I'm starting to feel like the last guy on the JP Riccardi bandwagon. Reports are starting to more than trickle out that his job is in jeopardy. I don't think that's fair.
Riccardi was put in a damned if you do - damned if you don't situation. When he took the job in Toronto the Canadian dollar was strong and he was expected to spend some money by the fans of the team. Specifically he was expected to spend that money on fan favorite Vernon Wells. Now it is that contract, along with the deals given to Alex Rios and BJ Ryan that are coming back to haunt him. It was these three deals and how he handled the potential trade of Roy Halladay that have put him in this situation.
As I said - he HAD to sign Vernon Wells. Letting fan favorite Wells walk would have cost Riccardi his job. He gave the fans what they wanted and now the fans are mad at him for it. That's not fair.
At the time of the BJ Ryan signing - Riccardi was pretty much hailed for making a very savvy signing. Because of the strength of the Canadian dollar at the time - the money spent on Ryan wasn't as much as it seemed. Ryan was a guy who was used to the AL East and not just unafraid of the Yankees and Red Sox but successful pitching against them. The Yankees had Mo Rivera and the Red Sox had Jonathan Papelbon. BJ Ryan was supposed to be the Blue Jays answer to the other teams' closers. Remember - it was a very popular move at the time that propelled many people to make the Blue Jays the trendy pick to win the AL East that year.
Alex Rios? That was a bad signing plain and simple. However, like Vernon Wells - Alex Rios was a fan favorite. Riccardi signed him but I think it is only fair to give him credit for dumping him before the big money kicked in.
Riccardi doesn't get the credit he deserves for building a foundation that can be built upon and which can bring success in the near term. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind give the Blue Jays a 3-4 punch as good as any in baseball. The pitching when healthy is also among the best and deepest in baseball. JP Riccardi is under contract for 2010 and I think he deserves to come back.
I know that this isn't a popular opinion but I think I'm right about this.