In Alex Anthopoulos we trust.
Shouldn't that be printed on the back of every Atlanta Braves ball cap, the front of every T-shirt sold at Truist Park and on bumper stickers throughout Braves Country after last season's miraculous World Series crown?
Has any executive in Major League Baseball put a more impressive stamp on a world championship in recent years than what Anthopoulos did a season ago at this time? The Braves were a below .500 club at the dawn of August, seemingly dead in the water as it pertained to the postseason.
After AA acquired Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall at the trade deadline following his pick up of Joc Pederson a couple of weeks earlier, the Braves took off, not stopping until they were World Series champs for the first time since 1995.
And so it was that Anthopoulos was at it again earlier this week, the Tuesday trade deadline approaching, Atlanta seemingly in need of little more than a tiny tweak rather than a massive overall.
Or as Braves pitcher Max Fried said on Sunday after pitching a gem of a game in a 1-0 victory over Arizona: "The only thing we know is that (Anthopoulos) is always trying to make us better. He showed us that he was behind us last year. It's nice to know that we're in a position to add a player instead of selling off players."
Just exactly what adding Houston right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the roster, in exchange for former closer Will Smith, does isn't yet clear. For all his struggles this season after Atlanta picked up former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, Smith did pitch 11 scoreless innings with six saves in 11 postseason appearances last autumn.
As for Odorizzi, after missing 42 games with a lower leg injury, the former Astro threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits against surging Seattle in his last start. He may not be the second coming of John Smoltz or Tom Glavine, but if Odorizzi can win more than he loses down the stretch, he might be all the Braves need to clinch a wildcard berth.
Not that Anthopoulos was done as Tuesday's 6 p.m. trade deadline neared.
Ol' AA picked up Los Angeles Angels closer Raisel Iglesias just ahead of the deadline with the likely intent of making the righty a setup man for Jansen. Iglasias hasn't exactly been tearing up the American League this summer, but he has picked up 16 saves on a bad team and recorded 48 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched.
And even if none of these deals — along with the late Monday night addition of Detroit Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman (.205 batting average, two home runs and 23 RBI) — will stir enough excitement to crash the Braves' website, it's also doubtful the acquisitions of Rosario, Soler and Duvall on last year's deadline immediately ignited championship hopes in the Big Peach.
The bigger issue, the better discussion point is that the Braves players and manager Brian Snitker believe Anthopoulos is always working to make Atlanta the best team in the sport.
"We talk every day," said Snitker on Sunday. "We talk about what he's doing. Who he's looking at. He's in his office all the time. I don't know if he ever leaves. You don't see much of him right now. He never stops trying to make this club better."
"After last year," added Austin Riley, whom AA just signed to a 10-year, $212 million contract, "We know he always has our backs. That's a good feeling."
Unfortunately, on the night the Braves clinched the World Series with a Game Six win at Houston, Anthopoulos was back home in Atlanta recovering from COVID-19. So he missed a chance to bathe in the spotlight for having acquired Duvall, Rosario (the NLCS MVP) and Soler (the World Series MVP) at the trade deadline for the stunningly small total of $10 million.
Not that he seemed to care.
In a later ESPN story on the Braves' remarkable late-season turnaround, AA said of that Series-clinching evening: "I would love to have been there. But for me this is more the achievement. This is not a one-night thing. It's a lifelong thing."
On Monday, the trading not yet done, ESPN analyst and new Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tim Kurkjian said of Atlanta's perceived threat as an annual championship contender after inking long-term deals with Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Riley: "They're going to be there for quite some time because of the people they've got locked up."
And that's why all of Braves Country should stamp bumper stickers, print T-shirts and engrave ball caps with these five words: "In Alex Anthopoulos we trust."
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.