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July 31, 2008 at 2:48 PM

Ricciardi: M’s shot down Ibanez deal

Here are the details on that three-way deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to the Red Sox and four players (all pretty good) to the Pirates. Now, on to the teams that didn’t deal, namely the M’s. Except for that gimme with Arthur Rhodes that the team had in its hip pocket since last week.
Just got off the phone with some Toronto contacts. It seems the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays did indeed begin working on the parameters of a deal involving Raul Ibanez. The deal began coming together between 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (Pacific time). But no, the two players offered up by Toronto, so I’m told, were not David Purcey and Brandon League. If indeed it even was two players. One contact told me there’s a chance League’s name was out there. But not Purcey’s. Now the fun part. We don’t know who the players actually were.
But we do have some on-the-record quotes from Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi on why the deal came apart.
“We had some really good talks with Seattle, they were pretty intense and pretty in-depth,” Ricciardi said in a conference call with Toronto media. “We thought at one point there was a possibility to get something done there, but it just didn’t come to fruition.
“We were ready to go forward,” he added. “I think at the end of the day they just didn’t feel as comfortable going forward to finish off the trade. It was just something that didn’t come to fruition. Both parties worked hard. At the end of the day they probably weren’t as comfortable with making the trade as we were. That happens.”
The version being put forth by Seattle so far is that Ibanez-to-Toronto was nothing more than rumors. Hmmm. Based on what I’m reading, I tend to believe the Toronto version of events. I’m sure the M’s version will change a bit once they read these quotes. It doesn’t take 2 1/2 hours to flat-out reject an implausible trade scenario. Especially not right before the deadline. Sounds like there was something concrete going on here. In defense of GM Lee Pelekoudas, he’s yet to speak to the media. Will do so in roughly 90 minutes. What we’ve gotten so far is a few second-hand denials.
Why would Toronto do an Ibanez deal? I’d wondered that earlier. Until my buddies back east reminded me of a cardinal rule of covering the Jays that I’d forgotten about during my two years here. That optics mean as much back there as reality at times.
To realists, like most of you, and me, a snowball has a greater chance of lasting the afternoon in this Texas heat as the Jays do of making the playoffs. But in Toronto, the Jays could acquire Ibanez, then tell their fans they still have a chance and that they’re going for it.
It’s worked before. In that city, the team has told fans it’s in contention if it begins September single digits behind the playoff leaders. Drives up the television ratings. And that’s very important to Toronto baseball.
“I don’t think we’re in the middle ground,” Ricciardi said. “I think we’re in it. When you look up and you’re under eight…within striking distance of the wild-card and there’s still two months to play, I don’t we ever thought about us as ‘Hey we’re going to be sellers.’ We’ve taken on the thought process that if we continue to add without taking anything away from us going forward, that we would try to do that.”
So, there’s your motive. Ricciardi’s words are the smoking gun. And the Mariners, it appears, certainly had some kind of opportunity that came together over more than two hours.



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