Schneider has all the qualities Blue Jays wanted in manager

Interim tag removed, skipper inks 3-year deal with club option for 2026

October 21st, 2022

TORONTO -- Twenty years ago, a young John Schneider made his Minor League debut for the Auburn Doubledays, the Short Season affiliate of the Blue Jays. It was the beginning of what Schneider calls "a very mediocre playing career.”

On Friday in Toronto, Schneider was introduced as the 14th manager of the Blue Jays, bringing full circle a remarkable journey through this organization that has already spanned two decades for the 42-year-old. He agreed to a three-year contract, including a club option for a fourth season in 2026.

Following his playing days, which ended in 2007 at Triple-A, Schneider moved into coaching and has touched nearly every rung of the ladder through the system, beginning at the club’s complex in Dunedin, Fla. He took over as interim manager this past July, following the dismissal of Charlie Montoyo, and he showed the Blue Jays what many within the organization had already thought: He was the manager of the future.

With his wife, Jess, and two sons, Gunner and Greyson, on hand Friday at Rogers Centre, Schneider was handed the keys -- permanently, this time -- by general manager Ross Atkins.

“I could go on and on about his attributes. There’s a lot of words that come to mind,” Atkins said. “The one thing I think about as I work with him and watch how he works with others is that it’s one thing to support people, but it’s another thing to make people feel supported. He authentically does that in a way that I think is exceptional.”

Toronto’s Game 2 loss in the Wild Card Series is still fresh, of course. The Blue Jays blew a seven-run lead lead, falling, 10-9, to the Mariners in what will be remembered as one of the toughest losses in franchise history. Only a serious run in the coming years can erase that, but Schneider expects it to propel this club forward.

“It’s extremely difficult to be the last team out of 30 standing, and you’re going to be disappointed if you’re not every year,” Schneider said. “Certain things and experiences that players and staff went through this season, postseason included, will help us get better for next year. We’re talking about a young core group that has won together before and is hungry to do more of it.”

Looking to the future, it’s important to consider the role of the modern manager. Front offices are heavily involved in day-to-day decisions, particularly given the rise of analytics and new data. A manager’s job is to take all of that, digest it and get the message to their players in a way they’ll understand and embrace.

That varies from player to player, which is where Schneider’s relationships come in. Some players, he’s new to, like any manager. Others, he’s managed in the Minor Leagues and won championships with. That rare level of experience is crucial as he works to shoulder this new load.

“It’s been a very, very cool back and forth,” Schneider said, “not only with Ross, but everyone involved in the front office. They hear us, we hear them and we learn form each other along the way. It makes decisions in the moment a lot easier and a lot slower, so you feel comfortable about the ones that you are making.”

The two sides need to align, too. An analytics-driven front office and a gunslinger manager who makes emotional decisions don’t mesh. There has to be a balance of numbers and the human element, which is where the job of a modern manager lives. Atkins, from the day Schneider took over as interim manager, has praised his “preparation."

It’s vague, in a way, but Atkins is getting to a specific point. A club doesn’t want a manager guessing. When a strange situation comes up -- and they will, over 162 games -- a manager needs to be able to push the right button, in seconds, with television cameras and thousands of eyes on him.

“We’re always drilling down to try and take three or four steps beyond what’s already been thought about,” Atkins said. “Agility is huge. Being able to rely on experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions in the moment has to be there. It was evident to us that he was prepared to have that confidence to be agile.”

Expectations are clear now. This is no longer an organization satisfied with getting into the postseason. With this talent, the Blue Jays are expecting to make legitimate runs into deep October, and that’s how Schneider and this roster will be judged in the coming years.