Tag:Toronto Blue Jays
Posted on: September 29, 2010 10:51 pm
 

Kirk Gibson, from TV to Arizona manager

Sometime over the next several days, new Arizona general manager Kevin Towers is expected to remove the "interim" tag on manager Kirk Gibson's title. The Diamondbacks, according to sources, are on the verge of negotiating a two-year contract with Gibson and will name him as the full-time skipper.

For this, Gibson can thank ... former Detroit teammate Alan Trammell?

In a small way, yes.

Gibson was working as a television broadcaster when the Tigers named Trammell manager before the 2003 season. It was Trammell who recruited Gibson into coaching.

Aside from a longtime close friendship, what did Trammell see that he thought would make Gibson a successful coach?

"I've known him since I first got into pro ball," said Trammell, now the Cubs' bench coach. "Intensity. I've never met anybody quite like him. He has a football mentality that he's able to channel into baseball."

Gibson, who was an All-American flanker at Michigan State, was drafted 12th overall by the Tigers in 1978. Trammell was drafted by the Tigers two years earlier, and the two first were teammates in Detroit in 1979.

"Bo Jackson was quite good," Trammell says, recalling other notable football players on the baseball diamond. "And Deion Sanders. Kirk made the decision to go away from football completely, but he kept that mentality. Everything was a challenge to him.

"Coming into our situation [in Detroit in '03], we all were somewhat new. I knew we needed to have some energy. The team needed a lot of work. And I wanted coaches who would work."

The Cubs were in Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks just before the All-Star break, right after Gibson was named as the interim manager to replace the fired A.J. Hinch, and Trammell has spoken with his buddy only a couple of times since. Each has his hands full with his own team.

Gibson spent three seasons as Trammell's bench coach in Detroit. The staff was let go following the 2005 season.

Trammell joined the Cubs as Lou Piniella's bench coach in 2007. The same year, Gibson signed on with Arizona as Bob Melvin's bench coach.

What kind of manager does Trammell think Gibson will be if he sticks around longer than as just the interim guy?

"I think he'd be more than fine," Trammell says. "If he gets an opportunity to implement what he wants, and if people are willing to listen to him and pay the price. And by pay the price, I mean doing things for the team.

"That's the beauty of Gibby. You talk to him about his success as a player, he doesn't want any part of it. It's the team. That goes back to how we were all brought up by Sparky Anderson.

"I'm pulling for him. I hope he gets the opportunity."

If he does, there is lots of speculation that Trammell will wind up on his staff in Arizona after being bypassed for Mike Quade to manage the Cubs after Piniella's sudden departure this summer. Trammell says he has seen the speculation but is not thinking about 2011 right now, other than knowing that whatever he does, he wants to keep wearing the big-league uniform.

Likes: Good for Cito Gaston as the Blue Jays honored him Wednesday night in Toronto. What a class act. Very nice touch that so many of his former players -- Joe Carter, Pat Hentgen, George Bell and others -- returned for the festivities.

Dislikes: Goodbye Gene Orza, and good riddance. As Don Fehr's right-hand man and attack dog for the players' union, the arrogant Orza, who is stepping down as chief operating officer, mostly just muddied the waters wherever he went. His behavior during the Steroid Era was reprehensible, claiming in 2004 that steroids "are no worse than cigarettes."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was pourin’ out my troubles
"To a stranger in the bar
"About the problems and the pressures
"On a country music star
"Half braggin’, half complainin’
"About the money and the fame
"And just how lonely life can be
"When you’ve made yourself a name
"I said, Would you like a drink?
"He said, Thanks, I’ll have a double
"I’ve worked up a powerful thirst
"Just listening to all your troubles
"And while he makes that drink
"I’ll smoke one if you got ‘em
"It might be lonely at the top,
"But it's a bitch at the bottom"

-- Jamey Johnson, Lonely at the Top

 

Posted on: July 29, 2010 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Toronto's Downs hot property & other trade notes

Toronto was the focal point of last year's trade deadline, then-Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was the point man and ace Roy Halladay was the bait.

A year later, Cliff Lee, Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt having been traded and Saturday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trade deadline bearing down?

Toronto again is a focal point, first-year GM Alex Anthopoulos is the point man and reliever Scott Downs is getting as much action as anybody on the market.

Now Downs might not pack as much marquee punch as Halladay, but this year's trade market isn't exactly heavyweight, either.

And given the overwhelming bullpen needs of the majority of contenders this summer. ...

"He might be the best guy out there," the general manager of one club with interest in Downs says. "He's owed just a little more than $1 million, he's left-handed, he can close, he can set up. ..."

Among other clubs, the Blue Jays have fielded inquiries about Downs from the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies, Giants, Reds and Phillies over the past several days.

Clubs also are watching Jays relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor.

-- The Nationals are holding out hope of signing slugger Adam Dunn to a contract extension between now and Saturday's trade deadline, which is why talks remain slow between them and other clubs like the White Sox, Yankees and Giants. If contract talks don't progress, trade talks are expected to.

-- The Dodgers, who obtained outfielder Scott Podsednik from Kansas City on Wednesday, still want to acquire a starting pitcher and worked hard to try and pry Roy Oswalt from Houston until the Phillies finally finished the deal. The Dodgers were given indications that Oswalt would have waived his no-trade clause to go there.

-- The Dodgers have scouted the Cubs' Ted Lilly but are lukewarm on him, particularly given that they'd get only about 10 starts for the roughly $4 million he's still owed. They also have had a scout sitting on Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm, who was blasted by the Rockies in Coors Field on Thursday (five earned runs, seven hits, 4 2/3 innings). The Pirates have not indicated yet whether they intend to move Maholm.

-- GM Ned Colletti thinks the chances of the Dodgers acquiring pitching help might be better in August given the slim pickings right now. Plus, Dodgers under Colletti have made several of their key moves in August. Last year, they added pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland, infielder Ronnie Belliard and pinch-hitter Jim Thome in August. Two years ago, they added Greg Maddux in August.

-- The Twins and Mets also continue to engage the Cubs regarding Lilly.

-- The sinking Rockies want to move starter Aaron Cook, according to one source, but there has not been much interest.

-- Philadelphia scouted Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa as a fallback in case Roy Oswalt did not work out.

-- The Angels, who are just about DOA right now, had been working toward a deal for the Cubs' Derrek Lee for several weeks before Lee nixed it. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter had dinner with Lee in Chicago on June 18 after that afternoon's game that doubled as a recruiting session. Lee must be one of the few people in baseball who can't be charmed by Hunter.

-- Multiple clubs have asked Milwaukee about veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds, but Edmonds has told the Brewers he does not want to go anywhere. He particularly would make sense for San Francisco, which is looking for an outfielder who can improve the offense.

-- This shoulder stiffness that sent Washington's Stephen Strasburg to the disabled list on Thursday is something completely new. His college coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, said at Petco Park on Wednesday night that Strasburg never had a shoulder or arm problem in three seasons at San Diego State. Not even something minor. "None. Zero. Nothing," Gwynn said.

Posted on: May 26, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Can U2 hit the curveball?

Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny and U2 front man Bono each went on the disabled list in the past few days with a bad back.

Guess which one may have the widest-ranging repercussions on the baseball schedule?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the havoc U2's summer tour wreaked on the 2010 baseball schedule.

Well, with U2 now having had to postpone 16 dates on the North American leg of its world tour this summer following Bono's emergency back surgery, tour promoters are talking about rescheduling the dates for 2011.

Which means, as for those postponed concerts in Angel Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16), Toronto's Rogers Centre (July 3) and Florida's Landshark Stadium (July 9) ... uh-oh.

The 2011 baseball schedule has already marched on with or without U ... 2.

"It's way too late in terms of blocking dates for the 2011 schedule," says Katy Feeney, one of baseball's long-time senior vice-presidents and a point person in the scheduling process. "The first draft should hopefully be in clubs' hands by mid-June.

"People need to tell the promoters to cool their jets. I'm sorry Bono had back surgery, but it's way too late. To block dates right now is nearly impossible."

Because of the sheer magnitude of the stadium stage show, U2 requires roughly 10 days to set up, play the show and then break everything down. With the Angels, Blue Jays, Athletics and Marlins all requesting specific road dates in 2010 so they could host U2 (and make gobs of money in the process), baseball officials had to work overtime on this summer's schedule.

Because of all of the moving parts, the trickle-down affected other clubs as well.

For example: The Dodgers agreed to flip-flop home dates of their interleague series this summer with the Angels, who needed a long road trip to schedule Bono and Co. Consequently, the Dodgers were rewarded with an extra weekend homestand -- they now have 14, where most other clubs have 13. The Angels agreed to lose a home weekend series in the swap, giving them 12 instead of the normal 13.

So the Angels are on the road from May 31-June 13 in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and in Dodger Stadium ... to make room for a band that now needs to reschedule.

Because the concert promoters work with the individual clubs, and not directly with baseball, Feeney isn't quite sure of the band's makeup plans. But the Athletics already have checked in with her about rescheduling their U2 show next summer, and it is Feeney's understanding that the concert promoters are hoping to keep the same or similar dates in the baseball parks, only for 2011 instead of 2010.

But the rough draft of the 2011 schedule -- which must be presented to the players' union by July 1, by the way -- is already finished. And it does not include 10-day dark periods in Angel Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum or anywhere else.

"Maybe somebody needs to go and tell them to scale down their stage," Feeney suggested. "We've scheduled around several other bands over the years -- the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and nobody has needed that kind of time.

"If Bono's doctors are telling him to stop jumping around, maybe he could just play sitting down."

Hmmm. ...

Maybe a few day-night doubleheaders would work for U2?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Through the storm we reach the shore
"You give it all but I want more
"And I'm waiting for you"

-- U2, With or Without You

Posted on: May 4, 2010 1:56 am
 

On night of pitching stars, Jimenez stands out

SAN DIEGO -- Pitchers were packing heat all over the majors on an extraordinary Monday night, from Toronto's Brett Cecil to the White Sox's Jake Peavy to Texas' Rich Harden to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez.

In Cleveland, Cecil took a perfect game into the seventh inning before walking Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo and then surrendering an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta as Toronto clipped the Indians 5-1.

In Chicago, struggling starter Jake Peavy worked 4 2/3 no-hit innings until Kansas City's Mitch Maier's single. Peavy, who entered the game with a 7.85 ERA, wound up pitching seven scoreless innings in the White Sox's 5-1 win.

In Oakland, Texas starter -- and former Athletic -- Rich Harden carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before A's center fielder Rajai Davis cracked a one-out double.

And in San Diego, Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez fanned a career-high 13 in the Rockies' 5-2 win.

Amid that constellation of pitching stars, Jimenez is the guy who continues to stand out. If voting were to be conducted for the NL Cy Young right now -- granted, there are five months remaining, everybody knows that, so no wise cracks -- Jimenez easily would be the guy.

"What can I say?" Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Seven more terrific innings from the ace of our staff."

In allowing one Padre run over seven innings, Jimenez's ERA actually rose to 0.87. Still, that's a major-league low.

"His fastball tonight ranks up there with any of his other starts he's had to this point," Tracy said. "His fastball was explosive."

Jimenez also is the only pitcher in the majors who stands 6-0, and he has not allowed a home run in 41 1/3 innings pitched.

"He's become such a big-game pitcher," Tracy said. "He's grown so much, right before our eyes. He's becoming quite a force. This guy's a dynamic guy. I couldn't be prouder of the young man.

Meantime, as for pitchers bringing the heat, that 17-8 Boston rout of the Los Angeles Angels?

Not so much.

Likes: One thing that gets lost amid the offensive production, Gold Glove and trade rumors: Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a very good guy. ... So is his first-base counterpart in Colorado, Todd Helton. ... Among other broadcasters, I always enjoy listening to Cleveland's Tom Hamilton on the XM broadcasts. He's very good (and I enjoyed him last winter broadcasting hoops on the Big Ten Network, too). ... About halfway through Nick Hornby's latest book, Juliet, Naked. As expected, very entertaining so far. ... The Leonard Cohen Live in London concert DVD is fabulous. Been meaning to catch up to it for months, finally did over the weekend and I highly recommend it. Classy guy and great sound. ... Very entertaining Kentucky Derby on Saturday, no? I'm not big into horse racing, but I usually make a strong effort to watch the Derby. It's just one more reminder that spring is really here and summer is on its way. ...

Dislikes: So a piece of one of my back teeth just up and chipped off a couple of weeks ago while I was having dinner. Felt something crunchy and, uh-oh. Clean break and no pain, but I suppose I'd better set up a dental appointment just in case. And I just got my very first cavity, a small one, a couple of years ago, too.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
"Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
"Everybody knows that the war is over
"Everybody knows the good guys lost
"Everybody knows the fight was fixed
"The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
"That's how it goes
"Everybody knows"

-- Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

Posted on: April 5, 2010 2:38 pm
 

Early race for comeback player of year

Four key players are or will be on the field today who did not even make it for one game in 2009:

Jake Westbrook is Cleveland's opening day starter against the White Sox.

Shaun Marcum is Toronto's opening day starter against Texas.

Ben Sheets is Oakland's opening day starter tonight against Seattle.

And outfielder Jim Edmonds is in Milwaukee's opening day lineup today in place of right fielder Corey Hart. Edmonds just whiffed with Brewers on first and third in the first inning. But the Brewers have high hopes for him, think he looked great this spring and manager Ken Macha thinks he will get Edmonds at least 250 at-bats this year.

In Chicago, meanwhile, Westbrook surrendered two early runs (a two-run Paul Konerko homer) and is trailing 2-0 in the third.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 5:15 pm
 

When will young Jays' pitchers take flight?

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Roy Halladay is gone and Toronto is auditioning starting pitchers.

And while you have to travel long distances to find anybody willing to pick the Blue Jays anywhere other than dead last in the AL East (I know, I've been traveling long distances here in Florida and have yet to find that person) ... well, maybe it's not quite as bad as it looks.

At least, with Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow aboard, a healthy Shaun Marcum and kids Brett Cecil and Brian Tallet, maybe it won't be Kansas City bad around here.

"Even though they're young, I feel some of them are ready," says catcher John Buck, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Jays over the winter after six seasons with the Royals.

"In Kansas City, I feel they were forcing guys up a year or two before they were ready. They were rushing them, and it was tough to catch them.

"These guys are telling me why they like to do this and why they like to do that. They have a plan, and that's huge."

Nobody in camp has thrown 200 innings in a major-league season -- Romero's 178 last season is the high. Marcum has never made more than 25 big-league starts in a season. Morrow is still trying to catch up to the hype. Cecil needs to throw more strikes.

Dustin McGowan, Mark Rzepszynski, David Purcey, Scott Richmond ... the list of candidates is a long one. Jesse Litsch is injured and due back sometime just after the All-Star Game.

"Romero is somebody who stands out," Buck says. "You hear a lot about him. The way he works, the way he gets after his day. Some of the small stuff he does to get ready ... that probably relates to Halladay when he was here. The drive."

The Jays will miss Halladay tremendously. But if he left a few things behind -- such as his model work ethic for these guys to follow -- then maybe, for now, that's as good as Toronto can hope for.

Sunblock Day? And on the seventh -- eighth? -- day, the sun came out. Beautiful on Monday, sunny and 70 and yes, a sunblock day.

Likes: I still get a big kick -- too big, perhaps -- out of the fact that the Blue Jays' vice-president of communications is named Jay, Jay Stenhouse. Jay of the Jays. Perfect. ... Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson in Roy's for dinner Sunday evening in Tampa. Don't know what Reg was eating, but the seared and blackened Ahi was superb. ... The 2010 Baseball Prospectus will be in bookstores soon and, as usual, it's a must-read -- for executives, scouts, baseball writers and fans. You will not find more thorough scouting reports, and smarter analysis. ... Good to see Troy Glaus healthy in Atlanta's camp. He says he's feeling terrific and says the move to first base should be no big deal. ... When it's a bright, sunny day -- as Monday was (finally) -- there is no more spectacular sight in Florida than cruising over the Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway, pretty blue and green water surrounding you for miles. ... Paul Schaffer's book We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives is a fun read. Some very entertaining behind-the-scenes stories from the Saturday Night Live, Blues Brothers and David Letterman days. Who knew the legendary Bob Dylan was a huge fan of Larry "Bud" Melman from the old Letterman show? You'll read this and other nuggets in this page-turner. ... Sandy Koufax actually taking the stage with Dodgers manager Joe Torre for a benefit for Torre's foundation Saturday night in Los Angeles, the two allowing themselves to be grilled by LA Times columnist T.J. Simers.

Dislikes: Anybody who knows me knows I love Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band. And within that, I think Clarence Clemons can do no wrong. However ... oh my Lord, Clemens' "book" Big Man: Real Life and Tall Tales is unreadable. Just brutal. Here's the problem: He picked the wrong guy to write it. The New York Times reviewer nailed it when he wrote that ghost writer Don Reo "hijacked" the book. Reo keeps butting in with show biz stories of his own that he thinks are terrific and, apparently, Clemons does, too. But what they are is lame. Lame and unfunny. Nobody bought the book to read name-dropping and stories from Reo, a television writer who worked on such shows as M*A*S*H and Blossom. It is maddening. I picked up the book not expecting much over the winter, and it fell miraculously far below even my very low expectations.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"My allergies were bad so we moved to the desert to a city called Palm Springs
"We trick-or-treated at Liberace’s house
"Each finger had a diamond ring
"We met Elvis Presley in the middle of the summer
"He hugged my sister for far too long
"Well, it felt kinda weird, but I woulda pimped her out
"Just to hear him sing a song
"We talked Hollywood, and baseball in the car
"The voice of Jack Buck; It would travel really far"

-- Steve Poltz, Brief History of My Life

 

Posted on: December 16, 2009 6:51 pm
 

Blockbuster breakdown

Nine players, four teams, two Cy Young winners, one three-minute breakdown of what undoubtedly will be THE blockbuster trade of the offseason:

Seattle

Gets: Lefty ace Cliff Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner and ace pitcher in this fall's World Series.

A clear winner in the deal, in conversations with scouts and executives. Especially in the context of what general manager Jack Zduriencik already has done with the Mariners last year (improved their pitching and defense) and this winter (signed sparkplug Chone Figgins). How would you like to have Lee and Felix Hernandez as Nos. 1 and 2 in your rotation?

At 85-77 after losing 101 games in 2008, the Mariners were baseball's most improved team last year. With Lee and Figgins, that trend continues and should make Seattle instant contenders in the AL West.

The Mariners gave up three prospects in the deal, none of whom is projected to land anywhere near Cooperstown. Lee is a free agent following the 2010 season which, as colleague Danny Knobler notes, could make Seattle winners in one of two ways: Either he can pitch them into the playoffs, or, if the Mariners pull a surprise and flop early, they can trade him in July and probably receive better prospects than they traded.

Philadelphia

Gets: Roy Halladay from Toronto, prospects Phillippe Aumont (right-handed pitcher), outfielder Tyson Gillies (outfielder) and Juan Ramirez (right-handed pitcher), and $6 million from Toronto.

The overriding question being asked by baseball people everywhere in the aftermath of this exchange of Cy Young winners is this: For Philadelphia, back-to-back NL champs with an eye toward a third consecutive World Series appearance in 2010, are the Phillies better off with Halladay than Lee?

Well, are they? It's a very close call, but the answer has to be yes. Lee has bad back-to-back sensational seasons, but Halladay not only has done it longer, but he's the big, powerful horse that most often comes up as the answer to this question: If you could pick one pitcher to win the most important game of your season, whom would it be?

It may seem absurd to go against Lee, who was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts for the Phillies this year (including 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the World Series). But while Lee beat the Yankees in October, Halladay has made a career of doing it: Lifetime, Halladay is 18-6 with a 2.84 ERA against the Bronx Bombers.

Not that he'll be facing New York regularly in the NL East, but that's the point: In this game, right now, you measure yourself against the Yankees, and go from there. Halladay can handle them -- as Lee did -- in October. Meantime, Halladay should chew up the NL the way a Toro mows through tall grass.

The clincher, of course, is that the Phillies signed Halladay to a three-year extension with an option for year No. 4, while Lee is headed for free agency. Halladay, for the Phillies, is a better answer both short-term and, especially, long-term.

Toronto

Gets: Three former No. 1 draft picks, right-hander Kyle Drabek (from the Phillies), catcher Travis d'Arnaud (from the Phillies) and  third baseman Brett Wallace (from Oakland).

Take good notes, because this is the last you'll be hearing from the Blue Jays for awhile. They should be nowhere hear contention in 2010. This trade is about stockpiling prospects and, from there, attempting to come up with a core group of controllable, young players who will mature roughly the same time.

It's a fine plan under Toronto's young (32) new architect, new GM Alex Anthopoulos. And whether it works or not, let's just say this up front: This Halladay deal likely will be Anthopoulos' signature moment as Jays' GM. If these prospects produce, he has a chance to look brilliant. If not, the Jays will become even less relevant.

Drabek is a power arm whom the Jays were looking at last summer in the Halladay talks with Philadelphia. Anthopoulos views him as an eventual front-of-the rotation type starter. The GM's hope for d'Arnaud is that he will develop into an All-Star catcher. And the Jays view Wallace as an eventual impact, middle-of-the-order hitter.

Anthopoulos is on record as calling Halladay the greatest player in Blue Jays' history, and to get only one pitcher back in a package for him seems awfully light. Odds are that he will not develop into half the pitcher Halladay is (and that's no knock against Drabek -- there aren't many youngsters who will develop into the next Halladay, or half a Doc).

The Jays do need a catcher and a third baseman. For them, the final evaluation of this deal likely is at least a couple of years away.

Oakland

Gets: Outfield prospect Michael Taylor from Toronto (via the Phillies).

The Athletics pretty much being the afterthought in this deal, good, sneaky work by GM Billy Beane to move in and snag an outfielder he took a liking to awhile ago.

Why it took so long: For one thing, the Phillies required a negotiating window to enter into a multi-year contract agreement with Halladay, who was on track for free agency following the 2010 season.

Also, and this is why you hear of so many trades anymore that take several days to be announced, contracts are so big now that medical reports never have been so important. Teams anymore are incredibly diligent about making sure the players they receive are healthy, risking humiliation if they don't. It's why the deal between Boston and Texas sending third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers essentially was agreed upon eight days ago and still hasn't been completed -- the Rangers are triple-checking Lowell's medical reports.

In this deal, there was concern from Toronto on third baseman Brett Wallace's shoulder due to a previous injury.

Lastly, rules state that the Commissioner's Office needs to approve any trade in which $1 million or more changes hands. That's pretty much become a formality anymore, but it still slows down the process.

What got the deal done: Several facets, but the overriding one was the fact that Halladay clearly wanted to pitch for the Phillies. No small part of that is because Halladay's home is in Odessa, Fla., not far from Toronto's spring training base in Dunedin, Fla. Which is only about 10 minutes from Philadelphia's spring base in Clearwater. Halladay essentially gave the Phillies the old "hometown discount" in signing on the dotted line for $20 million a year and waiving his free agency rights next winter. Remember, CC Sabathia set the bar last winter by signing with the Yankees for seven years and an annual average value of $23 million a season. Next to that, Halladay looks downright generous in the deal he gave the Phillies.

Winners: Seattle, no question. Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik, who, in barely more than a year on the job, has established himself as one of the most creative minds in the game. Philadelphia, which stands an excellent chance to play in its third World Series in three years in 2010.

Losers: Toronto's fans, at least in the short term.  It's just too bad that the Blue Jays never could win when they had Halladay, because he gave his blood, sweat and tears to that franchise and to that city and he desperately wanted to win there. For his sake and for that of the franchise and its fans, its sad that it never came to pass.

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.

Next.

 
 
 
 
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