Anthopoulos humbly embraces new challenge

Braves GM to harness expertise of front office while settling into role

Anthopoulos humbly embraces new challenge

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Though he has been given full autonomy within the Braves' baseball operations department, newly appointed senior vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos does not intend to drastically alter the direction taken by those who have guided the club through the uncertainty that has existed within the past month.

"I'm going to lean a lot on the people who are here," Anthopoulos said. "I know they have already had organizational meetings and met with everybody. They've gotten a full breadth of, staff-wise, what needs to get done. They're going to be critically important. It's going to take some time. I have some opinions from the outside, but those guys are way more informed than I am."

Braves introduce Anthopoulos as new GM, VP

As Anthopoulos has established himself as one of baseball's top executives, he has been accurately described as a tireless and diligent worker, whose fearless approach to roster construction has been harnessed by his advanced intelligence. But during his earliest hours as the Braves' general manager, he has also displayed a genuine sense of humility.

After being named the Sporting News' executive of the year in 2015, Anthopoulos walked away from what had become an uncomfortable hierarchy in Toronto and ended his days as the Blue Jays' GM to become the Dodgers' vice president of player personnel. The past two seasons, he has worked with president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and a cast of other top young executives within Los Angeles' front office.

"It was like going and getting my Ph.D.," Anthopoulos said. "That's how it felt. I know it's rare where you get a chance to do that with where I was in my career. Things certainly worked out for me. To be completely candid, I'm thrilled to be in Atlanta, and I was ecstatic about the opportunity. If I could have lined it up I would have gotten a few more years in L.A."

Instead of basking in the glory or power that accompanies his new role in Atlanta, the candid Anthopoulos admits he could have benefited by remaining out of the spotlight and continuing to learn within his role with the Dodgers. But at the same time, he confidently accepts the challenge he has now accepted to head a restructured front office and help the Braves transition from rebuilders to playoff contenders.

"We want to win, but we want to win over the long term," Anthopoulos said. "So we're not going to rush things or accelerate things. I need to get a better handle on what the timing might be. But the thought is when we finally get going, we don't stop."

Hot Stove Tracker

Since former general manager John Coppolella was forced to resign on Oct. 2, in the midst of an MLB investigation that could bring significant penalties, assistant general manager Adam Fisher and director of player personnel Perry Minasian have worked with former president of baseball operations John Hart to handle the daily roster reconstruction and planning duties. This certainly hasn't been an enviable task given Fisher and Minasian didn't join the organization until Sept. 19.

Though Hart had to relinquish his active involvement in baseball operations and move to a senior advisor role on Monday, he spent Tuesday morning talking to an appreciative Anthopoulos about the organization he will now run.

IT looks ahead to '18 Braves

Anthopoulos' comfort level is enhanced by the friendship he and Minasian developed while working together in Toronto. He also has had previous contact with Fisher and special assistant Billy Ryan, who was moved to this out-of-office role in August because he often questioned the decisions and approach taken by Coppolella.

Coppolella has to bear the blame for the significant infractions committed within the domestic Draft and on the international market. But while he developed both internal and external disfavor over the past few years, he still stands as the architect of the bright future Anthopoulos has inherited.

"I can't say enough about the work that has been done, the players they have acquired and the talent on the big league roster," Anthopoulos said. "I know it didn't necessarily show itself with the wins, but we all see a lot of really good players."

Over the next few days and weeks, Anthopoulos will evaluate some of the club's potential needs, namely bullpen and third base. He'll also get a better feel for how to best create a lineup spot for top prospect Ronald Acuna, whose impending arrival could lead the Braves to part ways with either Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis.

Acuna's two home runs

But Anthopoulos has no intention of making any significant changes to the coaching staff or alter the direction Minasian and Fisher have provided while awaiting the appointment of their new leader.

"I'll have an opinion as we move down that road, but I need to get up to speed and educate myself before I feel that strongly about a lot of things," Anthopoulos said.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.