Blue Jays: Mark Shapiro is on the chopping block this season

TORONTO, - MAY 12 - Russ Atkins and Mark Shapiro talk before the game as the Toronto Blue Jays shutout the Seattle Mariners 4-0 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. May 12, 2017. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, - MAY 12 - Russ Atkins and Mark Shapiro talk before the game as the Toronto Blue Jays shutout the Seattle Mariners 4-0 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. May 12, 2017. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Toronto Blue Jays CEO and President Mark Shapiro is entering the final year of his contract in 2020, and could see his future with the club end after this season.

Mark Shapiro was a longtime executive with the Cleveland Indians before taking over for a retiring Paul Beeston as CEO and President of the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2015 season.

With 24 years with the Indians, Shapiro came into the organization and made some pretty big changes right off the bat. He hired another Cleveland Indians executive in Ross Atkins to take over the general manager position from a departed Alex Anthopolous. Shapiro failed to keep A.A. in Toronto, with details emerging that the two executives butted heads on a contract that meant more about “who has the power” than financial incentives.

He would also fire Brian Parker and Blake Davis, the amateur scouting director and national crosschecker (respectively) towards the end of the 2016 season and just a month and a half after the amateur draft that year. This was especially surprising, as Parker and the rest of the scouting department had to convince the upper management of the Toronto Blue Jays to draft Bo Bichette.

When Shapiro inherited the team, he was given an organization that had just experienced playoff baseball and was still contending for another playoff run in 2016. The downside of this was a depleted farm system by the previous general manager, one that left Shapiro and Atkins with little leverage in trading and a veteran squad running on long term contracts.

After the 2016 playoff exit, it was apparent where the Toronto Blue Jays were heading. They merely treaded water in a tough A.L. East division for a few years, failing to resign the core veteran players and slowly trading away the remaining roster veterans fans cheered for during the 2015 and 2016 playoff runs.

With that came a dip in attendance, a slide that has been three years in the making, with blue empty seats making up most of the season when games were played in the Rogers Centre in 2019.

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Shapiro also inherited an outdated spring training facility and home stadium in the Rogers Centre. While the Bobby Mattick Training Centre in Dunedin, Florida underwent a major overhaul this season, the Rogers Centre still has some work that needs to be done in order to bring it to a more modern state like other organizations around the league. While the Rogers Centre is not the worse stadium in the league, it is also could use some improvements.

The one thing that sets Shapiro from his executive predecessors is his personality, or lack there of. Every press conference he has comes out robotic and nonchalant, kind of like a father listening to his child tell the same story for the 15th time.

He and Ross Atkins spit out baseball terminology and statistics with the slightest of ease, but fans don’t want to hear them or choose to ignore them. Fans want to know why they traded away veterans for “no-name” players in the minor leagues and why the Rogers Centre still hasn’t changed since he came into office 4 years ago. Fans want to hear the reasoning for increased ticket prices on a team that fails to produce a winning season.

The issue is that you can’t really blame Shapiro and Atkins for making these moves. The rebuild was inevitable when A.A. went all in for the playoff push, sending prospects out like they were a giveaway on Oprah. They’ve attempted to drum up business with activities like Winterfest and $5 dollar beers, but fans want to a see a winning team, something Shapiro has not produced over the past few years due to the rebuilding process.

While a lot of these issues are not a result of Shapiro’s direct actions, they are something that he would have to be tasked with fixing given his position in the organization.

With the rebuild in full swing and the upcoming offseason about to begin, there will be a lot riding on what the Toronto Blue Jays choose to act on. They need to improve their starting pitching, and sitting on their hands this offseason may be an issue for ownership if the team doesn’t win more games next year and fans keep staying away from $30 upper bowl tickets.

I’m not saying the team is going to win 90 games on the back of Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but there needs to be an improvement to cement the notion that the rebuild is working as the executives have drawn up.

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If Shapiro and Atkins can’t find a way to bring free agents and fans back to the Rogers Centre, and the team has a rough year on the backs of their prospects of the future, we may see a new CEO/President in the Toronto Blue Jays front office in 2021.