In the eyes of Paul Beeston, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is just as important as a star player – one the club would be wise to hang on to.
The outgoing team president joined The Jeff Blair Show and offered choice words of support for Anthopoulos, but refused to discuss his pupil’s future.
“Is he irreplaceable? No. But is he someone you want to keep? Sure,” Beeston said Wednesday morning on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “Why wouldn’t you? It’s like wanting to keep any of your star players.”
The contracts of both men will expire on Saturday and with Mark Shapiro set to take the reins of club presidency, there’s been much speculation in recent days about whether Anthopoulos will stay in the fold as GM of a team coming off its most successful season in two decades.
“Alex is … kind of my horse,” said Beeston, who hired Anthopoulos as Blue Jays GM in 2009 to replace J.P. Ricciardi. “I’ve watched this man grow into the job. It’s very funny that after six years, he’s kind of like what a player would be – a free agent. He is in his best years right now. He has learned from his mistakes … he doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”
Anthopoulos was the architect of a Blue Jays club that won 93 games during the regular season and fell just short of a World Series berth when it was eliminated in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series by the Kansas City Royals. The 38-year-old has garnered widespread acclaim for moves that brought Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Marco Estrada to Toronto in the off-season, and adding David Price and Troy Tulowitzki prior to the trade deadline.
Beeston says whatever happens with Anthopoulos, the club must continue to improve.
“What we want to do is progress and build on what we’ve got right now. Not stay the same or regress,” he said, noting that he’s spoken with Shapiro and kept him “informed,” with the goal of making the transition of club presidency smooth.
“This isn’t going to be ‘Here’s the baton, run,’” Beeston said. “(He is) in charge on Monday, and after Monday, we will work together to make sure that he understands where we’ve done things, why we’ve done things, where the challenges are, what needs to be completed and hopefully he will be informed and he will make the decisions at that point.”
This marks the second time the 70-year-old Beeston will bid adieu to the Blue Jays, having ended his previous tenure as team president in 1997 before returning in 2008.
He says fans won’t have to worry about him ever working for another organization.
“I am a Blue Jay, my loyalties are not transferable,” Beeston said. “I’m not for sale to any other team. And quite frankly I’m leaving here very, very pleased that the foundation is here.
“This team is built for the next two or three years, we should expect good results. I feel good about that. I feel good that the fans are coming back and that we have a whole new group of fans. The onus is basically on the ball club to make sure they perform.”