- David O'Brien The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Braves contingent left the first Winter Meetings of the Alex Anthopoulos era without making a trade or free-agent signing, which is not to say their four days at the meetings weren’t productive.
They met with the representatives of many free agents and had trade discussions with numerous teams, and there’s a decent chance at least one or two of those connections will result in moves during the coming weeks as Anthopoulos and staff continue to tweak the roster, trying to firm up the bullpen and starting rotation and strengthen the infield.
But for now, Braves officials are content with what could be called intrasquad strengthening that continued at the meetings as Anthopoulos, one month into his tenure as general manager and vice president, had opportunities to share his philosophies and strategies with other Braves executives, coaches and various employees while also getting to know more of what makes some of them tick.
“From the staff dinners we had, that’s important,” said Braves assistant GM Perry Minasian, who previously worked alongside Anthopoulos in Toronto when Anthpoulos was Blue Jays GM. “Just familiarity with the people you work with day-in and day-out. I think style, them understanding his style, him understanding the way they process things, I think that’s very beneficial.
“I’ve seen that over the last six weeks, from ownership -- obviously (Braves CEO) Terry (McGuirk) has been unbelievable to work with -- all the way down, it’s been impressive.”
One thing that various Braves employees said when asked about Anthopoulos: He seeks their opinions and genuinely seems to care what they think about everything.
That leads to free-flowing discussions in meetings where people feel like they can speak out and voice their opinions. And in settings such as the Winter Meetings, that’s particularly valuable.
“Your creative juices start flowing,” Minasian said, “and when you have an open room, open dialogue and you feel comfortable being able to come up with some creative ideas, where you have people in the room who can say, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea’ or ‘Hey, I don’t think that’s going to work’, It’s a good atmosphere to work in, and that’s what I saw the last four days.”
“There’s 100, 200, 300 different (ideas being considered), just depends on where you’re at, what mode you’re in, you hope one, two, three have some legs. We’ll see where it goes. But I was really impressed just with the group overall, there’s a lot of talented people there. It’s exciting.”
Anthopoulos had another commitment Thursday morning and left overseeing the Rule 5 Draft to Minasian and team’s player-development officials.
By noon, the Winter Meetings hotel – the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort -- had pretty much cleared out as far as baseball types. Some lingering writers banged out their final stories in the media workroom, and TV and radio people did the last of four days of programming that emanated from the Dolphin hotel lobby or from a wide hallway adjacent to ballrooms that for four days served as workrooms, party rooms or the Rule 5 Draft room.
Most of the hundreds and hundreds of rooms and suites occupied by team officials were cleared of the grease boards and snack-food spreads that baseball officials and their staffs had churned through during the meetings, and more typical guests of the Swan and Dolphin -- tourists here to see Disney World -- were checking in or hanging out in a lobby that for four days had bustled and buzzed with loud baseball writers, scouts and team officials.
“There’s a lot of work, a lot of late hours, not a lot of down time here,” Minasian said. “You have 100 balls in the air, you hope a couple of them fall your way. But I think this was more than just player acquisition for us. I think it was almost bonding -- team building -- from an infrastructure standpoint, front-office wise.”