Doc: Is winning realistic?
BY PAUL DAUGHERTY | PDAUGHERTY@ENQUIRER.COM
There is a fine line between impatience and impetuousness. Compared with the rest of business-as-usual Cincinnati, Bob Castellini has been a tornado of fresh air.
He wants the Reds to win, and he’s doing everything he can to make that happen. Is he doing too much? Is he trying too hard?
“I hope I’m not so impatient that I’m imprudent,’’ Castellini said Wednesday afternoon, some eight hours after he fired General Manager Wayne Krivsky and replaced him with Walt Jocketty, the man he hired in January to be his “special advisor.’’
Successful organizations do not fire their general manager every few years, the way this organization has. Firing a GM isn’t like firing a manager. The skipper leaves, maybe he takes a couple crony-coaches with him. A GM is handed his hat, he takes an entire department.
This is an awkward time of year for an axing. The draft is less than two months away. The Reds will make calls on players in the next several weeks, major league and minor league. Jocketty has been here barely three months. Who will he rely on for front-line decision-making?
As “Wayne’s people’’ either leave the organization or remain with the knowledge the ax doesn’t always discriminate, how willing to help will they be? All general managers are territorial; Krivsky moreso than most. Those that remain will be counted on to be pros. We can only hope.
As for Krivsky, he got it about half right here. For every Mike Stanton, there was a Brandon Phillips, for every Juan Castro a Jeff Keppinger. He fell in love with two-year contracts for marginal players: Stanton, Castro, Todd Coffey. Two years and $7 million for Ryan Freel. He overpaid Corey Patterson. He collected centerfielders, but left Jay Bruce in Louisville.
He also acquired Josh Hamilton and Jared Burton in the Rule 5 draft and traded Wily Mo Pena for Bronson Arroyo.
Krivsky worked for a win-now owner when winning now was not practical. The Castellini-George Steinbrenner comparisons are not apt. But they do make you pause. Since January, Krivsky labored with Jocketty perched like Poe’s Raven on his shoulder.
“No question, patience is required,’’ said Krivsky. “Bob will admit he’s an impatient person.’’
Krivsky was famously tight lipped, not always to his detriment. When the Reds acquired Francisco Cordero from Milwaukee, no one was more stunned than Brewers management. If Krivsky hadn’t been so secretive, that signing would never have happened. No way Milwaukee allows its closer to escape to another team in its division.
Krivsky leaves the Reds’ minor leagues in far better shape than he found them, but the major league club remains stagnant. As with his predecessor Dan O’Brien, Krivsky’s best work here might not be realized for a few years. “I wish a larger perspective was taken on the whole body of work’’ was how he put it.
Fair enough. And if the Reds hadn’t been oh-for-winning in the last seven years – and hadn’t missed the postseason for the last 13 – the larger view might have prevailed. As it is, with an impatient owner feeling a debt to his success-starved clientele, perspective is limited to nine wins in 21 tries this year.
“We’ve just come to the point where we’re not going to lose anymore’’ was how Castellini put it.
The larger issue here is, can winning be done here while the retooling proceeds?
Can Jocketty coerce 85 victories from this team, thereby creating the “winning mindset’’ he referred to Tuesday? “We need to change the culture,’’ he announced.
Having built teams in St. Louis that made the playoffs seven times and won a World title, Jocketty knows about a winning culture.
Knowing it and achieving it are two different things. Did Wayne Krivsky get the shaft? Where does impatience meet imprudence, and have they already crossed paths? We’re about to find out.