J.P. has a quick hook. You can say a lot of things about Ricciardi’s tenure as the Blue Jay’s GM, but you have to say this: The man is willing to swallow his pride and admit when he’s wrong. But wasn’t this a bit premature? The Jays will take a real bath here, eating $15 million of B.J. Ryan’s salary. Combine that with last year’s dump of Frank Thomas, and you have twenty-five million bucks worth of break-ups the past two seasons.
Ryan, as most of you may remember, was signed to a big 5-year, $47 million dollar contract in November of 2005. Year one of his contract looked promising — Ryan saved 38 in 42 attempts, posted a FIP of 2.14 and was worth three wins above replacement as Toronto’s closer in 2006. Unfortunately, the wheels came off quickly from there. Back pain somehow turned into Tommy John surgery, (read: the team lied to the media) and Ryan has not been the same pitcher since. While he was able to save 32 games in 36 tries last season, his stuff never returned. His fastball and his slider have dropped about 4 miles per hour and his slider has flattened out. The results have not been pretty:
Still, it’s surprising that the Blue Jays were so quick to show him the door. Ryan had complained to the press about a lack of playing time but (allegedly) refused any minor league assignment after the team placed him on the disabled list with tightness in his shoulder. Releasing Ryan was probably about the only way to make him semi-attractive to other teams who may be interested in taking a flier, so in that sense it may have been the right thing to do. Right now he looks more like a long-shot LOOGY than anything else, as he has shown he still at least has some ability to miss left-handed bats.
According to Ryan’s win values, he only “earned” $12 mil of that $47 million dollar contract, good for a $35 million dollar toilet flush.
Ryan seems to be a rarity in that Tommy John surgery hasn’t really seemed to take. Signing a 30-year old closer to a big, five-year deal hardly seems like a good idea to me, but at the time the deal wasn’t universally pilloried, and the Blue Jays were bumping salary in order to compete with the big two. The reign of Ricciardi has been a bumpy ride, and if I’m a Blue Jay fan I’m a little worried about him finding a way to screw up the Halladay trade negotiations.
As for Ryan, I’d imagine he’ll latch on somewhere, reportedly Florida has some interest. Whether he ever regains his form seems rather doubtful at the moment, but some team will give him a shot.