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This website was born at around the time the Blue Jays introduced new General Manager J.P. Ricciardi. Most of us remember the dark times of the Ash regime, particularly how the team spun its wheels with overpaid veterans and mostly disappointing young players. J.P.'s arrival from the Oakland Athletics front office lifted our hopes. We believed that J.P. would rebuild the organisation utilizing "sabermetric"-inspired ideas, as his mentor Billy Beane had done in Oakland. The immediate future would be a tough transition due to budget cuts, but the following years would be glorious.

We turned out to be wrong. We were wrong about when the Jays would turn it around and challenge the beasts of the East. And we were wrong about Ricciardi.

We now know that J.P. Ricciardi is not the would-be "sabermetrician-king"; he is the super-scout who reached the top of the management pile. Unlike Beane, Ricciardi has been unable to transcend the perspective of the scout. J.P. relies on his own observations and the observations of men he trusts when it comes to making decisions about ballplayers.

It did not always appear to be so. Ricciardi hired Keith Law, who was not a baseball man, to crunch numbers. Law was to personify the analytical side of the organisation, much as Paul DePodesta and then David Forst did for the Athletics. But the longer Law held the job, the more he took on the perspective of a scout. He became an analyst-scout hybrid, not an independent counterweight to Ricciardi's bias towards traditional scouting methods.

Law and Ricciardi eventually had a falling out. Law has intimated that one reason for the parting of ways was that Ricciardi did not pay sufficient heed to the opinions of others in the organisation, trusting instead his own observations (most famously in the decision not to draft Troy Tulowitzki).

The Athletics have continued to pursue innovative methods to compete within severe payroll restrictions. The Red Sox hired the most famous baseball analysts of them all, Bill James. The Blue Jays remain committed to traditional scouting methods. If you look at the Blue Jays today, you will find that most of the key players are farm products left over from the Ash era, or free agent talent, some modestly priced, some expensive. The drafts presided over by Ricciardi, after some early successes, have not produced the talent we had hoped they would.

We know that J.P.'s legacy will not be an ode to Moneyball. Ricciardi thinks that this is the best team he's put together in Toronto. It's time to win.

What is to be J.P's legacy? | 71 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
jmoney - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 08:07 PM EDT (#184717) #
Well I agree that J.P. isn't the "Moneyball" guy we thought he'd be. However, being in the AL East has masked some of just how good this team is. If they were in the Al West they'd likely trounce the A's in the standings more often then not. If they were in the National League.... oi vie!

That said, its hard to say what his legacy will be. To some extent. Ash's has been guys like Halladay, Wells, Magowan and Rios. Trades like the Green/Mondesi and Young/Lord Voldemort . Contracts like the Delgado contract and wasting money on over the hill guys like Mike Stanley etc.

So far. J.P's has been Aaron Hill, Shawn Marcum, and one day Travis Snider. Mixed bag of trades like the Jason Arnold and Luke Prokopec deals on one end and the Shea Hillenbrand acquisition and then Shea for Arcardo. Iffy contracts like Hinske and Wells. Good contracts like Halladay and very likely Hill and Rios.

One thing I like about J.P. from my perspective is that as a new GM he took some chances and made mistakes. He played safe in drafts and didn't get as much as he could have. He recognized some of those failures and corrected them. He seems to be drafting higher ceiling longer development type players. He has made bad signings (or the organization pushed him to) but he has made plenty of shrewd signings that work out well. (Wells first contract, Hill and Rios extensions) Heck, even the creative idea of moving Rolen for Glaus looks to be a pretty nice deal for the Jays and Cards.

robertdudek - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 08:19 PM EDT (#184720) #
 I don't mean to imply, nor have I ever said, that Ricciardi is a bad GM. Acquisition of players like Zaun and Stairs, and in the past guys like Bordick, are the earmarks of a GM that knows his way around the bargain bin.

I think he does a lot of things well. I'm just skeptical that he has the ability to build a championship team.

The implication of the previous post is that the AL West has been particularly weak in comparison to the AL East. I don't think that is the case. It is generally true that the AL East has been more polarized, but the Jays have not come close to winning 90 games on a consistent basis and that is what a contender needs to do. If the AL East was truly filled with tough competition, then one could still regard the Jays as a legitimately very good team that is stuck in a tough division. But the truth is that the Jays have had the opportunity to beat up on the Rays and Orioles for most of Ricciardi's tenure. The mark of a very good team is it's ability to beat up weak teams; Ricciardi's Jays have not been able to do this.

Mike Green - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 08:26 PM EDT (#184721) #
What do Beane, Schuerholz, Dombrowski, Gillick and Branch Rickey have in common?  They are smart, creative people. Those are the two most important qualities in a GM.
robertdudek - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 08:46 PM EDT (#184724) #
I think Ricciardi is smart (listening to him do Wednesday's with J.P. is enough for me to conclude this). But  is he creative enough to achieve what those other men have?

Mike Green says "smart and creative"; what I think characterizes great success is "vision". Each of them were excellent talent evaluators, and Beane and Rickey in particular were revolutionary in their approach. But all of hem had a vision of how their teams were going to succeed.

I suspect, though I can still be proven wrong, that Ricciardi's thinking is tethered too tightly to a traditionalist's view of baseball. To use a cliche - he has shown all the signs of being a good judge of talent, but has not demonstrated a sustained ability to think "outside the box". It's been all the more frustrating to watch, precisely because J.P. is a very smart man.

ayjackson - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 09:24 PM EDT (#184730) #

Mike Green says "smart and creative"; what I think characterizes great success is "vision".

I agree with this sentiment.  With regard to JP, I think he is both, but it is compromised by reationary moves.  As a TO outsider, this seems to be a common occurrence in the sports scene there.  I think at the end of the day, JP would have a lot more "fans" if he could harness his mouth a little better.

Craig B - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 09:35 PM EDT (#184732) #

There's a third leg to that GM tripod that gets far, far too little exposure but one which is equally as important as intelligence and creativity.  Management

A general manager has to be (unsurprisingly) a good manager, has to have or develop that specific, rather tight bundle of skills that enables someone to lead, organize, plan and control.  Qualities like leadership.  Bravery.  Trust.  Organization.  Integrity.  Wisdom.  The bundle of skills that shows up not in the "what" of an organization but in its "how"; not in the individual decision-trees that we seize on as critical markers in the narrative of a general manager's tenure, but in the forest of continual process, growth and change that the 300 or so members of a major league organization are in the midst of on a daily basis.

If there is one constant in the list of names you mentioned, Mike, it is that they have or had superb leadership skills, to the point that they have built tremendous loyalty within their organizations (as well as without).  There are a number of reasons why one organization supposedly loaded with young talent produces four Hall of Fame talents in eight years and another, equally loaded, nearly contemporary to it, produces nothing but heartache and misery.  But the central reason is because one is led by John Schuerholz and the second is led by Frank Cashen, both of whom won exactly one world championship but whose organizations could not have been more different.  And yes, it pains me viscerally to say nice things about the Braves.  :)

Look at Branch Rickey, who had smarts and vision but whose smarts and vision would have come to nothing if he had not inspired (grudging) loyalty, or behaved himself with courage and integrity.  All the vision in the world amounts to nothing without the courage to plow a different furrow.

To my view, this is where Ricciardi has fallen down most frustratingly, where he has not built upon his native strengths or worked to remedy his native deficiencies.  Ricciardi's management approach has, if anything, grown more timid and afraid of failure since he has come into the job.  He has pulled the organization into a defensive, reactionary shell, with the occasional body hurled over the parapet when someone fails to jump on board with his "us vs. them" philosophy.  And he has failed to demonstrate the wisdom of acknowledging and learning from his mistakes.

He does do some of these things well.  I think he's a good leader (though we're increasingly seeing cracks even in that, keeping in mind his recent comments on Gregg Zaun).  I think he is decisive and aggressive and makes his decisions quickly.  And he has inspired trust and loyalty from many, not least of which are the twin engines of the team, Roy Halladay and Brad Arnsberg.  His willingness to stand up before than fans and be shot at, shows an example of his integrity.  But those were his hallmarks when coming in, and he has not notably made improvements in his management skills generally.  I thought, five-plus years on, that he'd be a smarter general manager now, and he has definitely accomplished that in my view.  But I also thought he'd be a better manager, and I don't think he is.

Mike Green - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 09:57 PM EDT (#184733) #
Definitely, Craig.  Management skills are important, for all the reasons you describe.

I take a somewhat less charitable view of Ricciardi's integrity (recalling the Ryan injury stories) and his leadership skills.  I also take a somewhat less favourable view of his smarts.  I listened to, and watched, Gillick for more than 15 years.  Perhaps it is the far pastures syndrome, but it seemed to me that Gillick was very smart and knew far more about baseball than I could possibly know. I don't have that impression about Ricciardi.  I could be very wrong.

Gerry - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 10:12 PM EDT (#184736) #

I have come to the conclusion that JP is an average GM, indistinguishable from many of his colleagues.   JP seems to be league average in approach and methods, part of the "old school" if you will.

The hard part is that we thought JP was coming in with a plan, or a vision as others have called it.  It turns out that there is no plan or vision, just what can we do today to make the team better, even if it is short-sighted or creates unintended consequences. 


Wildrose - Thursday, May 08 2008 @ 11:59 PM EDT (#184744) #
In the vernacular of  the times Ricciardi is simply a replacement level G.M. Instead of getting the boy wonder ( Beane), we instead got his  rookie league roommate ( and Double AA roommate to boot in Gibbons). Competing in this division requires the real thing.

I've been on this blog since day 1, and in fairness to Ricciardi the vast majority of Bauxites imbued or projected onto him, many  unrealistic qualities which he simply did not possess. My view is that he's entirely competent, but given this division and consequent payroll you need somebody who has sheer utter brilliance and that unfortunately is very hard to find.  Is he a failure, no, but I just don't think he has the royal jelly to put this team over the top.   

John Northey - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:03 AM EDT (#184745) #
JP's final chapter isn't written just yet.

To me the key is if JP learned well enough from his past mistakes.  He started going for offense and now focus' on pitching and defense.  He started drafting low-ceiling college guys and now is going for high-ceiling guys.  All along he has shown a willingness to cut his losses rather than play the contract - from Raul Mondesi to Frank Thomas.

These points are all good ones for him, but also explain the learning curve us Jay fans have had to suffer through.  However, it beats Ash who was burned early on with the Cone for Janzen trade and then decided to avoid kids as much as possible leading to Mondesi, Bush, Wells, he who shall not be named, Hamilton, Trachsel, Sirotka (brrr) and probably a few other veteran trades that were expensive busts.  Not to mention the Tim Johnson/Jim Fregosi/Buck Martinez disasters (I see Fregosi as the wrong guy at the wrong time).  And we shouldn't get started on the Escobar mess (reliever, starter, reliever, starter, reliever, under Ash then was a reliever for a year 1/2 under JP before shifting to starting for his last year and a half). 

For comparison, Gillick was a guy who counted on his ability to make trades for guys who were young early on mixed with international scouting and very smart rule 5 picks.  Then, when he figured out the team maxed out as a contender but not winner he shifted into major trade mode mixed with free agency.  He figured out what he was doing wrong (including his terrible draft record pre-88) and fixed it.  Ash never figured out his issues, JP appears to at least have adjusted.  We'll see where it leads over '08 and '09, possibly '10 as well and beyond if it goes well.
Lefty - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:06 AM EDT (#184746) #

When I first came across this site about five years ago I  thought that Ricciardi had financed the start-up costs.

Maybe having been around the block it was soon very clear to me that Ricciardi was not only a baseball man but a snakeoil salesman. Of course it didn't do anything for my popularity when I made those remarks early in his tenure.

Robert, and the rest of the original ZLC, I wouldn't be too hard on yourselves for getting this wrong.

For me Ricciardi's greatest weakness is his neither his traditional scouting approach or his flirtations with SABR principles. It is his credibility, the way he conducts business and ability to stick to a plan.


Dave501 - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:41 AM EDT (#184749) #
JP's a good salesmen and probably a good scout.  His kneejerk reactions and inability to manage people or culture have gotten in the way of his vision.  And he loves to hear himself talk a little bit much.  That's why he hires yes men and people that won't go against him as his manager.
Ron - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:52 AM EDT (#184750) #

One thing that really irks me is when I read over and over again about how the Jays would be in the playoffs/playoff contenders if they didn’t play in the AL East. While the Red Sox and Yankees are good season after season, people forget to mention the Jays also play 2 horrific teams (Rays, O’s) almost a quarter of the season. And yes, horrific is the right word to describe the Rays and O’s. Since 1998, the Rays have averaged 64.5 wins while the O’s have averaged 72.3 wins during the same time span.

Let’s not beat around the bush, the JP Riccardi “era” has been a complete failure. The Jays have yet to play a meaningful game in September (I’m willing to even say August although I’m sure some would disagree with me) during his regime. When JP was interviewed by Paul Godfrey, he told him he could win on a sub 50 million dollar payroll and would build the club through the draft. Neither has happened. While it takes years and years to truly evaluate prospects (I’m guilty of previously calling Alex Rios and Dustin McGowan busts), the returns of his drafts have been middling at best. And I already know what you’re thinking, how can he be a complete failure when he helped stopped the financial bleeding of the Jays? Well my answer to this is that anybody with an IQ over 10 can slash payroll while fielding a non-playoff contending team. The 3 biggest reasons of the Jays financial turn around is: A) Overall MLB revenues going through the roof with meaningful revenue sharing B) The Canadian dollar rising C) Ownership taking full control of the Rogers Centre.

It’s also obvious JP Riccardi has no long term plan for the Jays. First he was going to try to build through the draft and when that didn’t work, he tried to buy his way into the playoffs by throwing money at players like Koskie, Ryan, Burnett, Thomas, and pick up big contracts like Glaus. What confuses me is that Riccardi has said for the past 3 seasons the Jays are all about winning. If the Jays are all about winning than why would they have no problem treating Thomas’s contract like a sunk cost yet hold Lind down in the minors because they were worried about his Super 2 status?

JP Riccardi is also a person that appears to need work on his “people skills”. Is it really smart of a public figure like JP to call Keith Law an “idiot”? While I haven’t tuned into one WWJP segment this season, I know in the past he has blasted fans that have questioned his moves.

Can anybody say with a straight face the JP Riccardi era has been vastly better than the Gord Ash era? When JP Riccardi eventually gets canned, is he going to leave a better stable of prospects/young players for the next GM of the Jays than when Ash was fired?

If it’s truly all about winning (and this is what the fans should care about the most) than JP Riccardi has been a complete failure. Hopefully you have MLB 08 or MLB 2K8 because that’s the only way you will see the Jays in the playoffs anytime soon.

Does Paul Godfrey have Chris Antonetti or Paul DePodesta’s phone number?

joeblow - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 01:28 AM EDT (#184753) #
I'll admit I don't have a deep understanding of this club - which is part of the problem as I'm the kind of fan that should be interested all year. I was a die-hard fan in the golden era 80s-90s but for the last 10 years or so my annual interest-meter goes like this:

Decemeber - 6/10 - winter meetings, what players can we get
February - 8/10 - pre-season is coming, how does the team look
April - 9/10 - let's go!
May - 8/10 - crap they are .500 again
June - 7/10 - still time
July - 6/10 - we can make a run after the all-star break
August - 4/10 - not even in the hunt
September - 1/10 - disappointment, the rookies don't even interest me
October - 5/10 - ok maybe I'll watch the WS

How can anyone get into this team? Take everything together - players, coaches, management, park  - and the result is bland and average. The whole organization has a corporate characterless feel to it. Not very friendly or homegrown or grass roots. The last guy to get anyone's blood pressure up was Mondesi.

Pitchers look like studs but the hitting sucks. There is no depth, injuries hurt this team in a bad way. They are not scrappy. They are not bangers. There is no core group of outspoken veterans and leaders. This team looks nothing like what a good contending or playoff team looks like.

My biggest wish when he arrived was that he would stockpile the minor leagues and we would have a flow of players to look forward to. Instead we have free agents and bad to mediocre trades.

Looking at it from his boss's perspective, has J.P. managed to put this team in any better position since he arrived? This means success on the field, finances, branding and value. Maybe his biggest legacy is managing the payroll, and how much did the Canadian dollar help there?

Have to say the legacy is not looking good. I don't forsee many teams banging down his door to offer him a GM job when he leaves here.
Mylegacy - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 02:10 AM EDT (#184754) #

Pain and misery, pain and misery - ain't it hell.

From 1984(ish) to 1993 - nine years - the Jays were one of the best teams in baseball. Every one of those years it would have been no real fluke if we'd won the WS. What did we get to show for that? Memories - and faded ones at that.

Thirty teams out there - every one of them scramblin', conivin', clawing to get that extra inch - let alone that extra mile. Detroit gets two mega-studs last off-season and what goes? Mussina was dead and buried last year - and what goes?

We got the best overall pitchin' on any Jays team I've seen in the 25+ years I've followed the team. With Jmac and Rolen etc. we've got one of the the best defenses.

We can't hit - we can't buy a hit, steal one, beg one, no friggin' way can we get a hit --- My kingdom for a frickin' meaningful hit! 

The life of a basball fan is exquisite, never ending, ceaseless pain and anguish - mixed in with fleeting moments of exhilaration so high you can't believe it.

JP ain't God - he ain't even god, hell - he ain't even Beane. But this guy can still get us a bat - might still get us a bat... Overbay is awakening - Rolen is answering the call. We might make it this year. We are the resurrection of one or two of our sleeping giants away from seriously contending. Will it come to pass? Man - that's why we watch the games, suffer through the games. Thitry teams - come October - twenty nine losers.

Life's the journey not the destination; basball's life - glory or pain - savor every minute. When the fat lady sings we all sit down till April. Stand and cheer now - all winter you can tell your friends how YOU woulda, coulda, shoulda handled the team had you been JP. For now give the guy the rope he needs to lasso what we need or hang himself. Either way - we can dissect it all winter.

If I remember correctly - we got ourselves a ball game tomorrow. Lets go Jays!

parrot11 - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:04 AM EDT (#184755) #
You know the saying that when you should leave a room better than when you entered, probably best describes what didn't happen in the JP era. He came into an albeit imperfect situation but with some very good assets (young players and coveted prospects) and will leave it in worse shape than when he came in. The farm system is practically barren. If it weren't for the leftovers of Ash, JP would have been fired a long time ago. What JP will have left behind is Marcum, Hill, Snider, Litsch, and a decent pen. That is not a very good return on 7yrs worth of time. So, his era shouldn't be viewed much better than Ash's tenure. The things that JP played safe he should have gambled on (e.g. draft) and the things he gambled on he should have played safe (e.g. free agency). In short, Ricciardi was no better than Ash, he just had different flaws.
TamRa - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:19 AM EDT (#184758) #
Legacies are retrospective.

mike Wilner likes to point out that teams are said to have "chemistry" if they win, regardless of whether anyone thought they had chemistry before. Same for "intangibles. Same for a lot of other baseball mythology - it's 20/20 hindsight rationalization for the most part.

if JP stays long enough for the jays to make the playoffs a few times and win a chamionship, then a lot of what he has done to build the team will be retconned as "smart moves" by a man who had a plan. If such success does not occur, then obviously he is (insert negative description here).

My personal view is that he is a guy who would rank somewhere in the 10-12 neighborhood of current GM's (not counting guys for whom it is too early to judge).

He's has done some things every likes, some things well that are often underrated (like drafting) some things poorly (the whole "integrity" issue springs to mind) and some things over-rated.

On balance, I think the team is in noteably better shape now than it was on the last day of the 2001 season.

I think that's reasonable grounds to say he's done a pretty decent job.

Unreasonable expectations aside.

Magpie - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:30 AM EDT (#184759) #
But the central reason is because one is led by John Schuerholz and the second is led by Frank Cashen, both of whom won exactly one world championship but whose organizations could not have been more different.

Schierholz actually won two, as he was the GM for the 1985 Royals.

I always admired the job Cashen did in reversing the direction of the Mets. Cashen learned his trade in Baltimore, and he always spoke about wanting to use the Orioles model. It may have been harder to sustain that modus operandi in New York City, where the expectations and scrutiny operate a little differently. Also, Cashen was very, very unlucky. Cashen and Scherholz each drafted and developed a great young pitcher and a great young hitter, who would be centrepieces of the team's success. But Dwight Gooden and Darrell Strawberry had issues and problems that never affected Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones, and again New York City probably made that situation worse.
Magpie - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:38 AM EDT (#184760) #
Mike Wilner likes to point out that teams are said to have "chemistry" if they win, regardless of whether anyone thought they had chemistry before. Same for "intangibles. Same for a lot of other baseball mythology - it's 20/20 hindsight rationalization for the most part.

Absolutely right. I always thought Mike Schmidt explained this best on 21 October 1980, as he and the Phillies were spraying the champagne after finally winning a World Series, and hearing about how the 1980 Phillies had all sorts of "character" that previous editions of the team had somehow been lacking :

The only difference between this club and those other Phillies teams that everyone was complaining about for so long is a few key hits. Four or five hits gave us all that character.
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:41 AM EDT (#184761) #
I get the sense, though I could certainly be wrong, that if the Jays miss the playoffs by a wide margin this season that it will be the end of the Ricciardi reign.

Is this team good enough? Not as they stand right now. Can they get better? Yes, but Ricciardi has never tried to seriously upgrade the team mid-season during his tenure, so I lean towards pessimism as far as an infusion of talent goes.

Over the last several years, there has been momentum building towards a push for the pennant, but I think this team is running out of time. Currently the Jays have the oldest set of position players in the American League - remarkable, isn't it? And though we have several very good young pitchers, the overall age of the club suggests that there will be a lot of holes to fill in the coming years.

This is the pivotal year in the Ricciardi era, but judging from his statements it doesn't sound like he has the proper sense of urgency. This leads me to believe that he will NOT make an extraordinary effort to put the Jays in a position to contend this season. If I am able to see at least one Jays playoff series this season, I will stoically put up with a  half-decade of rebuilding.

I fear that this club will soon be in decline and the next GM will be facing difficult decisions about when and how to start the rebuilding process.

brent - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:29 AM EDT (#184765) #

Ricciardi seems more impatient, more autocratic, and less adept at "generally managing" the perceptions of the fans and the media. I'm not saying I don't trust his judgement on player personnel matters, but I'm suspicious of his public statements.
Wednesday, October 30th, 2002 quote by Coach

I think everyone knew what we were in for. Anyway, until there is a candidate that people would be confident that is better than JP, he should keep his job. Just go back and look at the 2001 roster and look at what was left for the 2002 season after having to dump salary. Then, compare it to what the Jays have now (don't forget the minors for both) and make a judgement. It's disappointing looking back at players like Phelps, Quiroz, and Cash. Adams was a bust, but who can predict the Knoblauch Syndrome? I agree with an above poster that said JP has been adjusting ineffective strategies.


Glevin - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 07:04 AM EDT (#184768) #
I would have J.P. in the lower third of GMs in the league, certainly nowhere as bad as the Bevesi type, but I don't think he's even average. I think he is gone after this year and I think it's a good thing. J.P. never seemed to have a real plan for the Jays and his tenure has been notable for mostly lateral moves often with no long-term plan, obsession over "his players", and poor drafting. If the Jays want to contend, what they have to do, is to build a strong system and they need a realistic GM who actually sees the team for what it is, not for what he wants it to be. The Jays are not a contender.  They really haven't been for J.P.'s entire reign as GM. The future looks pretty rough right now for the Jays as I think Tampa has moved past them for a long while. What's the Jays' core 3-4 years down the line? Rios, Wells, Hill, Halladay, Marcum, McGowen, Snyder? That's not near championship level. Unfortunately, I think the Jays need to tear down and rebuild, the problem being that apart from Halladay, their older players do not have enough value to bring anything back in return.

Paul D - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 08:34 AM EDT (#184769) #
Why do people think JP is gone after this year?  I think Rogers uses very different criteria to evaluate JP than we would use.
Wildrose - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 09:38 AM EDT (#184771) #
I think Rogers uses very different criteria to evaluate JP than we would use.

I agree and that's part of the problem. This team is owned by a faceless corporation more interested in the bottom line ( as well they should be since they are a publicly  traded corporation) than the ultimate goal of a fan which is winning it all.  Rogers walks a fine line, spend just enough money to keep the team on the fringe of being competitive,  but don't spend enough to put the team over the top. The Jays are just a small cog in a large enterprise, the mandate is to win just enough  to keep the viewer ship numbers on Sportsnet high enough, attendance at the R.C. reasonable and hopefully buy  enough brand loyalty that  you'll bundle your phone/television and internet services with them.

Off course the old adage that if you spend money you'll make money comes into play. The Jays would seem to make a small profit overall for Rogers, they could probably make more, but that would take a cowboy mentality with no guarantees ( this is sports after all),  and frankly the faceless  suits who run this show don't want to risk their stock options or their quarterly bonus on a gamble which may not pan out.

Give me a vanity owner like Cuban or Big George  any day than over this crew.
John Northey - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#184772) #
Very good point Paul D.  Rogers cares about profit and nothing else.  If winning the World Series by spending $200 million on payroll would maximize profit they would do that, if spending $20 million and coming in dead last year in year out would maximize profit they would do that.  And lets not fool ourselves, all teams operate that way unless they are owned by a guy who has an ego that needs feeding (see the NYY) and those situations can become ugly fast (see Baltimore or the Leafs of the Ballard era).

Now, what does Rogers have to judge JP on? 
Attendance per game by year...
1994 - 50,573 - Jays team record, last Gillick, strike
1995 - 39,257
1996 - 31,600
1997 - 31,967 - Clemens signed
1998 - 30,144
1999 - 26,709
2000 - 21,058
2001 - 23,647 (last Ash year)
2002 - 20,221
2003 - 22,216
2004 - 23,603
2005 - 24,876
2006 - 28,422
2007 - 29,144
2008 - 25,485 (will climb in summer)

Payroll by year (2000 on in millions)
2000 - $46.4
2001 - $76.9
2002 - $76.9
2003 - $51.3
2004 - $50.0
2005 - $45.7
2006 - $71.9
2007 - $81.9
2008 - $98.0

So what do you see?  A massive drop off during the Ash years, from sell outs to under half full despite a massive number of free tickets given away (I only went to games where they gave out free tickets, then used those to see the games I really wanted to see like Fernandez' last game).  Today the freebies aren't nearly as plentiful and there is talk of getting rid of the cheap Tuesdays even.  However, I also see a payroll that dropped drastically by 2005 then started to climb back to Ash levels.  Basically today's payroll is an annual inflation rate of 3.5% from the last Ash year.  However, since 2005 (bottom of payroll) it is growing at a 29% rate.

If you are Rogers then putting a brake on spending makes sense.  Tell JP to get back to his roots and find a way to do more with less.  Increasing spending at a 3.5% rate they can live with, a 29% rate they cannot (regardless of if the team would still make a profit as that profit just isn't as high as it could be).

Thus we'll see if JP figures out how best to deal with this.  Trading or letting guys like McDonald and Scutaro go away when you have Inglett and others who will work for the minimum makes sense.  Watching for guys like Stairs to fill DH roles, drafting high potential guys, signing long term deals with players before they have leverage, letting guys like Vernon Wells go when their contracts get too big.  Sadly he signed Wells to $20 million plus for 2010 and beyond but he did sign Rios and Hill at reasonable prices.  Now Marcum and McGowan have to be signed long term to save cash as well, while the big debate about Halladay should start - will he be worth $20 mil per year in his mid-30's?

If we see Halladay being allowed to leave after 2010 (he turns 34 in 2011) then we know the score.  If Halladay is willing to sign for $15-19 per year and no more than 3 years though he might stay regardless.

If we see more Hill/Rios deals for Marcum, McGowan, Litsch then we know the Jays are setting it up for a lockdown in payroll.  AJ will be allowed to leave (shown the door) as will Rolen & Ryan & Overbay after 2010.  Eck will leave after this year as will Zaun.   We'll see more AAAA guys like Zaun was when he came here.  More high level prospects chased down as they are cheaper long term for high level talent than free agency. 

If JP is shown the door the next guy has a young, strong starting staff, 2 reasonably priced assets in Hill/Rios and 1 unreasonable (Wells, although in relative terms better than Delgado for $), some bullpen assets and a few hot prospects in the low minors.
Ozzieball - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#184773) #
Riccardi dug this team out of a spectacular financial hole while fielding a team that won more games than the World Series champion. I know you all love to get your chicken little on, but Riccardi has fielded winning teams that have been derailed only by being in the same division as Boston and New York. Imagine the 06 Jays in any other division in baseball. Hell, even the anemic 07 Jays won as many games as the winner of the NL Central, without the benefit of playing NL Central opponents.  His trading has gotten steadily better, including some which have been as good as any GM has made (Batista/Hudson for Glaus, Hillenbrand for Accardo).

I would've thought the whole Eckstein experiment would've clued people in to the fact that all that Joe-Morgan speak was vacuous, but we still somehow seem to be beset by a plague of people saying the Jays aren't winning because they can't grit their hustle or clutch their intangibles.

With Tampa Bay peaking the window's about to close for a couple years, but it isn't JP's fault this team didn't make the playoffs. The last three teams have had pythags of 88, 86, and 86 respectively, while facing the two best offences in baseball. They're putting good teams on the field. All they're missing is a little luck.

Paul D - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#184775) #


I'm not sure that Batista/Hudson for Glaus is the sucess you think it is, but I suppose it doesn't really matter, your point regarding trades is fair, he hasn't really made any terrible trades lately.   I'm afraid that he might turn into Rob Babcock though, so paralyzed by the fear of losing a trade that impact trades never happen.

Regardless, after another excellent post by John, once thing that disapointed me is that Overbay is signed through 2010.  That's a position where I'd love to see the Jays look for a major upgrade.

Wildrose - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#184776) #
The Blue Jays are in the middle of the pack in terms of overall payroll spending. True, the payroll has been boosted recently, but as others have pointed out, stadium ownership, increased MLB revenue sharing and the value of the Canadian dollar may be driving this.

Keep in mind that normal inflation rates do not apply to the business of baseball. Baseball revenue and spending has increased from 7-10% annually over the past 25  years and show now signs of slowing down. A payroll of $110 million next year would only match baseball inflation.

Ozzieball - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 11:22 AM EDT (#184778) #
I'm not sure that Batista/Hudson for Glaus is the sucess you think it is, but I suppose it doesn't really matter, your point regarding trades is fair, he hasn't really made any terrible trades lately.   I'm afraid that he might turn into Rob Babcock though, so paralyzed by the fear of losing a trade that impact trades never happen.

Glaus for Rolen? Almost Rios for Lincecum? Trying to get Johnny Cueto for Frank Catalanotto during the 2006 season? How people think he's going to start shying away from trades is beyond me.

Also, "I'm not sure that Batista/Hudson for Glaus is the sucess you think it is" I would love to see you go into detail on how trading an average starter and the second-best second baseman on the team for a third baseman on a hall-of-fame trajectory is a bad move. Hill's 2007 was better than any season Hudson ever had, and he's only at the beginning of his peak. Perhaps this is JP's true legacy, eerily similar by DePodesta in LA: being hated by the fans for making the right moves for the team.
Helpmates - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 11:34 AM EDT (#184779) #
Transforming what was once a fertile, industry-wide envied farm system into a shrieking wasteland:  that's his legacy.
Squiggy - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#184782) #

Glaus for Rolen? Almost Rios for Lincecum? Trying to get Johnny Cueto for Frank Catalanotto during the 2006 season? How people think he's going to start shying away from trades is beyond me.

To be fair, the latter two were just offers... anybody can call everybody in the league offering to take their best prospects off their hands. No GM would ever shy away from those types of trades. I agree that I don't hear or sense any urgency from JP, or more importantly, Godfrey. When questioned about the disastrous road trip last week Godfrey stated that he was completely unconcerned, or words to that effect. They want to win, maybe just not as badly as we do. The team is profitable and competitive and that is sufficient for now.
Paul D - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#184783) #

Glaus for Rolen? Almost Rios for Lincecum? Trying to get Johnny Cueto for Frank Catalanotto during the 2006 season?

When I evaluate a GM, I only evaluate them on what they accomplished, not what they were rumoured to be pursuing.  Other do differently.

I would love to see you go into detail on how trading an average starter and the second-best second baseman on the team for a third baseman on a hall-of-fame trajectory is a bad move. Hill's 2007 was better than any season Hudson ever had, and he's only at the beginning of his peak.

Hill's performance doesn't really have a lot of relevance to the question of whether or not JP maximized the return for Hudson, or whether or not Glaus was the person he should have acquired.

If you look at runs created (which does not take defence into account), Glaus had 95 and 70 in 2006 and 2007, while Hudson had 91 and 86.  Hudson is a gold glove caliber defender, Glaus is a big guy with a sore foot.  Glaus played 268 games over this period, while Hudson played 296.  While this gives Glaus the edge in RC/G, this difference would still be overtaken by Hudson's defence (and not having to play John McDonald at 3rd and Royce Clayton at SS).

Another way to look at it would be to consider Win Shares, which does take defence into account.  Glaus had 30 in his two years here, while Hudson had 39 in his two years in AZ.  In other words, Hudson alone was better than Glaus.  (Batista had 9 in AZ, and 12 in SEA).

Now, that all said, I'm not totally against the trade, since as you mention they had Hill ready for 2b and needed some power, but I hardly see it as some great victory for JP.

Mike Green - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#184784) #
What will be JP's legacy?

The likeliest outcome is "opportunities lost".  There is a very small chance of a victory in 2008 or 2009.  There is also the possibility that the draft of 2007 will form the basis for a contender in 5-9 years, with another GM at the helm.

Wildrose - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#184785) #
There is a very small chance of a victory in 2008 or 2009.

I agree, the next obvious question is do you hold a Florida or Oakland ( it's early but it's working out pretty good for Oakland) type fire sale and sell your fungible assets for young prospects down the road. Personally I'd do it, but I don't think the fan base or ownership would be ready for this. Also is Ricciardi the guy to rebuild the team? The other option is too invest more payroll moving forward, but I  think old Ted cares more about the bottom line  than actually winning it all , which as a fan I don't like but as a Rogers shareholder this does make some sense.
Glevin - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#184789) #
" Hill's 2007 was better than any season Hudson ever had, and he's only at the beginning of his peak"

First of all Hill's OPS+ last year  was 107 and Hudson's was 106  so I'd say they have pretty much the same year  and I have doubts that Hill  is on the cusp of becoming a star hitter.  His career OPS+ 92, 91, 107, and 93.  I think he will be a decent hitting player for a 2Bman with a very good glove. A useful player, but hardly someone to build a team around. If you look over J.P.'s trades, they are overall quite underhwleming. His free agent signings are similar. Also, if you want to discuss theoretical trades, J.P. was definitely willing to trade away Rios and McGowen before they broke out. His drafting has been fairly mediocre as well. Some good finds, some bad pickups. Same thing with contracts. Even if Rogers thinks J.P. is doing a fine job financially for them, there will be public pressure at some point to move on especially with J.P.'s arrogance getting tiring.  Unfortuantely, I really do believe the team needs to rebuild as I just don't see this core or the players coming up over the next few years coming close to competing.
Barry Bonnell - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#184792) #

I do see this team competing for years to come. Our core team for the next few years:

Outfield: Lind, Wells, Rios

Infield: Hill and Snider (moved to 1st base)

Catcher: Diaz

Pitching:McGowan, Marcum, Litsch, Purcey, Cecil

A solid core to build around. I just would prefer someone other than J.P do the building.


Frank Markotich - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#184793) #

This is a very interesting topic.

I think you have to begin by framing the question in the following terms: What is a reasonable expectation for the state of the team, given the initial conditions in 2002 when Ricciardi was hired and the subsequent events in the competitive environment? I don't have a clear opinion on this yet.

It's unrealistic to expect any GM to hit the jackpot on every draft choice and every trade / signing. It's also unrealistic to expect the team to compete every year on even terms with the Red Sox and Yankees when those teams can outspend you by a bundle are are well-run themselves (although Hank Steinbrenner gives us hope. Hmm, AJ Burnett for the disappointing Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy? It's a crazy plan but it might work). Just as you evaluate a player by the net of his plusses and minuses, you have to balance all the moves of a GM, not just the ones that didn't work. Yes, there are good players here drafted in the Ash era. Ricciardi should at least get credit for not trading them away - there was lot of sentiment here for dumping Rios a few years ago, for example. And to echo something Paul D said above,you evaluate a GM based on what he does, not what he was rumoured to have been thinking of doing.

So where should this team be?

Maybe this should be left for the off-season, when everyone isn't hyperventilating about a recent loss, but I'd like to see a "you be the GM" discussion starting with the 2002 season and going from there. With realistic constraints, of course:

1. You MUST reduce payroll to the $50 million range. We'll talk about increases in the future.

2. You can't move Delgado. You've approached him about waiving his no-trade, but he says that after long consideration and a chat with his buddy Mats Sundin, he's going to stay.

3. You can't go over slot in the draft. Sorry. You ask if you can with the proviso that you reduce the major league payroll by a similar amount to compensate. Sorry, no deal. The team gets a handout from Bud to help with the currency problem, and because of that and other high-level matters that need not concern you, you're player development budget is what it is.




Leigh - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 02:08 PM EDT (#184794) #
My biggest fear is that ownership still thinks these are the sabermetricly-built Jays, circa 2003, and decides to go in a "different" direction by hiring a decidedly sabermetric-unfriendly General Manager to replace Ricciardi (when in fact Ricciardi is a relatively sabermetric-unfriendly GM).
Ducey - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#184796) #

It seems to me that JP's biggest issue is his inability to accept input and to trust others to do their jobs.  It seems that he has his hand in every pie with the result he has some dirty hands and a lot of messy pies.  Leaders like this tend to be surrounded by yes men and have difficulty accepting criticism.  His style is certainly different to that of Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick who are generally refered to as "classy".

His draft last year is a positive sign.  It would appear that JP might have listened to others, let others do their jobs, or at least had the ability to second guess his original strategy.  Either that or the large number of picks just led him to believe he could take a riskier strategy.

I think this years draft may have more impact on my feelings for JP than the performance on the field in Toronto.  If he continues to draft higher ceiling players then I have some hope for the future.

I live in the west so I may be mistaken but it seems that Paul Godfrey ,who had a man crush for JP for years, is a lot less visible.  Could he be seperating himself from JP in order to save his own skin in a few years?

Mike Green - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#184800) #
Frank, when framing the question about reasonable expectations as of 2002, it is essential to understand what was bequeathed.  That is probably best described in these two articles by Steve Treder.  It seems to me that it would be reasonable to expect that the team would have fielded a pennant contender (90+ wins, say) once or twice in seven years.
RhyZa - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#184802) #
Hopefully the Red Sox success will prevent this from happening.
Frank Markotich - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#184803) #

Indeed, Mike, we have to consider what was bequeathed.

As I understand Treder's method, the Blue Jays in 2001-2002 are credited with the production of players in those years who were developed by the organization, regardless of where they played that year. So for the Jays, we have to back out Shawn Green, John Olerud, Woody Williams, Michael Young, and everyone else who was Ash sent away.

The idea is to begin with what Ricciardi started with.

RhyZa - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#184804) #

"Hopefully the Red Sox success will prevent this from happening"

err.. the above was in reference to management going in another non sabrmetric direction due to JP's lack of success.

uglyone - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#184805) #

I read somewhere that the Jays, over Ricciardi's tenure, have the best record in baseball of all the teams not to make the playoffs over that period.

Unfortunately, that may end up being his legacy.

williams_5 - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#184817) #
After these latest acquisitions, if this is indeed JP's last year, his legacy could include the phrase "...and hope we catch lightning in a bottle."
Lefty - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:37 PM EDT (#184825) #
Or: "I still like the looks of our team."
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:41 PM EDT (#184828) #
The problem isn't Rogers. Give me an average-ish payroll (which 100 million is right now) and I can build you a team that will average 90 wins a season. In fact 100 million isn't that far behind what the 8th highest payroll was in MLB last year (101.8 million).
Craig B - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#184829) #

Transforming what was once a fertile, industry-wide envied farm system into a shrieking wasteland:  that's his legacy.

The Blue Jays have produced more good young major league talent in the last few years than the average team, so the record there is not all bad.  The team's current inventory of minor leaguers isn't well-regarded (or good) but you have to look at what has been produced (including what has been produced and flipped) as well as what is still in the minors.

robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#184830) #
With Tampa Bay peaking the window's about to close for a couple years, but it isn't JP's fault this team didn't make the playoffs. The last three teams have had pythags of 88, 86, and 86 respectively, while facing the two best offences in baseball.

This is just plain wrong. The Jays have done well over the years against New York and Boston, but have NOT beat up the weak sisters of the division. You absolutely can't make the case that the AL East has been consistently stronger during the Ricciardi era than the Central and the West.

Those pythags are usually not good enough for a playoff spot. Besides, what does it tell you when a team that consistently underperforms their pythag? Bad luck can only explain so much of it.
brent - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#184831) #
Some commenters are talking about the ineptitude of the Orioles and Rays. After playing the Red Sox, Yankees and Jays for 60 games, not many teams would have a good record. This division is hell. If the Jays had an extra 25% to the payroll (125 million), just think what JP could add. He could get an elite bat for this lineup, and the offense would be "fixed". You can fill holes when you are in the top 5 in salary. It also hurts being in this division because you lose potential trade partners. Two of the top teams that would be willing to eat contracts are in this division. JP has a hard time finding trade partners outside of Beane. You can't tell me that GM's don't think twice before trading with Beane or JP because they are afraid of getting taken in a deal. My biggest complaint; however, is that JP signed Wells to that extension when he knew Wells had that injured shoulder.
GrrBear - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:54 PM EDT (#184834) #

J.P.'s kind of a puzzle.  The original Wells, Hinske, and Halladay deals were outstanding, much like the new deals for Rios and Hill.  In particular, I can't believe Aaron signed for so little.  Considering what FA pitchers are getting these days, A.J.'s deal is almost a bargain, and thanks to the brilliant acquisition of Accardo, B.J. sitting out for a year didn't hurt the team that much either.  He seems to be a good judge of pitching talent, and likes defensive guys almost as much as I do, although he doesn't force Gibbons to play Johnny Mac nearly as often as he should.  Finding Gregg Zaun might be the best bargain-bin signing of the decade.

But then you've got the personality conflicts and the seemingly knee-jerk decisions like tossing the Big Hurt out the window.  The message seems to be, if you piss me off, pack your freakin' bags.  Don't want to hustle?  Gone.  Don't want to go on the field to help celebrate a win?  Gone.  Don't want to get along with Gibby?  Gone.  Also, J.P. seems reluctant to put any faith or cash behind young hitting prospects.  We're all still hoping Adam Lind pans out some day, but for some reason J.P. likes signing declining veterans to block young talent, or was there some other purpose to the Shannon Stewart signing?  Or the Matt Stairs signing last year (although I'm a big Matt Stairs fan, so I guess I don't mind too much).

J.P.'s a better GM than John Ferguson Jr. was for the Leafs, but this is the year to put up or shut up.  I agree with Robert Dudek - if the Jays aren't a winner this year, J.P.'s out the door.  The Wells contract was a big mistake, but understandable in the context that the Jays were trying to send a message that they can afford to keep their star players.  But it also means that the window of opportunity is short, and Ricciardi will have to be creative and make high-risk, high-reward moves if the Jays have any hope of making the postseason.

Mike Green - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 04:55 PM EDT (#184835) #
The talent in the major and minor league system when he arrived included:

Halladay, Carpenter, Escobar, (he who shall not be named), Hendrickson, McGowan, Koch, Brandon Lyon, Quantrill, League, Chulk, Jayson Werth, Kevin Cash, Delgado, Phelps, Hudson, Alex Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis, Felipe Lopez, Chris Woodward, Mike Rouse, Batista, Wells, Rios, Gabe Gross, Sparky, Jose Cruz Jr. and (a much younger!) Shannon Stewart.

In short, he was bequeathed a pretty good hand, with a glaring weakness behind the plate and significant strength in the outfield.  The pitching talent was actually not bad, as it turned out. 

ayjackson - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:01 PM EDT (#184836) #
Did JP inherit or bring in the likes of Lacava, Lalonde and Scott?  You can't talk about the system's prospects without talking about these guys.
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:11 PM EDT (#184839) #
MLB Payroll at the start of 2008:

NY Yankees—–209,081,579
New York Mets—–138,293,378
Chi.White Sox—–121,152,667
LA Angels—–119,216,333
LA Dodgers—–118,536,038
St. Louis—–100,624,450
San Francisco—–76,904,500
San Diego—–73,677,617
Kansas City—–58,245,500
Tampa Bay—–43,820,598

I defy anyone to make the case that it is very difficult to win 90 games a year on what Rogers has spent on the team.
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#184840) #
You can't tell me that GM's don't think twice before trading with Beane or JP because they are afraid of getting taken in a deal.

Are you serious? Beane has made more major trades during his tenure than any GM I can think of.
Mike Green - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#184843) #
JP inherited Lalonde (but very smartly promoted him), and brought in LaCava and Dick Scott.  By all accounts, these men (and others) have given generally excellent advice, which has not always been followed.
ayjackson - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 05:36 PM EDT (#184849) #

By all accounts, these men (and others) have given generally excellent advice, which has not always been followed.

Have there been accounts by anyone not named Law?

John Northey - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 07:17 PM EDT (#184858) #
This is always fun, digging into what was and trying to see what will be.

JP hired on Nov. 14, 2001 (via an old CBC article). 
Two minor league teams over 500 in '01, AA and Dunedin.  460 winning percentage throughout including two teams sub-400
One all-star - Paul Quantrill, a middle man
CA: Fletcher/Castillo both sub 70 OPS+, Phelps (moved to DH), Joe Lawrence (ugh), Jayson Werth (moved to OF), Casey Martinez (Buck's kid), Kevin Cash, Guillermo Quiroz
1B: Delgado (at $19 mil per)
2B: Homer Bush, Orlando Hudson (no idea why Ash didn't call him up in '01)
3B: Felipe Lopez (who played more at 1B than SS or 3B in AAA) who has had one year over 91 for OPS+, Chris Woodward
SS: Alex Gonzalez (over $4 mil per), Cesar Izturis (one year over 73 OPS+), Lopez/Woodward
OF: Stewart, Cruz Jr, Mondesi in majors
OF: Wells, Freel was allowed to leave just before JP took over, Dewayne Wise, Reed Johnson, Gabe Gross, Alex Rios (low A 653 OPS)
DH: Fullmer

Note: in the two lowest levels not one player had a name that I found familiar enough to mention, meaning that just 4 teams out of 6 produced ML hitters

Pitching was looking better, but who knew Carp would fall apart physically soon afterwards.
SP: 100+ ERA+ = Carpenter, Halladay, Lyon, Michalak, Parris, Escobar, plus sub 100's Loaiza & Hamilton
RP: Koch, Quantrill, Borbon, Plesac, File
Minors: Chacin, Chulk, Coco, Hendrickson, League (in Medicine Hat), McGowan (Auburn, 2nd lowest)

There was talent, but the talent was either low (thus JP's coach choices helped or hurt a lot) or playing the wrong position (see the catcher mess) or low ceiling (Wise, Johnson, Gross, Hendrickson, Coco, Chulk, Chacin, Lopez ended up low, Izturis also - sorry cheap All-Star picks don't count imo).

Rios, McGowan, League could all have been given up on easily and looking at the team during the Ash reign I suspect he'd have dumped them for another shiny 'proven vet' ala he who should not be named.  Hudson was left in the minors in favour of Homer Bush (!) but JP continued that for part of the next season.

A few guys who really developed, but remember, Lopez was a poor defense good offense guy who has hit for exactly one season in his 8 in the majors.  Izturis is McDonald.  Phelps, Werth, Quiroz didn't make it as catchers in the majors and only Werth has done anything of note away from Toronto. 

I see it as more myth than fact that Ash left the minors deep.  At the time most said the team was weak for depth and felt it had wasted picks by going for cheap rather than good (sounds familiar), especially with Rios, Gross, Negron, (was McGowan a cheap pick?), Lopez and Wells.   Also, look back at those drafts (I just did) and count the major leaguers in the first 10 rounds (after that it is generally viewed as filler picks)
1995: 3 - Halladay, Wilson, Freel
1996: 7 - Koch, Lawrence, Abernathy, Andrews, Bale, Blake, Phelps
1997: 2 - Wells, Young (darn good 2, shame only one stayed)
1998: 1 - Lopez
1999: 2 - Rios, Ford
2000: 3 - McGowan, Mike Smith, Rich Thompson (0 for 1 in the majors)
2001: 4 - Gross, League, Godwin (0 for 3 in majors), Rouse

JP's crew...
2002: 3 - Adams, Bush, Peterson
2003: 4 - Hill, Banks, Marcum, Vermilyea
2004: 5 - Purcey, Zach Jackson, Thigpen, Lind, Janssen
2005 to today: 0

Fits what many figured.  Ash went for the home run and sometimes it worked (Rios, Wells) sometimes it flopped (most other picks).  1998 being particularly ugly with 3 others making it but none really impacted (Jay Gibbons 101 OPS+ in majors at 1B, Bob File 1 good year then injured, plus a guy who allowed 5 runs in 4 innings for Florida).
John Northey - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 07:44 PM EDT (#184861) #
Robert, for payroll to get 90 wins.... we have a list of 11 teams who are spending more than the Jays plus one other that is for all intents tied with them (Philly less than 300k behind).  Last year 6 teams had 90+ wins.  Thus of those 13 teams with a $98+ million payroll you should expect no more than half to win 90.    The top 6 spend at least $20 million more than the Jays do - or basically what it costs for

Ah, but was '07 odd?
2006: 6 90+ winners
2005: 7
2004: 10
2003: 8
2002: 11 (3 out of 4 in the AL West - now that is tough!)
2001: 8

So, based on that the Jays payroll, ranking 12th, should be on the margin - you need some luck or the teams ahead of you to have bad luck to get the 90 wins even if every year was like '04 or '02.  8 teams get 90 wins on average in the past 7 years, or basically the number who make the playoffs.

Now, how did past GM's in Toronto do?
Gillick: 5 times over 18 seasons, including 2 WS years where they outspent everyone, 6 more times with 5 games of it
Ash: 0 times over 7 years, being within 5 just once
JP: 0 times over 6 years, twice within 5.

What about the guys ahead or tied with the Jays?
Boston & Yankees: almost always lately (7 straight for NY, 5 of last 7 for Boston)
Detroit: once in the last 20 years, once within 5 since the strike, sucking this year
Mets:once since 2001 despite a consistently high payroll
ChiSox: 2 of the past 7 years
LA Angels: 4 of the past 7 years
Cubies: 98 was the only time since the 80s
LA Dodgers: 2 times in the past 7 years, 3 times since the strike
Seattle: 3 times in the past 7 years, none in the past 4
Atlanta: 4 of the past 7 years, but on a 2 year streak without
St Louis: 4 of the past 7 years, go figure winning it all on their 2nd worst of those 7 years
Philly: Once (1993) since before Tom Henke was a Blue Jay and Bobby Cox was the Jays manager

Many of these teams have been at or near the top of the payroll ladder during this period.  A few have been over 90 wins 1/2 the time (Yanks, Sox, Angels, Atlanta, St Louis) while others have blown a lot with little success (Philly, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Tigers).

90 wins is not easy to get.  It takes luck mixed with a talented team.  Could I make a team with an average payroll a 90 game winner?  No.  I doubt anyone on this board could (assuming Pat Gillick isn't here after doing it in Toronto, Baltimore, and Seattle but almost always with very high payrolls).  So yes, it is very difficult to win 90 no matter what you spend, let along keeping the team at the middle of the pack in payroll as Rogers has done.
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 09:53 PM EDT (#184866) #
Fits what many figured.  Ash went for the home run and sometimes it worked (Rios, Wells) sometimes it flopped (most other picks).

When it comes to draft picks, only the home runs count. You can always get bargain bin talent that's as good as the rest. Farm system depth is only good when you have a lot of guys who could be very good but you don't know which ones will be. But from a historical perspective, the non-premium players your farm system produces (like Godwin or Rouse) are interchangeable with ordinary waiver wire fodder.

What's also important to note is that JP's farm has produced virtually nothing in the way of non-drafted farm players.
robertdudek - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 09:59 PM EDT (#184868) #
Could I make a team with an average payroll a 90 game winner?  No.  I doubt anyone on this board could (assuming Pat Gillick isn't here after doing it in Toronto, Baltimore, and Seattle but almost always with very high payrolls).

I may not be able to do it every year, but give me 4 years and I'll be able to do it 50% of those years.

CaramonLS - Friday, May 09 2008 @ 11:06 PM EDT (#184872) #
I agree 100% with Dudek.

Give me 100 million and a drafting budget and I will turn this team around no problem.  But overall, I think JP has really handcuffed the next GM of this team with some of the deals he has made, and lack of players pushing for MLB spots in the minors.  Cry about pythags all you want, but it is painfully obvious why the Jays will not match their 'projected record'.

Magpie - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 12:14 AM EDT (#184877) #
Could I make a team with an average payroll a 90 game winner?

Well, I wouldn't have a hope in hell.
John Northey - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 12:24 AM EDT (#184880) #
Heh.  Always find it funny how people think they can do the job so much better than the pros.  Heck, at times I think it too but when it comes to getting a ML team to win 90+ year in-year out it is not a simple matter.

Who has done it, 90+ wins regularly? Lets look at the western divisions to get an idea.
NL West...
1946-1956: 9 out of 11 seasons
1962-1966: 4 out of 5 seasons with a sub-500 in there despite the Koufax/Drysdale rotation
1973-1980: 6 out of 8 seasons, again a sub-500 mixed in

2000-2004: 5 out of 5, nice to have a HOF'er on drugs eh?
1962-1971: 7 out of 10 but just 2 playoffs
1951-1954: 3 out of 4 plus a sub-500
1933-1937: 5 in a row
1904-1928: 16 out of 25 - the John McGraw era

Colorado: Just one 90 win season, dead on

1999-2002: 90+ 3 of those years

San Diego: 3 90 win seasons scattered through their history

AL West:
2002-2007: 4 out of 6 seasons
2 in a row in the mid-80's, just.

A's: Amazing streaks, long sucky periods
2000-2006: 6 out of 7 seasons
1988-1992: 4 out of 5 seasons
1971-1975: 5 straight
1927-1932: 6 straight
1909-1914: 6 straight

Texas:  3 times in their history (since 1961)

2000-2003: 4 straight, one other in 1997

So, long streaks do happen, but if they are so easy that multiple bloggers could do it on an average budget then I guess the people who run MLB must not care about wins.

Look, to say that the JP should do better is fine.  He has made big mistakes and could've done better.  However, a team that stays above 500 on an average or less payroll is doing OK vs reasonable expectations.  Should the Jays have made the playoffs by now under JP?  Yup, random odds say at least one appearance should've happened however we do share the division with 2 teams who are both smart and rich which makes life very, very difficult.  In all but one year of JP's period here the Yanks and Red Sox both won over 90 games.  That one year the Jays moved ahead of the Sox but couldn't catch the Tigers dream year where everything went right for them.  To win you need skill and luck.  JP seems to have put a 500 team together but never gets the luck that he needs to get to 90+.

The Dodgers, who potentially have Yankee money, have not done the 90+ wins on a consistent basis since the 80's with just 3 90+ win seasons since the strike of '94.  The Giants did it with Bonds at his peak, but just twice with him pre-steroids/hgh/whatever over 7 years.  Ah you say, but the GM was an idiot?  No, he was talented just some of his mistakes were doozies while some of his other moves were great. 

To build a 90+ base you need not just good drafting, which most could do by just following any pre-draft report, but great drafting (ie: finding the Orlando Hudson's in late rounds).  You need to figure out quickly who is going to stick (a young Vernon Wells) and who is not (a young Eric Hinske) or you get stuck on a mid-level budget trying to patch super cheap which leads to either Zaun's (if lucky) or Ohka's (if not).  If blowing a lot to fill a hole you must estimate the market so blowing $50 mil on a closer like BJ can look decent a few years later, or $50 on an arm like AJ's (which is now a cheap contract) but not getting caught with a Frank Thomas or Koskie.  Any of us in JP's shoes would've made mistakes which would've bit us later.  The difference is we can forget our mistakes while JP's (and all GM's) are out there in black and white.

Also, don't forget, the first few choices for GM - ones many here talk about from time to time - were not willing to come.  From Paul DePodesta to Dave Dombrowski said no to the job and JP only came into the picture after DePodesta recommended him.  Also don't forget the nightmare had Dave Stewart got the job - he who thought Joey Hamilton was great and worth a fortune.
robertdudek - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 12:54 AM EDT (#184882) #
I disagree with Northrey. This team has played around .500 for the last 5 years and hasn't sniffed the playoffs. It's obvious why - isn't it? There has never been an effort to gear up for one year to make a playoff push. So instead of winning 75, 77,94,74, we win 77,82,85,84 or something similar. I don't think it's a fluke. When I was growing up, the Angels and the Astros were two teams that would forever hover around .500, rarely contending. That is what has become of this organisation.

robertdudek - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 01:04 AM EDT (#184883) #
I thought the hiring of Ricciardi was a good idea, mostly because he came from an organisation  that "got it". Much to our chagrin (after several years of fooling us) we found out that sabermetrics was a completely foreign concept to him, and the aspect of the job we all thought he'd be good at, building a kick-ass farm system like Oakland had in the '90s, has turned out to be a thorough disappointment.

And am I supposed to follow a team that aspires to being a .500 ballclub and "with a little luck we'll win something". No thank you. In baseball, mediocrity equals failure.

brent - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 04:07 AM EDT (#184888) #

Robertdudek, would you tank two years to have a huge jump in payroll for the two after that? What kind of plan would you have- you should share it. Not having 90 wins is disappointing, but we would have had to deal away prospects to have gotten rental players to push the team over the top. The team would not have this kind of pitching if JP had made deadline deals. If JP is still here next year, I do not want to see sunk cost payroll that was obviously a bad decision from the beginning (Thomas- considering the 3rd year, Koch, Ohka). Passes for Koskie, Hinske, Schoenweiss, or Ligtenberg because these were not predictable or obvious. I would like for some commenters to specify clearly with examples when they say JP has made major mistakes (ex. drafting Romero 7th or whatever).

robertdudek - Saturday, May 10 2008 @ 07:31 AM EDT (#184896) #
I think most of the "mistakes" are mistakes of omission.  If you look at the team right now, there is an impressive core of players, but there are too many weaknesses on this club for them to be a serious contender. Here is my critique in a nutshell:

a) JP was supposed to build a great farm system - he didn't

b) JP didn't apply sabermetric principles to accumulate talent (I think that if you are going to compete with the big boys on the modest payroll, you almost have to do it by applying cutting edge baseball analysis wherever applicable)

S P - Monday, May 12 2008 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#185072) #
You guys are being a little too easy on robertdudek here. I thought Batter's Box writers were supposed to write well-reasoned, well-researched articles. He makes no effort to consider the nuances of running a baseball team and is content to persist in bromides and chicken littleage. The one that irks me the most is "good teams have to beat up on bad teams". Sure they do, but they also beat good teams too! For example, in 2006 the 3rd place Red Sox were 49-32 against sub-.500 teams and the Jays were worse, but since the Sox were much poorer against over .500 teams, they finished 3rd. There are countless examples of this. Oh and for your information, the Jays have a 125-99 record against the Rays and O's in the JP era.

The only thing that CAN be proven with absolute fact is that good teams win a lot of games and bad teams don't. Trying to make grand generalizations is fruitless. I've learned one thing about baseball: if it's easy to explain, you're probably wrong. All it takes is a quick trip to Baseball Reference or any other site and the facts are right there. The FACTS! I sound like Wilner now but he is 100% right to form his opinions based on facts and not feeling.

About J.P., once again, just look at the facts and the environment those facts reside in. He has made some poor decisions, but Ash made way more. He was asked to cut payroll and thus had to draft fast-track college kids for the first few years. Now with a higher budget he can take more risks and he had a great draft last year according to the experts. He is also not allowed to pay over the slot in the draft. Also, I'm not sure why people keep brushing aside the AL East factor but it's very real. With two teams like that, it virtually eliminates the Jays from winning the division in a given year so they have to rely on the wild card, unlike teams in other divisions who have an equal shot every year. Also keep in mind the injury ravaged 2004 and 2007 seasons.

As for his personnel record? Well let's take a look at it


He dumped Mondesi, stole Accardo, used an asset in Hudson to fill another need, turned Glaus into Rolen, didn't give up on Rios and McGowan, got Hinske who was ROY then got fat (not JP's fault),
declined to overpay Delgado, signed Catalanotto, signed Zaun (he's underrated), stole Overbay for very little, got Kielty for soon to be FA Shannon Stewart then traded Kielty for Lilly, got Speier in a 3-way trade, stole Tallet for nothing, signed Scott Downs, bought McDonald, re-signed Halladay, Hill, Rios for good deals, drafted Lind, Marcum, Hill, Janssen, Litsch, Purcey, Snider and last year's draft class.


Drafted Romero and passed on Tulowitzki among others, gave 3 years to Frank Thomas and was then forced to release him and eat the last year of the contract, overpayed for Wells, drafted Russ Adams and passed on other stars.

Those are the ONLY ugly moves he has made, while the other great moves get ignored. So then the Chicken Littles have to come up with other unproven charges and complaints like blaming his arrogance and lying (all GMs lie by the way), his "lack of vision" or plan, poor management skills. Truth is, we don't know anything about this stuff. We can only judge him on what we do know and what his record shows is that he is a very good GM with regards to personnel decisions. He has done very well to maximize his resources. Like Wilner says, blame the players.

Mike Green - Monday, May 12 2008 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#185076) #
Oh, the ugly list is longer than that. Thinking that Royce Clayton might be a solution to a key problem on a club hoping to compete in 2007.  Repeated inadequacies in bench planning, leading to Dave Berg in LF, Jason Phillips as backup C, and so on. 

Counting Glaus for Hudson as a great move is something that I profoundly disagree with.  You can say that you understand it, and that it did bring talent at a needed position and in a needed form, but in absolute talent terms it was at best a draw and when you can account for salary...

S P - Monday, May 12 2008 @ 05:00 PM EDT (#185079) #
OK fine, I'll grant you that Phillips as the backup option counts as UGLY and I'll even give you that Clayton being the starting SS was ugly (even though McDonald started 94 games). Teams have problems like that all the time but I'll be generous and grant you those as "uglies". Well does that still even come close to canceling out all the good to great moves he has made? If you have other examples of ugly moves, you're welcome to list them but I highly doubt there are enough legitimate criticisms to lay against JP to render the rest of his track record moot. Until then, let the record show that JP is a very above average GM based solely on what we know about him.

As for the Glaus-Hudson trade. I counted it as a good trade because JP would've had to move either Hudson or Hill at some point anyway so he didn't waste time and got a good return. I thought it was a pretty good move to get the proven cleanup hitter the team needed while filling the hole at 3B also.
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