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General manager Ross Atkins says “We feel good about the team that we have” but many Blue Jays fans aren’t as optimistic

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Photo credit:© Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
2 months ago
If Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is sitting on the hot seat, you wouldn’t know it based on the way he’s spoken this winter.
As you surely know by now, the Blue Jays were swept in the first round of the playoffs for the third time in four years, pushing the record to 0-6 in post-season games played by the team built by this front office. The losses for the Blue Jays continued into the off-season, as they were the “runner-ups” in what wound up being a very public free agency for the game’s best player.
After coming up short in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, Atkins pivoted to making a handful of minor moves that ultimately leaned back into the Run Prevention strategy from last year. Kevin Kiermaier is back, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Justin Turner have replaced Whit Merrifield and Brandon Belt, and the hope is that somebody from the team’s system can step up and replace what Matt Chapman provided over the past two seasons.
As the Blue Jays officially opened camp for pitchers and catchers earlier this week, Atkins spoke to the media and reiterated what he said multiple times earlier in the off-season, which is that they’re comfortable with what they have.
“At this point, additions that would be of significance would mean some level of subtraction,” Atkins said. “We feel good about the team that we have, we feel good about the work that’s been done over the last five off-seasons, the last four trade deadlines, and now coming into another trade deadline, we’ll have another opportunity, I hope, that we’re in a strong position to add to that team.”
The general manager is ultimately giving his group a vote of confidence that last season was an anomaly. If that bet is right, the Blue Jays should improve on their 89-73 finish. If not, this whole thing might get blown up in the winter.
The Blue Jays surprisingly finished below average in runs-per-game in 2023 and saw their offensive numbers dip across the board from what they produced in 2021 and 2022. The slugging decline was noticeable in key players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk, and George Springer along with newcomer Daulton Varsho.
“This group is hungry,” manager John Schneider said. “There’s guys that definitely want to do more things than they did last year. Not ignoring some of the really good things that we did do, but there’s definitely a sense of urgency to do a little bit more than we did last year.
“It’s a really talented group. I’m looking to see how they respond to a few tweaks here and there from a prep standpoint and from an approach standpoint.
While there’s clearly internal optimism that this group can make a deep run into October, that sentiment isn’t shared among most of the fanbase this spring.
According to a fan survey done by The Athletic, only 11 percent of fans are confident or very confident in the direction of the 2024 Blue Jays. Over half of the respondents in the poll said that they’re less confident this year than they were last year and under 10 percent said that they believed this year would be better. In terms of management, the majority of fans are neutral about Mark Shapiro, while 36.5 percent of fans said they’re not confident in Ross Atkins at all.
The pressure is certainly higher this year than last. The Blue Jays were a young, exciting team until right around the corner from success until they weren’t, and Rogers isn’t going to be happy with a newly renovated Dome sitting two-thirds empty in September if the team isn’t in the race as promised.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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