Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sympathy for the GM

This is the sort of piece that many in the Toronto media (especially those who don’t actually cover baseball) love to hate: it’s one that gives J.P. some credit, where we think it is due.

We don’t doubt that J.P. is a bit of an abrasive arrogant butt munch. We’re sure that the fact that he’s changed his cellphone number without passing it on to the media is an absolute outrage. And we didn’t care for his obfuscating on B.J. Ryan’s injury.

But we’ll say this about the moves that he’s made this year: on a certain level, they worked.

It’s easy now for those like Steve Simmons (an abrasive arrogant butt munch in his own right) to gleefully hold up the off season acquisitions of Tomo Ohka, John Thomson, Victor Zambrano and Royce Clayton as abject failures.

But here’s the thing about those signings: J.P. took a low risk/high reward gamble on those players to fill in the gap for one year, laying down minimal commitments – both in years and in dollars – so as not to hamstring the franchise going forward, and so as not to rush players who weren't ready to play in the heat and light of the AL East.

None of those signings (nor even the Thomas signing, really) have worked out for the best on the surface of things. But how well do you suppose Shaun Marcum or Dustin McGowan would have done if thrust into the rotation on April 1? How would John McDonald played if he weren’t competing for starts with every at bat and every ground ball?

And how was anyone to know the full impact that injuries would have on Jays' roster this year?

On last Friday’s Prime Time Sports roundtable, Bob McCown, Mary Ormsby, Michael Grange and Stephen Brunt (sorry Steve…you’re still our favorite) took turns playing Whack-A-GM, writing off the season as a complete failure (and it's not even the All-Star Break!).

Grange even offered up the profound nugget that the B.J. Ryan signing was a good one last year, but not this year…talk about having your cake and eating it too. (That level of insight and depth of baseball knowledge is perhaps why the Globe has him writing on basketball and golf.)

The absurdity goes on: Marty York (in his “MLB Report” for that paper with which homeless people keep themselves warm) recently floated the idea that J.P. is in trouble, and that Gord Ash (!!) was going to ride back into town to save the day.

The greek chorus in the press box like to wax poetic with penetrating hindsight on past failures such as dumping Chad Gaudin, or the Luke Prokopec deal, or any number of other botched deals. Or how A.J. Burnett is a ".500 pitcher", and wasn't worth the money they gave him, even though lesser pitchers have already surpassed his contract.

(Has anyone noticed how little Ted Lilly's done lately?)

We don’t want to sound like apologists. We don’t think that J.P. is a “genius”, and we’re left wondering about some of his past decisions. But we also think that you can assail just about any exec in MLB if you selectively and superficially pick through the ashes of history.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Prime-Time sports also had Keith Law on the other day, who took time out to diss McGowan a little and diss Burnett a lot. My favourite part was when he said "Why sign Burnett when McGowan was waiting in the wings?" Yeah, cause why have three quality starting pitchers when you could have two. Brunt (who I like too), Toth and Law also complained about AJ dumping gatorade on Dustin and about all the shaving cream pies, saying that Halladay never does it, so it shouldn't be done. Law said that Burnett is a suck because he won't pitch in pain and is a bad clubhouse guy (based on Fla). I know Law and JP have history, but it was ridiculous. These guys have a habit of stating their opinion as fact.