Every once in a while, a baseball General Manager comes along who is looked upon as the greatest thing since sliced bread; although most of today’s sliced bread contains chemicals which aren’t exactly beneficial to one’s health.
A few years ago it was Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who was labeled a boy genius by the fawning Boston media. The Red Sox front office brainiac not only took credit for a World Series victory which was more the result of the work by previous GM Dan Duquette, Epstein left the team a complete mess seven years later. More than a few people in Boston are relieved that Epstein is now the problem of the Chicago Cubs, who have always had a huge appetite for destruction.
During this offseason, the genius label has been draped on Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, with the media hanging on his every move and kissing his back side along the way. Is all this praise justified for a GM of a team which has sucked wind for the past two decades? Or, is all this about just building up interest and selling season tickets for a team nobody outside of Ontario really cares about?
The Anthopoulos lovefest began when the Miami Marlins decided to dump their highest priced talent on the doorstep of the Blue Jays. According to Anthopoulos, the ridiculous one-sided trade between the Jays and the Marlins originally started as a one player deal and almost fell through. And if you believe that nonsense, a bearded fat guy with a red suit is busy sliding down chimneys this time of year.
You see, Anthopoulos and the two loathsome characters in the Marlins front office (Jeffrey Loria and David Samson) go back a long time. Anthopoulos worked for those two scoundrels dating back to 2000, when they were the principal owners of the Montreal Expos.
When Loria and Samson decided to destroy yet another team after getting big taxpayer bucks to fund a new stadium in South Florida, Anthopoulos was more than willing to open up Jays owner Rogers Communications checkbook. Since when does being able to afford high priced talent in exchange for a bunch of minor leaguers qualify one as a genius?
Anthopoulos followed the unbalanced trade by signing free agent OF Melky Cabrera, who was suspended fifty games by the league last year for performance enhancing drug use and coverup. It will be interesting to see if Cabrera is able to stay clean, and if he does, will he go back to being the mediocre .260 hitter he was prior to juicing up?
And as if that wasn’t enough brilliance, Anthopoulos went out and acquired 2012 NL Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Since it was obvious the floundering Mets were not going to meet the salary demands of a 38 year old pitcher with two decent seasons in his ten year career, naturally the Jays once again were more than happy to dish out big bucks and welcome the late blossoming knuckleballer.
There was a time when baseball General Managers were evaluated by how they were able to develop and bring up young talent. Today, they are graded on how much money they are able to spend to acquire players from teams who are dumping salaries because they are led by greedy and disreputable ownership. Labeling someone brilliant because their boss has deep pockets is a bit on the suspect side to say the least.
Someone should tell the sun shiners that the World Series is not won by off-season prognostications; it is won in October. Ask the Atlanta Braves. But then again, when a team is ranked 23rd out of 30th in attendance, like the Jays were in 2012, the media has to pile the garbage on real thick, so they can help spur ticket sales and television ratings, which helps pay for the high priced talent. The Blue Jays are obviously trying to acquire fans from other Canadian cities with this shallow and transparent media push.
It will be interesting to see if the Anthopoulos shopping spree brings in the huge returns which are anticipated. If not, the fickle media and fans will quickly turn on him and consider him anything but a genius. Ask Theo.