Partly because of WK's own success (picking up Arroyo, Phillips, and Ross), 2006 was a better than expected season. It caused many Reds fans to become upset at WK for taking a step back this season. It was inevitable. This franchise was one of the most poorly run in all of baseball. If you look at the roster pre-spring training 2006 when WK, that might be one of the most disgusting rosters I have ever seen. Tony Womack was slotted as the starting 2B, we had no idea who was going to be on first base, and we had one legitimate started (Harang).
One the whole, look at the mlb ready players WK has brought in (without paying big FA bucks) versus what he has given up in return.
Hamilton (Rule 5)
Burton (Rule 5)
Ross (I don't remember)
some minor league scrap iron like the guys we traded for Keppinger and Phillips
What makes me encouraged is the vast majority of flyers WK has taken on young guys (Hamilton, Bray, Burton, McBeth, Phillips, Keppinger, etc.) have turned out much better than expected while the guys that have been given up have performed below expectations. That tells me that WK and his staff know a little something about player evaluation - both outside the organization and within.
While the bullpen combination of inexperience at one extreme and mopped up veterans at the other has caused this season to be dissappointing, I don't think anyone can look at the Reds as an organization and objectively say it is not MUCH better off than it was 1 1/2 years ago and we did not have to sell the farm in terms of players or long term contract commitments to do it.
I am the first to call for managment/coaching changes if needed. See Bowden, Jim. However, I have to question what anyone who has called for WK to be fired or even seriously considered it knows about the game of baseball.