Recession behind official's dismissal

Recession behind official's dismissal

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are citing the poor economic climate as the reasoning behind last week's sudden dismissal of assistant general manager Bart Given. That is also the explanation Given says he received when informed that he was being let go.

"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 told the Canadian Press. "Those are the things that were said to me."

Given, 35, was was dismissed on January 21 -- a day after he was in attendance with other front-office members at the Blue Jays' State of the Franchise event for season-ticket holders -- and news of his removal was leaked through the media on Saturday. It was the latest in a series of changes that the Toronto organization has undergone internally this winter.

Thanks to the suffering economy, which has also dragged down the value of the Canadian dollar in recent months, the Blue Jays' financial footing has taken a hit this offseason. Earlier this winter, the club experienced more than 30 layoffs within its front office -- mainly in its sales department -- and the Jays have lowered their payroll by nearly $15 million in an attempt to help the situation.

The decision to dismiss Given was another effort to cut costs.

"It just came down to keeping costs down and trying to tighten the budget a little bit," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the CP. "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."

Given joined the club on a full-time basis in 2000, when he dealt with promotions and team travel, and was later promoted to the position of assistant, baseball operations in 2004. Two years later, Given and Alex Anthopoulos were each awarded the title of vice president, baseball operations and assistant general manager.

As an assistant GM, Given's duties included managing budgets, negotiating contracts, aiding trade discussions and dealing with arbitration cases. With him no longer in the fold, those responsibilities will now fall to Anthopoulos and assistant general manager Tony LaCava.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.