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Ricciardi on The Big Show: Saltamacchia ‘a smart move’

08.05.10 at 5:24 pm ET
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Former Blue Jays general manager and current ESPN baseball analyst J.P. Ricciardi joined The Big Show Thursday to discuss the “art” of the waiver wire and whether or not the Red Sox have a shot to stay in it with Tampa and New York as they finish out the regular season.

Following are highlights. To listen to the full interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

On how the waiver wire works:

It’€™s really simple. Everybody usually gets put on waivers, very few players aren’€™t put on waivers. They put them through and they put them through at different times. You’€™re only allowed to put seven players up on a day, so you can only put seven players up, say, on a Monday, and they have 48 hours to clear. In that 48-hour period, if someone claims them, then you can basically work out a trade with that team, you can pull the player back, or you just flat out allow the team to take the player. Sometimes that’€™s what happens when you’€™ve got a big salary, maybe you want to dump, and someone claims it and you say, ‘I’€™m out from under this salary, you guys got him.’

On using the waiver wire to gauge interest in dealing somebody in the offseason:

Oh, yeah. I think you definitely do. I think really what happened with Adam Dunn when you think about him is the fact that so many times, the White Sox, Tampa, the Yankees showed interest in this player. I think what it shows the agent at least is that in the free agent market, this upcoming season, that at least there’€™s other teams out there that are interested in him and maybe his only option isn’€™t to go back to the Nationals, so it works the same way with the waiver.

It’€™s not that the agents will know, but the team will know that there’€™s enough [teams] that have interest in that guy, and maybe they can go back to them over the winter. Now, that may change, because the team may at the time really need that bat, and want that bat, and that’€™s the time they want to get him, and that may change in the offseason. But there still may be some interest from teams, and then they can say, “Hey, listen, if he’€™s not interested in the trading period, let’€™s call him up in the winter,” and see if they want to deal with him.

On Randy Myers in 1997 for the Blue Jays, sticking the Padres with his salary when the Blue Jays didn’€™t pull out the waiver claim:

Yeah, and that’€™s one of the risks associated with putting any waiver claim. One thing you have to be aware of, too, is multiple waiver claims on players like that, the club is not going anywhere and they say, ‘€œHey, you know, here’€™s a chance for us to get out from under the $5 [million], $10 [million], $15 million the last month of the season.’€ You may be stuck with a lot of payroll and you’€™ve got to go to your ownership and say, ‘€œOops. How do I write this check?’€

On whether he ever put Roy Halladay on waivers:

There were years we did put Roy on, then the last few years we didn’€™t. He’€™s probably a special case because he knew in order to try and compete in the division that we needed Roy, so to really put him out there was kind of an exercise of futility.

On what deals and trades will go on in the next month:

I think you’€™ll see a lot of minor deals. I think you’€™ll see small bullpen help here and there from teams. As teams get closer to either being eliminated or thinking that they’€™re in it, they may say, ‘€œHey, there’€™s a really fast guy on waivers. Let’€™s claim this guy, because not only can he help us these last two weeks in August, but he can helps us in September win a couple of games here and there by pinch running for us.’€

There’€™s a little bit of an art to putting guys on waivers and a little bit of an art of claiming guys, and if you take Manny Ramirez for instance, just throwing a name out there, if the Dodgers feel like they’€™re out of it, and it’€™s the middle of the month, Manny may become more appealing to a team at the end of August if they claim him because they don’€™t have to pay him as much. Different things that you can do by using the waiver wire, but claiming players, I think there’€™s a lot of minor guys that will be claimed.

On Theo Epstein‘€™s decision not to make any major moves before the trade deadline:

I thought Theo played it perfect. There’€™s too many holes on the team to fill. Then you got players coming back. You’€™re not going to go out and trade for a second baseman, you’€™ve got [Dustin] Pedroia‘€™s coming back plus [Jed] Lowrie‘€™s coming back and he’€™s a good player. [Victor] Martinez is coming back. I thought the [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia pickup was great because he can hit. I think Theo’€™s hands were tied in a lot of ways in terms of what he could address and how he could go out and get those guys knowing that he had players coming back. And you know what? They’€™ve got some really good young players, I wouldn’€™t give up any of those young players because I think they’€™re really going to be a mainstay in Boston.

On Saltalamacchia coming to the Red Sox and what’€™s happened over the last couple of years with his development not meeting expectations:

What’€™s funny about that is that they’€™re prospects. It’€™s amazing in today’€™s game, prospect has more attention and notoriety and upside so to speak than the guy in the major leagues who’€™s doing it. I think the game’€™s kind of a little backwards in that regard where the prospect has more value than a major league player.

I think Saltalamacchia was an up-and-coming guy, I also think if you like the guy and you buy low, you may end up reaping the benefits. You should never forget why you like a guy, and I think that’€™s what the Red Sox did. They remembered why they liked him, they went after him. He has had a little problem throwing the ball back to the pitcher, which is not a good thing to have from a catching standpoint, but this guy can swing the bat and this guy has the ability to play first base, so, there’€™s a lot of dynamics that this guy brings to the table in the sense of being able to use him in different spots and maybe even getting him through some of the catching stuff which I’€™ve heard that he has turned the corner a little bit on. For the Red Sox, it’€™s a smart move, you’€™re buying low.

On the Red Sox position right now, vying for the postseason:

I think the first thing we should really bring to attention here is how great that they’€™ve played with just so many holes in their ship. I think that they’€™re this close is a credit. I thought this is Theo’€™s best year as a GM, man, he’€™s done some really good things to keep these guys in this race and I think [Terry] Francona‘€™s done a great job and the players deserve all the credit. So they’€™ve done a great job.

I think anywhere close to 55 games left in the season, when you look at Tampa’€™s schedule in September, it’€™s just really, really light. The Red Sox have a stiff schedule, the Yankees have a stiff schedule and if Tampa ended up winning the division, those next two teams are playing for the wild card and I don’€™t think the Red Sox will really lose a lot of ground going through August. I think if they get to September, and they’€™re within five games of  either the division or the wild card, which would be incredible, I still think they’€™re within striking distance and I still think they’€™re getting players back at that point, so, I think that they’€™re close. I just don’€™t think they can go on any tangent where they lose a lot.

On Kevin Youkilis‘€™ injury impacting the team:

Yeah, that’€™s a tough one because if you look at the Yankees, you look at [Mark] Teixeira, you look at [Robinson] Cano, you look at [Nick] Swisher, you look at [Alex Rodriguez], you’€™ve got four guys that are close to 20 home runs, so you’€™ve got almost 85 home runs out of those guys, and they’€™re pretty consistent ‘€” not great, but consistent. Youkilis has been the one consistent throughout the season, so to lose him I think that’€™s a huge hole in your lineup, and I just don’€™t know if they’€™ve got enough pieces to fill a loss like that. But getting Martinez back and hopefully [Jacoby] Ellsbury will end up being the player he’€™s capable of being, then that’€™s a couple of good shots in the arm right there.

On Cleveland’€™s repeated failed attempts to retaliate against the Red Sox after Josh Beckett hit an Indians batter:

I’€™ve always found it an embarrassing when you know that there’€™s been a mandate to hit somebody and you don’€™t hit them. How many times can you keep going back? If you miss the first time, you pretty much better put it in your pocket and say next time we play them or next year, but it doesn’€™t look good when you keep throwing and throwing and you can’€™t hit a guy.

On Francona going after Cleveland’€™s third base coach:

One thing about baseball, all these guys have crossed paths. It’€™s like the six degrees of separation, we’€™ve all passed each other whether it was in the minor leagues or scouting or whatever. You never know how deep those waters run, so there may be a history there that we’€™re not even aware of.

On which pitcher he’€™d be the most scared to face right now:

It would probably be [Clay] Buchholz right now. I think he’€™s been optimum all year. He hasn’€™t too many bad starts. I like their staff a lot, I think that’€™s one of the reasons they’€™ve been able to hang in there. If you look at Tampa and New York, and even Toronto for that matter, there’€™s great pitching in the American League East. But I think right now, if the game was on the line, everything being equal, I’€™d take Buchholz the way he’€™s pitched all year.

Read More: J.P. Ricciardi, jarrod saltalamacchia, Theo Epstein,
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