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With the 2008 season seemingly slipping further out of the Jays grasp every day, and in the wake of recent managerial changes, now seems as good a time as any for a review of General Manager J.P. Ricciardiís record.



Iím going to take a look at every transaction in the last calendar year Ė longer that that would be, well, a little too much work at the moment. More importantly, I am more concerned about how good of a GM Ricciardi is right now, as opposed to how good he was three years ago. It is of course true that decisions from several years ago continue to have an impact on the club (Frank Thomas anyone?); I will try to reference them when appropriate. In addition, I am going to ignore the draft - Iíd say the consensus on last year is generally positive, and that it is too soon to tell with this years crop, and leave it at that. What follows is a transaction by transaction account of what the Jays have done over the last year. Iíve ignored injuries, other than to note players who have been called up or sent down. Iíve also ignored any Ďcommentsí by J.P., for the sake of all of out sanity.

In general, I will try to make comments about the success or failure of the moves, or to explain why they were made (or at least why I think they were made). At the end, Iíll wrap up by going over successes and failures.

2007

July

7/9/07 Released RHP Victor Zambrano.
Comment: Thank goodness. It was worthwhile to take a shot on Zambrano (and Thompson, and Ohka) but he wasnít ready to start, and this didnít work out well.

7/20/07 Released C Jason Phillips and recalled C Curtis Thigpen from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Phillips has six at bats for the Richmond Braves of the IL this year. He might have been a useful backup in AAA, but there is no sweat lost over this one. Thigpen had been in the bigs for a bit, but came back and played sporadically over the next two months.

7/27/07 Optioned LHP Gustavo Chacin to Triple-A Syracuse.

7/30/07 Voided the option of LHP Gustavo Chacin and placed him back on the 15-day disabled list.
Comment: It appears as if it will be a stuggle for Chacin to ever make it back to the big leagues, unfortunately.


August

8/3/07 Claimed INF Hector Luna off waivers from the Indians, purchased the contract of SS Ray Olmedo from Triple-A Syracuse and designated INF Howie Clark and SS Royce Clayton for assignment.

8/7/07 Released SS Royce Clayton and sent INF Howie Clark outright to Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Clayton experiment, predictably, did not work out. It is difficult to acquire shortstops, and the Jays eventually cut their losses. I liked Howie Clark, but he was not a part of the teams plans, nor should he have been. He has eight at bats with the Twins this year. Luna and Olmedo couldnít/canít hit well enough to play in the majors, and both were essentially in for a tryout.

8/28/07 Signed LHP Joe Kennedy to a Minor League contract.


September

9/1/07 Recalled OF Adam Lind from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Adam Lind shuttle from Syracuse to Toronto continues.

9/2/07 Purchased the contract of LHP Joe Kennedy from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: A signing of the type that have either been very successful for Ricciardi (Downs, Tallet, etc.) or disastrous (Zambrano, Benitez). Kennedy pitched seven innings, and tragically passed away in the off season.

9/11/07 Signed SS John McDonald to a two-year contract.
Comment: McDonald signs for 2/$3.8. The dollar amount isnít huge, especially given McDonald started half the year and is a good defender. Other subsequent moves would be more puzzling.

9/15/07 Claimed 2B Joe Inglett off waivers from the Indians

9/21/07 Recalled INF Joe Inglett from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Inglett got into two games.


October

10/26/07 Claimed LHP Mike Gosling and SS Pedro Lopez off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds; Outrighted RHP Jordan DeJong, RHP Lee Gronkiewicz and RHP Jamie Vermiliyea to Triple-A Syracuse.


November

11/2/07 Signed IF/OF Matt Stairs to a two-year contract.
Comment: Stairs signs for 2/$3.25. Stairs is a valuable player, but this move definitely blocked Adam Lind, which is more worrying.

11/12/07 Released OF John-Ford Griffin.
Comment; JFG is a career .304/.370/.696 hitter in the bigs, but was never going to be a major part of the Blue Jays. He is hitting .371/.482 in the PCL.

11/13/07 Designated INF Hector Luna for assignment.

11/18/07 Acquired INF Marco Scutaro from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for RHP Graham Godfrey and RHP Kristian Bell; Claimed OF Cody Haerther off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals;


December

12/5/07 Acquired OF/INF Buck Coats from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a player to be named later or cash (RHP Justin James)

12/6/07 Released RHP Ryan Houston and selected RHP Randy Wells from the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft.

12/12/07 Did not tender a 2008 contract to RHP Josh Towers, making him a free agent.
Comment: The Towers era ends, alas. He is now 31 and getting hammered in the PCL.

12/14/07 Signed SS David Eckstein to a one-year contract; Signed C Sal Fasano to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Comment: Eckstein has basically been as advertised Ė a scrappy player who isnít particularly fantastic. Itís painful to watch him throw sometimes, Iíll admit. All things considered though, Eckstein has the Jays fifth best OBP (Behind Rolen, Overbay and Inglett, and a hair behind Zaun). I think this signing has been moderately successful, and certainly not a disaster.


January

1/2/08 Signed OF Reed Johnson to a one-year contract; Signed RHP Lance Carter, LHP John Parrish and LHP Ryan Ketchner to Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training.
Comment: Minor league pitching depth is never a bad thing, especially given the paucity of upper level arms in the Jays system. We all know what happens when it goes bad, though. Reed was coming off a down year due to injury, but gave the Jays a lot of flexibility in terms of what he could do. He is essentially the perfect fourth outfielder. He can play all three positions, has one very good skill (hitting lefties), and is a good baserunner and bunter.

1/7/08 Signed RHP Shawn Camp to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Comment: Camp was a depth signing. Heís been good this year, though he has struggled in tight situations occasionally. He has given up only two homers in 23.2 innings with an 18/4 k/bb.

1/14/08 Acquired 3B Scott Rolen from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for 3B Troy Glaus.
Comment: This trade was derided as a lateral move by most, with concern about Rolenís ability to hit and longer salary commitment. Well, Rolenís been pretty darn good, all things considered, hitting .284/.375/.464. He also plays a lovely third base. Glaus has been very good as well in St. Louis, hitting .272/.376/.480, and staying healthy. With no promising third basemen in the high minors, acquiring Rolen for that extra year looks particularly good now. A win-win move for both teams.

1/18/08 Signed LHP Scott Downs to a three-year contract, signed INF Marco Scutaro to a two-year contract and signed RHP Jason Frasor, LHP Brian Tallet and LHP Gustavo Chacin to one-year contracts.
Comment: Downs has been very good, and is signed for a reasonable 3/$10. Tallet has also been good, while Frasor has struggled and doesnít seem to have the trust of any of his managers. Scutaro is a valuable backup infielder, however this move was/is a bit puzzling, as the Jays have several backup infielders on their team, none of whom can really hit, however.

1/24/08 Signed C Rod Barajas to a one-year contract with a club option for 2009; Designated INF Ray Olmedo for assignment.
Comment: The Barajas signing has been fantastic, as Rod has an OPS of .799 even as he has cooled off.


February

2/1/08 INF Ray Olmedo claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Comment: Olmedo has an OPS of .644 in AAA for Columbus. No big loss

2/5/08 Signed OF Alex Rios to a one-year contract.

2/24/08 Signed OF Shannon Stewart to Minor League contract with invitation to Spring Training.
Comment: A bit of a head scratcher at the time, which got worse.


March

3/11/08 Signed RHP Armando Benitez to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training;
Comment: The Jays under Ricciardi have made a number of these type of moves.

3/17/08 Claimed LHP Bill Murphy off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks and placed RHP Casey Janssen on the 60-day disabled list.

3/21/08 Returned RHP Lance Carter to Minor League camp.

3/23/08 Released OF Reed Johnson.
Comment: This was the move that brought up warning signs, as it meant Shannon Stewart was going to be the starting RF. What was most surprising is that Reed seemingly fit in perfectly with Matt Stairs in a lefty/right platoon in left. Reed is hitting .319/.414/.458 against lefties this year; his three year splits are also very good. A very poor decision.

3/24/08 Recalled OF Buck Coats from Triple-A Syracuse.

3/25/08 Granted C Sal Fasano his unconditional release
Comment: Fasano wasnít going to play in the bigs with the Jays so they released him. Ultimately he wouldnít have played much in AAA, as the Jays are stocked with catchers. He has six at bats for Cleveland.

3/30/08 Purchased the contract of OF Shannon Stewart from Triple-A Syracuse;
Comment: Terrible.


April

4/9/08 Designated RHP Randy Wells for assignment; Purchased the contract of LHP Jesse Carlson from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Carlson has been phenomenal; he was also very good in AA last year.

4/11/08 Optioned OF Buck Coats to Triple-A Syracuse; Recalled INF Joe Inglett from Syracuse.
Comment: The kicked the tires on Coats, but he didnít work out. Joe Inglett, on the other hand, has been one of the Jays better hitters so far this year. That acquisition is definitely a good one for Ricciardi.

4/13/08 Activated LHP B.J. Ryan from the 15-day disabled list; optioned RHP Brandon League to Triple-A Syracuse.

4/16/08 Returned Rule 5 pick RHP Randy Wells to the Cubs, he had been designated for assignment on April 9.
Comment: The Jays had a good bullpen, but kudos to Ricciardi for continually trying to improve it. Managing the pen has been one of the strengths of Ricciardiís tenure.

4/17/08 Placed RHP Brian Wolfe on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps; Recalled LHP David Purcey from Triple-A Syracuse.

4/18/08 Optioned LHP David Purcey to Triple-A Syracuse; Designated RHP Josh Banks for assignment; Purchased the contract of RHP Shawn Camp from Syracuse.
Comment: Camp, as mentioned, has been good. Banks had struggled for a long time in AAA. Heís been relatively successful in Petco, which is about the perfect park for a pitcher who gives up a ton of fly balls and doesnít walk anyone.

4/20/08 Released DH Frank Thomas; Recalled C Robinzon Diaz from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Thomas was released because of his vesting option, plain and simple. He was struggling in Toronto, and has hit like an All-Star in Oakland. Still, his current injury will keep him out for two months. I donít know how to score this one.

4/26/08 Recalled OF Adam Lind from Triple-A Syracuse; Optioned INF Joe Inglett to Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Adam Lind AAA-ML shuttle continues.


May

5/7/08 Optioned OF Adam Lind to Triple-A Syracuse; Purchased the contract of INF Jorge Velandia.
Comment: Either Lind was good enough to be in the big leagues or he wasnít. Twenty at bats wasnít enough time to make the distinction.

5/8/08 Placed SS David Eckstein, retroactive to May 7, with a strained right hip; Placed SS John McDonald on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 7, with a sprained right ankle; Recalled INF Joe Inglett from Triple-A Syracuse.

5/9/08 Acquired OF Kevin Mench from the Texas Rangers for cash considerations; Signed OF Brad Wilkerson; Designated LHP Gustave Chacin and INF Sergio Santos for assignment; Optioned INF Joe Inglett to Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Mench was terrible and Wilkerson merely bad, though the Jays desperately needed outfielders. On the face of it, there were certainly reasons to believe that each player could succeed when asked to perform in a defined role, but neither did. Wilkerson had struggle for several years in a row, and is perhaps less surprising. Mench has an OPS of .902 in his career against lefties, so it is somewhat odd that he isn't currently with the club instead of Wilkerson. Mench had 42 at bats against lefties, which again isn't really enough time to determine anything.

5/10/08 Placed OF Vernon Wells, with a broken left wrist and RHP Jeremy Accardo with right forearm tightness on the 15-day disabled list; Recalled INF Joe Inglett from Triple-A Syracuse; Purchased the contract of RHP Armando Benitez from Triple-A Syracuse; Designated RHP Tracy Thorpe for assignment.

5/16/08 Recalled LHP David Purcey from Triple-A Syracuse; Recalled INF Hector Luna from Triple-A Syracuse; Optioned LHP David Purcey to Triple-A; Designated INF Jorge Velandia for assignment.
Comment: Velandia has played in four games for Cleveland, and certainly was not a long term option.

5/27/08 Activated SS David Eckstein from the 15-day disabled list; Optioned INF Hector Luna to Triple-A Syracuse.

5/28/08 Placed C Gregg Zaun on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 26, with a strained right elbow; Recalled C Curtis Thigpen from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Jays seem to have lost all faith in Curtis Thigpen Ė heís stuggled in AAA, and got about five at bats in two weeks with the big club.


June

6/5/08 Acquired INF Kevin Melillo from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for cash considerations and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse; Sent INF Hector Luna outright to Triple-A Syracuse.

6/7/08 Reinstated CF Vernon Wells and INF John McDonald from the 15-day disabled list; recalled RHP Brian Wolfe from Triple-A Syracuse; placed 2B Aaron Hill on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 30, designated RHP Armando Benitez for assignment; optioned INF Joe Inglett to Syracuse.
Comment: Benitez was not an unmitigated disaster, but was clearly not a good option in the pen. The frustrating part was the high leverage situations in which he was used, given his recent arrival and the quality of the Jays pen. Not sure whether to fault Gibbons or Ricciardi on this one.

6/8/08 Placed OF Shannon Stewart on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain; recalled INF Joe Inglett from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Stewart experiment ends in ignominy. Notice how you havenít heard a single thing about him since he was injured? Hopefully he will never start a game for the Jays again.

6/11/08 Sent RHP Armando Benitez outright to Triple-A Syracuse. He had been designated for assignment on June 6.

6/15/08 Activated C Gregg Zaun from the 15-day disabled list; Optioned C Curtis Thigpen to Triple-A Syracuse.

6/20/08 Hire manager Cito Gaston, coaches Gene Tenace, Nick Leyva, Dwayne Murphy; Fire manager John GIbbons, coaches Marty Pevey, Gary Denbo, Ernie Whitt.
Comment: With the team underperforming, someone had to go, and John Gibbons is the one who fell on the sword. I think a change had to be made, and of anyone to bring in for a year, why not Cito. While there has been talk that this trade has revitalized the Jays hitters, empirically that is hard to see.

6/21/08 Placed RHP Shaun Marcum on the 15-day disabled list; Optioned OF Kevin Mench to Triple-A Syracuse; Recalled OF Adam Lind and RHP Brandon League from Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: Adam Lind is finally in the majors to stay, thank goodness. He might be the best hitter on the Jays at this point.

6/27/08 Purchased the contract of LHP John Parrish from Triple-A Syracuse; optioned RHP Brian Wolfe to Triple-A Syracuse.
Comment: The Parrish signing has worked out so far, as he filled in admirably for Marcum in his one start.


Overview

Ricciardi, and by extension the Jays, have had a pretty mixed track record over the past year (and really, the past years). Ricciardi, I have no doubt, has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know, to use a popular idiom. However it seems evident (at least to me) that what the Jays have been suffering from is the lack of a clear plan for the future. The best example of this over the last year has been the left field situation, and tangentially the DH situation. Reed Johnson missed much of 2007 with injuries, and as a result had a poor year. Still, the year before he had hit .319/.390/.480, and even better against lefties. Johnson was an excellent defensive left fielder, and could play all three outfield positions, and the Jays re-signed him. The Jays also re-signed Matt Stairs to a pretty favourable deal after his excellent 2007. The move seemed to block Adam Lind, however, which was unfortunate. Lind had a poor half season with the Jays in 2007, hitting .238/.278/.400 in 290 at bats. Still, Lind was only twenty-three, only had 185 AAA at bats, had a very strong track record in the minors, and had hit .299/.354/.471 in AAA that year - he was clearly the left fielder of the future, if not the present. In any event, left field appeared to be a strength for the Jays, as a Stairs/Reed Johnson platoon figured to produce a line of about .365/.475 - excellent production from left field.

Then came the Shannon Stewart signing. After already signing Johnson to a contract, the Jays cut him and basically installed Stewart as their every day left fielder. Stewart is, like Johnson, a right handed hitter. One of the reasons the Jays chose him, however, was (apparently) because he had less of a platoon split, and could thus play every day. A few key points here: Johnson is three years younger than Stewart, a much better defender, and was a better hitter over the preceding three years (each missed one of them due to injury). As I wrote at the time, "the obvious implication here is that Reed has lost a step after the injury...For what its worth, Zips sees Johnson having a better year than Stewart." Well, clearly Johnson hasn't lost a step to injury, as he has been about as productive as one would expect (.271/.343/.387) playing more against righties (his line against LHP is .319/.414/.458). He has been a much better hitter than Stewart, who hit a dreadful .240/.325/.303.

In any event, we all remember what happened next. Stewart became the every day left fielder (Stairs has started 7 games in left all season), Lind was called up for 19 at bats, failed, and was sent back down, and for a month Stewart, Mench and Wilkerson were shuffled through left field, until Lind was finally recalled and inserted, for good, into the starting lineup. To my mind, the thought process here is helplessly muddled, if not outright wrong. First, the Jays re-signed Stairs and Johnson, presumably to platoon together. Johnson is cut, and Stewart is signed to essentially be the everyday left fielder. So in the span of two months, the Jays went from having a good left field platoon to having one terrible left fielder. If neither Stairs nor Johnson were good enough to play regularly in a platoon, why were they signed in the first place? If they were good enough, why was Shannon Stewart, a player who hit .290/.345/.394 with poor defense the year before, signed to play left field? To make matters worse, why was Lind only given a twenty at bat tryout before being sent down to AAA again? Either he was good enough or he wasn't - 20 at bats isn't a long enough time to determine anything.

This lack of foresight also relates to the DH situation. I will be the first to say that I thought Thomas was done as a hitter, I really did. He basically could only hit breaking balls or bad fastballs, in my opinion. There is a reason, however, that we talk about sample sizes. After hitting .167/.306/.333 as a Jay, in only sixty at bats, Frank has hit .319/.417/.516 as an A in ninety-one at bats. Thomas is neither that good, or that bad at this stage of his career. But given his age and reputation as a slow starter, it seems like giving up on him after three weeks was not a smart decision. The fact that the reason was the Jays couldn't afford to give away games when they expected to be in the race rings a bit hollow, given the Stewart situation. It is clear that Thomas was released because the Jays wanted to prevent him from reaching his vesting option. Between March 30th and April 20th Frank Thomas' contract didn't change though . This was another issue that was easily foreseeable, and which wasn't foreseen. Why not partially platoon Thomas with Stairs? Or try to resolve the issue before the season began, so that it wasn't a distraction? Were the Jays going to keep him if he had succeeded for the first three weeks of the season? Three weeks isn't really enough time for anything in baseball. The only thing I can say here is that there was clearly a lack of any foresight on the part of Ricciardi and the Jays organization.

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that Ricciardi excels in an very underrated aspect of running a ball club - finding above replacement level players for cheap. In this regard he has made a number of astute moves. Of the 25 players currently on the active roster, eight were brought in by Ricciardi before or during this season (nine if you want to count Carlson). Many of Ricciardi's smaller acquisitions in the past year - Scutaro, Parrish, and Camp - have worked out reasonably well, and some - Barajas, Carlson, and Inglett - have worked out brilliantly. His poor acquisitions, such Zambrano, Benitez, and Mench, have been discarded relatively quickly - with the fatal exception of Shannon Stewart. His big trade over the off season, Glaus for Rolen, has worked out about as well as possibly could have been hoped. Lastly, David Eckstein has certainly not been whats wrong with the Jays - he is basically tied for the best OBP of any starting shortstop in the AL.

On the whole, it seems that Ricciardi has struggled with the big picture, and struggled is putting it mildly. Being very good at acquiring average role players is great, until all of a sudden your team is full of average or slightly better than average role players - Zaun, Overbay, Barajas, Inglett, Camp, Carlson, Eckstein, maybe Litsch - and above replacement level backups - McDonald, Scutaro, probably not Wilkerson. What is also bad about this approach is that it effectively blocks young talent from reaching the majors. Lind was stuck in AAA because of Shannon Stewart, when the odds of Lind being the better hitter were great. Benitez pitched in high leverage situations because he was a veteran. Ohka, Thompson and Zambrano were each given an opportunity before Marcum, McGowan and Litsch last year. As Alex Obal said before the season, "It seems like the pattern of thinking tends to go, sure, the guys we have are okay, but this guy used to be amazing. Let's give him first shot. It's not like we have anything to lose. Then it turns out we did, oops, and maybe we'll have more faith in the kids in the future. Maybe. "

The Rios for Lincecum trade chatter during this past offseason is another example of a muddled organizational plan. The Jays have been one of the worst hitting teams in the AL this year - and have one of the best pitching staffs. While Lincecum has been a more valuable player than Rios this year, and will certainly be going forward (considering salary), the difference between him and Jesse Litsch is probably less than the difference between good Alex Rios and Shannon Stewart or Brad WIlkerson, especially considering defense. This isn't a qualitative analysis of that potential trade, but speaks to the underlying problem of the Jays composition as a team.

The Jays were certainly not a heavy favourite to make the playoffs heading into this year, and the consensus (which I am not sure I agree with) is that they will be worse next year. They have a high payroll, and a mix of veterans and young players neither suited for now nor the future. I don't know whether Ricciardi will be the Jays General Manager next year, or whether he should be, but there has to be some sort of organizational plan put in place, or else this team is not going anywhere.


04 July 2008: JP Ricciardi: A Year in Review | 92 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mylegacy - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:30 AM EDT (#188331) #

I have very little concern with most of the above moves.

My concerns about the future of the Jays could be JP's fault or  - more likely - the fault of those above him in the organization. Unless you finish last every year for a decade or so - like TB - you CANNOT build a team using ONLY the draft. To make matters worse JP was trying to build a team not only relying on the draft BUT, only relying on college players in the draft. You need to be active in the latin market and nowadays the Japanese market as well. We cannot afford to pay top dollar for all the free agents you need when you don't bring in much talent at the bottom. If you can't finance the big dollars to compete with the AL East giants then at LEAST supply enough money for us to really grab goodies in the draft, Latin America and Japan. OR, at the very, very least give the team enough money to really ACE the draft. Had JP the resources to ACE the draft I wonder what this organization would look like.

Getting rid of JP is not the answer - unless whomever replaces him is given the resources to get the job done.

brent - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:47 AM EDT (#188332) #
At mlbtraderumors.com you can see the transaction profiles of a few GMs. I think most of them spend time picking up minor players and hoping they pan out. Most GMs seem to be merely treading water with their transactions, but they are always trying to find a gem for nothing. I thought the consesus was that Stewart was the right move (I would not have signed him after already having Johnson), so it is mostly with hindsight that people will pick that apart. I think we should begin to heavily weight what JP does at the deadline. If it is not satisfactory, it will be time to free Lacava.
rpriske - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:39 AM EDT (#188333) #

Interesting...

TSN is reporting that the Jays are shopping Burnett for a shortstop and the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the O's are interested in Eckstein.

 

 

John Northey - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:42 AM EDT (#188334) #
I know I debated Stewart for Johnson and figured it wouldn't be a big difference either way.  The key wasn't the players but how they were used. 

In game decisions do have an effect, but the biggest decider of how a team does is in who you put into the lineup in the first place.  Cito has his blind spots (Scutaro seems to be his now but with a 349 OBP we can live with it) but at least he isn't sticking a poor defensive LF who cannot hit in the lineup everyday.  Wilkerson has shifted to backup status (13 PA's in 7 games no hits 3 walks) while Lind is playing everyday (8 games, 31 PA's 333-367-704).  At SS he has mixed Eckstein (8 games 26 PA 227-346-273) with McDonald (5 games 13 PA 231-231-231) and Scutaro (11 games 52 PA 304-360-304 mixed between 2B and SS) plus Inglett getting some time at 2B (8 games 30 PA 400-483-560).  Btw, does anyone know why Inglett hasn't played since June 28th?

Cito seems to be trying to figure out if guys had talent and just lost interest under Gibbons or if they just aren't worth the time.  Clearing out Eck would be a good thing now I suspect so that playing time can be mixed more to those who deserve it (Scutaro & Inglett) with McDonald being the pure backup he is.

Thomas - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:48 AM EDT (#188336) #

Actually, the reaction to the Johnson move was pretty mixed. A good number of people said that if Johnson was healthy, they would have preferred him. Some, myself included, criticized it strenuously at the time and have been proven right in hindsight.

Anyhow, good summary Anders. I agree wholeheartedly with the criticism of the way Lind has been handled. As for Thomas, I wasn't convinced he was done as a hitter (I don't think), but you're right in that there was a lack of foresight given his vesting option. If the front office believed he was close to losing his talent as a hitter, why was he given a vesting option in the first place? The inclusion of the option to begin with was strange. It's hard to get any clear evidence on this, but I'm not convinced it was necessary to include it in the first place, as were that many other suitors lining up to give Thomas two guaranteed years and $18 million in the first place? However, it's also fair to note that Thomas made a bad situation much worse. I'm not sure it was handled in the best possible manner by publicly announcing Thomas' benching, but it seems that Thomas was unwilling to accept a platoon role and would have created a disruption in the clubhouse.

I'd actually disagree with regards to the Lincecum-Rios move. I think the Jays saw a good young pitcher on a team that had several others, most notably Cain, but which was starved for offence and tried to make a move to acquire him. The Jays strength is absolutely pitching (although it'd be hard to say anyone foresaw Marcum and Litsch pitching this well or that they will pitch this well going forward), but if you can acquire a Lincecum for Rios you absolutely do it every time, regardless of the composition of your MLB team. Given the attrition and injury rate of pitchers 'you can never have too much pitching' isn't far from the truth. If the Jays had successfully traded for Lincecum, they likely would have had Lind starting for most of the year in his place, which probably wouldn't have hurt the offence. Even if it did, the Jays would be in  position to trade AJ Burnett for hitting (or for prospects and deal those or other prospects for hitting) if they wanted, given that they'd have Halladay, Lincecum, Marcum, McGowan and Litsch going forward.

I agree with your larger point that there doesn't seem to be a coherent organizational plan to the Jays front office like you can detect in some other teams, but Lincecum for Rios is much more an example of trying to acquire an elite young talent than a further example of a lack of organization, in my opinion.

Thomas - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:51 AM EDT (#188337) #

Btw, does anyone know why Inglett hasn't played since June 28th?

I suspect it has a lot to do with facing three southpaws in the four games they've played since then, with the other starter being knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Thomas - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:54 AM EDT (#188338) #

..have been proven right in hindsight.

Sorry if that comes off egotistical (which it probably does). The Johnson move is my pet peeve of the last few months and likely won't go away for a little while longer. I did think it was wrong at the time, which makes it even more frustrating. Anyhow, I've been wrong on many things before and will be wrong on more things in the future.

The_Game - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 09:14 AM EDT (#188339) #

A few thoughts:

The Shannon Stewart signing was most likely made when the Jays decided that they would release Frank Thomas if he struggled at the beginning of the season. They didn't want to play Reed Johnson full time in left (after moving Stairs to DH), and they thought Stewart would be the better full-time option as he is the better hitter (or was?). This was clearly a huge mistake, but it wouldn't have been that big of a problem if they had decided to leave Lind up in May.

Armando Benitez really wasn't a bad signing. He had a .64 WHIP and .125 BAA agaisnt right-handed hitters (1.02/.194 career), and if he was used only agaisnt right-handers, he likely would have been the best RH reliever on the team. His usage was the problem (and the fact that he was released after 1 bad outing), not that he was actually signed. It was worth a shot, and he still clearly had his skills intact.

Also, I hardly see how you can fault JP for going after Tim Lincecum. Lincecum has a chance to be one of the best pitchers in the league for a long time (in fact, he is in the middle of a great year with a better FIP than Halladay right now), and if the Jays were able to get him for Alex Rios, it would have been an absolute steal. JP knew that, and Sabean (unfortunately for us) eventually figured it out. It doesn't matter whether the offense would have been hurt, you have to take opportunities like that as a GM.

I still think the biggest mistake this team has made this year was the refusal to sign one of the best hitters in the major leagues (followed closely by continuing to play the worthless Stewart for so long). I felt it should have been done before Spring Training had happened. You could have put him in a platoon with Thomas (thereby limiting Frank's at bats), and also played him in left field a bit. As a result, Stairs could have actually done what he should be doing at this point in his career. Be a bench player/pinch hitter. As far as I'm concerned, there was no excuse to not do it after releasing Frank, but this wasn't on JP, it was on Paul Godfrey.

jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 09:27 AM EDT (#188340) #
Great summary!

The 'lack of a plan' argument should be patently obvious to all by now, and is clearly a huge failing.

What boggles my mind, absolutely stuns me, is the number of people on this site, who's opinions are almost invariably interesting, thoughtful and well-supported, who believe Riccardi still deserves a chance.  My summary.

-7 years without sniffing, even a hint, the playoffs after the break
-numerous bad long-term contracts that will hurt us for years to come (Overbay?  Wells? Ryan?   maybe even Rios and Hill, moves I liked at the time)
-repeated opportunities to cut bait on a lost season and restock with prospects in trades for veterans missed
-a mediocre at best farm system
-no interest whatsoever in finding undervalued assets not on the Jays radar (Japan, Latin America, etc)
-several mediocre managers
-a problematic relationship with Jays fans and media

And this is somehow offset by his finding a serviceable bullpen and salvaging some useful scrapheap type players? 

I don't get it!



greenfrog - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#188341) #
Great analysis. I agree with the central conclusion that during JP's tenure, the front office has lacked a clear plan for the future, which in turn has left the team in its current state (a muddle).

Lately I've been thinking that the A's may have had the right idea in using JP as an assistant GM. I'm speculating, but perhaps the Beane-JP-Podesta hierarchy allowed Beane to chart the team's overall strategy (probably with a lot of micromanaging), while allowing Ricciardi to do what he does best: making proposals about individual transactions (typically involving undervalued or overlooked role players).

I hope that JP makes an effective deadline deal or two, but either way, I think that the team should fire Ricciardi in the off-season and move on. As Jeff Blair wrote earlier this year, "it's time."
Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:01 AM EDT (#188343) #
Stewart over Johnson was not, in and of itself, a bad decision. Johnson was coming off back surgery, and Stewart was more likely to be a productive everyday player. (So why sign Johnson in the first place? I think it was mentioned that Stewart's pricetag dropped dramatically over the winter - he was likely asking for much more in November than he eventually signed for in January.)

Obviously, Johnson bounced back from his injury as well as could possibly be expected, and Stewart pretty much fell apart. That's bad. But Stewart was still pretty cheap, so not a lot was lost - and if the Jays had cut him at the end of April and brought up Lind, the situation wouldn't have looked nearly as bad as it did. Which, as mentioned, is something Ricciardi is normally good about: Sign a guy cheap to see if he's got anything, and if he doesn't, cut him. I'm not sure why Stewart got so much more patience than everyone else.

Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#188344) #
-a mediocre at best farm system
-no interest whatsoever in finding undervalued assets not on the Jays radar (Japan, Latin America, etc)


Both these things have been significantly improved in recent years. The 2006 draft produced one of the top hitting prospects in the minors, and the 07 and 08 drafts have been highly regarded. And the Jays have significantly increased their scouting in Latin America with players like Kenny Rodriguez, Balbino Fuenmayor, and others.

This is the weakest argument against Ricciardi: Firing him because of a poor 2005 draft is pretty stupid when the years since have been much better and demonstrate that he's learned from his mistakes.

christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:20 AM EDT (#188345) #
Calling the release of Johnson a terrible move is silly. He's got a 91 OPS+ this year and in Toronto a) would have had to face more righties b) would be making over $3 million.

Stewart obviously wasn't the answer. The answer was and is Adam Lind. I'm glad Johnson is gone, the silly man-love the organization has had over him was ludicrous and the way he was used in 2007 indefensible.
Anders - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:32 AM EDT (#188346) #
Obviously, Johnson bounced back from his injury as well as could possibly be expected, and Stewart pretty much fell apart. That's bad. But Stewart was still pretty cheap, so not a lot was lost - and if the Jays had cut him at the end of April and brought up Lind, the situation wouldn't have looked nearly as bad as it did. Which, as mentioned, is something Ricciardi is normally good about: Sign a guy cheap to see if he's got anything, and if he doesn't, cut him. I'm not sure why Stewart got so much more patience than everyone else.

The thing is is that there is a cost to this - having Stewart's terrible bat in the lineup for a month or two has a definite cost. If the Jays didn't think Reed was going to be able to play well this year, they shouldn't have signed him to a contract in the first place. If the team thought they we're going to be forced to replace Thomas, and thus needed an every day left fielder, why not platoon Johnson and Lind? Even if they were going to keep everyone, why not keep Johnson as a 5th outfielder, making the bench Stairs, Johnson, Barajas and one of Scutaro/McDonald? I guess the Rolen injury necessitated having an extra infielder, but is Reed really less valuable, on the whole, than McDonald? Or whoever the 7th man in the pen is? Maybe the Cito thing changes stuff, but I really believe that if Stewart hadn't gotten hurt and GIbbons hadn't been fired, Stewart would be starting four times a week. The Jays simply didn't leave themselves any options, especially when they sent down Lind the first time this year.

As for the Lincecum thing, I think it was a good trade, and Lincecum will certainly have more value for the money over the next four years than Rios. Given that the Jays want to contend right now though, it seems like it would have been a lateral move at best for this year, given that the outfield minus Rios would have been Wells, Stewart, Stairs and Johnson, and Lincecum's replacement in the rotation is Litsch. My criticism here is more to do with a lack of a plan as opposed to the particulars of this specific trade. I'm sure that its more than possible that I am wrong in my analysis though.
christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:41 AM EDT (#188347) #
Lastly, I think everyone who thinks there is a lack of plan is missing the obvious. How can you call a team that has so many positions locked up with long term contracts as having a lack of plan. This team *IS* JP's long term plan. There are moving parts at C, SS and LF (although I hope we'll be able to say by the end of the season that LF is solved). DH for better for worse, is now again back to a position used to maintain roster flexibility and get players ABs. So two positions aren't planned for long term. Bullpens are always in flux. The Jays have control of 3 starters long term and Halladay hopefully is a Blue Jay for life.

To call JP out for having no plan misses that the team on the field is a long term plan. As for a long term plan for getting better - how does a team that is near itself imposed salary limit get that much better at positions where scarcity is the highest? That's hard. JP has done well in the last two years... Eck/Scoot/Zaun/Barajas aren't all-stars but they are the sort of glue players teams need. Anyone remember Borders? Manny Lee? Dick Schofield?

We're seeing the plan on the field. You can criticize JP for not putting enough firepower in the lineup... but the tradeoff was supposed to be good defense. Sadly, Rios has gone back to being a groundball hitter. Hill has lost his way. Vernon isn't his 2003/2006 self which he needs to be on many levels. Rolen is aging. Overbay is getting on base and there's nothing wrong with his contract or play.

JP at the stage where he's implemented his plan - if the Jays had any luck and were merely preforming as their first, second or third order wins were suggesting, I think many of the criticisms would be glossed over. Any plan looks muddled when a team underperforms as badly as this, but I think any honest summary of JPs last three years would include exactly two bad moves, signing Thomas (major) and not replacing Gibbons after 2006 (minor)... and a ton of moves that don't look good now, but made a ton of sense the time (including turf Reed Johnson, which is at very worst, a minor move... 4th OF don't win championships).
Ozzieball - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#188348) #
Sorry if that comes off egotistical (which it probably does). The Johnson move is my pet peeve of the last few months and likely won't go away for a little while longer. I did think it was wrong at the time, which makes it even more frustrating. Anyhow, I've been wrong on many things before and will be wrong on more things in the future.

Cutting Reed Johnson and replacing him with Shannon Stewart was unambiguously the right move. Reed was a backup outfielder coming off major back surgery, making significant money (3.5M), and his main asset - hitting LHP - was duplicated by Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, and Frank Thomas. What Stewart brought to the table was a (much) cheaper contract, more dependability (i.e. not coming off major back surgery), and provided a skill - hitting RHP - which had been a major achilles heel to the team the year before.

To take Reed's and Stewart's numbers now, and to make an argument based on those, is intellectually dishonest. Baseball is a game of luck, so much so that luck dwarfs most other individual factors, that moves can only be analyzed from the point at which they are made. To do so now is akin to the roulette gambler putting money on 35, since 35 came up the last two spins.

The 'lack of a plan' argument should be patently obvious to all by now,

Obvious in that it is at best a vain fantasy with minimal-at-most basing in reality. First of all, he has quite obviously had a plan. For example: signing the shmucks (Zambrano et al) to start in the rotation in 2007, and then bringing up McGowan and Marcum later so he didn't have to rely on the kids for 200 major league innings. Also: keeping Adam Lind in the minors. Do you think he was keeping Lind down because he didn't think Lind was good? Second of all, that people are lambasting Riccardi for "not sticking to the plan" is stunning. Is he not supposed to adjust to whatever the current situation may be? Is he not supposed to take advantage of opportunities that fall into his lap (Rios for Lincecum which would have been highway robbery)? Is he not supposed to review his own plans, and change them if they are either no longer suitable or could simply be improved upon? The "JP has no plan" meme is so offensive is goes beyond simply criticizing a baseball GM and becomes in itself an attack on the simple existence of critical thought.
Anders - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:55 AM EDT (#188349) #
Calling the release of Johnson a terrible move is silly. He's got a 91 OPS+ this year and in Toronto a) would have had to face more righties b) would be making over $3 million.

Shannon Stewart has an OPS+ of 71, and the difference defensively between the two is quite large. For what its worth ZIPS saw Johnson as being the better hitting player this year, and the difference between the two of defensively is quite large. Stewart is costing, in effect, $2.25 million ($1.5 plus Reed's 750k buyout), which is just less than Reed's $3 million.

Well the Jays as a team are hitting .236/.314/.324 against left-handers this year, and Johnson's three year splits against lefties are .305/.380/.451 (.319/.414/.458 this year), so he would have added a lot of value to the team.

The Blue Jays have, with a fair amount of success, used a platoon in left field in every year since 2002 (and part of 2003), when, ironically, Shannon Stewart was last the starting left fielder. I don't see why that arrangement had to end this year, especially given the large platoon splits of both Johnson and Stairs.
christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:57 AM EDT (#188350) #
If Johnson had the same ratio of L/R match-ups as Stewart has had his OPS would be .699 that's a terrible bat too... that's a terrible bat. Reed is a terrible bat as well. Why keep Reed as a 5th OF? Because he was making over $3 and there was every expectation that Coats could do the same job or better (wrong) and if not the team could get something better than Johnson for cheaper, which is dead right.

How is wanting to get better via a trade a lack of plan? What you prefer JP do, not get better when the opportunity presents itself? Why are you assuming that Rios/Lincecum would be the only move that would have been made? Perhaps AJ or Marcum/McGowan would have been traded (JP, from his talks on the fan, was obviously talking about Marcum/McGowan last year and many teams wanted them)... perhaps his plan, was, once he acquired Timmy, to make a deal for one of M&M?

The more I think about this article the more ridiculous it becomes. The idea that you can infer what JP was planning to do from the moves made is just plain wrong. You'll never know what moves were stymied or what moves he had in his plan that couldn't come to fruition.

Easily this is the worst long article I've seen on this site.
jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#188351) #
"This is the weakest argument against Ricciardi: Firing him because of a poor 2005 draft is pretty stupid when the years since have been much better and demonstrate that he's learned from his mistakes."

Ryan, it's absolutely true that Riccardi's drafts are improving, I agree.  But the 07 draft was a result of many draft picks, and sure, Riccardi signed those contracts so he deserves kudos for getting the compensatory pics - but the 06 draft was hurt by the loss of a 2nd and 3rd rounder, so that does balance out somewhat.  I don't have the in-depth analysis of the prospects that some people do, but I also agree that at first blush the 08 looks good. 

However, 2005 was not his only bad draft (2002) and drafting IS NOT the only way to build a farm system, and this is where he fails most in my books - name a quality prospect he's acquired in a trade, or via free agency (the two you mentioned are interesting but haven't shown much yet).  Despite his 2-3 good years at the draft table, I would argue the system (while somewhat improved) remains mediocre at best - as would much of the analytical community. 

christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:13 AM EDT (#188353) #
The difference is only so large because of the way Johnson is used. If the Johnson were used in the same way as Stewart was his OPS would be .699. That's a not a large difference from Stewart's .625. The Bill James projection saw Stewart as the better hitter... I don't think there's a single projection system that I've seen that saw Stewart as clearly worse than Johnson.


Johnson is over-rated defensively. Looking at the +/- system. The two aren't that different. Stewart's arm isn't good, but that's it.
The Jays are puzzling against LH this year. Who knows if Johnson doesn't fall into that with the rest of them if he's a Jay? No one could have foreseen the Jays problems against lefties this year.

How was using Stewart and Stairs ending the arrangement of a platoon in LF? It wasn't... however, JP rightly decided that with Stairs having to lift the heavy side of the platoon, a better hitter against righties would be needed. That's Stewart was necessary.
Lastly, let me apologize for how my last comment ended. That was uncalled for. I do however think the premise of the article is flawed and that the Stewart/Johnson decision wasn't terrible, but rather one that was easy to make at the time. (JP should have upgrade LF at the end of 2006. It was clear then that Johnson shouldn't have been more than the 4th OF.) I'm just tired of seeing that decision griped over by Jays fans. It has been blown way out of proportion. I've always disliked Johnson as a player and think he shouldn't have been turfed for a better talent a long time ago. His use as a corner OF as long as he was isn't defensible.
jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#188354) #
"The "JP has no plan" meme is so offensive is goes beyond simply criticizing a baseball GM and becomes in itself an attack on the simple existence of critical thought."

Excellent - I haven't been accused of attacking critical thought in too long!

I stick by my statement, but will respond to the semantic concerns here.  JP DOES have a plan.  It's a poor one that does appear to frequently change.   Witness:

Rebuild with the farm system for high ceiling talent- no more massive contracts (eg Delgado). 

Or maybe ... trade defense for offense (Hudson for Glaus) 

No!  rebuild with massive contracts for your own and others free agents and use the farm system to produce steady if unspectacular trade fodder and supporting talent.  (Burnett, Ryan, Thomas, Wells )

Oh wait!  We are a DEFENSIVE team - a .393 slugging is fine at 1B. 

Corey Koskie is the answer at third!  No ... Troy Glaus ... oh wait, he's often injured and we don't appear to have anyone in the system who can back him up ... Scott Rolen! 

The 'plan' does not seem to work long term, changes from year to year, and overlooks potential challenges - the injury problems the Jays have had wouldn't be so serious with a stronger farm system and bench to provide backups (although this has improved this year). 

There is plenty of evidence that the Jays plan is mediocre at best.  Seven years worth of it.  While I agree with many of your points Ozzieball, I don't think your conclusion adds up.  Yes Riccardi's made individual decisions that are justifiable - but that alone is not reason to keep him.  Not even his bad luck (of which he's had plenty) is enough - great performers, in any profession, overcome difficulties.
Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#188355) #
Well the Jays as a team are hitting .236/.314/.324 against left-handers this year, and Johnson's three year splits against lefties are .305/.380/.451 (.319/.414/.458 this year), so he would have added a lot of value to the team.

In hindsight, yes.

But Alex Rios' 3-year splits have him as a 293/349/495 hitter against lefties. This year, he's hit 227/263/330.
Rolen's 3-year:  236/325/400 (which includes his injury-plagued years; career, it's 280/404/506) 2008: 228/362/298
Vernon Wells:   3-year: 331/394/547 2008: 316/371/404

There was no reason to believe the Blue Jays would significantly struggle against left-handed pitching, and that made a guy whose primary offensive strength is hitting left-handed pitching less essential.
Ozzieball - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:27 AM EDT (#188356) #
Corey Koskie is the answer at third!  No ... Troy Glaus ... oh wait, he's often injured and we don't appear to have anyone in the system who can back him up ... Scott Rolen! 

While your entire post is a hodge podge of Morganesque thought, this line is perfectly emblematic of the sentiment displayed not just by yourself, but by seemingly everyone who complains about "PLAN". That you would hold moving from Koskie to Glaus to Rolen is staggering. Glaus is so much better than Koskie that I actually fainted three times while typing this post trying to figure out how anyone could complain about that. Rolen (while healthy) is an upgrade to Glaus, although one of the driving factors in making that deal was the fact that the Jays got three years of Rolen as opposed to one of Glaus. Glaus informed Riccardi that he would not be exercising his player's option for 2009 and asked for a trade because of the field turf. I would hate to see the caterwauling over "PLAN" if instead of trading Glaus for Rolen, Riccardi had instead been forced to shell out big money to Joe bloody Crede.

The 'plan' does not seem to work long term, changes from year to year
It should change from year to year. It should change more frequently than year to year. If someone drops a wall in front of you you don't continue forward and careen into it screaming "That's the plaaaaaaaaaaaaaan," and criticizing JP for not driving into the proverbial wall of Glaus' impending departure leaves me stunned.
PeteMoss - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#188358) #

If Marcum and Litsch hadn't unexpectedly blossomed into good MLB starters, the Jays would likely be sitting in 5-10 games further out of the playoffs right now.  In my opinion those two players off-set any bad luck that may have cost JP a few wins over the years.

This is a results business.  Are the Jays in any better position now then they were 3-4 years ago?  How long do you give JP to improve the team?  In business if you're not improving, you're dying as a company.  JP is not an elite GM, its time to cut him loose and find someone else. 

Squiggy - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:45 AM EDT (#188359) #
Don't we have to look at JP (plan or no plan) in the context of what the competition is doing though? In that light, I don't think there is anybody here who would argue that the 2008 Jays are closer - as an overall organization, not just the 25-man ML roster - to competing with the Yankees, Red Sox (and probably Rays now) than they were when he took over. Whatever his methods have been, the results have just not been there.

IMO, the biggest failing is that, despite finishing behind both the Yanks and Sox competition for the majority of JP's time here, he has been unable to improve the team substantially through the draft. This is only partly due to resources, the rest is due to this flawed strategy of excluding all but college players from consideration for many of the years of his tenure.

Many of the drafts have been brutal, and although some of the current AA prospects are great, but we've seen them flame out often enough too - if you're banking on the future being rosier, I would argue that other teams in the division have superior minor-league systems at present.
Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#188360) #
If Marcum and Litsch hadn't unexpectedly blossomed into good MLB starters

How is it unexpected when a pitcher with an excellent minor league record turns into a good MLB starter?
jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:51 AM EDT (#188361) #
Ozzieball, this is just my opinion here man, no need for the vitriol.

However, I'm not sure if you are actually replying to my posts specifically or more to the whole segment of the Box in general who decry the lack of a 'plan', as I never once suggest that Glaus is not an improvement on Koskie.  I was never much of a Koskie fan at all.  But cutting bait on him after one year, and swallowing the accompanying contract hit, is evidence of a lack of planning (is he or is he not the man we want at third?)  While we were lucky to net Wolfe in the deal, he was considered a non-prospect at the time.  And Glaus cost us Hudson and a wad of cash - both resources we could have used. 

Sure, things change from year to year - it's simply a classic use of the strawman fallacy to suggest that I don't think plans should adapt to circumstances and new understanding - that's a sign of intelligence.  What is not a sign of Riccardi's intelligenct planning is paying an extra 7 million plus a top young second baseman (who would fit quite nicely on the current team, BTW) for the privilage. 

And this is just one of the many examples of the lack of leadership and long-term vision (let's try a new phrase) that I've mentioned.  How about defending Riccardi's performance for the past seven years, if you think his planning is so solid? 

Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:57 AM EDT (#188362) #
What is not a sign of Riccardi's intelligenct planning is paying an extra 7 million plus a top young second baseman (who would fit quite nicely on the current team, BTW) for the privilage.

That only becomes a bad move if you forget about Aaron Hill, who was also a top young second baseman prior to a freak injury.
jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#188363) #
Aaron would also look great at short ...
Mike Green - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:13 PM EDT (#188364) #
The executive summary of Ricciardi 07-08, in my opinion:

LF/DH- not handled well at all
SS- handled well enough
C- handled very well
3B challenge trade- a net positive due to Rolen's defensive excellence
Rios/Hill long-term contracts- excellent value for Hill, good value for Rios (notwithstanding the poor first halves for each).

The original plan was to have Stairs in LF most of the time and Thomas as the everyday DH in 2008, but it was obvious early in the year that Stairs' hip woes would not allow him to play the outfield.  This should not have come as a shocker in light of Stairs' age.The backup plan of Stewart as an everyday left-fielder was poorly conceived to begin with, and worked out worse than could reasonably have been expected.

Perhaps the Stewart situation could be called a horrible mistake (do you realize that in the 50s and early 60s people used the word "boners" for these things without breaking into giggles) like the Clayton and Phillips fiascos of 2006-07.

christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#188365) #
Drafting has been another criticism of JP that I just don't get. It has been done to death but the way you've framed it (improving the team via the draft vs. sox and yankees... the Rays don't count as getting #1 over all picks for a decade isn't a strategy and it'd be suicide in Toronto) makes no sense. Aren't Marcum, Litsch, Hill, Janssen, Litsch, and now Lind (plus 2/3 of Overbay) improvement over what was here 5 years ago (the first two years JP just spent tearing up the team, so they don't count)? What has NY/Sox added from the draft in the same time frame? Not nearly as much. This may change in the future, but as you noted guys flame out all the time and over-hyped players like Hughes, Kenndey, Buchholz, Lester may all flame out. When it comes to adding young players to the line-up (let's forget the draft and just go with young players added). In the last few years the Yankees have added, Cano, Cabrera, Wang and Joba. The Sox, Papelbon, Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz and Ellsbury (maybe or maybe not add Masterson to that list). On the score of adding young talent, the Jays aren't behind the Sox and Yankees, they're ahead and that's even with not drafting over slot.

The draft criticism just doesn't hold any water, especially versus the Sox/Yankees.
christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:23 PM EDT (#188367) #
Poorly conceived... how? He's much better at hitting righties than Johnson and was starting come around prior to injury. Everyone knew Stairs couldn't handle the heavy side of the platoon. That makes the Stewart decision an easy one. It was the right one at the time. In retrospect it didn't work out, but if Stewart had merely repeated his 2007 numbers it would have been hailed as a great move.

Perhaps I'm different from most on this board, I've always liked Stewart and always disliked Johnson. Perhaps this clouds my judgement but given the irrational and silly statements that have been made in support of Johnson, I honestly doubt it. Turf Johnson was the right move for this team. Signing him to the deal in the first place was poorly conceived and even going into 2007 as the starting LF was a bad idea.

I think it was obvious that Johnson needed to go for this team to get better. Lind should have been given the job right from spring training, however, I think Gibbons really disliked Lind... I really can't find any explanation for it (if it was JP who was against Lind, he'd still be in the minors).
christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:29 PM EDT (#188369) #
Excellent comment. Couldn't agree more. However, I fear we'll see much more of the "JP has no plan" meme as the season winds down and calls for JP to be fired get louder.

I honestly think firing JP would be an absolute disaster. JP has a group that by all rights should be in the mix in the AL East for the next 2-3 years. Most positions are locked up. To change this group, any GM, just to put his stamp on the organization, would have and sell talent for pennies on the dollar who because of their contracts and under-performance won't net what they are worth.
Squiggy - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#188370) #

Well, I guess we disagree and admittedly it is subjective. Because (using the lists you generated) I would take either the list of Sox or (to a lesser extent) Yanks over the Jays list. Marcum is an emerging front-line starter, no question. Between he an Wang, it maybe a pick 'em.  And Hill is good overall and great defensively, although his offense has not yet reached the levels of Cano or Pedroia. On the Sox list, Papelbon, Pedroia and Ellsbury are top-end to elite-level talents at key positions, controllable for years. Both were passed over by JP drafts, incidentally. I love the Jays, but there is no way Janssen, Litsch compare with those guys. Lind might be a comp with Melky at some point, but it's just too early to say. He was awful last year.

I mentioned that AA players flame out, so its not fair to compare them with Hughes, Lester et al. as you have done. However, if you insist, that comparison makes  the Jays look even worse, because those players have at least had some success at the ML level. Their value (i.e. as trade chips etc.), whether partly due to hype or not, far exceeds that of the likes of the Jays AA guys like Cecil, Arencibia who have not even sniffed the majors yet. 
christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:38 PM EDT (#188371) #
Since this team hasn't been rebuilding or dumping players since 2005, how would JP have acquired prospects via trade?

Before that - JP had deals on the table for Delgado, Carlos just wouldn't wave his no trade clause. JP got a decent return for Stewart (Lilly). On the whole, when JP has been "rebuilding" he's never had anything of quality that could net prospects like a Haren or Hudson or Mulder or a Santana... the Jays just haven't been that situation.
For all the mediocre ratings of JP on the farm... the amount of good young players he's brought up has been astonishing. Marcum, Litsch, Hill, Janssen and now Lind. add those guys to the Ash left overs of McGowan and Rios the Jays farm has been quite good, especially given where the Jays pick year upon year in the draft (please don't bring up Tulo, he's not a good hitter away from Coors).
John Northey - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:49 PM EDT (#188372) #
A very interesting thread indeed with a few points of view being shown.

Thinks to factor in...
  • JP going away - the Jays would have to pay for JP for 2009 and 2010 which the number crunchers at Rogers would not like
  • Replacements and who would choose - odds are it would be decided by Godfrey and odds are Rogers would tell him he has a limited amount to offer.  Thus a new GM rather than a 'proven' one, and another learning curve for us to endure
  • The Jays being between 78 and 87 wins 5 out of 6 years, and in 3rd place 4 times with a 2nd and 5th mixed in
Things could be better, things could be a heck of a lot worse.  The Jays shifted from a high payroll team in the 90's to a low payroll team at the start of the JP era and now is a middle of the pack payroll team.  To finish middle of the pack when your payroll is middle of the pack is doing what is expected.  Others seriously considered (and publicly known) for the GM job were Paul DePodesta (1 1/2 years then gone from LA), David Dombrowski who took over the Tigers instead (GM as of 2003, president as of 2002 - 4 years worse than all but 2004, one 95 win season, then 88 and now around 500), and Dave Stewart (now working for the Players Association iirc).  Dombrowski had one amazing year in Detroit plus a few really bad ones.  DePodesta had less media savvy than JP (quite the achievement) plus seemed to have more people issues.  Stewart was the guy who pushed for the Williams/Hamilton trade.  Would any of these 3 have done better here? 

Note: Tigers Payroll: 2008: $137.6 million or about 40 million beyond what JP has (add A-Rod and $10 million more).  2007: $95.1 million, $13 million past Toronto's.  2006: $82.6 or $10.7 beyond Toronto's.  2005: $69 vs Toronto $45.7  Dombrowski has had higher draft picks, more money to spend on draft picks, and more payroll space than JP so be careful about thinking he'd have done a lot better than JP here.

Do I think JP is the best GM?  No.  Do I think he is the best option right now for the Jays?  Yes, as the other options have a lot of scary elements (could Godfrey go for one of the GM's who failed elsewhere or for a rookie GM who needs 3 more years to figure out things).  Give JP until 2010 and see what his later, better drafts produce then decide.
Squiggy - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 12:59 PM EDT (#188373) #
John,

That is a great comment but is all predicated on 2 assumptions, both of which I disagree with. 1) that Rogers would only allow a new (cheap) GM, and 2) that a new GM would be a poorer choice than an established one. I think that the GM salary is a trivial expense as part of the whole Rogers pie so I don't know that that would be a huge issue. Furthermore, many of the top GM's in baseball are young and inexperienced, and many of the widely-considered "bad" ones are established names. Admittedly, these are subjective and constantly-changing, but I don't think that young is inherently scary.

I don't think JP is great or horrible. But I think after 7 years we know what we have. I think we can do better by looking elsewhere, and should try to do so. I see what the Twins and A's are able to do year after year and wonder, why not the Jays? I am hoping the powers at Rogers agree, whether Godfrey makes the hire (doubtful) or not.



jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#188374) #
"Since this team hasn't been rebuilding or dumping players since 2005, how would JP have acquired prospects via trade?"

This team has been out of it, realistically, at the trade deadline every year under Riccardi - he's just failed to recognize this.  Also, it is possible to trade players for prospects and contend at the same time - just look at, say, Oakland, Minnesota, Arizona, all contending this year, all traded established vets for prospects this offseason.  I'm sure there are more examples - that's just off the top of my head.

"For all the mediocre ratings of JP on the farm... the amount of good young players he's brought up has been astonishing. Marcum, Litsch, Hill, Janssen and now Lind." 

That's 4 good to potentially very good players and one solid prospect in seven years - not impressive.  There are no stars knocking on the door at AAA, and in fact, very few high ceiling players in the minors.  We all know the exceptions to this rule, but there is a reason the big analytical guns - John Sickels, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America - have consistently rated the Jays poorly in terms of farm talent. 

For comparisons sake, Papelbon, Lester, Pedroia and Ellsbury were all drafted by the Sox in the same time, and I would take all four of them above any of the Jays you mentioned with the possible exception of Marcum.  In addition, Masterson, Buchholz, Moss and Lowrie have already contributed to the big league team this year. 

All this while drafting well below the Jays the whole time and competing / winning year after year.  that's a good front office.

ayjackson - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 01:14 PM EDT (#188375) #

For comparisons sake, Papelbon, Lester, Pedroia and Ellsbury were all drafted by the Sox in the same time,

Yes but the Sox had a plethora of 1st and Supplemental round picks in 2003-2006.  Earlier in this thread, you (I think) were hesitant to give JP credit for his 2007 draft, why give Boston credit for their drafts that were due to quantity of picks.  They had roughly 3 times as many top 50 picks as the Jays in those years.  We still got Aaron Hill and Travis Snider in the top 50 out of those years.

John Northey - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#188376) #
Squiggy: good point on how the budget for a GM shouldn't be a big factor but, given this is Rogers team, I suspect it easily could be.  Rookie GM's though do have a learning curve (see DePodesta, JP, Gillick and many others) which would mean no titles for a few years unless they have luck that JP definitely does not seem to have. 

As I've said before, I'd love to see Kim Ng become the first woman GM and doing that here just for the entertainment value (via our silly baseball media) if nothing else (and her past interviews suggest she would be a good GM - to the degree that any of us can know without seeing them in action). 

The Twins have been amazing, but they also had an ugly stretch just before 2001 to help build a farm system (4th or 5th for 8 years in a row, coming close to 500 just once).  Would many fans be left here if the Jays did that?  We see enough complaining over being around 500 let along being in Orioles territory for the better part of a decade.  Oakland had a 6 year stretch of ugliness to get the farm system they had but Beane has done an amazing job keeping it.  However, to require JP to be like Beane is asking a bit much as we'd probably go through dozens of GM's before getting that lucky again (ala Gillick). 

Now, if Gillick wanted to come back this winter would we want to see it happen?  A reunion of the team that brought us the 89-93 dream years (playoffs 4 out of 5 seasons) with Gillick and Cito would be interesting and Gillick has shown a talent for pushing teams into the playoffs everywhere he has been - here 5 times out of 18 seasons (0 in the first 8 years), Baltimore 2 out of 3 years, Seattle 2 out of 4 years (with 90+ wins all 4), Phillies 1 out of 1 seasons plus currently in 1st place.  Hmmm....
PeteMoss - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#188378) #
i'd love to have you guys as my boss.  7 years, minimal improvement (virtually none if you just consider wins and losses), one of the weakest farm systems in the MLB, increasing payroll, and a last place team that is virtually locked into place with long term contracts all over the field.
Barry Bonnell - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#188380) #

Do I think JP is the best GM?  No.  Do I think he is the best option right now for the Jays?  Yes, as the other options have a lot of scary elements (could Godfrey go for one of the GM's who failed elsewhere or for a rookie GM who needs 3 more years to figure out things). 

This would be "the devil you know" argument.

christaylor - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#188381) #
I just thought I'd add (because my comments this far have been way too pro-JP for my taste) that there another major mistake made by JP (although it is only a mistake if the self-imposed limit is what the Jays are currently spending right now, if it is $10-$15 higher then it doesn't matter as much) is signing BJ Ryan. This has nothing to do with the TJ surgery (which many people saw coming with that delivery) or with his performance but the idea of a closer at all. I agree with the idea that spending significant money on a closer is foolish. In the years Ryan has been here we could have had League, Accardo and Downs function as closers and not have been worse off. The team could have added another $10M dollar bat via FA and be *much* better off.

I love watching BJ pitch, but more than AJ (who I really hope JP trades for anything that is worth more than draft picks which is about any two successful prospects at AA or above) trading BJ would be a great idea. JP would immediately have a bunch of money to work with (along with AJ coming off the books that'd be $20M plus)... but sadly I doubt there are many takers for a luxury like an expensive closer, so I'll just enjoy watching BJ, all the while knowing that without a SS/C having an expensive closer is perhaps the worst decision JP has made (up there with Thomas).
Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:22 PM EDT (#188383) #
there is a reason the big analytical guns - John Sickels, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America - have consistently rated the Jays poorly in terms of farm talent.

The "big analytical guns" have also missed the boat several times on Jays prospects. Shaun Marcum is the same age and has had a significantly better career than Dustin "Ace Pitching Prospect" McGowan, but was never heralded in the minors. In 2006, BA ranked Jesse Litsch as the Jays 8th-best prospect - behind such achievers as Romero, Patterson, Thigpen, Rosario, and Magee. Litsch is 23 and has 200+ innings in the majors, with an ERA+ of 113, just four years after being drafted - much better than far more highly-touted prospects like Hughes or Bucholz.'

None of which is to say that those other prospects shouldn't have been highly ranked, but rather that there may be things they aren't looking at.
Ryan Day - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#188384) #
but sadly I doubt there are many takers for a luxury like an expensive closer

I think you're wrong about that one: The Brewers gave Eric Gagne $10 million, after one okay season and two years lost to injury. And the Brewers are generally thought of as a pretty smart and efficient team.
jerjapan - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#188385) #
"The "big analytical guns" have also missed the boat several times on Jays prospects. Shaun Marcum is the same age and has had a significantly better career than Dustin "Ace Pitching Prospect" McGowan, but was never heralded in the minors. In 2006, BA ranked Jesse Litsch as the Jays 8th-best prospect - behind such achievers as Romero, Patterson, Thigpen, Rosario, and Magee. Litsch is 23 and has 200+ innings in the majors, with an ERA+ of 113, just four years after being drafted - much better than far more highly-touted prospects like Hughes or Bucholz.'"

Absolutely.  There are no guarantees with scouting, and I think one of the reasons the Jays are rated lower by the big guns is that analysts value the toolsy 'high ceiling' guys over overacheivers like Marcum and Litsch, who have been great stories.  But for every Marcum there's a Josh Banks / Adam Peterson / Jamie Vermilyea type who doesn't make it. 

The safer college type pick with a longer statistical track record that Riccardi has favoured may be better used as trade bait (ala Peterson, Zach Jackson and Tom Mastny) or as bullpen arms - and this is an area where I think Riccardi could make further improvements, dealing established arms like Downs  (or Ryan for sure, if there were takers) and freeing up spots for the Mike MaDonald / Davis Romero type pitchers who might be able to help out a big league pen, or the David Purcey type prospect who could develop well in a low pressure setting.

Not to knock Riccardi's bullpen development, over the last three years or so it's been an undeniable strength of his.
Mike Green - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 04:00 PM EDT (#188389) #
The little guns here at Battersbox rated Litsch as the club's #9 prospect in 2006.  Prospecting whether it be for gold or major league ballplayers is, by its nature, inexact.

Now, it being Friday afternoon, how about a little baseball music?

92-93 - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#188390) #
"To take Reed's and Stewart's numbers now, and to make an argument based on those, is intellectually dishonest. Baseball is a game of luck, so much so that luck dwarfs most other individual factors, that moves can only be analyzed from the point at which they are made. To do so now is akin to the roulette gambler putting money on 35, since 35 came up the last two spins."

Ozzieball, I could be misunderstanding, but you seem to be contradicting yourself there. If you analyze the move at the time at which is made, effectively what you are saying is "well 35 has come up the last 2 times, so it SHOULD come up again". However, if you look into the future, and use their current stats, you can then go back and say, "Hey, maybe JP should have been able to foresee this, given such and such circumstances". Furthering your roulette analogy, you are basically saying that if 35 comes up twice, you should take it again, because it would be unreasonable to expect or predict anything else to happen.
Ozzieball - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#188391) #
Ozzieball, I could be misunderstanding, but you seem to be contradicting yourself there. If you analyze the move at the time at which is made, effectively what you are saying is "well 35 has come up the last 2 times, so it SHOULD come up again". However, if you look into the future, and use their current stats, you can then go back and say, "Hey, maybe JP should have been able to foresee this, given such and such circumstances". Furthering your roulette analogy, you are basically saying that if 35 comes up twice, you should take it again, because it would be unreasonable to expect or predict anything else to happen.

I invite you to reread my post - bear in mind now it was written in english - so that you may see that I stated quite clearly that at the time dumping Reed for Stewart was unambiguously the correct move. I also invite you to familiarize yourself with the game of roulette, and the functions of analogy with regards to argument. There is no ambiguity, despite your attempt at being a ten-pence.
Lefty - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 04:53 PM EDT (#188392) #
I'm surprised no one has thrown Cito's name into this discussion yet today.

Look I'm only guessing here, but I suspect when Cito was talking to Godfrey about his return he had some conditions.

I think those conditions be that he has complete control between the lines. He has control of over personnel decisions and the 25 man roster. He is consulted on 40 man roster issues and any potential trades, pick-ups and releases.

In other words, I think Cito is now part of the senior management team. If he is isn't I highly doubt he would join such a controversial regime.

If this is indeed the case then I am fully willing to let Ricciardi continue on as the GM for the remainder of this season and review the situation in October. Theres a fair chance with Gaston's real world experience and Ricciardi's considerable experienced gained over the past decade this could be a very good management team.



92-93 - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#188393) #
Wow Ozzieball. I guess you were the one having a hard time understanding what I was saying, because it was clear to me that you thought dumping Reed was the right move. Which again, to me, sounds like picking 35 again and again because historically it's been better than 34. And therefore, if 34 comes up, it was wrong to ever think it would change from 35. If you're not saying that I apologize, but you didn't need to be a total ******* with your response.
Glevin - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 05:15 PM EDT (#188395) #
"This team has been out of it, realistically, at the trade deadline every year under Riccardi - he's just failed to recognize this."

Great posts jerjapan. I am amazed at how many people are still on the J.P. bandwaggon. I really can't see any reason why he should keep his job. The Jays are a bad team right now and unlikely to get better anytime soon. (System rated 25th or 26th by Baseball America, I don't have the book in front of me, not a single good young position player, old lineup in general). I mean, how much leverage can you get out of signing Greg Zaun? He seems completely blind to the talent he has on the roster and his "plan" for the team never made any sense. His trades are almost always lateral-OK veterans for OK veterans. "He's done some OK things" is not enough to keep a guy after 7 years.
Hodgie - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 05:19 PM EDT (#188396) #
On a much more promising note, Notorious J dot P draft pick David Cooper's line in Auburn is now a helathy .347/.413/.583 after a single, double and two runs batted in in his first two plate appearences today. Go JP, I mean David. In a related story, there are some reports originating from Batter's Box correspondents/participants that somewhere in Toronto a blind squirrel finds a nut....
CeeBee - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 05:31 PM EDT (#188398) #

" not a single good young position player, old lineup in general)"

I presume you feel that Rios and Hill are neither  young nor good, but I agree that the lineup is old and most certainly not getting younger at this time.

patagonia - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:15 PM EDT (#188399) #
I wonder if the real villain here is Godfrey. The worst contracts...the Thomas signing, the Wells extension,  the Burnett signing,  the Hudson trade,  the BJ signing etc. could have been forced on JP by Godfrey and at the very least must have been done with his blessing.
Godfrey may be the one who puts the handcuffs on JP in the draft, not allowing him to pay over slot. Godfrey loves the big name signings that generate media attention and hoopla.
Does anyone know JP's salary?

R Billie - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:16 PM EDT (#188400) #
The Jays are far from old but are certainly a veteran team which all things equal should have players performing in their prime.  If the the last couple of years are any indication, this team full of players in their prime tends to work out to somewhere around .500 when all is taken into account.  The talent just is not here to compete with the richer teams and now teams like Tampa Bay who have been shrewdly stockpiling *top-end* talent for years and have bolstered their strong drafting with a number of lopsided trades that worked out heavily for them (mainly at the expense of the Mets and Dodgers).  They also traded from a clear strength (young, high ceiling position players) to address a need (pitching).

The Jays quite simply have been operating extremely inefficiently.  For every plus move (like bringing in Barajas for cheap or find a couple of starters after the first round of the draft in Marcum/Litsch), there tends to be an equal and opposite move.  Players tend to be paid out their maximum worth after career years (see Lyle Overbay).  The team's own free agents like Escobar are let go over piddly amounts of money (no third contract year?) while a couple of years later the tack is completely reversed and a very comparable pitcher in Burnett is signed for FIVE years at nearly twice the yearly rate.

Looking at this team, I can understand how it might seem capable of doing great things.  Which might be fine for certain divisions.  But the competition in this division is just to good to get by with a "pretty good" team.  You need an elite team.  It's very hard to have an elite team with no elite position players.  And the competition in this division is just too good to get by with "comparable" drafts.  You need to outdraft the competition AND out-trade them if you expect to be able to compete with significantly less money.  Something with the Rays of all teams have successfully done the last three or four years while the Jays have been further and further painting themselves in a corner with an increasingly inflexible and expensive roster.

I like Overbay...but there was no particular reason to award him a very big multi-year contract after he had his best season ever...he was still under control...at his age let him repeat it.  Hill and Rios were a bit more understandable being younger.  I think the number one problem with this team is that the most expensive player is Vernon Wells and he is far from the elite players in Major League Baseball.  He earned that money coming off a big year which he hadn't consistently produced in the past...and if you go down this list at all the bigger expenditures there a lot of guys that fit that bill.

Since 2002, JP has drafted one successful position player (Aaron Hill) and a second one (Adam Lind) was not played.  Neither is a top-end talent (good but not stars).  Snider and Arencibia should help but are at least a year away each.  To compete the Jays needed to have a pair of players like Snider and Arencibia maturing in the high levels of the minors each year.  But they haven't had much to show prior to 2006.  They went pitching heavy in those drafts and came up with an okay return considering the number of picks they used, including two first rounders and a supplemental pick that didn't really make it (Purcey, Jackson, Romero).  That vacuum of position players was never replaced in the minors until recently.
CaramonLS - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:20 PM EDT (#188401) #
And the Brewers are generally thought of as a pretty smart and efficient team.

Tell me when the last time the Brewers made the playoffs.

They are the furthest thing from a smart/efficient team. 
mathesond - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:27 PM EDT (#188402) #

They are the furthest thing from a smart/efficient team.

Really? Even further than the Pirates/Royals/Reds/Orioles/Giants?
patagonia - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:39 PM EDT (#188404) #
The Pirates/Royals/Os/Reds/Giants do it for a lot less money!
parrot11 - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 06:43 PM EDT (#188405) #
"More importantly, I am more concerned about how good of a GM Ricciardi is right now, as opposed to how good he was three years ago. It is of course true that decisions from several years ago continue to have an impact on the club (Frank Thomas anyone?"

I do have a problem with that statement because who is to say that JP wouldn't make the same mistakes he made three years ago now if he had the money. And I still can't understand the reason that this team signed Wells to his extension when they knew of his shoulder injury beforehand. While your analysis has some use, it's important to keep note that it doesn't come close to painting the whole picture. JP has had 2 big flaws that will prevent this team from having a shot at the playoffs:

1) Habitually signing players to large contracts after coming off of career years (e.g. Thomas, Vernon, Overbay, Hill, Rios) and taking high risk gambles on players with serious injury concerns (e.g. Ryan (bad mechanics), AJ, Rolen/Glaus). This buy high way of running a team has hamstrung itself financially in the longterm. Players who were assets before, no longer are in large part due to their contracts. I might be forgetting someone, but the only big money deal that has worked out has been Halladay's extensions.

2) Poor drafting mitigated by poor draft philosophy. People will point to JP changing his approach the last couple of years, but at this point it's too late (and I'm not convinced that going predominantly after really raw players early in the draft is the right idea either). A poor farm system is not something that can get turned around quickly. I'm willing to give JP the benefit of the doubt that the not going over slot approach is not his idea, but part of the job of a good GM is to sell ownership on necessary items. The draft remains the lone area that this team can substantially get better without investing too much money. Spending $3-4M extra each year in the draft probably eliminates the need to pay Eckstein $4.5M and JMac $2M to be stopgaps at SS and dramatically improves the organization's talent and the potential to make deals of substance. In turn that money could be spent on the draft, thus preventing similar bandaid expenditures and so the cycle continues.

So, while JP has had some success uncovering lost cost contributors, that has been more than offset by his poor big money busts. Essentially, JP has been penny-wise but pound-foolish.

As for the Reed vs Stewart debate, I said it was a significant mistake to release Johnson in favour of Stewart. I went a step further and said that it was a bad idea to depend on Stairs on being a significant contributor. I was for a Lind-Johnson platoon, although having Stairs around for another year in a limited role wasn't a big deal.

I agree with christaylor to some degree that JP has had a bit of a plan, albeit a very poorly constructed one. However, there's hasn't been any plan on how to improve this team the last couple years. Alot of the moves seem very random (for lack of a better word). The Vernon Wells extension comes out of the blue after the team strikes out on getting both Meche and Lilly. The Thomas contract seems equally "spontaneous." There seems like a whole bunch of throwing things against the wall to see what sticks after JP has painted himself financially into a corner. JP's plan for improvement this year was to improve the depth and pray for health, which seemed like a dubious proposition considering that it was unlikely that everyone would bounce back from their injuries to somewhat near their career year. Making the playoffs seemed to be too much of a shot in the dark than a legitimate possibility.

I think that the damage has already been done and this team as constructed will never have anything more than a remote shot at making the playoffs. Too much bad money spent and the strength of the other teams in this division are what killed the Jays chances of legitimately competing. I fear that this organization is convinced that this team is salvageable.
Glevin - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 07:00 PM EDT (#188406) #
"I presume you feel that Rios and Hill are neither  young nor good, but I agree that the lineup is old and most certainly not getting younger at this time."

Hill is 26 and a pretty good player, Rios is 27 and a pretty good player. These are definitely not the type of guys teams should be building around (neither is Wells or Overbay or Rolen or any of the Jays hitters for that matter). Lind has the chance to be a pretty good LFer as well. There is no Sizemore (25), Upton(23), Cabrera(25), Longoria(22), Markakis(24), Quentin (25), Mauer(25), and they haven't had a player like that in a long, long time.
Thomas - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#188408) #

Cutting Reed Johnson and replacing him with Shannon Stewart was unambiguously the right move.

This is going to be me sounding like a broken record, but......Many people would disagree with that and you can read the original thread to see it wasn't just me arguing against the move. There was no reason Reed should have had the same percentage of his at-bats against RHPs as Stewart has, as going into the season the right-handed part of the platoon was supposed to get the majority of his plate apperances against lefties (as he would split time with Stairs, with Lind in the wings). Arguing that Thomas, Wells and Rios were supposed to get the at-bats against lefties is silly, as there is still a LF who has to bat against lefties. The only reason Stewart got so many at-bats against RHPs was because Thomas was released and the front office refused to call up Lind. Thomas getting released was unknowable when Johnson was released (if JP foresaw this happening in spring training, that is an even harsher indictment of the original signing) and the way they handled Lind has been something we've nearly unanimously criticized.

There is no reason the RH part of the LF platoon should have had so many at-bats against righties. Plus, even given how many they have had, Johnson would still have a higher OPS than Stewart, along with his improved defence. Furthermore, Johnson had been better than Stewart overall in 2005 and 2006, so it was not unreasonable to expect Johnson to be better come 2008, especially given their respective ages and Johnson's injury in 2007.

Thomas - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 07:32 PM EDT (#188409) #

Replacements and who would choose - odds are it would be decided by Godfrey and odds are Rogers would tell him he has a limited amount to offer.  Thus a new GM rather than a 'proven' one, and another learning curve for us to endure

I think this is a little bit of a red herring. You seem to be arguing that a new GM has to endure a learning curve and while that may be true in a literal sense, it seems to be equated with a period where he will be making suboptimal decisions, and I don't think that's necessarily the case, at all. There's no reason a new GM can't surround himself with a couple of proven baseball people from his old or other organizations to assist with the transition and help the new GM adjust to responsibilities he isn't familiar with. I don't recall Theo Epstein or Josh Byrnes going through any extended learning period and I'm sure there are many other examples of new GMs out there who have done very well during their adjustment period. I don't think it's necessarily true at all that a new GM means the team is necessarily in for a rough or even medicore first 12 or 24 months.

You're also creating a bit of a Catch-22, as you argue that it would be bad to bring it a failed GM, but that a new GM means a learning curve, which seems to be associated with a negative outcome. Well, by definition most of the available GMs will be 'failed GMs', as the talented and succesful ones tend to remain employed (and when they're not they are often heavily sought after and Toronto is not the most appealing destination). If it's probably too risky to get a new GM and an old GM is likely to be a former GM for a reason, of course JP is going to look like the best option.

I'm not arguing either for or against JP being fired, but this isn't a particularly strong argument for him keeping his job.

williams_5 - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 08:03 PM EDT (#188410) #
I have to agree with 92-93. Ozzieball, it sounds like you are using an example of the gambler's fallacy when you are trying to describe hindsight bias.
John Northey - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 09:12 PM EDT (#188411) #
Looking back I don't think I was very clear about my own thoughts vs what I feel the misc Jay fans would feel.

My thoughts: JP isn't horrid (horrid is SF, Pittsburgh, KC, Baltimore etc.) and things could be a whole lot worse.  My feeling is a new GM would be worth pursuing but only if the Jays can be certain they are a solid choice due to a solid record previously as GM (such as Pat Gillick) or due to strong interviews and being in strong organizations (but still no lock they will be successful).  The average fan though will see it as the Jays saying 'nope, we suck feel free to ignore us again' unless a playoff run happens fast, as in the following season using players JP mainly brought here.

Looking at other teams the most obvious comparison is to the TIgers who hired a guy the Jays could've hired, who many feel have been successful while JP has been a failure.  Why?  Because the Tigers made the playoffs once thanks in large part to pitchers having career best seasons - over 110 in ERA+ but never before or since over 100 in Bonderman & Robertson plus 4 guys in the rotation getting 30+ starts which is very unusual .  However, looking closely what do we see?  A team that had a lower payroll and horrid record from 2002-2004 then had a massive payroll jump and (via Cot's Contracts) has spent from $10.7 to $39.7 million more than the Jays since.  Give any GM an extra $10-40 million and they'll look a lot better I'm sure, especially mixed with extremely high draft picks for the years before. 

When looking at it as a fan I fear what we'll see next.  Gillick was amazing, Ash sub-par but not horrid and JP is about average (using team records as a measuring stick).  Each made mistakes, each did things well.  JP and Ash seem more like solid assistants who were put into the head role when they weren't quite ready for it while Gillick took over a decade to figure out how to run a draft effectively.
Glevin - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 10:56 PM EDT (#188412) #
"Looking at other teams the most obvious comparison is to the TIgers who hired a guy the Jays could've hired, who many feel have been successful while JP has been a failure.  Why?"

For a number of reasons. Many people thought the Tigers were the best team in baseball heading into the year and have been a competitive team for a few years. The Tigers have drafted well(Verlander, Maybin, Porcello), have made great trades(Guillen for nothing anyone?), and signed big name free agents that turned out well (Ordonez), and gave playing time to no-name free agents that turned into important players (Thames) . The Jays have done none of those things (except the last a little bit). Yes, the Tigers spend more money, but they also spend it better.
jmoney - Friday, July 04 2008 @ 11:06 PM EDT (#188413) #
Well its 8-0 Angels and the Jays have found a new low to sink to. Can we finally fire the manager? Oh wait.... nevermind....
John Northey - Saturday, July 05 2008 @ 12:13 AM EDT (#188414) #
For potentially the 'best team in baseball' the Tigers sure haven't shown it.  Their best finish is a 2nd place wild card (admittedly with 95 wins) which came about via a few career years.  Next best since JP took over here is 88 wins which is very similar to the Jays getting 87 in '06.  The other 4 years they won 72 or less, two times below 60.  This year they have a winning percentage of 506 with a Pythagorean record of 500 vs the Jays at 477 (down a bit now) with a P of 535.  The Tigers with their 'great young staff' have an ERA+ of 91with one starter above 100 and their closer having more walks than K's.  The Tigers average age is 30.8 for hitters and 30.1 for pitchers.  The Jays are at 31.6 for hitters and 28.6 for pitchers (114 ERA+).  Baseball Prospectus' adjusted standings had the Jays at 48-38 this morning while the Tigers were at 43.5-41.5 - that is factoring in a lot of things to try to clear out 'luck' beyond the injury factor.

To me the Tigers are very, very overrated and have been for a couple of years.  They had one year where everything went right and they made it to the World Series.  Imagine if the Jays were allowed to go over slot ala the Tigers - I'm certain that JP (and any other GM with the $$$) would have taken advantage.  Imagine another $40 million being available to improve this team in payroll only.  That isn't chump change, that is enough for A-Rod and another quality player.

Also, there were no shortage of people thinking the Jays were about to become serious contenders in '03 (see Josh Phelps on the cover of Baseball Prospectus for an example).  What the 'general view' is and what is reality rarely match.  The Tigers are, at the moment, no better than the Jays if you look past the surface and might be worse.
christaylor - Saturday, July 05 2008 @ 12:14 AM EDT (#188415) #
...but I think the consensus on that one was it was a terrible deal, even at the time it was signed.
grjas - Saturday, July 05 2008 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#188425) #
"I think everyone who thinks there is a lack of plan is missing the obvious."

I think this is a fair comment. While I found his first 4 or 5 years confusing, JP has, since then, shored up the pitching, locked in some younger talent, improved the farm team, and tried to plug key holes. I was one of the many who was optimistic, coming into this season, that if things went right, we could have a reasonable shot at meaningful September games. But with Wells, Rios, Stewart, Hill, Thomas (initially) and others underperforming - especially the lineup's stunning inability to hit when it counts- well here we are.

I agree that the in-year moves have been odd- Stewart, Lind, Thomas, revolving door at short- but they smack of desperation from guys who know their job is on the line. Will JP be fired at year end? I expect so. As one Bauxite said this is- and should be- a results game. But I think saying there was no plan is wrong; there was a plan, it didn't work as anticipated and the panic started.
ayjackson - Saturday, July 05 2008 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#188431) #
No plan survives contact with the enemy. 
Wildrose - Saturday, July 05 2008 @ 06:29 PM EDT (#188440) #
I think it's of interest to compare Ricciardi and Dombrowski, as both individuals interviewed for the Blue Jays job. Dombrowski as I understand during the process chose to pursue the Tigers job instead.

At any rate, lets look at the numbers.

Win % past 6.5 years ( as of June 18/08)

-Ricciardi   .494

-Dombrowski .438

Advantage J.P. As to financial resources available to be spent on MLB salaries during this time period, we have the following 

-Ricciardi  $ 476 million

-Dombrowski $ 536 million.

Most of the salary increase for the Tigers has been in the past 2 years. Again given the win% and resources available Ricciardi appears to be doing a better job.

Is this the complete story however? Perhaps not. We need to look at what state of franchise did each G.M. inherit to  get  a more rounded  picture.

Here's the win % of each team in the 6 years prior to the Ricciardi/Dombrowski eras.

Tigers  .422
Jays   .499

Ricciardi  actually has a poorer  winning % than his predecessor, Gord Ash. Dombrowski has improved his organizations lot, but only by  a marginal amount.

Here's a list of the players Ricciardi inherited from Ash ( including those from the minors) and who are still MLB players

Orlando Hudson
Vernon Wells
Jayson Werth
Roy Halladay
Chris Carpenter
Brandon Lyon
Kelvin Escobar
Brandon League
Dustin McGowan
Rios
Gabe Gross
Ceaser Izrituris
Ryan Freel
Reed Johnson
Felipe Lopez
Vinny Chulk
Mark Hendrickson
Carlos Delgado
Shannon Stewart
Jose Cruz
Chris Woodward

Here's the Tiger list

Brandon Inge
Robert Fisk
Todd Jones
Fernando Rodney
Tony Clark
Damion Easley
Mark Redman
Jeff Weaver
Juan Encarcion

I think it fair to say the Tigers cupboard was basically bare, and that of the Jays not as bad as some may think.

One big difference as John alluded to, is that Dombrowksi has been to the playoffs. In fact of the 11 G.M.'s still active during Ricciardi's entire tenure , Doug Melvin is the only other one not  to have a playoff squad.  Winning certainly seems to quiet  the barbarians at the gate. Should Ricciardi mortgage the future  next year in an attempt to quiet the fan base and perhaps keep his job?


jerjapan - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#188448) #
Wildrose, it is a very interesting comparison between the two organizations, but as you point out, winning percentages are not the best way to measure the success of a franchise.  I would much prefer to endure a few terrible seasons to save payroll, trade talent for prospects, get better draft picks and give the kids a chance to play, all the while positioning ourselves for a serious run at the playoffs.  John Northey's intriguing critiques aside, I think many would argue that the Tigers were / are better positioned to compete going forward than the Jays.

Overall, to answer your final question, I'd suggest the opposite strategy to placate the fans.  Admit that the plan in place has failed, blow the team up (not a firesale) and attempt to restock the minors.  I would rather finish last twice and first once than 3rd three times in a row! 

John Northey - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 10:14 AM EDT (#188450) #
While I agree that falling to last for a couple of years (or more) would jump the odds of a playoff run something the suits at Rogers are paying close attention to is the bottom line.

Teams that do massive turnover to stay in contention (such as the A's) tend to have more difficulty making money than teams that stay at 500 with hope at the start of most seasons (such as the Jays).  Since 2002 the Jays had fewer wins than the A's in all but one year and never finished higher in the division standings (both finished 3rd last year).  However the Jays also had a higher attendance and per game attendance in both of the past two years and is on pace to beat the A's again this year - by between 4 and 5 thousand a game each of those 3 years.  In '02 and '03 the A's beat the Jays in attendance by 6567 per game and 5149 per game but, of course, they won their division both years and came off a 102 win season just before.  During the Ash years (when the A's beat the Jays in wins 5 out of 8 years) the A's only beat the Jays in attendance once, at the very end with that 102 win season.  So here is a team that consistently beats the Jays in the overall standings that has serious trouble beating the Jays in the box office without wining over 100 games (in '06 the A's won their division and had over 300k fewer fans come to see them than the 2nd place Jays did). 

Under JP the Jays have gone from 1.6 million fans in 2002 to 2.36 million last year, increasing each season.  What could cost JP his job, more than wins or losses or bad media statements, is that the Jays are now averaging 26,669 fans per game, or the lowest since 2005.  Note: the A's, despite their amazing season so far, are on pace for their worst since 2000 (another division winning year) and have been dropping in attendance each season since 2003.  Beane is amazing at putting a team together, but has no clue how to help put fannies in the seats outside of winning.  For those who say 'Oakland has no fans' remember that during the Bash brothers days the A's had over 2 million fans a year for 6 years straight with 5 of those years getting more butts into seats than they have seen since the strike, and being in the top 4 in the AL for attendance 4 of those years, twice in the #2 slot behind the Jays.

JP has a clear task for Rogers - get butts into the seats and ratings up.  Regardless of how.  Godfrey and JP have done just that.  To Rogers this is the first down year since 2002 in that respect.  If ratings and attendance climb in the summer then, regardless of record, JP gets another year.  If they drop then JP and maybe Godfrey are toast while Rogers looks for someone else.  However, I can say very confidently that Beane would be the last guy they'd want as Beane has shown he cannot figure out how to get people to come to games regardless of wins, regardless of the team across the bay having a sideshow or not, regardless of anything.  Toronto fans like stability - we like having players & coaches here forever (see the crowd going nuts for Cito) regardless of results (see the Leafs).  If the Jays won ala the A's, with guys coming and going through a revolving door, we'd see a bump if they made the playoffs but if the Jays slid at all the crowds would vanish. 

Wildrose - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 10:36 AM EDT (#188451) #
I don't think you can hold Beane's market size against him. It's much smaller than that of the Jays and they have another franchise the Giants, just a few miles away. Still I agree that holding a rebuilding type fire sale will not wash with Rogers.  I'm fairly convinced this owner is more interested in maintaining a constant reasonable cash flow than gambling towards a push for winning it all.
jerjapan - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 12:18 PM EDT (#188452) #
Interesting points about the market, I hadn't thought about the economic costs of finishing last vs. third, and John, you are right about the growth in attendance under JP.  I do agree with Wildrose though that it's not a perfect comparison with the much more challenging Oakland market vs. Toronto, which is in many ways Canada's team.  And let's not forget, we used to post huge attendance numbers back when we were winning consistently and the Dome was fresh. 

I do wonder how long a fanbase will content themselves with third place finishes though - especially if this one turns into a last place finish (I'm guessing we finish fourth myself).  JP has done a good job marketing hope, will the fans keep listening?  Many of my comments in this thread are based on the sense that a certain segment of the Box are pretty frustrated, moreso than I can ever recall in the several years I've been a regular.  Than again, we may not represent the average fan all that much.

Interesting thread guys - I've enjoyed reading your comments!

Dave Till - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 01:05 PM EDT (#188453) #
Something nobody has mentioned about the J.P. era: the number of players who stalled out at AAA and/or after one good year:
  • Eric Hinske was the Rookie of the Year, and then went phut.
  • Russ Adams stalled out at AAA.
  • Josh Phelps stalled out at AAA, after originally looking good enough to be on the cover of Baseball Prospectus.
  • Adam Lind might stall out.
This last is the saddest and/or unluckiest - when Phelps came up, I remember stopping what I was doing to watch him hit, because I figured something good was likely to happen. But he has a long swing, and he never adjusted.

As I've said repeatedly: the biggest knock on J.P. is that he isn't lucky enough.

Dave Till - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 01:07 PM EDT (#188454) #
Oops - bad proof-reading. Change "this last" to "Phelps".
Frank Markotich - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 01:11 PM EDT (#188455) #

Comparing the average attendance at this stage of the season with that for all of last year is a bit misleading, though. The Yankees haven't been in town at all yet, and the Red Sox have made one visit. Plus if I'm not mistaken, crowds are higher in July and August.

What was the average as of this point in 2007?

John Northey - Sunday, July 06 2008 @ 05:06 PM EDT (#188458) #
Good point Frank.  Just looked at the schedule part of B-R, put it in Excel and pulled the numbers.

2007: as of July 6th: 26,535 per game vs overall season at 29,144
2008: as of July 6th: 26,669 per game vs overall season at ???

Huh.  So the Jays are actually doing (slightly) better at this point of the season than last year for butts in the seats.  So I'd say JP is safe as a church mouse with the Rogers money men. 
robertdudek - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#188504) #
I'm sick of hearing Ricciardi apologists talk about his bad luck.

Over the span of seven years, every team gets injuries to key player. Every team has key players underperform, sometimes for years. I'd like to see someone make an objective case that Ricciardi has had more than an average share of "bad luck" in this regard over the entire length of his tenure.

As an example from this season, I'd point to the LA Angels. This team has had several key players injured in 2008, including:

John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar, Francisco Rodriguez (ankle problems at the beginning of the year), Chone Figgins, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Maicer Izturis and the latest - Mike Napoli.

And yet they have prospered because they have built tremendous organisational depth. Yes they have brought in key free agents (as have the Jays), but they have also drafted and developed an impressive number of young players while never having a high first round pick (Jered Weaver being a slight exception, because the Angels had the foresight of paying way above slot to get premium talent).

Looking at the Angels, it is clear that the manager and GM are on the same wavelength as far as the type of baseball they want the team to play. It seems like a cohesive unit and every player on the roster has a defined role and is successful at it. It is a pleasure to watch them play.

By contrast, when the Jays have had a plan to win games the "Moneyball" way (walks, homers, no bunts, no steals), they did not have the players to make it work. Then they brought in Glaus and Thomas so they could bludgeon teams - it didn't work because they couldn't get enough guys on base. Now they've shifted more towards little ball and get guys on, but there is a lack of power hitters to drive them in.

The fundamental reason the Jays under Ricciardi have not been able to score a lot of runs is that they are getting below average offense from the traditional hitter spots in the lineup - DH, 1B, RF but above all else LF. Unless you have superstars playing in the middle of the diamond you aren't going to build an good offense unless you get better production from the corners.

I think Ricciardi has done a good job building the pitching staff and expect that to continue. I have not seen any evidence that Ricciardi has a clue about how to build a good offensive team.

robertdudek - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 05:03 PM EDT (#188505) #
For those who say 'Oakland has no fans' remember that during the Bash brothers days the A's had over 2 million fans a year for 6 years straight with 5 of those years getting more butts into seats than they have seen since the strike, and being in the top 4 in the AL for attendance 4 of those years, twice in the #2 slot behind the Jays.

Well, yes. But they also had one of the greatest teams assembled in the free agency era. You put a team like that in Tampa Bay and I guarantee you they will draw over 2 million fans every year.

The fact remains that Oakland has always been a tough place to draw fans, and that has to do with the quality and location of the stadium and the presence of a fantastic park in the same Metropolitan area. To compare the way Oakland draws to Toronto, you should subtract about 700,000 from Rogers Centre yearly attendance.
Mike Green - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 05:38 PM EDT (#188506) #
You're not kidding that Oakland is a tough place to draw fans.  Check out the attendance figures for 1974.  The A's were on their way to their 3rd straight World Series championship with Reggie, Joe Rudi, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers and so on.  The A's finished 11th of 12 teams in attendance in the AL that year. 

Perhaps tough circumstances do concentrate the mind.

ayjackson - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 08:00 PM EDT (#188511) #

I think Ricciardi has done a good job building the pitching staff and expect that to continue. I have not seen any evidence that Ricciardi has a clue about how to build a good offensive team.

Yet if you look at his drafting, his good picks (Hill, Snider, Ahrens, Arencibia, Cooper?) have been hitters and his bad ones (Jackson, Purcey, Romero) have been pitchers.  [Then there's Russ.]

I think coming into this year, he had average to above average hitters at each position (Stairs/Lind, Wells, Rios, Rolen, Eckstein, Hill, Overbay, Zaun, Thomas).  For this to be a good team, it needs that elite slugger like Thomas use to be, or Rios could have been.  I think it is very much luck that turns that average to above average hitting prospect like Rios, Hill or Snider into that elite slugger like Manny, Utley or Bruce.

 

robertdudek - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 09:24 PM EDT (#188512) #
Yet if you look at his drafting, his good picks (Hill, Snider, Ahrens, Arencibia, Cooper?) have been hitters and his bad ones (Jackson, Purcey, Romero) have been pitchers.  [Then there's Russ.]

Way too early to say this about Ahrens, Arencibia and Cooper. And way too early to say that Purcey won't work out. And Cecil looks to me to have more future value than any prospect we have except Snider.

Hill and (most likely) Snider I'd agree are successful picks. But so is a guy by the name of Marcum. I still think Bush will be a decent major leaguer, which counts as a good pick too (besides which we got Overbay for two pitchers JP drafted). And it's not just Adams but also Thigpen that has been a disappointment.

In summation, I don't agree with your characterisation and find that there has been a mixed bag of good and bad picks among high round hitters and pitchers that JP has drafted.
robertdudek - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 09:47 PM EDT (#188515) #
I think it is very much luck that turns that average to above average hitting prospect like Rios, Hill or Snider into that elite slugger like Manny, Utley or Bruce.

Completely disagree.

While coaching can have some impact, the main factor that separates the Miguel Tejadas from the Felipe Lopez's is something intrinsic to them. Tejada was willing to work hard on his weaknesses and Lopez  apparently hasn't been. They were both great athletes as teenagers and young men but only one of them had the work ethic to make himself a superstar.

But comparing Rios to Manny is apples to oranges. Compare their minor league record age for age and you'll find that Ramirez profiled as a future elite power hitter. For example, at age 21 in AA and AAA combined, Manny had 44 doubles and 31 homers in 489 AB. He also hit .333. That was his 2nd and final minor league season before joining the Indians. He was one of those rare hitters that just dominates all the way through his rise in the minors.

Rios didn't have a great minor league record save for one year, but was considered a top prospect because his physical tools were so impressive. But he was a skinny kid who never hit for a lot of power in the minors. At age 21, Rios had 22 doubles, 8 triples and 3 homers in 456 AB and hit .305 in high A ball (Dunedin). The following year he had his great minor league season in AA, hitting .353 with 11 homers in 514 AB. He had a .919 OPS that year, but his next best minor league OPS was .752.

In short, there is no case to be made that Rios resembled Manny as a hitting prospect, either in type or quality.

Snider, on the other hand, does profile like a great power hitter. Essentially the first such hitting prospect this organisation has had since Carlos Delgado (though some will include Vernon Wells here, his minor league numbers do not support it).
Mike Green - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 09:49 PM EDT (#188516) #
It's funny.  If you look at it from the lens of 2003, you wouldn't have thought that offence would be the problem. Hudson, Hinske, Wells, Johnson, Phelps, Rios and Quiroz appeared to be  a promising base of players 26 and under to build around.  You would have thought that from among Wells, Phelps, Hinske and Rios, a consistently good middle of the order power threat would have emerged. It didn't happen, or, at least,  hasn't so far. 
ayjackson - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 09:52 PM EDT (#188517) #

Way too early to say this about Ahrens, Arencibia and Cooper. And way too early to say that Purcey won't work out. And Cecil looks to me to have more future value than any prospect we have except Snider.

Hill and (most likely) Snider I'd agree are successful picks. But so is a guy by the name of Marcum. I still think Bush will be a decent major leaguer, which counts as a good pick too (besides which we got Overbay for two pitchers JP drafted). And it's not just Adams but also Thigpen that has been a disappointment.

In summation, I don't agree with your characterisation and find that there has been a mixed bag of good and bad picks among high round hitters and pitchers that JP has drafted.

While it's way too early, too make assertions about draft choices, indications to date are that Ahrens, Arencibia, Snider and Hill were good picks, and that Romero and Jackson were not.  The jury's out on Purcey and Adams is a bust.  You were discussing JP's ability to build a team, so I left post-first round picks out of the equation.  Certainly, I believe he's assembled a good player development staff in Lacava, Lalonde and Scott.  Though I would not characterize them as good at recognizing hitting talent over pitching talent or vice versa, and I don't see the evidence to characterize JP that way either.

What would our staff look like without Doc?

robertdudek - Monday, July 07 2008 @ 10:10 PM EDT (#188518) #
You were discussing JP's ability to build a team, so I left post-first round picks out of the equation.

I don't follow your logic here.

Without Doc the pitching wouldn't look that great, but there are very few pitching staffs that would look good if you took away their best starting pitcher.
ayjackson - Tuesday, July 08 2008 @ 04:23 PM EDT (#188555) #

I don't follow your logic here.

I believe picks after the first round speaks more directly to the ability of Jon Lalonde.

Without Doc the pitching wouldn't look that great, but there are very few pitching staffs that would look good if you took away their best starting pitcher.

The point is Doc isn't a JP draft pick.  You said JP has a talent for assembling a good pitching staff, yet only Burnett amongst the starters was identified by JP and the rest were identified by Ash or Lalonde.  There were some good bullpen acquisitions by JP, but I'm not sure this is enough evidence to prove your point.

robertdudek - Tuesday, July 08 2008 @ 08:30 PM EDT (#188574) #
You said JP has a talent for assembling a good pitching staff, yet only Burnett amongst the starters was identified by JP and the rest were identified by Ash or Lalonde.

For me, everybody who works for JP is included when I talk about ability to put together a pitching staff.


ayjackson - Tuesday, July 08 2008 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#188575) #

For me, everybody who works for JP is included when I talk about ability to put together a pitching staff.

Fair enough.  I agree thus agree that JP has done a good job of building pitching staffs.  After a couple days of being disagreeable, I shall change my tune.

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