Monday, June 16, 2008

SPORTS: Remember When ...

Readers here know my stance on Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. Faster he gets fired, the faster the healing starts. But Ricciardi acolytes just refuse to see flaws in the self-admitted liar and full-time failure of a general manager. I proved his drafting record doesn't hold up to comparison with his ill-thought of predecessor, Gord Ash. And to the plaintive bleats that he's a better trader, let me cite one and only one trade attempt he tried to make this past off-season.

Alex Rios for Tim Lincecum.

Baseball pundits came down on both sides of this trade offer, some citing the advantages of having another top of the rotation starter. The other a maturing, five-tool, two-time all-star outfielder and home run derby runner-up just entering his prime years. It was an interesting trade offer.

But completely and utterly, idiotically, wrong for the Toronto Blue Jays.

What has been the main failing of this team this year? Offence. What has been the main advantage keeping the Blue Jays from Seattle Mariner-level awfulness? Pitching. Would having Lincecum rather than Jesse Litsch have helped the Blue Jays? Probably would have moved them from fourth in major league baseball into the top two or three. Would subtracting Rios from the Blue Jay line-up have damaged even further a poopless offence, dropping it to the very bottom of MLB? Undoubtedly.

And the trade offer was BEFORE Casey Jansen got hurt. Sure you can't have enough pitching in big league baseball. But, we have seen the effects of not having enough offence, either. It results in a .500 club that is going to waste the efforts of the pitching staff until parts of it are traded off. That's right, the Jays will have to TRADE AWAY pitching to get better. How's that for taking the wrong approach in the off-season?

Wait, you say, Rios is both symptom AND cause of the offensive problems! If he wasn't belting a soft .270 with about as many homers as Marco Scutaro, the Blue Jays' offence would be percolating along a lot better. Maybe Ricciardi saw the imminent fall of the right fielder. Would that we could ditch the guy for a top of the line hurler like Lincecum. Maybe it was a CANNY offer, almost Billy Beane-like, to offer up Rios just as he was about to go bad, for the future ace.

Okay. If Ricciardi, all-knowing seer of the future, DID suss out the decline and fall of Rios, WHY did he give him the big multi-year contract?!?!? Can't have your cake and eat it too.

As interesting as the trade idea was for the Blue Jays and Giants to discuss, it was MORE interesting for observers to yak about. In reality, the Toronto-born idea was a BAAAAAD idea for the Jays and the Giants came to the conclusion it would be a bad idea for them too. So far, they're right.

Ricciardi reacted interestingly to being let off the hook. He went out and signed a shortstop and a left-fielder he didn't need, instead of upgrading Lyle Overbay at first, who's just not the same player he was before the wrist injury. He could have looked for something more durable and offensive at catcher, getting more out of Rod Barajas than anyone thought possible. And that much is still not enough.

Giving fading stars big bucks, the same failing as Ash, making bad trades (Think Orlando Hudson would look good in Blue Jay blue? But he dissed Ricciardi and had to be traded), drafting poorly, and even getting some of his bad trades turned down shows Ricciardi is lucky. But in this case, I'd rather he be good than lucky.

Tick, tick, tick.

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