MLB Report : April 24, 2008
J.P. Ricciardi has been caught lying several times during hisyears as the Blue Jays’ general manager, and so I’ll come right out andsuggest that he was being less than truthful again last weekend.
J.P. Ricciardi has been caught lying several times during his years as the Blue Jays’ general manager, and so I’ll come right out and suggest that he was being less than truthful again last weekend.
Ricciardi insisted Frank Thomas’ contractual situation did not affect his decision to release the 39-year-old designated hitter.
Well, not true.
A source in the Jays’ front office told me privately back in spring training that the club’s plan was to prevent Thomas from accumulating 369 plate appearances this season. (You can find evidence of that in the March 25 York Report in Metro.) If Thomas reached that number, after all, the Jays would have been compelled to guarantee him $10-million next season.
So Ricciardi last weekend dumped the future Hall of Famer, understandably, but rationalized the move in public by suggesting Thomas was off to “a slow start” this season. He said the release become necessary when Thomas showed he couldn’t handle a demotion to the bench.
Well, Thomas wasn’t buying Ricciardi’s comments then and, judging by what he was telling reporters after re-joining the Oakland A’s for minimum pro-rated wages yesterday, he never will.
Thomas vehemently took exception to Ricciardi’s “slow start” story.
"This year wasn't a slow start at all for me,” said Thomas, who was batting .167 (10-for-60) with three home runs and 11 runs batted in in 16 games for the Jays when he was released.
“It was actually a huge start. I produced 11 runs in 16 games. I hit three balls out. I scored eight runs. I took 11 walks. That's good production."
Thomas, who will still be paid about $6.7-million by the Jays this year, insisted he never really wanted to leave Oakland, where he starred in 2006. But he said the Jays’ offered him a contract that the A’s weren’t willing to match.
Thomas also said he wasn’t holding grudges against the Jays.
“It didn't work out in Toronto, but no hard feelings," he said. “That's the business side of the game. I'm just happy to be back here. I feel comfortable here. ... Hopefully, I can get hot and do what I do."
It didn’t take him long to start producing again for the A’s. In his first game back with the team on Thursday, he walked twice and scored once in an 11-2 rout of the Minnesota Twins.