand that you are dealing with people.

“It’s been a very cool back and forth, not just with Ross, but with everyone involved in the front office. Hear us, hear them and learn from each other along the way. This makes deciding in the moment much easier. He makes decisions in the moment much more slowly. You feel comfortable in the calls you want to make.

Schneider had been touted as a big league manager in waiting since leading Dunedin to a Championship in 2017. Much like the players he was coaching at the time, he just needed to gain more experience before that his dream cannot come true. Now, after much success in the minors, Schneider and the young core are reunited at the hip again with much bigger goals in mind.


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