For a guy that's supposed to be the centre of attention at these Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos certainly made a stealthy entrance. While a couple of ace Toronto baseball columnists were staking out the lobby near the front desk of the hotel on Sunday evening, Double-A, who apparently already had his room key, wheeled his luggage past the back side of a huge pillar, with his overcoat collar turned up and made his way to the bank of elevators before anyone even noticed. It was only when travelling secretary Mike Shaw came through moments later with assistant GM Dana Brown that he said Alex was already gone. I clearly need to see that Sherlock Holmes movie for some tips.
Anthopoulos did consent to meet with those two columnists shortly thereafter in a hallway on the eighth floor, which it turns out was not even the floor he was staying on. Yes sir, things are going to be different for the media in terms of information leaking with this guy. Anthopoulos plans on staying in his room for most or all of these sessions, even to the point of already letting other GMs know that they need to come to his suite, not the other way. That's a gutsy demand for a 32-year-old rookie.
Who does he emulate? This is Anthopoulos' eighth winter meetings. He attended two while with the Expos under Omar Minaya. He missed the '03 meetings, then attended five straight under J.P.Ricciardi. He is not copying either man when it comes to the art of the deal. He is his own man. Anthopoulos has already lined up meetings with several clubs. The times and days are still uncertain, but one thing he did tell GMs is that he insists on a one-on-on or at the most a two-on-two. That way if details of any discussion leaves the room and circulates with media, he has a pretty good idea where it came from. Besides, even with five on five, it's always just the GMs doing the talking anyway.
As for his own Jays' entourage, other than Mike "Turtle" Shaw who handles the details, his daily staff meetings will include himself, Brown, Andrew Tinnish and Tony LaCava. The fifth member of the group, Perry Minasian is at home awaiting the birth of a child but will stay in touch by phone when there are decisions being made. Manager Cito Gaston will be included when he arrives on Tuesday.
"I feel that the people we consult on trades when we're in Toronto should be the same ones we consult here," Anthopoulos said.
Even though an trade for Roy Halladay will fill certain needs for the major-league club, Anthopoulos insists that there is no chronological order that his trades need to be done in.
"There are so many balls in the air, very rarely will they line up in any particular order," Anthopoulos said. "There are so many places we need to improve. Some things need to be confirmed with certain clubs. There's a lot of different ways that we can go to be a better team for the long run."
Anthopoulos will be a busy man before leaving on Thursday, but will it result in any trades being made at these meetings? He's not exactly sure if they will be done here, but he does know that he will have a much better idea of what this club, this roster will look like in 2010 and beyond.
In terms of Jays' December trades, here's the way that A.A.'s predecessors as GM have stacked up. At his first meetings Pat Gillick made two December trades. In his 18 winter meetings as GM, Gillick made a total of 17 December deals. He went four Decembers in a row, from 1985 through 1988 without making a single trade of major-leaguers. That was during his "Stand Pat" era.
Gord Ash at his first winter meetings made one deal, a cash sale of Rob Butler. In his seven winter meetings, he made nine December trades. Ricciardi in his first meetings in Boston back in 2001 made three trades, letting go of Billy Koch to the A's, Alex Gonzalez to the Cubs and Cesar Izturis and Paul Quantrill to the Dodgers. In his eight seasons as GM, J.P. made 11 December trades.
However none of those meetings, except for Gillick in 1990, obtaining Devon White and Willie Fraser from the Angels for Junior Felix and Luis Sojo, then obtaining Robby Alomar and Joe Carter from the Padres for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff, had the impact that a Roy Halladay trade would have on this franchise. Tough spot for a rookie GM, but he seems unfazed by the pressure.