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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Blue Jays' GM Fired; Failure to Trade Roy Halladay Had to be a Reason

J.P. Ricciardi is out as the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

He had worked in Toronto for 8 years, but was unable to get the Jays to prevail over the Yankees or the Red Sox. As the linked article points out, most of Ricciardi's major moves did not work, including his heavy-handed attempts to trade ace Roy Halladay before the trading deadline this past July. Halladay blundered mightily, figuring that there would be plenty of buyers and, as a result, he could get the Philadelphia Phillies into a "we gotta have 'em or bust" mentality that would have compelled Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro to trade the elite set of players that Ricciardi demanded in his first counter to the Phillies and wouldn't budge from.

Most negotiators know that you don't start with where you want to settle. As a result, Ricciardi became stubbornly entrenched, and two (bad) things happened. First, the other potential suitors for Halladay never materialized (and it seemed that the Phillies sensed this) and, second, the Phillies actually found their own competitive bidder for their prospects -- Cleveland -- which had an ace to peddle in Cliff Lee. So, in essence, Amaro turned the tables on Ricciardi, who never figured that out, and, as a result, failed to lower his offer in an effort to trade his ace to the one team that had plenty of good prospects to package -- Philadelphia. In the end, Amaro came away with an ace for a much better price than Ricciardi demanded for Halladay. Sure, you can argue that Halladay would have commanded a higher price than Lee, but there were no other bidders out there offering sufficient packages for aces (with the possible exception of Boston, which apparently considered a late bid for Halladay).

The result for Toronto: another bad season and they're left with an ace who has less value now than he did at mid-season. After all, the team that acquired Halladay in July would have had him for two pennant races. Now, the team that acquires him in the off-season only will have him available for one, and he'll be a free agent after this season.

That failure, and the admission that the signing of Alex Rios to a long-term deal was such a bust that the Jays gave him to the White Sox, had to have sealed Ricciardi's fate.

Of course, the Jays have a tougher question to answer -- how the heck will they ever return to prominence, given the muscle of the Yankees and the Red Sox, the talent pool of Tampa Bay and the core of good young players that Baltimore has. Even the best GM in the league will have trouble climbing that mountain.


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