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Blue Jays tighten their belts

Blue Jays tighten their belts
The sudden firing of Toronto Blue Jays assistant general manager Bart Given last week passed by mostly unnoticed, with no announcement from the team and word leaking out via media.

The question lingering in the chattering classes ever since has been why, leading to simmering speculation over what exactly is happening in the club's executive offices.

"I was told when I was let go it had nothing to do with my performance, that I hadn't done anything wrong, that I was a valuable part of the team, and that I'd done some great things with the Blue Jays and that I had a bright future ahead of me,'' Given said in an interview yesterday in his first public comments on the dismissal.

"Those are the things that were said to me.''

Paul Beeston, the interim Blue Jays chief executive, also broke his silence yesterday, explaining that the move was "just a simple restructuring. There's nothing more to read into it than that.''

But that will do little to quiet the whispers now making the rounds, with even one suggestion that given the timing, Beeston must have made the move as a show of his authority over general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

All nonsense, according to Beeston.

"There's nothing to be read into it,'' he said. "There's nothing sinister about it, there's nothing negative in it. We were just looking to redeploy dollars.''

Given's dismissal is the first Baseball operations cut made by the Blue Jays, but not their first layoff this off-season. About 35 to 40 employees, mostly in sales and customer service, were let go in December.

"It's a matter of like any other business, or any other team, or any other entity at this present time of looking at things from the point of view of having to make tough decisions,'' said Beeston. "They're not easy decisions or ones that you're comfortable with, but the decision was made.''

Given's duties included managing budgets, negotiating contracts, helping with trade talks and handling arbitration-eligible players. His workload will fall to fellow assistant GMs Alex Anthopoulos and Tony LaCava.

"It just came down to keeping costs down and trying to tighten the budget a little bit,'' Ricciardi said. "It's nothing against Bart, he did a good job, it's just unfortunate when people start tightening up, reorganizing, whatever word you want to use.

"A lot of good people end up losing their jobs. It's lousy, but he's not the only guy.''

The firing came last Wednesday, a day after Given attended the team's state of the franchise event for season-ticket holders with other executives. It wasn't announced internally until Friday night.

The 35-year-old from Brantford plans to spend some time at home before starting a job search.

"With the timing of my dismissal and a lack of jobs in the game right now, I'll probably take some time and spend it with the family,'' Given said. "I've had some great phone calls from people within Baseball, so hopefully I'll keep in touch with them and something will come up.''

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: January 29, 2009

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