Tag:B.J. Ryan
Posted on: October 3, 2009 6:24 pm

Bad contracts catch up with Ricciardi

While San Diego's firing of general manager Kevin Towers elicited gasps throughout the industry this weekend, Toronto's sacking of J.P. Ricciardi only garnered a few yawns.

This one has been expected for weeks, once it became apparent that years of bad contracts and miscalculated decisions have left the Blue Jays in the same spot they were when he took control in 2001: Buried in the AL East.

Working within that powerhouse of a division is not a job for the meek, and from day one, that was something the Blue Jays never had to worry about with Ricciardi. He fired two managers during his first three seasons -- Buck Martinez and Carlos Tosca -- and it was off to the races from there.

The problem came when his job performance fell short of his confidence. In probably the pivotal point of his tenure, Ricciardi swung for the fences when he gambled on two free agent pitchers, starter A.J. Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan, following the 2005 season. It was a swing and, mostly, a miss.

Combined, the Jays spent $102 million on the duo. They wound up releasing Ryan, and Burnett took advantage of an ill-conceived opt-out clause in his contract. Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas, Corey Koskie ... the list of bad contracts awarded under Ricciardi is a long one, some (Wells and Alex Rios, since unloaded on the White Sox) worse than others.

Still, it was never dull with Ricciardi in charge and, to their credit, the Jays stood by him in the wake of several embarrassing moments.

Such as, when he ripped slugger Adam Dunn on the radio in response to a caller's criticism of Ricciardi ("Do you know the guy really doesn't like baseball that much?").

And when he trashed Gil Meche when the pitcher signed a free agent contract with Kansas City instead of Toronto before the 2006 season ("When a guy talks about coming to our place where he has a chance to win and compete against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and then he goes to a place like Kansas City, that's an eye-opener.")

Cross Kansas City off the list of Ricciardi's potential landing spots.

The beginning of the end came midsummer this year, when the Jays decided to see if they could deal ace Roy Halladay. There was a lot of sound, much fury ... and no deal. There Ricciardi and the Jays were, spinning their wheels again.

Eight years down the road, Ricciardi leaves, best known for those horrific contracts and public swipes.

Not exactly the stuff of long-term success.


Posted on: February 26, 2008 6:17 pm

Relief in Toronto

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Perfect late-game world for Toronto, closer B.J. Ryan returns strong from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery in April, which moves Jeremy Accardo and Brandon League into set-up roles.

Of course, Ryan is only 10 months out from a surgery that once took two years to return from. Now, the way the surgery has evolved, relievers sometimes can make it back in a year, and Ryan is pushing even that.

"I'm working hard to come in and show them I can be healthy and back to help the team," says Ryan, who likely will pitch live batting practice for the first time later this week.

Currently, Ryan is throwing a bullpen session followed by two days off before his next bullpen session. Within a couple of weeks, he'll advance to one day off between throwing. And when he's ready for games, Toronto will use him first in minor-league games so that the Jays can control the number of pitches he throws.

"We'll still have to monitor it during the season," manager John Gibbons says. "But Accardo proved to us last year that he can (close).

"Sometimes you'll have to slap yourself and say, 'Are you doing the right thing?'"

As for League, he's mostly been under the radar nationally, but he could play an important part if the Blue Jays are to be as good as they think they can be this year. He had a muscle problem in his shoulder last spring that caused him to lose 10 m.p.h. off of his fastball. Toronto had to shut him down, and League only threw 11 innings last season.

Gibbons says he now looks like the League of old and, "he's back in the mix. There are no limitations on him."

As Gibbons notes, League last year was going to be Toronto's eighth-inning guy. If he can re-emerge, and if Ryan can return ... well, let's just say the late innings in Toronto could be a whole lot more fun for the Blue Jays.

Likes: David Eckstein looks odd in a Toronto uniform, and he didn't get the multi-year contract he sought after battling a bad back last year and seeing his errors total shoot up to 20 from six in '06, but he's everything that's right about the game of baseball. Hard worker, little guy using all of his talent to succeed, a genuine nice guy. ... Scott Rolen out of St. Louis. It'll be nice to see what he can do without a maniacal manager. ... Francisco Liriano on his way to Twins camp. ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central 49, Clinton 38 in a boys' basketball district tournament opener on Monday night. Here's hoping the Falcons can whip Romulus Summit Academy on Wednesday night. ... Also, a belated congratulations to St. Mary Catholic Central coach Ray Lauwers, in his 41st year at the school and an old teacher of mine, for notching his 600th career victory last week. Lauwers, already in the Michigan  became only the fourth coach in Michigan boys high school history to earn win No. 600. ... Fatburger. ... The ribs at Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue joint. ... Wilson Phillips' California disc.

Dislikes: Lousy concert schedule around Florida this spring. It's always a fun diversion when something lines up during spring training -- in past years, I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt here -- but this year's it's bone dry.

Sunblock day? Yes, but not for long. Temps in the mid-80s today and hot. But the clouds are moving in this afternoon, thunderstorms are forecast and Wednesday's high -- high -- is supposed to be only 60. Yikes!

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Everybody is a star
"I can feel it when you shine on me
"I love you for who you are
"Not the one you feel you need to be
"Ever catch a falling star
"Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
"Everybody is a star
"One big circle going round and round"

-- Sly and the Family Stone, Everyday People

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