Table of Contents

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Krivsky Fired, Jocketty Hired

Wayne Krivsky has been fired. He'll be replaced by former Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, who was hired in January as a special advisor to Castellini. Krivsky's hiring came just before I started this blog, in February of 2006. So, he survived just over two years in his position.

A lot of Reds bloggers are describing this as unsurprising move. But I'm frankly very surprised.

I think any GM deserves a good three years to make a difference, unless they are obviously and grossly negligent (and yes, The Trade probably counts, but that was several years ago). And five years is not an unreasonable tenure given that GM's often take over a team with a rather sparse major & minor league system (as did Krivsky, Dan O'Brien's two drafts notwithstanding). So I think that it was too early to bring down the axe due to "not winning."

Furthermore, I think it is far too early to read much into the standings, given that there are 141 games left to play in the season and all. And yet, not "starting well" was among the reasons that Castellini cited for the firing. I'm not saying that the Reds will be contenders this year. Just that the first 21 games don't tell us a whole lot, in and of themselves, about who will win this division.

Long-standing rumors of Bob Castellini's reputation for being unnecessarily impatient seem supported.

On Krivsky

I think Krivsky was a decent general manager. Not great, but decent. He continued what Dan O'Brien started in refurbishing the farm system. It is now among the top 25% in baseball, and is going to make Jocketty look good over the next few years with all the talent finally reaching the big leagues. He made several excellent pickups for very little cost: Brandon Phillips, Josh Hamilton, Jeff Keppinger, David Ross, Kyle Lohse, Jared Burton and Scott Hatteberg. He also did a good job of locking up some of the ballclub's core talent, including Harang, Dunn (he'd otherwise be gone by now), Arroyo (that contract isn't as bad as some make it out to be), and most recently Phillips.

The Trade really stands out as the single biggest mistake he's made, and it was unquestionably a complete disaster--even given Felipe Lopez's dive into atrociousness. There have been other mistakes, of course, but none that in my mind (judging from my posts) were particularly terrible moves at the time they were made (Well, maybe the Cormier trade, but whatever).

The other possible problem with Krivsky is his reputation among his employees. It's hard to know much about this on the outside... but some people seem to love him, while others seem to hate him. After his first year, there were two high-profile departures from the front office who left on a bitter note: Larry Barton and Johnny Almarez. Almarez's departure, in particular, bothered me, as he cited some rather bizarre-sounding non-exclusiveness and secrecy on Krivsky's part during the winter meetings as a big part of why he left. Less than a month later, Almarez took over as the Braves' Director of Latin American Operations. He has since been promoted to Director of International Scouting and Operations. So you know he was a good asset. Apparently Paul Daugherty is citing "people skills" as a reason for Krivsky's firing...though I'm pretty skeptical of anything coming out of Daugherty's mouth.

Here's a decent resource: MLB Trade Rumors' summary of Wayne Krivsky's tenure.

On Jocketty

I'm not sure if he'll be all that different. He'll probably be a better public speaker (wouldn't take much), and he certainly has more experience. But my understanding of the guy is that he's a fairly traditional "baseball man" (like Krivsky), with a primary emphasis on scouting (like Krivsky). He did have the services of Sig Mejdal for many years with the Cardinals, though, so maybe he's a bit more open to the input from statisticians than I give him credit for.

There was a nice GM in a Box article about Jocketty in the Hardball Times 2007 Annual, but unfortunately my copy is packed away in storage. What I remember from it: Jocketty built his Cardinals team around Albert Pujols (who was a "lucky" find, more than anything), and some successful trade-and-signs of guys like established Jim Edmonds and Chris Carpenter. It's a fine strategy, but doesn't strike me as a particularly unique philosophy either. I'm also not sure how consistent it is with a team that has the kind of minor league system the Reds have right now.

Jocketty's had success in the past, so hiring him certainly isn't a bad move. But I have a feeling that most of the success that he hopefully will have in the coming years will be built upon the core of young talent that Krivsky has assembled. Such is baseball, though...

Update: Wayne Krivsky's comments, courtesy of Hal's blog:
“It came out of the blue, it really did,” said Krivsky. “Completely shocked. I didn’t see this coming at all. What hurts so much is not to be able to see the job through. I had visions of being in the clubhouse with people pouring champagne over everybody. I’m hugely disappointed I’m not able to finish the job.

“I fought for an hour to keep my job,” he said. “I fought hard for my job. I love it here. I loved my job. And I had laughs. You have to have laughs in this job and I did in two years. I only wish it was 22. It wasn’t my call. But I disagree strongly with the decision. I still think I’m the right guy for this job. But Bob will admit he is an impatient man. I’ll sleep good tonight…well, maybe not tonight.

“Look at an unbiased source like Baseball America, who had the Reds farm system rated 27th to 30th when I got here, now they rank us in the top three or four,” said Krivsky. “In two years? Dam right I’m proud of that. I’m damned proud of that. We’re one of the most respected organizations in baseball and I’m damn proud of that.”
He should be. Building the farm system is definitely Krivsky's #1 accomplishment during his time here. As I said above, any success that Jocketty has over the coming few seasons--and obviously I hope he has a lot of success--will be built largely upon Krivsky's work. It's unfair. ... And that's ok, assuming that Jocketty is an upgrade in that position. I'm just not sure that he is. Time will tell.


  1. That first picture is just perfect Justin. Good stuff.

  2. Yeah, that's from my collection. :) I think it was taking during the Jerry Narron firing press conference. Credit to AP/David Kohl. -j

  3. Regarding Jocketty's position on the stats side of things, my understanding is that he was more or less pushed out of St. Louis by the growing influence of sabermetric types in the organization.

    My understanding is that Bill DeWitt wanted to move the quantitative portion of the office from the back room, "yeah, we do that", type of operation to a more integrated part of the decision making process. Jocketty didn't agree and DeWitt encouraged him to leave.

    Take that for what it's worth, but unfortunately I don't think we're going to see much change philosophically speaking.

  4. Yeah, that along the lines of what I've heard as well. -j

  5. Well Dusty and him can wax poetically about ways to not clog the bases. You have to wonder if Castellini's close relationship with Jocketty might have clouded his judgement here. It could be worse. They could have made Baker GM/Manager.


  6. I think Doug Gray's take on Castellini might be right: "Our owner has his heart in the right place wanting to win, but has his head somewhere else on how to actually accomplish it."

  7. I agree with all that, and Doug.

    I RIPPED Krivsky for some of his terrible moves, but the guy deserved the rest of the season to see his plan through.

    Not looking forward to being the Yankees without the winning. Or the Redskins.

  8. I just want to reiterate what RMR said about Jocketty being pushed out basically because of his anti-stat look on things. This actually came from a source inside the Cardinals organization. Obviously, as you can tell by my post on my site, I am not that happiest person about the move. It just simply makes no real sense. It would be like sending Dunn to the minors because he is hitting .217 and slugging .400 to this point in the season. Just wouldn't make any sense. This 9-1 game isn't helping today out much either.

  9. Wayne didn't even get to really 'run' the Reds this year.

    Some reports indicated that Dusty wasnot really his choice for manager...he clearly had Walt J. thrust upon him last year to look over his shoulder.

    So WK gets brought in late in February of 2006, gets all of 2007(manager firings and all), and 21 games this year with Dusty and Walt forced on him. Some fair chance that was!

    I think overall WK did a great job with what he had to work with. I too would have given him the rest of the season at least.

  10. Arroyo's 25 million contract for 2009 and 2010 isn't as bad as some people make it out to be? Seriously? Considering that if the Reds are to be a contending team during those years, Arroyo will be mopping up in the pen, somehow I think it's going to be seen as pretty bad.

    Also regarding the Kriv: most analysts who know much better than I do say his drafts have been weak. We should all be thankful he's not getting a shot at another round. Which is all to say: Dan O'Brien improved the state of the farm, not Krivsky .. doubt Jocketty will do any better. He wasn't exactly known for developing talent in St. Louis.

    It's great that Castellini wants to win, but it doesn't look like he really knows how to put together a plan to make it happen.

  11. Regarding Arroyo, his salary for '09 and '10 pays him as almost exactly a 2.0 WAR pitcher. Last year, he was roughly a 2.5-3.0 WAR pitcher. So, the projection on him this year is (very roughly) 2.0-2.5 WAR, '09 1.5-2.0 WAR, and '10 1.0-1.5 WAR.

    So yes, he's being overpaid in the last two years of his contract by (maybe) ~$5 million/year (based on current free agent salaries and 10% inflation). I'm not arguing that it's a great contract. But it's not a terrible contract. Cordero, for example, is getting paid roughly twice what he's projected to be worth over the ENTIRE life of his contract. So his is arguably much worse.

    Also, don't let Arroyo's '08 ERA get you too concerned. As of now, his BABIP is 0.373, and his xFIP (which is a DIPS-estimate of ERA and accounts for his abberant HR/F ratio) is 4.36. His strikeout rate is up, which has been a good indicator of his success over his career. It's true that his fastball speed is down about a mph according to fangraphs, and his walk rate is up a tad... but even so, I'm not seeing any reason to be hugely concerned that he's on a steep decline. Just keep sending him out there.

    Regarding Krivsky's drafts, please provide links (or at least names) if you're going to cite anonymous "experts." Looking at the current set of top Reds prospects, the only ones that aren't Krivsky's guys are the Fabulous Four (Bailey, Votto, Cueto, Bruce). But almost all the other guys were signed or acquired under Krivsky's watch--and there's some good quality talent in there. Overall, I think he did a bang-up job with our minor league system.

  12. Re: Krivsky's drafts.....

    Its about 3-5 years too early to know how good or bad his drafts were. Heck, his first draft class is only in their second full season and its April.

  13. Here's a great little passage from on Arroyo:
    Bronson Arroyo is in a dilemma and he can't figure it out.

    He has watched video and he talked for a long time after Wednesday's game with catcher David Ross.

    For the fifth straight time, Arroyo did not make it past 5 2/3 innings, this time going only 3 2/3 against the Astros and giving up eight runs and 10 hits. He is 0-3 with a 7.56 ERA.

    "I can't figure it out," he said. "I feel good physically, actually great. I'm just getting beat up, man, and I don't understand it."

    Manager Dusty Baker said there is no thought of moving him out of the rotation, "But we sure can't figure out what's wrong," he said of the guy who signed a four year, $32 million contract last year.

    If that's not a case where DIPS theory serves as a beautiful explanation, I don't know what is. I'm not saying that's the only thing wrong with Arroyo, but I think it's a big part of it.

  14. I'm not a Reds fan, but I am a Twins fan, and I've seen what this man has helped build in the Twins organization that continues to this day.

    The Reds will regret losing Krivsky, and there's no question that Jocketty will benefit quite handsomely from the fact that K focused on DEVELOPING talent in your farm system and not buying it on the open market.

    But if you guys had given him a chance to build an organization, you'd have been much richer for it. I wish Wayne the best.