Krivsky making good on his opportunity
Reds gave longtime baseball man his shot as a GM
I'm going to miss the telephone calls from my friend Wayne Krivsky when there is a report that a Major League team is looking for a general manager.
Krivsky, as the baseball world is well aware, now has a job as a general manager.
The Cincinnati Reds don't figure to let him get away in the next decade or so.
In fact, one writer has suggested that if Krivsky continues on his present pace as the Reds' general manager he may be headed for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Even Krivsky, in fact, particularly Krivsky, would term that report rather far-fetched.
However, you could make a case that Krivsky might start thinking about moving around some things in his new home in Erlanger, Kentucky, to make room for an "Executive of the Year" trophy.
Wayne Krivsky is 51 years old and is in his 30th season in a Major League Baseball front office.
He has spent the last 27 years in baseball administration, including 25 years as assistant or special assistant to general managers for the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins.
During my years as an executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I had the opportunity to observe first hand the work and dedication of Krivsky.
He was one of those baseball men who always took on the tough jobs and handled the tasks extremely well while staying out of the spotlight.
Krivsky's job during the season was to take on scouting and trouble-shooting assignments wherever he was needed. He gave his scouting reports directly to his general manager and never to opposing scouts or the news media.
The only group he ever wanted to impress was the team that was signing his paycheck.
In the offseason, Krivsky took on a different role -- handling player contract negotiations and dealing with arbitration cases.
I can't think of anyone who understands the arbitration process or handled it better than Krivsky. He wasn't a guy with a degree from Harvard or Yale but he had baseball sense and he had common sense in his dealings.
Despite his loyalty to the Rangers and then the Twins, Krivsky wanted to be a general manager one day and his bosses knew this and appreciated his qualifications.
That's where the calls from Krivsky would come from time to time. He would want to bounce thoughts off of me related to GM openings and I always was impressed by his preparation.
He had face-to-face interviews for general manager jobs with St. Louis in October of 1994; Cincinnati in October of 2003; Boston in November of 2005; and finally with the Reds again in January of this year.
There were a few other telephone interviews, including one with the Dodgers a few years back, but most of that amounted to a "thank you for your interest" type of response.
Krivsky was much like one of those players who had paid his dues but couldn't get an opportunity.
It all changed when a group headed by Bob Castellini purchased the Reds in January and decided the first order of business was a change of leadership in baseball operations.
Krivsky had what he felt was a good first interview shortly after the new ownership took over and flew back to Cincinnati on Feb. 7 for what was scheduled to be a second interview.
As it turned out, Krivsky was met at the airport by Reds' executive and old friend Dean Taylor and taken to a dinner meeting with Castellini and Tom Williams.
The next morning Krivsky showed up for a scheduled meeting at the Great American Ball Park and was directed to a waiting room.
Castellini walked into the room a short time later with a contract in hand. "You're the guy," said Castellini.
The new owner of the Reds had had hit a home run in his first major at-bat.
After 30 years of preparation and dedication, Wayne Krivsky had his dream job.
He hit the ground running. Within a week he had signed three outfielders to Minor League contracts; claimed pitcher Michael Gosling off waivers; signed free agent first baseman Scott Hatteberg; and settled a potential arbitration case with outfielder Adam Dunn by agreeing on a two-year deal.
Krivsky began to reshape the front office by hiring a number of people most baseball fans had never heard of -- Bob Miller as director of baseball administration; Pete Mackanin as advance scout; Scott Nethery as special assistant; Chris Buckley as senior director of scouting; and Ken (Squeaky) Parker as a pro scout. He also added the services of scout Bill Harford, who does work for several teams.
Krivsky knew all of these men from his days in baseball and his days sitting behind home plate. He knew their work ethic and he wanted them to be part of his team.
The additions to the front office have helped to pay off in a number of deals, highlighted by the trades that brought starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo and second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Reds.
The trades for Arroyo and Phillips have helped put Krivsky in the headlines and in national columns but it is a few of the lower profile moves that truly are the new GM's trademark.
Krivsky acquired catcher David Ross from San Diego in March and made a deal to acquire outfielder Cody Ross from the Dodgers in April.
Both David Ross and Cody Ross spent a great deal of time in the Minor Leagues, waiting for their chance to show their ability, and both are players with great makeup. All either man really wanted was an opportunity.
Wayne Krivsky can relate to that.
Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as executive vice-president and general manager. His book (Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue) was published by SportsPublishingLLC. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.