Classless Castellini: Why the Reds' GM Switch Is Wrong

William QualkinbushSenior Analyst IApril 23, 2008

It is a sad day to be a Reds fan.

After a decade and a half of futility, many thought the Cincinnati Reds were beginning to put the pieces together to make a run at respectability this season.

But on Wednesday, after a 9-12 start, owner Bob Castellini—a man who has preached patience to his fan base for the past three years—got tired of the mediocrity and fired GM Wayne Krivsky less than a month into his third year on the job.

The subsequent hiring of former Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty to fill the position seems to be an upgrade; Jocketty won the World Series with St. Louis just two seasons ago, while Krivsky had a losing record in his first stint as a GM.

But this was not a knee-jerk reaction by an owner looking for a quick fix to a long-standing problem. In fact, Krivsky's fate was sealed back in January, when Castellini hired his old friend Jocketty as an "adviser".

Everyone—from baseball insiders to casual fans—suspected that Jocketty's contract was Krivsky's ticket out of town.

And it's not right, it's not fair, and it's not classy.

The man was never given a fair shot this year. Instead, Castellini had his plan for the franchise—which did not include Krivsky—and waited for a good reason to get rid of the GM and install his guy.

The Reds have started slowly this season, but it has been the offense that has struggled. Surprisingly, the pitching has been impressive, led by Cy Young candidate Aaron Harang and young stars-in-waiting Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez.

Krivsky has been responsible for many of the improvements to the pitching staff, and he has overseen a re-emphasis on building a solid farm system. Cueto, first baseman Joey Votto, and prospects Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce are just a few of the products of this strategy that is beginning to bear fruit.

Krivsky has also been good at finding diamonds-in-the-rough in other organizations. He dealt reserve outfielder Wily Mo Pena for Bronson Arroyo a week before Opening Day two seasons ago and traded a low-level prospect for blossoming star second baseman Brandon Phillips last season.

On top of that, he was responsible for bringing Scott Hatteberg in via free agency, and he has hit paydirt twice in the Rule V Draft, bringing Josh Hamilton and current middle reliever Jared Burton into the fold.

Sure, there were some bumps along the way—the Nationals trade, signing over-the-hill relievers Mike Stanton and Rheal Cormier to lucrative contracts, extending little-used Juan Castro for $1+ million—but no organization is perfect.

And Wayne Krivsky has done much more good for the Reds than he has damage. He will be a good GM for somebody in the very-near future.

This guy has begun to build a contender, and the way his dismissal was handled is a disgrace. This guy has been a class act since he has been in Cincy, and the backhanded way in which he was displaced is disappointing.

The move may work out in the long haul. Nothing would please me more than watching Jocketty and Dusty Baker take the Reds to the postseason.

But for today, it is a sad day to be a Reds fan.