Jocketty shapes Reds' future
By Joe Strauss
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
CINCINNATI ó The man assigned a rival organization's heavy lifting worked the Cardinals clubhouse Sunday morning wearing a Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt and an easy smile.
Sporting the tropical doctor look, Walt Jocketty is doing just fine.
Less than five months into his term as Cincinnati Reds general manager, Jocketty has tipped his hand. Architect of a 2006 world championship as Cardinals executive vice president and general manager, Jocketty for now is the guy who traded Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn as part of an organizational overhaul.
The leftovers are a team that lost 17 of 21 entering Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals and wallowed in last place within the National League Central.
"Dunn was going to be a free agent and Griffey had an option we weren't going to exercise, so we just felt it was time to turn the page and get some players back to help give us more depth," Jocketty said. "They were both guys who had great careers here. But it wasn't working, so we're trying something different."
The Reds displayed part of their future Sunday as 25-year-old Edinson Volquez stifled the Cardinals. The Reds entered the game 16-8 in Volquez's starts, 38-62 when he didn't start.
Absent from postseason play since 1995, the Reds not surprisingly seek a dramatic shift in direction.
After entering the season with 12 pending free agents, nine remain. About $30 million comes off payroll at season's end, and majority owner Bob Castellini has made it clear that Jocketty will have free rein to shape the team as he sees fit.
"We will be active. We're prepared for that," Jocketty said. "It depends on what's out there. But we plan to be active."
Griffey and Dunn were extremely popular figures locally, hitting 480 home runs combined for the organization. The future Hall of Famer Griffey was born in Cincinnati at a time when his father, Ken Sr., contributed to the Big Red Machine of the 1970s.
Dunn, the only player in Reds history to produce four consecutive 40-home run seasons, was again challenging for the NL home run lead when traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for three players.
"The same people who were after us to trade those guys were probably the most critical when it happened," Jocketty quipped. "But I think for the most part people understand. I think the fans like seeing the young players up here. They like seeing the energy. We have talent. We just need experience."
The Cardinals acquired six members of Sunday's starting lineup during Jocketty's term. He brought Tony La Russa to St. Louis as manager before the 1996 season. Predictably, a reunion of sorts broke out behind the batting cage Saturday, with Jocketty exchanging playful barbs with La Russa and sharing a brief conversation with Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt, who abruptly fired him three days after last season's third-place finish.
Still a Ladue resident, Jocketty intends to move to Cincinnati with his family after his son, Joe, graduates high school next spring. Jocketty once predicted he would never again take a general manager's job after leaving the Cardinals. On Sunday he admitted being in for the long haul.
"There's a lot of work to do. I want to be here until we get things back above water," he said.