Over the past few years, former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos proved himself to be a shrewd evaluator of talent, a bit of a gambler, and kind of a miracle worker. During his tenure as Blue Jays general manager, Anthopoulos was able to bring many marquee players to Toronto, some the best in the game. He was bold enough to trade away highly skilled and well liked players for even better ones. Anthopoulos was even able to squeeze some additional funding out of Blue Jays owner, Rogers Communications.
When Anthopoulos took over as general manager the total player salaries was amongst the lowest in the league. Since Rogers bought the team in 2000, the Blue Jays payroll has floundered near the bottom third in all of baseball. However, as Anthopoulos proved himself, and with the support of then Blue Jays team president and CEO Paul Beeston, Rogers agreed to increased payroll spending. Rogers’ self imposed spending limit put the total team salary over $100 million for the first time since buying the team. The additional spending allowed Anthopoulos room to bring in some of the best players in the league and make the team much more competitive. This past season was the Blue Jays best in a long time, it was the first time they made it to the playoffs in 20 years. It was also a season in which the team payroll had ballooned to $140 million dollars, more than double the total payroll during Anthopoulos’ first year as general manager.
Near the end of the season it was announced by Rogers that Mark Shapiro would be taking over as team president and CEO. Shapiro came over from the Cleveland Indians, a smaller market team with a much lower payroll. Shapiro was successful during his tenure as Indians general manager, working with a budget ranging from $60 to $80 million dollars. The Indians did well, playing against less competitive teams (relative to the Blue Jays), they won a lot, and made it to the playoffs a few times.
My concern is that Rogers very obviously brought in an executive to work with a smaller budget. Anthopoulos’ contract as general manager was up at the end of this past season, and it’s been reported that Shapiro’s initial offer of an extension was a very short term one, a mere two years. It’s also been reported that Shapiro told Anthopoulos he disagreed with the trades Anthopoulos made this past season to push the Blue Jays into the playoffs.
I didn’t agree with everything Anthopoulos did while with the Blue Jays but he at least had a plan, and was bold enough to take the risks needed to win. Now with Shapiro as president, a position more often being used as a promotion to keep general managers within an organization, it looks like the team will be headed back towards a lower payroll and stagnation. Shapiro disapproving of the trades Anthopoulos this past season is worrying too, they were deals I liked and would want my team’s general manager to make every time. It also highlights Shapiro’s risk averse nature, unwilling to take on more salary in order to put the team over the edge to succeed.
Shapiro seems like the perfect executive for Rogers to have running the Blue Jays, a successful general manager and team president accustom to working within a budget. It’ll be interesting to see how long the leash is of any general manager he hires going forward. Either way though, he’s not the guy fans want in charge.
Derek is currently enrolled in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, is an avid hat-wearer and a voracious reader.