A day later, and I'm still puzzled/disappointed. It would be interesting to poll MLB executives and ask "would you rather have Alex Anthopoulos or Mark Shapiro running your team?" I wonder what the answer would be.
The other question I'm wondering about is how many of us would turn down a 5 year contract, at millions of dollars, if we were going to be given a demotion? That takes a lot of courage. And a lot of confidence in your reputation.
I know I'd love the chance to turn down a contract for millions of dollars. Not that I'd likely turn it down.
Dave Cameron, over at FanGraphs, talks about Alex and Title Inflation. Discussing how baseball has gotten around the old problem of not being able to offer another team's personnel a job, unless it is a promotion. So you want another team's GM, instead of offering him the GM job, you make up a new title, President of Baseball Operations. Really it is the GM job, but you sell it as a promotion. The GM title, becomes more an assistant GM. Pretty soon someone is going to have to come up with a role above President of Baseball Operations, maybe Senior President of Baseball Operations. Or maybe, in the Jays case, CEO.
Under Beeston, Anthopoulos was more like a Daniels or a Rizzo, a GM with final say (barring ownership meddling, anyway) over the moves the team made to put the roster together. Under Shapiro, however, his position would have been more akin to the new style of GM, the guy who gets to run the day to day operations of the department but doesn't have the authority to unilaterally decide whether to make a trade or how to fill out a roster. While ownership is involved in major free agent signings in every organization, and no GM or even President of Baseball Ops can go spend large sums of money without ownership approval, there's a significant difference between selling the ownership's representative on a big free agent deal versus having a former GM in the office for every trade discussion or every conversation about team construction.
Dirk Hayhurst figures that Alex leaving is far from bad news. Hayhurst always wants to be contrarian, but this bit is a little silly:
The Blue Jays gambled to make it to the post season this year and price they paid is high. Not only did they lose a lot of young and controllable parts, their success means their draft pick slot priority goes down...
Yeah that's what happens with success.
This may not have been the way Jays fans expected the postseason to start, but it's far from bad news. In fact, it may be the catalyst for a more sustainable, competitive team for many years to come.
Yeah it might be, who knows, the Jays might be a contender forever because if this, but I don't see any proof that they will be. It isn't like the Indians have been in the playoffs every year for the past ten.
Buster Olney talks about why Alex left. He talks about how Alex was offered a demotion too. I like this part:
Around baseball, rival evaluators panned the trades at the time because of the high cost in prospects the Jays surrendered and the money absorbed in the contract of Tulowitzki, a player with a long injury history. But a wise old general manager once said this of these sorts of deals: Unless you've worked in that particular market and understand the pressures and motivations at work, you can't fully comprehend all the factors that go into those sorts of trades, in which a team is willing to give up a little more value than it receives.
Alex was under different pressures than most GM's, I think he really thought this was the year and he had to go for it. And it turns out he was right.
Bob Elliott tells us that not re-signing Alex was "shameful". He talks about how bad a spot Shapiro is walking into. He does take a few cheap shots at Shapiro. Bob is a pretty loyal guy, but he seems to be digging a hole with the new guy.
Bruce Arthur, in the Star, has his take on it all. The Rogers hired a baseball man, it's not exactly fair of them to expect that Alex would just stay.
Cathal Kelly gives us a few little bits of new information. One is that he asked Alex in he was coming back, 6 weeks ago, and got "I'm not sure" and an answer. The other is that never met his Rogers bosses, which really doesn't surprise me that much.
He also hadn't talked to ownership. Ever. Mr. Anthopoulos said that up to that point in his six years as general manager of the Blue Jays, he had never had a single conversation with anyone up the Rogers food chain. Not team chairman Edward Rogers or new Rogers Media boss Rick Brace. No one. Outgoing president Paul Beeston was his sole point of contact with his employers.
"That's weird," I said (thinking it was a lot more than weird).
"It's a little weird," Mr. Anthopoulos agreed.