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Today in Blue Jays history: JP Riccardi fired

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TORONTO BLUE JAYS SPRING TRAINING---03/10/04—EMBARGO FOR BASEBALL SUPPLIMENT—IF USE BEFORE APRIL 1 Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

11 Years Ago Today:

Well, first we heard the story that there was a player’s revolt in the Blue Jays clubhouse:

It was an interesting story, Cito had the reputation of being a player’s manager, but, like all managers, for every player that likes you, there will be one that doesn’t. Earl Weaver said that 5 players love you and 5 guys that hate you. The secret to managing is to keep the 5 that hate you away from the 15 who are on the fence.

Anyway:

One player said there was “constant negativity” coming from the manager’s office, while another noted that Gaston once said, “there aren’t any good players in here.” At issue is Gaston’s hands-off, in-game decision making — a criticism that dates back to his first tenure as manager from 1989-97.

The problems are so deep that when one player asked “how many others felt the same way,” he replied: “Just about everyone.”

Cito said:

If they’re unhappy, they have to look at themselves, because I certainly treated everybody in a way that I’d like to be treated as a player and how I’d like my manager to treat me. If they’re grumbling, they’re grumbling because they didn’t do their jobs. They had opportunities.

Cito claim that he treated players the way he wanted to be treated wasn’t precisely true. Cito liked his guys. The veteran players he’d treat great. Going back to his first time with the Jays, he continued to play Joe Carter long after he could no longer not help a team. So Joe loved him. Young guys waiting for a spot in the lineup didn’t love him so much. He also liked batters who pulled the ball, and wasn’t as happy with players who used the whole field.

The other part of the story that I thought was interesting was that national baseball reporters broke the story, not the Blue Jays beat writers. There seemed to be a rule that our beat writers weren’t to question Cito. Mike Wilner gently questioned him once and was giving a weekend off for his efforts.

Later That Day:

The Blue Jays fired J.P. Riccardi.

When the team was supposed to be looking for a new team president, it seemed strange that they would fire Riccardi before the new boss was in place.

As it turned out, Beeston decided to keep the president job, and promoted Alex Anthopoulos to GM. And the rest...you know.

Riccardi had been GM from 2002 to 2009. The team wasn’t terrible under his watch. In 6 of his 8 seasons the team was above .500, but he couldn’t get the team into the playoffs. The Yankees finished first in the AL East 6 of the 8 years. It was a tough time to be a GM of any other team in the AL East.

But Riccardi had overstayed his welcome. He was having was getting snippier with the media and the fans. He had been doing a weekly radio phone-in show, but that ended when he stopped being able to deal with differing opinions.

That 2009 season started very well. We were in first place through April and up to May 23rd, but things fell apart. We finished 75-87, fourth in the AL East. Scott Rolen was traded, Alex Rios was put on waivers and claimed by the White Sox, Travis Snider didn’t become the player we expected, and B.J. Ryan was terrible, hurt, and then out of baseball.

The Jays had a 642-651 record during JP’s reign.

JP had been working as an assistant GM/special assistant for the Mets since 2011. He left the Mets in November of 2018 and joined the San Francisco Giants in December as a ‘senior advisor.’

It seems longer ago than 11 years. But then, right now, March seems 11 years ago.