08/03/2015

Last Gasps

If they stick around long enough, baseball general managers tend to get reputations. Jim “Ralph” Bowden would chase a five tool prospect for years. Wayne Krivsky never met a two-year contract extension he didn’t like. Billy Beane’s approach was detailed in Moneyball, while Brian Sabean is perceived to put more emphasis on scouting and intangibles.  The reality is never this simple, but the reputations persist.

In Cincinnati, Walt Jocketty is known — criticized, really — for a few perceived quirks. Namely, that he has too much love for ex-Cardinals and a soft spot for past-their-prime utilitymen. The result: The Reds great core of talent has been surrounded by anemic, inflexible benches. It feels like every year, some former Cardinal puts up a stinker of a season for the Reds, and is never seen in the majors again. But is that perception true?

I looked at the six Reds rosters primarly crafted by Jocketty (2010-15). (He was hired in late April 2008.) Specifically, I looked for players (1) who Jocketty either brought to the Reds or re-signed at age 30 or older, and (2) never played a game for another team after leaving the Reds.

Pitching coach Jeff Pico and Jason Marquis Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar)

I found 16 different players that fit the mold. This includes this year’s crop of five(!) generally-underwhelming veteran acquisitions, some of whom are highly likely to play again (Byrd and Badenhop, anyway). (I skipped organizational filler guys who were called up mid-season, like Corky Miller, Kevin Barker, or Jason Bourgeois. Every GM has to use fringy replacement-level guys throughout the season, and such guys have a strong likelihood of never making it back to the bigs.)

These are actual veteran players who ended their careers with the Reds.

  • 2010: Jim Edmonds, Mike Lincoln (both hurt for NLDS)
  • 2011: Edgar Renteria
  • 2012: Willie Harris, Wilson Valdez, Miguel Cairo, Scott Rolen (Combined 4 for 19, 2 Errors in the NLDS)
  • 2013: Cesar Izturis (DNP for Wild Card game)
  • 2014: Jack Hannahan, Ramon Santiago, Ryan Ludwick
  • *2015: Kevin Gregg, Jason Marquis, Brennan Boesch, Skip Schumaker, Marlon Byrd

The list won’t call back many fond memories for Reds fans, but the sheer magnitude of mis-allocated playing time and money is staggering. In their final seasons, these 16 guys combined for a bWAR of -6.1, at an average cost of $2.88M. Only two hitters were above average in OPS+ (Byrd (at 102 through July 29) and Edmonds (in only 32 PAs). Amazingly, Jason Marquis (ERA+ 59) was the most effective pitcher in the group.  Eleven of the 16 had negative bWAR, and the “best” season was Renteria’s 0.7 bWAR. Oh, and 10 of the 16 were former Cardinals.

Rolen is obviously a special case, and Edmonds was a reasonable, if failed pennant race pickup in 2010. A few of these other guys were very good acquisitions to begin with — Lincoln, Ludwick, and even Cairo. The problem came when Jocketty doubled down and signed each to a two-year contract extension. But others were obvious misfires on the day they were announced — Izturis, Hannahan, Harris, Marquis, Gregg.

Let’s be clear:  These were all very good major league baseball players, with long, successful careers. The point is just that Walt Jocketty either acquired, or kept them for (at least) a year too long.

And Jocketty’s record isn’t 100% horrible, either. He let others pay the final(?) contracts for Bronson Arroyo, Alfredo Simon, Arthur Rhodes, Francisco Cordero, and David Weathers. Orlando Cabrera (2010: 537 PA, $2M, -.06 bWAR) isn’t on this list because the Cleveland Indians inexplicably signed him to be even worse the following year. Walt recognized when Ryan Freel had nothing left in the tank, got Ramon Hernandez for him.  Then he moved Hernandez at a similar point, and later moved Ryan Hanigan out when he got more expensive.

While the numbers look pretty awful, they’re hard to really analyze in a vacuum. We don’t know what a similar chart would look like for other teams.

Some things we know are true: Most clubs like veterans for their bench roles. Most players are pretty lousy in their last season (it wouldn’t be their last season if they played well). But it’s hard to avoid the simple fact that every year since 2011, Jocketty has brought in a new older veteran utility man. These guys were being counted on to deliver significant contributions to a contending club, and every single one of them was a complete flameout. Not just bad. Not just “negative WAR” bad. But “can’t get another job in baseball” bad. And thanks to Walt’s other perceived weakness — a stand-pat approach to the trade deadline — each of these guys had their struggles magnified during pennant races.

Here’s the data (final salaries include buyouts, where applicable):

LastGasps

* All stats through July 29, 2015.

Join the conversation! 113 Comments

  1. Bring up Willie Harris again, and I will punch you in the face.

    We gotta get him going!

  2. Interesting. My assessment is that teams under his GM leadership have won 9 NL Central titles, 2 NL pennants, and 1 WS title in about 12 NL playoff appearances.

    Those teams before he became GM generally sucked. The Cardinals were mediocre for about 10 years and the Reds were similar for 15 years.

    • You keep saying that but that was 9 years ago. The game has changed. Phil Jackson was great once too. If you truly believe Jocketty is the best the Reds can do..TODAY…than we can agree to disagree.

      • I think they were all reasonable MiLB FA signings. None cost a dime to acquire.

        Schumaker was signed in 2013. Good FA signing. Severe should injury in spring training 2014 cost him many of his skills. Leads MLB in Most PH in 2015.

        Jocketty is a successful GM, way more so than anyone posting here ESPECIALLY me.

        • I wish they didn’t cost a dime. Those players combined cost $10 million in major league payroll. Some didn’t cost anything to SIGN, but Parra and Schumaker did ($6 million this year). The rest of those players got a guaranteed contract when they made the major league team. I can’t tell if you’re just unaware of that or deliberately trying to be misleading.

          Schumaker has been one of the worst major league players in the game the past two seasons and was in severe decline when signed. Injuries are part of the risk of signing older, declining players. So you can’t exonerate Jocketty’s judgment by citing his injury. That’s not unforeseeable as the GM.

          Jocketty WAS a successful GM. He did a terrible job with the 2011 and 2013 team, which imploded and his 2014 and 2015 teams will have losing records. That’s the bottom line. More than half his teams with the Reds have had losing records.

    • What is your assessment of Jocketty’s choices of Marquis, Gregg, Boesch, Parra, Schumaker and Dominguez this year? That’s over 25% of the major league roster.

      Is it your opinion that people, once successful at their jobs, never lose their edge?

      The Cardinals haven’t exactly fallen off a cliff since they pushed Jocketty out because he resisted modernizing their thinking.

      • This link that Nick Carrington posted in your article today Steve, is extremely telling IMO- great read for BB but other teams/sports I follow as well.

        http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12331388/the-great-analytics-rankings

      • I agree in every way, shape and form with you Steve. Excellent post.

      • You are indeed right about that!

      • OTOH one could say that Jocketty left the Cardinals in good shape for his predecessor.

        That’s what is often said here about Krivsky.

        Where is Krivsky GM now? I don’t follow them after they leave Reds.

        • One could say that if they had no idea about the Cardinals and wanted to argue for Walt Jocketty just for the sake of arguing.

        • Steve, you know as well as I that Krivsky is often used here at RLN to pooh-pooh Walt’s success with the Reds. His fingerprints were on the Cardinals roster well after he was pushed out.

          • If you can point to specific players in St. Louis that Walt brought in that are the equivalent of Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Cueto, Bailey, Frazier, Cozart and Mesoraco, then you have a point. I’m sure there are a couple (although it has been since 2007). And it’s well-known that St. Louis revamped their system since Walt was forced to leave.

          • I think it’s fair to say that the Cardinals World Series championship in 2011 had a lot of Walt Jocketty’s players on that team. Fewer in 2013, even fewer today. Wainwright (who has been out all year) and Molina are the only ones. By the way, Jocketty’s last team in St. Louis had these names on its roster: Miguel Cairo, Aaron Miles, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker. I guess Jason Marquis had left by then.

        • You’ve named a few already, but Walt’s last St. Louis team had: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Adam Kennedy, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, and Ryan Ludwick, That’s a better core than the Reds had when he arrived. We can ridicule Walt for bringing a lot of those guys to the Reds once they were past their prime, but there’s a reason they won the World Series in 2006 and all those division titles.

          Pujols>Votto
          Molina>Mesoraco
          Carpenter>Cueto
          Rolen>Frazier
          Kennedy>Cozart
          Wainwright>Bailey
          Edmonds=Bruce

          Phillips>Whatever

        • Cherry pick the chumps all you want.

        • Krivsky has been back in Minnesota as a Special Assistant to the GM since 2011. He was also in that role for the Mets for a few years after the Reds fired him.

      • Para and Schumaker have not been that bad this season considering one is a bench player and the other is a middle reliever. … No major issue with Dominguez either here. I know none of them have been great but what do you expect from a mid market team. Super bench plus the best bullpen in the league. Not going to happen here in Cncy.

        Yeah the Cardinals scouting staff is a bunch of cheaters hacking into the Astros system. Outside St. Louis that team took a bit of a slap in the face for that and respect for the team has to be down knowing they were cheating.

    • Good point, but when you have the astros, cubs, and the pirates have better farm systems than you and you have basically produced nothing, what you did in the past means nothing.

      • The hatred for Walt Jocketty (here and elsewhere) is mind boggling. The Reds have SUCKED since the 1990’s EXCEPT for 2010, 2012, and 2013. Jocketty deserves credit for that.

        He was named GM of the Year in 2010. Guess those who chose him didn’t know their modern baseball.

        • You’ve said the same thing about a hundred times. I think the reason you aren’t winning any converts to your viewpoint is that people generally discount the role Jocketty played in the 2010 and 2011 teams because the core of those teams was drafted/developed/acquired by a different GM. Jocketty does deserve credit for the Rolen and Latos trades and they were important. But that might be 5% of what went into winning those years. You can’t really use 2013 to make your case because Jocketty was a complete failure at helping the team at the deadline. They faded and he didn’t do anything. That team should have done better than they did – just the play-in game which I don’t even count as the postseason. Baseball has changed so quickly in the last five years that it’s possible he was an effective GM in 2010 and an out-of-date one now. The change has really been that revolutionary.

        • Not a fan of Jocketty’s. I agree with Tom more often than Steve so count me as one convert. Jocketty isn’t a great manager but you tell me Steve who is going to come to Cincinnati, rather, who would come to Cincinnati? It isn’t like Cincy is that attractive of a place for a top tier GM to come to. You have he lovely weather of the west coast teams, the south, and you have the mega dollars of he north east. What does Cincy have to offer? Poor compensation, rain every other day, and ice cold winters.

          • This is silly. First of all, you don’t have to hire an existing GM. Assistant GMs would see the Cincinnati job as a promotion and attractive. Plenty of good GMs don’t work in the places you mention, like the ones in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago.

            Finally, didn’t Walt Jocketty, one of the top GMs in the sport at the time, come to Cincinnati?

        • Beating a dead horse Tom. The Reds have had plenty of ownership issues that prevented them from sustaining success. Castellini came in & has made some good headway in rebuilding the franchise. No one is saying Jocketty hasn’t had a successful career but like a lot of folks in sports & business, times & systems change and some folks don’t adapt. To say no one would better would come to Cincy as GM is ludicrous.
          If NOTHING else, it’s time to make changes to see if the franchise can get back to October. What can it hurt at this point?

        • If Jocketty is a good GM because the Reds won with a core that he didn’t build, then Ruben Amaro is a great GM because the Phillies won a lot from 2009-2011 with a core he didn’t build.

          Even though Amaro is almost universally panned as one of the worst GMs around and the Phillies have tumbled into a disoriented franchise, he won with somebody else’s core. He is amazing.

          That’s illogical.

        • I’m a Cincinnati native and UC grad so I understand the subtle charms of the city, but let’s be realistic. Cincinnati is no San Diego, Seattle, LA, SF, or Denver. I’d even take Phoenix over 50 years of I-75 construction.

          Some sportswriter once called GABP, “Pretty Good American Ball Park.” That’s a fair assessment of the whole franchise. It’s pretty good and Walt is a pretty good GM. The Reds are going to have to catch lightning in a bottle with a brilliant, undiscovered assistant GM or find a talented native who is dying to come home (like Urban Meyer at OSU) to really do better. I feel like a number of posters are down on Walt because of his age which is patently unfair in my book. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s done a good job with the Reds on balance.

        • You forgot 92, would probably been in the playoffs except the stupid strike happened. and 95 they went to the NLCS.

        • No dusty deserves credit for taking a bunch of underachieving players and making them believe in themselves. I’m not tired of Walt getting credit for half doing his job. Never believed in a strong bench. Never.

    • Sometimes you luck into Albert Pujols. It happens.

      Sometimes the GM before you assembles Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Johnny Cueto. It happens.

      Jocketty was not wanted in StL because he was no good. He was kindly told to leave (in my estimation) because of player development differences.

      You can’t defend a guy who gives Skip Schumaker a multi-year deal. You can’t do it.

  3. This goes hand in hand with Steve’s article. I was a little shocked the former Card’s players were only 59%. LOL

  4. I’d be willing to wager that Marlon Byrd plays another year. Hopefully just not with the Reds.

  5. A smart man said only teams with good a good bench and bullpen wins games.

    This is a great article.Thanks.

  6. Cmon Walt…..call up LA and make a deal for Jose Tabata. Pittsburgh wasn’t going to trade him to us but LA might? A .275 career hitter (.336 obp) and he’s still mid 20s I think? This infielder with power that we got for Leake might help too? That’s the kind of shot Walt needs to take instead of True Grit, Edgar Renteria, Jim Edmonds, etc. Brendan Boesch actually wasn’t a bad roll of the dice….most prob won’t work out but they should know washed up garbage like Jason Marquis isn’t going to pan out?

    • I’ve always liked Tabata. There are some character questions but nothing I’ve heard that’s too major to not take a risk. The question is what would it take to get the deal done?

  7. I just fail to see why someone better than Walt would take this job. Walt is the best of a list of not good GMs. Cook, Bowden, Obrien and Krivsky are all sad names to recall. They were bad GMs and next there is no proof the next GM will be good. I just don’t think the reds are a good job for a good GM to take job.

    • Now this news here is oh so sad and yet to the heart of the matter. What good GM would be enticed to play for Cincy? It is also why many players won’t stick around for home town discounts.

      • But the Astros was a plum job? Not that many GM jobs available that you couldn’t get a guy to come in with the promise they could makeover the front office.

      • I find this argument incredibly odd…there are only 30 of these gigs period. Any single person who wants a job and does not have that job would take an opening…whether it’s where GMs go to die in BEAutiful Miami or lowly Cincy…

        You’re telling me a David Stearns or a Dan Kantrovitz would turn down a chance to try his hand as the big dog because it is Over the Rhine? Same for players?

        What you’re describing is reactive to the culture which currently DOES exist under this regime….but wouldn’t have to with small tweaks (i.e. Dave Martinez and an analytics GM as above right now…)

        • I say no to Martnez. I don’t want a cub managing the reds. And an assistant GM form the Astros or As that is just awesome.

    • Reds have had two really good GM in my lifetime (born 1951).

      Bill Dewitt and Bob Howsam. That’s it.

      Jim (Shiny Pants) Bowden is the worst of them.

    • Plenty of hungry, young assistant general managers are available who would love the chance to be a GM. That’s a promotion for all of them. There are dozens of those types of candidates.

      • Steve then you are hiring a potential disaster like AJ Preller. Hungry and young can be terrible

        • Pretty quick to judge Preller, huh? Based on one-half of a season?

        • True, the only questionable signing was Kemp. Padres have a better record than the WJ compiled Reds. Would that make WJ old, not hungry, and really terrible?

        • We’ll see with Preller. He still looks like a baseball card collector at the moment.

        • Preller may turn out to be a genius, but I don’t see any argument that his first season was anything but a disaster. He gutted a decent farm to build a team that didnt fit together. Three power hitting corner OF in a park that saps power; no centerfielder to speak of. Horrible infielders. Complete disregard of defense, from OF to infield to catcher, in a park where every run is valuable.

          Maybe they go on a run and make the playoffs. But, really, the Myers trade was the only move I liked.

        • Even if Preller turns out to be a disaster, does that mean that the Reds should avoid hiring an assistant GM? There are lots of examples of it working and not working. The Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates have all bought in to new information and are thriving. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Reds fans to desire the same kind of front office.

    • I can’t claim to know what a good GM candidate is looking for in a job, but I’m pretty certain that it would vary from person to person. Cincinnati has a reasonable payroll, some excellent players on the roster, a farm system with considerable talent (mostly pitching, but talent nonetheless), and a storied tradition. Depending upon your taste in weather, the winters are not as bad as the winters in New York, Boston, Chicago, Minnesota(!), and the state of Ohio is not on fire and short of water.

    • Any aspiring scout, assistant GM, executive of lower level team would fall all over themselves to be an MLB GM, no matter if it was Los Angeles or Nome, Alaska.

      The argument that “Cincinnati isn’t attractive” is so silly it boggles the mind. So you think some assistant GM or a GM of a AAA team or such would simply say no if the Cincy job was open? LOL, yeah right.

      I agree with Steve on this, but even moreso. ANY MLB GM job is VERY attractive and there are only a couple that open up each year. If some young gun only likes New York, he might have to wait 30 or 40 years (behind others when the job opens) just to be an MLB GM. I am sorry, but 95% of aspiring General Managers would run, not walk, to an interview with Castellini if Jocketty were canned or resigned.

  8. “Wayne Krivsky never met a two-year contract extension he didn’t like”

    Walt’s no slouch in the two year contract arena:

    Rolen, Cairo, Ludwick, Parra, Hannahan, Ondrusek and probably some others who I do not have the inclination to research.

  9. I hate to use the word ridiculous, but it is ridiculous that any MLB assistant GM or unemployed GM would not put their name en segida in the running as a GM candidate for the Reds. The weather and location in ‘fly-over country has nothing to do with it. Their are only 30 of those choice jobs around.

    • The Walt apologists have really reached rock bottom arguing that because of the weather in Cincinnati the Reds should keep him.

      • One of many Steve. Just my opinion sir as you have yours I can have mine. The place is career suicide for anyone with grand ambition. We got Jocketty because he was and still is the best that we can do. Name me one GM Steve with any experience that would come to Cincinnati that is better than Walt Jocketty. Not a person who has never GM’d but someone with real experience.
        Cashman….
        Epstein….
        Beane…
        Crickets would be heard on the other end of the phone just before the click.

        • Vanessa: My recollection is that Epstein left Boston to take the Cubs job. Bad weather in both of those places, if we’re really pursuing that silly line of reasoning. And the Cubs were the laughingstock of baseball, as dead end as it gets.

        • Hilarious that the strongest argument being made by the defenders of Jocketty is that no one else would take the job.

          I couldn’t care less that we get a current GM. I’ve said that a half dozen times. A top assistant GM from an analytics-based organization would be a vast improvement.

          My question to you (which you didn’t answer) was this: if Cincinnati is such a bad job, why did Walt Jocketty, one of the best GMs in the business, come here? What a ridiculous standard in your question – if the GMs of the Yankees, Cubs or A’s wouldn’t come to Cincinnati, no one would.

        • What a silly argument. All of those men were at one point first time GMs, no? And their teams – historically successful ones, at that – were willing to give them a shot at the GM gig with no prior GM expereience.

          Cashman worked his way up from an intern with the Yankees.
          Epstein went from the Padres (where he was director of baseball ops) to the Red Sox with Larry Lucchino.
          Beane, obviously a former player, worked as a scout and assistant GM under Sandy Alderson with the A’s before being promoted to GM.

          Were the Yankees, Red Sox, and A’s using some sort of voodoo knowledge that led them to believe they would be successful with no prior GM experience? Of course not. They articulated a strategy and were given the support of ownership to execute it. If anything, a smaller market team like the Reds (comparatively working with more limited resources) should be willing to take an informed risk on a young, hungry assistant GM who understands today’s game.

        • I can’t reply directly but it has been said on this website before that Jocketty has some form of personal relationship with Castellini and just maybe that is why he took the job. I’m not a fan of Jocketty don’t get me wrong, but it is the best this team can do.

        • I just can’t buy, or even tolerate the notion that the job is so undesirable that Walt is the “best they can do.” What a terribly self limiting and absurd way to think about it. Nobody with some fresh ideas would like to be the architect of the “Big Red Machine 2.0?”

          Having a “name” is not the same thing as having the requisite skills and ideas. Unless there is some sort of toxic mix (e.g., Cleveland Browns front office/ownership), I can’t believe good, strong minds would pass on the job.

          What might be a lot more true than location is that those with bright, analytically oriented approaches find it unsupported by ownership. In that case, it’s not Cincy’s location and weather that’s the problem, it’s just a localized fog sitting on top of the Red’s home office.

        • Being the architect of big red machine 2.0? No assistant GM would care one thing about that. That is irrelevant. There are better cities for these GMs to want to work. If reds are a good lace to work why have all their GMs been bad since 76? Cook, Quinn Bowden Obrien Krivsky and Walt are all lacking. Next GM is likely to be as bad also. Just he will be bad but with an analytics mind

    • EXACTLY Tom. Only 30 jobs and only a few that come open. There are THOUSANDS that would frame their own mother to get a shot at a GM position in MLB.

      Some here act like only a couple of candidates and they can simply choose from 20 openings and the Reds wouldn’t make the list. Think about that for minute, how silly the arguments are…GM jobs are gold, this is not a toll-booth attendant or full-service gas station lackey.

  10. Just took a peak and see we are discussing Walt and his tenure as the Reds general manager.So just let me add my two cents.The core was here when he got here and they are still here and we will have our second straight losing season.The core has their strengths and weaknesses but the lack of bench players and our bullpen being the worst in the majors is on Walt.Last season was on him and so is this one and I see the same thing next year.Chris said it best Walt’s acquisitions are not only bad but they are so bad nobody else wanted them.

  11. As bad of a GM as AJ Preller is, he would never have taken reds job last year over Padres. In my opinion the reds job is a bad one, or else they would have had one good GM since mid 70s. Walt is just ok and he is far better than his predessors starting with Murray Cook

    • And yes I am judging Preller after only half a season, I think he is poor but no way he would have loved at reds job.

    • Money talks. The Reds could have gotten Preller and in fact could get just about whomever they want. They just MIGHT have to pay premium. The argument that nobody would want the Reds’ GM job is very flawed. Why would anyone want to go to Cleveland then? Minnesota? Kansas City? St. Louis? Milwaukee? Detroit? Pittsburgh?

  12. The more complaining I here about Jocketty the more I am starting to like him. I think he has done a great job! Look at our farm system. Maybe he picked up the low budget free agent players because that is all we could get?

    It is no wonder free agents don’t come to Cincy when they have other areas that will compensate them better. Just like I mentioned above with a great GM we will never have. We will never again sign a top free agent or a top baseball professional. We will have to make to with picking pieces off of the scrap heap and making em work. That is part of what makes the Reds a great team. It is easy to cheer for St. Louis, New York, L.A., Boston. They have an endless supply of money and an endless supply of players that are yelling in their agents ear to get them to one of those luxury cities. Cincy is not a destination where the ultra elite come to play. That is why we paid Votto, Phillips, Bailey what we did. It is the only way we could have kept them in town.

    We will all agree to disagree and we all have our prejudices as well as our favorite stats to back it up with. Don’t like Jocketty not one bit. His working from home during the trading deadlines seriously rubbed me the wrong way. With that said, I think he is the best that we can do.

    • You do realize that Chris Buckley and his team do the overwhelming majority of the draft work right? Like 95% +. Walt has very miniscule input/involvement with the draft, therefore isn’t anywhere near responsible for the farm. Also, BUckley has been running the draft since 05 or 06….. well before Walt was even a blip on the Reds radar.

      Also, it’s nearly impossible to grade GM’s in a vacuum. You also have to look at what ownership is in place at the time. Lindner was about as cheap as they come (just for example).

      You keep asking about GM’s with experience coming to Cincinnati and I can answer that one pretty easily. If they are a GM with experience and they are good, there is no way in heck that their current team would let them leave. It just doesn’t work that way. It has nothing to do with opinions, but rather the facts and how baseball works (from an operations standpoint).

    • Please don’t use derogatory versions of people’s names. Aside from being juvenile, it violates the commenting guidelines of this site.

    • Vanessa, I think you are Walt jocketty.

    • What in the world? St Louis is a “luxury city”? I’m guessing you have never been to St Louis! The reason players want to go to St Louis is because the Cards have a reputation for winning. That’s it.

      The idea that the Reds can’t get players or GM’s because it’s not a trendy, exciting city with great weather is absurd. These guys aren’t tourists! Most of them live somewhere else in the off season. And for half of the six month season, they are on the road. When they are in their home teams city, they are usually at the ballpark. It’s not like they have loads of free time and are looking for a city with exciting things to do. They are there to work and earn money.

      I really love how in your first paragraph you say about Jocketty “the more I am starting to like him. I think he has done a great job.” Then in your last paragraph you say “Don’t like Jocketty not one bit.” What?

    • Then why would someone root for the Reds even? Sounds like we don’t have a chance. Why bother with baseball at all? Also, sometimes I think you have some very valid points but did you just call St. Louis a “luxury city”? Why?

  13. Who says we have to have a GM with experience? My Indianapolis Colts hired a guy in his 30s at the time in Ryan Grigson and under him they’ve made the playoffs and advanced a little further every year (Andrew Luck doesn’t hurt of course). Who was Theo Epstein before the Red Sox hired him. Another thing….no more Billy Beane please! What has he ever won? Earlier this year he gave Josh Donaldson away for a bag of peanuts to Toronto.

  14. I think the best you can say about Walt is that at least he realized what he had when he came in and didn’t mess it up. He could have seen all these young guys in their pre arb years and all the hitters on the farm and said” I am .gonna use some of these prospects to go get me some veterans and win now.” But he didn’t, and for that I am grateful.

    He just didn’t do enough to add to the core talent. He’s been absolutely abysmal in free agency. And as this post shows, his obsession with scrubby, old.bench players has cost the Reds wins in seasons where every win counted.

  15. I wish I could find Jocketty’s comment this winter before the Winter Meetings so I could quote him word for word. I just couldn’t find it. Regarding obtaining offense and hitters, Jocketty was quoted as saying something to the effect that the Reds were going to concentrate on getting high on-base percentage hitters and also hitters that didn’t strike out as much.
    If that was the plan, why did Jocketty deviate from the plan so drastically since that statement? The only offense obtained by Jocketty that fit this was Suarez, who really didn’t have a high OBP with Detroit. But how do obtaining or signing Byrd, Boesch, Dominguez, and the player obtained in the Leake trade fit anywhere in the template that Jocketty set forth?
    Why has Jocketty failed so miserably at achieving that organizational goal? If, that was the goal to begin with, which I highly doubt now. Just more Jocketty talk and little to no actions.
    Why was no leadoff hitter obtained with respectable OBP? The offensive weaknesses have remained for years under Jocketty and they remain the same. Weak leadoff hitter, weak bench, weak OBP from 1/2 of the lineup, and high K rates.
    Now throw in the dismantling of the starting rotation and we’re left with the mediocrity that Jocketty is so comfortable to surround himself in.

    • I was pleasantly shocked to hear him say that at the time. Walt as the GM of the Reds makes me feel like I am in an emotionally abusive relationship. I love the Reds. I can’t leave them. However, they make me cry on the inside.

    • The thing is, he did sign some guys who fit that mold, most notably Satin and DeJesus. But then he gave the roster spots to guys like Boesch,.Dominguez, and Skip.

      As for the plate discipline and.contact.issues, it appears there has been an organizational change or emphasis. Every single starter, if you count Pena as the starting catcher, has lowered their k rate this year. Guys like Bruce, Billy, and Frazier have lowered it by more than 4 percentage points. The Reds as a team have been well above average in avoiding strikeouts. A.couple guys, like Bruce, Cozart, and.Pena have raised their walk rates. Frazier was showing an increased walk rate through the first two months until he decided to start hacking at everything.

      Overall, though, plate discipline is much improved and hasn’t been the issue this year. What has hurt the Reds has been BABIP, which is the second lowest.in the NL.

      • You are right, in-house there has been some improvement in the K rate and BB rate. We probably should give credit where it is due, the hitting coach, Dale Long. I too have noticed a marked improvement with some of the Reds hitters this year over the Dusty/Jacoby days of the hack attack.
        But with Jocketty bringing players in, it is a different story. I agree with you on Josh Satin, but he is the exception rather than the rule. He should have been on the roster before Chris Dominguez, but Satin was hurt most of the time when Dominguez was on the roster and when De Jesus was called up. Timing was critical there. Getting guys like Satin and De Jesus on minor league contracts is most likely the easiest job a GM has.
        Jocketty might be OK at building a 15 man roster, but wow, he leaves a lot to be desired on building a complete 25 man roster.
        Many baseball analysts say building a bench and a bullpen are two of the easiest tasks to do to build a 25 man roster. And Jocketty stinks like a sewer plant on both these accounts.

  16. FanGraphs had a community vote to rate all the MLB front offices. There were 1,107 votes tallied regarding the Reds front office. The results are as follows:

    Very Good – 0%
    Pretty Good – 3%
    Average – 36%
    Pretty Bad – 50%
    Very Bad – 9%

    That’s right. Over 1,100 people voted and not a single one thought the Reds front office was very good. If you think Walt is an above average GM, welcome to the 3 percent.

    • Yes Walt is not above average, just no above average GM candidate will take Reds job. Reds job is a bad job and Cincinnati is viewed as a blah place to live to people outside Ohio. Assistant GMs would wait for better jobs. Not a bottom ten job

      • 100% opinion. Please provide evidence for any of these assertions.

      • We are talking about a General Manager position of a Major League Baseball team. We aren’t talking about a parking attendant, cashier, or postal worker position. Do you think that an individual that lives baseball, breathes baseball, and can only hope to reach such a lofty position in an organization would turn down possibly his/her only opportunity…because the city is and I quote “a blah place to live?”

        • Exactly–You don’t want to live in Cincinnati so you forfeit 1 out of 30 possible jobs, with real probablity of about 1 in 5 openings annually. Yep makes a ton of sense when you winter in Phoenix, are on the road 50% of the time to “meccas” like Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, and would actually have the potential “keys to the kingdom” to reshape the Reds into a 21st century front office. Nope any fool would clearly pass that up because Cincy is “blah”…. SMH.

        • I think people are talking past each other a bit with these arguments. You are correct. If some assistant GM—or recently fired GM—wants a MLB GM job and the Cincinnati job comes open, they’ll take it. It’s a no brainer. If they are a proven GM with multiple offers on the table, then what does Cincinnati have to offer?

          There is no night life. Restaurants are poor unless you love chains. The weather stinks except for about two weeks in the spring and a month in the fall. The forecast calls for haze. Allergy season is year round. I-75/I-71 construction never ends. OTR is a war zone. The Reds ownership group takes an active role (allegedly) in personnel decisions. There is money to spend to develop players, but not to keep more than one or two of them once they hit free agency. Signing a market value veteran with some tread on the tire is a pipe dream. Thom Brennaman is your top TV guy. Marty is your top radio guy. Both are untouchable. The general fan base gets its baseball opinions from WLW and is still scarred from the breakup of the BRM.

          On the other hand, the scouting department does a fine job with a proven track record. The fans are passionate. The stadium’s dimensions should theoretically prove attractive to free agent hitters (but not pitchers). The editors at RLN know their way around a spreadsheet and offer keen, numbers-based insight with the information they can glean from public sources. Joe Morgan can hook you up with a Honda. Cost of living is reasonable, but what does that mean to a multi-millionaire?

          IMO, Walt took this job to stay in baseball after his ignominious ouster in St. Louis and out of personal loyalty to Big Bob. Plus, he had to see that the Reds had a good core group of young talent that just needed to be taught how to win. Unfortunately, what worked for him in St. Louis—adding the best players available for money or prospects at the trade deadline—wasn’t feasible in Cincinnati. It’s draft or bust plus FA dumpster diving.

          • I don’t live downtown, but anyone who says the restaurants in Cincinnati are poor unless you love chains doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Referring to the OTR as a war zone is an unfounded stereotype.

            The one factor you didn’t mention, and it’s the most important, is money. No one has mentioned it. If you’re willing to pay an established GM enough money – like Castellini did with Dusty Baker – an established person will come. The city has little to do with the job. You spend all those pixels on reasons no one will take a job, yet you conceded in your first paragraph that an assistant GM or recently fired GM would take it. You call that a no brainer. Well, I’d be satisfied with that.

        • If someone was willing to take the Astros job and rebuild, someone is willing to come to Cincy. Ditto Pittsburgh.

          Also, let’s be honest. Outside of the fans of a specific team, nobody but the most hardcore baseball fans could even NAME a GM of another team. Epstein and Cashman are probably the exceptions, and that is due to exceptional circumstances of the media scope of their teams, and in particular, ending the Boston drought for Epstein. Otherwise, without looking, name the GM of every WS winning team in the 90’s. Not happening.

          Point being… I find it hard to believe someone is taking a GM job to be well known and adored by the public at large. You’re only going to get noticed at all if you win big, and you are probably willing to do that anywhere.

        • A proven GM may want the challenge of rebuilding the Big Red Machine. They may have ties to Mid-west. They may like the slower pace of Cincy vs. larger city. The real issue is not Cincinnati the city, but Bob Castellini the owner. What will he be willing to offer, provide, let GM run with? There are many reasons people accept positions, not all evident to the beholder. I cannot fathom that the Cincinnati Reds job is so horrible it cannot attract talent because of the city.

      • Dombrowski – above average and very well respected took the DETROIT job (which is where I live) and rebuilt that team and in many ways has helped the City rebuild. Cincinnati has been much better off than Detroit so why would someone like Dombrowski take the Detroit Job and no one above average would want to work and rebuild the Reds when they have the history of the Big Red Machine. Complete Nonsense.

        • Steve, I’d honestly love some good Cincinnati restaurant recommendations. I’m in town frequently to visit my family and we struggle to find places. The last place that I went was Zips in Hyde Park for “the best cheeseburger in town” and it was pretty darn average. The German places range from horrible (Wertheim’s in Covington) to okay (Hofbräuhaus in Newport).

          You are missing my point about GMs—if someone has a choice, there are lots of reasons to choose someplace else besides Cincinnati. This whole discussion isn’t about finding a GM, it’s about finding an excellent GM. If the only avenue is the assistant GM route, then so be it. You are helping prove my point though. The Cubs didn’t have to give Theo his first GM job, they plucked him away from Boston.

          • Boca in the old Maisonette space. Sotto downstairs from Boca. The Precinct or Jeff Ruby’s for steaks. The Palace or Orchids. The Table by Jean Robert (former chef at the Maisonette). Those are fine dining. Then there’s the Vine Street (OTR) strip of hot restaurants: Bakersfield (Mexican), Eagle Tavern (fried chicken), A Tavola (Italian), Abagail Street (Mediterranean), Senate (fancy hot dogs and bar food), Nada (upscale Mexican). Another great Mexican place is Django Taco in Northside. I haven’t been to Salazar yet, but heard great things. Belgium Waffle. And then Graeter’s for dessert. Bouquet for Covington. Eli’s for BBQ. None of those are chains. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting.

            The one time I was at Zips it was awful. It isn’t in Hyde Park. Maybe you are thinking of Arnold’s (another high-rep burger joint) that is in Hyde Park.

            If you haven’t done even basic internet searches to learn about these places, you shouldn’t be saying how bad the restaurants are. Fair enough?

        • Cincinnati isn’t perfect, but you can’t knock its food:[http://experience.usatoday.com/food-and-wine/story/best-of-food-and-wine/2014/03/11/small-cities-big-food-scenes/6187081/] [http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/07/08/5-places-to-eat-incredibly-well-in-cincinnati-ohio/#%2F_=_]

          The city has phenomenal restaurant choices these days, and a thriving scene to go with it. Head to OTR, start at 12th and Vine, and walk up the street. Sample at Senate, Abigail Street, The Eagle – walk over a block to Salazar and Zula. High end? Love Boca, Sotto, Orchids, or a couple blocks across the river at Bouquet. Want a great big burger near Hyde Park – go to Terry’s Turf Club or Wurst Bar. It’s easy to impress out of town guests these days for business or pleasure. And the Reds can recruit a GM no problem: Bob C’s passion, the operations side’s excellence, and a good meal can seal the deal with someone good.

        • Had to get that dig in there at the end didn’t you. I don’t trust everything I read on the Internet. 🙂

          I’ll try some of those, thank you. I’ve been to Nada for lunch and it’s good. My family lives out in the suburbs and my mother likes to stay out there so we end up at places like the Grand Finale (good 20 years ago) or Springdale LaRosa’s (eh). OTR is not in the cards for her.

          It was Zips. I thought that was in Hyde Park, but I was mistaken. It was pretty disappointing.

    • Everybody has an opinion. Not everybody has an informed opinion (and I include myself in this category). This is not meant in defense of WJ, but simply to question the value of polling the general public on matters that are not general knowledge. A few centuries ago, public polling would no doubt have shown overwhelming support for bleeding as a cure for most diseases. Maybe it would cure slumps, though…

  17. Would people on this site rehire Krivsky? Or someone like him. I thought he was terrible.

    Also,mi remember when this site wanted Janish to start at shortstop when it was obvious and proven that he cannot play at all

    • I wouldn’t want to rehire Krivsky but not because he was terrible. Krivsky and Jocketty are both middle of the road, okay GMs. Both did or have done some good things.

      Just as Jocketty got Latos, Rolen, and Choo, Krivsky got Bronson Arroyo, Josh Hamilton, and Brandon Phillips. But they both also made some curious moves that are hard to explain.

    • It was most certainly neither obvious nor proven that Janish couldn’t play at all. He was a fine fielder at one of the most important and demanding positions. If he had hit well but not fielded well, would you say he couldn’t play?

  18. I am not sure about plate discipline being better as a whole.I don’t know if it is measured or can be measured.I would agree that a player whose k’s are down and walks are up has made improvements.What’s puzzling to me is if we are striking out less then why would we be next to last in BABIP.Are we hitting in to bad luck or do we have bad hitters?I hear a lot about OBP being the best measure when evaluating a hitter and maybe it is.

    • My guess on that one (and its just a guess) is that GABP is so small that more balls drop in with bigger parks. Guys like Hamilton putting it in the air all the time doesn’t help either.

  19. I’ve never been to Cincinnati but was born and raised in the rust belt. Last century I graduated from, what is euphemistically called, a mid-major college.

    Recently the college has been able to attract several football coaches who have left the program better and have moved on to more prestigious colleges.

    My point is that hiring qualified people is not a problem for my college or the Reds.

  20. All I have to say is that Detroit just fired Dombrowski who has had a very successful run with Detroit. MUCH MORE successful than Walt in Cincinnati. dumb move by Detroit, would love to see Cincinnati try and get him.

    • Dombrowski was who traded Suarez and a pitching prospect for one year of Simon….

      • Dombrowski who won a title while with the Marlins and turned a struggling franchise around in a struggling city.

  21. It is kind of depressing reading all the comments about the Reds being unable to get a better GM. If a GM candidate couldn’t see the obvious potential of this historic and rich franchise than they wouldn’t be very good at the job. The Reds Organization has a ton going for it. The history and culture of the club is well liked and respected around the country. No it is not a big city club like Chicago or NY etc… However, I would not have anyone in this potentially fantastic organization that was willing to take anything less than building a Big Red Machine 2.0 The only reason it would not be an attractive position is if Reds ownership is unwilling to put in the effort or support to achieve that goal. The potential is vast. The only limitation is that which Castillini puts in place. If he stays old school then he won’t get a talented GM. No one with Top Talent wants to work in a stale environment with an antiquated business model that doesn’t embrace modern tools/data. Any new GM will be a reflection on Reds ownership and not on the city or organization.

  22. To help refute the notion that one needs to have prior GM experience, here are the teams currently leading their divisions or sitting in the two wild card slots, their GM, and whether they were previously a GM:

    AL:
    Yankees (AL East) – Cashman – No prior GM experience
    Royals (AL Central) – Dayton Moore – No prior GM experience
    Astros (AL West) – Luhnow – No prior GM experience
    Angels (WC) – vacant (was Dipoto, who has no prior experience)
    Orioles (Tied-WC) – Duquette – Yes (Expos, Red Sox)
    Blue Jays (Tied – WC) – Anthropolous – No prior GM experience
    Twins (Tied – WC) – Ryan – Yes (was GM of the Twins before)

    NL:
    Mets (NL East) – Alderson – Yes (A’s)
    Cardinals (NL Central) – Mozelak – No prior GM experience
    Dodgers (NL West) – Zaidi – No prior GM experience
    Pirates (WC) – Huntington – Yes (Indians)
    Cubs (WC) – Hoyer – Yes (Padres)

    There are 5 that had prior experience, 6 with no prior experience, and one vacant spot. Among teams just outside the playoffs, Rizzo (Nats), Daniels (Rangers), and Sabean (Giants) all came to their current GM job with no prior head GM experience previously.

    • Don’t confuse them with facts MemGrizz! The other thing that posters like Tom Gray & John Wick are not accounting for is the correlation between ownership/GMs & winning. Castellini is the first owner since Nippert to spend some money. Now you can question some of his expenditures but he’s tried to spend some money. Can’t say that about Schott & Linder—who oversaw worst run in Reds history. It is all intertwined. You pay them & they will come-new & seasoned alike.

  23. I am of the opinion we can do better then Walt as GM. What really matters is do the owners feel that way.Change can be good.I wonder what really happened in Detroit.Wasn’t this sort of a surprise?

  24. I know 99% of you won’t believe me but it’s legit. SF Giants were hot and heavy for Chapman but asking price was too high. They wanted him badly. Deal almost went down. I’ll get the names discussed soon.

  25. Also on this list should be..

    fred lewis, corey patterson, willie taveres, darnell mc donald

  26. Because Detroit is such a desirable locale? You really apparently think the Reds & Cincinnati are the scourge of the baseball & the US. Separate your feelings for Cincinnati from Castellini’s pocketbook & you’ll have your answer. IF Bob is willing to pay & provide them the keys they will come.

  27. The Reds organization is a solid one. By 2017, the Reds will sign at least a 2 BILLION dollar contract with Fox Sports Ohio. That will give any GM money to work with. Probably selective FAs but should allow the signing of Frazier and Chapman. If Frazier won’t sign a long term contract, trade him. Keep chapman, rebuild the set up guys. Remember, Mr. Castellini is the ONLY person who will make the call on Walt. All reds fans can have their opinions but it’s Bobs team.

    • The recent Cardinals deal was only 1 billion for 15 years and the Reds won’t even get that. STL market has 30% more eyeballs, higher ratings and the “brand” value has never been higher.
      Assuming the Reds get 800 million for 15 years, that works out to an average of 53 million per year. The Reds are estimated to earn 30 million per year from their current cable deal. if 53 million is the midpoint average, then the deal would start off around 40 mil with modest annual increases.

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