Tonight I decided to take a look at the trading habits of Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who was hired in November of 2001.
Ricciardi made an array of trades soon after his hiring: out were Billy Koch, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Quantrill, Cesar Izturis, and Brad Fullmer. His only notable returns from those five were Eric Hinske and Felix Heredia. The Koch for Hinske deal was fairly even, as both players performed well in 2002. I’d consider the Heredia acquisition a mild win. Ricciardi lost in the Izturis/Quantrill deal, in that highly regarded young pitcher Luke Prokopec broke down. He also lost the Fullmer trade, as Fullmer helped the Angels win the World Series while the pitcher Ricciardi received was a bust. [edit: Just got an email outlining the circumstances surrounding the Fullmer trade, and it sounds like Ricciardi won. The salary dump cleared the way for Vernon Wells, and interest in Fullmer was minimal.]
Ricciardi wasn’t too active at the trading deadline in ’02, shipping Raul Mondesi off to the Yankees. The return was a young reliever who did not pan out. He made a decent move in the winter of ’02 to get Cory Lidle for a couple of prospects, though Lidle was pretty lousy for the Jays. Ricciardi traded away shortstop Felipe Lopez a month later, a regrettable move.
At the trading deadline of ’03, Ricciardi sent Shannon Stewart to the Twins for Bobby Kielty. I wonder if he could’ve gotten more for Stewart, but the trade was redeemed when he snagged Ted Lilly from the A’s for Kielty. In the winter of ’03 he stole Justin Speier from the Rockies for Mark Hendrickson and a PTBNL as part of a three-way deal. That fleecing of Dan O’Dowd stands as one of Ricciardi’s best trades. A few months later Ricciardi picked up Jason Frasor for Jayson Werth, a pretty solid move.
Getting Frank Menechino from the A’s for junk was a nice move in May of ’04. Ricciardi made small acquisitions until January of ’05, when he snagged Shea Hillenbrand for a prospect. Say what you will about Hillenbrand, but the prospect sent to Arizona was a complete bust. Of course, Joe Garagiola was manning the club at the time, so it’s not a shock.
Ricciardi kept his John McDonald crush alive in the winter of ’05, re-acquiring him from Detroit. That December he made two big deals: Lyle Overbay for Dave Bush and Gabe Gross, and Troy Glaus for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. I consider both to be losses for the Jays. I think this team would be better right now with Bush and Hudson on it.
The jury’s still out on various dump trades Ricciardi made last summer involving Hillenbrand, Scott Schoeneweis, and Eric Hinske.
Judging Ricciardi solely on trades, I think his record is close to .500. Some good, some bad. He loves dealing with old pal Billy Beane, making 8 of his 34 trades with him. Other GMs with whom he’s made more than one trade: Mark Shapiro, Theo Epstein, Doug Melvin, and Dan O’Dowd.
I haven’t looked closely yet but I think once you evaluate Ricciardi’s other GM decisions in tandem with his trades, he’ll come out looking quite bad. He’s let some good players go for little to nothing in Chris Carpenter, Felipe Lopez, Brandon Lyon, and Trever Miller. There are some pretty bad signings on his record too, and the Jays’ farm system is among the worst in the game. Nonetheless, his contract runs through 2010.