Though Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthpoulos has developed the reputation as being one of the brightest executive minds in the game today, it should go without saying that he’s been far from perfect. In fact, all one would need to do is take a look at the 2013 Blue Jays to see that the head honcho has swung and missed — and arguably with the biggest moves of his tenure thus far.
That’s going to be a little obvious given that the team has essentially gone all-in this year, but with the team’s performance nowhere being near the high-profile expectations put upon them by fans, the team and the baseball world, where does it leave the GM who was the architect for this move?
It’s likely that much of the answer will come over the next few weeks as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Anthopoulos’ first years in the organization was marked by a renewed effort at fixing the mess that J.P. Riccardi left behind, putting more focus on scouting and restocking the farm while finding high-upside, change of scenery targets like Brandon Morrow and Colby Rasmus to bolster the Blue Jays’ core.
All that has been fine and dandy (well, at least for Rasmus this season), but despite being able to find value in a rebuilding context, the bluebirds record as a buyer has been … well, let’s say mixed.
From the overly long project/obsession of his to rebuild the bullpen that has seen mistakes like the Frank Francisco/Octavio Dotel/Jon Rauch trio and the risky Sergio Santos acquisition that still hasn’t panned out, to the perpetual void that the team has in left field, there have been major holes on the team that has been left to drag the squad down over the last few seasons.
And no, you can’t blame the GM for the rash of almost-unreal injuries that decimated the Blue Jays last season, but you can blame him — however well-intentioned the moves might have been — for whiffing on high-profile acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, not to mention the developing messes named Ricky Romero and Brett Lawrie.
So the question is does the team now reverse course and try to fix some of these things, and cut their losses while there might still be something to salvage? Or will Anthpoulos be willing to go even further and potentially deplete the farm system of high-value currency like Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna for a piece or two that might help the Blue Jays get back in the playoff mix?
As the executive nears the fifth season of his tenure, he now finds himself at a critical juncture as he tries to ‘finish the job’, for the last of a better term.
If he fails to put together a team that can get it done, it’s hard to imagine that Anthopoulos’ 2014 will be particularly pleasant — with more attention being paid to the Blue Jays than ever — as more eyes and more targets focus on the GM who went all-in, only to come up empty.