Tag: john ricco

Why the Love for John Ricco?

Quick: find a Yankees fan and ask him/her who the Yanks’ assistant GM is. No idea? Huh. (BTW, we’ve played this game before.)

Now, as a Mets fan, I bet you know who the current Mets assistant GM is; it’s the same person who was the assistant to previous GM Omar Minaya — John Ricco.

Interesting, isn’t it, that few know about the assistant GM for MLB’s most successful organization, yet many are aware of the person in the same role for one of MLB’s most disappointing clubs?

Despite the futility, we’ve been hearing for the last few years about Ricco, and how he is an up-and-comer and a future GM — possibly a future GM of the Mets. What this hype is based on, nobody knows, though at least some of it is rumored to be based on a photo of him with a calculator.

First things first: I have nothing against John Ricco, mainly because I know absolutely nothing about him. Unless you want to count the random media and blogosphere tidbits about him being “highly regarded” by “high ranking officials”.

As Greg Prince pointed out recently, MLB GMs don’t have baseball cards, and as a result we as fans really have no clue on how “good” or “bad” any GM — or aspiring GM — is. All we really have to go on are the remarks uttered by anonymous sources — the ubiquitous people “close to the situation” and “high ranking officials within the Mets organization”.

You know what? Those same people kept telling us what a great manager Manny Acta (a.k.a., “Connie Macta”) would be some day. His teams in DC went downhill after taking over for Frank Robinson, and his Indians team seems to be on a similar downward spiral. Could just be a coincidence of bad luck, though. As another example, those “high ranking officials” are the same folks who gave Omar Minaya the keys to the castle and made Tony Bernazard a thought leader. So excuse me if I’m hesitant to trust these “officials”.

Since his work is done behind the scenes, we don’t really know much about Ricco’s job and even less about his performance. All we can look at are the actions and the results. For example, he assisted Omar Minaya, and one of his responsibilities was to help with the contracts and arbitration cases. Presumably that means he was somewhat involved with the negotiation and execution of contracts with, for example, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Alex Cora, Jason Bay, Kelvim Escobar, and Ryota Igarashi. We can also assume he had something to do with the decisions of going to arbitration with (rather than non-tendering) the likes of John Maine, Jeff Francoeur, and Sean Green. Nothing much to boast about there.

Speaking of Francoeur, it was Ricco who was praised for being the driving force behind acquiring him from the Braves. How short memory can serve, eh? Again, not exactly something to highlight on the resume — and not something to brag about to a sabermetric-minded analyst.

Yet, despite being a key part of the shenanigans of the Omar Minaya era from the past five years, Ricco is still seen as a “keeper”, and one who could be “groomed” into the GM position by a tutor such as Sandy Alderson. Maybe he is as great as everyone says — I really don’t know. All I know is what I see, and, to quote Bachman Turner Overdrive, I “ain’t seen nuthin’ yet”.

If the organization is to succeed, the next Mets GM needs to have the authority to choose his/her own team — that includes his immediate associates and underlings, the scouting department, the field manager, etc. Maybe that team will include Ricco, maybe it won’t. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and possibly deluded into thinking John Ricco is the next Theo Epstein or Jon Daniels, just because the Mets’ hype machine says so. Let’s leave it to the soon-to-be-named GM to make that decision, and watch what transpires over the next few years.

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Why the Mets May Consider Tony LaRussa

tony-larussaTony LaRussa is currently busy leading his St. Louis Cardinals into the postseason. But he could be on table of discussion in the Mets front office right now.

After two consecutive collapses and a godawful premiere season in their brand-new, billion-dollar ballpark, the Mets have to do something signficant to win back season-ticket sales their fans in 2010. They absolutely cannot stand pat, or make a few minor changes. In order to sell tickets compete in 2010, they have to make a sales-inspiring announcement drastic change at some point this winter.

But what can they do? If they were tightening the purse strings last winter — BEFORE the Madoff scandal came to light — then certainly they won’t have much money to spend this offseason. So forget about the Mets bidding for the services of Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. In fact, I’d be surprised if they have the money or gumption to go after Chone Figgins, John Lackey, or Rich Harden. My guess? We’ll see Mark DeRosa, Xavier Nady, Jon Garland, Benji Molina, Nick Johnson, and Jason Marquis on their radar. Nice complementary pieces, but hardly impact players.

Further, the Mets have next to nothing to offer in trade for a big-name player. No one of value is healthy enough nor expendable, and they’ll get lambasted if they empty their farm system for one player for the third consecutive winter. So, with no big trades and no big free agent signings on the horizon, the Mets will have to try another route to the back pages.

They will start by promoting John Ricco, either to GM or some kind of parallel position to Omar Minaya. With their budgetary concerns, I would be surprised to see them eat the rest of Minaya’s contract — particularly if they plan to eat Jerry Manuel’s. At the same time I don’t see them spending big bucks to lure Pat Gillick out of retirement, or hiring another big-name GM. They won’t do that because a) they don’t want to spend the money; and b) Jeff Wilpon wants to remain the puppet-master. So forget about the nonsense of bringing in a strong-minded personality such as Billy Beane or Bobby Valentine.

Instead, they’ll do the financially prudent move of keeping Minaya in the organization — in some type of “player evaluation” capacity — and promoting Ricco to GM. Such a decision will be a cheap way of making it look like things are changing, and they’ll spin it by positioning Ricco as a young Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein — a numbers-crunching uber-geek who can use his calculator to lead the Mets into the Promised Land. Maybe he can do that, who knows? … but the decision will be financially motivated, and in keeping with the “Jeff’s in charge” theme.

Still, a change in GM and a few mildly impressive free-agent signings won’t be enough to stimulate season-ticket sales improve the 2010 Mets. Soon after Ricco is promoted, expect to see Manuel ousted and replaced with Tony LaRussa.

LaRussa is most likely a bad fit for the bright hot lights of New York City — he barely gets through the mild-mannered press and forgiving fans in St. Louis. But convincing LaRussa to manage the Mets (3 years / $18M?) will be much cheaper than signing a big-name free-agent. Most importantly, it will be seen as a major change in “the right direction” — substantial enough on its own to sell season tickets position them as a contender.

I could be wrong — the Mets may not have enough money to even afford LaRussa. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a scenario similar to this unfold in the offseason. If not LaRussa, then another big name that won’t cost a fortune (in comparison to an impact free agent). Perhaps Lou Piniella is let out of his Cubs contract, or Frank Robinson comes out of retirement. Or maybe they do something completely off the wall and hire Gary Carter or Wally Backman (not likely). Whatever it is the Mets do, it will be newsworthy, but unlikely to break the bank.

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Ricco On the Rise – and Recommended Francoeur Deal

According to Adam Rubin, Mets insiders believe that John Ricco will eventually replace Omar Minaya as the Mets GM. Certainly, Ricco’s sudden plunge into the role of public speaker for the team is a supporting clue.

Also in Rubin’s report: Omar Minaya credits John Ricco for the Jeff Francoeur trade. (And here we thought it was Rubin who lobbied Minaya to acquire Francoeur … wait, I may be confusing something.)

This is an intriguing claim, considering that

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Cavalry Updates

In the old westerns, there would be an image of the cavalry arriving from the distance. But the men on horses would be moving TOWARD the camera, not AWAY.

In the case of the Mets, it appears the cavalry is moving away from our point-of-view. Or perhaps it is an optical illusion.

Carlos Delgado, who had been “very close” to returning, has suffered a setback — a strained oblique. His hip feels great, though. Yee ha. According to the new face of the Mets John Ricco:

“The thought is possibly in a couple of weeks he could be back swinging”

Well super-duper. A “couple” weeks takes us into September. And “swinging” is not necessarily “playing”.

While Billy Wagner is pitching well and should be joining the Mets this weekend in Flushing, there is no news on John Maine nor J.J. Putz. Further, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes remain in New York, rather in Florida rehabbing. And we’re all on the edge of our seats wondering what’s going on with Ramon Martinez … I mean, how long does it take to heal from a dislocated pinky?

In regard to all the disabled players, and the fact there are less than 50 games left in the season, Ricco went on to provide this breaking news:

“You’re going to run out of days at some point”

Ricco may speak slightly more eloquently than Omar Minaya, but the messages are just as mixed and useless.

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