Castellini's impatience doomed Krivsky
Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 06:36 PM EST [Reds]
Hours after being told he was no longer the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Wayne Krivsky's eyes were red and he spoke slowly and chose his words carefully.
He'd fought for an hour to keep his job earlier in the day, but it was not enough. In the end, there was one unwavering truth -- Reds owner Bob Castellini is not a patient man.
"Bob will admit he's an impatient person," Krivsky said.
But Castellini is in a patient man's game. Unlike vegetables that can be counted on to product based on a yearly cycle, baseball teams and organizations take longer to cultivate.
Wayne Krivsky is a patient man, Bob Castellini is not.
"We're just not going to lose anymore," Castellini said Wednesday.
That is Castellini's will. His way was to replace Krivsky with Walt Jocketty, who led the St. Louis Cardinals to six division titles, a Wild Card, two National League pennants and the 2006 World Series.
Krivsky was perhaps naïve enough to believe Castellini when he hired Jocketty as a special advisor to advise and assist Castellini in baseball operations that his job wasn't on the line. In fact, it was. Everyone else saw it, but Krivsky refused to read the writing on the wall, listening only to what was said.
"Bob had talked to me about next year, after the season, kind of easing my way into working again," Jocketty said. "Possibly being president of baseball operations at the end of the year. That was something we'd consider. He asked me last night if I was willing to do it now."
Instead of looking over his shoulder and mortgaging the future for the 2008 season and his job, Krivsky went on building an organization the only way he knew how.
"You think about the present and you can have a mandate to win this year, but I never lose sight of the long term," Krivsky said. "I didn't do things here to save my job short term. I wasn't going to do that. In my mind, I was going to be here a long time. … I wasn't going to do anything to hurt the organization long term to save my rear for one year."
Krivsky took over a team that hadn't had a winning season since 2001, but didn't have a winning record in either of his first two seasons. Although Castellini said when Krivsky was hired in 2006 that he wanted to use the Minnesota Twins, an organization Krivsky had deep ties with, as a model. In Minnesota, Terry Ryan was able to build the Twins and with the patience of six losing seasons to start his tenure.
Castellini may have liked the end result of the Twins model, but in the end, he couldn't deal with the sacrifice in the here and now required to put in the infrastructure Ryan built in Minnesota.
"I don't think anybody in the organization is happy with the results on a won-loss basis," Castellini said. "We've had two losing seasons under our new ownership and we started out this season poorly on a win-loss basis. That's the primary reason we made the change."
So, after an 8-12 start -- Castellini said he’d made the decision before Tuesday’s victory over the Dodgers -- the owner's patience ran short and Krivsky was outed.
n his tenure, Krivsky nearly turned over the roster completely. The only starting position players from before Krivsky's tenure are Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion. Joey Votto was in the minor league system before Krivsky's hiring, but was brought through under Krivsky's watch. Aaron Harang, Matt Belisle and Johnny Cueto are the only pitchers in the rotation not acquired by Krivsky, and the outgoing general manager signed Harang to a long-term deal under market value. Cueto, like Votto, was acquired by the Dan O'Brien regime, but came throughout he system under Krivsky. The bullpen's only non-Krivsky acquisition is David Weathers.
Krivsky acquired Brandon Phillips, last season's team MVP, for Jeff Stevens. He traded Bobby Basham for David Ross. He acquired Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena. He acquired Kyle Lohse for Zach Ward and later Matt Maloney for Lohse. He also traded Russ Haltiwanger for Jeff Keppinger. He selected Josh Hamilton and Jared Burton in the Rule 5 draft and turned Hamilton around for Edinson Volquez.
His most controversial move came in July of 2006, when the Reds sent Felipe Lopez, Austin Kearns and Ryan Wagner to the Washington Nationals for Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson. While roundly viewed as a fleecing by former Reds GM and current National GM Jim Bowden, time has made it a wash, and could even go in the Reds' favor as Bray has been impressive when injury-free and Thompson has currently tearing up the Southern League.
Perhaps the biggest criticisms of Krivsky recently have come from his contract extensions. He signed Mike Stanton to a two-year $5.5 million deal before the 2006 season. He gave Ryan Freel a two-year $7 million extension last season and Juan Castro a two-year, $2 million contract. He also signed Arroyo to a two-year extension for $25 million.
Any perceived loss can be noted by the savings of the four-year, $36.5 million extension to Harang, which is very low compared to other No. 1 starters in a similar position as Harang.
Krivsky was also often criticized for the extension of left-hander Rheal Cormier, but the Reds received $2.08 million in cash to pay Cormier from the A's in the trade that sent Chris Denorfia to Oakland and netted Cincinnati reliever Marcus McBeth.
"I challenge anybody, you put the acquisitions in one column and what we gave up in the other and you tell me it's not a freakin' slam dunk the job that was done here," Krivsky said. "It's not just Wayne Krivsky, it's on my ledger. You want to talk contracts? I'll talk contracts with you. Mike Stanton? And I love Mike Stanton, but it didn't work out. That one's on me. Rheal Cormier, that one got covered, we got a whole bunch of money (from the A's in the Chris Denorfia deal) that covered that. I'm not the type of person that's going to brag we got seven figures on that. I'll walk out of here feeling proud that I stayed true to myself and what I'm all about."
When asked about immediate moves to make the Reds better, Jocketty said he didn't know of anything right away, but he left the spring feeling good about the team's chances to compete, and still does, even with the current makeup.
"I felt when we started the season we had a club that could be a contending club and this division is winnable," Jocketty said.
Usually when the executives like the club that is put on the field and not the way that club is playing, the general manager is praised and the field manager is fired. But Dusty Baker is just 21 games into his Reds tenure and was the high-profile manager Castellini craved, so he's too new to get the blame. Instead, the ax fell on Krivsky.
"At the end of the day, I wish a larger perspective was taken on the whole body of work that's been done here rather than the 9-12 record or whatever led to the thinking of being let go today," Krivsky said.
But with Bob Castellini's promises to win and win now, the only perspective that matters is his and its judged solely on the wins and losses as of today, not the entire health of the organization. Castellini, Jocketty and Baker may talk about the importance of continuity, but because of that impatience, not only is Wayne Krivsky out of a job, but the Cincinnati Reds’ organization is looking at yet another change in direction, including interim GMs, they are now on their sixth since Great American Ball Park opened in 2003.
"I've got to respect the decision, but I disagree with it strongly," Krivsky said. "I think I'm the right guy for this. I have a lot of confidence in my ability and the staff I've put in here. I'm proud of what I've done here."