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The Blue Jays and Alex Anthopoulos divorce actually makes a lot of sense

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Who would want a shakeup after a season the Blue Jays just had? The Blue Jays, maybe.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

There was a time, in my foolish youth, when I would have considered the Blue Jays' 2015 season to be a failure. World Series or bust, with no shades of gray, that was my worldview. It was a dumb, short-sighted worldview. A team doesn't have to win the World Series to consider its season a success.

Here is the argument for what I used to believe:

Really, if a team doesn't win the World Series, that means at some point they tasted the most bitter part of baseball, and flags fly forever, and how special can a postseason berth be when there are 10 spots now, and blah blah blah blah

Here is the crushing, irrefutable, 1,000-word counter-argument.

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I was going for the one where he actually flips it, but I think I like this one better. Aw, heck, let's see for ourselves.

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I mean, that was a moment, right? That was an all-time postseason moment for a team that hadn't been to the postseason in a couple decades. Not every team gets an all-time postseason moment as a door prize. The Angels have been back to the postseason six times since winning the World Series in 2002, but I'm not sure if they've had a moment with a hundredth of the gravitas as Bautista's bat flip.

Feels like that should have a name, like The Catch. Something like "The Bat Flip of Pure, Feathered Defiance." I'm still working on it.

Former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was responsible for that bat flip, the director behind the award-winning film. He's gone now.

He wasn't fired, and he wasn't exactly pushed out. But he wasn't happy to share control with new team president Mark Shapiro, who reportedly chided him for trading too many prospects at the deadline, and he's looking for a new gig. He'll get it, and with it, a chance with a new team that will extend over several seasons. If he stuck with the Blue Jays and they flopped over the next two years, his job prospects wouldn't have been as attractive. This makes sense for him. GMs tend to go away and never come back when they leave on a sour note. Anthopoulos isn't just guaranteeing a new gig; he's guaranteeing that he'll be a hot free agent.

The rush right now is to blame the Blue Jays for being short-sighted and to praise Anthopoulos for the brilliant surge in the second half, both of which are completely fair. The Blue Jays were mired in mediocrity, and they had been for 20 years. They used to be pros at wasting Cy Young seasons, and they were threatening to waste an MVP season now. The GM put his mortgage payment in the slot machine, and it just kept spitting coins out.

Until it stopped spitting coins out. And it was never really a risk for Anthopoulos to make those bold deals. It was a risk for the Blue Jays.

It's still not the kind of chance that a team jumps at with a new general manager. It's not the kind of chance that a team jumps at with an established GM. It's a fascinating leap of faith that will look brilliant if it succeeds, awful if it fails, and the guy in charge of the decisions won't be around to pick up the pieces.

The real answer was somewhere in the middle. It looked brilliant, and the guy in charge still won't be around if pieces need to be picked up.

And I don't want to be that guy, not so soon after The Baut Flip, but there really could be some pieces to pick up.

It's not like this is cutting-edge analysis. It's pretty obvious with a quick peek at the roster. David Price is a free agent, and the Blue Jays will have to decide if he's worth $200 million or so, and even then, he might prefer to go somewhere else. Bautista will be 35 next year, and then he'll be a free agent. Edwin Encarnacion will be 33 next year, and then he'll be a free agent. Troy Tulowitzki will be 31, and he's filled with muscles to pull that medical science hasn't even discovered yet.

That's not implying the Blue Jays are doomed. It's implying they'll need to be very, very creative if they want to build something sustainable. And there's some bad news about that: They sure traded a lot of prospects away. The job is a little harder than it was in June, even if you acknowledge that the end justified the means.

And, honestly, I'm not sure that Anthopoulos proved he's the best GM for a sustainable, creative, long-term success story. He was in the front office when the Blue Jays acquired both Bautista and Encarnacion, but he wasn't the GM. He was the architect for the brilliant Josh Donaldson deal, but we haven't seen the fallout from the Tulowitzki or Price trades yet. He's made bold, striking moves in the past, and there's a team in the World Series right now because of one of them. That team isn't the Blue Jays.

Both things can be true:

  1. The Blue Jays made the postseason for the first time in decades, and they had a moment that everyone will remember forever, more than just a moment, a magical season -- and it's all because of Anthopoulos.
  2. The trades that propelled the Blue Jays to the AL East title didn't exactly prove the problems of the Blue Jays from 2009 through 2013 are gone forever, or that the person in charge wouldn't make similar (or new) mistakes.

Anthopoulos is the reason for the postseason. He might not have been the best fit going forward, which would explain this:

The initial contract offer to Anthopoulos, according to an official who was briefed on the talks, was a two-year deal, with the second year an option.

That's an acknowledgment that everything sure did work out back there, but they want to repeat the experiment in laboratory conditions before they commit to anything. Anthopoulos was right to say "get bent," and the Blue Jays were right to not let recency bias erase the first five years of his reign.

That moment up there? It's not a World Series or anything, but it's the reason why we follow baseball. The whole Blue Jays season was. It's something that will warm hearts in the winter and get them to take out their wallets in the summer.

But here's another moment:

It's as good as Bautista's, really. A walk-off in extras to win a postseason series? Can you even imagine? A few years later, and it still means something. It's still a memory that Brewers fans should be proud to have. But it's not going to sustain them in the dark winters anymore. It's not going to keep them chipper if they finish in fourth place again next year, which looks exceedingly likely, regardless of what they do. It was just a moment, and it can't stop getting older.

The goal is to build a lot of those moments. Stack them on top of each other, build on them, and eventually maybe, if everything works out, have a parade on a road paved from them. Anthopoulos took a chance, and it led to decades of Blue Jays' frustration erupting in one brilliant, come-from-behind series. He did it. He was right.

Going forward, though, let's not pretend like he put the Blue Jays on an unaltered path of AL East destruction and mayhem. The Blue Jays weren't so confident in his ability to elevate them to that point, not so much that they were willing to tether themselves to him for the next five seasons.

I can't blame them, even if I'm not entirely sure they're doing the right thing.