Game 86: Toronto at Tampa Bay pregame

ryan.jpgIt was a given that someone was going to be removed from the Blue Jays’ bullpen soon. Closer Scott Downs was coming off the DL and a spot had to be vacated.

Even with B.J. Ryan’s recent struggles, though, learning that the club decided to release the former closer came as a bit of a shock.

“I mean, we knew Downs was coming back at some point and someone had to come out of the ‘pen,” said reliever Jason Frasor, who served as the interim closer while Downs’ was on the DL. “But, when I heard it was B.J., it was like ‘Wow. They actually did it.'”

Wow indeed.

Ryan is still on the books for roughly $5 million more this season and another $10 million in 2010 — paychecks that will continue to head his way from the Blue Jays.

Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays discussed the move internally on Tuesday night, cleared it with ownership Wednesday morning, and Ryan learned he was being released around 3 p.m. ET — a half-hour before the clubhouse doors open. Word is that he rode away in a golf cart in the service-level tunnel.

Ryan didn’t help his cause on Monday when he said he felt some of his command issues stemmed from his sporadic use. It was the ol’ Catch-22, as Anthopoulos pointed out. Ryan believed more time on the mound could help, but manager Cito Gaston no longer trusted Ryan to pitch in critical situations.

“A few days ago, I think we saw in the media that he expressed some frustration of not being able to pitch more and be used more,” Anthopoulos said. “I think that’s what it came down to, that the role that we had for him right now, we couldnt get him the work that he wanted to have.

“It was one of those things that it’s a Catch-22. He needed to pitch more to get the results, but unfortunately we’re in the business of trying to win games and Cito needs to do what he can to give the team the best chance to win and put the best guys in there that he feels gives us the best chance.”

Downs, who was activated from the DL after a bout with a sprained left toe, will immediately return to the closer’s role — a job he was handed in April in light of Ryan’s continued issues on the mound. With Downs as the closer and Brian Tallet in the rotation, heavily-used Jesse Carlson is the lone lefty specialist available in the bullpen now.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpg*TORONTO BLUE JAYS (43-42)
Fourth place AL East, 8.0 GB

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Kevin Millar, 1B
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Jose Bautista, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Starter: LHP Brian Tallet, (5-6, 5.38)

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgTAMPA BAY RAYS (45-39)
Second place AL East, 5.5 GB

1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Jason Bartlett, SS
8. Gabe Kapler, RF
9. Dioner Navarro, C

Starter: LHP Scott Kazmir (4-5, 6.79)

*The Jays have not slipped to a .500 record at any point this season

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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5 Comments

Well, i’m not all that disappointed that BJ is gone, but i’m a little surprised the he was just outright released.
Wouldn’t we have some other options with him…send him to minors that sort of thing? At least that way maybe he could have rebounded for next year. With 15mil still owed, that’s a big chunk to eat for nothing now.

I am disappointed Ryan is gone and a little surprised . Why couldn’t the Jays not invent some mysterious ailment like the Yanks did for Wang and the Sox did for Dice-K and put him on the DL where he might have been able to work through some of his issues. Instead they release him and Jays suck up 15 million . Another team will pick him up for league minimum , let him workout his problems while the Jays pay for it…..Thomas scenario all over again. If he went on the DL , they would have missed the trade deadline but its not like they were going to trade him anyways . Maybe its time for some of the management to be released .

Tallet stepped it up to help out a decimated rotation but his last few starts have shown he is tired . His move to the rotation weakened the Jays’ bullpen as they lost their long relief man . I have to wonder how long will it be before he moves back to the bullpen or will they keep him in the rotation until his arm falls off . I have said this the past two years , there is something wrong with the Jays conditioning that they have suffered so many injuries…..somebody needs to reassess what is being done . If this is frustrating for the fans ( certainly for this fan ), imagine how frustrated this team must be .

I am of 2 minds regarding Ryan’s release. First, there is the matter of $15 million for a club on a tight budget. There had to be some way they could have got him on the DL, send him to Bobby Mattick, start from square one and see if they could salvage something for 2010. The other side of the coin is that the Jay’s staff, and the best medical help money can buy has looked at BJ for a season ans a half, and concluded that there is nothing to salvage, a la Billy Kotch. Some pitchers grow old gracefully and fade into the sunset; for others the decline is short, sharp, and ugly.

BJ is the last of the big money free agents the Jays have signed in recent years, and the record has been mostly disappointment. Frank Thomas was a fizz from the get-go, as was David Eckstein. We had one good season out of 3 fron AJ Burnett; Ryan is 2 for 5, if you can count 30 saves in 2008 as a success.
In a sad way, it reinforces what JP Riccardi is trying to do, and the direction the club will take in the future: grow your own, have a strong farm system and good scouting. The lost earnings from all our home grown pitchers on the DL since 2006 (if you exclude Doc’s broken leg) doesn’t add up to one year of Ryan’s salary, let alone the 2 1/2 years the club will have to eat now.

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