© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
CINCINNATI -- When former Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty -- a friend of Reds owner Bob Castellini -- was brought into Cincinnati's front office this past winter, many perceived it as a clear sign that Reds GM Wayne Krivsky's job was in jeopardy.
Few expected a change would happen this soon. But just 21 games into the 2008 season, Castellini ran out of patience and Krivsky suddenly ran out of time.
The Reds announced on Wednesday that Krivsky was out as GM and that Jocketty will take over as president of baseball operations and general manager.
"We had a lousy season last year, and we're starting this season not very well," Castellini told MLB.com. "We felt it was time for a change."
Krivsky was Castellini and the new ownership regime's first significant hire when he replaced Dan O'Brien on Feb. 8, 2006. Krivsky previously served as an assistant GM with the Twins for 11 years. He was in the last season of a three-year contract with Cincinnati.
The Reds went 80-82 in Krivsky's first season but slipped to 72-90 in 2007. This season, Cincinnati had a 9-12 record when Castellini informed Krivsky of his decision in his office on Wednesday morning.
"Completely shocked. I did not see this coming at all," a teary-eyed Krivsky said.
"He gave us 110 percent," Castellini said. "He is an outstanding baseball man, and it's difficult to lose somebody like him."
Krivsky drew praise quickly when he made shrewd acquisitions that brought in Brandon Phillips, Scott Hatteberg, Bronson Arroyo, David Ross and Josh Hamilton -- often for little or nothing in return. But other efforts to turn the team into a quick contender backfired.
The most notorious trade occurred on July 13, 2006, when the Reds sent Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals in an eight-player deal that brought back Gary Majewski, Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris and Daryl Thompson.
It was disclosed shortly after the trade that Majewski arrived with an injured shoulder, and he never fulfilled expectations. He and Bray are currently with Triple-A Louisville while Clayton and Harris are out of the organization. Thompson, with Double-A Chattanooga, is considered a rising prospect.
"Trust me, me and Dusty are very motivated. We're both guys who have a vendetta or a chip on our shoulders."
-- New Cards GM|
The signing of free-agent reliever Mike Stanton to a two-year contract last year also didn't pan out. Stanton was released before this season opened and will be paid $3.5 million this year. Infielder Juan Castro ($1.075 million) was designated for assignment on Monday.
The 2006 acquisition and eventual early 2007 season release of reliever Rheal Cormier with $2.1 million remaining on his contact was another move Krivsky took heat for. But it was learned this week that the A's assumed the cost of eating the contract as part of the Chris Denorfia trade last year.
Castellini said absorbing contracts wasn't ultimately what got Krivsky dismissed.
"Frankly, I blame it on my own impatience," Castellini said. "I wouldn't say that it was a particular thing. We're not going to bat 1.000 [on acquisitions]. The results were not there."
Castellini has now overhauled both the manager and GM positions since he took over the franchise in January 2006. In July, manager Jerry Narron was replaced by interim manager Pete Mackanin. In October, Dusty Baker was hired as the permanent manager.
Both Baker and Jocketty come from National League Central rivals -- Baker from the Cubs and Jocketty from St. Louis.
"Trust me, me and Dusty are very motivated. We're both guys who have a vendetta or a chip on our shoulders," Jocketty said. "Both Dusty and I hate losing. We're not going to stand for it."
When managers are dismissed, it's often done to stimulate improvement on the field. Results are less immediately tangible when there's change in the GM's chair. Jocketty likes what he has to work with already but has ideas of where to start putting his thumb print on the club.
"We need to change the culture and the mindset and have everybody believe we can win and will win," Jocketty said. "You have to take a very positive approach and can't look at all the negative things. You have to surround yourself with positive people. We'll evaluate that in the next weeks and months and make sure we have the right people here that want to win. There's a lot of talent here."
Don't expect any further shakeups immediately under Jocketty.
"I'm very impressed with the staff," Jocketty said. "I don't anticipate any changes at all going forward. If anything, we may add here and there."
Castellini said he and Jocketty had an understanding that he would remain through the 2011 season.
Jocketty spent the previous 13 seasons as the Cardinals GM. They went to the postseason seven times and won the 2006 World Series during that time. Jocketty was named Major League Baseball's executive of the year by The Sporting News in 2000 and 2004 and by Baseball America in 2000.
In October, Jocketty and St. Louis mutually decided to part ways after a tumultuous 78-win season. He maintained a personal friendship with Castellini, who used to be a minority shareholder of the Cardinals.
On Jan. 11, Jocketty was hired to be a special adviser who reported directly to Castellini. Although he made overtures that he wasn't interested in being a GM again right away because of family concerns, that's just what ended up happening on Wednesday.
"Bob came to me [Tuesday] night and asked if I was ready to do this for him," Jocketty said during a press conference at Great American Ball Park. "We talked about it for a while. It's been six months. It was a tough decision. I called my wife and talked to her about it. I talked to my kids. I knew this was important to Bob. It's tough replacing Wayne, because I know what it's like being replaced as I was in St. Louis."
The only thing consistent about the Reds in this decade has been change at the top. Counting interims, there have been five GMs in Jim Bowden, Brad Kullman/Leland Maddox, Dan O'Brien, Kullman again, Krivsky and now, Jocketty.
Castellini briefly took umbrage at suggestions of high turnover. But he did not waver from his high expectations.
"We've just come to a point where we're not going to lose anymore," Castellini said.