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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who's to blame for Majewski? Bowden, or Krivsky?

"It is the nature of being the general manager of a baseball team that you have to remain on familiar terms with people you are continually trying to screw." - Michael Lewis, Moneyball

With one his of the two prized relievers acquired in The Trade now on the disabled list with soreness in the shoulder that might be traceable all the way back to the World Baseball Classic, the Reds' front office is fuming. Here are the facts that I'm aware of:

1. Majewski claims to have started to feel the tendonitis during the World Baseball Classic. From Will Carroll's Under the Knife:
Call it the WBC curse. Gary Majewski heads to the DL with shoulder soreness and blames pitching in the World Baseball Classic for his troubles. It's interesting that Majewski never noted this in the previous four months and certainly didn't indicate this problem to his new team, the Reds. The team was aware when they traded for him that he'd been dealing with "mild shoulder tendonitis," but one cortisone injection back in May cleared up the problem. If this has been bothering him since the trade, it does explain his poor performance. There's no clear indication when Majewski could return. Luckily, the Reds' bullpen is one loaded with quantity, if not quality.
2. While the Reds were aware of the cortisone injection in May, there apparently was a cortisone injection only a few days prior to the trade due to a resurgence of these problems. And the Reds were not told about that by the Nationals' trainer, or by Jim Bowden. Or by Majewski.

3. Wayne Krivsky is trying to be subtle, but the guy's furious...I love how this quote moves from saying "the right thing" to just outright bitching. From Marc's blog:
"This doesn't preclude doing future business," said Krivsky. "I don't like eliminating talent pools. I don't like eliminating teams. Hopefully, people feel like when they're dealing with us they're dealing straight-up. I want people to feel like they're being dealt with honestly. For me, Wayne Krivsky talking, your credibility is paramount -- not only with (the media) but with other teams and the fans and ownership. You lose your credibility, youre done in this business. You better treat people right and treat them the way you want to be treated, or youre not going to be as effective a general manager, farm director, scouting director, scout. To me, thats a pretty big thing right there."
My thoughts:

1. This is just the latest demonstration that Jim Bowden is a despicable human being. This is not a surprise, and is completely consistent with his track record. Someday it might be fun to try to list the rest of his history.

2. Krivsky feels wronged, and probably has a right to. But frankly, I think the major thing that's going on here is that he's finally realizing how bad that trade was for the Reds. Yes, we absolutely needed relief pitching. But there were quality guys available that could have been had for a lot less than the price of Austin Kearns or Felipe Lopez. Mike MacDougal, Bob Wickman, Scott Williamson, and of course Rheal Cormier and Kyle Lohse (who the Reds did get) all were acquired for minor league talent in July. Yes, those minor league players may turn out to have an impact in the major leagues in the future, but they might not. Minor league players are more risky--and less valuable--than established, successful, and still young guys like Kearns and Lopez.

So now, one of the moderately valuable acquisitions from this trade turns out to be hurt, perhaps for a good chunk of the rest of the season. Yes, the Nationals should have been more forthright in this transaction. But injuries happen. It's just that when they happen after you know you've already been ripped off, they hurt so much more than when you know you've done everything right and have just been unlucky.

3. Frankly, if the Reds file a grievance, I hope it does result in sanctions against Bowden. Not because Krivsky deserves the vindication, but because Bowden's a jerk. 'Course, what can they do? The trade would never be reversed, as much as I'd love for that to be a possibility, which it's not. Maybe the Nationals could get fined? My guess is that the best thing we could hope for is that the new owners of the Nationals might realize the sort of person they have running their baseball team and give Bowden his walking papers. Maybe not this year, but eventually they're bound to realize how someone like that can poison the moral your entire organization. They need only look at his previous employers.


  1. I'm right with you on thought #2. I think Krivsky has been up nights ever since the trade, and he finally (subconsciously, I'm sure) stumbles onto a way to shift the blame to someone else. It's no longer, "what did I do???" but instead "Bowden screwed me over."

    This monologue is all internal - I suspect Krivsky's Tuesday comments are the strongest he'll make on the topic - and is also entirely natural. Whenever I screw up, while I don't go looking for excuses, it's also tough to ignore the possibility that it actually might not be my fault, especially if that possibility is as despicable as Leatherpants.

  2. Also, everybody and their brother knew that Majewski had been overworked and was probably worn out from last year, the WBC, and his silly workload in the first half. Hell, I posted something about it 2 days after the trade, and Jim Bowden hadn't told me anything.

  3. Absolutely true on both counts.

    I also think part of what's going on with Krivsky is that he's getting caught up in the residual hatred toward Jim Bowden that is still felt on all levels of the Reds' organization. The entire organization has been living in fear of being screwed by him since he took the Nationals job. And now that everyone realizes that he finally got them, everyone's pissed.

    I'm chalking up The Trade as a rookie mistake by Krivsky. With O'Brien, it was the Reitsma for Nelson & Bong deal. Krivsky aims higher than O'Brien, so his mistakes end up larger. But I can give Krivsky this mistake, as long as he learns from it. There are two big lessons. One, be really careful about the medical history of players you acquire. Two, don't make a deal when you "have to" because you will always overpay. There are always other options to overpaying, even if that means sitting on your hands for something else to turn up.

    I know being a general manager is a hard job, and know I'd be bad at it because (if for no other reason) of the personal elements involved in all transactions. Krivsky has the tools to be an excellent GM. I still have faith that he can be that guy. But he's going to have to take responsibility, learn, and make better decisions moving forward. -j

  4. But he's going to have to take responsibility, learn, and make better decisions moving forward.

    Right on, J.

    Of course, Majewksi isn't blameless in this either, as others have pointed out in high dudgeon. The worst part, though, is that Bowden put him in this no-win situation.

    Assuming some sanction from MLB, I still think Bowden survives in DC if he signs Soriano. That sucks, but it's not like Stan Kasten didn't know about Jim Bowden before he came on board.

  5. Majewksi is to blame? What was he supposed to do, tell the Reds the second he arrived his entire medical history?

    (i) Not only would that violate his right to medical privacy, but it could SEVERLY affect his livelyhood (arbitration).

    (ii) He had just been traded. Don't think he wasn't somewhat bitter at the Nats and excited to be a Red. What is his incentive to try to reverse a trade that would send him back to the team that didn't want him.

  6. I'm sure he regrets the trade in hindsight, but at the time Kriv thought he was adding: (i) a young up and coming reliver with potential to be converted to starter down the road - Bray; and (ii) A highly durable young reliver with a history of MLB success - Maj.

    At the time of the trade the MAJORITY of the Red's consideration in the trade was Maj. We may be minimizing that because Bray has been good sence the trade and Maj has been trash, but the trade WAS made for Maj.

    Would you be angry if you bought a used car and at the time you bought it you asked the person you were buying it from "has this car ever been in a wreck" and they said yes...a year ago and gave you all the repair receipts and gave you every indication that sence the wreck everything has been fine. Only you find out a week after you buy the car that things are going wrong with take it in and the guy at the shop says "oh this piece of junk...I patching this thing together a month ago after a horrible wreck...I told the owner it would never be the same..."

  7. NYC,

    Two things.

    1. This talk about converting Bray seems to be something that came up just as it became clear that Majewski's arm was toast. I almost wonder if it's rumor-mongering to make the trade look better.. I'd be very surprised to see it happen. Bray was a college closer and hasn't started (presumably) since high school. That, to me, makes him a risk for an injury, especially with his herky-jerky pitching motion.

    2. While they certainly hyped Majewski in the trade, I'd like to think that Bray was really the key to the deal. Even in my initial analysis of the trade, it was obvious that Majewski wasn't anything more than middle reliever material--poor control & low k's, with his one talent being low HR's--whereas Bray looked to have a future as a potential closer. If this was obvious to me...a guy who's clearly out of touch and has no clue what he's really doing...I'd like to think it was at least somewhat apparent to the Reds.

  8. On Bray as a starter...I'll toss out thoughts that he could be converted. Still he was a young lefty with setup man/closer potential.

    On Maj...wouldn't you say his "other" talent was eating innings (or an indication that he could do that). Potentially a Scott Sullivan type, slightly above average and reliable.

    *his key charateristic being durability*

    I'm not saying I liked the trade, just playing Kriv's advocate. At the time Kriv was trying to fix a tired bully that was being abused on the field and in public opinion. I'm thinking that Maj was the cornerstone of the effort to fix that - right or wrong.