Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ricciardi 0 for 2

The White Sox claimed Alex Rios off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. The Blue Jays in return received...nothing. No compensation. Not even a lowly minor leaguer. Not even a bucket of balls and a few worn bats. Nothing. Yes, the White Sox are now responsible for the rest of Rios' entire large contract, which is $61.6 million over the next five years (with a $1.5 million buyout in 2015). But to allow Rios, a two time AL All Star, to go for nothing, well that's just another brilliant move by Riccardi. Yes, I am being facetious.

First, Ricciardi announces to the world that he will take offers for Roy Halladay, then decides the offers aren't good enough and holds onto him. It was obvious that he was trying to cut payroll, because in his next move, Ricciardi trades Scott Rolen and his hefty contract to the Reds for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke and another prospect - I will give Ricciardi credit for getting a good return on Rolen. But then he allows Rios to go for nothing. I understand getting rid of a bad contract. But you couldn't even get some minor league filler? Hell at least Neal Huntington got two mediocre minor leaguers for Adam LaRoche!

Ricciardi even has the nerve to say it was NOT "a financial dump" but said they needed "more financial flexibility". Excuse me, you just let a player go for nothing. I have been in fantasy leagues for years, and JP that's called a "dump". By the way, in any fantasy league, that trade/move would be banned. :-)

So what does Ricciardi hope to gain by removing $72 million plus, which is what Rolen and Rios were signed for, from his payroll over the next several years? Signing Roy Halladay to a contract extension? If you're Halladay and you see in the past ten days that your seven time gold glove starting third baseman was traded and a two time AL All Star centerfielder dumped for "more financial flexibility", do you really want to stay on this team after next season? I think not.

By not trading Halladay or Rios by the trade deadline, Ricciardi greatly lost a chance to strengthen his team, especially his minor league system. Ricciardi is also the person who saddled the Blue Jays with the expensive contracts of Rios and Vernon Wells. It's time for a change in Toronto, otherwise it's more of the same disappointments for years to come.

I was in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire over the weekend for the Curious George Festival, so I missed out on most of the Yankees-Red Sox series. I was still able to catch some of the games though. First thought, perhaps I was too presumptuous to say the Red Sox were a winner coming out of the trade deadline. With Dice K and Wakefield hurt, the now designated for assignment John Smoltz and Brad Penny not getting the job done, and Clay Buchholz not ready to be the third ace in the staff, the Red Sox rotation is very shaky past Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

The Red Sox perhaps overvalued their prospects when trying to deal with the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. As a result, the roles with the Yankees are reversed. When the Sox won the first eight games against the Bronx Bombers, the Sox had the better starting staff and bullpen. Now as the season has progressed, the Yankees starting staff has improved, especially with the second half emergence of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes finally giving the Yankees a legit setup man for Rivera. Meanwhile the Red Sox' staff, due to injuries and an overworked bullpen looks shaky.

Right now, it looks very difficult for the Red Sox to get back in the hunt for the AL East race with their injuries. Yes, they did need to add Victor Martinez to a team where the offense is getting old (Lowell, Ortiz and Varitek probably won't be on the Sox next year) and banged up (Jason Bay being out has really hurt their lineup). Even with Martinez, the Sox can't match the Yankee lineup. But as always, the difference comes down to pitching. If Michael Bowden was ready to contribute, he would be up by now. So perhaps trading Buchholz and other prospects to get Halladay would have been the smart move. Now they have to try to hold off the Rays, a team with better starting pitching right now, or the Rangers, a team playing in a weaker AL West for the wild card. It's not going to be easy.

Kudos to the White Sox for going for it by adding Rios and Jake Peavy. If all goes well, within 10 days to two weeks, both will be on the White Sox roster. The White Sox are too far back in the Wild Card hunt (seven games behind Boston with four teams in front) but they are only three behind the Tigers. Blowing a late lead to Seattle last night while Detroit lost to Boston didn't help. But adding Peavy to Buehrle, Floyd and Danks makes the White Sox staff comparable to Detroit's. Rios gives them lineup flexibility (while maybe not "financial flexibility"). Should be a fun last month and a half in the AL Central.

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