With the Toronto Blue Jays sitting once again on the brink of playoff elimination, the rumblings in the front office are starting to overshadow the play on the field.
Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey joined Michael Landsberg on TSN's Off the Record Wednesday to discuss his future with the team and the future of general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
There has been speculation that Godfrey would step away from the team at the end of the year, something he acknowledged, but would not confirm.
"My contract comes up at the end of the year," Godfrey said. "I have to discuss it with my family and we will decide then. I haven't made up my mind whether I'm going to leave."
Godfrey is not the only member of the Blue Jays front office whose future is in question. After seven years at the helm, and no playoff appearances, speculation has been rampant that Ricciardi could also be moving on.
A report Wednesday suggested that Ricciardi will return for another year. While the team has not announced anything official, the Toronto Star suggests that Cito Gaston's return next year, something Ricciardi himself announced back in August, indicates that the GM will remain in place. The newspaper argues that any new GM would want to hire his own manager, and not be saddled with an existing one.
Godfrey, once again, reiterated his support for Ricciardi and commended what he has accomplished.
"I've always been a supporter of J.P. Ricciardi's and I continue to be a supporter of J.P. Ricciardi's," Godfrey said. "The fact is this, I've said all along, you make decisions based on the year as a whole. Are we a playoff contender? Obviously not.
"[But] when J.P. took over, the organization had a number of over-paid, under-achievers on the club. You take a snapshot of what we have now, it is appreciably better. What he's done in the major leagues, what he's done in the minor leagues, how he's built the farm system."
However, Godfrey did acknowledge that the decision on Ricciardi's future may not be up to him. "If I do stay, it will be my call. If I don't stay, I think it's up to somebody else."
Godfrey also vehemently denied that he pushed for Gaston to replace former manager John Gibbons and not Ricciardi.
"It was a mutual discussion. I spoke to J.P. about a possible change. He came back with the name 'Cito Gaston' immediately. I think it's an unfair shot at J.P."
While Godfrey remains loyal to his general manager, the threat of major front office moves loom over the franchise.
The Blue Jays have responded well under Gaston and although they made a late push for a playoff spot, it now seems almost certain they will once again miss their chance at playing baseball in October. To complicate matters they have been hit by the injury bug again. Tuesday's starter Shaun Marcum left the game in the third inning after feeling discomfort in his forearm and numbness in the pinkie finger of his right arm. Catcher Rod Barajas is also hurting due to a sore left hamstring. They are both scheduled to have MRIs on Thursday.
In 2009 the team will once again try to find a way to survive in Major League Baseball's most competitive division.
With the New York Yankees opening a new stadium and already planning to make a splash in the free agent market, plus the improved Tamps Bay Rays and always dangerous Red Sox, a slow start to next season could be disastrous.
Whoever ends up in the GM chair for the Jays will have a significant challenge ahead of them.