Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Guillotine Season Starts Early

The guillotine season is upon us and it's a few days early. Usually, "Black Monday" is the day after the regular baseball season ends and when most manager firings take place. We've already seen Wedge get fired in Cleveland and Cooper gone in Houston. Today, two entrenched general managers lost their jobs when Kevin Towers of the Padres and J. P. Ricciardi of the Blue Jays were fired (see stories here and here).

The story concerning Towers seems to make clear that the new ownership group simply wanted their own guy. Towers speculated as such. But there won't be many people losing sleep over Towers' departure. With a reputation as a "gunslinger," Towers did not handle the departure of long-time closer, Trevor Hoffman with any semblance of diplomacy and the Padres have taken several steps back in recent years after the club made the playoffs early in the decade.

Towers did seem to handle the Peavy case very well and the talent he received for the damaged pitcher was impressive. Peavy's three starts for the White Sox since the trade seem to skew the trade in the White Sox favor, but time will tell and the deal will free up the money for talent elsewhere.

The case against Ricciardi seems different. The tone of the statements found in the story concerning his dismissal seem to point to a disappointment by the Blue Jays' CEO and ownership that Ricciardi hadn't done the job they wanted him to do in the way they wanted him to do it. No one will ever really know what really went down behind the scenes in the Halladay negotiations. Perhaps that was part of what happened Saturday and perhaps not. Bad signings by Ricciardi have been well chronicled, though it must be added in fairness that some of those deals were ownership inspired and not always Ricciardi's fault.

It is also unknown if the recent situation between the players and Cito Gaston had anything to do with what seems on the surface like a last minute decision. CEO Beeston and Gaston himself seem to claim that the players were not responsible for the quotes attributed to them and that a possible plant had started the stories. That seems to be a stretch, but it is certainly possible and would contradict and make moot the post written here in the FanDome yesterday. Perhaps that whole situation did not square favorably with Ricciardi and hastened the decision, who knows. It has seemed that Ricciardi and Gaston weren't on the same page during the course of the year.

The Blue Jays are leaning heavily towards the assistant GM under Ricciardi. Alex Anthopoulos is a young guy and started with the Blue Jays as the scouting coordinator in 2003. Since the organization's drafting success has been limited in the last five years, that news isn't exactly comforting. Again, time will tell if the Blue Jays have done the right thing here, but as with San Diego, it seems both of these dismissals on Saturday have resulted in a succession plan already mapped out.

Ricciardi and Towers will be heard from again. They haven't escaped their tenures without some black eyes, but both are respected and experienced and should soon find other opportunities. Especially since the next few days are sure to see a few more axes falling on high ranking necks around the majors.

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