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Fans chat with Paul Godfrey and J.P. Ricciardi
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05/14/2002 11:21 pm ET 
Fans chat with Paul Godfrey and J.P. Ricciardi
MLB.com

Toronto's J.P. Ricciardi is preparing for his first-ever draft as a general manager. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Fans chatted with Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Godfrey and GM J.P. Ricciardi.


Moderator:  Welcome everyone to today's chat.


Noreaga: J.P.- What is the plan when Josh Phelps, Kevin Cash, and Jayson Werth are all on the Major League roster? Catcher by committee, or will each find homes in different positions?
J.P. Ricciardi:  We like all three players very much, we are in the process of converting Werth to an outfielder and exploring Phelps both catching and playing some first base. In the end, we feel all three will be playing in Toronto at some point.


RyanNB: J.P., Do you consider Joe Lawrence the second baseman of the future? Will Orlando Hudson get a shot this year?
Ricciardi:  I like Joe very much, and feel his best baseball is in front of him. We also like Orlando very much and hope there is a way we can have both in the lineup in the future.


Kerwhammy: J.P., have you considered the possibility that this franchise might be contracted before any of the young talent you've invested in reaches their full potential and becomes a winning team?
Ricciardi:  We do not feel that Toronto is a candidate for contraction, and we feel that all of these players will be playing for us in the near future, which is exciting for Blue Jays fans.


RyanNB: Do you think Jeff Francis will still be available by the time Toronto's pick rolls around? How is the overall quality of this draft compared to previous years?
Ricciardi:  I have just returned from seeing Jeff Francis. We like his ability very much, and like with most drafts, you do not know if they are available for that day, so we are preparing as if he was there for us to select. And like with most drafts there are always good players out there, it is just a matter of selecting the right ones.


Matthew Elmslie:  Mr. Godfrey, many of the Jays' PR problems are not on-field problems - ticket "convenience fees", TV and radio coverage, stadium amenities, etc. What plans does the organization have for becoming more pleasant to deal with?
Paul Godfrey:  The service charges on tickets are always an unpleasant necessity. We are the last Major League sports team in Toronto to implement them. They have almost become a necessary evil. Costs continue to rise and I can assure you we are not making a profit on our ticket distribution center. With respect to television broadcasts, we have entered into new contracts Rogers Sportsnet, TSN and CBC. We will still televise more games then two-thirds of the other teams in the league. Some of the media have chosen to ignore the fact that we will televise 142 games on these three networks. I think that is pretty good.


canadamilk: I would like to ask if they have thought about giving Cory Thurman a chance to start? He has shown some poise and confidence so far this year. He also posted superb numbers in the minors, strictly as a starter.
Ricciardi:  The long-range plan for Corey is to be a starter here at the Major League level. We are allowing him to ease into that role by pitching out of the bullpen at this point.


RyanNB: Paul, Will the Jays bring their New York-Penn League affiliate back to Southern Ontario some day? Any chance of bringing any of the team's minor league affiliates to Canada?
Godfrey:  At the present time, we have one of our entry-level minor league teams already in Canada, in Medicine Hat. I would not discount the possibility of other teams in the future being located in this country, but at the present time, we are quite satisfied with our existing minor league affiliates.


rileyl: Paul, how do you respond to fans who feel this looks like a fire sale?
Godfrey: I wouldn't call a $71 million US payroll exactly a fire sale. The 2001 version of the Blue Jays cost ownership $78 million US and proved they couldn't win. Changes were necessary and no doubt our goal is to build a winner in our organization. This may take some time, but it is the right way to go.


bluejayway: Hi JP. How is this year's draft looking for the Jays? Any chance of getting the lefty from British Columbia, Jeff Francis?
Ricciardi: We like the way the draft is looking. We like the way the draft is shaping up. We like Francis very much and as we go through the draft, we will have a better understanding as to where he fits into our plans.


canadamilk: What about the idea of combining the Jays and the Expos and the thought of splitting the amount of home games played between each city? Is this an unreasonable thought?
Godfrey: It would be impossible to combine the Jays and the Expos. The Expos are owned by all 29 teams and not just the Toronto Blue Jays, so it is difficult to provide a rational to the other clubs to allow the Jays to grab the Expos stars. I would personally be opposed to playing any of our home games, outside the City of Toronto; it would show a lack of faith and commitment to the city.


baseballgirl511: How committed is the Jays' owner to making sure Toronto has a winning team in the future?
Godfrey: Everyone in this organization is committed to providing a winner. Winning organizations are built over time and with the arrival of J.P. Ricciardi, we believe that we have the right man at the controls. Even though we are off to a slow start this year, things will improve as we reconstruct this club, both on the field and off, and work towards achieving our ultimate goal.


Maugeri: J.P., how do you think this organization will fair in the long run? Are you planning to make this team consist of only rookies?
Ricciardi: I am very excited about this team and its future. We like the players that we have added to the club and the young players we have coming. We feel, combined with some of the young veterans we have, that we have the foundations to go forward as a winning organization. We like the excitement the young players bring to the ballpark and we feel that they will all become solid, winning Major League players.


Felix: What type of players will be the Blue Jays be looking to make long term investments in?
Ricciardi: We are looking to invest in players that we feel will be winning players and good citizens, that help us to obtain our long-term goal which is to win the World Series again in Toronto.
Godfrey: I think that J.P. has the right idea. This is not just signing any Major League Player, we want players that want to and know how to win, we need players that when they lose a game, as all teams will, find away to win again.


Moderator: Thank you very much for participating in this online chat and we hope to see you at the ballpark!






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