Jocketty takes over as Reds GM
He says the culture and mindset of the club needs to change
By Hal McCoy
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
CINCINNATI — Walt Jocketty, with his soft smile and white bread hair, doesn't appear to be a vindictive person, but he revealed a small piece of his competitive personality at the media conference announcing his elevation to Director of Baseball Operations/General Manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
"Trust me, me and Dusty Baker are very motivated, both guys with a vendetta, a little chip on our shoulders," he said.
That's because Jocketty was fired as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals after last season and Baker was fired as Chicago Cubs manager after the 2006 season. Both teams are with the Reds in the National League Central, making them targets for Jocketty and Baker.
General manager Wayne Krivsky was fired Wednesday, April 23, by CEO Bob Castellini and replaced by Jocketty, with whom Castellini worked in St. Louis when Jocketty was there, with Jocketty saying, "I still think we can win this division."
Under Jocketty, the Cardinals were in the playoffs seven times in 13 years after a long period of losers. Jocketty believes he can do in Cincinnati what he did in St. Louis when he took over in 1994, in less time.
"With the history of this franchise, it is very close to the situation I had in St. Louis," he said. "It has a winning tradition, great fans, a great community — but they hadn't won in St. Louis in a long time, either. There are a lot similarities to the St. Louis and Cincinnati situations, storied franchises with great traditions.
"And I think this organization is in better shape right now than St. Louis was and it won't take as long to turns things around here," he added.
Jocketty plans no immediate shakeups, either on the playing roster or the front office, until he thoroughly looks and tinkers under the hood.
"We need to change the culture and the mindset, in the clubhouse and the front office, that we can win," he said. "You need a positive approach and not look at the negatives. There is talent here, plus we have a proven manager (Dusty Baker). It is a matter of changing the focus to a winning culture."
Castellini, in a glum mood on this day, said Krivsky was fired basically because of the team's 9-12 start. He added that some of Krivsky's player personnel moves that left the team holding bags of money owed to players no longer playing entered into the dismissal, too.
Then he put some pressure on Jocketty's shoulders when he said, "We've come to a point where, well, we're just not going to lose any more."
Jocketty laughed that one off and said, "I'm not worried about that because I'm doing this because I want to do it, not that I need to do it."
He has been in baseball 33 years and while with the Cardinals was named Major League Baseball Executive of the Year three times.
After the Cardinals fired him, Jocketty was hired by the Reds as a special consultant to Castellini and the handwriting was on the executive bathroom walls — Jocketty was the next Reds GM.
Castellini didn't plan to make the move until Krivsky's contract expired after this season, but when the Reds limped out of the gate the impatient Castellini acted.
Asked his baseball philosophy, Jocketty said, "Basic philosophy, win."
And he added, "I try to build a team with pitching and defense. Scoring runs is about however your team is built — power, the ball park, running game, smallball. Generally, though, pitching and defense. That sounds easy, pretty simple, but there is a lot to it."