Forget the Season—J.P. Ricciardi Has To Save Himself

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Forget the Season—J.P. Ricciardi Has To Save Himself
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Hope springs eternal at the start of every season. Will the team finally turn it around and win it all? However, this is July and the Toronto Blue Jays find they’ve been all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason, once again. After a promising start, injuries and talent caught up with them.

 

As the trading deadline approached, general manager J.P. Ricciardi announced he’s floating pitching ace Roy Halladay to prospective suitors; but only until the July 28. With the real deadline only three days later, why bother setting an artificial cut-off date?

Of course Doc is on every GM’s wish list, but for various reasons no one is prepared to meet Ricciardi’s asking price. It’s not news that Halladay is being shopped around. The interesting part is Ricciardi thinks MLB teams are going to enter a bidding war for his services.

Clear to everyone except J.P. Ricciardi is that it’s a buyer’s market, as far as the Blue Jays are concerned. With the team mired in a battle for fourth place, Ricciardi is trying to salvage the season in one epic trade, and at the 11th hour for good measure. If successful, he hopes to be the saviour of the Blue Jay’s season, but more to the point, he’ll be saving his career.

Ricciardi was taught the art of the trade under Billy Beane in Oakland, but he has never mastered the various nuances of running a front office while with the Blue Jays. Unless you can spin dumping salary into a win, Ricciardi hasn’t fared well as a general manager.

 

It’ll soon be eight years that the Jays have failed to qualify for the postseason under his direction, with four different managers, and a farm system in disarray. While faring better signing free agents, Ricciardi has been taken advantage of in the trade market. He has never moved players at the deadline, but has made 51 trading transactions up to the end of 2008.

 

Some outbound players have been Billy Koch, Dan Plesac, Jayson Werth, and Orlando Hudson, while Toronto-bound players were Marco Scutaro, Lyle Overbay, and Shea Hillenbrand. Does anyone remember the John McDonald fiasco, when J.P. traded him to Detroit for future considerations, only to buy him back less than four months later?

 

Some in the business have suggested that Ricciardi has performed at a .500 level when trading. Some good trades, some bad ones, all even when everything is said and done. However, a .500 team doesn’t make the postseason, and not making the playoffs has been the only consistent aspect of the Jays during Ricciardi’s reign.

 

As Toe Blake once said, “Predictions are for gypsies.” Let’s see how much Romani blood I have coursing through my veins. There won’t be any deals for Roy Halladay or anyone else, at the deadline, which would be consistent with Ricciardi’s track record.

 

The GM is under contract until the end of 2010, but I don’t see him lasting out 2009 before Phil Lind and Tony Viner buy out his deal. The Blue Jays will play out the season at or below than their current placement. If the team is no better now than when J.P. Ricciardi arrived on the scene, then what’s the reasoning for keeping him around?

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