I have made no mistake of my dislike for Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. He used his pseudo-fame from Moneyball to land the gig in Toronto (Paul DePodesta was their first choice, but turned them down), and further, he lied to get the job. When all the other GM candidates said they needed more payroll dollars to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, Ricciardi said the Jays were spending too much money. And what did he go and do? Spent a ton of money. Worse: it was in all the wrong places.
The Blue Jays are no better now than they were when Ricciardi took the job. In fact, they’re no better than when Ricciardi dumped the low payroll philosophy and started spending money. He raised the payroll from $45.7 million in 2005 to $71.9 million in 2006 to $81.9 million this year, yet has continued to field mediocre teams. I don’t know how Ted Rogers hasn’t figured out that J.P. isn’t going to get this done — and we’re not even going into the dismal state of their farm system (though they had a decent 2007 draft).
Ricciardi’s latest offense: blaming A.J. Burnett for being constantly injured. Never mind that the guy had a long history of injuries when Ricciardi signed him after the 2005 season. No, J.P. won’t shoulder any of that blame. He’s going to pin it all on Burnett, who is out at least another three weeks with a sore shoulder.
Here’s what Mr. Ricciardi had to say about Burnett:
“I don’t know if it’s psychological, I don’t know if it’s just he gets to a point he feels something and he’s been so scarred by being hurt so many times that he just backs off. But I think he’s going to have to get over that hump at some point and just maybe pitch through some pain or realize what the difference is between really being hurt and not being hurt.”
Plenty of pitchers have played through shoulder pain. And most of them have done considerable damage to themselves. Why in the world would you want a pitcher to play through shoulder pain? I mean, the shoulder is kind of important to a pitcher’s delivery, so it doesn’t seem to make much sense to have him risk serious damage to it. Apparently, Ricciardi doesn’t understand that.
Ricciardi also mentioned that Burnett might be better suited as the team’s fourth or fifth starter. What does that mean, J.P.? That you’re going to try to find pitchers better than him? I don’t get that line of thinking. When A.J. was their No. 2 starter, they didn’t need to find anyone better than him, but when he’s their No. 4 or 5, they do? I thought the idea was to always find better pitchers.
I don’t know why I’m complaining so much about this — having a GM like this in our division should be a blessing. I just hate to see dunderheads like Ricciardi running teams when there are plenty of more competent and qualified individuals to do so. Ricciardi has proven himself wrong for the job many times over, yet still has a job. That he’s calling out a pitcher who he signed is just another demerit on his resume. We all knew A.J. Burnett was an injury risk. Ricciardi is the idiot who gave him $55 million.
Hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors