TORONTO — The issues before new Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos would be daunting for a veteran big-league executive, let alone a 32-year-old with less than a decade in the game.
Clubhouse unrest towards the manager. A coaching staff fractured, perhaps irreparably. Disgruntled fans. Dwindling attendance. A roster stuck in baseball’s dead zone, neither contending nor rebuilding. No defined philosophy for the future. An iconic player possibly on the way out.
And that’s just for starters.
“If there’s a person that I would think has shown us he’s ready to handle all that, it would be him,” interim CEO Paul Beeston said in an interview Monday. “Alex is smart enough to know the smarter the people around him, the better off he’s going to be. ”
“So you’re not going to see this as a one-man show. What you’re going to see is a man who is accountable and takes responsibility.”
Those words should offer Blue Jays fans some reassurance following a dismal 75-87 season that led to Saturday’s firing of GM J.P. Ricciardi, ending a tumultuous eight-year run.
During the Ricciardi era it was always clear whose view reigned supreme, and while those around him who he respected could challenge him, very rarely could they sway him. The belief he always knew best was both a strength and a weakeness for Ricciardi.
Anthopoulos on the other hand is expected to boost the baseball IQ up and down the organization, starting perhaps with a senior adviser (Pat Gillick’s name is floating around, as it always does), and turn decision-making into a consensus-building process. Not that he’s any kind of pushover — Ricciardi once referred to him as the Barracuda for his predator-like tenacity in negotiations — but Anthopoulos will make calls after seeking counsel and examining every angle at play.
“The more experience and knowledge that I can get around me is going to help me,” the Montreal-born Anthopoulos said during his introductory news conference Saturday. “We could potentially change the way we do some of the things from a front-office standpoint. … An organization-wide examination would probably be the way to put it, to really look at the way we’ve done things and look at the ways we can improve.”
His first statements to the public as GM were understandably vague, as he aims to avoid creating any expectations until a path forward for the club is charted.