Genius: The Chronicles of Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous
Alex Anthopolous took over the General Manager position of the Toronto Blue Jays on October 3, 2009 from the publicly ridiculed J.P. Ricciardi.
He inherited a team in complete disarray; the Jays had failed to reach the postseason since 1993, the same year that they defeated the Phillies in the World Series.
Anthopolous has plans to change that, and he plans for it to change sometime around 2012.
The Jays have made headlines since the hiring, due in large part to great free-agent signings and trades.
Anthopolous began his flurry of transactions in November 2009 with the resigning of the sure-handed John McDonald.
The next day, he signed veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez proved to be worth more to the team later on in the season when the trade deadline was approaching.
In December, Anthopolous began to restock a depleted farm system. He pulled off a major blockbuster, sending ace Roy Halladay to Philadelphia for three top prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud, right hander Kyle Drabek, and outfielder Michael Taylor.
To cap off a busy day for Anthopolous, he signed veteran backstop John Buck to a one-year deal.
This was just the beginning, however.
Later on in the month, the Jays sent fireballing reliever Brandon League to the Seattle Mariners for another fireballer, Brandon Morrow. Morrow, although inconsistent, gave the Jays another young arm to add to their already young staff.
After a quiet January, Anthopolous brought in veteran reliever Kevin Gregg to close games. This capped off a busy first offseason for Anthopolous.
Early on in the 2010 season, Anthopolous signed Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year, $10-million contract. Hechavarria figures to be a large part of the Jays’ potential successes in 2012.
Anthopolous acquired Fred Lewis from San Francisco a few days later. Lewis became a spark plug at the top of the Jays lineup.
In July, Alex Gonzalez proved his true worth to Toronto. He was sent to Atlanta for right hander Jo-Jo Reyes and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Which prospect are you most excited to see from the Blue Jays system?
Escobar seemed to be wearing his welcome out in Atlanta, and Anthopolous took advantage of this by trading for him while his value was relatively low. The youth movement in Toronto was continuing to take shape.
Anthopolous began his second offseason by acquiring catcher Miguel Olivo from Colorado and outfielder Rajai Davis from Oakland.
Anthopolous completed two trades with the Brewers in as many days, first acquiring Carlos Villanueva in exchange for a player to be named later, and then trading ace Shaun Marcum for highly touted prospect Brett Lawrie.
2011 began with the low-risk, high-reward signing of relievers Octavio Dotel and Chad Cordero. But, Anthopolous’ made his most genius move to date a little over a week ago.
Anthopolous traded the highly overpaid and notorious free swinger Vernon Wells to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli, a free swinger in his own right, and outfielder Juan Rivera. Nobody is quite sure how he managed to unload such a contract, but he did it.
Napoli has since been shipped to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco. Although many will say that Napoli would have had more value to Toronto than Francisco does, we have to remember:
Anthopolous essentially received Francisco and Rivera for Wells, a player who was holding the team back from spending big on free agents. The money freed up by trading Wells will only help Anthopolous reach his goal.
The Jays figure to contend in the near future when prospects like Drabek, number 12 on MLB.com’s list of the Top 50 prospects, Gose, Hechavarria, and Lawrie, number 28 on the list, hit the majors.
Without the genius of Alex Anthopolous, the Jays would not be in the position they are today, a position that has Jays fans waiting anxiously for 2012.
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