Dog Days of summer leave Toronto Sports fans with lots to chew on

Strange times indeed here in TO.

First, the Blue Jays. They are showing some signs of life (past game excluded). Yet given the current state of the league, they would have to play almost .700 ball the rest of the way to qualify for the post season. Possible? Sure, anything is possible, but highly unlikely.

The off field story however is much more intriguing. Where to start? Let’s see, every major news outlet has team President Paul Godfrey leaving at the end of the season. Pushed or jumped? No one is saying (not that it matters). Under him you have the PR disaster that is J.P. Ricciardi. To recall, he is now famous for uttering that a lie is not a lie if the speaker knows the truth. Hey J.P., ask Cliff Fletcher how quickly we forget memorable lines like that (draft schmaft anyone?) J.P. has on at least one occasion publicly written off the Jays for the 08 season. He then denied saying it, but of course, it is not a lie if…….. I digress. Anyway, he then, for reasons quite inexplicably announced to the world on Monday night that AJ Burnett was officially off the trade block:

“He’s not going anywhere,” Ricciardi said before the Jays beat the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 “Nope, [that’s] not going to change.”

Until about 30 seconds later when he said:

“”We’re open to doing anything if it’s the right situation,” Ricciardi said, “but we haven’t been presented with it and A. J.’s been doing a great job for us.”

Right, it’s not a iie when…..

One has to believe that J.P. was trying to do a sales job (on Toronto Fans) when he made the comment. The ramifications though are quite puzzling. First, to his fellow GM’s, why pick up the phone and inquire about a player who a GM has announced he won’t deal? Secondly, and more importantly, who knoes what tomorrow may bring? If the Jays fall out of the race between now and say August 31st and another team offers a compelling package for AJ and you do trade him, once again, a liar you are….

Then, there is “his” manager, who is already talking about next year himself. Cito already publicly threw in the towel on this season too. He then was quoted as saying that he hopes he has AJ on his staff next year. JP, has publicly stated that if he has his way, Cito will be managing next season:

““I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t,” Ricciardi said. “We’re very happy with Cito.”

All seems fine and dandy except when the dominoes start to fall. Let’s see, if rumors are true that Godfrey is leaving (pushed or walking) then one has to assume that JP is right behind him. First JP has that out himself contractually and secondly, given the lack of success JP has achieved, I can’t imagine whomever inherits the Jays would want JP as their GM. Rewind to the hiring of JP, when the other option was Dave Dombrowski. Dombrowski passed on the Jays allegedly over the fact that he wouldn’t get the President’s title. The GM title seems to carry with it that of President too. So, if Paul is gone (walked or pushed) and JP is gone (walked or pushed) then where does that leave Cito? Like i said, with the team needing to go something like 40-17 the rest of the way, the off field stuff should be much more interesting than the on field action.

Over in leaf land things are quiet now, but that isn’t going to last much longer. As the calendar turns to August, some happenings are right around the corner.

As bored as I am by Les Affairs Sundin, this has to end soon. If he chooses what’s behind door number 2 or 3 (retire or play for a team who plays its home games at an arena not called the ACC respectively) then the Leafs have money to spend and goals to acquire, somewhere, somehow. The Leafs have to spend close to the cap. They aren’t cutting prices and therefore the market demands they spend as much money as possible. They also need to replace some of Mat’s offensive contribution. One would think therefore that money will inevitably lead to adding goals. Unless the Hagman acquisition was really the Mats replacement, one would have to think something else will have to unfold should Mats head elsewhere (or retire).

The Pavel Kubina window to be dealt is about to close. With just over 2 weeks to be dealt, this chapter to will come to end shortly. I think that Cliff’s decision to trade him may very well hinge on what Mats is going to do.

Mr McCabe is the final piece of the puzzle. While not saying how, Cliff has made it perfectly clear Bryan won’t be back next season. The question to be answered over the next couple of weeks is where and how. Again, I have to believe that this decision is also tied to the Mats Sundin decision. What Mats does will enable or handcuff Cliff in his needs for return with respect to McCabe (and Kubina). If Mats is gone he can afford to take on more salary via trade(s)then if Mats is back.

Lots to look forward to right smack in the middle of the dog days of summer…

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