J.P. Ricciardi: Looking Back On The Best (and Worst) Moves of His Career
Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was fired on the moning of October 3, 2009 after seven seasons as the Blue Jays GM.
Ricciardi was the understudy to "Moneyball" gurus Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta. He took the Blue Jays GM job in November 2001.
This article attempts to look back on the 15 best and worst moves under Ricciardi's stewardship. The first 15 slides are the good moves, and the last 15 are the bad ones. The moves are in chronological order.
If you think I left a Ricciardi deal off either of the lists, leave a comment.
Good Move No. 1: Traded Billy Koch to the Oakland Athletics for Eric Hinske and Justin Miller
Date: December 7, 2001.
Analysis: The Blue Jays got an underrated player in Hinske, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2002 with the Jays. They also got Justin Miller, who went 12-9 with an ERA of 5.89 in 45 games with the Blue Jays from 2002 to 2005.
Koch pitched in 146 games from 2002 to 2004. In 2003, he was diagnosed with Morgellons Syndrome, a disease which causes uncontrolable muscle twitching which goes on for months at a time. The disease ended his baseball career at age 30.
Good Move No. 2: Traded Mike Rouse and a minor leaguer Chris Mowday to the Athletics for Cory Lidle
Date: November 16, 2002.
Analysis: The late Cory Lidle pitched just one season for the Blue Jays, 2003. In his one season with Toronto, Lidle went 12-15 with a 5.75 ERA. Not great numbers, but compared with Rouse (49 career games, 6 career RBI, no home runs) and Mowday, who never appeared in the majors, Lidle looks like Cy Young.
Good Move No. 3: Signed FA Josh Towers
Date: November 24, 2002.
Analysis: Before Towers joined Toronto, he was a stuggling pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. After he joined them, he becamea good one. Not great, but certainly underrated.
Towers' best season came in 2005, when he went 13-12 with a 3.85 ERA and a WHIP of 1.28.
After 2005, things went downhill for Towers, as he went 7-20 in 2006 and 2007 combined.
Good Move No. 4: Signed FA Frank Catalanotto
Date: December 28, 2002.
Analysis: Catalonotto spent his best seasons in Toronto. In his four years with the Blue Jays, he hit either in the .300s or the .290s.
His best season with the Blue Jays was 2003, when he hit .299 with a career high 13 home runs and 59 RBI.
Good Move No. 5: Traded Bobby Kielty to the Athletics for Ted Lilly
Date: November 18, 2003.
Ricciardi conned his former mentor, Billy Beane, with this deal. He was always in the shadow of Roy Halladay during his time in Toronto. He went a decent 37-34 with a 5.42 with a WHIP of 1.41.
Good Move No. 6: Acquired Justin Speier from the Colorado Rockies
Date: December 14, 2003.
Analysis: In a complicated three-team trade, which also involved the Tampa Bay Rays, the Jays sent Mark Hendrickson to Tampa and a player to be named later to Colorado.
Speier was a great set-up man for the Jays from 2004 to 2006, going 8-10 with an ERA 3.18 with a WHIP of 1.16.
Good Move No. 7: Signed FA Gregg Zaun
Date: April 9, 2004.
Analysis: The Jays signed their long-time backstop early in the '04 season, and he became a leader on the team.
Never a stellar offensive player, Zaun hit .255 with with 45 home runs and 219 RBI in his Blue Jays career.
Good Move No. 8: Traded a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians for John McDonald
Date: Decemer 2, 2004.
Analysis: The most slick fielding pinch runner in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays, McDonald was never great with the bat. Still, McDonald has been on the Jays since 2005.
An all around grinder out on the field.
Good Move No. 9: Traded Adam Peterson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Shea Hillenbrand
Date: January 12, 2005.
Analysis: I don't care that Shea Hillenbrand was a virtual clubhouse cancer (he fought manager John Gibbons and wrote "this is a sinking ship" on the Blue Jays' team chalkboard), Hillenbrand could play.
During Hillenbrand's two seasons with the Jays, he hit .285 with 39 home runs and 150 RBI.
Adam Peterson, on the other hand, played in three career games.
Good Move No. 10: Traded Dave Bush, Gabe Gross and Zach Jackson to the Milwaukee Brewers for Lyle Overbay and Ty Taubenhein
Date: December 7, 2005.
In a deal that seems lopsided now, the Blue Jays got one of their best current hitters in Lyle Overbay, and only had to give up two back-ups and a back of the rotation starter.
Good Move No. 11: Signed FA AJ Burnett
Date: December 7, 2005.
Analysis: J.P. Ricciardi's finest day: getting both Burnett and Overbay within 24 hours.
Burnett was consistently injured with the Blue Jays, but his numbers are still impressive: 38-26 record, 3.94 ERA, WHIP of 1.28.
Good Move No. 12: Traded Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista to the Diamondbacks for Troy Glaus and minor leaguer Sergio Santos
Date: December 27, 2005.
Analysis: Despite Orlando Hudson's excellent glove, Glaus's bat powers over it.
During his two-season tenure with the Blue Jays, Glaus hit .256 with 58 home runs and 166 RBI.
Good Move No. 13: Claimed Joe Inglett off waivers from the Cleveland Indians
Date: September 15, 2007.
Analysis: Inglett is a grinder. Not very good power numbers, but an on-base guy. A 'Moneyball' guy. His Blue Jays stats: 146 games, .297 average, .356 on base percentage, 47 RBI, three home runs.
Good Move No. 14: Released Armando Benitez
Date: June 11, 2008.
Analysis: Armanod Benitez pitched in eight games for the Toronto Blue Jays. He went 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA.
Benitez pitched in so few games for the Jays, there are no photographs of him in a Blue Jays uniform in Getty Images.
Good Move No. 15: Traded Scott Rolen to the Cincinatti Reds for Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke
Date: July 31, 2009.
Analysis: The Blue Jays added a young third baseman and young pitcher in exchange for an over-the-hill thirdbaseman. A good trade.
He's already doing better in 40 games with the Jays than 43 games with the Reds: he's hitting .236 with Toronto as opposed to .209 with Cincinatti, he has seven home runs with the Jays opposed to five with the Reds, and he has 22 RBI with Toronto opposed to 16 with the Reds.
Bad Move No. 1: Traded Paul Quantrill and Cesar Izturis to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguer Chad Ricketts and Luke Propkopec
Date: December 13, 2001.
Analysis: Quantrill might've been aging, but he was still one of the best set-up men in the league after the trade to the Dodgers. Izturis was still a rookie when Ricciardi traded him.
Neither Quantirll nor Izturis were elite players, but a minor leaguer and Prokopec in return for them? Prokopec appeared in 22 games for the Blue Jays, going 2-9 with an ERA of 6.78. He retired after his first season in Toronto, which was his third in the Majors.
Bad Move No. 2: Traded Raul Mondesi to the New York Yankees for Scott Wiggins
Date: July 1, 2002.
Analysis: The deal was initiated by the Yankees, and it slashed the Jays' payroll from $90 million to $45 million.
But, Scott Wiggins appeared in three career games. All time. No joke. The guy played in just three career games.
Ricciardi could've definitely gotten more for Mondesi.
Bad Move No. 3: Claimed Jason Kershner of waivers from the San Diego Padres
Date: August 30, 2002.
Analysis: Kershner was added to help with the Blue Jays relief pitching depth.
Instead, he turned out to be eratic and unreliable out of the pen. After leaving the Jays after the 2004 season, he bounced around Spring Training camps, but has not made it back to the majors yet.
Bad Move No. 4: Released Chris Carpenter
Date: October 9, 2002.
Analysis: The Exeter, New Hampshire native played five seasons for the Blue Jays, going 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA and a WHIP of 1.51.
After taking the 2003 season off, Carpenter signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, and won the Cy Young award.
I'm not discounting the potential affect of Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan on Carpenter, but he was still 27 when Ricciardi released him. At least trade the guy and try to salvage something in return.
Bad Move No. 5: Traded Shannon Stewart and a player to be named later to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty
Date: July 16, 2003.
Analysis: Stewart played nine seasons with the Blue Jays, for a total of 920 games.
Kielty played a half season for the Blue Jays, playing in 62 games.
Why trade a player who left his heart and soul on the SkyDome turf for someone who would play a half season for you? And don't say that Stewart was in the twilight of his career. He put up six good seasons after his trade from the Jays.
But remember: Kielty was used to get Ted Lilly from the Athletics.
Bad Move No. 6: Traded Jayson Werth to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jason Frasor
Date: March 29, 2004.
Analysis: Jayson Werth has become a reliable power bat. Frasor has become your run-of-the-mill reliever.
Werth hadn't done anything much in his two seasons with the Blue Jays, but, in his first season with Los Angeles, Werth hit 16 home runs. Frasor went 4-6 with a 4.08 ERA.
Bad Move No. 7: Traded Josh Phelps to the Cleveland Indians for Eric Crozier
Date: August 4, 2004.
Analysis: During Phelps' time in Toronto, he played in 305 games, hit .269 with 52 home runs and 186 RBI.
During Crozier's time in Toronto, he played in 14 games, hit .152 with two home runs and four RBI.
Phelps still had a few good years left in him with Cleveland and Tampa Bay.
Bad Move No. 8: Signed FA Corey Koskie
Date: December 14, 2004.
A terrible move by Ricciardi. Koskie is a native Canadian, so signing with Canada's only remaining team (the Montreal Expos had just relocated to Washington D.C.) may have been popular at the time.
In Koskie's only season in Toronto, he hit .249 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI.
Just a terrible deal.
Bad Move No. 9: Traded Scott Schoeneweis to the Cincinatti Reds for a player to be named later (Trevor Lawhorn)
Date: October 16, 2006.
Analysis: Schoeneweis was a good reliever for the Jays, appearing in 135 games for Toronto, with a record of 5-6 and an ERA of 4.06.
Trevor Lawhorn has never made it to the majors.
Bad Move #10: Signed FA BJ Ryan
Date: November 29, 2005.
Analysis: Ricciardi gave Ryan a five-year $47 million deal. Ryan pitched in 155 games over four seasons.
All though his overall Blue Jays numbers aren't that bad, his five games, 12.46 ERA and 0-2 record in 2007 speaks for itself. So does the 1-1 record, 6.53 ERA in 25 games in 2009.
Bad Move No. 11: Signed FA Frank Thomas
Date: November 18, 2006.
Analysis: Thomas signed a two-year $18 million contract with the Jays after leaving Oakland.
In his 226 games with Toronto, Thomas batted .265 with 34 home runs and 125 RBI.
Bad Move #12: Resigned Vernon Wells to a 7-year, $126 million contract
Date: 2006-2007 offseason.
Analysis: I can't find the actual date that Wells's new contract was signed, but I can say that this contract is one of the worst moves by Ricciardi, if not the worst.
Seven years, $126 million. And this is from a guy who was the protogee of Billy Beane.
Bad Move No. 13: Signed FA Victor Zambrano
Date: January 30, 2007.
Analysis: Zambrano has never been good since the Mets traded Scott Kazmir to get him.
And that didn't change with the Blue Jays.
Zambrano appeared in eight games with the Jays, going 0-2 with a 10.97 ERA. He only had two starts with Toronto.
Bad Move No. 14: Traded Troy Glaus to the St. Louis Cardinals for Scott Rolen
Date: January 14, 2008.
Analysis: I just don't get this trade: You trade your power hitting corner infielder for an over-the-hill slick fielding corner infielder?
Glaus was in his prime when this deal was done. Rolen only lasted a season and a half in Toronto.
Bad Move No. 15: Not trading Roy Halladay
Analysis: The Red Sox could've sent their top pitching prospects to the Blue Jays for Halladay.
But instead Ricciardi held on to Doc because he was "afraid of [Halladay] beating him in 2010".
They say that non-moves are just as important as the moves which are made, and this non-move might've damned J.P. Ricciardi's fate as Blue Jays GM.