Alex Anthopoulos has a list of all the mistakes that have been made in his quest to return the Toronto Blue Jays to respectability in the American League.
At the top of that list was his failure to reel in Aroldis Chapman, the left-handed Cuban pitching prospect who snubbed the Jays this year and signed with the Cincinnati Reds.
Anthopoulos, who was just moving into his new job as the Blue Jays' general manager at the time, blamed the misstep on being "overly conservative."
Sunday marked his first anniversary on the job. It was also the day the Blue Jays concluded a satisfying 85-77 regular season, 10 wins more than last season.
Anthopoulos said he had a discussion with someone from his staff on that day, vowing that the mistakes were over with.
"I put on a list all the things we could have done or things we should have done that we didn't do," the 33-year-old said Monday at Rogers Centre while discussing his plans for the team. "And I kick myself for it. And I want to make sure that we learn from it every single time."
Now the hard work begins to try to get to the postseason. This season in the Blue Jays' division, the AL East, the New York Yankees needed 95 wins just to secure the wild card.
"It's a lot easier to go from 75 [wins]to 85 than it is from 85 to 95," Anthopoulos said. "I don't know that there's a formula."
Anthopoulos said there are several areas the Blue Jays need to improve if they hope to compete in 2011 with the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. He noted that the Blue Jays ranked 10th in the AL in earned run average for both starters and the bullpen.
"There's no question with the young starters we can look for internal improvement," Anthopoulos said.
The bullpen is another matter, especially with Scott Downs and Jason Frasor heading into free agency.
While the offence was potent, ranking sixth in runs scored (primarily on the strength of a major-league-leading 257 home runs), Toronto's on-base percentage was .312, 12th in the AL.
Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays cannot be counted on to crank out as many home runs next season, so it is imperative they locate a new bat or two to add more balance to the attack.
Anthopoulos will also have his work cut out for him with at least 15 Blue Jays eligible for arbitration, including Jose Bautista, who led the majors with 54 home runs. It will be daunting trying to arrive at a new contract with a player who had never hit 16 before in one season, and Anthopoulos said it will be important to keep things in perspective.
"Teams have shown the ability to survive with the loss of great players," Anthopoulos said. "You don't want to make it routine, but you can't be held hostage with the fact we can't lose this player. You have to be able to adjust because it's a 25-man game. It's not the NBA where one out of five is on the floor for 40 minutes and has the ball."
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