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J.P Ricciardi: Not a Total Failure Part #3

In this final post on J.P Ricciardi’s best moves as the Blue Jays General Manager, I will look at the player currently batting clean-up for the Jays: Adam Lind. It is a great place to end this look into the Ricciardi era, because it exemplifies one of the major decision making strategies from J.P’s time as G.M. That is, drafting polished college players in the early rounds of the amateur player draft.

Ricciardi’s drafting model was heavily influenced by his time working under Billy Beane in Oakland. This strategy is well documented in Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, so I won’t delve too deep here, except to say that it was primarily about minimizing risk, and financial cost. Picking high school players in the early rounds of the draft is expensive, and inherently risky. This is because players often make huge leaps, or massive falls in their progression through the minor leagues. It is very, very difficult to assess how well the abilities of an 18 year old will translate 5+ years down the line in the majors.

The main problem with avoiding high school players in the draft is that so much of the high-ceiling talent will be scooped up by other teams. Superstar talent can often be seen by a players late teens, and it shouldn’t be passed by.

Adam Lind however, is an example of a player whose star talent took a bit longer to present itself. Drafted in the 8th round (242nd overall) by the Twins in the 2002 draft, Lind decided to attend the University of South Alabama. After two solid seasons there, Lind was able to increase his draft stock by 5 rounds, all the way up to the 83rd pick.

Ever since being selected in 2004, Lind has hit professional pitching. His career minor league numbers are phenomenal:

GP 421/ AB 1591/ BA 320/ OBP 382/ SLG 512/ HR 55/ RBI 305

His career major league numbers aren’t too shabby either:

GP 537/ AB 1991/ BA 276/ OBP 326/ SLG 481/ HR 91/ RBI 317

While the last two seasons have been a dramatic rollercoaster in terms of production for Lind, it seems as though he has really settled in here in 2011. He now has a position (first base), in which he is capable of playing, and the bat has been very solid. Here are his numbers for 2011:

GP 41/ AB 159/ BA 327/ OBP 364/ SLG 572/ HR 11/ RBI 37

One of the keys to Lind’s turn around in 2011 has been his ability to hit left handed pitching. In his abhorrent 2010 campaign, Lind hit just 117/159/182 against southpaws. So far in 2011: 295/333/432.

If he continues to handle first base and lefties, Lind will be a huge part of the Blue Jays future. I am certainly optimistic, and for that, appreciative of J.P Ricciardi’s accurate evaluation of Lind back in 2004.


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Tags: Adam Lind

  • Steve

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that JP Ricciardi is the most hated person associated with the Blue jays. You just have to read the comments in the blogs to see. There are reasons. He told it the way he saw it, which I generally appreciated, but as a result he too often said stupid and offensive things. He was also cocky, which is generally good in the world of sports, but the greater your swagger, the better the results you ought to have to back it up and JP never accomplished the results. He made mistakes. IMO, he tried too quickly to put his mark on the team. He got rid of a lot of Gord Ash players without getting much in return. He mishandled Carlos Delgado. And finally, for me, his biggest mistake was making a run at the pennant when the overall talent on the team still wasn’t deep enough to support it. The lack of depth was glaring when the injuries started piling up in 2007 and 2008. After saying all that, I still think he was a good GM. Most of the Gord Ash players that he got rid of only had 1 or 2 more decent years left in them with their new teams and he did keep the more successful players. Overall, I think his good moves out number his bad moves. There were some moves that looked good at the time but simply didn’t work out because that happens. I always point to Gillick’s trade of Alfredo Griffin and Dave Collins for Bill Caudill as an example. Griffen and Collins had become surplus players for the Jays and they were getting a closer in return. In the end, the Jays ended up giving away a plus defender at SS and a speedy OF for nothing because Caudill didn’t work out. It was a wise move. It didn’t work out. It happens to all GMs. Ricciardi had some of those and I’m sure AA will have his share. Ricciardi’s drafting was also a lot better than what people give him credit for. Farm system rankings are nice but don’t really tell us much at all. The true measure of how a GM did in drafting is looking at how many players became impact MLB players in comparison with his peers. You look at the historical drafts of every team and you’ll see a lot of names you’ve never heard of before. Same for JP. But I think it was on this site that I saw his draftees rank #1 in WAR compared with other GMs over the same time period. So, he did something right. As for his refusal to go over-slot, a lot of that was as part of his philosophy of making safe draft picks. Another big part was out of necessity. He operated on a small budget during most of his tenure. Rogers also seems to have developed more realistic expectations over recent years in terms of what it takes to put a championhip team together. Keep in mind that Rogers was new to the sports ownership scene when they hired Ricciardi. Finally, there was the matter of the Currency Equalization Payments that Rogers received out of Bud Selig’s discretionary spending fund. Because of that, the Jays had more pressure than the other 29 teams in MLB to not go over slot. I just wanted to add some support to the article. I think it’s great that you’re defending a guy who continues to get bashed in the media and the blogs almost two years after he left. It’s too early to say that AA is a good GM. All indications are that he is, but we won’t know for a few years yet how prudent his risks were. My bet is that when its all said and done AA is going to allow us to get past Gillick leaving us and Ricciardi will be the 4th best GM the Jays had – but a very decent 4th.

  • NoScoutHere

    JP threw out moneyball when Rogers gave him all that money to spend and he squandered it all. I don’t blame Rogers for tightening the money leash on JP because he proved he didn’t know what he was doing.

    So after 8 years we had Lind, Romero, JP, and a depleted farm system with a mega bloated payroll in Wells.

    What JP proved is that moneyball works if you don’t give your GM too much money.

    Tell JP thanks for his 8 years of service and send him the book Moneyball to read.

  • G Man

    LOL @ noscout! I’m in your camp on this.

    I also feel that in spite of drafting some very good players, he also misevaluated what he had on hand on a number of occasions. I made my comments about Hinske on the first instalment. I never understood why Marcum was put in the pen his first full season after he had such a good second half as a starter the previous season. Lind was given the Shaun Green treatment a little bit. I am glad it seems to have worked out; he’s a personal favourite.