Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Mets hire ESPN's J.P. Ricciardi
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- Former Toronto Blue Jays general manager and current ESPN analyst J.P. Ricciardi took a front-office job with the New York Mets on Tuesday, the team announced.
Ricciardi will be special assistant to newly hired general manager Sandy Alderson. The two worked together for 12 years with the Oakland Athletics.
"He's going to be valuable in connection with a lot of things that we do, but particularly player-related activities -- amateur, pro scouting, player development, trades, free agency -- across the board," Alderson said. "I worked with J.P. for a long time in Oakland, of course. But his career went way beyond that, [with] even greater achievements after I left in Oakland in terms of his contributions, and then also obviously in Toronto where he was successful in developing young talent. We're fortunate to have him."
Ricciardi, 51, indicated he selected the Mets over an invitation from the Boston Red Sox to work in their front office, which had been extended after he left Toronto and was still in effect.
"I was going to head that direction until Sandy got the job," Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi served as general manager of the Blue Jays from 2001-09 before joining ESPN. He worked for the A's in various capacities from 1986-2001. He played two seasons in the Mets minor league system and called joining the Mets a quasi-homecoming.
"I think having a background in player development and scouting has probably always been my strength -- the ability to evaluate," Ricciardi said. "I think having been a general manager for eight years, and seeing the pace that goes on, and what it's like to sit in that chair, I think, is going to be helpful in different capacities. Obviously we're trying to put a winning team on the field. We're trying to do the best we can, and that entails a lot of different ways to attack putting a major league roster together."
Alderson added that it is possible he will add another front-office executive in the next week or so. Alderson has a strong association with San Diego Padres executive vice president Paul DePodesta as well as A's special assistant Grady Fuson.
Also on Monday, Alderson said the Mets began scheduling interviews with internal candidates for manager, which will be conducted Thursday and Friday. The GM declined to identify those candidates, but it is widely believed that pool will come from a group that includes current third base coach Chip Hale, Mets scout and former Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners manager Bob Melvin, Triple-A Buffalo manager Ken Oberkfell, Class A Brooklyn manager Wally Backman and minor league field coordinator Terry Collins.
Alderson said permission has not yet been sought for external candidates, with those interviews likely waiting until next week. Potential candidates include former Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle as well as former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.
Mets coaches and scouts contracts expired on Monday. First base coach Razor Shines confirmed his contract will not be renewed. Otherwise, Alderson said, the coaches have been asked to sit tight.
Ownership has recommended pitching coach Dan Warthen and Hale remain on the major league staff, while it's likely hitting coach Howard Johnson and bullpen coach Randy Niemann will remain with the organization in some capacity even if they are not on the major league staff. That leaves bench coach Dave Jauss' status as the most murky.
"This is the unfortunate byproduct of a sequential process," Alderson said about the nebulous status of the coaches.
As for scouts, the uncertainty prompted advance scout Bob Johnson to bolt for the Atlanta Braves in a comparable role. Alderson confirmed professional scouts Russ Bove and Duane Larson had not been retained, but he expected the remainder of the scouting staff would return.
Bove expressed annoyance that the scouts were kept in the dark for a month without permission to interview elsewhere, putting them at a disadvantage in locating other work.
"There was no communication letting us know whether we were in or out," Bove said. "They strung us along pretty good. I don't care I'm fired, but to do it on Nov. 1, after the contracts ran out, is totally unprofessional and unprecedented. I talked to a million people and they never heard of that. To not be able to talk to other clubs and leave us hanging is pretty low. But I can understand a new guy comes in and wants to bring in his own people."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.
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