As a General Manager, I imagine there can’t be anything worse than not having the freedom to do what you want to improve your team.
Not only the financial freedom in regards to payroll, but also when it comes to making trades that involve important pieces in your organization. In that respect, GMs must often hear the word “no” from their Presidents and team ownership.
Perhaps nobody hears it more than Blue Jays General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos.
Sometimes there’s an illusion that GMs have complete unadulterated freedom to do whatever they want, when in fact they don’t. There are barriers everywhere, it’s just a matter of whether those executives have support from their superiors.
This past season, Anthopoulos has taken a lot of criticism for the lack of moves by the Blue Jays, but I don’t think it was entirely his fault. Payroll concerns are predominantly Paul Beeston’s domain, and I imagine any sort of big trades not only need to go through him, but ownership as well.
This may be something, this may totally be nothing, but I’ve noticed in recent interviews that Alex Anthopoulos seems very excited about this offseason … almost too excited. Does that mean ownership has given AA the go-ahead to go nuts this winter?
He echoed the very same sentiment during yesterday’s press conference in Montreal, and Alex Anthopoulos’ enthusiasm was very evident in this late season piece from Bruce Arthur at the Toronto Star:
“Am I excited about this off-season, which is maybe the first time that I’ve said that? Yes I am. I’m excited.
And maybe I’m excited about it because . . . there’s a good chance there’s going to be some turnover, and I’m excited about the core we have, and we have a blend of young and older players, and it could make for a really interesting off-season. Exciting.”
In the past few weeks, Anthopoulos has reiterated this point, especially in regards to signing potential free agents and making trades.
Aside from the 2012 whirlwind offseason, Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t really stated that he’s been “excited” ahead of an offseason. Even before the Marlins blockbuster and the Dickey deal, AA was very quiet about any potential deals like that on the horizon.
This offseason seems much different.
For whatever reason, Anthopoulos is very eager to get to work to improve this Blue Jays team, and this is just me theorizing here, but maybe it’s because ownership has given AA the green light to finally spend some money.
Why would Alex Anthopoulos be so forthcoming about his optimism unless ownership really did indicate to him that the purse strings would suddenly fly open? Admittedly, it’s an overly optimistic theory on my part, but AA’s comments have been curiously optimistic as well.
Judging by the deals made in recent weeks, the moves by the Blue Jays have been indicative of a team that’s shedding payroll. They all fall in line with a team that wants to save, not spend. But there’s also a slight possibility they’re actually trimming away some of the fat so they can significantly ramp up their offseason spending.
Just for a moment, entertain the possibility that the Blue Jays might be setting themselves to do the exact opposite of what’s expected of them this offseason… and that’s spend like mad. To take a term from the wrestling universe, what if this is their heel-face turn?
I’m not saying AA will be given carte blanche and the Blue Jays will become the Canadian equivalent of the Yankees or the Dodgers, but there is definitely room to increase spending.
By declining options on Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan and Sergio Santos, the Blue Jays have already saved themselves $17.75 million dollars for next season. If they non-tender Juan Francisco (which they absolutely should), they’ll save around another $2 million dollars.
And if Alex Anthopoulos can move one of the established starting pitchers like Mark Buehrle ($19 million) or J.A. Happ ($6.7 million dollars), that gives the Blue Jays even more wiggle room when it comes to payroll
Ideally, that money should be spent and not saved; put back into the payroll towards a Melky Cabrera contract extension, and/or signing a few free agents to fill key holes on the Blue Jays roster.
If this sentiment were coming from Paul Beeston, I wouldn’t believe it as much because he has a tendency to over-promise at functions and press conferences to simply win over the fans. But this is the notoriously tight-lipped General Manager we’re talking about.
So if Alex Anthopoulos seems incredibly optimistic about what he’s able to do this offseason, then perhaps fans should be optimistic too.
Image courtesy of Outside the Corner