Toronto Blue Jays – News and Notes

Guam, Hattig Get First Major League Hit
September 2, 2006, 3:08 am
Filed under: baseball, blue jays, sports, toronto, Uncategorized

Blue Jays’ rookie third basemen, John Hattig got his first major league hit with a single in the ninth inning. Hattig’s hit was an important one. It put the tying run on base in the ninth with only one out. Getting your first base hit in Fenway Park off the normally dominant Paplebon in itself is an extra special memory. While Paplebon eventually left the game after what seemed to be either numbness in his arm, neck pain, or both, Hattig’s districtmen from Guam were surely celebrating even before the Jays ultimately fell short of their comeback aided by Hattig.

Two days earlier, Hattig had become the first native of Guam to play in the major leagues, now he has their first base hit.

Congratulations Guam, please send more ball players.


Ricciardi’s Spin on Lilly Situation Not Very Convincing
August 24, 2006, 9:00 pm
Filed under: baseball, blue jays, Gibbons, ricciardi, rumors, sports, ted lilly, toronto

First there was Russ Adams, the Blue Jays opening day shortstop couldn’t overcome his defensive problems, and he wasn’t hitting either. Countless reporters, and fans on the FAN 590 post-game show spoke of the need to switch Aaron Hill to short and Adams to second base. Seeing as Adams’ problems were with his throwing and Hill’s arm was stronger and more accurate it was a pretty obvious scenario. Blue Jays’ GM, JP Ricciardi repeatedly spoke about how they wouldn’t make a switch mid-season. He said it would stunt there growth, and that a team in a pennant race couldn’t afford to have two players with new positions, especially up the middle.

These arguments had some validity, but a bigger reason to shoot down the idea was to not affect Adams’ confidence by questioning his abilities, and to try to minimize the media speculation that might exacerbate Adams ’ psychological issues.

When the team couldn’t bare the bad defense anymore they made the switch. They sent Adams down to the minors to learn his new position and let Hill play short after a few days of taking ground balls with infield coach Brian Butterfield (Hill played lots of short in the minors). The point being that Ricciardi spun the events before and after the switch to best suit the Toronto Blue Jays. This is nothing new, of course, and there is nothing wrong with it.

Ricciardi also spun the Shea Hillenbrand fiasco to cause as little damage as he could. He cited Hillenbrand’s negative remarks when he left Boston and his reputation as a whole. He also gave his manager a vote of confidence saying, “Gibby’s job is more secure than it’s ever been.”

Now the widely publicized Ted Lilly incident has once again caused Ricciardi to comment in an attempt to quell the rumors of clubhouse disarray and Gibbons’ getting fired. Taking to protecting his club, Ricciardi said, “I’m not firing John Gibbons. We have a very good manager, here. If we did fire him, there’d be five teams lined up for him.”

There are numerous reports now calling for Gibbons to be fired, and he will be. This kind of stuff is classic examples of losing a club house. Gibbons really does seem like a good guy, but he doesn’t seem able to balance his own issues/intolerances with the good of the team, now and in the future. The only reason Gibbons might stay is because the Blue Jays would lose a precious millions dollars that could go toward payroll. It doesn’t matter whose fault the incidents were. Even if Ted Lilly and Shea Hillenbrand are complete jerks and Gibbons is a saint, it has gone too far. The public’s perception is there, and you can be sure the players are sick of dealing with the media around these sort of clashes.

Roy Halladay, AJ Burnett, BJ Ryan, Vernon Wells, these guys don’t like a lot of attention or dealing with the media in general. The only was to get a fresh start, to recreate a calm and healthy environment is to let Gibbons go whether he deserves it or not. There will be other teams that want Gibbons, as they should, but the Blue Jays need to wipe the slate clean for the good of the organization.

Roy Halladay Earns MLB-best 16th Win
August 21, 2006, 4:26 am
Filed under: baseball, blue jays, rogers, sports, toronto

Roy Halladay took a perfect game into the sixth inning retiring the first 16 batters, earning his major league-leading 16th win in a 9-2 rout of the Baltimore Orioles. Halladay (16-3) allowed two runs, four hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out two. The right-hander’s perfect game ended when Brandon Fahey grounded a single up the middle with one out in the sixth. After being routed by the Orioles two games in a row (7-2 and 15-0) a Roy Halladay start was much needed. The stopper did what he so often does, ended a losing streaks for the Blue Jays.

The 2003 Cy Young award winner is certainly on pace to win the award so far but will receive some competition from Johan Santana, Curt Schilling, Cheng Ming Wang, and Justin Verlander down the stretch.

While Halladay has never thrown a no-hitter, he has some experience coming within one out of a no-hitter against the Tigers in just his second major league start back in 1998. With two outs in the ninth inning Bobby Higginson hit Halladay’s first pitch into the seats to end the no-hitter and the shutout. The Jays still won the game 2-1.

After Halladay’s seven strong innings, Jeremy Acaardo and B.J. Ryan pitched a scoreless eigth and ninth. The Jays hit three homers, one each by Troy Glaus, Reed Johnson, and Bengie Molina. Lyle Overbay went 3-4 with 2 doubles and 2 runs raising his average to .308.

Ricciardi Calls Former Assistant an ‘Idiot’ – But Was it Revenge?
August 20, 2006, 5:20 pm
Filed under: baseball, blue jays, rogers, rumors, sports, toronto

Keith Law, former Blue Jays special assistant to GM J.P. Ricciardi, but a writer for ESPN since June, published what appearded to be priveliged details of a relationship known from his previously being a high ranking official with the team.

Vernon Wells has told Blue Jays’ management that he has no intention of signing a contract extension to stay in Toronto. He and his family would like to move closer to his home in Texas, and he has become increasingly disenchanted in Toronto as he has faced public criticism from general manager J.P. Ricciardi.”

While rumors that Wells wanted to play closer to home are not new, this is the first report that says Wells has told the club he is not coming back. Both Wells and Ricciardi denied that conversation ever took place.

From Wells, “The conversation never happened. It’s a complete fabrication.”

From Ricciardi, “He’s become a writer. It doesn’t take long. Keith Law is officially an idiot.”

This was a surprisingly fast breakdown considering Law was one of Ricciadi’s first hires as general manager. He worked closely with Ricciardi for four and a half years only to quit. To betray the confidence of your former boss and job three months after leaving seems harsh. After hearing Ricciardi’s quit rebuttal one has to wonder if Law left on good terms.

Aside from the negative publicity Ricciardi, Wells, and the entire organization have had to deal with, divulging that information compromises the Blue Jays ability to get full value in a trade involving Wells. If other clubs know Wells is unhappy other teams will treat it more like a player dump (see Shea Hillenbrand).

This sounds like revenge to me. Who knows what happened? It could have been a professional disagreement or a personal matter, anything. But I know this; Keith Law is too smart to not know the effect his comments would have on the situation.

Either Keith Law has compromised his integrity for a story, or he wanted revenge. I hope he just wanted revenge.

Keith Law’s quote from his ESPN Insider Blog Aug. 18, 2006.

Other quotes from Toronto Star article Ricciardi blogged down by Wells rumour by Richard Griffin Aug. 19, 2006.