Bill Shanks

New GM a positive move forward for Braves

New Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks with members of the media at the annual MLB baseball general managers’ meetings Tuesday in Orlando, Florida.
New Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos talks with members of the media at the annual MLB baseball general managers’ meetings Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. AP

Six weeks after the resignation of John Coppolella as general manager, the Braves finally made a decision, a good decision, with the hiring of former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

You may wonder who in the world is Alex Anthopoulos. Well, he’s an experienced GM who walked away from Toronto two years ago after the Blue Jays brought in someone new as the team president. Anthopoulos’ power was in jeopardy, right after his team won the AL East and he won the Executive of the Year award, and he said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

And so, he left. Anthopoulos didn’t believe it was a good fit with the new management structure. He then joined the Dodgers as a front office executive.

In reading up about Anthopoulos, and trying to repeatedly spell his name correctly, I’ve learned that while he was first hired as a GM at 32, he is not your typical “stathead” executive. Many of these young guys in baseball front offices are believed to use a calculator more than a scouting report. And while Anthopoulos has a degree in economics, his reputation is one of balance between scouting and analytics.

That’s fine. That’s where the game is going now. You can’t, and shouldn’t avoid it.

Anthopoulos’ rep is he’s an aggressive and sometime even trade-happy executive, willing to make deals to get his roster better. These days, it seems better to have overly aggressive GM rather than a passive one, especially if you have a middle-market budget.

He will inherit a tremendous farm system, which was probably the main reason he wanted the job. Anthopoulos will have a lot to learn in a short period of time, as the GM meetings are this week, and the winter meetings are next month.

Teams may look to Anthopoulos and believe they can swindle him out of a few of Atlanta’s top prospects, but he’ll likely hear the next few weeks that patience remains the priority. Yes, improve the team for next year, get a reliever or two (or three) but don’t ruin what the rebuilding process has progressed so far by trading away prospects for a quick fix.

The scandal that has rocked the Braves will cost them some prospects, and they likely won’t be able to sign an international prospect for two years. But it will not drastically change how much talent is almost ready to hit Atlanta.

The Braves are loaded. They have more pitching prospects than Anthopoulos will know what to do with, and that’s a great thing. They have, in Ronald Acuna, one of the best prospects in the sport. They already have financial flexibility and a brand-new, revenue-generating stadium that will allow the team to spend money when needed.

So, as long as Anthopoulos can make some good, solid decisions, this franchise will be fine – despite the mess that has led Anthopoulos to get his job. He will bring in some of his own people, probably expand the scouting staff and hopefully make improvements that are probably overdue.

Who knows what this guy will do. But after all the negativity the last six weeks, it’s just time to feel positive about something with the Braves. Let’s give him a chance and see what he can do.

The best part of Monday’s news is that John Hart is out. He’s still employed (at least for now), but he is no longer part of the front office mix. They should have fired Hart, but at least he’s no longer in a position of power.

Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos. I’ve got to know how to spell it, and you will need to know how to say it. An-thop-o-lous. Let’s just hope he can take the foundation that has been laid and build a championship team that is long overdue.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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