Two Men Who Can Help the Mets: J.P. Ricciardi and Kevin Towers
Over the past 24 hours, two MLB general managers were relieved of their duties.
Ricciardi was the golden boy oft-mentioned in Moneyball, but was unable to turn his saber-magic into success in Toronto.
The SI.com article summed up his tenure thusly:
The 2009 campaign was a microcosm of Ricciardi’s tenure as GM. There was a hopeful start, a sudden collapse, a lack of resources to turn things around, a spate of injuries, some painful decisions related to bad contracts and ultimately, pessimism for the future.
Ricciardi didn’t exactly employ Moneyball tactics in Toronto — in fact it was his irresponsible, unBeanelike contract decisions that contributed to his firing (for example: 2 years/$18M for Frank Thomas; 5-year deal for BJ Ryan; opt-out for AJ Burnett; long-term, expensive deals for Vernon Wells and Alex Rios).
Though his record as a GM is unimpressive, Ricciardi was spectacular as a scout, special assistant, and director of player personnel in Oakland. It’s doubtful anyone will consider him for another GM position anytime soon — particularly after the way he handled (bumbled) the Roy Halladay situation this season, and his ill-conceived, public comments regarding Adam Dunn last year. A return to a less-public position in someone’s front office would make sense. As you may know, Ricciardi began his baseball career in the New York Mets organization — he was a Rookie League and A-ball teammate of Billy Beane in the early 1980s. As you also may know, the Mets are rebuilding their front office, and in need of a special assistant and/or director of player personnel.
Similarly, the Mets could be in the market for someone like Kevin Towers, who is leaving San Diego after 15 years as the Padres GM. You don’t spend that much time in a position unless you’re doing something right — and Towers did a fine job keeping stability and executing successful rebuilding phases under the constraints of what was usually a small-market budget.
It appears that the Mets are going to give Omar Minaya at least another year to right the ship, but he could benefit from (or be pushed by) Towers’ presence — say as an assistant GM. Towers’ eye for finding talent off the scrap heap and his ability to make shrewd deals would be helpful with the anticipated cut in payroll.
The Mets are in the midst of making big changes in their organization, and will be hiring new faces. Here are two with proven track records who can make an immediate and positive impact.
**** UPDATE *************************
Joel Sherman reports that Omar Minaya could be considering both Ricciardi and Towers.