Skip to main content


As postseason odds dwindle, Blue Jays GM still preaching patience

Ross Atkins Toronto Blue Jays Ross Atkins -

TORONTO — With his team sitting five games under .500 and mired in last place in the AL East, Ross Atkins stood in front of the media Saturday morning and tried to explain his club’s yearlong run-scoring struggles.

The objective numbers on paper continue to be as plain as day.

The Toronto Blue Jays are averaging 3.6 runs per game, a popgun, powerless offence that sits 29th in baseball.

Only the Chicago White Sox, a team challenging for nothing but the best odds in next year’s draft lottery, have scored less.

The advanced numbers paint the same picture. In terms of wRC+, Atkins’ club holds a 94 mark through 43 games, well-below league average and 23rd overall in baseball.

In the month of May, even with Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. showing signs of life, Jays’ bats have gotten even worse with an 81 wRC+ since the calendar flipped from April, resulting in George Springer finally being dropped from the leadoff spot on Saturday.

The playoff odds, the run differential, the objective offensive numbers … there simply aren’t many positive signs that things are about to get exponentially better.

And make no mistake, things need to improve significantly across the lineup for this team to pose a threat in the summer months, get back into the mix, and not become one of the clubs selling at the trade deadline in about 10 weeks.

Atkins says there’s a sense of urgency, but also continued to preach patience, a party line that’s falling on deaf ears when it comes to the fan base.

“Obviously, we’re not where we would like to be,” Atkins said. “We have seen some encouraging things of late that have not resulted in wins and have seen some encouraging things with our offence that we feel with time and the talent that’s on the team that we can certainly see righting the ship. However, that needs to start pretty soon. Overall, I think, the thing that gives us the greatest sense of confidence is the sense of urgency in our clubhouse that is from one to 26 on our player roster and throughout the coaching staff.”

With the numbers telling one story, Atkins tried to relay what encouraging signs he’s seeing.

“We’re getting into really good counts, we’re working starting pitchers better,” Atkins said. “(Friday night) wasn’t a great example of that, but we have been over the last, really, month getting into really good hitters’ counts and working starting pitchers hard, we just haven’t been getting our best swings off in those counts.”

After giving the coaching staff, including manager John Schneider and offensive co-ordinator Don Mattingly, a strong vote of confidence, saying no changes are coming, Atkins attempted to explain why Jays hitters are having so much trouble getting their best swings off when it comes time to produce.

“It’s not something that I’ve been able to pinpoint, or Donnie or Schneids or anyone has been able to pinpoint, we just see it as something we can correct,” Atkins said. "You don’t just tell someone to swing harder or to swing more aggressively in certain counts, it’s not as simple as that. Hitting is the most dynamic challenge in professional sports and the things that we’ve worked to change we do believe in, we do believe in the changes and adjustments, and feel like we have the time and talent for that to correct.

“We’ve made changes to our process, we’ve made changes to people, some of it personnel, and that’s what we’re working on,” he added. "It does take time and it hasn’t happened soon enough and it needs to start.”

If you missed Atkins’ chat with the media Saturday, you can simply pull up any conversation from December on forward and hear a variation of the same things.

They believe in the group they’ve put together, they’ve made changes to the processes behind the scenes, and there’s confidence the tide will turn.

Just because Atkins says it doesn’t mean the ticket buying public needs to believe it, and the belief in this club has dwindled to the point where everyone is clamouring for change.

Internally, however, there’s no indication that’s even been considered.

From a personnel standpoint, May isn’t really trade season and it’s hard to engineer impactful deals this far out from the trade deadline, but it sounds like the Jays have at least been trolling for help.

“If you were to acquire a player at this point, you’re obviously paying a premium — we can do that,” Atkins said. “We have the players to trade for that level of talent. We feel that the best contributions that could create that change in run scoring is going to come from within our own clubhouse, or with Triple-A, with the players that are here, but the dialogue is steady on the alternatives that could happen.

“We believe in this talent, we believe that there is time left, but there is a massive sense of urgency and we need to get it turned around.”

The alternative for the Jays at this point is morphing from potential buyer into a seller by the time July arrives.

Atkins admitted there are loose plans in place if this club continues to disappoint and fail to meet expectations.

“We’ll see,” Atkins said. “You’re always prepared for any angle or any pivot you have to make.

“It really comes down to us just being able to score more runs … I feel like we’ll be able to prevent runs, and we have the talent and time to score more runs. We need to start winning more games. It needs to start happening.”