J.P. Ricciardi fired

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Kevin Towers getting fired is a surprise.  This, not so much:

The Toronto Blue Jays have fired general manager J.P. Ricciardi. Interim CEO Paul Beeston announced the move on Saturday, saying he felt it was time for a change.

Ricciardi has been in charge of the team since Nov. 14, 2001, posting four winning seasons and four losing ones. It
was a controversial reign with poor free agent signings and off-field
missteps overshadowing some productive drafts and other good moves.

His greatest failing was an inability to find a way past the Yankees and Red Sox and into the postseason.

I’d argue that his second greatest failing was his utter inability to communicate with people, including the press and his underlings.  When J.P. started, he had a good team of people around him, including Baseball Prospectus/ESPN’s Keith Law. Slowly but surely he began to alienate and drive away people like Law and others within the organization. In the past few years he has routinely thrown Jays’ players and personnel under the bus as the team came crashing down around him. 

People will cite the Yankees and Red Sox as the Jays’ biggest hurdle, but the fact of the matter is that the Jays are worse off in 2009 on their own terms than they were in 2001 when Ricciardi was hired.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.