Friday, July 11, 2008

SPORTS: Has Ricciardi Slipped the Noose?

Why am I getting that sick feeling that once again, the plaintive bleats that "INJURIES cost us a good season," will find resonance in the ears of Ted Rogers? I hope I'm wrong. But it's possible I won't be. And that means yet another lost year (2009) for the Toronto Blue Jays.

I kept my counsel after the surprising hiring of Cito Gaston, figuring things were headed in the direction of necessity. Gaston wouldn't be able to turn the wreck around (and he hasn't) and at season's end, J.P. Ricciardi would take his slick smoke act south of the border and his mentor/protector/excuse-maker Paul Godfrey would be moved to some far off remote corner of the Rogers empire, no longer able to diddle the Blue Jays like Roger Peddie does the Toronto Maple Leafs. The new management team (I've already stated Gillick and Ash redux) would probably retain Gaston, but anything to be rid of the stifling presence of Ricciardi on the management team.

The only fear I had was that the management would give Ricciardi carte blanche to make the start of the makeover the Jays need, rather than awaiting a saner, smarter decision-maker. The admission earlier this week that 2008 was done and finished didn't do a lot to assuage that fear. Would Ricciardi make smart moves, like trading David Eckstein to either LA or Baltimore for a decent prospect? Would he move Rod Barajas, having a big year comparatively speaking, to one of the contenders in need of a catcher? Could he parlay Matt Stairs into a talent or two from a team needing a lefty masher and occasional corner outfielder? Might he package Jason Frasor and Brian Tallett to contenders looking for relief help? Would he hang on to AJ Burnett to get the two decent draft picks next summer (somebody ELSE doing the picking, of course)?

Then Dustin McGowan and Vernon Wells both developed month-long (minimum) injuries in a 72-hour period and suddenly the King of Excuses has that ole Black Curse to blame for his team's underperformance. There's a Gilbert Gottfried line that seems appropriate here. "Sonavab----!"

If Uncle Teddy buys this recycled feldergarb, then we are squarely back in Harold Ballard territory. It was known that the Ballard-owned Maple Leafs would never win in Pal Hal's lifetime, and they didn't. If Rogers can't see the mess his friend Paul and his chumpy flunky have made out of the 100 million a year he's given them, then it's time to start a death watch. On the other hand, Rogers didn't become a billionaire by being completely oblivious and money foolish. Surely he can see this emperor's joker has no clothes.

On the other hand, I said that last year. And the year before.

No comments: