Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Does the Future Hold For Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston?


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On the field, the Toronto Blue Jays are still very much in the thick of things this season. But in recent days, the focus has shifted towards what may lie ahead for the club from a front office perspective; most notably for the two biggest figureheads, Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston.

Steve Simmons reported (and not surprisingly so) that Alex Anthopoulos will return as the Blue Jays General Manager for the 2015 season. Although this has not been confirmed by the front office as of yet, one has to think AA is safe regardless of how the season ends.

Paul Beeston however, is a different story. One wouldn't assume his job was on the line, but Shi Davidi's latest indicates his position could potentially be in jeopardy next season.

With a dwindling inner circle and many of his cohorts retiring, perhaps Beeston's time with the Blue Jays is soon coming to an end.

Although Anthopoulos is relatively young when it comes to executives in baseball, 2014 is his fifth full season at the helm of the Toronto Blue Jays. That would seem like sufficient time to put together a contending team, especially now with the advent of the second Wild Card team in the playoffs.

AA has undeniably been very active in attempting to do what his predecessor couldn't do, but as the years pass, I'm beginning to notice that the J.P. Ricciardi era is beginning to look eerily similar to the Alex Anthopoulos era.

Both GM's have employed some Moneyball tactics, and both had that one big push from ownership and saw a significant increase in payroll during their tenures.

While it appears the two are invariably tied together, I could picture this team without Paul Beeston as the President of the club next year. Conversely, I'm not sure I could picture this team without Alex Anthopoulos as the General Manager.

That's not to say Anthopoulos is devoid of any blame or responsibility here, but if there had to be one "fall guy" at the end of this season between the president, the general manager and the manager, my vote would be for the president.

I'm not certain whether there's some sort of list somewhere about who takes care of what, but it seems like Alex would be the one to take care of the baseball operations and the day-to-day transactions of the club. Paul on the other hand, seems more like the conduit to ownership.

Any time a General Manager is shown the door, it often times signals a rebuild. Although the position of President is technically higher, a new President wouldn't necessarily set off a complete dismantling and restructuring of the Blue Jays.

Frankly, it wouldn't make sense to pull the plug on AA while most of the key players are still under contract for the next two seasons. Unless an impromptu fire sale is ordered, Alex Anthopoulos should stick around until the end of next season at the very least. 

Although Anthopoulos was fairly inactive during the offseason and at the trade deadline, I don't believe it was entirely his fault. I've long suspected that AA's hands have been tied with budgetary constraints, whether it came from Beeston or ownership.

So in that respect, regarding the elements Alex has been able to control the past five seasons, I'd say he's done a pretty amicable job. Drafting, development, trades and free agent signings have overall been fairly successful.

It has been Alex's job to assemble a winning team, and for the most part he has done that the past two years. It just so happens that due to a number of mitigating factors, the Blue Jays haven't lived up to the lofty expectations.

If we're looking at the Toronto Blue Jays strictly from a business standpoint, the current regime under Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos has been quite successful.

Attendance is up, TV numbers are up, merchandise sales must certainly be on the rise, and it's safe to say the appetite for Blue Jays baseball is higher than it's been since the early 1990's.

But the Blue Jays as a business is only one aspect of how the team can be successful. The public perception of a successful team is one that's a perennial contender, something the Blue Jays have not been for a very long time.

Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston's time with the organization will both eventually come to an end, but the million dollar question is whether they will stay on beyond the 2014 season and possibly even 2015.

I think it's only fair to give these guys one more crack at ending the Blue Jays' 20 year (going on 21) playoff drought. Pulling the parachute now after all this work would be counterproductive, and just put the team back at the precipice of another rebuild.

If this team really was built to contend for the next "three to five years" as Paul Beeston has stated in the past, it only makes sense to see it through until year five. But with that, again ... this is sounding eerily similar to J.P. Ricciardi's "five year plan".

And we all know how that ended.

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