Friday, July 31, 2009

J.P. Licked

It's official -- barring some miracle deal just before the 4pm ET Friday trading deadline in Major League Baseball, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi officially effed up.

Big time.

And in this case, it's basically 100% all his doing. Nobody made Ricciardi come out a few weeks ago and declare publicly that the team was entertaining trade offers for ace Roy Halladay. That could have been left more on the DL, as is usually the case. But for whatever reason, Ricciardi decided earlier this month to depart from the usual practice that has teams always taking steps to hide their real interests (in this case, to trade Halladay for maximum value) so as not to hamstring themselves in their negotiations in getting done what they need to get done.

So announcing so publicly to other teams his desire to trade Halladay was I think mistake #1 made by the Jays' GM this month. This definitely appears to have set the wrong tone for the offers that were made to him, with interested teams perhaps not putting their very best foot forward early given their foreknowledge of the Blue Jays' interests. Mistake #2, or maybe this is more like #1a, was telling Roy Halladay of this desire, which I think was at least as bad as telling all of his potential suitors of his desire to make a trade. Why is it bad to have told Halladay about this? Because it's just about the most distracting thing you can do to a guy -- tell him that he, and his family, are likely to be moving cities (in his case countries even) and that he could be pitching anywhere, in either league, in just a few weeks' time. This makes it very, very difficult for anybody to perform to his potential, and even the nearly infallible Halladay has shown the signs, going 0-2 in his last two starts as the trade talks have really heated up heading into Friday's trading deadline. Not that Halladay has been horrible or anything, but the bottom line is, not only has he not pitched his best over the past couple of starts, but now Ricciardi is left with an emotionally deflated Halladay for the rest of the 2009 season. Halladay will know already that he is pitching on a dead-end team with no shot of making the playoffs, and he also now knows that he is basically a lame duck with the team, since the GM has already made public his desire to trade away the superstar pitcher, and the likelihood is probably significant that he gets dealt away in the offseason after the Phillies go back to back in October for the first time in their illustrious franchise history.

Another thing Ricciardi did wrong with this whole Halladay business is his insistence right from the getgo that he only wants cheapo prospects in return. Now don't get me wrong -- it's not lost on me that money is the only reason the Jays would even consider dumping a pitcher of Roy Halladay's caliber in the first place. So I understand they are looking to make a big salary dump in moving the AL's best workhorse of a pitcher. But you know what? Ricciardi should have considered that some players -- especially those at the top of their games at a position like starting pitcher -- cannot effectively be replaced in terms of getting "fair value" back by only receiving prospects and other young, minor league talents. I mean, how many 21-year old Tommy-John-surgery-having pitchers, 18-year-old fireballers and 22 year old outfielders can really be piled up to equal one Roy Halladay? It's a difficult thing to really imagine equaling what the Blue Jays would lose by trading away Roy Halladay, but that's exactly the corner that Ricciardi backed himself into at the beginning of this whole ordeal by announcing that he was looking for prospects.

After making what I view as several mistakes in the conception of trying to trade away Roy Halladay for prospects this month, Ricciardi then compounded his error by turning down what was far and away the best offer he received from any team, which was a 4-prospect deal from the Phillies than included the World Champs' young pitching phenom J.A. Happ, our #2 pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco as well as the #1and #3 position player prospects in our league-best farm system. Ricciardi immediately balked at this offer, insisting instead on the Phils including #1 pitching prospect Kyle Drabek in addition to Happ and the other big names in the Phillies' proposed trade, and the Phils were able within one day of those talks dying down to nab the reigning AL Cy Young winner -- beating out Halladay in the process btw -- Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians without giving up Happ, Drabek or Taylor in the outfield. Although the Phillies obviously did a great job getting tremendous value out of the four prospects included in the Cliff Lee trade, the fact that the Indians accepted such an offer just shows how much Ricciardi was overvaluing Roy Halladay's worth on the trading block.

And the end result of the Blue Jays' GM's missteps this month? J.P. Ricciardi is now left with Halladay, pitching awesomely for a hopelessly non-playoff-bound losing team, with no prospects for improving in the entire second half of this season. Halladay knows full well that the team tried to trade him, and he has spent the past few weeks preparing himself and his family for a move across-country(ies) -- mentally and physically -- and now he must resign himself to staying in Toronto to pitch out the rest of the hopeless 2009 season. And he knows he will likely be moved anyways after this season is over with, but with much less likelihood of actually ending up on a contending team. And, Ricciardi also had to eat some serious crow this week, declaring late on Thursday night that trade talks surrounding arguably the best pitcher in baseball are "dead".

It's amazing, really, if you think about it. With all the teams still alive in the playoff hunt at this point in the season, here we are with deals going on all around us with less than 24 hours to go before the trading deadline, and the guy who owns the best pitcher in the entire sport has literally zero offers for his guy. No players on the table, no prospective deals, no talks going on at all. He has alienated his star player -- the only true star left on the Blue Jays' squad -- and he has managed to turn down some very attractive offers, only to see clearly worse ones coming in from other teams, and eventually just no interest at all. The bottom line is that, truth be told, it probably would have been difficult for Ricciardi to have played this whole Halladay thing any worse than he has, and I predict that his team will be paying the price for Ricciardi's obvious misstep for the rest of the 2009 season. Ricciardi may have been Billy Beane's protege back in Oakland at the beginning of this decade, but as we have seen after this whole Halladay mess this month, Ricciardi is no Billy Beane.

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Blogger konaforever said...

"in our league-best farm system."

Any proof to back this up? The phillies don't even have te best farm system in the National League, never mind Major Leagues. Stop being a homer.

3:31 AM  
Blogger konaforever said...

Here's another article. This from 2008 which has the Phillies as 24th.

3:34 AM  
Blogger konaforever said...

18th, according to hardballtimes.

If bottom half of farm systems = best, then Phillies are best.

3:38 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Who knew Omar Minaya posted comments on my blog? How exciting.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Go Blue Jays.

Remember when they were leading the entire league near the beginning of the season? WTF happened...

11:48 AM  
Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

Wow, you attract the hatahs pretty well Hoy.

Jays GM should be canned.

9:47 PM  
Blogger konaforever said...

I'm not a hater. I read Hoy's blog all the time. It's just really funny he thinks the Phillies Farm system is the best when no one even has it in the top 10. And Hoy has no proof that the Phillies have the best farm system.

It's like the Nationals saying they have the best Major League Team.

1:14 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Short answer: I think Hoy is completely wrong.

Longer answer: forthcoming.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

JP's biggest problem for his entire career is his mouth. He seems to lack the ability to use tact in what he says.

The honesty is appreciated, but it's like he's never dealt with the media before. But we're used to it in Toronto, so the fans here were able read it right this time, and he FINALLY cleared it up after the deadline.

He was never SHOPPING Halladay, he was willing to listen to offers. Now, when you say this weeks before the trade deadline, every paper in the world will here "we're going to trade Halladay". But he honestly meant he would only trade him for some incredibly lopsided deal he could never say no to.

Now the question is - can he get anything for him if Roy doesn't re-sign?

9:58 PM  

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