Tag:J.P. Ricciardi
Posted on: November 23, 2010 6:16 pm

Love Letters: Fixing the Mets Edition

Meet the Mets, greet the Mets ... and we did both with their new manager Terry Collins. ...

FROM: Greg K.
Re.: Mets complete clubhouse makeover with Collins hire


As a Mets fan, thank you - THANK YOU - for injecting a dose of sanity into the fan and media reaction to the Terry Collins hiring. Reading some of the drivel put out there in the last 18 hours I don't want to mention any names, but ... it makes you wonder whether any objectivity or logic, or intelligence, or consideration, or patience is even possible when writing about the Mets anymore. It's refreshing to actually see some intelligent analysis rather than the knee-jerk mentality which has overtaken much of the media -- and the die-hards -- when it comes to the Mets. Keep it up!

It's the Mets. They've come to specialize in knee-jerk, haven't they?

FROM: Jack H.

Another retread. It will take a miracle. Collins needs to get the team to do a 180. Personally, I would have given Wally Backman a one-year contract. I think he would have taken it. I just wouldn't make the contract public because I wouldn't want the team to know it was only for a year. That team needs a kick-ass manager and I don't see that from Collins.

What's your definition of a "kick-ass" manager? In many ways, Collins is or could be that guy. I think you're on the right track in some areas, but I disagree on the one-year deal. Nothing is secret anymore. It would leak. And you cannot have a rookie manager on a one-year deal. That's a neon sign to the clubhouse that he does not have authority.

FROM: Finbar


From your own article, I give you the following: "When we last saw Collins in a big-league manager's chair, the late-'90s Angels were blowing up around him in spectacular fashion. The Mo Vaughn free agent signing was a colossal mistake, the clubhouse was rife with dissension, everybody hated everybody and Collins' spirited ways were a daily dose of salt to what was an open and festering clubhouse wound. Something had to give, and it was Collins. He lost the clubhouse, then his job."

Your words, and if true, this cannot be a good candidate for a job in NY. Especially with 10 years of a lack of managing. This team needs a cultural, not logistical, change. Can Collins deliver such a thing? Anyone who ever lost a clubhouse is problematic particularly in NY/NJ. If he lost a team out west, how will he regain a team in New York? Fair question, I think!Share thoughts!

It is a very fair question. And it is a key question. I also wrote that Collins is a smart man and should have been able to figure some things out in his decade away from managing -- where he went wrong with the Angels, what he could have done differently. To me, his success depends directly on this. He's a smart man. If he's learned a few things, he will do just fine in New York. If he proves incapable of learning what he needed to, then Sandy Alderson will be looking for a new manager sooner rather than later.

FROM: Frank D.

Though I would have preferred Wally Backman, I like the hire. Here's why: Collins knows the Mets farm system. You will see more young players this year and he knows them. Collins will be better equipped to understand how to use them. Jerry Manuel didn't have a clue.

Also, Collins will not tolerate any garbage. That means malcontents like Carlos Beltran. If he's here, he won't be tolerated. He'll be unafraid to sit those who jake it. This certainly signals Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez have no place here. It's a matter of time before they're eradicated. Collins is IMO keeping the seat warm for Backman. Wally will manage St. Lucie, then perhaps be moved up to Binghamton or Buffalo.

Terry is a transition guy and is here to clean up Omar Minaya's and Manuel's mess, and leave it [better] for the next guy. He's a good company guy and he's a decent manager (444-434). Since the end of the year, the Mets have rid themselves of incompetents like Minaya and Manuel. They've added a real brain trust in Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta. Collins in in that vein. He's cerebral and professional.

Now the four of them have to turn their efforts towards dumping the garbage. I think they'll surprise some people how much they can do. I'm hoping they'll make trades and have free-agent signings, not to make a splash on the back pages of the dying newspapers, but ones that actually make the team better. My guess is unlike Minaya, they'll have a plan. A real plan. I'm actually very happy with what has occured. I'm looking forward to 2011 and hopefully a team that cares and shows respect for the game and fans.

Well played, Mr. Frank. You're last sentence summarizes things nicely.

FROM: Wesley Kempton
Re.: Anderson's passing sparks many wonderful baseball memories

Mr. Miller,

I am a senior Communications major at the University of Wyoming. Wyoming is a place so far from baseball and the rest of the world that it is somewhat a haven for what baseball used to be. Everyone everywhere can get baseball on TV, but when you are so far from the game, you are left to romanticize as in days of old through radio, great play-by-play, and great writing.

I have a heartfelt appreciation for baseball; for the way it is and the way I imagine it used to be. I appreciate the noble simplicities of baseball and all things associated with it. More than anything, and I think all baseball fans can agree to this: I appreciate people sharing memories of baseball. It is a bond that can nostalgically unite many fans of summer's greatest companion.

It is for that that I thank you for your piece on Sparky Anderson. My Dad lived in Southern Ohio in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and my bedtime stories were about a Big Red Machine. The greatest team ever, he told me. My opinion of that declaration is still in deliberation, but I still love hearing those fairy tales. My father sent me the link to this column. A lifelong Reds fan, and a lifelong Sparky fan, he and I shared a smile through your column, several hundred miles apart.Thank you very much for continuing this bond of baseball.

Your father sounds like a wonderful man, Wesley. Thanks for sharing this story, and best of luck in Wyoming and beyond.


Posted on: October 3, 2009 6:24 pm

Bad contracts catch up with Ricciardi

While San Diego's firing of general manager Kevin Towers elicited gasps throughout the industry this weekend, Toronto's sacking of J.P. Ricciardi only garnered a few yawns.

This one has been expected for weeks, once it became apparent that years of bad contracts and miscalculated decisions have left the Blue Jays in the same spot they were when he took control in 2001: Buried in the AL East.

Working within that powerhouse of a division is not a job for the meek, and from day one, that was something the Blue Jays never had to worry about with Ricciardi. He fired two managers during his first three seasons -- Buck Martinez and Carlos Tosca -- and it was off to the races from there.

The problem came when his job performance fell short of his confidence. In probably the pivotal point of his tenure, Ricciardi swung for the fences when he gambled on two free agent pitchers, starter A.J. Burnett and closer B.J. Ryan, following the 2005 season. It was a swing and, mostly, a miss.

Combined, the Jays spent $102 million on the duo. They wound up releasing Ryan, and Burnett took advantage of an ill-conceived opt-out clause in his contract. Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas, Corey Koskie ... the list of bad contracts awarded under Ricciardi is a long one, some (Wells and Alex Rios, since unloaded on the White Sox) worse than others.

Still, it was never dull with Ricciardi in charge and, to their credit, the Jays stood by him in the wake of several embarrassing moments.

Such as, when he ripped slugger Adam Dunn on the radio in response to a caller's criticism of Ricciardi ("Do you know the guy really doesn't like baseball that much?").

And when he trashed Gil Meche when the pitcher signed a free agent contract with Kansas City instead of Toronto before the 2006 season ("When a guy talks about coming to our place where he has a chance to win and compete against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and then he goes to a place like Kansas City, that's an eye-opener.")

Cross Kansas City off the list of Ricciardi's potential landing spots.

The beginning of the end came midsummer this year, when the Jays decided to see if they could deal ace Roy Halladay. There was a lot of sound, much fury ... and no deal. There Ricciardi and the Jays were, spinning their wheels again.

Eight years down the road, Ricciardi leaves, best known for those horrific contracts and public swipes.

Not exactly the stuff of long-term success.


Posted on: July 13, 2009 9:42 pm

Halladay opens up about trade prospect

ST. LOUIS -- Not only will Tuesday night's All-Star Game start put Toronto's Roy Halladay on the biggest stage of his career, it also will be one of the most public auditions he'll make in his new life as trade bait for a contender.

But what's more newsworthy is that the very private Halladay spoke at length Monday about the possibility of leaving his beloved Toronto. And he sounded like a man who mentally has one foot out the door already. Which is notable in that he has full no-trade powers and must sign off on any deal.

"The team's open to looking and I'm open to it," Halladay said. "It's kind of, 'Let's see what happens and go from there.'"

The longtime ace of Toronto's staff finally seems resigned to the fact that if he is going to pitch in October for the first time in his 12-year career, it's going to have to be in a uniform other than that of the Blue Jays.

"For me, that's been the biggest struggle," Halladay said. "To (Toronto general manager) J.P. Ricciardi's credit, when I signed my extension, that was the focus for him. He said they were going to try and win. I believe they did the best they could to try and win.

"But financially, the economy, maybe you get to the point where we have to change direction a little bit."

The economy has hit Toronto hard. The Blue Jays rank 12th in the American League in attendance, ahead of only Cleveland and Oakland, and next year's payroll is expected to be lower than the current $80 million. As such, in a division with big spenders Boston and the Yankees, and including a very talented Tampa Bay club, the Blue Jays' immediate prospects for contending do not look good.

From Toronto's perspective, one thing that has to factor in is the disappointing return they got when pitcher A.J. Burnett fled via free agency last winter: The Jays were expecting two draft picks, but aside from the sandwich pick they got following the first round, they were stunned when events played out to net them only a third-round pick from the Yankees.

One of the most telling glimpses into Halladay's current thinking was in how he answered the question of being traded to a large-market club. He's thrived in the out-of-the-way quiet of Toronto, and he does not enjoy the spotlight.

But he also sounds ready to compromise on that for a chance to win.

"I think so," he said. "That's what made Toronto great for me. It is quiet. It is a great place.

"But I think you've got to take a chance sometimes. Wherever that may be, there is a point in your career where you know you need to take a chance and try it and win."

At 32, Halladay seems ready to take that chance. Even if it is in New York, where he says he would not be intimidated.

"No," he said. "I'm sure a lot of media people wouldn't love me. For me, I've always been able to separate what I do on the field from off the field, and I've realized I can't always make everybody happy all the time."

He also said that although he's played his entire career in the American League, he wouldn't necessarily be adverse to pitching in the National League and, thus, batting (which should be music to Philadelphia's ears).

"Once you go from the American League East," he said, smiling. "Not that there aren't great teams out there, but it's a tough decision. I'd rather hit than have to face (Derek) Jeter, A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), (Hideki) Matsui, (Mark) Teixeira and those guys."

Halladay, thoughtful and reflective throughout the interview, said he doesn't yet know whether he would ask for an extension of his current deal (roughly $7 million remaining this year and $15.75 million in 2010) in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause, as some major league executives believe he will.

"It's a little bit down the road for me," he said. "All I can tell you is that my priority will be to win. I've been fortunate to have been taken care of fine in Toronto. As a younger player, maybe is at the beginning of a career, that's important. Now, the emphasis is on winning. As far as thinking that far, I really haven't gotten there. It just hasn't come up."

Whether Halladay will be traded by the July 31 deadline, he said, "for me, it will be the flip of a coin. I really believe that. I think there is so much that goes into it. I'm still not 100 percent sure what direction we're going to take in Toronto, if Toronto does decide to do something."

There are many in the game who think that Ricciardi is sending out feelers now and that the Blue Jays will wind up trading Halladay this winter, rather than this July.

Whatever the timetable, after listening to Halladay on Monday, you have to believe that he's already begun cutting the emotional ties in one of the most calculated gambles of his career -- and, on Toronto's part, in recent franchise history.


Posted on: September 5, 2008 7:47 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 7:48 pm

Hank Steinbrenner and tampering

Would have LOVED to have been within earshot of the conversations between Toronto general manager J.P Ricciardi and his Minnesota counterpart, Bill Smith, this week as the Blue Jays and Twins played the Hank Steinbrenner Memorial Tampering Bowl in Canada.

"I didn't have much conversation with J.P. about any of that," Smith said Friday.

Too bad, because there's so much to talk about.

Such as, Steinbrenner clearly tampering with Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett when he told Newsday last week, "Everybody's looking at (CC) Sabathia and Burnett, not just us. We'll see. The main concern is, are their arms going to be OK after this season?"

And, such as, the Yankees' bull-in-a-china-shop general partner blatantly tampering with pitcher Johan Santana early last December during trade negotiations with the Twins.

Then, setting a deadline on the Twins to accept a deal with the Yankees, Steinbrenner said:

"We'll see how it goes, but this is not an act. It's not a bluff. It's just reality. Because as much as I want Santana, and you can make that clear -- for his sake, to know that I do want him -- but the fact is that I'm not going to play the game."

Baseball rules clearly prohibit executives publicly discussing players from another team.

Of course, what are rules if they're not enforced?

A baseball official told me this week that Steinbrenner was reprimanded by the Commissioner's Office for that Santana comment. There was no fine levied, it was more of a stern lecture meant to educate the new kid on the block.

Clearly, based on his comments regarding Sabathia (who will be a free agent this winter) and Burnett (who has the right to opt out of his Toronto contract and become a free agent if he wishes), Steinbrenner didn't learn.

Or maybe he's simply incapable of being refined.

Tampering is difficult to enforce because, in these days of whirlwind free agency, so many executives wind up talking about opposing players. Most who do, however, are careful to speak off the record, offering background information -- without quotes or attribution -- about what their clubs may want to do in the off-season.

On the rare occasion when an executive is careless or clumsy enough to talk about a desired player when he's still playing elsewhere, baseball essentially lets it go unless, as a baseball official says, "one party is angry and came to us and said, 'Hey, we have a problem here.'"

At that point, baseball will investigate.

Steinbrenner's comment about Santana was so out-of-line that baseball officials apparently sat him down for a talk without it ever reaching that point. Smith said the Twins never complained formally.

As for his latest comments on Sabathia and Burnett, don't expect much to come of that, either. The Blue Jays, for one, simply figure that's show biz in the modern era.

"Whatever," Ricciardi told me Thursday. "I never even thought twice about it, to be honest with you. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? He can say whatever he wants to say.

"If someone is tampering on any type of job -- hitting coach, pitching coach -- it comes down to whether the guy is happy when he's here, anyway. He either is or he's not.

"And if he is, he'll stay. And if he's not happy, he'll leave."

Burnett is expected utilize his opt-out window following this season to again test free agency. If he elects to stay with the Jays, his contract would extend two more seasons (2009 and 2010) for $24 million.

Of course, Steinbrenner's comments should be a pretty good indication to Burnett that he can probably make a whole lot more than $24 million with the Yankees over the next several years.

Makes you wonder exactly what the Yankees' Loose Cannon, er, General Partner, would have to say before he actually was slapped with a tampering fine.


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