Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Man Behind the Mask

Until now, I've been writing under an alias.

Hiding behind a vague (but witty?) moniker, I've opined and mocked my way through two years and 70 columns without hinting at who I really am. Now, granted, this isn't quite the same as Bruce Wayne revealing himself as Batman...but it is finally time to come clean.

My name is Alex Anthopoulos. You may know me as the new GM of the Toronto Blue Jays. I replaced the hatchet-man J.P. Ricciardi on the final weekend of the regular season and recently unveiled my new game plan that will transform Canada's only Major League baseball team into a contender. Maybe.

Well, actually I initially went public with my blueprint here, but I've been sitting on about 60 readers for most of a year so it didn't exactly make a huge splash when I first announced it back in July.

Anyway, because all of you have been "with me from the start" - I will now decipher my recent media comments to allow an inside glimpse at what I really have in store for the future of the franchise.

Quote: "I know that everything we will do will be obviously to improve the team, but it won't be a quick fix, or it won't be to sacrifice the ability to have a long, sustained run of success here."

Translation: The key to not answering a question is talking in circles, and I illustrate that beautifully here. The first part of my quote makes no sense whatsover. None. That is the point. The second half of my quote might as well be a picture of pigs flying through the sky because a long, sustained run of success is not even remotely possible. That is pie in the sky thinking, but I had to say it to give our dwindling fanbase something to believe in. Realistically, the best case scenario is us catching the Yankees or Red Sox in an off year and sneaking into the playoffs. If we draft and develop well, there is a sliver of a chance of that happening in 3-4 years.

Quote: "I think when people talk about a rebuild, it would be tearing down a team and trading away numbers of players. I don't know that we have that necessarily. I think we have a lot of good young players, I just don't think we have enough."

Translation: This is a direct shot at my predecessor, who was ornate, prickly and mostly a terrible judge of talent. His only friend in the game is the agent for Vernon Wells. We have a couple of very good position players (Lind and Hill) who are building blocks, one excellent prospect (Snider), and a bunch of young guys who might be big leaguers but could easily be busts, or players that are just good enough to lose with. You know, like Overbay, Frasor, League and McGowan.

Quote: "There are several players I'd be very reluctant to trade. That being said, I have to be open-minded to anything that could make this club better moving forward. Halladay stressed his timeline for winning and ours may not mesh and may not match."

Translation: Roy is as good as gone. He has thrown his last inning as a Jay and everyone should be prepared to see a headline announcing his departure. The two draft picks we would get if we held onto him through next year and then allowed him to walk as a free agent are miniscule compared to what teams will part with this winter, and we will accept the best offer. Unless that offer comes from Boston or New York at which point I will do the right thing and tell Epstein or Cashman to *%@# right off.

Quote: "With respect to payroll, there's really no defined number going into next season...ownership is fully committed to giving us the payroll if the right baseball opportunity presents itself."

Translation: We have no idea what our number is and Rogers isn't about to tell us. I'm on a need-to-know basis, and Mr. Beeston tells me that I don't need to know. It's safe to assume that our payroll will continue to decrease the next few years while we stockpile young players and try to figure out who can be part of the long-term plan. If any of you were dreaming about Jason Bay or Eric Bedard, well, sorry. Ain't gonna happen.

Needless to say, the future is not overly bright for us. Without realignment or a total overhaul of the current playoff system, our postseason aspirations are largely a mirage. The idea is to build a youthful, talented and cheap core that can eventually be bolstered with a couple of free agent signings to push the team over the top. It's a good plan. No really, it is. But there is no guarantee it will work.

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