Mark Shapiro: The Man You Thought You Knew
As we all know there is a big band of Blue Jays fans that sit high on the ‘Shatkins’ wagon, and I am most certainly not one of them, are you?
And if you don’t like Mark ShapIro, maybe he isn’t the man you have thought up, but possibly a man you just refuse to get to know.
Mark Shapiro was hired on August 31, 2015, and he became the active CEO at the ‘heartbreaking royal’ ending of the 2015 season, and he never really received a very Canadian welcome once he assumed his responsibilities as the CEO, did he – eh!?
What certainly didn’t help ShapIro’s (you’re cool approval by fans) cause was, of course, when one week after the Blue Jays ‘golden flags’ dreams were broken, the blue collar do-no-wrong Alex Anthopoulos decided to reject an extension offer to remain as general manager.
It just wasn’t the tune that Blue Jays fans were digging and having the ‘trade ninja’ AA decide to move in another direction was very hard for many fans across the nation to accept, but the fact of the matter is (like it or not) ShapIro DID offer Alex a job, it just clearly lacked the autonomous desire he had once owned.
So the knee jerk Canadian 'timbit' reaction was to toss (his or her) double-double ShapIro hurls on every Mike Wilner call and Internet Blue Jays thread. But many fans really failed to take a second to learn about the person that the team decided to hand the Beeston torch to, and he is quite a methodical, sensible, and crafty baseball man.
Paul Dolan the owner of the Cleveland Indians certainly had nothing but kind words for ShapIro when he had to accept that he had lost a true asset within his organization, as he was quoted saying, "Given the person that Mark is, the significant leadership and values that he has brought to the organization and with everything he has helped us accomplish, it will be extremely difficult to see him leave."
Mark ShapIro made some real nifty moves for Cleveland when in July, 2010, the Tribe traded an old arm in Jake Westbrook to St. Louis (as part of a three-way deal) that, ya know, brought prospect Corey Kluber to Cleveland. Westbrook didn’t do too much when he went on to a 4-4 record and a 3.48 ERA with the Cardinals. Where, of course, Kluber won the AL Cy Young award in 2014 and is just pretty awesome, don’t you think?
And everyone under the baseball sun can remember when he traded the 2007 reigning Cy Young winner, C.C. Sabathia, to the Brewers in July, 2008, right? BUT a lot of people forget that in the big package deal there was one player that was to be included later and ShapIro had the choice of either Taylor Green (who at the time was the best prospect in their system) – or, a kind of hmmm, who? – that being, Michael Brantley. And, yes, we all know what that roll of the baseball dice choice brought Cleveland, eh!
So I could continue to share some old ShapIro history like trade stories, such as when he landed Santana from the Dodgers, or the highly big millennial WTF Bartolo Colon trade, which made him look ‘mad’, and then, of course, later a genius, BUT there is no need to get into every little detail here.
Now when Mark ShapIro announced that Ross Atkins would be the new GM for the good Birds of Toronto, once again the howls from the great Canadian baseball sky began, as the Canadian wails ‘creatively’ (not really) coined the ‘loonie’ expression of ‘Shatkins’!
Not many people decided to take a close look at what this duo could do for the team, but instead quickly jerked the old knee and slammed their fingers onto keyboards to press out more rage into the Internet land of thread.
The thing is (as we should all know) - it’s never an easy road being accepted into a new ‘tribe’ (and no the pun is not in play here), is it?
Whenever anyone starts a new job or club or whatever it is, it always takes time for humans to warm up to someone before slowly accepting them, and the same thing applies here for both Mark ShapIro and Ross Atkins.
Now here's the 'shatkins' question, don’t you think enough time has passed to see that these two men are not here in Toronto to try to make the Rogers ship sink to the bottom of the American League, don’t you see that already? I do (and always have).
They have absolutely nothing to gain by sinking the gravy train, do they? And this is not a moot subject, is it?
Believe it or not these men have valuable baseball minds, and I believe more than anything they want to hold the ‘golden flags’, wear some Toronto World Series rings, and raise some Blue Jays banners.
So let’s take a look at some of the moves that have been made since ShapIro took the Rogers baseball conch, which were methodically good and sensible.
He didn’t sign Price!
Well, everyone with some kind of baseball sense knew that this was never going to happen, but there are always going to be those really optimistic and naïve Jays fans (not that there is anything wrong with that) who probably checked their phone updates back then with a hope that the news would be different -I wasn’t one of them. Well, not signing Price and instead opting for …
The JA Happ Contract
… was a really bold and awesome move (to the disgust of some fans) by the ShapIro team, don’t you think? Happ was a 20-game winner last year, and that signing was a pretty darn canny baseball move. Sure it wasn’t exactly awe like, and it didn’t make millennials text OMGs to their friends, BUT it was smart. And sometimes smart, speaks quietly …
The Marco Estrada Extension
It’s glove to the face, get the sign, Marco Estrada time, and, yes, this was a great move because during the offseason, it was hard to really know if Estrada had more 2015 in him – even though we all secretly knew, am I right?
So let’s just hope and keep our ShapIro fingers crossed that the new Rogers tribe will please-just-offer-Marco-Estrada-a-contract-extension-again-because-he’s-awesome, am I right?
The John Gibbons Contract Extension
#GibbyTheBest – I will leave it at that.
The 2016 Draft: Bo Bichette and Bradley Jones
Unless you're a fan that’s on the wagon of the band (not that there is anything wrong with that), you’d have had to be living on Ellesmere Island to not know about these two rising stars.
Bradley Jones was an eighteenth-round draft pick in the 2016 Draft, and, well, he’s been making some serious noise down in Lansing with a slash line of .326/.394/.560, and then a good grief (in the best of good grief ways) Charlie Brown .954 OPS too.
And Bo Bichette is one of the other ‘future star kids’ in Lansing, and he hasn’t been silent at all this year that’s for Canadian bacon sure, as the twitter world tweets up with his ‘light’ saber numbers almost every day.
I mean just look at this high percentage baseball rubric slash line of .381/.457/.614 and then, of course, a holy ‘cape crusader’ Batman (RIP Adam West) 1.070 OPS of ‘awe’ – or just a Wayne’s World ‘Excellent’, any who? Moving on …
It’s also worth noting that Steven Sanders, who was recently hired as the Scouting Director by the ShapIro-Atkins team, is going to continue with a new philosophy for drafting, which is a 'balanced system' compared to the AA regime, which looked for massive hard throwing hurlers from high school who are big risks.
Joe Biagini is one of the greatest rule-5 pick-from-the-pockets in Blue Jays history (minus, ya know, the George Bell one – of course), BUT really though the ShapIro tribe just fleeced the Giants here, don’t ya think?
The Justin ‘smash’ Smoak Contract
It’s hard to believe I’m typing this, but this is pretty true though now that Smoak will probably be playing in the All-Star game, and that he is actually really good this year.
John Gibbons said it best (because he always says it best – he’s John Goddamn Gibbons) when asked about the Justin Smoak contract, "Shouldn't have signed that contract. He's losing money now. I've never seen him this good. We always envisioned it.”
Other notable Mark ShapIro’s ‘tribe’ moves:
The Jose Bautista extension, the Liriano for Hutchison trade, the Kendrys Morales signing (I know we love Edwin, BUT no one could’ve predicted that market – not even a financial analyst working for JP Morgan – that’s for sure), the Joe Smith signing, the ‘fire up the Grill’ pick up last season, the Lourdes Gurriel jr. (remember that) signing this offseason, and, of course, the release Melvin and keep Goins thing that happened in the first week of April too – that was pretty ‘Goins Goins Gone’ bad for Melvin (hate to see anyone lose a their job), but so valuable for the Jays with the whole, ya know, injury hoedown thing that happened this Spring.
The 'Shatkins' Conclusion
It’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to not doubt for your own benefit – if there ACTUALLY is any benefit to doubting Mark ShapIro and Ross Atkins.
It’s an innate and primitive reaction to not want to accept someone into your tribe, but these two men are leading our tribe, who are your Toronto Blue Jays, and, I think, it’s good to maybe rethink ‘Shatkins’ and start to try to think ‘I like them'.