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Friday, December 15, 2006

On the Almarez's departure

Like many around the Reds' blogosphere, I'm feeling a bit uneasy about the Reds' front office right now.

First, the Larry Barton departure. Ok, fine, sounds like a case of different philosophies. Hope Barton does well in whatever he does next.

Then, no action at the winter meetings. I have no idea what was said and negotiated at the meetings, so maybe Krivsky showed restraint (for the first time?) and didn't do a bad deal. ... Even so, the team needs a revamping, and is unlikely to win anything next year at its present state while our division rivals are getting noticeably better.

Then, they re-sign Dave Weathers. Granted, he was the best pitcher in the bullpen during the last two months of last season. But he's also 37 years old and was signed to a two year contract following a year in which he had the worst hr/9 rate of his career, his worst walk rate in the past 6 years, and his worst strikeout rate in the past four years. Frankly, as valuable as he was last year, I think it was time to let the guy walk.

Then, to make space for Weathers, they release Brandon Claussen. Claussen, a former stud prospect who will still be just 27 on opening day, was injured last year, and yet put up a 14.9 VORP season as a left-handed starter only the year before. Surely he's at least worth a go in the bullpen?

And now, long-time Reds' front-office man, and now former director of player development, Johnny Almarez, has resigned. Despite amicable press releases, Almarez provided material for a scathing article by Hal McCoy in the Dayton Daily News, again citing differences with Wayne Krivsky. It's so bizarre that Marc Lancaster, who in my memory has never been more than mildly critical of a member of the Reds organization, wrote this:
After a series of unreturned phone calls to Wayne Krivsky all day, I got home from the Crosstown Shootout to find a message from him on my answering machine. The gist:

"The statement’s going to stand on its own and that’s just the way it’s going to be."

So there you go.

I didn't get too worked up about the Larry Barton story last week because it read like a classic case of sour grapes, as if Krivsky was somehow obligated to make whatever moves Barton thought were correct. This situation is different, though. Almaraz leaving -- and it was completely his choice, I'm told -- raised plenty of eyebrows around here and no doubt all around baseball. Couple that with the way this has been handled today and I think it's perfectly reasonable to question what's going on here.

Unfortunately, those statements below are the only answers the Reds have chosen to provide.
Now part of the reason Marc may be speaking his mind is that he apparently has a new gig in Tampa Bay, to which he'll be leaving shortly (we will miss you Marc!). But even so, this is just weird, and may indicate a problem in the Reds' front office. I'm not saying the Reds are experiencing something like what happened with really-bad-person-Bowden. But I'm bothered by what appears, on the outside, like the start of a "brain drain" out of our organization that may be caused by his practices as a general manager.

Look, I'm a fan. I want the Reds to win. I don't care all that much if the general manager is a nice guy, or if he gets along with his personnel. Billy Beane, by all accounts, sounds like a terrible person to work for if you believe what Ken Macha said after he was let go from the Athletics. But Beane has been highly successful in surrounding himself with smart people, and making smart decisions that keep his teams consistently competitive. So when I see respected front office personnel leaving the Reds, I worry. If something about how Krivsky is conducting himself is resulting in a working environment that is not conducive to making the moves necessary to help the Reds win, that's a problem.

Hopefully all of this is just getting blown out of proportion. Maybe what we're going to see as a result of all this are new people in the front office who can work more efficiently and productively with Krivsky. But I can't help but feel a bit nervous about my team's leadership.