Walt Jocketty in as Cincinnati GM: Good or Bad?

Joel KochSenior Analyst IApril 24, 2008

The Cincinnati Reds are the second punch line in the National League Central, and the fourth punch line in the National League.

When you think of great teams of the past, the Reds are the first team to jump out at you. From the Big Red Machine to the Nasty Boys, this franchise has a great history.

What about the future?

When the Reds hired Wayne Krivsky, people thought that the Reds were serious contenders. Krivsky came in with not a lot to work with. He had a weak minor league system and a lot of money on the major league team.

Yet, he still worked miracles. He paid $50,000 for Josh Hamilton, traded Wily Mo Pena (a home run threat for not much more) for a legitimate No. 2 starter in Bronson Arroyo, and landed Jeff Keppinger for a no name.

He did, however, make a bad move. Krivsky took a shot on improving a weak bullpen in the pennant race of 2006 by dealing Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner for Royce Clayton, Gary Majewski, and Bill Bray.

People see this deal as the worst ever, but when you're in a pennant race and you have a weak spot, you fill it by any means possible without thinking.

Bray is still 24 years old and could be a very good left-hander for the Reds down the road. Clayton was a definite upgrade over Lopez and did well in Cincy. Kearns and Lopez haven't really been studs in our nation's capital. So, was this deal really a bad thing?

Okay, that's the past. What's in the past stays in the past, except John Mellencamp. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing that song for Chevy.

Anyway, Jocketty was a good hiring in baseball sense for the Reds. He knows how to evaluate talent and can get a lot of bang for his buck. Look at his reclamation projects in St. Louis: Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan (to some degree), Joel Piniero, and Larry Walker (also to some degree). He knows what to do.

Here's the problem with this hiring: Jocketty doesn't know what minor league talent is. Sure, he overlooked some good drafts for the Cardinals in his last few years, but he had no intentions to use any of them (except Colby Rasmus and Chris Perez). He was going to trade them off like everyone else.

Here's a list of some young players Jocketty traded to get veterans that last a few years (or a few good years): Adam Kennedy, Placido Polanco, Jack Wilson, and Coco Crisp. Yeah...about that. Not that good of an idea.

Here's the plan for the Reds. They have baseball's third best prospect waiting in the wings (Jay Bruce) and two bats that could draw a lot of interest (Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey, Jr.).

Of course, it will be very difficult to move either bat. Jocketty needs to move at least one. Dunn is a free agent at the end of the year, and Griffey has a club option for 2009. Any deal he makes, he'll have to assume at least a third of their contracts, if not more.

The teams that could want one of these two that could have some prospects that Jocketty may want is: the Braves, the Cardinals, the Indians, and the Rangers. Those teams are in need of some offense and have some prospects or major league players that are young enough to qualify as a young player.

You may think I'm getting off track, but this is the plan Jocketty needs to execute to make this firing and hiring worth it.

Here's the downside of this hiring: Jocketty doesn't deal for young players. He deals young players for old players, and he doesn't have the farm system to make those moves, nor the money to make those moves.

Cincinnati Reds fans shouldn't get their hopes up for a quick turnaround, or any turnaround in the next five years. Stay use to losing because Jocketty doesn't work fast on improving teams. He takes his time, dealing the young talent for aging veterans.

Just hope Bruce isn't dealt for a pitcher.