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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baseball | Hal McCoy on the Krivsky Firing

I was all set to write a review of Wayne Krivsky's tenure and the reasons for his firing, but Hal McCoy just flat-out nailed it much more concisely and colorfully than any of us could hope to do. That's why he's a Hall of Fame beat writer while we "blog from our mother's basement." All kidding aside, McCoy's take on Krivsky's firing today was dead-on. I may touch on the Kriv-dog's trades/signings later today, but for now here's Hal McCoy's take:

Krivsky his own enemy
By Hal McCoy | Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 12:48 PM

Bob Castellini is a businessman, the nation’s leading fruit and vegetable magnate, and if the price of lettuce and tomatoes has soared the last couple of years, it might be traced back to Wayne Krivsky.

Castellini, CEO of the Cincinnati Reds, fired general manager Krivsky today, replacing him with Walt Jocketty.

During Krivsky’s regime, the team has had to eat more dollar bills than the number of heads of lettuce Castellini sells.

Some questionable contracts that forced the team to pay money to players no longer playing for the Reds didn’t help Krivsky’s cause.

It started when he signed pitcher Rheal Cormier to a two-year contract. When the team released him it had to pay him something like $3 million NOT to pitch.

When the Reds released pitcher Mike Stanton this spring, it forced them to pay him $3.5 million this year NOT to pitch.

And there is that curious contract he gave outfielder Corey Patterson, who was sitting at home doing nothing during spring training, pursued by no other teams. Krivsky signed him for $3 million when Patterson probably would have taken $500,000 and paid his own way to camp.

He gave utility player Ryan Freel a deal that pays him $3 million this year and $4 million next year and couldn’t trade him unless the team absorbed some of that money.

He gave pitcher Josh Fogg a $1.5 million deal mid-spring training when no other teams were pursuing him, a panic move when Krivsky wasn’t certain how good Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez would be.

The $46 million, three-deal for closer Francisco Cordero looked good at the time, but so far, after 21 games, he has had only two save opportunities. That contract may pan out, but right now one wonders.

All this could be overlooked by Castellini if the team showed a propensity for winning, which it hasn’t during Krivsky’s tenure. After all, Castellini signed off on all those deals, taking Krivsky’s advice. Castellini wants to win and he wants to win now.

He and Jocketty worked together in St. Louis when Jocketty helped piece together a team that was not contending to one that contended for more than a decade.

Krivsky and I were friends long before he was named Reds GM. When he worked for the Minnesota Twins, he traveled the country scouting other teams and I encountered him often. We had many lunches together and talked often.

His ambition, of course, was to be a GM and he would say, “If I’d get the Reds job, there are a lot of things I would do and we’d have a lot of fun.”

It wasn’t fun. Krivsky remained my friend, but he changed. He was not forthcoming with information to the media, not even on the most menial things. He was guarded, overly guarded.

Two years ago during the winter meetings in Orlando, I took him aside in his suite after another unproductive media meeting in which he divulged nothing about what the team was doing or trying to do.

I said, “Wayne, remember when we had lunches and chatted about your future and how much fun we’d have together with the Reds?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Well, I’m not having fun,” I said. “Remember when I told you how difficult it was sometimes getting information from your predecessor, Dan O’Brien? Well, you’re worse.”

Krivsky seemed to think about it, but nothing changed. And nothing changed with the Reds.

Nobody likes to see anybody lose his job, especially a friend. But Krivsky cut his own throat.

Jocketty is a good man, too, and a solid baseball man. Things should change, and much for the better.

The Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty (a/k/a "The One Man Roo Would Love to Punch in the Face") also had a few interesting points about Krivsky's firing:.

Wayne Krivsky was fired because ownership tired of writing checks to players who no longer played or who were paid too much for what they contribute now. See: Freel, Patterson, Coffey. Maybe more, though, he was fired because his people skills lacked. Wayne was a very territorial GM, who didnt always play well with others. That trait cost the Reds some good people, not the least of whom was Johnny Almaraz, the scout who found Johnny Cueto, among many, many others.

. . .

I got along well with Wayne, though he was as close to the vest, borderline paranoid a guy as I've dealt with. Sometimes, his silence was very effective: The Reds got F. Cordero before the Brewers even knew Cincinnati was interested. But it could also be off-putting.

I wish Wayne the best. I think he's a good baseball guy. Maybe scouting better suits his temperament.


Anonymous said...

With Krivisky out of the way does that mean we see Bruce up sooner....or later?


Chris Wesseling said...

I wish I knew, but I don't have much of a read on that decision. I think Bruce could come up now and produce better than anybody else they could run out to centerfield, but I also believe he's still polishing up his outfield skills and still has something to learn from AAA pitchers as far as plate discipline goes.

If I had to guess, I don't think the GM change has much bearing at all on Bruce's arrival . . . but I do think it could have some bearing on trading Griffey or Dunn. I don't think Dunn will be traded before June 15 b/c he has a funky caveat in his contract with a no-trade clause.

Long story short, I think anybody would be just guessing if they told you they knew when Bruce would be up. I'll take May 26th in the office pool.

Chris Wesseling said...

Could be good news for you if you're waiting for Jay Bruce on your fantasy baseball team:

"Jocketty's immediate attention probably will turn to the offense. Griffey is 38, Dunn's slow start has people wondering if he can achieve another 40 homer/100 RBI season, and the Reds' offensive player of the future - Jay Bruce - is still in Triple-A. Expect Jocketty to call up Bruce within a few weeks."

-- Cincinnati Enquirer