Braves Hire Anthopoulos As Next GM, Signaling New Direction For Team
The Braves "took a step toward reclaiming normalcy" yesterday with the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos as the team’s new GM, according to Nubyjas Wilborn of the MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL. Anthopoulos "agreed to terms on a four-year contract" that will run through the '21 season and will "report directly" to Braves Chair & CEO Terry McGuirk. Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart will "relinquish his position" and move into the role of Senior Advisor. McGuirk started yesterday's introduction with a "bit of a somber tone." It has been an "uncertain six weeks" since GM John Coppolella and Int'l Scouting Supervisor Gordon Blakeley resigned because of a MLB investigation into "potential rules violations." McGuirk: "I apologize to all the Braves fans and supporters. It is a tough time, but we will get through this." The Braves are still "waiting to find out the results of MLB’s investigation." Sources said that MLB will "look favorably upon Hart no longer being involved with the baseball operations" (MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL, 11/14). McGuirk said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday "told me that the investigation has been completed for some time and that he will be back to us advising us of what penalties will be accorded to us in the near future." McGuirk: "We’re talking within two weeks." Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes Anthopoulos referred to his new position as "one of the premier jobs in all of sports" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 11/14). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes Anthopoulos had been the Dodgers' VP/Baseball Operations, a "position he held since he left the Blue Jays" after the '15 season. He said that the investigation "had no impact on his decision to join the Braves." Anthopoulos: "For me more than anything else, who are you going to work for and who are you going to work with?" (USA TODAY, 11/14).
SETTLING THINGS DOWN: In Atlanta, Mark Bradley wrote the hiring of Anthopoulos is a "splendid move." Two years ago, Anthopoulos was "considered one of the best young GMs." Bradley: "A lot of Braves fans will be disappointed that the team didn’t make prodigal son [Royals Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM] Dayton Moore its poohbah." But the arrival of Moore "would have played into the Braves’ worst instincts -- namely, that the only way to build a franchise was the way [Braves Vice Chair] John Schuerholz and [Baseball HOFer] Bobby Cox built it a quarter-century ago." But that was "before sabermetrics had nosed its data points into front offices" (AJC.com, 11/13). Bradley: "When your dirty linen has been held up to public embarrassment, the last thing you need is to get the band back together." For what the Braves have become and where they need to go, Anthopoulos is the "better hire." Schuerholz was "not present" for yesterday’s session and neither was Hart. This was a "new day, and this team is in the hands of a new man" (AJC.com, 11/13). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote under the header, "Alex Anthopoulos Is A Bold, Unexpected And Dang Good Hire For The Braves" (NBCSPORTS.com, 11/13).
GOOD & BAD: MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby wrote in an era when teams have "seemed more focused on hiring young lieutenants with an analytics focus, Anthopoulos is an outlier." He is a previous GM who has a "background more similar to Schuerholz than the new breed." He "embraces analytics," but he also "values traditional scouting." In his five-year stint with the Blue Jays, he "built the organization's scouting staff to 54, the largest in MLB" (MLB.com, 11/13). MLB Network's Dan O'Dowd said Anthopoulos "accumulated a ton of knowledge from a process orientation standpoint with the Dodgers, who ... are on the cutting edge with a lot of things that go on within the game." O'Dowd said Anthopoulos is a "high-energy guy, tremendous intelligence level, a very, very creative thinker and it's a wonderful opportunity" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 11/13). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote under under the header, "Anthopoulos Might Be Fine But Braves Blew It With Best Choice." Anthopoulos "wasn’t the first choice." The first choice, Moore, a longtime former Braves exec, "isn’t coming back to Atlanta and the reason isn’t as simple as the Royals blocked his path, as some would have you believe." If Moore really "wanted to come back," he would be there. That Moore is "not a member of the Braves today means they blew their best chance for immediate credibility" (AJC.com, 11/13).
LEAVING LALA LAND: In L.A., Andy McCullough notes Anthopoulos' departure from the Dodgers "creates another hole in the team’s front office." Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi "indicated the team may not pursue a direct replacement for Anthopoulos." Zaidi: "It’s a chance for us to reset and maybe reorient a couple of those leadership positions." Anthopoulos "aided the organization in a variety of ways." He helped "shape the big-league roster, scouted for the amateur draft and helped coordinate the pro scouting staff" (L.A. TIMES, 11/14). In Toronto, Bruce Arthur notes Anthopoulos was "happy in L.A., but then, he was happy in Toronto too" (TORONTO STAR, 11/14).
ROYAL TREATMENT: Moore said he was "at peace" with how the Braves search had unfolded. Even after Royals Owner David Glass had "denied the Braves an interview in late October, leading to increased speculation." Moore: "If he wanted to grant permission, then that would signal to me that he didn’t want me here. If he denied permission, that would tell me he wants me here." In K.C., Rustin Dodd notes Moore remains under contract with the Royals for an "undisclosed length of time, ready to embark on another possible rebuilding job as the franchise’s core" of 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas and CF Lorenzo Cain "navigates free agency for the first time." Moore said that he "felt emboldened to guide the organization through its next chapter." And he "praised the Glass family, extolling 'opportunities' and 'advantages' offered by ownership" (K.C. STAR, 11/14).