J. P. Ricciardi
J. P. Ricciardi
Ricciardi in 2011.
John Paul (J. P.) Ricciardi (born September 26, 1959) is a former Major League Baseball executive. He was most recently a special assistant to New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. Ricciardi has previously served as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from November 14, 2001 to October 3, 2009.
Early life and career
Ricciardi went to and played baseball for St. Peter's/St. Peter-Marian High School in Worcester, and then played for the Saint Leo University Lions from 1979 through 1980. He then spent two years as an infielder in the New York Mets minor league system, playing for the Mets' A-class league affiliates in Little Falls in 1980 and Shelby in 1981. He finished his playing career with a batting average below .200.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Ricciardi became a coach in the New York Yankees farm system in the early 1980s before joining the Oakland Athletics organization in 1986 as a minor league instructor and scout. By the early 1990s he had risen to the rank of East Coast Scouting Supervisor and later National Crosschecker. Ricciardi made his break into the front office in 1996, when he became special assistant to Athletics general manager Sandy Alderson. Under new general manager Billy Beane, who was hired in 1997 and had been Ricciardi's former teammate with the Little Falls Mets, his role became Director of Player Personnel.
General Manager of the Blue Jays
Impressed by the success Ricciardi and Beane were having with the low-budget Athletics, the Toronto Blue Jays, who sought to cut payroll while becoming more competitive after their acquisition by Canadian media giant Rogers Communications, sought Ricciardi's services after firing then-general manager Gord Ash. During his tenure, the Blue Jays never made the playoffs, coming closest in 2006, when they finished second in their division.
On November 14, 2001, Ricciardi was hired as general manager of the Blue Jays. He signed a five-year contract with Toronto after the 2002 season, which was extended to 2010 after the 2005 season.
After arriving in Toronto, one of Ricciardi's first deals was to send hard-throwing reliever Billy Koch to the Athletics for third baseman Eric Hinske and pitcher Justin Miller. Over the next few years, Ricciardi would develop a reputation for coziness with his former team, making deals with Oakland for starting pitcher Cory Lidle in November 2002 and another starting pitcher, Ted Lilly, in November 2003. After a surprising 2003 campaign, which saw the emergence of Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells, the team suffered its worst season since 1980, in 2004, mainly due to injuries to key players such as Wells and star slugger Carlos Delgado. Delgado became a free agent in the off-season, and for financial reasons the Blue Jays did not seriously pursue re-signing him; the Florida Marlins eventually inked him to a contract. During the 2004 season, Ricciardi hired former Shelby teammate John Gibbons as the Blue Jays' new manager. Gibbons remained as Blue Jays' manager until being fired on June 20, 2008.
Ricciardi's arrival in Toronto had been greeted with great optimism and enthusiasm after the team had suffered through several disappointing seasons. The enthusiasm steadily waned, however, as the team repeatedly failed to qualify for the postseason.
Ricciardi was given more freedom to move after Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers expanded the team's payroll to $210 million over three years prior to the 2005 season. In the 2005 MLB Draft, Ricciardi famously drafted Ricky Romero instead of Troy Tulowitzki, overruling the recommendations of his scouting staff. While Romero would have modest success, even being named to the 2011 MLB All-Star Game as a Blue Jay before eventually being released by the team, Tulowitzki would have the better career, winning multiple awards with the Colorado Rockies. Coincidentally, Tulowitzki would join the Blue Jays 10 years later in a trade executed by Riccardi's successor, Alex Anthopoulos.
After the 2005 season (in which the Blue Jays posted an 80-82 record), Ricciardi began working to improve Toronto's pitching, signing free agent starter A. J. Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan. He also secured two big bats in first baseman Lyle Overbay and slugging third baseman Troy Glaus via the trading block, and signed Gold Glove-winning catcher Bengie Molina as well. The additions paid significant dividends for the team in 2006, as the Blue Jays finished second in the tough American League East with an 87-75 record. It was the first time Toronto had finished above third in the division since winning the 1993 World Series.
Seeking to upgrade the everyday lineup as well, Ricciardi signed a two-year contract with experienced slugger and designated hitter Frank Thomas. However, due to his slow start in 2008, in which he batted just .167 with three home runs in his first 60 at-bats, Thomas was released in April of that year. Ricciardi also signed veteran shortstop Royce Clayton as a "stopgap" measure to shore up the middle infield for the 2007 season.
During spring training of 2007, B.J. Ryan was suffering from an injury that Ricciardi initially reported to be a result of a bad back. It was later revealed that it was not a back injury that he was suffering from at all, but rather a more severe elbow injury which subsequently required season ending Tommy John surgery. When asked why he was not more upfront about Ryan's injury situation, Ricciardi responded by saying, "They're not lies if we know the truth."
Despite the lack of hitting on his 2008 ball club, Ricciardi had assembled one of the more effective pitching staffs in Major League Baseball, bolstered by bullpen pick-ups such as Scott Downs, Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson, and Shawn Camp. Over the season, the team had the best ERA in baseball at 3.49 and the bullpen ERA of 2.94. Early in the season, the Jays struggled, and the team fired manager John Gibbons, replacing him with former manager Cito Gaston. Toronto ended the season on a high note, finishing with a final record of 86 wins and 76 losses, the organization's third-best showing since the 1993 season.
In the middle of June 2008, with the Jays in last place in the American League East, Ricciardi appeared on local Toronto sports radio station The FAN 590, in which he fielded questions from fans. One fan insisted that the Jays should actively seek to acquire Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn, to which Ricciardi responded with very negative personal comments about Dunn's passion for the game of baseball:
Do you know the guy doesn't really like baseball that much? Do you know the guy doesn't have a passion to play the game that much? How much do you know about the player? There's a reason why you're attracted to some players and there's a reason why you're not attracted to some players. I don't think you'd be very happy if we brought Adam Dunn here ... We've done our homework on guys like Adam Dunn and there's a reason why we don't want Adam Dunn. I don't want to get into specifics.
On June 24, 2008 Ricciardi told Toronto media that he received a personal phone call from Dunn and personally apologized for the ad-lib comments, a conversation Dunn vehemently refuted in an interview with MLB.com. Some again questioned Ricciardi's trustworthiness, but Ricciardi said, "All I know is the person I talked to said it was Adam Dunn. That's quite a prank to pull."
During Roy Halladay's last home start of the 2009 season on September 25, a sign in the 500 level stating "Fire JP!" was hung over the railing. The sign was taken away by security at the bottom of the 2nd inning.
With two games remaining in what was a disappointing 2009 season, Ricciardi was fired on October 3, 2009. The day before Blue Jays players had gone public with criticism over Gaston's managing style, and had asked for a meeting with team president Paul Beeston. His firing was widely expected. Ricciardi was replaced by assistant vice-president of baseball operations and assistant general manager, Alex Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos was eventually made the permanent general manager for the Jays.
Ricciardi left ESPN to join the Mets front office in November 2010.
Ricciardi is married and lives with his family in West Boylston, MA. He has two sons, Mariano and Dante. He also has a brother Steve Ricciardi and sister Mary Sivo. He is also a fan of the Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and Boston Celtics.
|2002||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||78||84||25.5||3rd|
|2003||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||86||76||15.0||3rd|
|2004||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||67||94||33.5||5th|
|2005||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||80||82||15.0||3rd|
|2006||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||87||75||10.0||2nd|
|2007||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||83||79||13.0||3rd|
|2008||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||86||76||11.0||4th|
|2009||Toronto Blue Jays||AL||General Manager||75||87||28.0||4th|
- Rubin, Adam (2 November 2010). "Mets hire ESPN's J.P. Ricciardi". ESPNNewYork.com. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
- "The Baseball Cube J.P. Ricciardi". Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "The Baseball Cube Little Falls Mets". Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Blue Jays fire GM Ricciardi". Associated Press. ESPN. 3 October 2009. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- DiManno, Rosie (11 March 2011). "DiManno: Jays' Ricky Romero goes from draft 'bust' to staff ace". Toronto Star. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Damned lies and J.P. - Jim Lang - Sportsnet.ca Archived 2007-07-16 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Blue Jays fire John Gibbons, hire Cito Gaston". The Canadian Press. CTV News. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/postedsports/archive/2008/06/19/jays-notebook-ricciardi-trashes-adam-dunn-on-radio-show.aspx[permanent dead link]
- Dunn denies phone call with Ricciardi | MLB.com: News
- Blue Jays Announce That Ricciardi Is Leaving Club Immediately TSN. Accessed on October 3, 2009.
| Toronto Blue Jays General Manager