Yesterday, I wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays had “massive team blow up” in the offseason written all over it. Well, the Blue Jays offseason blow up started this morning.
According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, JP Ricciardi was fired as Toronto Blue Jays’ GM. Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos will take over on an interim basis.
“This was a tough decision and a difficult one for me personally as I have enjoyed J.P.’s friendship and his perspective on the game,” Jays acting president and CEO Paul Beeston said in a prepared statement. “J.P. has put an incredible amount of effort into improving the team and he has brought along a number of great young players. However, I feel that it is time for a change and accordingly we have decided to move on.”
Ricciardi was hired as GM in 2001 in hopes of restoring the Blue Jays to their glory years in the early-90’s. It never happened under Ricciardi’s watch.
The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM. Ricciardi will probably be remembered for three things as Blue Jays’ GM.
First, Ricciardi handed out some awful long-term contracts that became albatrosses as time went on. BJ Ryan – five years, $47 million. Alex Rios – six years, $64 million. And perhaps the most famous of all, Vernon Wells – seven years, $126 million.
Second, Ricciardi made some ill-advised comments towards OF Adam Dunn, who, at the time was playing for the Cincinnati Reds. Ricciardi appeared on Toronto sports radio show The Fan 590 and had this to say about Dunn.
“Do you know the guy doesn’t really like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn’t have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There’s a reason why you’re attracted to some players and there’s a reason why you’re not attracted to some players.
“I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here … We’ve done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there’s a reason why we don’t want Adam Dunn. I don’t want to get into specifics.”
It’s one thing for a GM to talk about his players, but for a GM to talk about another team’s player — that’s unacceptable. Ricciardi said he later apologized to Dunn, but Dunn refuted that claim.
The third and perhaps the lasting memory Blue Jay fans will have of Ricciardi, was his decision not to trade Roy Halladay at the July 31st trading deadline.
There were a lot of rumors in regards to the offers Ricciardi received for his prized pitcher. At the end of the day, Ricciardi rejected them all and decided to hold on to Halladay.
At the time, Halladay’s value was at his highest. Now, with Halladay a free agent after the 2010 season, the longer Halladay remains in a Blue Jay uniform, the less the Blue Jays are going to get for him.
Whoever replaces Ricciardi on a full-term basis will have their work cut out for them. It looks like the massive offseason blow up is underway.