Wayne Krivsky fascinates me. He's seemingly in possession of one of baseball's toughest to find skills, the ability to identify which struggling talents will put it together. Already he's turned up Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Phillips and Josh Hobbsilton. He gets a lot credit for picking up Johan Santana and making the Nathan/Liriano/Bonser deal during his Twins days.
It's an incredibly valuable skill to have in an organization like the Reds, which is thin on talent. Krivksy's demonstrating an ability to turn up key players out of the ether. If you can land a guy or two like that each season, turn it into a pipeline, it can have a dramatic impact on your long-term outlook. It's a major differentiator.
Krivsky also seems to have addressed the organization's instructional weakness. In his first season we saw Reds prospects take a uniform step forward for the first time in ages. There's a lot of Reds prospects off to hot starts in 2007 too (though three key prospects -- Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Travis Wood -- have yet to get going).
Those are great long-term skills to have for a GM, giving him a steady stream of young talent with which to work.
Where Krivsky's been weak so far is rounding out his team. While he has an eye for breakout talents, he seems to lack a sense for support players. It's turned up in his bullpen and on his bench. It caused him to take a swinging miss on The Trade last year. Gary Majewski, even if he had been healthy, wasn't the sort of reliever he needed and Royce Clayton wasn't going to solidify his infield. Oddly Brendan Harris might have been a fine backup IF, but Krivsky let Harris get away. Perhaps Bill Bray will turn out to be one of the breakout talents and save some face on the deal, but it fits into a developing pattern. Krivsky hasn't shown much touch with blue collar players. It's going to lead to bullpen meltdown, a lack of bench options, relatively easy outs in the lower lineup and probably some trouble at the back of the rotation.
Given Krivsky's talents, if he sticks around he'll probably mine/develop his way out of that bind, but it will take time. The other upside is that what he does well is in the "you've either got it or you don't" category. A GM can learn to shop for a better supporting cast. Krivsky also seems like a guy willing to take a critical look in the mirror. Whether he can spot his flaws when he does so remains to be seen.
It makes for a frustrating mix because Krivsky skills can put a team on the verge of a breakthrough, but his weaknesses, on top of being avoidable, can undermine his team, leave it with an overly soft underbelly.
Help from AAA and AA is probably what the Reds will be reliant upon this season, to provide the depth a team needs to win games.