Tag Archives: J.P. Ricciardi

I believe in bravado

The Blue Jays’ state of the franchise meeting was held last week. I was not in attendance and this post is not timely, but here it is anyway — and I’ll keep it short. Two things short, even.

Thing the first

According to Gregor Chisholm of bluejays.com (and everybody else who was in attendance and wrote anything about the meeting), Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said some pretty good things, not the least of which was the following:

“We want to get [to the playoffs] as fast as we can. What we won’t do is shortcut it. When we do get there, it’s not going to stop. It’s going to be a freight train that’s going to keep going.”

This is definitely in line with how he’s expressed his vision for the team before, but it’s a more forceful, focused approach than I’m used to hearing from the general manager. Is he getting more comfortable in his role and more willing to voice his true feelings? Maybe he just felt emboldened by sitting in front of a few hundred true believers? Either way, hearing AA spout the tough talk like that — and I know it doesn’t mean anything if the team doesn’t deliver the results when the time comes — makes me happier with this team’s direction than anything else the team has done since ditching J.P. Ricciardi.

Baseball can be analyzed in many, many ways, but when it comes right down to it, the only thing that matters is winning. Winning is great, but winning with swagger is the funnest way to do it. AA seems to be getting himself some swagger. I like it.

Thing the second

This is minor, but it should give the phone-in-show Leafs fans one less thing to whine about during the summer months and will help keep the media somewhat at bay if the team doesn’t perform as well as they think it should. It’s a throwaway part of a throwaway sentence located in a throwaway graph at the end of Chisholm’s above-linked story, but it’s important nonetheless:

For Farrell, it was his first opportunity to take part in the State of the Franchise event. The first-year manager, who said he was in the final stages of purchasing a condominium in downtown Toronto, came away impressed.

John Farrell is buying a condo in Toronto. Maybe he’s not moving his family here (or maybe he is, who knows) but he’s buying property in Toronto, dammit. He likes us! And that’s all that really matter, right?

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Putting the scouts to the test

Whatever you think of Rod Barajas stats-wise, you can’t argue that he seems like a good guy (unless you actually know him, I guess. I do not know him.) That’s why I’m happy to see that he’s finally caught on with another big league team. Like most who struggled a bit in the American League, I think he’ll do pretty well in the National.

For Jays fans, a happy consequence of the Barajas signing is that Toronto will get yet another pick in the 2010. In fact, the Jays are set to get a quite a few picks early on in said draft. According to the YES Network’s official blog, Toronto gets 10 of the first 126 picks. Those are picks are as follows:

11. Blue Jays

34. Blue Jays (for Type-A Marco Scutaro)

38. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 sandwich rounder James Paxton)

41. Blue Jays (for Type-B Rod Barajas)

61. Blue Jays

69. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 second rounder Jake Eliopoulos)

80. Blue Jays (from Red Sox for Type-A Marco Scutaro)

93. Blue Jays

113. Blue Jays (for failure to sign ‘09 third rounder Jake Barrett)

126. Blue Jays

I know we’re looking at a few years down the road before the success of this draft can even begin to be determined, but Anthopoulos’ scouts have their work cut out for them right off the bat.

Pepper (Does that work here?)

In a move that should surprise no one, J.P. Ricciardi is joining ESPN.

In news that may surprise some, no Toronto prospects — not even the ones the team got in return for Doc — managed to crack Baseball America’s Top 20.

On the team’s depth chart, Bluejays.com has already anointed Kevin Gregg as the team’s closer.

Oh my gawd! That’s Brad Wilkerson’s music! Thankfully, it’s coming from Philadelphia, not Toronto.

Some joker at NESN implies that losing “valuable clubhouse influence” Kevin Millar somehow hurts the Jays this year.

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Don’t make Doc the new Sundin

What’s the difference between Roy Halladay and Mats Sundin?

Doc wants to win.

(Sorry, eyebleaf, I know Mats wanted to win, too, but stick with me.)

At the top of their professions, both guys were stuck on mediocre Toronto-based teams. Both guys were coveted by basically every team in their leagues. Both guys had no-trade clauses. Both guys seemingly wanted to finish their careers in Toronto. Both guys were subjects of hysterical trade rumours. Neither guy wanted any part of the media circus. And now, with the latest out of Doc’s camp, neither player is willing to be a rental during the last year of their contract.

If you can believe Doc’s agent, Halladay will approve a trade during the off-season. But if he starts spring training as a Blue Jay, he’ll end the season as a Blue Jay.

That, as ESPN’s Buster Olney says in the link above, means the Jays will only get two draft picks in compensation instead of whatever haul a trade would bring in. He also says it’s now “less than 50-50” that a trade will happen in the off-season because Doc’s contract expires after 2010. Guess he hasn’t heard that the Jays are allowing a window for potential trade partners to negotiate an extension.

Personally, I hope Anthopoulos gets a deal done ASAP. Doc will get a chance to win and the Jays will get something more than draft picks in return. I’ll miss Doc, and it would be cool to see him carve up Toronto’s opponents for one more year, but he deserves better than the idiocy Sundin had to deal with during his last year in Toronto.

Link Dump

• Griffin sets the record straight on what went down last season in regards to Doc and how Ricciardi didn’t botch the trade talks.

• No surprise here, but A.J. wants his bestest bud in the whole world to join him in New York.

• Think this Halladay situation is bad? Imagine you’re a Twins fan. Not only is Mauer arguably the most valuable player in all of baseball, he’s from the Twin Cities.

• Matt Stairs now has a street named after him in his hometown of Fredericton, N.B.  The street is right outside Royals Field, where Stairs got his start with the Fredericton Royals of the New Brunswick Senior Baseball League.

• As Bud Selig gets ready to step down, Federal Baseball says good riddance. And they’re right. The way he treated the Expos was disgraceful.

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A step in a direction of some sort

jp ricciardiJ.P.’s gonzo!

Apparently he “stepped down” (read was fired) this morning.

No, this doesn’t fix the entirety of the Blue Jays’ problems, but it had to be done. As others have said from a public relations standpoint, the team had no choice. Jays Talk Callers everywhere were fed up with Ricciardi, mainly, it seems, because his “five-year plan” had turned into some sort of infinite-year plan. The fact that this eventually led to the smallest crowds in the history of the Dome probably removed any doubt about J.P.’s fate.

Personally, I’m hoping Bob McCown’s crazy idea wasn’t so crazy. I’m hoping this is the first step in the $130-million payroll that Pat Gillick is going to have when he returns to run the team in what Squizz calls “Gillick Redux.”

But those are just pipe dreams right now.

For now, let’s just be happy that the team seems to be doing something. It’s a big step up from the nothing that preceded it.

And now, for posterity, the two quotes by which I’ll remember J.P.:

Do you know the guy doesn’t really like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn’t have a passion to play the game that much? … I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here.

and

It’s not a lie if we know the truth.

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Everybody wins (except J.P.)

Alex RiosShipping Alex Rios to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for nothing is a win-win for both teams and, potentially, Rios himself.

The Jays are getting salary relief which, combined with the money saved on the Scott Rolen trade, could be used to significantly improve the team next year (I’m going to assume the Jays’ budget won’t be shrunk until and unless Rogers says otherwise.)

The White Sox get a fantastic defensive centrefielder who’s actually performing better at the plate than most give him credit for and they lose nothing in the process.

As for Rios, he’s not doing so badly, but the general consensus is that he “just doesn’t get it.” Maybe being traded for less than a bag of balls will wake him. If it doesn’t, Ozzie Guillen will be sure to wake him up. And if Rios does wake up, the ChiSox may have just pulled off one of the best heists in a long time.

So who’s the loser here? Why, it’s J.P. Ricciardi, of course.

Not that dumping Rios’ contract was necessarily a bad thing, but J.P. botched this situation before the trade deadline.

“We’ve been in trade discussion with Toronto before the deadline to try to get this guy,” Williams explained of how the whole thing came together. “And the way the waiver claim was made was to A: hopefully resurrect talks. B: in the event someone else claimed him, we didn’t want him going elsewhere because we targeted him not only as a guy who not only would help us in our quest for the division but future seasons as well.”

Chicago wanted Rios.

Chicago was willing to trade something for Rios before the deadline.

And J.P. got nothing except salary relief. Which is good, but it wouldn’ve been nice to get a little more.

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Stupid thing that’s a bit too long for Twitter (or my name for Scutaro)

Stroodles!

Stroodles!

Few weeks ago I was at the horrible game against the Phillies in which Jayson Werth hit the 500-level bomb. It was an awful game with no redeeming qualities.

But something fun did come out of that day: My new name for Marco Scutaro.

It was one of those Jr. Jays days when they let a kid announce the lineups in the 3rd inning. The kid chosen on this particular day had a real hard time pronouncing the names of the players (Rall Chaves, etc…)

He hit his stride when John McDonald came to bat — “Now batting, Johnny Mac!” — but the next batter gave him fits as well.

“Now batting, Marco… Ss… Marco…” he took a long pause and looked off to his left for some help before coming back with the classic, “now batting, Marco Stroodles!”

I could be crazy, but it really looked to me like Marco got a kick out of that. So did I. And with that, Marco’s new nickname, at least in my head, was born.

I’m happy to have a guy on the team I can call Stroodles, and I hope J.P. doesn’t take that away from me any time soon.

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Coping with loss

grief

Any time a traumatic event happens in someone’s life, their mental makeup can be shaken. Personalities change: Normally friendly people can lash out at everyone and everything; some seek solace in the bottle; some lock themselves in their parents’ basements for even longer periods than usual.

Normally going through the five stages of grief is reserved for major events like the loss of a family member or the news of a loved one coming down with a disease like cancer, but it struck me recently that the Jays blogosphere has, since Kenny Ken Ken Rosenthal tried to convince everyone that Roy Halladay is going to be traded, really been exhibiting the five stages of grief.

1. Denial

Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Stoeten of the Drunks got the process started when he said:

Fuck. Off.

This is not news.

I know those maybe sound like the words of a Jays fan fiercely in denial, but they’re really not. This is just fucking tiresome. How many times over the years has Ricciardi said—about not just Halladay, but any player—that “if something makes sense, we at least have to listen”?

Of fucking course he’ll listen! Is that seriously all you’ve got???

To be fair, he does make some good points as to why it’s not news and at the time, especially given the way things regarding Doc trade talk have gone in the past, but it turns out that this time, there was a bit more to it.

And yes, this may be a case of Rosenthal being the boy who cried wolf, but I’m cherry picking here to make this work.

2. Anger

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.

The Tao jumped all over this stage, unleashing a professional-sounding form of anger. And you know what, I still think he’s right: It’s all J.P.’s fault.

And Stoeten pretty much nails it in a post he appropriately titled A Quick Word About The Most Frustrating Thing Ever.

Of course, if you want to see the worst side of the anger surrounding this topic, just read the comment sections of any of the blogs.

3. Bargaining

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”

You don’t even have to leave this blog to see a prime example of this step. Let’s solve the Halladay dilemma by making the Vernon Wells problem worse! That’s the ticket! Right.

4. Depression

During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

Ghostrunner’s Drew couldn’t even manage to keep his chin up. That’s saying something.

Ian the Blue Jay Hunter admitted to feeling like his heart’s breaking at the thought of Halladay pitching for another team.

5. Acceptance

This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.

The Tao is the shining example of this stage, with two particular posts in mind.

One reminds us that “There are still some pretty good players – and people – on the roster of this ballclub that we can get behind. The Globe’s Jeff Blair hammers the point home within this great read on Aaron Hill.”

And the other (and proving that the stages don’t necessarily go in order, it was posted before the anger post linked above) is just a great read.

So what’s the point of all this?

Nothing really. Just something I noticed. Personally, I’m ready to move on. Doc’s a great pitcher and we’re lucky to have had him here for as long as we have. But if he’s going to test free agency after 2010, as J.P. has said (see MLBastian’s twitter if you missed that), then Doc’s got to be moved for the best package that can be had. The team can’t afford to let him walk with nothing but draft picks in return.

So tonight I’m going re-read Mop Up Duty’s excellent post on Roy Halladay’s career, then I’m going to go down to the Rogers Centre and cheer for Roy Halladay as best I can. And when he leaves the game, whether it’s after a complete game win or being yanked in the first without getting an out, I’m going to give him the standing ovation he deserves. It may be the last chance I have and I don’t want to miss out on doing the little bit that I can to let him know that I appreciate what he’s done for this team.

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An idea regarding Vernon Wells

toronto_blue_jays_vernon_wells_678

I know Vernon Wells probably wouldn’t go for this, but maybe J.P. Ricciardi should try to renegotiate VW’s contract.

He knows he’s playing horribly (see his reaction to being moved down in the order) that much is public. Here are some assumptions I’m making:

  • He must know that his ridiculous contract is going to hurt the team’s ability to compete in the future.
  • He must also know that his low level of play, if he keeps it up, will affect his ability to get another good contract after this one.
  • Even if he turns his game around, if there aren’t players on the team to get on base in front of him then he’s not going to rack up the RBI necessary to get another monster contract.
  • If Halladay (or other players) leave because the team can’t afford them, VW will bear the wrath of fans and media even more so than he already does.
  • He, like all players, wants to win.

If I’m J.P., I approach Wells and say something like “this contract is going to be your last big one unless something crazy happens and if it doesn’t, it may possibly be your last contract period.”

Then I’d offer him a four-year extension on the contract he has at, say, $2 million per year. The catch is that I’d change the payment schedule.

The Jays already owe VW $98.5 million over the next five seasons (not including the $8.5M signing bonus due next March) the real problem is that he’ll make over $20M in each of the final four seasons.

I’d add $8M to that total, extend him four years and pay him the average of the value of this new contract every year. Signing bonus payment can stay right where it is.

Sure, this plan means we’d be paying a 40-year-old Vernon almost $12M in 2018, but we’d also only be paying Vernon that amount in 2011, a year in which he’s scheduled to make $23M. That $11M might buy us a nice player (or allow us to keep a certain someone around).

Yes, I know I used “we” and “us” throughout the post, but remember that I’m pretending to be J.P. here.

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Uncle B.J.’s Wild Ride shuts down

B.J. Ryan, I hope you find a team to play for that will let you pitch, even if it’s in the minors. I believe you can get your stuff back. Even if you’re never the dominating pitcher you used to be, I believe you can still be effective somewhere. And that’s why I think J.P. and Co. made a big mistake in letting you go.

You talked about reinventing yourself as a pitcher. I’m on board with that. It’s what you need, it’s what whoever you end up itching for needs. You said you need to pitch more to be able to reinvent yoruself. It makes perfect sense. I’m sure you know that the best way to accomplish these goals is, right?

Take a minor league assignment!

I really, really hope, for the sake of my sanity, that J.P. offered you a trip to the minors and you said no, forcing their hand. I really hope so.

Throwing away the Frank Thomas money was bad. Throwing away the Frank Thomas money and your money, Beej, well, that’s just abominable.

Throughout J.P.’s tenure, I’ve always been a supporter of his. He’s managed to build a solid team in a tough division with a relatively small payroll. That’s pretty impressive.

The thing is, when he’s got payroll issues, he really can’t afford to be throwing money away like he has been. The Big Hurt and the Beej contracts are bad enough, let’s not even talk about Vernon Wells.

The thing I do want to mention though — and I really don’t think there’s near as much to the Halladay trade rumours as those in the media seem to think — is this disturbing quote J.P. fired out there the other day while talking to the New York Post: “We have kept him from free agency twice and I don’t think we have the resources to keep him from free agency a third time.”

If the worst comes to pass, and the Doc leaves via trade — or worse, as a free agent — I know there will be temptation to set the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System to some unimaginable level. But really, don’t take the anger out on VW.

It’ll be J.P.’s fault. Not only for throwing the money at VW, but for wasting it on B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas.

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More bad McGowan news

Dustin McGowan

Just over a week ago, Alex Antholopous made an appearance on Prime Time Sports and, as the Drunks pointed out, was somewhere south of optimistic when asked about Dustin McGowan’s rehab and if he’d ever pitch again.

I recommend you read the Drunks’ post if you haven’t already, but here’s the main point that Anthopolous made during the interview:

I can comment to say that it’s been a long road back, and it’s been up and down. He made a lot of progress, then he did have a little bit of a setback. I don’t know that we’re prepared to say that he’s never going to come back, I think we’re just going to continue to be hopeful, continue to work with him, and hopefully we’ll have more informati0n at the end of the year.

Doesn’t sound good.

Hot on the heels of that sadness, J.P. is also saying some discouraging things about our favourite mutton chops. Erika Gilbert, Bastian’s intern over at bluejays.com, asked the GM about McGowan:

“Dustin is slow. He’s been a slower process,” Ricciardi said. “I don’t know when he’ll come back.”

When asked if McGowan would ever pitch in the Major Leagues again, Ricciardi could not give a definite answer.

“He’s playing catch,” Ricciardi said. “He can’t get beyond playing catch right now.”

“I don’t know if he’s never going to throw again, but right now, he’s struggling. He’s not where he should be from a rehab standpoint.”

McGowan began throwing again in late May, but he has not made much progress from that point.

Can’t get beyond playing catch. Yikes.

I’m really hoping McGowan can get back to being his old self, the 2010 World Series won’t be the same without him.

Good news for the Shaun Marcum Fan Club though. We all know that Marcum’s ahead of schedule in his recovery, but J.P. went out of his way to allay the fan club’s worst fears, saying that Marcum won’t be rushed back, no matter how tempting it might be.

Marcum’s a huge talent and I don’t think I could ever forgive Jays’ brass if they wreck his chances at long-term awesome by rushing him.

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