J.P. Ricciardi on the Mets’ Collaborative Process

J.P. Ricciardi is part of the Mets’ collaborative process. A special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson, Ricciardi is one of the decision makers, and the decisions have been savvy. New York – a club with a cleverly-sculpted roster — is in the World Series.

Ricciardi’s role is multifaceted, and in his own words, he brings a “more old-school” voice to the table. That may seem surprising to some. The 59-year-old was viewed as a Moneyball protege when he worked under Billy Beane in Oakland, and later when he was handed the GM reins in Toronto. He joined the New York front office in 2011.

Ricciardi shared his thoughts on team-building, and how the Mets go about it, during the NLCS.


Ricciardi on the Mets front office: “What’s good about the group we have is that it’s all-inclusive. I don’t think any one person can take all of the credit for anything we’ve done, either the good or the bad. Sandy Alderson involves the people he brought in – Paul DePodesta, Dickie Scott, John Ricco, and myself. We’re all involved in the decisions. It’s never one person saying, ‘I was in charge of that.’

“We all bring something a little different to the table, Sandy is very analytical. Paul is analytical as well. I’m probably the least analytical – the most old-school – of the four. My background is probably more… I wouldn’t say I’m a gut-feel guy, because that can be a very misleading term. I’m a little more of a throwback in the sense that if I like a player, I’ll fight for him, even if the numbers don’t add up to X, Y and Z. Of course, if the numbers show that he’s clearly not the player we think he should be, I’m not stupid enough to say that we’re going to put a square peg in a round hole.”

On player evaluation and acquisition: “If you break down our players, some of them aren’t exactly what we would want from an “analytical” standpoint, but they bring other things to the table. They’re good players; they’re good clubhouse guys; they’re going to serve a role, maybe give us innings. Sometimes, a lot of it is what you’re giving up, as opposed to what you’re trying to get. But – and this has always been my mantra – for the most part we don’t worry about what we’re giving up if what we’re getting is what we want. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘We’re going to try to get this guy.’

“If you look around our club, there are guys who don’t exactly check off all the boxes. But again, they still bring value. If you break down player statistically – from an analytical standpoint – offensively or pitching-wise, not everyone we acquire is going check off all those boxes. But they will help us get to where we want to be.

“I’ve always been of the mindset that it’s what a player can do, not what he can’t do. You can always find things that a guy can’t do. What’s important is what he can do, and that what he can do fits in with what we’re trying to do with your club. A deficiency in one player’s area might be picked up by the strength of another player’s area. They balance each other out. I don’t think you’re ever going to have the perfect team. It’s a matter of having a group that can play together, and we’re fortunate that this group has come together really well.”

On players the current regime have acquired: “Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz were already here when we came in, in 2011. The moves we’ve made are the Zack Wheeler trade, the Travis d’Arnaud trade, the Noah Syndergaard trade. More recently, we traded for Yoenis Cespedes. Those are the primary ones we were a part of, but there are a lot of things beyond trades that have happened here.

“For one, we inherited some good players. We’ve also drafted well, and our development people have done a good job. Where were are has been a culmination of a lot of things. I don’t think you there any one way. You don’t get there just through drafting, or through development. You don’t get there by signing free agents, or by making trades. It’s a combination, and we’ve been fortunate to be at least a little bit successful in all of those areas.

“Getting Syndergaard was a joint effort. We knew what we wanted to get in that trade. Like with anyone we acquire, it was knowing the reports, knowing the player. We knew Syndergaard from the draft – from evaluating him – and we knew d’Arnaud. I knew d’Arnaud really well, but again, it wasn’t any one guy having the say. In the end, Sandy had to put it together with Alex Anthopoulos, but it was a group effort. And honestly, it was a good trade for both sides. R.A. Dickey has done a good job for them, and these guys have obviously done a good job for us. That’s how you’d like a trade to work out.”

On knowing their own organization: “Paul DePodesta knows our minor league system, and Dickie Scott runs our minor league system. I get out to see all of our minor league teams, and I spend a lot of time with them in spring training. We have a pretty good handle on our own players. It’s very important to self-evaluate. You have to know your system when it comes time to make decisions.

“Look, sometimes you’re going to have to give up a player that you’d rather not give up. But if the guy you get is going to help get you get to where you want to go… again, you do it. Thankfully, we’ve had enough depth, pitching-wise, that we’ve been able to make some trades.

“You don’t become a good club unless you can touch on scouting, player development, trades, waiver claims. You have to hit on all of those areas. If you look at our club over the past four-five years, that’s what we’ve done.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Just wanted to say I enjoyed this — lot of nice little nuggets. I especially enjoyed that he was able to characterize the Dickey trade as a win for both sides with (apparently) a straight face; that must take an iron self-control.