So get this:
Rumblings around baseball suggest that, if the Blue Jays don’t finish strongly this season, general manager J.P. Ricciardi will be discharged after the season and, brace yourself, Gord Ash may be offered his old job back.
Ash, a Toronto native, is receiving kudos throughout the major leagues for his work in Milwaukee. The Brewers are atop the NL Central division and Ash, their assistant general manager, is getting much of the credit.
Ash was fired as the Jays’ GM several years ago but still has a decent relationship with the club's amicable president, Paul Godfrey. And, in reality, Ash (not Ricciardi) was responsible for acquiring and grooming the Jays’ top stars – pitcher Roy Halladay and centre fielder Vernon Wells.
•Let’s face it. The Blue Jays aren’t going anywhere this season. Injuries, the lack of production by Ricciardi’s biggest off-season signing, Frank Thomas, and a general dearth of talent are largely why the Jays won’t make the playoffs – yet again – this season.
That’s probably why, according to sources, Ricciardi is preparing to try and trade some of his established players for prospects. The established players would include third baseman Troy Glaus, catcher Gregg Zaun and shortstop Royce Clayton.
• Zaun and Clayton have done next to nothing, which means the Jays will be in the market for a respectable catcher and a productive shortstop next season.
They’d be expensive, but Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson and New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada may be available.
Wilson is in the doghouse with the Pirates now, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.He’s their highest-paid player with a salary of $5.4-million US, but he’s been benched this week and is guaranteed an additional $14.25-million over the next two seasons. And, based on precedent, the Pirates are enormously unlikely to keep that salary on the payroll if there is any doubt he will be their everyday shortstop.
Posada, meanwhile, is enjoying the best start of his 12-year career and will probably enter the free-agent market in the winter.
"I'm going to look into it," said Posada, who belted his eighth homer of the season in Wednesday night's 7-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"It's the first time and maybe the only time I'm going to be a free agent. Don't get me wrong, I totally want to be here, this is the only place I know, but I'm not assuming anything right now. If that doesn't happen, I will look at every option. If that happens, I'm going to enjoy being a free agent."
• Jeff Kent, the ex-Jay who is toiling at second base for the Los Angeles Dodgers these days, is nearing the end of his career.
“I won’t play beyond 40, so that makes next year my last year,” Kent said.
"When I left Washington's stadium this year, I asked myself, 'Should I be sad since I might never be back here?' I felt the same thing when I left Pittsburgh's stadium. Should I take some dirt, a base, a dirty sock? But you know what, there's just not that attachment for me. I won't be one of those guys who find it hard to leave."
• The Dodgers, incidentally, are trying to pry shortstop Miguel Tejada away from the Baltimore Orioles.
Mind you, so are Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs.
• Justin Verlander's no-hitter Tuesday against the Brewers was the first for the Detroit Tigers since Jack Morris accomplished the feat in 1994.
“The greatest thing about Verlander throwing a no-hitter,” Morris said this week, “was that it means somebody in the American League actually threw a complete game.”
Morris is a broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins these days.
• The Red Sox have another four days to trade, release or place on waivers lefty reliever J.C. Romero, who was designated for assignment last weekend.
According to sources, a number of NL clubs have called to inquire about Romero, whom the Sox signed over the winter as a free agent.
Romero has about $900,000 remaining on his $1.4-million salary.
• When Washington righty John Patterson returns from the Nationals’ disabled list -- and there is no set timetable for that yet -- he might do so as a different pitcher.
Patterson, who threw a bullpen session Tuesday, said his velocity might not be fully restored by the time he returns, and he will have to adjust.
• When Padres General Manager Kevin Towers acquired Heath Bell early last off-season, he also apparently burned the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“From what I understand, the Devil Rays wanted to get me and I probably could have become their closer,” Bell said.
The story goes that once Towers cheaply got Bell from New York Mets GM Omar Minaya, Tampa called Towers to ask about Bell's availability.
“KT was like, 'You've got more prospects than we do. If you wanted him, you could have gotten him,' ” Bell said.
• The Preston Wilson Era with the Cardinals probably is over.
Wilson, a 32-year-old reserve outfielder and the stepson of ex-Jay Mookie Wilson, will need six to nine months of recovery time after he undergoes knee surgery on Monday.
• Lou Piniella on life as the Cubs' manager:
"I live downtown, and I like to walk around the city. Chicago is a great place to live. When I go out, though, I always wear a baseball cap and sunglasses. When you're under .500 in Chicago, you have to."
The Cubs haven't won a World Series title since 1908 and haven't been in a World Series since 1945.
"This is a big city, and it's dominated by talk radio," Piniella said. "One woman who was 90 called in and said she'd never seen a winner. So could I show some urgency, please? I said that I'm 63 and I'm not going to be doing this for much longer. So there's some urgency for me, too."