J has a very interesting look at GM Wayne Krivsky’s tenure in Cincinnati thus far, and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

For a while now, I’ve been working on drafting a post I’ve called “In Defense of Wayne Krivsky.” It’ll be published here at Redleg Nation at some point, but I decided to put it together so that I could try to get a better overall view of what Krivsky has done since he was hired. Obviously, “The Trade” was a complete and unmitigated disaster, but I’ve often wondered if that trade (and what it tells us about Krivsky’s tendencies) might not be unfairly coloring everyone’s views on Krivsky’s performance.

J makes some good points. It’s a topic I hope to explore further in the very near future.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 15 Comments

  1. this is from the sporting news dialy e-mail

    “SEEN IN SAN DIEGO

    I stepped out of a cab at a San Diego hotel the other day, and who’s the first guy I see? Reds radio/TV analyst Jeff Brantley, who had just finished golfing. Well, if he golfs as well as he pitched and previously commentated for ESPN, neighboring yards were no doubt in danger. Brantley acted like a jerk. I’ve interviewed pro athletes, and he acted as rude as darned near any of ’em. Not that I mentioned I was “in the business,” but I really shouldn’t have had to. Geez, if I were that bozo, I’d be looking for any Karma I could get right now.”

    Brendon Roberts: Hit Parade
    May 23, 2007

  2. While the “Trade” hangs over our heads like a bad storm just waiting to torment us unmercilessly, I think it’s hard to objectively assess the job Kriv has done.

    For one, he inherited a stinker of a team. Secondly, it’s hard to remake a pitching staff when you don’t have much to give in return, a neglected farm system and held back from signing big money free agents. Lastly, when the team is made up hitters designed to swing-for-the-fences-and-who-cares-about-the-strikeouts, it takes time to change/tweak team philosophy.

    As frustrating as it is to watch the Reds muddle in medocrity right now, I think Kriv needs about two more seasons to truly assess the job he’s done. I’d like to see the team finish around .500 (at least with more than 76 wins) and the post winning seasons the next two years as well as make the playoffs. But that’ll take more tweaking.

  3. I just posted this over at J’s blog so I’ll add it here, too.

    I think just summing VORP is too simplistic. John is correct that the level of investment must be considered. So should other factors. Taking his moves out of context and reducing them to a single statistic fails to provide insight into what direction the organization is moving.

    Does a good GM guarantee (with a raise and an option on the age 37 season ) the age 36 season of a good-field, no-hit middle infielder with a VORP as a Red of -3.3 (particularly when you already have said player under contract for his age 35 season)? Does a good GM then turn around a few weeks later and give a 3yr/$14MM contract with a $6MM mutual option for 2010 to a guy that is essentially the same player (who is also on the wrong side of 30)? Does a good GM trade a 23-year-old starter that projected as a 4 or 5 for a 39-year-old injured LOOGY and then guarantee said LOOGY’s age 40 season? Krivsky has paid premium prices for fungible commodities – middle relievers and infield defensive replacements – that should either be available in the farm system or found by haunting the waiver wire.

    More important long-term, can anyone see any hint of a plan in most of Krivsky’s moves? Has he articulated his plan for rebuilding the Reds into an organization that will give fans the hope that the team will play meaningful games in September each season even if they fall short of the playoffs? He took over a bad team that was and is in desperate need of long term rebuilding and rather than develop a realistic plan pandered to the fans with “win now” platitudes.

    This is my 51st season on the Redleg roller coaster, and I want to know when my team will be good again. How many players on your Krivsky acquisition list will be part of the next Reds’ championship?

    I’m not opposed to statistical analysis. On the contrary, I’m very much in favor of it. I wanted to see Brad Kuhlman get the GM’s job because he was the most sabre-friendly of all the candidates. This team desperately needs a sound statistical approach to roster building that’s balanced with strong observational analysis.

    But I don’t think you can evaluate a GM by cherry-picking one stat and say he’s done a good job because that one comes out in his favor. Particularly when that GM has said his goal is to win now and the team’s in last place with a worse record than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Kansas City Royals.

    You’ll note I didn’t mention The Trade (nor the damning comments of Johnny Almaraz and Larry Barton).

    While in general I would agree with Jay that a GM needs more time before he can be properly evaluated, Krisky’s tendencies to overpay (sometimes wildly) for essentially fungible commodities, his in-season scatter gun approach to roster management and his failure to articulate a long-term plan for the organization leave me afraid of what he will do to this organization if given another two years. Contrast what we are getting with what Doug Melvin has done in Milwaukee and the state of the Brewers’ franchise today versus five years ago. Does anyone think Krivsky will have the Reds in that position in five years. And if you do, just what is your hope based on?

  4. Obviously, J’s analysis wasn’t a complete one (he admits as much). The other things I think we should consider, in addition to
    Phil’s compelling arguments about spending priorities, are drafting and player development (looks decent so far, though Narron is of little help in that area); and opportunity cost – could he have gotten better returns for the guys he decided to trade?

  5. Chris,

    I should say that I think J’s analysis is both valuable and good as far as it goes.

    On your points: it’s obviously too early to tell about drafting and player development. Krivsky’s had one draft and those players closest to the big club were drafted under the previous regime.

    He does have one disturbing tendency that will affect player development. Last year he reached down into the farm system quite a bit to add Proven Veterans of marginal quality (I’m trying to be kind here). Granted that only Germano and possibly the guy we gave up for Lohse (whose name escapes me at the moment) were likely to be contributors at the big league level, But the trend of giving up youth for aging has-beens and never-weres is disturbing.

    If the Reds are to be consistently competitive again, it will be critical develop a feeder system that allows us to stock the big club with talent that we can control for six years, and have the feeder system ready to replenish that talent when they reach their walk years. I don’t think that is happening at the moment, at least I don’t see a defined plan to reach that end being executed.

    With respect to opportunity cost, that’s a hard one for us Internet lurkers to actually know since we don’t know what was actually available at any given time. However, my grandmother used to say that a bargain is only a bargain if it was something you wanted or needed in the first place. Certainly by that standard, a number of Krivsky’s moves should have netted better returns. And if those better returns weren’t out there? Well, my grandmother would have told Wayne to put his money back in his pocket.

  6. I’m a little more optimistic than you about the farm system, I think. O’Brien’s draftees (the ones Krivsky didn’t trade) are looking good, but the 2006 class looks very good, indeed. (I still hated taking Stubbs over Lincecum, FWIW).

    The opportunity cost thing is always speculation. I think it’s interesting that, at least in the case where he gave up major leaguers, the trade was resounding panned by print and TV commentators, both ignorant and informed. I don’t put much stock in those guys, generally, but they do have a better sense of “the market” than I do.

  7. BTW, to address post #1: Is that what the Sporting News has come to? “Jeff Brantley was rude in the hotel valet parking area”? That’s newsworthy? If TSN is using its space to grind an axe about a part-time local broadcaster – that’s really sad.

  8. I’m a little more optimistic than you about the farm system, I think.

    Chris,

    I’m not pessimistic about the farm system. I think the farm system was the one thing Dan-O was doing right. We have some talent at all levels and while we need more, it’s looking up.

    What I a pessimistic about is Krivsky’s ability to keep his mitts off the system during his in-season panic moves. I know that prospects have to part of most trades, I’d just prefer that the return not be one of the starters from the local assisted living facility’s fast-pitch nine. 😀

    (TSN’s decline is sad. I remember when it was the baseball newspaper. I treasured my subscription as a boy. Before BB-Ref and the Internet, before ESPN and all the rest, I’d devour the box scores of the week and all the stats in preparation for Saturday’s game of the Week with PeeWee and Diz. Now it’s worse than ESPN The magazine, and that’s really saying something.)

  9. To say something nice about Krivsky – actually two things;

    (1) Josh Hamilton is exactly the low-risk, high reward kind of pickup that the Reds should be taking chances on, whether through the Rule V draft, the waiver wire or FA market.

    (2) If he sticks with it, I like his commitment to Homer Bailey and refusal to bring him up in response to fan clamoring. He denies service time is a factor, but if he starts Homer’s clock now, Bailey is a Super Two after the 2009 season.

    That has to be a factor. But Bailey’s development is more important. If you bring him up now wearing the mantle of Savior and he gets rocked, you might destroy his confidence. And he won’t make a difference in the 2007 season even if he’s lights out. Leave him at Louisville for all of 2007 with maybe a short September call up. In fact, starting with the big club in 2008 should depend on both his 2007 performance and what other moves are made in the off season. He’s only 21 so there should be no hurry. Bring him up when he’s ready and the club is ready to benefit from his performance.

  10. I’m with you 100%. Dr. Krivsky has made several very good moves. Mr. Hyde is the problem. JD at Red Reporter (IIRC) suggested that Kriv melts down once the season starts. Phillips and (almost) Ross were good in-season moves, but only barely. Guardado was low-enough cost, but the others were all bad, very bad.

    One thing about his trades of prospects: I don’t think he’s parted with a blue-chipper yet, and he’s definitely parting company with O’Brien’s draftees.

  11. I wouldn’t even call “THE TRADE” an unmitigated disaster. We aren’t even a year into it. Right now it was nothing for nothing. Both teams would be the same trade or no trade.

  12. Chris,

    JD may have a point. I can’t shake myself of the feeling that Krivsky’s in over his head, at least when the firing starts. If Almaraz and Barton are to be believed, he doesn’t want to hear differing opinions and that’s not a good trait in a first-time GM.

    The fact he seems to actively want to jettison O’Brien’s draftees has the appearance of further reinforcing Johnny and Larry’s comments in that it makes him look a tad megalomaniacal. And don’t forget that Bruce, Votto and Bailey are all Dan-Os.

    Phillips wasn’t on Krivsky’s radar until (IIRC) a Cleveland scout who knew Kriv from his Minnesota days alerted him. Still, it was a smart move. I’ll cede Ross because he costs nothing, but he is certainly not the long-term solution behind the plate. Guardado was injured when acquired. His workload immediately after becoming a Red just finished the job.

    Even if we accept that he loses it during the season, his off-season record is equally mixed. The Castro extension and Gonzalez signing came in the off-season. And if someone ever gives Wily Mo 500AB as a DH, we may not look as kindly on the Arroyo deal, particularly since Bronson is almost certain to be wearing different laundry in 2009.

    I’m not trying to be overly critical. I just want what Doug Melvin has given Brewer fans and Dayton Moore appears to have started in KC. I look at Krivsky’s tenure and even giving credit for the good moves, I have no idea where this organization is going.

    (As a completely off the wall thought, it occurs to me that one could make an argument that the Reds have never assembled a front office in the free agency era that has effectively dealt with the realities that change brought. They have always seemed reactive, rather than proactive and while some succeeded in certain areas – Marge was willing to spend on the big club and her teams might have won more if she hadn’t stuck a lying scumbag in thrall to his bookies in the manager’s office – none has really been competent in all the areas required to keep an organization competitive without the power of the reserve clause.)

  13. I wouldn’t even call “THE TRADE” an unmitigated disaster.

    Why on earth not? It failed miserably at its intended purpose – to make the bullpen better for the 2006 stretch run. And if it didn’t succeed at that, in what way can it be termed a success?

    If it had succeeded, one might be able to say that Krivsky overpaid but the value returned ( a better bullpen, possibly winning the NL central) was worth it. Without that, you left trying to demonstrate how two middle relievers compensate for the loss of two everyday offensive contributors. Even that relies on the hope that Majewski and Bray will overcome their injuries and become better than league average out of the pen. And they both have to to even come close to justifying the loss of Lopez and Kearns. (Then of course, there’s the idea that Royce was an “upgrade” over Felipe.)

    I’ve not heard anyone who opposed the trade advance the idea that Kearns and Lopez were untouchable. Just that when you trade your starting SS and RF you ought to get, you know, something of equal value back.

  14. I wouldn’t even call “THE TRADE” an unmitigated disaster. We aren’t even a year into it. Right now it was nothing for nothing. The Reds have surely gotten nothing out of it. The Nationals have 2 everyday players, filling both an infield and outfield gap.

    Both teams would be the same trade or no trade. How does the impact to the Nationals have any bearing on whether it was a good deal for the Reds? The Nationals were and still are more than two players away from substantially changing their record.

    We have no idea how 2006 would have turned out for the Reds without that deal.

  15. …I’ve responded to some of the points mentioned above in my blog’s comments, so I won’t repeat myself here.

    I will just say though, regardless of what issues folks may take with my methodology, even my analysis indicates that The Trade was an unmitigated disaster, costing the Reds at least three marginal wins since it happened. And that’s with Lopez and Kearns hitting terribly since the trade. I’d expect at least one of those two to be much better by season’s end, so it’s likely to just keep looking worse and worse.
    -j

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Category

2007 Reds, Reds - General