Q&A with Wayne Krivsky
Reds' new GM a man of action
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
New Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky was in the office by 8 a.m. Friday, answering 4-day-old e-mails, cleaning the messages off his phone and generally catching up.
It had been a whirlwind 40 hours or so since he was named the Reds' 17th GM.
He had fired someone for the first time in his life. He had met just about everyone who works in the front office. He had gotten more media exposure than in his previous 27 years in baseball operations combined.
Still, Krivsky made time to sit down for an interview with The Enquirer's John Fay:
Q: One of the things CEO Bob Castellini said is you came into the interview with a very specific plan. Can you share it with us?
A: Not the specifics. Philosophically, we're very much on the same page in terms of how you run a quality operation. You get as many quality people as you can, especially for the important jobs, but for lesser jobs, as well - if there is such a thing. You hire the best people you can; you make them accountable and get out of the way. They know what's expected of them. From there, it's staying in touch with them, communicating with them. But I can't be specific about names and so forth.
Q: But you were specific with him, right?
A: Yes, mainly in organization. We talked some about players, but it was mainly how I'm going to manage. What's my style? Tell me about some people you might be interested in bringing aboard to get this done. I did have specifics for him. But it has to stay in that room - for now.
Q: Generally, what is your philosophy toward players? What are you looking for?
A: It depends if it's high school, college or the major leagues. There are a lot of facets to it. (Mental and emotional) make-up is a key component, as are their raw skills: arm strength, speed, power, hitting ability. Those types of things which would be in almost anyone's scouting report. Certainly injury history comes into play. At the major-league level, their contract is a component. I'm sure I'm leaving something out at 8 o'clock in the morning, before my coffee.
Q: A lot is made of Sabermetrics. What are your thoughts on that?
A: It's part of the puzzle. It's a bigger piece at the major-league level and a very little piece at the high school level. As you go up the food chain, statistics have more reliability. It's a term I first heard of in 1981. ... I was exposed to a person who went on to be the founder of Stats Inc., a guy by the name of Craig Wright. He and Bill James were the founders of more detailed statistical analysis. Craig Wright and I worked together with the Rangers putting together arbitration cases in the early '80s. Basically, for me, the further you go up the chain, the more important stats are.
Q: Was yesterday (Thursday) a whirlwind?
A: The last couple of days. I'll be happy when it starts to slow down. We talk to players about slowing the game down. Maybe a general manager can slow the game down a little bit. I had a game plan for yesterday. I wanted to meet as many employees as I could. I hooked up with (assistant GM) Dean Taylor and got a game plan going for early in the day.
Q: Do you know Dean pretty well?
A: We go back a long time. He was with Kansas City when I first met him. We had parallel titles for a while until he became general manager in Milwaukee. We had parallel titles but different job descriptions. Assistant general managers do different things for different teams. It just so happens that in Texas I did more scouting. ... I don't know among assistant GMs who has scouted more than me, whether it be professional or amateur. All my years in salary arbitration might be a separator. Dean was more administrative. He traveled with the club quite a bit. I did not do a lot of that. Dean was someone I always conversed with at arbitration time. I'd see him at meetings. I always respected the job he did. I know he was an asset to John Schuerholz (in Atlanta). He allowed John to do a lot of things. John could be out and about, and Dean had things under control.
Q: The basic structure here is divided among amateur scouting, professional scouting, player development and international scouting. Will that structure change?
A: I would say no right now. That will stay status quo. After the draft, the amateur scouts will have some pro assignments. Each one of them had one major-league team in September, so they could be exposed to the majors. That's invaluable to a scout as far as perspective. It's hard to say how a player projects in the big leagues if you don't see big-league games. The Twins really do a good job of that. I'm happy to see the Reds do that as well.
Q: Everyone is under contract but Adam Dunn. Do you have a philosophy as far as long-term contracts?
A: I don't want to get too specific. But you always want to avoid being in the (arbitration hearing) room if you can. You come up with different ideas. Sometimes it's just an honest disagreement on the salary, and you can't come to a negotiated settlement. It takes a third party. It's not personal. The notion that these hearings are knock-down, drag-out situations ... it's not that way. I think they can be handled in a very professional way by both sides, where you use numbers to support your argument. It's business, not personal. When it's over, you shake hands and move on. It's always a happy day for me when the last guy in arbitration signs.
Q: Will you talk long-term contract with Dunn?
A: I wouldn't rule it out. We'll have to see where the process goes. But again, you have to have a meeting of the minds whether it's one year, two years or seven years.
Q: One of the controversial things under Dan O'Brien was pitch count and the must-take-a-strike rule for minor-leaguers at Single-A and below. Will that change?
A: I'm not a proponent of those types of policies. I go back to common sense. This is baseball - let's have fun, let's make it fun for the players. A good example of common sense is if a pitcher had a sore arm in spring training and only got up to two innings, I'd like to think common sense tells you his first game out at Chattanooga, and it's 40 degrees, you're not going to throw him six innings. You have to look at each case. You use common sense. Paul Richards once told me the purpose of player development is to get players to the major leagues healthy. That was one of his credos.
Q: One of the unpopular rules with the big-leaguers was not allowing family on the team plane.
A: I haven't addressed that yet. I'll have to talk to (traveling secretary) Gary Wahoff.
Q: Will you be visible around the players?
A: Not too much. I'm not someone who likes to hang out in the clubhouse. That's the players' domain. There will be occasions when I have to be there, conducting business. I would hope it was hours when it's early in the day - drop down to see (manager) Jerry Narron if we need to visit on something with the coaching staff. I stay out of the way. I'll be on the field some in spring training, some in the season, but not on an everyday basis.
Q: You're pretty familiar with Jerry Narron, aren't you?
A: Through reputation. We have chatted a few times recently.
Q: Are you comfortable with him being your manager?
A: Very much so. I've really been impressed in our conversations. We think very much alike on ways to handle situations. I've been very impressed how we've been on the same page. In fact, I can't think of anything major that we disagree on. I'm looking forward to working with him.
Q: Bob Castellini talked about you being a hard-working guy. Do you do anything other than baseball? Hobbies?
A: Hobbies is a bad subject. You're going to embarrass me on that one. I like to work out and stay in shape. I like to eat, and I like to have my sweets. So I'm playing for the tie. I like to run, push-ups, sit-ups. Not much of a hobby. My wife and I like to go to the movies. We love our dogs. I like to take a trip with her once a year. But I'm not sure I'm averaging a trip a year.
Q: Will your wife, Linda, be pretty visible?
A: She wants to be. When we were with the Rangers, she really enjoyed Fan Fest. She had a lot of friends in the front office with the Rangers. It was a good chance for her to interact and support the club. From that standpoint, she'll be active.
Q: You said you weren't a very good player at Duke. Give me a scouting report on Wayne Krivsky the player.
A: I peaked my senior year in high school at New Canaan, Conn. We made the state finals and lost in the finals. We played at Yale. We played Shelton, Conn., which had beaten Naugatuck, which had a 55-game winning streak. In the semifinals, we beat New London in a 13-inning, 7-6 game. It was one of the best games I was ever a part of. The rumor going around was if Naugatuck had beaten Shelton, we were going to be on "Wide World of Sports." But Shelton broke their winning streak. Naugatuck would have been going for some national record. We got beat and I went on to Duke. The only disappointing thing about Duke was I didn't play as much as I thought I should have. Enos "Country" Slaughter, ex-Cardinal, Yankee, Hall of Famer, was our coach. I could throw. I had some power. I couldn't run a lick. If I had to do it all over again, I'd be a catcher. I think I threw more batting practice than I played.
Q: What position did you play?
A: Played third base, a little outfield. I'll tell you what happened. My freshman year, we had like 10 straight days of rain. We didn't get out on the field for a week or more prior to our opening day. Our timing was off. I think I started the year 1-for-9. Coach Slaughter didn't give me a lot of rope. Not to make excuses. It probably wouldn't have made any difference.
Q: You didn't want to talk about the specifics of where the team will finish this year. Where do you think the Reds will be in three years?
A: I'm trying to make us better today. I hope we really get this thing moving. ... I'm a glass-half-full guy versus half-empty. There's a lot of work to be done. That goes for every team in the game. Look at Kenny Williams (GM of the Chicago White Sox). He transformed that whole team, and here it is the offseason and Kenny Williams is making some significant changes. I tip my hat to him. That goes to show you, here's the world champions and he's not taking anything for granted. I admired that. Looking at the standings, we have a ways to go. I just hope we get better every week, every month, every year. I want to keep building, so when we are good, we're good for a long time. And we will be good at some point, I just can't tell you when.