J.P. Ricciardi On The Blue Jays’ Great Start
May 13, 2009 – 10:15 am by Tas Melas
Cito Gaston continues to be overlooked – just as he has been since he took the Blue Jays’ managerial seat in 1989. The fired and hired again Toronto Manager was taken for granted in the glory days for the franchise – many people said he was the perfect guy for a talented, veteran team, simply allowing them to play. And, that may be true, but now he’s doing it with a far younger ball club because he’s equally as good with the green players as well. He gives them confidence but still gives them their space which allows them to improve on their own time – the only way an athlete can truly get better.
I say he’s overlooked not only because he didn’t receive another managerial job from 1997-2008, but Jays’ General Manager J.P. Ricciardi doesn’t praise him enough either. In this interview, Ricciardi first claims that the Jays are hitting well because they’re finally healthy, and then in his next quote states the team should have hit better in the past – an obvious contradiction. Ricciardi will not admit to making any mistakes, a large one being that he had John Gibbons running his club and the day he gave Cito the reins, this squad became a ball team. It’s not the injuries, it’s because Cito Gaston provides an environment where players can excel. Even the much hated A.J. Burnett praised Gaston and his laid back attitude in his return to Toronto yesterday – I truly believe his coaching style is comparable to Joe Torre’s. Ricciardi joined Mike Francesa on WFAN to discuss the team’s healthy lineup, their abundance of young pitching, and when everyone can proclaim his team is for real.
What’s been the biggest factor contributing to the Jays’ good start?
“I think it’s been our offense because we thought we’ve had a good offensive club here the last few years, but we’ve really underachieved and it’s been a byproduct of I think mostly of not having a healthy lineup. And, I think you’re seeing the results of having a healthy (Aaron) Hill, a healthy (Scott) Rolen, a healthy (Vernon) Wells, those three guys in our lineup. I think (Travis) Snider being able to play at the Major League level has lengthened out our lineup and (Adam) Lind… Now, he’s just starting to become the player that we thought he could be offensively.”
When can everyone say your team is for real?
“I think halfway through the season, I think if we’re at that 81 mark and we’re playing the way we’ve been playing, I think we’re for real at that point. We just gotta keep going series-to-series and gotta keep seeing how we progress. I’m encouraged by our offense, I think that’s a really big, big thing for us because we haven’t performed this well, and we should of, but we haven’t, and if we can continue to maintain this it’s gotta take a lot more pressure off to go out there and throw a shutout or only allow one or two runs.”
On how the starting pitching has performed this well despite injuries:
“We also five kids on the DL that are starting pitchers that are 26 or younger – (Dustin) McGowan, (Shaun) Marcum, (Casey) Janssen, (Ricky) Romero, and (Jesse) Litsch… We just don’t get the notoriety ’cause we don’t play in those big media markets but we’ve got good pitching here, and we’ve been able to do a good job with drafting and developing young pitching and it’s starting to show at the Major League level.”
On how Cito Gaston was unemployed for so long:
“You know what’s really amazing Mike, is the fact that this guy went eleven years without being offered a Major League managing job. It’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing when you think about the context that went in to the decisions on why this guy would not get another job. But, we were just fortunate he was still in the organization, he was very close to us, and he’s the right guy for us at the right time…”
Listen to J.P. Ricciardi on WFAN with Mike Francesa
Tags: Baseball, J.P. Ricciardi, MLB, Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays