Name: Ricciardi, JP
Card: 1988 ProCards #1714
John Paul Ricciardi (born September 26, 1959 in Worcester, MA) is a Major League Baseball executive. He previously served as the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001 to 2009.
JP spent two seasons as a minor league player in the New York Mets organization in the early 1980s, playing alongside fellow GM Billy Beane. After his playing career ended, Ricciardi was a minor league coach for the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers. In 1986, he joined the Oakland Athletics as a scout before moving to the front office where once again he worked alongside Beane. He was special assistant to the GM in 1998 and 2000, director of player personnel in 1999, and assistant GM in 2001. After the 2001 season, he was named GM of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ricciardi’s tenure at the helm of the Blue Jays was quite stormy. He was originally considered one of the Moneyball, generation of executives, so-called after the best-selling book explaining the methods used by his mentor Billy Beane in Oakland, and some of his early moves were in that vein.
These included firing most of the team’s scouting staff, hiring a young internet-based writer, Keith Law, to serve as a sabermetrics advisor to the team, and installing an inexperienced manager, Buck Martinez, in the dugout (under the Moneyball philosophy, the manager is considered a disposable part, as the team’s philosophy is set by the General Manager). Many of these moves were criticized in the media, and an early quip by by rookie 2B Orlando Hudson, who compared Ricciardi to a well-dressed pimp, added to his image difficulties.
Ricciardi was criticized for some of his drafting, choosing low-ceiling college players such as Russ Adams, in the amateur draft over more promising but younger prospects such as Troy Tulowitzki. However, his record as a developer of young talent was relatively good, with players like Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Ricky Romero and Travis Snider all becoming regulars under Ricciardi’s watch. One problem was pitching injuries, to major leaguers such as Ryan, but mainly to youngsters like Gustavo Chacin, Dustin McGowan and numerous others who seemed to hurt their arms immediately after experiencing a bit of major league success. These constant injuries stalled whatever progress the Jays were trying to achieve by playing the free agent market.
The last two years of Ricciardi’s tenure in Toronto were quite stormy. Early in 2008, he got into a public spat with DH Frank Thomas, who had been the team’s best hitter in 2007, and released him early in the season amid accusations that his prime motivation was to avoid having to pay a vesting option for 2009 based on playing time. Later in the season, he fired John Gibbons, his third manager, and brought back Cito Gaston, manager for the franchise’s World Series championships in the 1990s.
Surprisingly, the team began to play very well under Gaston, and had one of the top records in all of MLB over the second half of the 2008 season. However, things did not look bright for 2009, with a number of pitchers sidelined by injuries and 18-game winner A.J. Burnett exercising an opt-out clause to sign with the Yankees. On October 3rd, with a few days left in the season, Ricciardi was fired and replaced by young Canadian Alex Anthopoulos, ending an eight-season reign. He left with an eight-year record of 642-651 with the Jays.
Ricciardi moved to ESPN in March 2010 as an analyst for “Baseball Tonight”. In November 2010, Ricciardi became a Special Assistant to New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. He left at the end of Alderson’s tenure, following the 2018 season. He was part of the group assuming the interim for Alderson when he had to take a leave of absence to fight cancer in July 2018. In 2021, JP was named the Special Advisor to the President of Baseball Operations with the San Francisco Giants.
JP has also been an IABF Honoree – Go to the Next Stop
See Ricciardi’s baseball cards at TCDB
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