Reds Hire Ex-Cardinal GM Walt Jocketty

On Friday, the Cincinnati Reds hired ex-St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty as a special assistant to owner and Chairman Bob Castellini. Jocketty will report directly to Castellini, as will current GM Wayne Krivsky.

 

 

 

 

Background

Jocketty has one World Series title and seven National League Central titles to his credit during his tenure from 1994 to 2007. One of the major factors in his firing by the Cardinals and Chairman Bill DeWitt was the conflict of how to develop young talent and the use of a more analytical approach. Farm director Jeff Luhnow was promoted from his position of scouting director. This clash of approaches was documented in Baseball America’s preview of the NL Central (Issue 0725 Dec. 3-16 2007)

“Luhnow was hired as a consultant to reboot the Cardinals’ use of statistical analysis.”

The statistical analysis used lead Luhnow to draft Colby Rasmus, the Cardinals’ top prospect, during the 2005 draft. This rubbed Jocketty the wrong way. Jocketty is a noted “old school” baseball guy, going by gut instinct and a master at acquiring veteran talent. However, when Luhnow was given increasing power, Jocketty was not happy.

“Some in the organization said Jocketty considered the move as an erosion of his power.”

Obviously it was. Most of the “old school” types and new analysis or “Money Ball” approach type scouts and GMs are very much at odds. “Money Ball” of course is the groundbreaking baseball book written by Michael Lewis about the success of Billy Beane in Oakland and the use of raw statistical analysis (objective) rather than going by what a scout can see by his eyes (subjective). While some clubs have been able to successfully marry the two approaches together, like the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, many people find that there is a lot of resistance to the “Money Ball” approach.

Reds Hire
While we do think that having an experienced baseball man in the front office is a good thing, CFT has mixed feelings on this hire. First, the relationship between Castellini and Jocketty goes back several years when they both were part of the Cardinals organization. With Jocketty having the ear of Castellini, will he seek to undermine the job of GM Wayne Krivsky? Clearly Krivsky needs to make something happen soon to appease Reds fans, but how can he do his job properly while at the same time having to look over his shoulder? We are no defenders of Krivsky, but he has done a decent job of getting the Reds headed in the right direction. By acquring Bandon Phillips, Bronson Arroyo, and Scott Hatteburg, Krivsky has made some positive moves. The farm system is finally starting to bear fruit (Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto) and player development has obviously improved. Many publications have talked about the improvements being made in a system that was barren and had no discernable talent coming up from the minor leagues.

The other question we have is: Will there continue to be an investment made in the minor league system and what method will the Reds be taking? Given that Jocketty meddled with and eventually was fired for not embracing the analytical approach, one can assume that he would not be giving Castellini advice to embrace it as well. Although we are in the dark about Wayne Krivsky’s exact time line and mode of thinking (he never answers any questions that give out any type of usable information), we hope that Jocketty doesn’t impart his ego on the organization and undo what we see as a positive step forward by trading away minor league talent for aging veterans for the quick fix.

In an organization that has yet to see stability at any level, the Reds can ill afford inner-office turmoil.

 

—Quotations via Baseball America Issue 0725, Dec. 3-16, 2007

—Photo via AP

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One Response

  1. […] It is Cam Bonifay, a special assistant to Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty. […]

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