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GAC
04-27-2008, 07:06 AM
I don't know if this has been posted or not....

Reds' new GM known for evaluating talent, making deals

by Mark Sheldon

CINCINNATI -- To anyone who has followed Walt Jocketty's career, the scenario he undertook on Wednesday should sound pretty familiar. About 13 years ago, in the fall of 1994, Jocketty was hired as Cardinals general manager after he was an assistant GM of the Rockies. At the time, St. Louis had been without a postseason visit since 1987. During his 13 years seasons in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, the Cardinals went to the playoffs seven times and won the World Series in 2006.


Now, Jocketty is being called upon to perform a similar turnaround in Cincinnati, where the Reds have endured seven straight losing seasons.
"Back then it was a little harder to do," Jocketty said. "This organization is further along than St. Louis was when I took over in 1995. There really weren't a lot of prospects in the organization, and a lot of money hadn't been spent in player development and scouting. This organization has a better base to work from.


"There are a couple of things we may have to do yet. But I felt when we started the season we had a club that could be a contending club. I still believe this division is very winnable."


Before he even warmed his new office chair, many around baseball had already praised the 56-year-old Jocketty for his ability to evaluate talent, make deals and delegate responsibility. "Today, a lot of GMs do a lot of things by e-mail, but he's always a guy who will pick up the phone and make a call," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who goes back to the 1980s working as a Jocketty peer and friend while both climbed the Minor League front-office ladder on their way to becoming big league executives.
"He's very good at using the people he has," Melvin said. "He'll get the opinions of a lot of people: managers, scouts, special assignment scouts. He relies on his people to help him out. He's not afraid to make deals. He's a risk-taker. He brought in [Mark] McGwire to St. Louis, gave up some prospects. He got Jim Edmonds. He traded Kent Bottenfield after he won 18 games. He's not afraid to deal."


If you've been hired by, or worked for Jocketty in your career, there's a good chance he'll be in your life for years. For example, he remains close to Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who scouted for the Cardinals during a break from managing. "I found out that a good general manager listens to his people," Leyland said. "I think good managers listen to their coaches. I think that all goes hand in hand. You obviously try to hire good people, and when you hire them, if you have all the answers yourself and don't want their opinions, then you should be running it yourself. And Walt Jocketty [listens]. Plus, he's a great humanitarian. He's one of the best human beings you'll ever meet. His track record is pretty impressive. I really enjoyed working with him."


And of course, there's Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who joined St. Louis in 1996 and won the NL Central division in his first season.
La Russa and Jocketty were one of the longest-running manager-GM tandems in the game until Jocketty left the Cardinals in October. During his tenure, Jocketty was named Major League Baseball's Executive of the Year by The Sporting News in 2000 and 2004 and Baseball America in 2000.
"His track record speaks for itself," La Russa said. "It was just a matter of time before he was back in a position that he's proven he can do very well. There isn't anything that he has a tough time with. He's strong at everything."


While he's not planning on any significant short-term moves, expect Jocketty to rely on his track record as leverage as he tries to speed improvement on the Reds. Like manager Dusty Baker, he wants to start by changing the culture of a franchise use to losing. "The main thing to try and build an organization is you have quality people and build off of the quality people," Jocketty said. "You bring in quality players. You develop an attitude and philosophy of success and try to be positive all the time. Too many organizations tend to be negative and a take a negative approach."
Under Jocketty, the Cardinals didn't have the reputation for consistently developing players, but St. Louis did produce one of the game's biggest stars in Albert Pujols, among others.



With the Reds brimming with young talent such as Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey, Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto, Jocketty doesn't sound like he's going to raid the cupboards to acquire aging veterans in Cincinnati. "I like building from within," Jocketty said. "You look at the guys still in St. Louis that are the key to the club over there -- Pujols, [Yadier] Molina, [Rick] Ankiel on the player side. You have [pitcher Adam] Wainwright, who was brought over from the Braves but really kind of finished off in our system. That's where you build your nucleus from. Then you add to it, whether it's through trades or free agency, depending on what you're capable of doing."


During the mid-90s, Jocketty ran the club with a modest payroll and gradually accumulated assets. The trade for McGwire in 1997 and his pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998 brought fans to Busch Stadium and elevated revenues. "My first year in St. Louis, our payroll was $28 million," Jocketty said. "In time, what we were able to do, we generated more revenues, and it enabled us to increase our payroll. We went from drawing a little over two million fans to drawing three and a half million fans. That's how to raise your payroll. You have to generate the revenue first and a reason for fans to come to the ballpark to generate the revenue. The best way to do it is winning."


An old-school GM that eschews statistic-driven analysis and evaluation, Jocketty resisted changes by owner St. Louis Bill DeWitt that replaced longtime aide Bruce Manno with Jeff Luhnow as head of scouting and player development. "It was something I wasn't really on board with or felt comfortable with," Jocketty said. "So we had a mutual parting of the ways. The first few weeks, the first couple of months, I just vegged as much as I could. I didn't even follow baseball or what trades were being made."

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The guy's track record speaks for itself. So there is no sense belaboring that point. He's not going to manufacture an immediate turnaround with this club; but he does have some pieces to work with. It's all going to come down to the "adding and subtracting" (players) to get it to all come together IMO.

I put together a list of those players whose contracts run out after the '08 season. The list is obviously not complete if one looks at the full 40 man roster and those players in the farm system. So if others see errors, or additions that need to be made, then please feel free to correct me. I was just trying to get a ball park figure of obligated monies that could come off the books after this season, what moves/options Jocketty might make, etc.....


Griffey 8.2
Dunn 13
Weathers 3.3
Stanton 3
Ross 2.5
Hatteberg 1.85
Valentin 1.3
Affeldt 3
Belisle 1.25
Castro 1
Coffey .9
Fogg 1
Bako .75
Patterson 3
Encarnacion .45
Mercker .6
Lincoln .55
Hairston .5
Hopper .4
Keppinger .4
Burton .39
Livingston .39
Bray .38

Total 48.11

paulrichjr
04-27-2008, 11:12 AM
Jocketty being old school is going to drive many around here crazy. The question I have is did having Larussa as manager negate some of the old school influences? I know Larussa isn't a SABR guy but he has always been know as a little outside of the box. Dusty sure isn't...and I like Dusty by the way.

westofyou
04-27-2008, 11:38 AM
Old School eh?

Yeah... if I worked for Sandy Alderson I doubt I'd be called Old School.

smith288
04-27-2008, 11:38 AM
I dont like the idea that Jocketty ultimately left when St Louis started using at least some SABR metrics as a tool. Im not a Bill James disciple but I do believe there is room for it to be added for scouting and player management.

If Jocketty turns his nose to it, Im afraid for this team.

jojo
04-27-2008, 12:02 PM
I dont like the idea that Jocketty ultimately left when St Louis started using at least some SABR metrics as a tool. Im not a Bill James disciple but I do believe there is room for it to be added for scouting and player management.

If Jocketty turns his nose to it, Im afraid for this team.

To be fair, he really didn't "leave" St Louis. He was basically sent packing.

Also to be fair, I don't think he believes there is no place for metrics in scouting and development. He was caught up in a definite power struggle within the Cardinal FO between a saber group and his more traditionally minded group and he was out maneuvered by the other camp. Basically ownership preferred a different vision than his leadership offered.

Even if he wasn't essentially fired, Jocketty's leaving would have been more about a loss of authority than a disdain for statistics.

gm
04-27-2008, 11:39 PM
I was trying to remember who Jocketty reminds me of, facially. Then it came to me, he looks like the late actor Dean Jagger, who played General Waverly in "White Christmas"

pedro
04-28-2008, 01:47 AM
Say what you want about how we got here but if you'd told me in 2005 that in 3 years the Reds would have Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker as the GM/Manager tandem I'd have said you were crazy.

BCubb2003
04-28-2008, 02:26 AM
Say what you want about how we got here but if you'd told me in 2005 that in 3 years the Reds would have Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker as the GM/Manager tandem I'd have said you were crazy.

If you really want to go back in time to 2005, and see what a strange journey it's been, here's your time machine: Two seasons of Random Thoughts.

http://cryinginbaseball.blogspot.com/

pedro
04-28-2008, 02:30 AM
If you really want to go back in time to 2005, and see what a strange journey it's been, here's your time machine: Two seasons of Random Thoughts.

http://cryinginbaseball.blogspot.com/

Excellent!

WVRedsFan
04-28-2008, 03:04 AM
If you really want to go back in time to 2005, and see what a strange journey it's been, here's your time machine: Two seasons of Random Thoughts.

http://cryinginbaseball.blogspot.com/

At 1:44 AM on a Monday where I have to go to work (that nap on the plane home from Alabama has me wide awake--something I won't be at, say, 1:00 PM), I just enjoyed that too much. It brought back a lot of memories that I didn't want to remember, but enjoyable nonetheless.

For some reason, and I have no idea why, a peace came over me and I actually have hope. It might be the fact that Jerry Narron is no longer manager or that Wayne Krivisy is no longer GM (please do not throw eggs and tomatoes. Food is expensive these days), but I just have to feel that for the first time in a long, long time that the club is in capable hands. Maybe not the capable hands that most RedsZoners want, but for me, I feel better. Why?

OK, this will make no sense, but your narrative of short sentences reminded me of a lot of events that just drove me crazy. I can live with not being very good. That's baseball. I cannot live with the ignorance that was Jerry Narron, Dave Miley, and Bob Boone. I cannot live with sending Edwin Encarcinon being shipped to Louisville just because. Same for Austin Kearns a long time ago (relatively). I cannot live with sigining players who once were major leaguers and then giving them exrtended contracts. I can't live with the constant excuses for not winning which always began with, "wait until <name of player here> comes back. It's been Majewski, Bray, Wilson, and others over the years. It's been a total train wreck.

For some reason, regardless of my embrace of SABR metrics (sort of, kind of) over the last five years, I have confidence in Walt Jocketty. I think he'll do well. And although I was the last guy who wanted Dusty to be the manager, I feel like there is enough knowledge there to win some games. Color me stupid or just disgusted, I want names that have been successful leading this team and not the incompetence of Boone, the inexperience of Miley, the total ignorance of Narron, or the weirdness of Krivsky. Today we have a manager with a winning record and a GM who has been successful somewhere.

The frustration in your blog mirrored mine. The poster I have the most respect for, RFS62 coined the phrase, "Blow it up, Wayne, Make it yours," and I embraced that back then. Then I saw what blowing it up meant. I still think he got a raw deal (Krivsky), but that had a lot to do with how it was done. My all-time favorite poster (Stormy) has been an inspiration, but I think even though Reds management is not ideal, it is better than what we've had since the days of the Big Red Machine, something he probably would disown me for. That may not be saying much given what we've been through in the last seven years.

So on a racing high and sleepless at this point, thanks to BCubb for posting this. It brought back a lot of bad memories, but it was something I needed to read. Chicken Little said the sky was falling, but it wasn't. Bob Castellini and Walt Jocketty likewise won't end this franchise, but the former bosses might have. That is what I'm thankful for tonight.

Sorry my insomnia made me "chatty." :)

RFS62
04-28-2008, 08:37 AM
If you really want to go back in time to 2005, and see what a strange journey it's been, here's your time machine: Two seasons of Random Thoughts.

http://cryinginbaseball.blogspot.com/



Wow, what a funny and terrifying ride. Wonderful stuff, BCubb.

"Would the fan in section 405, row 3, seat 2 report to the Guest Services area to begin warming up?"

"Ryan Freel should have been one of those plastic players on little pegs in the electric football game that would go around in circles and bang into the walls."