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Just a week after his reasonable piece on Keith Law (see BB #113) comes this "Last Word" column by Mike Ulmer of the Toronto Sun, calling the Jays' GM the city's most compelling newsmaker of 2002, but not exactly endorsing his accomplishments. The question in my headline is Ulmer's -- most of you know where I stand -- and here's how he phrased it:

J.P. Ricciardi is either the smartest man in baseball, or the nerviest fraud this side of Enron boss Ken Lay.

Mike Ulmer: Hack or Moron? (You are permitted, actually encouraged, to vote "both".)
Ricciardi: Genius or Fraud? | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 11:09 AM EST (#100532) #
"What Ricciardi did extremely well was jettison payroll, which actually took wins off the ledger but made owner Ted Rogers a little bit happier."

The Jays had 2 less wins in 2002 than 2001. Would having Gonzalez, Homer Bush, Borbon, Pleasac, Mondesi, Koch (and not Hinske), and Fletcher for the entire season mean more wins? I doubt it. It might have been even less.

"Still, in just one year, Ricciardi has laid waste to a set of baseball values cemented over the course of the Jays' two World Series championships."

This is too funny. I suppose Ash carried on these values?

From a causal, outsiders point of view I can see how someone could write this article, but as someone who covers the team and baseball I would expect more.

It's true that many of the players the Jays are counting on to improve were acquired by Ash and Co. And aside from Hinske none of the players acquired (Walker, Politte, etc) were 'sexy' pickups.

However, this ignores several things:
1. Only being around for one year none of JP's prospects will be contributing today. You can't hold that against him.
2. JP's commitment to actually playing the players that Ash assembled. It wouldn't necessarily have happened under Ash.
3. Shedding payroll isn't easy these days. The Jays have taken some $30MM off and are a better team today. The Yankees are only paying half of Mondesi's contract and they can't get anyone to take him off their hands (I predict the Yanks will eat $5 million and trade him for nothing).
4. JP has done nothing to hurt the Jays like a Loaiza or Hamilton trade or AGon signing that Ash was famous for.
robertdudek - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 12:31 PM EST (#100533) #
Politte was certainly a quality pick-up. And I'd add Justin Miller to the list of guys to be excited about. Cory Lidle should certainly be a welcome addition to the club.

The only deal that might come back to haunt JP is trading away Lopez. The rest of the guys he traded were mid-level prospects and overpaid veterans.
_Geoff North - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 01:16 PM EST (#100534) #
Trading Mondesi opened up a spot for Phelps in the lineup - simply having the players doesn't mean that they are going to get used. If the team had Mondi, Cruz, Stewart, Wells and Phelps on the roster, and Buck Martinez were still managing, who do you think would be playing, and who'd be riding the pine?
_R Billie - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 03:42 PM EST (#100535) #
More importantly, isn't it a good thing that Ricciardi removed the chain of command where Buck Martinez had a lot of input and thought guys like Alex Gonzalez and Doug Mientkiewicz were MVP calibre players?

The scouting was strong but most players took 5 to 7 years to get through the system since they were teenage Latin free agents or high school draftees. How far ahead would the Jays have been with this strong scouting staff if they had concentrated mostly on polished college talent that could be ready in half the time or less? If you focus on the areas where you are most likely to find the success and keep in mind that you're selecting players who fit a certain performance criteria, you don't need as many scouts.

I'd also like to know where Ulmer got his inside information on Jason Arnold being at least three years away from the Majors. At worst he will spend this season at AAA and be up next year. Most likely he sees significant Major League time this season. I guess it's customary for baseball writers in this town to pull things out of their...hat.
Coach - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 05:23 PM EST (#100536) #
I agree with R Billie -- Arnold isn't three years away, not even two, unless he gets hurt. And Ulmer's beef about J.P. acquiring a prize pitching prospect for "Felipe Lopez, an infielder considered to have the most talent since Roberto Alomar", is a ludicrous hatchet job. Considered by whom? Richard Griffin?

As Robert points out, Lopez is the only high-upside guy J.P. has moved, but that potential has already been compromised by poor work habits, and the Jays, rich in middle infielders, chose to upgrade at a position where available talent is scarce.

Geoff's right too; Ash wouldn't have recognized what he had on the farm, and/or would have been blinded by the reputations of the guys he signed to ridiculously inflated contracts. If Dave Stewart was still advising him, and they continued to believe, for the umpteenth straight year, that they were a star or two away, Phelps, Wells and Hudson would have been traded for overpaid stiffs by now.
Pistol - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 05:56 PM EST (#100537) #
The way I read the Lopez/Alomar comment was that Lopez was the most talented MI since Alomar that the Jays have had. I don't think that's much of a stretch.
Dave Till - Friday, December 27 2002 @ 08:00 PM EST (#100538) #
Coach: I don't think Ash would have traded Phelps, Wells, or Hudson - after all, he didn't trade Halladay, Lopez or Izturis for short-term help two years ago. Ash was pretty good at figuring out which of his prospects were worth keeping - Abernathy and Young haven't done well enough for the Jays to regret trading them.

Ash, however, would not have traded Gonzo or Mondesi, and would definitely not have non-tendered Cruz. Ash wasn't tough-minded enough to dump loyal but mediocre players. J.P. clearly doesn't have that problem.
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