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Bring Back J. P. Ricciardi
September 17th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

J. P. Ricciardi has been the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays since November 14th, 2001. The Blue Jays have not made the playoffs since he was hired. It is my understanding that 2009 will be the last year of his current deal with the team. And I don’t know, but to me it seems like he’s currently doing a fine job?

If you take the stretch of time as a whole, sure – he’s failed to put together a team that has made the playoffs. But honestly, just looking at 2008:

  • Adam Lind looks great. Ricciardi drafted him. In fact, let’s look at a list of guys that were drafted under Ricciardi:
  • Travis Snider looks absolutely amazing.
  • Shaun Marcum looks great. He’s got a chance to lead the AL in ERA.
  • Jesse Litsch looks great. He was sent to Syracuse to work some stuff out, and has been nails since returning.
  • Honestly, lately, David Purcey looks pretty good, too.
  • Brett Cecil — okay, I just went to Baseball Reference and I don’t know what the fuck happened recently in Syracuse, but whatever, he was a great pick and will be contributing in the next year or two.

… I believe that his drafting record was skewered by taking Russ Adams (who has not contributed at the major league level), coupled with drafting Rickey Romero (a  pitcher) over Troy Tulowitzki. But he’s otherwise got some nice players coming through the system. The young pitching has been fantastic.

Taking a look at some other moves:

  • The contract that A.J. Burnett signed is/was so strongly in the club’s favor that he’ll be opting out. (The concept of “tampering” is kind of weak, and I’m not saying that anything should come of it, but it was some pretty fucking serious tampering by noted eyesore Hank Steinbrenner to A.J. recently. Whatever, they have every other advantage in the game, might as well let them openly campaign for our players, too.)
  • Joe Inglett and Jesse Carlson were AMAZING pick ups.
  • I guess we can’t give him credit for hiring Cito Gaston? There is a lot of speculation that Ricciardi never would have hired a manager with as much power and influence and so forth. On the other hand, he didn’t stop it from happening. In 30 years, people are going to be amazed that no other team gave Cito Gaston a shot. I honestly don’t even think that racism has anything to do with it. I just think all the other general managers in the game are fucking morons.
  • David Cooper seems like a fine first round selection.

Where did J.P. fuck up? Keeping Shannon Stewart over Reed Johnson was a complete and total mistake – forget about Reed’s production, Stewart simply couldn’t stay healthy. Plus, he made it difficult for me to discuss baseball with some of my friends, as that name meant “Playboy Model” to them. Sure, nobody could have predicted that Johnson would be healthy for an entire season, but he did and he was under contract. Not the biggest failing, and I hope Reed gets a ring with the Cubs, but still.

J.P. paid the A’s to play Frank Thomas this year, which is a little awkward. (Then again, he did get Frank Thomas’s salary off the books for 2009, which absolutely had to happen.)

Whoever decided to bat Marco Scutaro second for the entire year fucked up, but that seems to be something that former manager John Gibbons, J.P. and Cito Gaston were all delighted to do. I’m sure they all get the fucking shakes if Scutaro gets stuck in traffic before the game and there is even the slightest chance they can’t trot him out there as often as possible.

… Honestly, someone tell me why Ricciardi shouldn’t at least finish his contract. He’s doing better at his job than I am. This team isn’t going to the playoffs because it couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position for over a month. But THIS IS THE TEAM THE INTERNET, as a whole WANTED. RBIs are meaningless! (I’m speaking as The Internet right now.) Work as deep into those counts as possible! Walks are king! Don’t bunt, steal, sacrifice! I had to laugh (OK, I’m back), watching this team before John Gibbons was fired, because it really was the team that sabermetrics had argued for. Er, if sabermetrics were sentient. It takes a special, unique, shittily-hitting team of legendary design to not make the playoffs with arguably the best defense and pitching in the league.

I’m not going to fault Ricciardi for getting passed by the Tampa Bay Rays, either. Quite simply, there was no plan in Tampa. There remains no plan in Tampa. Maybe that’s a huge burn on having a development “plan,” and if so, so be it. Tampa was going to draft first overall until things turned around. They weren’t focusing on a philosophy, or any kind of strategy, or any sort of “five year plan.” There was no accountability to a fan base, as they did not have a fan base. I am reminded of a discussion on the Interactive Fiction mud a few years back – someone said that Alex Rodriguez was making more than the entire roster of the Devil Rays, and Neil deMause said, “Alex Rodriguez is more valuable than the entire roster of the Devil Rays.” And he was right! It wasn’t even close, haha.

(The Rays were simply going to be as laughable as possible until they randomly managed to draft well. And in 2008, it all came together. Joe Maddon is a fine manager, but hey, so is Lou Pinella – he was just involved too early. The trade that was made, years ago, to get Scott Kazmir on the team is a once-per-generation sort of ass-raping, but the Rays would have been perfectly content to keep being the worst franchise in sports, indefinitely. So I really can’t fault other GMs (or Toronto’s GM) for not following the same model.)

So yeah, all things considered, I’m happy to at least let Ricciardi give it another shot, and we’ll see where it goes from there. Someone on the Batter’s Box had mentioned, months ago, that all that is really separating him from being an elite GM is that he has not “ripped off” other general managers, and that can probably be chalked up to luck. I mean, J.P. Ricciardi: must improve: luck? That’s idiotic. If I were told that at my job, I would instantly start defecating in the parking lot, as it was clear that I now work in an accountability-free asylum. But that’s how close J.P. is to having this team ready for the playoffs. He honestly just needs a little more luck.


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