The New York Mets are in town, but their special advisor to GM Sandy Alderson isn’t. No, not because JP Ricciardi worked those extra-special living-in-Massachusetts privileges into the contract with his new team, but because he’s out scouting. But hey, why not dredge up that old line of absolute horseshit, right? Because it’s totally cool to shit on JP for how he used to not live here, exactly the way I’m sure we all shit on the Golden God that is Pat Gillick for still living in Toronto when he ran the Baltimore Orioles, RIGHT???
Anywho, even though Ricciardi isn’t in tow, the arrival of the Mets makes for an opportune… um… opportunity to speak with the ex-Jays GM, which is exactly what Shi Davidi of Sportsnet did, phoning JP, who was on a scouting trip in North Carolina, allowing him to reflect on how his tenure, how things here have changed since he left, and to say a few things that are no-doubt going to infuriate a whole lot of Jays fans… because… that’s how we do, when it comes to Ricciardi, isn’t it?
“My biggest regret is that we didn’t make the playoffs, but it’s not because we didn’t try, and not because we didn’t take chances,” he says, after pumping up his lone second place finish, and his acquiring of guys like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Glaus, Ted Lilly (?), and Shea Hillenbrand (??!?). ”It’s still producing players,” he says. “There are still some good things going on because of what we did.”
He’s not wrong, it’s just… well… I’m not about to sit here on the Friday before a long weekend and write some fucking tome that attempts to sort out what anybody should think about the entire era, it’s just… well… it’s probably not this:
“You hear the negatives about some of the contracts, obviously the Wells one, in hindsight, and I know all the factors that were involved, is one we wouldn’t do, but I would definitely do the Ryan one, I would definitely do the Burnett one. Frank Thomas, first year, led our team in home runs and hit, second year he wasn’t good, so 50-50,” he says. “There are certain things you’d like to have back, but we took chances because I think we had to take chances. Toronto is still a tough place to get players to come and play, that’s why we did the Burnett contract, that’s why we did the Ryan contract. The Burnett contract worked out really good for us, the Ryan one was kind of 50-50.”
I mean… the Wells thing we get and we can all agree on– and I have no doubt the “factors” JP’s referring to probably take the shape of Paul Godfrey– and the Burnett deal actually worked out pretty well, to be fair, and yes, Thomas was very good for a year, but… you’d do it again? And BJ Ryan?
I don’t possibly have the wherewithal to think back on those days and still manage to give a fuck, but man… I don’t know.
What I do know is that the excuse-making function of JP’s brain is still as sharp as ever.
“We did the best job we could do under all the circumstances,” he says. Then later, while musing about his new gig with the Mets, he veers slightly off-course…
“The division is tough, it’s still not as tough as the American League East. I will say this though, the American League East has changed. In the eight years I was in Toronto it was not cyclical, it was the Yankees and the Red Sox, they had the most resources, they had the most money, their payrolls were absolutely astronomical. But now they’re not the big, bad Red Sox and Yankees that they once were, they have more chinks in their armour,” Ricciardi says. “They’re still very, very good but those teams aren’t what they were.”
You hear that, Alex! You’re not better at running the Blue Jays than JP was– pffft!– things are only looking up because the Yankees and the Red Sox just aren’t so good anymore. You’re one goddamned lucky sonofabitch, Anthopoulos!