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View Full Version : Alex Anthopoulos: One year later



nstojic
10-03-2010, 12:23 PM
“I agonize over every decision, more than I ever thought I would,” says Anthopoulos, leaning back in a chair in an empty conference room in the Rogers Centre. “God, every decision feels like it’s huge. You make decisions, but before I make a trade I talk to everybody, ask a million questions. It might sound a little bit insane, but it’s that important.

“If I talk to 10 people, maybe one gives me a link that leads to something else. If the janitor has a good point to make, it might help us.”

“He likes the tension of an argument,” Jays president Paul Beeston says. “Alex, he’s remarkable in that he doesn’t mind having the debate.”

Over and over, this was the process. Gather all the information in the world, and then more; distill that information through argument with many voices; decide. Anthopoulos went almost the entire season without a proper administrative assistant, which added to his already staggering workload. Instead, the 33-year-old had human relations gather a list of 15 prime candidates, spent a half-hour interviewing each one, reviewed their backgrounds, carefully winnowed the list, and once he thought he had it right, took the final three to one final interview with Beeston.

Even Beeston asked if it was all necessary. A month ago, Anthopoulos finally hired someone. It didn’t even take a year.

“I would feel terrible if they took a position that they weren’t really sure what they were signing up for, and then a year later they realized it was a mistake, or they missed their old job, and they made the wrong move,” he says now. “Or I realized that it was the wrong person, and we had to make a change. It’s just not fair. So do it right the first time. If it means it takes an extra five hours doing it …

“And the one we did hire, Paul felt great about it too. So that made me feel better. You’re better off to be thorough. If you have to untangle decisions you make, it makes it even more of a mess.”




nearly every call has come up aces. The trades for Brandon Morrow and Yunel Escobar; the acquisition of solid placeholders like John Buck, Fred Lewis and Kevin Gregg; the Ricky Romero and Adam Lind contract extensions, probably; the Roy Halladay deal, perhaps. Oh, and not trading Jose Bautista. Anthopoulos probably won’t win executive of the year, but he might deserve it.

It was not, of course, perfect. His biggest regret was not signing Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban left-hander whose fastball touches 105, and who signed with Cincinnati for US$30.25-million. In December of last year, Chapman was already down the road with several teams, but he changed agents, extending the process. Anthopoulos had just completed the Halladay deal, he was in the midst of trading for Morrow, and his own wedding loomed. But the scouts were pounding the table, so the Jays made a late run.

Anthopoulos and five other Jays employees saw Chapman throw one so-so bullpen session in Florida two days before Anthopoulos’ wedding; they had dinner with the Cuban star; they received the authorization to spend some money. Fifteen minutes before he walked down the aisle, Anthopoulos was clicking away on his Blackberry, negotiating with Chapman’s agent.

But Anthopoulos had a file only an inch thick instead of one as thick as his forearm, and he passed.

“I kick myself all the time,” he says now. “It’s crazy. Because from my standpoint the easiest thing is to say let’s spend the money, let’s do it, but I still have to be responsible. That’s probably my regret — we just didn’t scout him in the summer, and the year before. You regret the guys you could have had.”

And yet that experience informed the team’s subsequent scouting of Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, and the Jays reeled him in. To Anthopoulos, everything’s a lesson.



he’s trying to build a front office that will allow him to use his time more efficiently, rather than be bogged down negotiating every detail of every transaction. He is trying to build an operation, and it can’t just be good, not in the land of Yankees and Red Sox and Rays. No, he has to assemble a superpower, plank by plank.

And so, every lesson counts. Every question matters. A month or so ago, Anthopoulos sought out the counsel of Brian Burke, his Leafs counterpart, and the two men spent an hour in Burke’s office talking about the job.

“I told him that the biggest thing I’ve learned is there’s no question you can talk yourself in and out of anything,” Anthopoulos said. “Every trade, there’s a reason not to do it. And in a lot of ways I think that’s the easy way to go about it — you avoid any criticism you’d get from the media, any criticism you’d get from the fans, because it’s impossible to criticize me for something I didn’t do. And nobody knows.

“And Brian was saying, all the successful GMs have guts. His exact words were different … but it comes down to that.”

“When he talked, I didn’t think he was a rookie GM,” Burke says. “He had a detailed plan, ideas. My first trade, I picked up the phone twice and put it back down. My hand shook. It’s daunting when you’re a rookie GM. You’re driving the bus.”

Indeed, Anthopoulos is responsible for more passengers every day, and while he’s at it, he’s trying to rebuild this franchise’s relevance in a market that couldn’t be bothered to support the team at the gate in any great numbers.

And so, he builds. If everything unfolds according to plan, at some point the Jays will be close. The core will be performing, and the standings will look unfamiliar, and Anthopoulos will have to make the agonizing decision to pull the trigger and go for it.

And for that moment to come he has to build an ocean of assets, be rich in depth, and then translate that into the last planks to fight the stars of New York and Boston and Tampa Bay. All the streams have to converge, at some point.

“It’s not like we’re going to hoard all our prospects, and they’re not all going to pan out, and they’re not all going to play for us,” Anthopoulos says. “So we can’t be afraid to trade them to other teams to get players. You just hope you know what you’re trading.

“If you’re scouting and developing and waiting for everybody, you’re going to be waiting forever. You get these guys for six years, and then they get hurt, or they don’t perform, and then you’re waiting for the next guy. Boston traded Hanley Ramirez, great player, but they got their ace [Josh Beckett] and won the World Series. That’s a great trade for both teams. I’m sure Boston didn’t like to trade Hanley Ramirez, but if you win, it makes sense. So I’ve told Paul — I think the trade route’s going to be a big component. I don’t want to rely on free agency — free agency is just for the final pieces. But trade is going to be the big avenue for us. And there’s risk.

“It’s hard to make trades. If you’re going to trade for someone, it’s probably not for someone who’s established; you’re banking on the guy becoming established. And they might not bounce back with you. If you’re going to trade for a superstar, you’re probably blowing a hole into your team another way.

“There’s a lot of ways, and I think the team will indicate to us, and we’ll figure it out, and it will come together in the performance of the team.”

One day, many lessons from now, maybe Alex Anthopoulos won’t have to agonize every time. Maybe the lessons will add up, and he’ll just know. He won’t be a boy wonder forever.

But for now, it’s one word at a time, one decision at a time, building the battleship. He just had a daughter last week. He hadn’t read a single baby book leading up to the blessed event; he was worried that if he started in he wouldn’t stop, and his obsessive streak would overcome him. “I would have driven my wife nuts,” he said. “I would have been paranoid about everything.”

So when his daughter Julia was born last week, he had no information for one of the first times in his life. He admitted to being clueless, and began the process, gratefully accepting any advice, any book recommendation, anything.

“He’ll figure it out,” Beeston says. “He didn’t read a single book about being a general manager, and look how he’s done.”



http://www.nationalpost.com/sports/Blue+Jays+steady+wheel/3611720/story.html#ixzz11JVIRQvg

wamco
10-03-2010, 05:10 PM
I'll give him a B so far.

Only thing against him was the return on the Halladay trade makes him go from a B to an A as wallace lost a bunch of value.

Gibby
10-03-2010, 05:55 PM
I would give him an A. Brett Wallace was overhyped IMO. For guy a playing in his 2nd year in PCL, his numbers werent great. His defence supposedly hasnt been better at first base. Most people were upset because wallace was a top 50 prospect but i dont think he would even be a top 100 spec in 2011. Wallace's stock was falling significantly and AA realized and traded him for a high potential player in Gose.

Bob_at_york
10-04-2010, 11:25 AM
I like the moves he has made and I like that he understands the positives and negatives behind every trade. He also is willing to hear other opinions. I am hoping he stays on the right track.

BlueJayCarter
10-04-2010, 11:49 AM
Gose ... Wallace trade is up in the air. If Wallace wasn't what A.A wanted he shouldn't have traded for him in the first place.

I give him a grade of B+.

leafsrule99
10-04-2010, 12:00 PM
still a great year...all thanks to AA

Bob_at_york
10-04-2010, 12:03 PM
Gose ... Wallace trade is up in the air. If Wallace wasn't what A.A wanted he shouldn't have traded for him in the first place.

I give him a grade of B+.

one thing I heard was that he always wanted Gose but the Phillies weren't offering him.

BlueJayCarter
10-04-2010, 12:14 PM
one thing I heard was that he always wanted Gose but the Phillies weren't offering him.

I am sure A.A wanted Gose. But I am sure there was other players in the Phillies organization that he could have selected over Taylor (as he wasn't interested in Taylor as he flipped Taylor for Wallace (good move)) and not even have traded for Wallace.

This convoluted trade process to get Gose who might not work out involving four trades in total

Philly - Toronto
Toronto - Oakland
Philly - Houston
Houston - Toronto

was kind of silly for one prospect unless Gose hits the MLB stage and is an automatic All-star Gold Glover for the Blue Jays.

the_jon
10-04-2010, 12:24 PM
How much can you really ask for one player? I thought the Halladay deal was a fine trade. I'm sure it was the best deal on the table, you can't just get every guy you want just because it's Halladay. Let's not be greedy, we got 3 (very good, at the time) prospects and were able to flip the one whose stock is plummeting for a young CF prospect which is one of the hardest positions to get talent.

Normally as a fan I could look at the moves J.P. was doing and the moves he wasn't making and just shake my head and believe I could do better. With AA I don't get that. Not sure how much of it is J.P. making AA look better by comparison, but he's definitely better.

He gets an 'A' from me. You can't do much better than he has done this year.

the_jon
10-04-2010, 12:29 PM
This convoluted trade process to get Gose who might not work out involving four trades in total

Philly - Toronto
Toronto - Oakland
Philly - Houston
Houston - Toronto

was kind of silly for one prospect unless Gose hits the MLB stage and is an automatic All-star Gold Glover for the Blue Jays.
Wallace was one prospect. Taylor was one prospect. You're not going to decline the deal with 3 stud prospects in favor of another deal with another team that is offering less just because you can't get 'one guy'. Again, this is greed and it would have been foolish for AA to turn this deal down.

DiPasquale7
10-04-2010, 02:47 PM
I give him an A-. The only thing he didn't do was sign Chapman. But he came close and tried so I still give him credit for trying to get him here.

BlueJayCarter
10-04-2010, 02:58 PM
Wallace was one prospect. Taylor was one prospect. You're not going to decline the deal with 3 stud prospects in favor of another deal with another team that is offering less just because you can't get 'one guy'. Again, this is greed and it would have been foolish for AA to turn this deal down.

It is not simple greed. There were other prospects of the Phillies that could have been selected in the Halladay trade so we wouldn't have gotten into a convoluted 4 trade process for one player.

The Halladay trade in itself is an awesome deal. We got Drabek (who kind of struggled) in his first three big league starts ... but has good talent to be a good #2-3, we have D'Arnaud a good catcher ... and then Taylor-Wallace. We still have 2/3 of the trade. A+ (not studs but good everyday players)

I suggest it is a stretch to even suggest Taylor and Wallace are stud prospects. Taylor wasn't what A.A wanted and obviously from his minor stats it was a good move to move him to Oakland. Same with Wallace .. as we traded him to Houston for one player.

Gose was on A.A's mind since the "Doc" trade but not available that is clear ... but instead of trading for Taylor and (then Wallace) A.A should have selected probably a "safer" good prospect in the Phillies organization since they are well aware of what is in the Phillies farm system by scouting them so much .... and he probably would have still made the Gose trade with Houston and Philly at the trade deadline (a what if scenario) but probable.

But, as it is a what "if" scenario it does not matter. A.A drafted well, signed FA and International FA well, made good trades before and during the season (except for Gose - Wallace , in my opinion) and looks to be in a good position going into next year.

I see alot of success coming out of the GM office in the future with A.A in charge.

DiPasquale7
10-04-2010, 04:46 PM
If there was more of a demand for Doc AA may have been able to pull in Brown and Drabek. But since the Phillies were the only serious contenders I think he got a great return

BlueJayCarter
10-04-2010, 10:27 PM
If there was more of a demand for Doc AA may have been able to pull in Brown and Drabek. But since the Phillies were the only serious contenders I think he got a great return

For sure. A.A did an excellent job for the Halladay trade ... we have Drabek (will be good ... has a no hitter already on resume) and the catcher.

We will see how he goes forward.

afclark82
10-05-2010, 12:42 PM
For sure. A.A did an excellent job for the Halladay trade ... we have Drabek (will be good ... has a no hitter already on resume) and the catcher.

We will see how he goes forward.

The team was a little tied up in the Doc trade as he wanted to stay in Florida for spring training. I'm sure there were lots of other teams who wanted him, but they were not options for Halladay to play. AA did great to get all that he did when AA had Philadelphia as the only real option where doc wanted to go.

wamco
10-05-2010, 04:44 PM
How did D' do this season as a stud prospect?

ah nuts
10-05-2010, 05:53 PM
I couldn't be more happier with the jay's GM selection.

I can't see any of the jay's previous GMs doing such a good job in their first year.

wamco
10-06-2010, 08:24 PM
answer: 71 games 726 ops

B2theRY
10-09-2010, 03:00 PM
i think its really hard to win the halladay trade
you traded the best pitcher in baseball who was also limiting them where he wanted go roughly go.

im just happy and enjoying doc pitch in the playoffs it wouldve been nice to get there with him atleast once.