Richard Griffin's complete interview with Alex Anthopoulos
RICHARD GRIFFIN: It seems to me in observing over the past 15 years, especially since Buck Martinez came in to manage (in 2000), that the Jays have always tried to sell their fans a face of the franchise over the winter. It seems clear that you are evolving into that face of the franchise. Are you comfortable in that role?
ALEX ANTHOPOULOS: I don't know that comfortable's the right word. I know I have responsibilities. I've heard people tell me that. It seems odd to hear it. To be honest with you it's flattering, but at the same time I know my responsibilities being a general manager to make myself available to the fans, to the media, to the community. I understand that. And I understand the responsibility lies with myself, with Paul Beeston, with ownership, but the face of the franchise should be the players. It should be the 25 guys on the field and that's not false humility or false modesty, but people don't pay to come see me at the ballpark. They don't come to talk to me. People come to see the players, so I understand that myself and the team and the group, we're responsible for putting it together right now but I don't know that necessarily I want that. I accept whatever responsibility it is but I don't know that it even needs to go in that direction.
RG: So when eventually Rogers or management decides that a player os going to be the face of the franchise, you'll feel like you have succeeded then?
AA: I'll say this. I know that on sports we gravitate towards the superstar player, but baseball from my standpoint, yes, you always want to have a superstar player, but it's not like the NBA or even the NHL where someone's going to log that many minutes. A position player gets four at-bats and plays in the field. A guy who's a starter is for the most part going to pitch every five days. My observations have been in baseball people come to see a winning team. No disrespect to Clemens or Halladay or any of the players before them, I don't know that if you look at the numbers, we sold out for one specific player. If it was an event we certainly did. A great matchup. Last year people came out to see Burnett-Halladay. That was a great event. I don't know if the people come out in this market to see a specific player. My hope is that we're looking for a face but hopefully there's faces and there's a collection of players and it becomes a great team. Do the Phillies have one face of the franchise? You've got Ryan Howard. You've got Cole Hamels. You have Roy Halladay now. You have Chase Utley. I don't know if there's one guy that's expected to carry it. It's one of 25. One player, Alex Rodriguez was with the Rangers, the best player in baseball, may still be. One player I don't think can carry a team in the post-season. You can have a run with a nine-man lineup, five-man rotation, 12-man staff. It's going to have to be more than one player, so I don't know that I ever want it to be known that the face of the franchise is one player.
RG: I've used the example in a column of the Tigers with Dombrowski from '03 to '06. Just not as a comparison that you'll win 43 games, but as a comparison that you have to make a plan, stay the course, identify players and then add through free agency, the farm or whatever. How do you stop yourself from being seduced. I know that you try to be conservative in your outlook of development, but how do you stop yourself from being impatient and making a move that might not be the best?
AA: I think about it all the time, especially now. It's amazing. As an assistant GM you care, but what a difference just sliding over because I know the importance of the direction that we're going and what we need to do to stay the course, being very disciplined in the approach, but at the same time we also know that we have a product to put on the field. We have fans, people that pay to come watch the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre to watch 25 guys on the field. People from Toronto are not necessarily going to be going down to New Hampshire or going to Las Vegas or going to Dunedin, so they're not necessarily going to be seeing those results right away. At the end of the day we know why we're doing the things we're doing. It's to ultimately lead to a better product. I don't ever see myself being off the path, because I don't believe in (the quick fix). If you don't believe in it, it's hard to do it. I think even in the off-season you know there's a lot of opportunities to sign players, but you're always checking yourself with respect to how does this impact the long-term. If we sign a certain free agent is it short-term? Do we have to surrender draft picks? Well that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The important part of it is that the president of the team certainly understands it and he supports it and ownership understands and supports it. They understand the plan. They believe in it. They fully support it. We talk about it all the time. At the same time you want to be as competitive as you can be. The more I'm doing this, we just need to continue to add players, to add talent. We're going to have to take some risks, take some chances.
RG: If you weren't competitive in three years would that be a major disappointment?
AA: I can't say that, because I look at Tampa Bay and the swing they had from one year to the next. Ultimately, at some point you're judged by wins and losses. There's no question. But for me, whether it's each year you look back and hope your organization is in a better place. Whether the minor leagues are stronger, whether financially we've got some good contracts on the books, we've got some good players coming. I mean if three years from now we have a bunch of young players all over the diamond that everyone believes are going to be talented and we need to add some pieces and so on, and the win total isn't there and we've got a lot of good players coming and we have good contracts on the books, to me the organization is in a healthy place. But there's no question everything that we're doing is to win a World Series. So it's tough to say three years, two years, four years, five years.
RG: Are the Rockies an example of someone you looked at and said, hey they have guys all over the diamond that they developed.
AA: I used them...I just talked to Dan O'Dowd the other day and I think they've done a tremendous job. They've built a culture. Their minor leagues are very strong. They've got good players coming. They've got very good talent at the big-league level. They've got a great collection of players and a very good team. Just talking to Dan he said it took them a long time. I think he's in his eighth or ninth year right now. It took them a long time to reach that point and with young players, let's say we take a bunch of high school players in the draft because we ultimately believe that those will be the best players. We have to be patient enough. It might take four years, six years, seven years. It varies. You look at how long it took a McGowan to get here, or even a Rios. Even Vernon may have been four or five years, but everything that we do we're trying to get the best players. I can't look at it like I only have so much time left on the clock. I can't because no matter what happens, no matter how long I'm here, I'll look back 10 years from now and see the decisions that were made by the baseball operations team including myself and if they were shortsighted moves and we tried to get someone that would pay immediate rewards well the proof will be in the pudding four or five years from now.
RG: Have they ever announced an extension for you beyond this year?
AA: No, you know what that's something from my standpoint in terms of contracts and things like that we never got specific about and that's by design. I'm a big believer in (no contract) because I think it's a distraction to the team – the general manager has so many years left on his contract and so much time. The clock is ticking and I know it's part of it. But I think even Paul, if you asked him, he's a believer in not having contracts. I think back in the day they didn't even have any. From my standpoint I'm never going to look at it like I've got a year left, I've got two years left, I've got to win, I have to do this, I have to do that. Invariably when you start thinking that way you're thinking short term and all the decisions that you make will be focused on the present.
RG: You hired Dana Brown. You kept Tony LaCava around. You hired Perry Minasian and then you went out and hired a bunch of veteran guys that have been around including former GMs. How do you keep ego out of it, where you go, oh God, there's a guy that might second-guess or threaten my position? How do you keep ego out of it?
AA: In terms of second guessing, threatening...
RG: I mean there's a bunch of guys who could be GMs.
AA: To me you can't work that way. You can't worry about it. No matter what position I've been in I've never worried about who I was working alongside, who was behind me, who was in front of me. I tell my players the same thing. I know when we send them down and they're prospects, I tell them I know you're looking at the guy who's coming behind you and I know you're looking at the guy in front of you. It's easy to say, but I know it does you no good. Whatever's meant to happen is going to happen. You dictate what you're going to do, the success you're going to have in this game. I say it all the time and I want every department head to feel that way. I want people that have the ability to take my job. Not people that are looking to do it and undermine what I'm doing, but if we can fill the front office with guys that are going to be GMs that means we are going to be a tremendously successful organization. I talk about it with (trainer) George (Poulis) when he hired (assistant trainer) Mike Forstad. I said George you're going to make this hire because you're the head trainer. I didn't take kinesiology classes. I didn't go to med school. I'm not qualified to hire a trainer. But I can tell you this, when you do make this hire I want you to tell me that the person who's behind you that you're hiring, tell me he has the ability to take your job. Tell me he has the ability to be the head trainer. Don't tell me he's going to do it and undermine you and impact the way you work but tell me if something were to happen, if you were to move on or if we wanted to make a change this guy has the ability to be a frontline guy. Again, it's easier said than done, but that's what we want to do. I think with a lot of our pro scouts, Perry is a big part of that. He's a big believer it's his staff, certainly the same with Andrew (Tinnish) on the amateur side. They talk to me about their hires, but it's their staff and they're going to be judged on the way that they run the department and they need to have the people that they believe in. A lot of these guys are Perry's hires. I certainly went though them with him. He's a big believer in experience. He knows I am too. On the amateur side, we'd like to get experience as well. On the amateur side it's a little bit harder to get guys to go do an area that have been doing it for a long time...
RG: I can see why (having scouted high-schooler Yordy Cabrera)...
AA: ...Yeah, exactly. But I never worry about job security, contracts, someone trying to take my job. All I think about is the team all the time, how to win and get better.
RG: How did your first conversation with Jim Beattie go after he came on board? Wasn't he the first GM you called looking for a job as a kid?
AA: Yeah, I talked to him after I got the job. We had talked on the phone. He was looking to get back in the game. Obviously his credentials and his track record speak for itself. I kicked around having an advisor and a consultant. I still don't know where we're going to go with that. Right now I'm just going to play it out for the year. I have enough bodies and enough things on my plate right now that I don't have a job description right now. But I did tell him we're going to have some openings on the pro side. I know that when I worked with the Expos in 2002-2003 he was there as a pro scout, so I knew he had abilities certainly doing that. But it's Perry's department too and Perry needed to be comfortable with him and feel good about it. But I'd talked to Jim before. I've told everybody whether it's been player development and scouting. I'm not going to force a hire on anyone. Dana was my hire. I hired him specifically, he reports directly to me. He's working in the amateur side. But I've seen it in other instances in other organizations where a GM will implement someone into the development side and it undermines or impacts how people run their departments. How am I supposed to judge the director of a department if it's my staff that he's inherited.
RG: Perry had some interesting, funny comments about sitting in the room and hiring (former GMs) Ed Lynch and Beattie. Is that part of what you like to see in the development of the young guys that you work with. You want a guy to reach the point where he's capable of being a GM and you know that he wants it. Perry looks even younger than he is.
AA: A hundred percent. Perry brings a different dynamic because he grew up around the game. He's got a much different perspective for someone that didn't play than I would have or Tony would have. A lot of these other younger guys may have grown up reading a lot of Bill James things. Well (Perry's) been in clubhouses. He's been around players. He's been around coaching staffs. He's run spring training with the Rangers. He's done a lot of things I haven't been exposed to. He complements the department very well. He's worked around managers and he's got a feel for players. He knows make-up, what makes guys tick. Also you like to get guys from other organizations, because it's just experience. What have you done? What worked well? Perry's ceiling is very high. Andrew Tinnish's ceiling is very high. He worked in salary arbitration, worked in the office, scouted an area, worked in Florida for a year, cross-checked on the amateur side, basically was our pro scouting director last year. He's got the total package so I see these guys and they certainly have the ability.to get to that role.
RG: It's clear that your relationship with Paul Beeston helped when it came to Rogers deciding who was going to have that job. When was the first time last summer that you noticed Beeston might have been paying attention to you more than casually.
AA: You know what, he did. There's no doubt that any time you get in this position – that's why I'm never going to take it for granted – I could have been in any other organization and still been in scouting. I was lucky. I had the right people. J.P. Gave me the opportunity. Certainly Paul gave me the opportunity. If you don't have the right person to support you to give you that opportunity. That's a lot of it. Certainly you work hard. You feel you're qualified. But there's no question, right place, right time, right opportunity, right setting. Paul never changed and I think that's by design. He's been around forever. He knows everybody in the office. He knows Jon Lalonde, Andrew, Ryan Mittleman. There was never any sense...it got a little bit uncomfortable at some points because the media would talk about it and things like that...
RG: We tried to stay away...
AA: I understand that and you guys understand it too that it was probably uncomfortable for a lot of people overall because you're still working, you're still loyal to the people that you work with. Paul never has changed. He's pretty straight forward. He treats everybody the same way. I think anyone who's an assistant GM people always talk about them as GM candidates. Tony (LaCava) could be a GM tomorrow. He certainly could ave been GM 10 years ago. He's qualified. He's ready to do it rght now. A lot of it is circumstances. It's also how much he believes in you and that's certainly part of it. I want to expose our guys to as many things as they can get exposed to. The same reason I gave Tony some salary arbitration stuff. The same reason I'm exposing Perry to some of the things we're doing on the office because he's always been ut in the field. He's always been evaluating. He's been around players. He's been around the team. That should only make him better. Andrew's done a lot of things. He's doing more on the amateur side leading a department, leading a staff. It's just going to make our staff stronger.
RG: When I noticed you might be a strong candidate is when you started dressing better last summer.
AA: I didn't dress better, did I?
RG: Without a doubt. You went away from the crew neck sweaters with jeans. They were gone. I said, Hmm, this guy's got a chance.
AA: You know what, you don't even think, I guess no one ever tells you specifically, but it's one of those things. It's different. When you're an assistant GM you're always a step away, no mater who you're with. J.P. Gave me a lot of responsibility. He gave me a lot of work on the contractual side of things. Got me involved. Got me exposed to doing a lot more media interviews, things like that. J.P. exposed me to everything whether it was manager changes, free agent signings. He prepared me the best he could. Even when I got the job he said he was rooting for me and he hoped I was going to do well.
RG: You think they'll have you on Baseball Tonight when he's on the panel?
AA: Yeah. That wouldn't surprise me at all. I expect him to do his job too., I think having been in the position I think he'll do a good job there because he understands what guys are going through.
RG: How long did it take you to get comfortable doing TV interviews because you always said that they were the most difficult?
AA: The more you do it, it's just like anything when you start and now I'm much more comfortable because I've done it so many times. Not necessarily TV, but even...I know I did a couple of TV as an assistant GM. One, you don't feel it's your place, so just from a mental standpoint you feel I shouldn't be doing this. It's not my place. I'm not the voice of the organization. I'm not the one making the decisions. I support them. I'm part of the decision-making team but I'm not the one making the decisions so I never felt comfortable. You're always concerned about saying something that might be contrary to what the GM or the manager or the organization believes. So I think once you're in the position and you know that you're accountable for your own words, then you can impact them. And the more you do it, the more you speak in front of groups, just like anything you get more comfortable. I'm much more comfortable today than I was four months ago when I started. You grow into the role.
RG: The amount of extra money being spent on scouting this year over last year – amateur scouting in particular – in equivalent terms, would that be like signing one major-league free agent?
AA: We probably don't want to get into the dollars, specifically, but I think anyone can do the math on their own and come up with a rough number. Scouts get paid x amount of dollars. Benefits are x amount of dollars. Travel expenses are x.
RG: But it's not as daunting a number as people might think?
AA: No, I don't believe it is, especially considering what we spend as an organization. To me, the impact...it's the same reason that you claim a guy on waivers for $20,000. The impact of hitting on one player is worth millions. It's the same way with this. The payback is great and it doesn't need to be multiple players. We're impacting major-league free agency. We're opening minor-league free agency. We're impacting the Rule 5 Draft. We're impacting waiver claims. We're impacting the (June) draft with the amateurs. We're impacting Latin America. Every format of player procurement we're impacting and when you take a giant step back and say what do we spend on the payroll? What do we spend on amateur signing bonuses? What do we spend in Latin America? Combine all that money and whatever that number ends up being whether it's $70 million or 100-110 million, the money you're spending to get the quality, the quality of manpower impacts $100 million worth of player personnel moves and that's only for one season. The impact for 5-6-7 years down the road starts to multiply. It's a no-brainer.
RG: Do you feel like you learn more from your mistakes or your successes?
AA: A hundred percent from my mistakes. I'd say my biggest fault and at the same time – and I don't think it's a bad thing – I really think that if there's something that I regret, if there's a move that I made or didn't make that it was a mistake, I will analyze it to death because I want to learn from it. One thing that bothers me – I'm never going to make a mistake and say, 'Uhh, it happens.' No way I'm just going to live with that and accept it. I'm finding something to take from this. I don't care if it takes me a week. I will dig and dig and dig and find something to pull out of that. Because you have a success, you don't work for those. You obviously were doing something right. That's easy to do, but f there was a mistake to be made and there's one thing that I'm learning, if you're process is right and your process is in place, you should be in a pretty good frame of mind because you're not going to be right 100-percent of the time. You're going to make mistakes, but as long as the process is right. However don't be so stubborn as to say this process can't be tweaked, can't be adjusted and learned from. That's why what I made our amateur department do this past winter was important. We hadn't done it in the past and I'm a big believer in it, because I did it when I scouted. I would go back and get our crosscheck staff and get everybody in and we started reviewing old drafts. We had drafts, we had video, we had scouting reports. We went through the first few rounds and we had a lot of people who had seen those players. I admitted the mistakes. I wanted it to be, 'Guys let's not talk about I was right on this guy.' If you were and there was something someone else missed, talk about it. Tell them what you saw. Why did we whiff on this guy. What can we learn from what we did because scouting and evaluating is really all about experience. It's all about learning from your mistakes and what you did right and wrong and that's why ideally you like to have experienced guys because they look back and say 'I got burned on this, I got burned on that' and it's because of mistakes they made through experience. We don't want to make mistakes. We want to accelerate.
RG: If Michael Taylor becomes rookie of the year with the A's and Brett Wallace is a September callup and struggles a little bit...
AA: It's too early....
RG: But if the fans say, 'Hey he gave away a rookie of the year' do you get defensive at that point.
AA: I'm not there yet. I understand it. I'm a sports fan too and I would expect it and I think the same way fans...and we're talking about having young players and these players get called up, especially for the players traded for in the Halladay trade, the assumption is going to be that as soon as the players are called up the expectation is going to be they're going to be good immediately. We all know it rarely happens in sports. You just look at the players we currently have on the roster. Halladay was one of them. He ended up being very good but he needed to be sent back down. Lind was certainly one of them. Snider is still one of them. We still believe he's going to be a great player, but it could take a little bit of time. That's why when people ask me how long until we're a World Series contender year-in and year-out I don't know because I don't know when all these guys are going to come together. I know Snider's going to be a great player. I just don't know whether it's going to be 2010-11-12.
RG: We know that you were a Fantasy League player. What was the name of your team and did you ever win?
AA: We did. I had a friend that we did leagues with and I never really had one on my own it was one that I grew up in Montreal with and he's actually the guy that got me into baseball. He got the tickets for (the Expos) and he got me into fantasy sports. In Montreal, I just craved baseball, so he had leagues for this and that, so he would send in the lineups and all that. There was a great game that we did called Scoresheet. It wasn't for money or anything like that, but the good thing about it was a great way to keep up on players. It's amazing when you start working in baseball, you're not nearly as knowledgeable about all the prospects around the league, especially when you're in scouting. When I was on the amateur side you lose touch with the big league side because you're spending so much time there. We won, we lost, just like everyone else. But it was more the thrill of analyzing players. We had a few team names. Big Uns was one of them. Big Guns, whatever.
RG: So do you empathize with all the e-mails you get from guys playing fantasy who are pretty knowledgeable guys?
AA: Absolutely. They are, there's no question.
RG: But they see players in one dimension.
AA: There's no question and I understand it because they don't have access to scouting reports.
RG: But having done it, you can feel for them.
AA: They are our fans. Those are the passionate fans and they know a lot about the game. Whether you're in any sport and you're into football pools – a lot of our players are into football pools. They understand it. They love it. They do drafts. They talk about players. It's fun because you get to live vicariously through your teams. It's a blast. I don't think people do it to win money. It's bragging rights. It's competitiveness. It's an outlet. We spend so much time watching sports. We spend so much time having an opinion, calling talk radio, debating with our friend, debating with our family, well now we have a chance to show everybody what we think we know or don't know. That's your one outlet. It's look at what I've done. I understand it completely.
RG: If, or when, you sign your first major international free agent and I'm not talking a Dominican that you give a nice bonus to, I'm talking about one of these Cubans, do you think that will snowball or change the perception of this organization because there's still a lot of people around North America who see this as a small market, no money, trying to cut organization spending. Do you think that the first major international free agent will change anything?
AA: I think it has to impact things. Any time you sign somebody and you commit money to international free agents, absolutely the perception, whatever it might be (changes). It shows that if the organization feels the baseball opportunity is right that ownership will support it. We have the money and I think it shows there is a consistency in what we've been saying, in what Rogers Communications has been saying. I haven't in my experience whether it's talking to agents or other teams, I haven't got the impression, the scenario where teams or agents are reluctant to bring us their prominent international free agents. Now, maybe it's been talked about that way. Again, we haven't had any problems where someone said, well we know you guys aren't players so we're not going to show you this player, we're not going to bring him to your complex. We haven't had that issue. If it encourages, certainly it's good for the fan base, but it's not the reason that we do things. To me you can never do things for a P.R. standpoint because at the end of the day it comes down to wins and losses. Maybe people will be excited for a week or two and if the results aren't there you turn the page.
RG: Did you learn anything from the Aroldis Chapman negotiations, because you guys were being prominently mentioned and then at the end it was like four teams and the Jays weren't there. Did you learn anything from that?
AA: Absolutely. I talk about it a lot in the office. I think it's a great example. It's still early, but he's looked very good in spring training. We just didn't know enough about the player to extend ourselves to where we needed to extend ourselves. We weren't comfortable enough to extend ourselves. I know that Paul and ownership, if we had made the recommendation from a baseball standpoint to pay the player x-amount of dollars, it would have cost us $31 million or 32 or 33. Paul and ownership were fully prepared to endorse it. I guess my one regret is I wish it was a greater comfort level on our part. We weren't as familiar with the player as we needed to be. That being said, our scouts felt so strongly about him that we needed to at least explore it. I came out early and said we just don't know enough about this player for where this money was going to go. Because he was going to sign fairly quickly and once he made the change in representation it kind of bought us more time. We found out more information. We saw him throw two bullpens and we certainly liked the player. It was just a matter of at what point did it make sense financially. You have to put a value and at some point you have to say this is our value and you walk away. With all the information we had, we made the best decision we could. That being said, in hindsight you can say it looks like it's going to be a great investment for the Reds, a great signing. Whether we were alone in the evaluation, whether there were other teams, it doesn't mean it's right or wrong. But from my standpoint, I want to be on the next guy now and I want to start doing our homework now. I want to see this next guy more often, get more innings, get more looks, know about the family, know about the makeup. We were trying to piece it together on a very short amount of time and the dollars got to the point where I looked myself in the mirror and I said I have to go to ownership and to Paul and this is all I have and this is the investment it takes, it just was way too much unknown for it to make any sense for us. We really don't know and you're always trying to balance out the risk – the investment you have to make. Paul says this all the time. It's easy to spend money. It's hard to spend money wisely. And that's what it comes down to for us.
RG: Why haven't you announced a payroll budget?
AA: There really isn't. I was talking to Paul, I went back to Toronto, we had a speaking engagement at the Albany Club and there was just a trade scenario that I kicked around. We would be adding $4-5 million to the payroll. I just said, “Paul, We're just floating the idea. I'm not even sure anything is going to come of this. We might be adding if we're going to do this trade, $4-5 million to the payroll. Any problem?” Not a problem at all. There was no, “Let me go talk to Nadir. Let me go talk to Tony.” Certainly he's going to get approvals, but if it's all part of the direction and the flow, the philosophy, a long-term piece then it makes sense. It's the same way where if we would have signed Chapman and we would have put that money towards the big-league payroll, we had the approval to do that because he fit in. The thought was he was a 22-year-old lefthander, controllable for six years, can be a long-term piece and has some ceiling and some upside to be a middle to a front-of-the-rotation type starter. Those are the types of chances that we're going to take. There is a limit and money and we do have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, 'Do we have enough information to go in at this level?' That's why every signing that we do we balance it out. No matter who we sign, if we sign a Cuban two weeks from now we will not sign at all costs. There is a limit where at this certain point it doesn't make sense for us. Now the risk becomes too great, the dollars become too great, there's an opportunity cost there.
RG: What's been your biggest surprise dealing with other GMs after taking over? Now you deal with them on a peer basis. Have you finished learning 29 individuals and how to deal with them?
AA: No, you don't talk to them enough after five months. You just don't have enough dialogue to learn them. You're not in trade negotiations with them. You float ideas out. You talk to them. It takes time. Agents learn clubs and clubs learn agents well because when you're doing a negotiation that's hours and hours of conversation. Do I feel like I've got a much better feel for Jack Zdurienciek now and Ruben Amaro and Billy Beane? Yes, because we did a trade together and there's more than one conversation there. You deal in depth. You go back and forth and you're talking about things. Other clubs I've had maybe more expanded trade talks with. I've got to know some of those GMs. But there's a bunch of GMs I may have floated ideas back and forth and it would end there. That'll evolve over time.
RG: What's your definition of a lie?
AA: You're not telling the truth.
RG: Okay. When you walk the streets of Toronto, because this goes back to the first question of being the face of the franchise, when you walk the streets, do people recognize you and is that happening more and more that people recognize you.
AA: Just on the lie question, I'm just curious, what...am I supposed to have a formal Webster's...I guess it's the same definition of a lie is...it's hard to say. Mislead, not tell the truth. I mean we all know what it is to an extent. Are there times you can't be completely forthright, completely honest, withhold information? Yes.
RG: And you just got married...
AA: Yes, but to intentionally mislead and do things. You know what it does? The key to this is trust. Whether it's an agent, whether it's a club, whether it's the fans. So, I think if you're honest as you can be, give as much information as you can give, but also explain. People understand when you can't. That builds trust and I understand. “I like the fact that Alex can't tell me, but I understand why.” At least I'll say that I can't tell you.
RG: Most of the time it seems you've got your skates on but you don't even step on the ice.
AA: Yeah, exactly. I think I'm better off having nothing to say than turning around and misleading. Your other question was...
RG: Just walking the streets. Do more and more people recognize you and engage you in conversation.
AA: Yeah, I think over time a little bit more. I understand it's part of it. Not to sound ungrateful, but I think some people like being in front of the cameras. People like being known. People like their face being known and I say this respectfully. It's flattering, but I don't get any...I want to sound gracious when I say this. I don't want it to come across the wrong way, but I don't seek it, I don't get excited about it, I understand it, I respect it, I certainly will give anybody my time when they talk to me. But I've been asked to do a lot of TV events and so on. I don't want to put myself out there. I don't need to. If we have a trade, if we have a signing to make I'm there.
RG: Do you think Paul pushes you in that direction, because like I said it seems he wants you to be the face?
AA: He does?
RG: I'm sure he does.
AA: Paul's never told me, he's never sat me down, no one's ever sat me down and spoken to me about that.
RG: So you don't feel he's pushing you?
AA: Not at all. Paul has never once told me you need to do this, you need to do that.All my media stuff comes through Jay (Stenhouse). Paul and I went to the Albany Club together, but that's not a TV program.
RG: It's very subtle. You can be the face of the franchise in Toronto and just be around and not be invisible. Not even be at major events or have people say you're at major events, but you are (in the city) all the time.
AA: Sure, and I get people come up to me the odd time, absolutely. Spring training games I've had it two or three times where someone might come up and ask me to sign a ball or something or a photo or want to take a photo. That's fine. I don't have a problem with it.
RG: Most times it's encouraging?
AA: I understand it's early and if we have struggles or a trade doesn't go well, I understand there's going to be criticisms. You shouldn't have done this, you shouldn't have done that. That's part of it. I'm certainly not naive enough to think someone shaking my hand and slapping me on the back today – and most times if people are going to come up to you it's normally because they have something nice to say. If they have something bad to say, they'll probably stay away. They'll call talk radio. But I understand it. I think everyone, you hope that they're polite and they're understanding about it. But, really, the face of the franchise? You know who I think does a great job. I think Brian Colangelo does a great job. I'm a Raptor fan and to me I don't see him on TV all the time. I don't see him quoted all the time. I see him on TV when he needs to be. I see him quoted when he needs to be. I'm probably similar in style.