The Mets’ Decision To Hire J.P. Ricciardi

The Mets know J.P. Ricciardi signed Vernon Wells, B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas to questionable deals, but they still wanted to hire him. So did the Red Sox for that matter. But their interest in Ricciardi probably had little to do with those multi-million dollar contracts. Theo Epstein likely wanted the former Blue Jays GM around because of his shrewd under-the-radar pickups and consistently productive drafts. It was a major reason why Mets GM Sandy Alderson hired Ricciardi.

“I know first hand he’s a superb talent evaluator," Alderson said when the Mets announced the hiring earlier this week. "He’ll be a tremendous resource in a variety of areas.”

Ricciardi, Toronto’s GM from 2001-09, added expensive free agents who didn’t perform as expected so, like former Mets GM Omar Minaya, he got fired. It would be unwise to try to analyze Ricciardi’s tenure in Toronto in a few hundred words, but certain deals will give us insight into what the executive brings to the Mets and why Sandy Alderson wanted to reunite with his former Oakland colleague.

Every one of Ricciardi’s drafts from 2002-07 produced at least one major league regular. Dave Bush (2002), Shaun Marcum (2003), Aaron Hill (2003), Casey Janssen (2004), Adam Lind (2004), Ricky Romero (2005), Travis Snider (2006), Brett Cecil (2007) and J.P. Arencibia (2007) are all Ricciardi draftees. It’s still early to be evaluating the 2008-09 draft classes, but Tyler Pastornicky (2008, no longer with Toronto), Eric Thames (2008), Jacob Marisnick (2009) and Chad Jenkins (2009) are promising. 

Jose Bautista deserves credit for turning his career around, but Ricciardi was the one who traded for him. Ricciardi also bought low on Marco Scutaro, Rod Barajas, Scott Downs, Scott Richmond, Josh Towers and others. They aren’t all MVP candidates like Bautista, but none of those players cost the Jays much and they all contributed. 

Ricciardi overspent on free agents and, at times, on his own players. He signed Frank Thomas and A.J. Burnett to contracts that didn’t work out particularly well. The Blue Jays owe Vernon Wells $86MM through 2014 because of a deal they offered under Ricciardi. And the Blue Jays spent $10MM on B.J. Ryan this year because Ricciardi overpaid for his services after the 2005 season.

But Alderson didn’t hire Ricciardi to overpay for closers or center fielders (the Amazins already have that covered). With decades of experience in big league front offices, Ricciardi has developed an eye for talent that should help the Mets.

55 Responses to The Mets’ Decision To Hire J.P. Ricciardi Leave a Reply

  1. Productive, yeah Russ Adams is a superstar

    • briantalletsmoustache 5 years ago

      As no other GM has ever drafted a player that turned out to be a bust, it’s totally cool to rag on JP for Russ Adams.

      • FriedCalamari 5 years ago

        It’s too bad Russ Adams didn’t turn out well. I was really hoping for him to be a mainstay at SS for the Jays for years… hope he’s doing well where ever he’s playing now

      • moonraker45 5 years ago

        well as much as i agree mr moustache…

        i hate to think that the presence of russ adams in the system is what lead him to not taking tulo


        • briantalletsmoustache 5 years ago

          That’s fair . . . but I’m not about to complain about Romero.

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            oh me neither, he’s awesome… but i mean.. tulo’s a supertstar

    • iains 5 years ago

      Russ Adams wasn’t in the above list, but he was productive for a while. But that wasn’t the point.. in this case it was Dave Bush who became a regular.

    • I remember Baseball America said the Jays had the best draft in 2002. So there’s that.

  2. iains 5 years ago

    I’m not sure if I would count AJ Burnett as a bad contract. 3 years for 28.6 million for a 38-26 record averaging 174 innings over that three year period isn’t horrible. If that had just been a 3 year contract I don’t think anyone would have had a real problem with it.

  3. MetsEventually 5 years ago

    I like some of those draft picks. Marcum, Romero and Lind…well…Lind might be a bust.

    • iains 5 years ago

      I wouldn’t be too concerned with Lind. If you check his monthly splits, if you discount the fact he flat lined in May and June, the rest of his season was fine. Whatever the problem was, he sorted it out.

      • moonraker45 5 years ago

        agreed. he had a rough year, but i fully expect him to return to form next year.. He’s splits against lefties were terrible, and all through the minors that wasn’t the case..

        Hill on the other hand i’m not so sure of :S

        • Sniderlover 5 years ago

          Hill had even worse luck than Lind and I think that early wrist injury kind of just threw off his game but he proved his power is real. Hit like 25 bombs with a sub .200 batting average and missed some time due to injury.

          Lind should bounce back as well.

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            hill’s swing is long as has too many holes in it. I hope he bounces back though, but i doubt the jays exercise his full options at this point

          • moonraker45 5 years ago

            hill’s swing is long as has too many holes in it. I hope he bounces back though, but i doubt the jays exercise his full options at this point

    • Ricciardi said his biggest regret was not taking Tulowitzki over Romero

      • Do you have a quote for this?

      • briantalletsmoustache 5 years ago

        That’s a really stupid regret.

      • Sniderlover 5 years ago

        Tulo is great and all and one of the best SS in the game but Romero is emerging into an ace and one of the best lefties in the game — it’s not really something you regret over.

  4. pastlives 5 years ago

    Was Rios his pick too?

  5. Ricky 5 years ago

    Bottom line Riccardi is a much better talent evaluator than Mets had under Minaya .. not even close… Riccardi and Alderson will be best guys running mets since Joe McCalvaile and Frank Cashen

    • Just_MLB 5 years ago

      really ?
      in texas, he signed sammy sosa, pudge rodriguez, juan gonzalez, ruben sierra, among others.
      as asst. GM in 97-2001, b/c of his track record in texas, omar was brought over to man the scouting dept. they signed jose reyes, nelson cruz, and david wright.

      most international free-agents take about 5-6 years to reach the majors and often fly under the radar initially.

      with that being said. Omar’s niche was SCOUTING, not development, and its here that I think JP and Sandy will be on the same page. If they re-assign Omar to head up the intl. scouting and leave JP to man up overall scouting and/or development program, I think each person would be placed in a position tailoring to their strengths.

      • Ricky 5 years ago

        Like your ideas and you made good points. Everyone has their strengths nd
        weaknesses, including GM’s – as alife long Met fan I am happy with the honesty
        and direction they are taking


  6. Yeah, A.J Burnetts contract was so bad that AJ got out of it two years early, and signed for 3 times what the Jays would have paid him.

    If JP is in any other division, he would have made the playoffs one or two times minimum and he’d still be a GM.

  7. AJ Burnett was not a bust.

    • boyofsummer 5 years ago

      …not a bust in Toronto, at least.

      • Infield Fly 5 years ago

        Sure he was….when he went back there in September. Got his butt lit up from the git go. By the time they pulled him in the 3rd it was 7-0 Jays!Good times…

    • MetsEventually 5 years ago

      AJ clearly cannot pitch in the big city. He was good with the Marlins and Blue Jays. Awful in the Bronx now.

      • moonraker45 5 years ago

        lol ya, toronto’s a pretty small city.

        5th largest in north american, no big deal

        • oleosmirf 5 years ago

          i think he meant a big baseball city. Toronto has the worst attendance in baseball and while im not from Toronto, you can infer that baseball isn’t that big there…

          • Sniderlover 5 years ago

            You’d be hard pressed to find baseball big anywhere if a team couldn’t make the playoffs for 17 years.

          • how are you measuring “worst attendance”?
            because A’s, tribe, pirates, fish all had fewer through the gates.

            Also in 2009 management stopped handing out freebies, so the # is actual paid attendance.

            prior to that, their reported attendance was always over 2 million.

            that said, playing for the NYY is obviously something different than playing almost anywhere else.

        • oleosmirf 5 years ago

          i think he meant a big baseball city. Toronto has the worst attendance in baseball and while im not from Toronto, you can infer that baseball isn’t that big there…

      • Jobus_Rum 5 years ago

        Toronto isn’t a big city? Whatever, Opie Taylor

        Also Burnett only had one year that could be called good in Toronto. The others were middling and injury prone. Funny how his one good year was a contract year. The Yankees vastly overpaid.

        • moonraker45 5 years ago

          not even good year, good second half

        • MetsEventually 5 years ago

          You derp. How could you compare New York baseball to TORONTO, CANADA baseball? Big City Baseball vs. Small Market Baseball. Herp Derp.

    • gotta disagree, aj couldnt stay healthy and when he did he was consistently mediocre up until the final year of his deal when – guess what – he was playing for a new shiny contract. so many starts where he cruised for 4 -5 innings and then completely imploded when the tiniest little thing didnt go his way, like a bloop single or a questionable ump call.

      aj is definitely on the jp bad contract list.

  8. moonraker45 5 years ago

    Jays fans that swear JP is the devil are way off, fans that think he’s amazing are way off too, he’s somewhere in the middle. He does his good and he does his bad..

    I mean for years he had doc signing below market deals to stay on the team and to allow money to be allocated else where.. He made some good draft picks, but i found his biggest downfall was failing to admit that the team was out of contention and sell high on some vets.

    In the end I consider this a good move for the mets, JP now doesn’t have to worry about contracts, trading high profile players etc.. if they shed the heavy lifting off JP’s back and let him focus on future talent, this could be a great move for the mets

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      Meh Doc still a below market deal with the Phillies as well so I don’t really know if you can give JP credit for that. He wanted to be a Jay and was willing to sign below market deals.

      JP had his good and bad. I think his drafting and even signing guys out of nowhere like Tim Collins but he spewed so much BS and the way he handled the Halladay situation was quite horrible. And some of his signings were so ughhh.

      I don’t really think he makes a good GM at all but could be a very useful scout or an assistant GM.

    • Paul_Zuvella 5 years ago

      The short answer is that having watched the best GM in the business, Pat Gillick run the show for over a decade, we knew what a good GM actually is. The longer answer is that the Jays fans who watched this one-time “whiz kid” come to town promising to replicate the As success with a slightly larger budget, became horribly embarrassed to see his shoddy attempt to build a contending club on “major league ready” youth (read college draft picks) and affordable veteran castoffs (I remember the one pre-season where he signed John Thompson, Victor Zambrano AND Tomo Okha to fill two spots in the rotation). Mench and Wilkerson are also great examples of the kinds of players who essentially retired or moved off to Japan shortly after a stint with the Jays.What we got was a guy who was able to secure money from management and squandered it by paying for guys who were either past their prime or at the apex of their career (Frank Thomas and BJ Ryan being great examples…but he also signed Bengie Molina to a one year deal for no reason other than he had the cash to spend). Finally and most importantly to us fans, he had the seeming ability to be a real dismissive jerk with both the media and fans. He was the GM for 8 years and didn’t live in the city. Lastly, he didn’t appear to have the respect of his fellow General Managers as he rarely pulled off a deal (save a few deals with Billy Beane) that was of much consequence to placing the Jays in a position to contend. Contrast that with what Anthopolous has been able to do in his short tenure (signing bargain veterans who were able to perform relative to their cost in Gregg, Buck, signing and then trading A-Gonz) and I’d say that Ricciardi is a big reason why the fan base has yet to return to supporting a club it once adored! At least now there is hope for the club’s future and that’s due in large part to the team demonstrating that it actually has a plan to build a contender.

  9. It has come out that even though Ricciardi was GM at the time, trading for Jose Bautista was Alex Antoupolus’ idea.

    • Jobus_Rum 5 years ago

      JP was a Kevin Mench/Brad Wilkerson kind of guy. He was also a lying douche that had no respect for the intelligence of the fanbase.

      Good luck with the Mets but damn am I glad that guy is history in Toronto.

  10. BradyAndersonsSideburns 5 years ago

    But Alderson didn’t hire Ricciardi to overpay for closers or center fielders (the Amazins already have that covered).

    hahahaha, that was totally uncalled for (but hilarious)

    • MetsEventually 5 years ago

      Well, Beltran at the time just wasn’t any Center fielder…He was the one of the best all around players in the game…

    • according to fangraphs and WAR, beltran has already provided over $102mil worth of value over the life of his contract with the mets. take out his fluke inaugural season with the mets as well as his injuries…well id say hes underpaid

    • Just_MLB 5 years ago

      carlos beltran from 06-08 was easily the best CF in baseball.
      the mets are a walking punchline and its pretty much in style to make fun of them.

  11. BradyAndersonsSideburns 5 years ago

    But Alderson didn’t hire Ricciardi to overpay for closers or center fielders (the Amazins already have that covered).

    hahahaha, that was totally uncalled for (but hilarious)

  12. iains 5 years ago

    To be frank, a lot of the big contracts had Godfrey’s fingers all over them. He’s also the one who gave Delgado the big contract before JP joined the front office. If memory serves correct, JP was saddled with a sub 50 million budget with 40% of it tied up in one player. Nothing good comes of that.

  13. No less than Richard Griffin himself confirmed that it was Godfrey’s call. Read this from 2006

    “Ricciardi’s emotions with regard to Wells have always been on the side of letting him walk at the end of his current contract. Either that or deal him for value. But [Paul] Godfrey is the one who responds to his emotions like a fan. Such seems the case again. … If this Wells seven-year extension is done, it will be in spite of Ricciardi.”

    link to

  14. Jobus_Rum 5 years ago

    Delgado’s contract predated Ricciardi. What JP did that was so egregious was to treat Delgado like a used condom. They could have had him for 10-12 million a year easily. But JP had to poison the well and give him the bum’s rush. Delgado fulfilled his deal with the Mets and Marlins nicely while the Jays screwed around with Hillenbrand and until they traded for Overbay, the ultimate mediocre JP player.

    If the Mets realize his faults he might be useful. But he should never be a GM again.

  15. mp87 5 years ago

    The point is, JP was given the job with a slash in payroll, and could not resign him. He was offered some money, but not enough. You can’t resign a guy for 10-12 a year after he earned 19.7 million. It would have taken at least 15 per to get him to come back at a discount. Their team payroll was only 50 mill that season he left, simply too much to give one guy especially when Doc was entering a season making 10.5 mill. So 2 guys making 25.5/50 mill. Leaves 24.5 for 23 guys. If you want to thank anyone, thank Rogers Corporation for cutting back so much.

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