The Next Big Thing: Has Alex Anthopoulos' Time Arrived?

Will RaineyContributor ISeptember 22, 2009

There's no one else in Toronto Blue Jays management I'd rather see turn up for an interview than Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos.

If it's true, as some suggest, that keeping or firing JP Ricciardi is no longer about on field results so much as changing the public perception of the team, then it's hard to imagine the jays can do better in that regard than hiring a 32-year-old Canadian who has none of the bristly public-persona drawbacks that  Ricciardi has.

To be fair to Ricciardi, those who know him and work closely with him testify unanimously that he's a great personable guy that almost everyone likes. but for whatever reason, his candidness with the media has led to enough missteps to brand him with an image that makes fewer and fewer ticket buyers inclined to forgive the bad breaks and missteps on the field.

Another way in which JP deserves credit is that he's the one who hired both Anthopoulos and Tony LaCava (himself a fine GM candidate who no one should be disappointed to see take over the team if that were to happen) and gave AA the chance to advance and become the "golden child" of the organization he is today.

But in Alex A, the team has a ready made elixir: a guy who seemingly has all of JP's best qualities in terms of talent evaluation but without the perception baggage It goes without saying that we can't know for sure how good a GM he would make, and it's also worth noting that if he got the job, it would be a smart move to pay LaCava very well to stay and be the right-hand man with more experience just to be sure someone's there to provide counsel through the rough patches.

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating either of these guys over the other sheerly in terms of team buildingI'd be real happy with either one (and much less happy with someone from outside the organization). But with that said, I can certainly recognize the "optics" of bringing in a "young gun" like Alex Antopoulos.

The reason for these ruminations (other than the lack of much of anything to talk about concerning the Jays) is the interview Alex did with the Fan 590's Mike Hogan and Mike Toth today.

Among the points of interest:

  • Marco Scutaro is probably done for the year, but Alex made a pretty big point of saying the Jays were going to work hard to re-sign Scoot in the six weeks or so before free agency begins. There was no specific comment on length of term or anything but he sounded serious Frankly, if I may interject editorially here, given the SS market, if the Jays do have a budget increase coming then a bit of overpayment for Scoot wouldn't be a bad idea because there's not much available and there are several teams (including the well-heeled Red Sox) shopping.
  • When the host asked which minor leaguer really caught there eye, AA pointed to another "next big thing: Lansing 19 year old RHP Henderson Alverez (pictured) of whom Alex said "he may be our #1 prospect." Anthopoulos described him as a potential top-of-the-rotation starter with a 96 MPH fastball and he also said "he might come quick." 
  • He was asked about the potential of being the next GM and of course he was very "correct" in his comments but he spoke, as he always has, very highly of JP and pointed out how many important people in the organization hired by JP are Canadian (if you value that sort of thing). He was also ask about Cito and while you don't expect he's going to badmouth the manager in a situation like this, I don't get the sense he shares my dim view of Cito's work this year.
  • He points out some mitigating considerations on the attendance front. Primarily he noted the small difference in the Jays attendance and, for instance, the Rangers who have been contending all year.

Speaking of Alverez, once the season ends you can look forward to my position by position review of the Jays system leading up to my Jays top 25 list which will roll out sometime in November.