"Ricciardi's emotions with regard to Wells have always been on the side of letting him walk at the end of his current contract. Either that or deal him for value. But [Paul] Godfrey is the one who responds to his emotions like a fan. Such seems the case again. ... If this Wells seven-year extension is done, it will be in spite of Ricciardi."
August 14, 2009
Another day, another debate about J.P. Ricciardi. The beleaguered J.P. Ricciardi.
On Wednesday, it was Joe Posnanski's turn to rip the Toronto GM. (The Tao of Stieb called it a "hatchet job.") In short: Ricciardi signs guys to brutal - and only brutal - contracts, and "we should just start referring to bad baseball contracts as 'Ricciardis.'"
On Thursday, Posnanski did it again, posting the same article from his blog to Sports Illustrated. Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays made the front page, pictured above, for all the wrong reasons.
Yet in an article about Vernon Wells and his rightfully unjustifiable contract, nary a mention of ownership; of Rogers; of Paul Godfrey. Convenient, if you ask me. Also: irresponsible. A simple Google search of "wells godfrey contract" leads one to an article, the third search result, by The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin, entitled Godfrey behind Wells pitch. Written in the days before Wells signed on the dotted line in December 2006, Griffin pulled no punches:
Joe Posnanski, one of the most revered baseball writers in the business, cannot write an article about J.P. Ricciardi and bad contracts, focusing on Vernon Wells, without mentioning that tiny nugget of information about Godfrey. It ain't right. No, it doesn't absolve Ricciardi of all responsibility, but it cannot simply be left out.
As with most articles belittling Ricciardi, hindsight comes in most handy. While he mentions the other two mammoth contracts of 2006, Carlos Lee (6 years, $100 million) and Alfonso Soriano (8 years, $136 million), alongside Wells's, Pos fails to point out that all three were signed before the baseball market tanked, and before the economy went into a spiral the likes of which it hasn't in generations. Pos also fails to mention that, in 2007, Wells would have been in a free agent class with rival centre fielders Ichiro, and Torri Hunter, who both took home deals averaging $18 million a season.
Looking back, I understand where Godfrey was coming from when he, based on what's been written by Toronto's paid sportswriters, overruled Ricciardi. If the Blue Jays had allowed Wells to walk, which of those free agents mentioned above, in either 2006 or 2007, would have, even for a minute, considered Toronto? You're right; none.
Signing Wells was Godfrey being a fan, and being in love with, to quote my man J.P., "the player." I definitely know what that's all about. It was also optics. Vernon was the face of the franchise, and coming off one of his best seasons. It's why I maintain that, at the time, the crazy, bat-shit insane time, Wells' contract was market value, with the Jays having to pay a premium to keep/sign a free agent in Toronto, and keep Wells from hitting the open market.
Career OPSs as of August 13, 2009:
Carlos Lee .850
Alfonso Soriano .838
Vernon Wells .802
Torri Hunter .802
(I am in no way, shape, or form comparing Vernon Wells to Ichiro. I have some semblance of a brain.)
The information is out there, available to everyone. Instead of finding it on my blog, it should be available on the front page of SI.com.
Also on Pos's list of the worst contracts in baseball, he singles out the departed Alex Rios. I vehemently disagree; "departed" being the key word. If Rios's contract was that bad, Chicago wouldn't have taken it. Period.
ESPN's Rob Neyer picked up on the Pos blog post on Wednesday, and rightfully wondered whether Pos was being a little too harsh on Ricciardi. He singled out a couple of comments from Posnanski's site, one of them mine, about meddling ownership. (No acknowledgement, of course, from the Worldwide Leader.) I was simply trying to set the record straight.
While I disagree with some of what Neyer wrote as well, I think he gets it. He goes on to call Ricciardi "the right guy in the wrong place." And, for some reason, that makes sense.
I'd love for the rumours of a $100-$120 million dollar 2010 Blue Jays payroll to be true, and for Ricciardi to stick around (contract extension, anyone?). But I also understand that it might just be time for a change.
Some More Griffin Goodness
The Star's Griffin is always all over Ricciardi. He even still brings up the infamous "five-year plan." It's one of the many tools in his arsenal.
Yet, in that same T.O. Star article linked to above, Griffin acknowledges that the Jays should have offered Wells a contract. He even puts term and numbers on the table: 8 years, $138.6 million.
Yeah, that would have been a lot better. You've got to love the lasting power of the internet.
UPDATE: Joe Posnanki, being the good man that he is, took the time to read the post above, and has responded on his own blog. Dissent breeds discussion and, for those of you who know me and my writing, discussion is what I'm all about.
Pos gets it. He doesn't ignore us bloggers in our mother's basements, and for that I salute him. Cheers, Pos; you're good people.