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GMs Sacked: J. P. Ricciardi

One has to wonder if the failure to move Roy Halladay this past deadline was the straw that broke the proverbial back of Ricciardi’s job security, or perhaps even was the primary motivator, but either way, Ricciardi is out as the General Manager of Toronto, a mere hours after it was first leaked that the Padres were axing GM Kevin Towers. Curious that both came on the final weekend of the season rather than after it.

The Blue Jays have made a habit the past five seasons of hovering around .500, but never breaking through the barrier high enough to actually compete for a playoff spot. Despite winning 80 or more games every season since 2004, the Blue Jays have finished 15 games (2005), 8, 11 and 9 games out of the playoff race between 2005 and 2008 and they are 18 games out this season. Ricciardi’s overall record reflects that as Toronto has gone 642-652 while he served as GM.

Aside from the record, or rather just as you might imagine, during Ricciardi’s tenure, the Blue Jays were labeled as a team that would draft ultra-conservatively. That strategy led to a decent crop of role players, but rarely any homegrown elite players and thus Ricciardi was forced to foray into the free agent market, which turned out to be the source of some of his biggest blunders like the B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas contracts.

Extensions of the few good players inside the organization rarely went well either as evidenced by Alex Rios (luckily dumped on the White Sox this season) and Vernon Wells. For the time being, Assistant General Manager Alexander Anthopoulos takes over Ricciardi’s duties though there’s not likely to be much to do between now and the time when a permanent hire is made.

With New York and Boston mainstays in the AL East more than ever thanks to a growing financial competitive advantage as team-owned cable networks skirt around revenue sharing policies and the well oiled Tampa Rays now poised to remain in the conversation for years to come, the future looks as difficult as ever for Toronto to make a name for itself in postseason play.