Bad GM or Worst GM Ever? Part 5

Back to it. Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Once hired, Ricciardi was given the task of shedding payroll and trading off the team's highest paid players.

In his first off-season, made 4 big trades. Players sent out were Billy Koch, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Quantrill, Cesar Izturis, and Brad Fullmer. While no one who came to the Jays in return had much value (aside from Eric Hinske's great rookie season), these trades were made more with the intention of getting rid of high priced veterans.

Koch, the team's closer, was coming off 3 straight 30+ save seasons, his first 3 seasons in the majors. He was shipped off to the A's in the trade that brought Eric Hinske to the Jays. After a good season in Oakland, he was then traded again, this time to the White Sox in exchange for Keith Foulke. He was not the same pitcher, though, as he had the worst numbers of his career in 2003, lost his closer job and was traded to the Marlins in 2004. He was picked up by the Jays for the 2005 season, but was cut during spring training and hasn't appearing the big leagues since, mostly due to the Morgellons syndrome that he and his family was diagnosed with.

Alex Gonzalez, the team's regular shortstop since 1995, was next out the door. Sent to the Cubs, Gonzalez posted about the same numbers in his first few years in Chicago as he had during his Toronto stint. However, he booted an easy double play ball in the 8th inning of game 6 of the 2003 NLCS versus Florida in a play massively overshadowed by the Steve Bartman incident. His play dropped off after this, and at the 2004 trade deadline he was sent to Montreal as part of a 4-team trade that sent Orlando Cabrera to Boston and Nomar Garciaparra back to the Cubs. A few weeks later, he was sent to San Diego before spending the 2005 season in Tampa Bay and appearing in a handful of games for the Phillies in '06 before retiring. A brief comeback in 2007 saw him play a few games in AAA before he retired for good.

Quantrill was coming off of an all-star season and the set-up man was the league leader in appearances. His 2 seasons as a Dodger were very good, as he was a valuable right-handed set-up guy out of the bullpen for Los Angeles, bridging the gap to Eric Gagne. He then signed as a free agent with the Yankees. However, he was probably overused by Joe Torre, as his numbers fell off during his first year in New York and he bounced around between 3 teams in 2005 before retiring after playing for Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The second player sent to the Dodgers was shortstop Cesar Izturis. In a brief stint in Toronto in 2001, Izturis provided solid fielding, but his hitting was lacking. His career since then has remained about the same. While winning a Gold Glove in 2004 and making the All-Star team for the Dodgers in '05, since the trade his OBP has been .299 and he has slugged only .327. Again, this might be the worst trade on Ricciardi's resume, as both players (especially Quantrill) had value at the time, and the return to the Blue Jays was almost non-existent.

Brad Fullmer was the next player sent his walking papers. In his 2 seasons in Toronto, he hit 50 home runs and had an OPS of .832. Traded to the Angels, Fullmer hit 19 home runs for the eventual World Series champions, but injuries eventually caught up with him, as he averaged only 69 games a year in '03 and '04 with Anaheim and then Texas before retiring.

None of the players shipped out during the off-season went on to have long, prosperous post-Blue Jay careers, so the lack of good players in return doesn't sting too much. Cesar Izturis is the only one of these players still in the big leagues.

In the first few months of the '02 season, pitchers Pedro Borbon and Dan Plesac were also traded. Both were done with baseball after the 2003 season. Raul Mondesi was also gone, sent to the Yankees. He bounced around a few teams in the next few years, last appearing in 41 games for the Braves in 2005. Again, nothing of great value was brought back in return, but as none of the players going the other way spent much more time in the league, it didn't hurt too much.

That off-season, infielder Felipe Lopez was sent to Cincinnati in a 4-team trade that brought pitching prospect Jason Arnold to Toronto. Not a salary dump this time, but in 134 games in a Jays uniform in parts of 2 seasons, Lopez's OBP was only .293 and didn't provide the offense that Ricciardi was looking for. Lopez's career has been up and down, and, at times, he has been a very good offensive shortstop at times (making the All-Star team in 2005 while hitting 23 home runs for the Reds). Arnold, on the other hand, never reached the majors and quit baseball after the 2006 season. With the revolving door the Jays have had a shortstop in the past 5 or 6 years, Lopez, at times, might have looked like nice in a Blue Jays uniform.

Shannon Stewart was traded during the 2003 season, prior to his Blue Jays contract expiring. While he had a very good half-season in Minnesota, helping spark the Twins to a division title, he declined after signing a new contract with his new team. A brief return to Toronto in '08 lasted only 52 games and he is currently without a team. The trade brought Bobby Kielty to Toronto, who was then traded to Oakland that off-season for Ted Lilly.

Jayson Werth appeared in 41 games for the Jays in the 2002 and '03 seasons, hitting 2 home runs. With a glut of outfielders, he was deemed expendable and sent to the Dodgers in return for reliever Jason Frasor. As mentioned in an earlier post, Frasor has been a dependable bullpen arm for the most part, while Werth showed promise in his 2 seasons with LA before injuring himself and being released. He has flourished with a starting role in Philadelphia and had a very good World Series, helping the Phillies beat the Rays and win it all in '08.

Mark Hendrickson was also sent packing that off-season, as he wound up in Tampa Bay. He has been perfectly mediocre since, usually posting ERAs in the mid-4s to the high-5s. With the starting pitching talent the Jays have had since then, he hasn't really been missed.

The next notable names sent packing were Dave Bush and Gabe Gross, who went to Milwaukee in the Lyle Overbay trade. Bush has been mediocre, as well, in his time in Milwaukee, and would probably not fit into the Jays starting rotation plans right now. Gross has been shown to have some pop in his bat, first with the Brewers and now with the Rays, but, like Werth before him, fell victim to the large amount of outfield choices the Jays had at the time.

Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson were shortly after that sent to Arizona in exchange for Troy Glaus. Batista hasn't performed well as a starter since the trade to the Diamondbacks and since his signing in Seattle. Hudson, on the other hand, really saw his hitting take off once out of Toronto. Although injury problems caused him to miss the end of the '07 and '08 seasons, he has finished with an OPS over .800 in every year since the trade. The emergence of Aaron Hill as an all-star 2nd baseman, however, takes the sting out of this one.

No one traded out of town since has done much of anything. Troy Glaus had a good first season in St. Louis and Matt Stairs had a big pinch hit home run in the NLCS that helped the Phillies beat the Dodgers, but neither of these 2 have the potential to haunt our dreams for years to come like the prospect of wondering how Michael Young would have done as a Jay does.

Now, obviously, trading away players is only one part of it. Much like I did earlier with the signing of players, next up, I'll take a look at the players Ricciardi allowed to leave via free agency.

1 comment:

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