Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Great Moments in Optimism

Headline: "Ricciardi contemplates next season's moves."

I think it's cute that JP Ricciardi thinks he's going to be around next season. If there's any justice for Jays fans, he won't be.

For years Ricciardi has been able to basically say "hey, we're in the AL East, and with the Yankees and Red Sox around, simply competing is good enough." Well, the Rays have torpedoed that notion, haven't they? In light of their ascension, it's not enough for Ricciardi to say, as he does in this article that "I think in the next few years we're going to be a playoff team" is it? In that same article, Jays' President Paul Godfrey calls the Rays "an aberration," but Tampa Bay is not some lightning-in-a-bottle assemblage of misfits and veterans. There's tons of solid young talent down there, most of which can expect to improve over the next few years. Most of which, it should also be noted, was drafted or acquired since J.P. Ricciardi took over the Jays.

But excuses seem to be what Ricciardi is best at. And none of his are really that good. For example, look at how Ricciardi describes the dynamics which went into the Frank Thomas acquisition:

But many teams, Toronto included, are increasingly leery about buying sprees. The post-steroid era in baseball has skewed the stats of older stars. Asked how much faith he has in the free-agent market, which most recently brought the club the disappointing Thomas, Ricciardi said, "A lot less now.

"Look at the offensive numbers this year. It's like, bizarro. There's a lot of guys whose numbers have been good in the past, but they're not as good this year. So I think until we get to the point where we've seen those guys play another year or so, get a little bit of a track record, saying, 'OK, this is what those guys really are.'

"You can fill in the blanks. I'm not going to say the words. There's been a lot of false numbers in the past."
Perhaps I'm reading too much into that, but is Ricciardi really saying that banking his team's offensive fortunes on Frank Thomas was undone because of steroids skewing the numbers? Is he honestly claiming that "false numbers" tricked him into getting The Big Hurt, the one guy even the most vigiliant of juice-hunters think has always been clean? Does he think that Thomas' falloff this year had more to do with stat-altering chemical shenanigans as opposed to the fact that, hey, the dude turned 40 this year, and that relying on 40 year-olds to carry your offense isn't the wisest thing for a GM to do?

Whether he's saying that or not -- and let's remember, Ricciardi has said the damnedest things on occasion -- his stint as GM has been supremely disappointing. If I'm a Blue Jays fan, I don't want to see articles about how J.P. plans to address next year unless it's about how he's searching for work.

(link via BTF)

11 comments:

Brian said...

If Ricciardi and Godfrey really want to spin it, they should lament their middle of the road finishes that left them with mid-first round draft picks whereas the Rays were able to get the first or second pick every year.

Toolsy said...

Meh, if being dead last for 10 years is what it takes for a 2-3 year success cycle, I'll pass.

baz said...

Yeah.
OMG where did Tampa come from? You would think with all their talent they were the worst team in baseball for the last 10 years and had a top 5 pick every year... or something...

Alan said...

Oh would I love to see J.P. lament the Rays' draft position. It could only make him look more foolish, given that only three of the Rays' everyday players this year (and that includes Baldelli, who has played 13 games) and none of their pitchers were Rays first-round picks. Throw in Garza and Bartlett if you want to, since they were acquired for a No. 1 pick; they still haven't exactly lucked into this. (Apologies if I've missed sarcasm in the above posts. That statement just happens to be one of my pet peeves right now -- it kind of diminishes what this front office has accomplished.)

Anonymous said...

Any talk about Tampa Bays success should wait until next year when winning is expected of them. Teams in the AL east built their teams to compete against The Yankees and Red Sox not Tampa who have a much different style of play. One year of everything going a teams way is not an indication of how good a GM is.

Michael said...

I think he's actually dumber than Hank.

The two of them should just leave MLB and make buddy slapstick comedies.

Alex said...

oh come on jp's just talking about the market, not thomas in particular. It's a completely reasonable position to be a little more cautious about guys who had a down year right after the league cleaned up a bit.

Stoeten said...

Alan, but also the Rays were in a position (which you could argue that the Jays SHOULD have been, but due to their grand commitment to optics probably couldn't be) at the last 10 or so trade deadlines to trade their top MLB players for prospects. Wigginton brought them Wheeler, the one good season Mark Hendrickson ever had brought them Navarro. Victor Zambrano, terrible as he is, was their best pitcher at the time. Even Danys Baez for Edwin Jackson (though it took place in January) is the kind of trade that Tampa could make and Toronto couldn't. And there are other mid-season deals, like moving Huff, that didn't work out as well.

Maybe the argument is a bit of a stretch, but these trades were only able to get done because Tampa was awful at the time. So, it's more than just high draft picks that they've gained from 10 years of constant rebuilding.

Alan said...

Stoeten, sure, but I was just addressing the specific claim that being "able to get the first or second pick every year" was the primary reason the Rays have improved so dramatically, which is a myth. Besides, it kinda sounds like you're arguing (or are you being devil's advocate here?) that being lousy put the Rays in better position to become competitive than the Jays being borderline competitive to begin with. Which is a little weird.

Alex said...

What stoeten said is dead on. Whether or not Ricciardi is the right man for that team (and I'm not going to guess one way or another), there is no doubt that Tampa being last in their division EVERY year of existence until 2008 has contributed to their run this year.

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you, but Rogers love JP, it's just as likely he get an extension as getting fired. A corporate owner looks at dollars and cents. The Jays have the seventh highest payroll and the seventh best record in the AL. The team have to suck bad before they even think about buying out the last 2 yrs of JP's contract.