Alex Anthopoulos. Remember that guy? Well, according to Joel Sherman, he’s got himself a new gig:
Can report now Anthopoulos is getting #Braves GM job, announcement possible at GM Meetings
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 13, 2017
The confirmation comes on the heels of Sherman’s Sunday evening report for the New York Post that the Braves had made the former Jays’ GM the top choice to lead their organization… uh… after Royals’ GM Dayton Moore, who was refused permission to interview for the job by his club.
“Former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is the perceived front-runner to become the next general manager of the scandal-wrecked Braves, according to three sources,” Sherman wrote. He also told us that Atlanta’s president of baseball operations, John Hart (interestingly, Mark Shapiro’s former boss and predecessor as Cleveland’s GM), apparently favoured Anthopoulos over Jim Hendry, the former Cubs GM who has lately been serving as a special assistant to the Yankees’ Brian Cashman and was also on the shortlist.
Also interestingly, as MLBTR notes, Alex “turned down offers from the Twins and Diamondbacks last year when the two clubs were in the midst of their own GM searches. Family concerns were reportedly behind Anthopoulos’ decision to bow out of those searches, as he didn’t want to uproot his young children from the west coast so quickly.”
A little over a year ago, Anthopoulos commented on the Twins offer to Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt, explaining:
“I’m not the type to want to jump around my family all the time,” Anthopoulos said, explaining that his kids just started school this week and have settled into life in Southern California. “Otherwise if we thought L.A. was going to be a place-holder or be in a holding pattern, we would have stayed in Toronto and just waited around for other opportunities. But that’s not what the plan was.”
Yet the Braves job, even with penalties possibly coming due to the international amateur free agent rules broken by since-fired GM John Coppolella, evidently was too good to pass up. And to that I say, good for him! He’ll have a whole lot of people in this country rooting for him, myself included.
I mean… I might not be rooting for him quite as hard as some of the people I’ve seen on Twitter out there whose memories apparently don’t extend beyond July 29th, 2015, *COUGH* but it’s much deserved, and undeniably nice to see him back in the game — and to see another Canadian at the helm of a big league club.
Next comes the speculation about which holdover members of the current Jays front office will join him, which is certainly a possibility — maybe even a strong one, as Robert Murray of Fan Rag suggests (adding that “Blue Jays people still rave about Anthopoulos”).
I could simply leave this post at that, but because I have a sickness when it comes to this stuff, I feel I also must suggest that perhaps this means we can finally rid ourselves of one of the earliest myths about Alex’s departure, and his eventual move to a lesser role in the Dodgers’ front office, which is that, since his move to L.A. was very clearly not about having final say on baseball decisions — which would have been the situation had he stayed in Toronto, too — there must have been something in particular about working for the dastardly Mark Shapiro that drove the golden boy out.
Here’s something I wrote when Alex first went to the Dodgers:
The critical point over which Anthopoulos left the Blue Jays, it has been stated many times, was autonomy. That doesn’t mean that money wasn’t an issue, or the Jays’ weak initial offer wasn’t an issue. But it also doesn’t mean, now that he’s taken a job where he doesn’t have anything resembling final say on baseball decisions, that — oho! — it must have been evil cartoon villain Mark Shapiro who is just so utterly repellent, or so willing to do Rogers’ cost-slashing bidding, that it drove the noble Alex off.
That’s not to suggest that they must have been over the moon at the prospect of working with each other, because obviously they weren’t. I’m just saying that it’s awfully problematic to get hung up on autonomy in the abstract, when it seems to me is that this was more about autonomy in this specific situation. Had he stayed on as GM, the Blue Jays, going forward, were going to carry Alex’s name. That roster would be the first and most important item on his resume. To hand final say over that to Shapiro? To anybody, really? That would understandably have been tough for a guy who had made the team for himself, with little oversight in terms of personnel decisions coming from Paul Beeston. Balking at the removal of his autonomy there makes sense.
But to mistake that for him only being willing to work in the industry with complete autonomy? I don’t think that was ever what we were talking about, nor would it have been realistic of him. But what that means, then, is that taking this job in Los Angeles as a subordinate doesn’t necessarily lend credence to this notion that it must have been something else — it must have been the dream-crushing Mark Shapiro, professional ruiner of all that is right and decent!
That still seems about right to me. Granted, in February 2016, Shapiro told Steve Phillips of TSN that Alex had told him “you should have the person you want in here, and I’m just being forced on you, and that’s not fair to you or me,” which is a pretty damned simple and reasonable explanation for his departure, too. But it certainly hasn’t hurt Anthopoulos here that it’s Shapiro and Ross Atkins who have mostly worn the results of the far-from-perfect payroll and roster situations they inherited. And one wonders if he had been in Atkins place this whole time, and the Jays’ last two seasons had gone essentially the same way, and he didn’t have the shine of Dodgers’ great season on him, would the Braves have been quite so eager to call? I’m not sure they would have.
Which is to say: Alex is shrewd, man. He’s no dummy. The Braves have got themselves a good one. Look out, shitty NL East! White Flight Park is gonna be a-rockin’ real soon!