MILWAUKEE - Seems to me that just when the Reds' player development department started getting it right, the club fired the two guys who had the most to do with the turnaround.
Field coordinator Tim Naehring and assistant player development director Grant Griesser were among the eight people fired last week. Naehring was previously the player development director, so he and Griesser have put a bigger stamp on the farm system than anyone over the last seven years.
Again, it's hard to argue that they moved the department in the right direction. Jay Bruce was just named the minor league player of the year by Baseball America. Homer Bailey is rated as the No. 1 or 2 pitching prospect in all of baseball. Johnny Cueto is in the top 10. You've seen what Joey Votto can do in his short time in the majors.
The Reds haven't had that many top end prospects in at least 20 years - maybe never.
"Until they have success here, it's hard to say," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "I like what's going on in terms of players moving up."
The Reds also have won at the minor-league level in the Naehring-Griesser years. The minor league teams had overall winning records in five of the seven years since Griesser took over as player development director.
"You can't judge by wins and losses," Griesser said. "You want to develop players. But the philosophy Tim and I had is you want players to learn to win, so when they get to the big leagues they know how."
The other thing Griesser and Naehring did was find sixth-year minor league free agents. Ryan Freel, Norris Hopper and Javier Valentin are among them. Tom Shearn is this year's case in point.
So the Reds have top-end prospects, they're winning at the minor-league level and they're getting a lot out of their minor league free agents. So why were Naehring and Griesser fired?
Naehring and Griesser wouldn't go into specifics and left without firing shots at the organization. They both did say the call came from Krivsky.
"We decided to go in a different direction," Krivsky said.
That's a GM's prerogative.
Krivsky has surrounded himself with his own people, as most GMs would. But sometimes good people get swept aside in the process. (A disclaimer here: Naehring and Griesser became buddies of mine during their time with the Reds - you know, the West Side connection and all that.)
But they were well-respected in the organization, around baseball and in the community.
As far as scouting and player development goes, things seemed to be on the right track when Dan O'Brien left. Terry Reynolds was the scouting director. He drafted Bailey and Bruce. Johnny Almaraz was doing the international scouting. He signed Cueto. Naehring was running the farm system.
Krivsky moved Almaraz to player development director. Chris Buckley was hired and put above Reynolds. Naehring was moved to field coordinator.
Almaraz ended up quitting because he didn't get along with Krivsky. Reynolds was moved to player development.
Naehring was OK with the move to field coordinator. The role fit him. As a former major leaguer, he was someone players trying to get to the big leagues looked up to.
"You could really tell that he was a baseball guy, a big leaguer," Votto said. "He had a positive influence on a lot of guys."
Naehring ran a stringent system: No facial hair, no earrings, no pants down to your spikes. Players were required to jog between stations at spring training.