Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

Do you remember that year when your dad got laid off from the plant around Christmas time and it was cool at first because he decided to use all the extra free time to finally get around to finishing the basement and he let you cut and stain the wood for the baseboards and actually tried to cook supper for the first time in his life, but then everyone realized that the only thing he could make was "chicken cacciatore"--one can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes and a bunch of shredded Kraft Cheddar cheese on a few chicken breasts chucked in the oven for a half hour or so--and we all got to wondering when he'd get back to paid work and show some masculine leadership for the goddamn family's sake before everything came apart at the seams?

Reading stuff like this--again--gets me wondering whether JP Ricciardi has the stones to be the man of the Blue Jays family. Let me plagiarize liberally from this short Bastian post:

If the Jays don't retain Burnett, Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told that he doesn't think "there's anybody else out there that, for what you'd probably have to get involved with from a money standpoint, that we would feel comfortable getting involved with. I think we'd probably stay in-house."

As for Toronto's search for more offense, Ricciardi denied that the Jays are targeting free-agent slugger Jason Giambi, or that free-agent Milton Bradley is a top priority. If anything, Ricciardi said that the Blue Jays hope to find what they're seeking through the trade market and not through free agency.

"We're still going to keep listening and seeing what's available to us," Ricciardi said. "But right now, I don't see us getting involved with anybody. Something is going to have to really make sense for us and the best way would be via trade."

That includes a possible search for a shortstop, too. Ricciardi said the Jays don't plan on getting involved with any shortstops through free agency, nixing the rumors that have pegged Toronto as a suitor for Rafael Furcal.

The Jays don't have an excess of spending money this winter, though Ricciardi didn't rule out using trades to possibly free up some more payroll.

"We'll be open to anything," Ricciardi said. "We're not in a slash payroll mode, but we're in a situation where if we can make ourselves better via trade we'll look that way. But, if we can't, this is the team we have and we'll just be creative with what we've got here and try to plug in our holes internally."

I appreciate that sometimes it makes sense to set off a few smoke bombs for the sake of strategic deception--yes, yes, we've all read and enjoyed the works of Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz--but I do take these words at face value and don't think JP is planning much of anything this offseason. A pinch of injured Brad Penny and a dash of, well, someone like Royce Clayton or Brad Wilkerson.

Leaving aside the farcical notion that the Jays would actually bid competitively on AJ Burnett, none of the "hole fillers" on the FA market really fit with the JP M.O. Furcal? So far as we know JP didn't even pick up the phone and call Julio Lugo when he was a free agent at the end of the 2006 season. (That was sensible, though.) I'd love to see Milton Bradley here, but do you expect JP to sign a guy who was unceremoniously dumped midseason by Billy Beane for "character" issues? It's not even worth the humiliation of tendering Derek Lowe an offer if the Yankees are going to offer him a contract that's 150-180% of fair market value. Giambi or Randy Johnson won't come here with more attractive (read: richer) options on the table.

Some of JP's relative prolifigacy is now coming back to haunt him as Dick Griffin reports that a payroll freeze or minor retrenchment is probably in store. Griffin, you've heard of him? But noting corporate payroll decisions isn't a political matter per se where a hack could grind his axe against the GM, even if he does predictably take it down that route later in the article.

If JP is crying poverty (ad nauseum), then he has to look in the mirror when it comes time to lay the blame for the doom and gloom ahead in 2009, which is looking like a third kick at the can with the same crew that couldn't get it done in 2007 or 2008. He signed off on a bat shit crazy extension for Vernon Wells (yes, yes, I know that he doesn't get ridiculously expensive until 2010 and we can fantasize about him opting out after 2011...), authored handcuffing-if-not-entirely-bad deals for BJ Ryan and Lyle Overbay, and wasted a few million for good measure on redundant UTIL guys like Johnny Mac and Jose Bautista.

You can't portray yourself as a victim of circumstance when you in fact are faced with the consequences of your own decisions. At some point ownership is going to have to pull the chord on this guy. His constant self-portrayal as a captive of wider events shows a lack of leadership that makes me hope that day comes sooner rather than later. Imagine Chairman Mao saying, "well, it's a bit nippy out, let's postpone the Great March for a few months, comrades..." Ridiculous bullshit, you don't lead by being a pussy who gets pushed around, you write your own history.

But for now, we wait as the hot stove season continues to offer up about as much satisfaction as a Pot Noodle and a wank.


Everyone's endorsing shit these days, eh? Well, since Nickelback's new album and McDonalds are already taken, let me just say here and now that Esquire is a fine read, Brotherhood is a fine television program, The Hold Steady is a fine band, ZUBAZ makes a fine pair of pantaloons, and Sleeman Honey Brown Lager is still the finest beer this country has to offer. Now send me my cheques, corporate motherfuckers.

Is it just me or do the Team Canada World Baseball Classic t-shirts look like something you'd see for sale in the convenience store of a 401 rest stop? Lloyd the Barber at GROF would very much like you to CUSTOMIZE one for him as a thoughtful Christmas gift

-- Johnny Was


eyebleaf said...

Johnny, did you support/like Wells' contract when it was signed? Did you support the Overbay and Ryan deals? What about Jonny Mac?

I know that I was glad we got Vernon's autograph on a long-term deal, I was elated when we brought in Ryan to close over Batista, and when we signed the doubles machine known as Overbay. Ditto in regards to Jonny Mac.

Shit just hasn't worked out the way I would have hoped. That's life, I guess.

I am basically wondering what your initial reactions to these deals were. Did you like them? Did you support them, even though some of them weren't the most financially sound moves?

It's easy to look back now and rip on J.P. as we head into 2009. I understand that.

The Southpaw said...

I can't speak for Johnny, but:

I hated the Wells deal.

I supported the Overbay/Ryan deals, and I still do. I still think Overbay can play a part as a platoon 1B, and the main reason for trading Ryan is that we now have the bullpen depth to close around him. If that depth wasn't there, I'd say Ryan would be more important.

Johnny Mac I thought was awful at the time, and it looks even worse now. I would have rather let him go and use Olmedo for cheap.

JP does waste a lot of his resources, and he falls in love too quickly with good years - Towers 2 year extension, Wells' contract etc.


The Southpaw said...

Wells categorically and vehemently no, J-Mac no, Ryan a big yes, Overbay neither for nor against. Acquiring Jose Bautista was a crappy trade because he'll need an arb raise this winter and I said that here, then kind of hedged on it the next day if his acquisition meant he would be the primary UTIL guy with Hill moved to short and Inglett fulltime to second in 2009.

The thing is not really hindsight in my mind because I'm just a hack blogger, not the guy running the team. At some point he has to stand on his record without resorting to if this and this break had come my way, if we played in this or that division, etc. One thing I said a couple of times this year, sort of the stock anti-JP quote, was that he probably is good enough to win-- say with the Twins or Mariners--but not good enough to win here.

John Brattain came to a pretty similar conclusion about JP's recent comments earlier today, too, but with plenty of other good points I didn't think of here:

Lloyd the Barber said...

Why must you mock me so? I'm callow and naive, just trying to get a break.

P.S. Trades are the way to go. Overpriced free agents make JP cry. Build from within and all the crap

Jay K. said...

Dude, you're fucking crazy. Sleeman Honey Brown is NOT the best beer in Canada. Fuck, it's not even the best Sleeman beer. Why you ask? Because, you can't pound them without starting to hate the taste? Why do you start to hate the taste? Because there's goddamned honey in there, goddamned honey in beer. This isn't Sunday tea Grandma.