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Say what you will about J.P. Ricciardi -- most armchair critics will be roasting him on a spit for this move -- he has guts. Jose Cruz Jr. was unceremoniously dumped because the Blue Jays had two choices: pay roughly $5,000,000 for his services, or let him walk, and spend that money on more pressing needs.

This is what the market has come to, and the Blue Jays are going to be fiscally prudent, no matter what the average fan's opinion. In hindsight, you might think that they could have, and should have, traded Cruz for something, but no other teams are willing to take on mediocre, arbitration-eligible outfielders, with no control over what salary they might be awarded. Jose, and dozens of other players, have become "poison pills" nobody wants to swallow.
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The Blue Jays have signed Mike Bordick to a one-year deal worth $1 million.

Bordick will back up Chris Woodward. In point of fact, he will probably platoon with Woodward since Bordick hits lefthanders pretty well, Woodward not so well.

I don't know quite what to say about this, so I think I'll hold my fire for now.
I've seen some howlers in my day, some truly baffling trades. But Kevin Millwood straight-up for Johnny Estrada is climbing that list with a bullet.
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In BB #96, I mentioned I had a couple of thousand words to say about Charlie Hustle. Nobody here seemed to care; that thread got hijacked immediately. I know the subject is controversial; I'm aware that it polarizes people to extreme and inflexible positions. I understand if you're all tired of it and wish it would just go away.

For me, it's personal. I am a compulsive gambler, peacefully and gratefully in recovery for several years after nearly ruining my life by betting on horses. I don't judge Pete Rose; I empathize with him. I think it's as ridiculous to consider letting him back into the dugout as it is to exclude him from the Hall of Fame.

(August 12, 2003) Note: this piece was originally posted on a now-defunct site, but it has been added to the BB archives.
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I was going to post my thoughts on the Yankees' reckless pursuit of a Cuban pitcher and a Japanese slugger while they still have immovable contracts like Mondesi, White and Hitchcock, but then an e-mail arrived from Travis Nelson, whose Boy of Summer blog is quite enjoyable. I especially like his plan of playing Rondell in "left center field."

Batter's Box also got a nice plug there, so I want to inform everyone on my "staff" that they can take two weeks off, at triple their salaries. Thanks, Travis. I'll update the links to include you.

Though some find him less palatable than Richard Griffin, here's some thoughts from Mike Lupica on George Steinbrenner's obsession with "winning" auctions, tax consequences be damned. Poor Brian Cashman will have to dump players nobody wants into a market that isn't buying anyway. Awwww.
From Prospectus, the Week in Quotes.

Not that I had a very high opinion of Doug Melvin, Billy Koch or Jim Hendry, but they may be even dumber than I thought.
This could have been posted as a comment in the "other" thread, but today old Rich is back to his kinder, gentler personality. That's because he's addressing (IMO, rationally and correctly) the more general topic of MLB putting the screws to agents and their clients, free agent players.

There's information about "35 to 40" more players expected to glut the bear market on Friday when they are "non-tendered," and there's even (contradicting the columnist's usual stance) a Billy Beane quote suggesting J.P. should have been named Executive of the Year. Hints, presumably from the same sources, about John-Ford Griffin and Toe-Knee-Arm-Ass coming to Toronto. But you know R.G. will drink the vile potion again at any moment, and resume his monstrous, Jay-bashing rampage.
It's the great front-office debate of our time: who's right, the grizzled old scout or the brash young sabrmetrician? In many respects, it's the battle raging throughout the Blue Jays organization, as JP Ricciardi, Keith Law and other new-breed types clash with the scouting-friendly culture that, from all accounts, held sway over the club's decision-making process throughout the Gord Ash regime.
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Tired of your job? Looking for a career change? Then step right up to the Blue Jays' front office, because they're hiring! The GM position is filled, unfortunately, as is Assistant GM, Director of Player Development, and Consultant (Baseball Operations). But they need ushers, ticket takers, security personnel and a groundskeeper. Who knew that a groundskeeper's job included retrieving and returning balls hit into the stands at batting practice? I'd gladly be a pro bono groundskeeper for a day if I could keep 10% off the bat. And hey, Gord Ash started off in ticket sales. Though maybe that's not the best endorsement.

Yes, it's a slow news day.....
I will try to get another book review up in the next day or two. In the meantime, since we're in the silly season, what better silliness to contemplate than the Blue Jays' horribly-named "Level of Excellence"?
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Just a little "Where did they go?" update on another ex-Jay, Mike Timlin, now a proud member of the Red Sox bullpen. Apparently, the Sox are seriously considering a closer-by-committee with Timlin, Alan Embree and Bobby Howry. It's a good idea in principle -- exactly what I'd expect from Epstein and James -- but they may discover what Mike's previous employers have also found, that Timlin has the temperament to set up but not to close.
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Well, we can officially scotch the Russ-Ortiz-to-Toronto rumours: the Giants just dealt him to the Braves for another guy I rather liked: Damian Moss, plus a minor leaguer. Frankly, it seems like an odd deal for the Braves: why did Atlanta want to add an older pitcher with a higher price tag and worrisome peripherals when they already had one in Moss? In any event, there go two potential trading partners in one swell foop.

So, we'd best start cooking up some different Jose-Cruz-for-pitching rumours to keep us going. As is so often the case, this deal was foreseen by no one and came out of the blue. Rumours are great fun, but that's all they are.
For those interested in learning more about the guy acquired for Felipe Lopez, here's an interesting little article from MLB's Website. Arnold comes across as intelligent, collected and focused, three of my favourite traits in a major-league pitcher. Seems like a pretty good guy, too.
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Count on professional crank Richard Griffin to make the worst of the Blue Jays' weekend in Tennessee. After yet another tiresome diatribe about how the "young guys" (read: inexperienced computer geeks) are taking over the game, and after interviewing one of his aging wannabe-GM cronies from the Expos' front office, Griff ends with this snarly collection of thoughts:
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Hot on the heels of the Winter Meetings, The Rule 5 Draft takes place today, wherein teams can raid their competitors' systems of unprotected players and hope their competitors don't do the same to them. Last year, Toronto took advantage of the Allard Baird regime in Kansas City and swiped Corey Thurman. This year? We'll know by this afternoon what JP's talent hounds can do for an encore. On the minus side, the Blue Jays might lose at least a couple of lower-minors pitchers with impressive 2002 numbers, Matt Ford and Neomar Flores. Cross your fingers and we'll see how it all shakes out.