The Mockingbird

Broken Record

with 15 comments

There’s already been a drunken remark and a little ranting directed at Griffin’s latest mailbag, but did anyone notice that the first question:

My question is, where’s the plan?

So we re-sign Johnny Mac, then you trade for Marco Scutaro, then you go get David Eckstein?…

Is the conclusion to an old Griffin article read backwards.

Here is how the Jays have gone about building an ’08 contender. First, they traded for super-sub Marco Scutaro from the A’s, to fill the McDonald super-sub role. Then they signed Eckstein to a one-year deal, returning McDonald to his super-sub role. One of them is obsolete. You don’t need two of them. It’s why the Jays finish third every year. Ricciardi needs to formulate a plan and stick to it for more than a year.

And his diatribe on why improving the hot corner over time is a bad thing:

The Ricciardi philosophy of ratcheting up his instant gratification can best be seen at third base. His first season, J.P. had slickly traded for the rookie-of-the-year, third-baseman Eric Hinske. He quickly signed him to a five-year deal. Two years later, he bailed on Hinske and signed Corey Koskie to a three-year deal, talking about clubhouse influence and veteran (Canadian) leadership. One year later, he dumped Koskie, eating major money and traded the best second baseman in the league for Troy Glaus, a veteran with three years left and an option at the hot corner, who had more power than Koskie, supposed clubhouse presence and had won a World Series MVP…

Is also completely recycled from an old mailbag:

Ricciardi and his treatment of the third base position have constantly been a mystery. No matter who he has had at that position he has tried to upgrade, even if it meant diminishing at another position – like second base.

His first trade as Jays GM was for Eric Hinske that turned into a rookie-of-the-year season at third base in 2002. After rewarding Hinske with a multi-year deal at spring training ’03, he quickly lost patience after two more seasons and went and signed Corey Koskie as a free agent, moving Hinske to first. Then, with Koskie already in tow under a long-term deal, he went and traded away his best defender and most popular player, Orlando Hudson, for another third baseman under a huge multi-year deal. He dumped Koskie to Milwaukee and ate a significant part of the contract…

You probably already knew Dick writes his own questions in a pinch, but rehashing his own weak-ass argument is so incredibly lazy it has left me completely uninspired to rip into the insanity of complaining about “losing patience” in Hinske and/or going with the “plan” of staying pat in the AL East. Just read my old post on his original article, from back when we both still had fire in our bellies.

Written by halejon

March 6, 2008 at 7:41 am

15 Responses

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  1. as I mentioned back over on our blog, the most distressing part of this Griffin mailbag is that he appears to have no idea as to the meaning of the word obsolete. For me, a former biochem major, to have to point this out to a credentialed journalist, is not a good thing.

    hugo

    March 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  2. to be clear, I’m talking about his earlier article, not the most recent mailbag.

    hugo

    March 6, 2008 at 4:20 pm

  3. I see little whoopsies of meaning in his stuff all the time but being an English major have to focus on not pointing that kind of thing out or I get unbearable pretty quickly. I think he leans on his thesaurus too much when he’s trying to sound erudite or pile on the purple prose.

    halejon

    March 6, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  4. I’m so confused. 7 years and we haven’t even come close to the playoffs, and yet people are defending J.P.? He’s produced ONE positional player (Aaron Hill) in 7 years!? Are you kidding me? Where are all of our hot prospects banging down our door? oh wait, he’s terrible at drafting people and we’ve been middling around .500 so our draft picks suck.

    Give me a break, the guy took his shot with Glaus…the plan failed, he hasn’t responded. Instead, he’s kept trying bandaid solutions to keep the club afloat. Time to move on…get a new GM with a new vision.

    Andy

    March 6, 2008 at 11:15 pm

  5. So if a GM can’t go from dismantling a bloated team to beating the top two payrolls in the league in 6 seasons he’s a deadbeat? Man, I hate defending J.P. all the time, but you’re going to have to do better than “they haven’t made the playoffs” to slag Ricciardi outside of Griffin country.

    Baseball America rated the 2002 draft the best in the league, liked 2003 as well and 2007 was widely applauded. Before you leap on the results, look at how the rest of the league has done in those 7 years. Other than a few high-profile misses, it’s hard to look down that list and call J.P. “terrible”. 1 position player yeah, but 4 starters, Hill and Lind make those years at least average.

    Sure there’s no big all-star, but that was the plan- to get as many college guys here as possible and sign some free agents to fill in the gaps. Now he’s reloaded on higher-ceiling guys (They’re in A ball, btw. Whups, Snider just jumped up a level with a HUGE bang on the door in the AFL) because everyone on the team is signed long-term or under control for years.

    Glaus failed – huh?? Even on one foot last year he was an offensive upgrade and except for missing 200 or so at bats performed pretty well for us and as expected. 100 runs scored and 100 RBI’s in 2006, I’ll take more missed shots like that any day.

    Oh, wait…you’re actually that guy. Lordy. I really thought you were just Griffin. Ok, I didn’t get into this in the post, but are you honestly telling me that with Reed coming off back surgery, signing Shannon Stewart for an absolutely zero-risk, one-year, mostly-incentive contract now that he’s desperate because the free agent market has collapsed was a bad idea? Same thing with Eckstein- these guys were not available for anywhere near what J.P. signed them for earlier in the offseason. They were cheap, opportunistic signings to plug some very serious weaknesses/question marks on the team.

    I guess improving a team’s depth is a bandaid solution if you think they should stop trying now and blow up the team for the future, but it’s really young already and a lot of pundits disagree about this year being “futile”.

    halejon

    March 7, 2008 at 12:22 am

  6. I’m not a huge J.P. supporter either but I’m certainly not willing to write him off just because the Jays haven’t made the playoffs. My main concern with J.P. is that I think that he is an average to perhaps a drop above average GM, and I’m just not sure that’s good enough to compete with Cashman, Epstein, and their bottomless coffers.

    That said, one thing I like about J.P. is that he is willing to improvise and adapt, and tinker to improve the team. He came with a philosophy of drafting college players only (early), which I think is idiotic. But to his credit, he revised his strategy when it was clear it wasn’t working. He has made some misses, but you have to give him credit for some moves that have really worked out. His business sense is not nearly as bullheaded as his personality.

    I have to admit, none of JPs moves this winter/spring are so great taken individually, but I actually really like all the moves together. Basically, he’s made the Jays deeper and given them a better chance of competing this season , and at very very little cost and risk to the team, giving up no draft picks and only adding 1 year of contract (beyond Glaus) at what will be a reasonable cost if Rolen is healthy enough to play.

    hugo

    March 7, 2008 at 12:39 am

  7. Writes…..his own….QUESTIONS?

    Just….Damn.

    WillRain

    March 7, 2008 at 2:21 am

  8. Ay, there’s the rub. We really need a miracle worker to compete against the monsters we’re in a division with, and I think that’s what a lot of people thought he was when he arrived because of his flashy style and some early success.

    I don’t really agree that it was a response to a strategy that wasn’t working, it’s just a different situation. At the time, J.P. needed get some young players here quick because the vets were being jettisoned, and that’s pretty much what happened. Now the team has much less need for more Marcum/Janssens and can afford to look way down the road. Except for limiting yourself in the event that some highschool guy falls through the cracks and you should snag him, I don’t think it’s idiotic to take College guys exclusively for four years as long as you have a good reason for doing it and know you’re going to be able to make a splash on the free agent market for a #2, a stud closer, etc…

    halejon

    March 7, 2008 at 2:49 am

  9. I didn’t mind the Glaus deal, because it was a risk he had to take to try and make the playoffs. Did we make the playoffs? No, so yes, it failed. This, like every other sport, is about winning. We are a 500 team, we have been a 500 team, and under his reign we will always be a 500 team. Is depth a terrible idea? No, of course not, but can you honestly say you think we’re going to make the playoffs? Over New York, Boston, Cleveland, Detriot, Anaheim? I’m sure there are a few teams I’m missing.

    There are two things you have to be doing as a major league team in any sports. Minor tweaking to make the playoffs/world series, or rebuilding to eventually make the playoffs/world series.

    We are stuck in the dangerous middle ground of not doing either. Back when Wells contract was up, we should have dealt him for 5 solid prospects. Maybe a catcher? which is another position that JP hasn’t addresed in 7 years. Rebuild around Hill, Rios, those prospects, and the solid pitching. Sure we would have had few rough years, but hopefully thats the risk that gets you back in the game.

    The Red Sox and Yankees buy their championships, but their farm systems are amazing. In 7 years, Hill still is the only one to come up from the farm system, that J.P. is responsible for. I’m sorry, Lind is an ok prospect, but he’s never going to be a star. He has a bit of pop, an ok average, and is brutal in the field.

    I say again, you are either in direct competition for the World Series, or you’re rebuilding. This middle ground will leave us mediocre for years to come.

    Andy

    March 7, 2008 at 3:15 am

  10. Would you say the Overbay trade was a failure because the Jays didn’t make the playoffs? Or that the Accardo trade was a failure because the Jays didn’t make the playoffs? The Glaus trade improved the team. That means it was a success.

    Torgen

    March 7, 2008 at 6:23 am

  11. This isn’t the NBA. You can’t swing for the fences with one trade and have it make or break your team. Troy Glaus > Cory Koskie. Team improved, playoff chances improved. Would the Red Sox have won the World Series without paying Manny, Schilling, Pedro AND swining the Beckett deal?

    lloyd the ghostrunner

    March 7, 2008 at 7:22 am

  12. When I say it was idiotic, I mean in the sense that you’re basically ruling out a huge number of potential players without ever considering them. Just because someone is in high school doesn’t mean they necessarily will move slowly. Look at Travis Snider or Scott Kazmir. My approach to the draft is that the team should approach each year with an eye on who the best players are, at least in the early rounds, regardless of things like what position the team needs or favoring high school or college players. Most draft picks, even in the first round or early rounds, don’t work out and so it is important for a team to draft the best talent available. Projecting positional needs several years out is hard to do because situations are constantly changing and players develop at different speeds.

    I agree it is tempting to blow up a team when it doesn’t look like the core is good enough to make the playoffs. The problem is that from a business perspective that is a risky proposition. The Jays know they will get a certain number of fans if they have their usual 83-87 win season, and if they jettison talent, they will get less fans. So from a business perspective, that’s forgoing sure money now in exchange for possible greater ROI later. That’s sometimes a good business move, but not always. Also, some teams have great success with rebuilding, others get trapped in the quicksand of constant rebuilding and seemingly never getting where they want to go.

    I agree the Jays should have traded Wells, and I argued strongly against that deal. My concern is that Wells, while a fine player, is not, offensively, a player you build your team around and the deal was too long. But my biggest reason for not favoring the deal was that the Jays essentially had Rios who I thought was capable of taking the centerfield job and hitting about as well as Wells. It is easier to find a corner outfielder who can produce as well as Rios than it is to find a centerfielder who can. In addition, the Jays have capable prospects who will be able to handle corner infield gigs – Snider profiles as a solid RF and Lind can handle LF. I don’t know where you get the idea that Lind is brutal in the field, defensive metrics had him above-average last season. That might have been true when he was in the minors, but my understanding was that he had improved his defense quite a bit. So I thought the Wells deal was hurting the Jays down the road while not helping them nearly enough in the present.

    hugo

    March 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

  13. “Would you say the Overbay trade was a failure because the Jays didn’t make the playoffs? Or that the Accardo trade was a failure because the Jays didn’t make the playoffs? The Glaus trade improved the team. That means it was a success.”

    That’s where we must differ. Just because the team improves in the short team, does not mean it’s a success. We didn’t make the playoffs?

    ps Accardo is young pitcher, 24 I think? and so no, thats not a failure because that has potential.

    Overbay? what did we give up Gross, Bush, and Jackson? I’m not missing those guys so much.

    This is exciting, I love talking baseball. Regardless of what I think about management, I stilll get very excited to watch the Jays be mediocre.

    Andy

    March 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm

  14. In his first year here Glaus was way better than Koskie could have hoped to be (concussion or no), and in his second he had a pretty good offensive year despite his injury. He added three times as many wins to the Jays in 2007 as Manny Ramirez added to the Red Sox.

    Torgen

    March 7, 2008 at 6:25 pm

  15. Yeah, I do honestly think the Jays have a shot. Way more of one than any team in the last 10 years. They don’t have to beat all those teams. Cleveland and New York would do it. The Jays probably have the best pitching staff in the league, so it’s not out of the question.

    If they were obviously not close and signing veteran after veteran *cough* Baltimore *cough* then I would agree, but this is a good, young team. Fire sales don’t automatically make you that much better, it’s just when you’re saddled with expensive contracts that aren’t going to be around in a few years anyway. Who is there really much of a market for who isn’t young and cheap anyway? Burnett? Thomas? In a case like Glaus there were zero offers for good young prospects.

    Absolutely agree that Wells probably should not have been resigned. Like Hugo says Rios is much more suited to CF in his place. But they weren’t going to get 5 prospects. With one year left on his contract, he would have got maybe 2. Anyway, that wasn’t J.P’s doing- he was ushering him out the door like Delgado when Godfrey and Rogers made that deal happen.

    Check out that link in my last comment- J.P. is also responsible for drafting Marcum, Janssen, Litsch, Thigpen, 2/3 of Overbay (Bush+Jackson), and even Accardo (Adam Peterson->Hillenbrand->Accardo).

    Lind was actually very good in the field last year. He made things look like a circus out there, but his range was among the best for left fielders and he didn’t make an error.

    halejon

    March 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm


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