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In today's Sun, give Mike Rutsey credit for sticking to the facts in this conversation with J.P. Ricciardi about the Oakland connection common to so many Jays deals, and his friendship with former mentor Billy Beane.

Best things about this piece? It might keep the lead witch-hunters from writing something similar for a while, and the great closing JPR quote:

"It's not easy to deal with 29 people," he said of the other GMs. "It's my job to be as creative, open-minded and aggressive as I can be. But there's just some clubs where even if its a layup for them, they're not going to make the deal.

"The bottom line is it's easier to deal with people who want to make deals. I've had as many discussions with Kansas City and the Mets and people like that as I've had with Billy, but we're just not able to get things done with those teams."
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_Jordan - Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 12:32 PM EST (#99768) #
We wanted Arnold and Griffin (then in the Yankees system) since last March and at one point we thought we had (Jose) Cruz dealt for them," Ricciardi said.


"We also thought we had Carlos Pena (then with Texas) for Chris Carpenter and that also fell apart."

Owie-ouch! I think I remember that almost-deal ... there was talk that these two guys were part of a larger mega-deal, one that would have included Hank Blalock and Vernon Wells. I'm quite glad those two guys didn't change places, but Carpenter for Pena? Oh, my. That would have been super-sweet.

I'm surprised that JP would actually go so far as to name two teams (Mets and Royals) with whom it's nigh-impossible to make deals. I can only assume that relations with those front offices are poor enough that speaking ill of them in public can't make things much worse. Or maybe these guys have thicker skins than I suppose, and this is all part of the great give-and-take that GMs go through. Still, this doesn't bode well for plucking an Aaron Heilman or Chris George from these guys when they're not paying attention. :-) It's too bad, because it'd be nice to have good relationships with the dumber GMs out there. "Good morning, John Schuerholz, please..... John? JP Ricciardi here...."

Still, it makes sense: We've all dealt with both colleagues and competitors with whom it's very difficult to get anything accomplished. Chemistry between GMs and their staffs, accordingly, probably plays a huge role in getting deals done. Your Assistant GM used to work with their Director of Player Development, or your Scouting Director mentored their GM's old friend, or something like that. Establishing trust is key, especially when most people invariably assume the other guy's always trying to win the trade. I imagine that the most successful GMs in the dealing department are those who build a reputation for relatively win-win transactions. If you become known as a super-sharpie who always manages to fleece the other guy and make him look bad, you'll get few deals made. But if your track record shows deals that benefit both sides (Koch-for-Hinske, par example), then you'll probably get more calls returned. A complicated business.
Coach - Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 01:03 PM EST (#99769) #
Brian Cashman must have a thick file of "greatest deals never made" if he kept track of all the Soriano offers he turned down. I like that J.P. is so forthcoming about the ones that got away; my impression is that he shrugs his shoulders and makes the next call, rather than dwelling on "what ifs."

After narrow-minded GMs rule out divisional rivals and guys who have fleeced them before, no wonder they keep shopping in the same aisles. Allard Baird hasn't even caught on yet. "Hello, Billy? Would you send me a prospect and Chris Singleton for Carlos Beltran? OK, Terrence Long and cash. Thanks."

The Arnold and Griffin acquisitions demonstrate J.P.'s tenacity, not some obsession with former A's. Even if the Jays have taken the Mets and Royals off their speed dial, I presume it was well deserved, and they seem to have excellent lines of communication with most other organizations. I hope they keep in touch with Dan O'Dowd and John Hart as often as possible.
_R Billie - Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 01:37 PM EST (#99770) #
Well the main Mets/Royal trade that never happened was the Hudson/Byrd/Heilman deal near the deadline, when the Mets decided at the last second that trading Heilman to rent Byrd wasn't worth it. In retrospect, they were probably right. As were the Yanks in not dealing Arnold and Griffin for Cruz (eventually turning them into Weaver) and the Rangers for not dealing Pena for Carpenter...though it's questionable whether they got anything of value in that handful of prospects that Oakland sent them.

The Koch/Hinske trade was an example of such a deal working out. The Prokopec deal not so much. But if JP keeps at it, he'll eventually get something out of someone. He doesn't seem to give up easily and isn't afraid to overpay for guys that he wants.
_Kent - Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 02:16 PM EST (#99771) #
R B, it wasn't just Arnold & JFG for Weaver, as I'm sure you know; he cost the Yanks a decent LH starter (Lilly) as well. I'm also wondering, if NY had traded them for Cruz, whether we would still be stuck with Mondesi. (I prefer the way it turned out.)

Your Prokopec reference underlines the uncertainty of the whole business. If a team trades a good glove infielder with no chance of becoming a big-league hitter and an aging, expensive middle reliever for a 22-year old starter and a younger, hard-throwing relief prospect enough times, they will come out ahead, but the odds of any one deal being successful are 50-50 on talent, even less considering the injury factor. Being smart and thorough is the best place to start, but even a "genius" GM needs his share of luck.
_Richard - Thursday, January 09 2003 @ 02:39 PM EST (#99772) #
Wow,what a change.When I read the first paragraph,I thought this would be another slash/burn job by a bored hack.Instead the author lets J.P. say his piece and lets the reader form his own opinion.(note to " Dick" and lonesome Bobby, this is real journalism!)

Funny I don't see anybody ripping Cliff Fletcher for using his intimate knowledge of his prior organization to pull off the Gilmour/Leeman hiest of by-gone days.Unless its hockey the average Canadian sports writer just doesn't get it!
_R Billie - Friday, January 10 2003 @ 11:35 AM EST (#99773) #
You speak the truth Kent. If the Cruz deal had gone through then they'd likely not have been able to jettison two-thirds of Mondesi's remaining contract and he'd still be patrolling right field while Josh Phelps languished in AAA or struggled at catcher for the big club.

The difference is that the Jays had to also give up Lopez to get Arnold and likely another player with some upside to bring in Griffin. All in all, it will probably all work out for the best. Particularly if Arnold shows up some time in the second half and proves he was worth a middle infielder with power potential.
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