Saturday, November 26, 2005

BJ Ryan and JP Ricciardi

Apparently the Blue Jays are going to give BJ Ryan five years and forty-seven million. Absolutely insane. With the recent firing of Paul DePodesta and the resignation of Theo Epstein, the “sabermetric” GMs have been reduced to Billy Beane in Oakland and JP Ricciardi in Toronto. Ricciardi was never considered as much of a true believer as the others, but since he worked for Beane, he has gotten that label. With this signing, it is clear that something has happened, or that he was not a sabermetric GM to begin with.

Ryan pitched 50 innings in 2003, with a 3.85 Relief RA, a 3.74 eRA, and a 3.52 G-F, good for +6 RAA. In 2004, in 87 innings he had a 2.31 RRA, a 2.96 eRA, and a 3.31 G-F for +26 RAA. Last year, at age 30, he worked 70 innings with a 2.49 RRA, a 2.93 eRA, and a 3.29 G-F for +18 runs. So he is clearly an outstanding reliever. He led all AL Relievers in G-F, and was tenth in eRA and second in GRA. Along with Mariano Rivera, he is the class of AL relievers. But to invest almost ten million in him, for a team that supposedly is not flush with money, seems awfully foolish. Particularly from someone (presumably) with a sabermetric perspective and a recognition that the proven closer label is silly, that what you want is a quality pitcher period.

Anyway, if you assume that a “sabermetric GM” would not sign this contract, what are the possible explanations:

1. Ricciardi never was a sabermetric GM

2. Ricciardi was a sabermetric GM, but has learned through experience that the approach(at least with respect to closers) will not work

3. Ricciardi is still sabermetrically-minded, but outside influences, be they direct orders, fear of being fired, or media pressure have caused him to do something against their better judgement

4. Ricciardi wants to marry B.J. Ryan’s sister

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