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J.P. Ricciardi holds a jersey after he was introduced as the new general manager in 2001. (PETER JONES)
J.P. Ricciardi holds a jersey after he was introduced as the new general manager in 2001. (PETER JONES)

Beeston makes his move Add to ...

Toronto Blue Jays interim CEO and president Paul Beeston applauded J.P. Ricciardi for his contribution to the struggling baseball club before ending Ricciardi's eight-year stint as general manager on the second-last day of the season.

Beeston didn't explain his decision at length. The reason was right there in the team's 642-651 record during Ricciardi's reign, so there was no reason to prolong his misery.

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Beeston installed 32-year-old Alex Anthopoulos, who was the Jays' assistant GM, as Ricciardi's replacement.

"It was time to move forward," said Beeston, who sacked the beleaguered Ricciardi on Saturday morning to allow him to skip out of Baltimore quietly.

Ricciardi met with Beeston and Rogers Media CEO and president Tony Viner to learn his fate.

"We believe that the team - sure it's gone through some turmoil - but the club is positioned to do well," Viner said. "J.P. has done a tremendous job in establishing a foundation and I think Alex is the right guy to take it forward.

"Not only are the fans not content with it, we're not content with it."

Anthopoulos does not have the interim label. But Beeston remarked that when he gets around to hiring the club's new CEO, that person will have a blank canvas to rebuild the Jays. The announcement of a new CEO could be just around the corner.

"We think we're in pretty good shape with the CEO search and I can't really say more about that," Viner said.

With the news of Ricciardi's firing five hours old, Beeston and Viner addressed the players in the clubhouse prior to their game against the Baltimore Orioles. They thanked the players for their efforts this season and sent a message that ownership is committed to build a contending club. But Anthopoulos will be given time to examine the organization from top to bottom and develop his own philosophy for the organization.

What does that mean for ace pitcher Roy Halladay? He is 32 years old and has one year remaining on his contract. He may be the most interested Jays observer in the off-season.

"For me, it's going to be how soon can we win," Halladay said. "How we go about it is not my concern … I'd like to win next year."

"For me, it's about the short term and that we can compete next year."

The mistakes Ricciardi made in Toronto have been well documented, like the signings of B.J. Ryan, Corey Koskie and Frank Thomas as well as the recent expensive extensions given to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios last summer. He also received criticism for his handling of a possible Halladay trade in July.

The pitcher, however, refused to shoot arrows at his former GM.

"He was out for my best interest," Halladay said. "He took a lot of flack for that, but I appreciate it.

"It's hard for me. He was a great supporter, a great friend and he wanted to win."

Most of the players stated their sadness in the Ricciardi firing, as did manager Cito Gaston, whom both Beeston and Anthopoulos confirmed will return next season, even after it was revealed on Friday that the players had issues with the manager.

Gaston talked to Ricciardi on the phone in the morning.

"I thanked him for bringing me back into the game," Gaston said. "It's hard, no matter what you think when you're let go, you're hurt. I'm pretty sure he's hurting."

Gaston said that he had a good relationship right up until the end with Ricciardi.

Beeston said that Ricciardi handled the news well. The interim CEO believes Ricciardi left the Jays with some good young talent in Aaron Hill and Adam Lind as well as a solid pitching staff.

When Beeston delivered his address, he said he felt like Clint Eastwood with "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly." The good was the beginning of the season, the bad was the middle and the ugly was the end.

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