2014 Will Be A Pivotal Year In Deciding Alex Anthopoulos' Future With Toronto Blue Jays

By Thom Tsang
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

If a sound plan wrought with the best of intentions doesn’t yield the desired results after sufficient time has be allowed for its implementation, is it still a good plan?

That’s not something that the Toronto Blue Jays have to think about in the short term, but going into year five of Alex Anthopoulos‘ clean-up/rebuild project, it’s hard to chase the feeling that of all the years, 2014 might be the most pivotal one yet as far as the GM’s future with the franchise.

It’s not to say that all executives in his position should be limited and judged by an arbitrary timeline of course, but the fact is that the expectations and road map to contention all changed when Anthopoulos decided to effectively go all-in prior to 2013, bringing together a collection of talent that at one point, had the Blue Jays being a World Series favourite.

So when all that blows up spectacularly, shouldn’t that say something about the guy in charge?

Though it may not be widespread yet, there is already some signs that this organization is starting to make accountable those who oversee the team. The dismissal of Chad Mottola and Dwayne Murphy‘s ‘retirement’ perhaps gives an inkling of what the team is hoping to do going forward, and it’s not like returning manager John Gibbons hasn’t been under fire already.

In some ways, you could even say that some of the criticism and dismay thrown by the fan base towards the skipper are also targeted towards Anthopoulos, even if by proxy.

After all, Gibbons is his guy, right? The Blue Jays’ owners gave the GM what he needed to bring in the players he wanted, and he hired the manager he wanted to run it. They may have been ideas which were good at heart and perhaps even sensible given the circumstances, but sports are a results game, and it’s hard to argue with the results of this team full of stars in 2013.

If we’re talking about the same thing by the end of next season, however, no amount of injuries, unexpected declines or any other reason for the team’s continued failure is necessarily going to matter, however reasoned or not — because it’s going to sound more and more like excuses.

Yes, the team seems to go through an unreasonable number of injuries to just chalk up to luck — so Anthopoulos has to figure out the underlying problem if there is one. A player having an unexpected down year? Well, what about team depth, and is the talent evaluation process flawed to begin with so that these issues are repeated?

There can always be questions about the process, and thus far in Anthopoulos’ tenure, the baseball savvy that he established earlier on has perhaps mostly kept him from this. That too will change perhaps as early as this offseason, as every move he makes (or doesn’t make) will likely be more heavily scrutinized going into Spring Training in 2014.

And yes, I’m sure the GM is definitely critical of his own decisions and feels plenty of responsible for the team’s failures this season, but when Toronto fans start really questioning, that can be a slippery slope for his tenure. Another season with a broken roster, an embattled manager and a disappointing season without the playoffs could provide that push.

#InAAWeTrust just isn’t what it used to be, you know?

Thom is an MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlueJaysRant, or add him to your network on Google

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