Castellini opens door for new Reds GM
Candidates include interim Kullman, Krivsky, Hill
By Hal McCoy
Dayton Daily News
CINCINNATI | Owner/CEO Bob Castellini has a list of candidates to become general manager of the Cincinnati Reds and plans to send out invitations for interviews.
The invitations are not gold-embossed, but several candidates consider the job a golden opportunity and emerged quickly after general manager Dan O'Brien was fired Monday morning.
Names surfacing immediately included Brad Kullman, Wayne Krivsky, Gary Hughes, Jack McKeon and Michael Hill, among others.
Kullman was named as interim general manager, a spot he filled for the last half of the 2004 season after Jim Bowden was fired.
Under his interim tenure, he acquired pitchers Aaron Harang, Brandon Claussen and traded Kent Mercker to Atlanta for Matt Belisle, then helped Mercker come back to the Reds as a free agent.
"The qualities Bob threw out as to what he is looking for, I feel I fit all the criteria," said Kullman. "I just have to prove it to him."
As for now, Kullman said the club had no trade prospects on the horizon under O'Brien, "But we'll try to re-open some talks and maybe a different voice and a different approach will make a difference.
"We want to win in 2006 but we can be in the mix by 2007," he said. "We'll do what we can right now for '06 and we do have a good nucleus."
Krivsky, assistant general manager of the Minnesota Twins, thought he had the job in the winter of 2004. He was told by Chief Operating Officer John Allen that he was Allen's choice and was preparing his acceptance speech on a flight from Cincinnati to Minneapolis.
When he got home, he received a call from Allen telling him, "We've decided to go in another direction." That direction was the direction CEO Carl Lindner wanted — the hiring of O'Brien.
Krivsky would bring a solid baseball background and serves as Twins GM Terry Ryan's right- and left-hand guy, a guy who not only works in the Minnesota front office dealing with personnel and contracts but still serves most of the season as a major league scout.
"It's a tough racket, but I'm certainly still interested in the Reds," said Krivsky. "There are a lot of things I'd do differently to put that great franchise back on track.
"It isn't going to be easy for (the Reds) at this late date to get permission from other teams to talk to people, but I'd take that job if they offered it to me the day before spring training begins."
Hughes, a personable baseball lifer, is assistant general manager of the Chicago Cubs and a close confidante to general manager Jim Hendry, both acknowledged as two of baseball's top minds.
Hughes served as a special adviser to Bowden before the Cubs hired him as their assistant general manager.
"I love that place, that city, that team, the people there and it's a shame what has happened," said Hughes.
McKeon, another baseball lifer, served as Reds manager from mid-1997 through the 2000 season and the Reds finished second his last two years. In 1999 the team came within one game of winning the National League Central title, then lost a one-game playoff with the New York Mets for the wild card spot.
"We had it going in 1999 and we were only a couple of pitchers away from being able to take it all," said McKeon.
"But they decided to go another way (trading for Ken Griffey Jr.)."
McKeon left after 2000 over a salary dispute, and the Reds haven't had a winning season since. The 76-year-old McKeon managed the Florida Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship.
And he has general manager credentials, too, serving in that capacity with the San Diego Padres, where he earned his nickname, "Trader Jack."
Castellini said the club will follow Major League Baseball's directive to interview minorities, and there is a strong candidate in Florida.
Hill, an African-American and a Harvard graduate, is assistant general manager with the Marlins. He is a native of Cincinnati, where he was a three-sport star at Cincinnati Country Day School.
Lou Piniella is not a candidate. Castellini wanted Piniella to serve this year as a special adviser, but his contractual agreement as manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays specifies that he must stay out of Major League baseball this year.
"I didn't realize that when we talked about him coming here, so it isn't going to happen this year and I would expect Lou to go back to managing," said Castellini.
"I'd like to have a man in place for spring training, but it is going to take three or four weeks of interviewing six or eight candidates," he said.
If Castellini wants to dip into his recent background as 10 percent owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, he could be interested in St. Louis vice president of personnel Jerry Walker or special assistant to the general manager Bob Gebhard, who served as the first general manager when the Colorado Rockies came into existence.