|Jocketty hoping to bring Reds stability|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 24 April 2008 12:02|
Jack McKeon had just been chosen NL Manager of the Year for leading the Cincinnati Reds to within one victory of the playoffs. General manager Jim Bowden was talking about champagne celebrations in the near future.
McKeon? Gone. Bowden? Gone. Those giddy days? Ancient history.
Since his high-profile homecoming, Griffey has played for six managers, four general managers and two owners. That's a lot of change in a little more than eight years.
When he did the math, Griffey was taken aback.
``Damn!'' he said.
One more numbing number. Over that span, the Reds have managed only one winning season.
It all adds up.
The Reds' impatience has left them lurching from one perceived quick-fix to another during their dismal decade. The long list of managers - McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley, Jerry Narron, interim Pete Mackanin and now Dusty Baker - suggests a franchise that can't make up its mind.
Finally, that might be changing.
When the Reds fired Wayne Krivsky and hired Walt Jocketty on Wednesday, they brought in someone who is accustomed to stability.
``I believe in continuity,'' said Jocketty, the team's fourth GM in six years. ``Sometimes it takes a little time to get things the way you want them, but I think there's a lot of quality people here. Now we've got to find a way to make it all work.''
He's starting at the bottom. A 5-3 loss to Houston on Thursday left the Reds (9-14) in last place in the NL Central, off to their worst start in five years.
Impatient owner Bob Castellini seems to be leaning toward giving Jocketty and Baker - his two most experienced hires in two years running the team - time to settle in and get the organization to settle down.
``It's very important,'' said Baker, who was hired last October. ``Good organizations keep a lot of the same people for a good length of time.''
Jocketty will be the key. He has the owner's ear.
Hired by Oakland's Charlie Finley in 1980, Jocketty spent 10 years as the Athletics' director of baseball operations. He later moved to Colorado and then St. Louis, where he took over in 1995 and revived a team that hadn't been to the playoffs in eight years.
Jocketty hired Tony La Russa as manager before the 1996 season, traded for Mark McGwire in 1997 and presided over a streak of seven playoffs appearances in 13 seasons. The Cardinals won the NL pennant in 2004 and again 2006, when they beat Detroit in the World Series.
Front-office friction over player development led to Jocketty's firing. He wasn't sure he had the desire to be a general manager again.
Jocketty is friends with Castellini from their days together in St. Louis, when the current Reds owner was a minority partner in the Cardinals. Castellini offered him a job as special adviser in Cincinnati, and talked about creating a bigger role for him at the end of this season.
Upset at the team's slow start, Castellini changed his timetable and fired Krivsky after only 21 games. Jocketty was surprised by the move and the job offer, which he discussed with his family before accepting.
``They said they could see I was ready to get back,'' Jocketty said. ``The first few months (after the firing), I just vegged as much as I could. I didn't even follow baseball. Then I got to spring training, and I started getting excited again.''
His closeness with Castellini was one of the factors that led him to accept.
``I talked to Bob quite a bit a few years ago when he was contemplating buying this franchise,'' Jocketty said. ``We talked at the time about what a great franchise this was, the history of this franchise, and how it was similar to the situation I had in St. Louis with the winning tradition.''
Though stunned by the timing, Reds players weren't surprised that Jocketty was moving into the job.
``He ended up turning St. Louis around and making it a very solid organization and a good team,'' pitcher Aaron Harang said. ``I think that's what Bob and the rest of ownership is looking for.''
Although Jocketty didn't hire Baker, he has known him for a long time. Baker spent the last two years of his playing career in Oakland, when Jocketty was in the front office.
Baker was fired by the Cubs after the 2006 season, his fourth in Chicago. Jocketty was fired by the Cardinals after that run of playoff appearances. Both were stung by how they left their last jobs.
``Trust me: Me and Dusty are very motivated,'' Jocketty said. ``We're both guys who have a vendetta, a little chip on our shoulders. So we want to find a way to make this work.''
To do that, they'll need time.