Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini has promised fans in the Queen City that his main goal is bringing another World Championship back to the great city of Cincinnati at any cost. When he hired good friend and former St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty in 2008, many believed he would deliver on Castellini’s promise. After all, he did just lead the Cardinals to a World Series victory two years earlier.
Jocketty has ushered the Reds’ franchise back into relevancy (though it can be argued that he did so on the successful moves of former GMs Wayne Krivsky and Dan O’Brien) as he has helped deliver two division titles, three trips to the playoffs and three 90-win seasons in his tenure.
However, now that his team seems to have plateaued, where is he leading the Reds’ franchise going forward? We have seen Jocketty go “all in” a few times over the last couple of years through trades and free agent signings (Ryan Madson), and a few of those transactions included multi-player trades.
One of the rumored reasons the Cardinals relieved Jocketty of his duties back in 2007 was due to the state of their farm system. Jocketty had made some big trades to acquire players to help the team in the short term, but his failure to focus on the long term success of the franchise left the organization’s ability to maintain such success in the future uncertain.
Now it seems as though the same is happening with his tenure as Reds’ general manager — his focus on instant success has depleted the team’s farm system. And while baseball prospects are always hit and miss, the Reds are seeing the effects of having a thin system this year as they search for replacements for injured players. Their lack of depth gives them no internal options with struggling players and leaves them possibly relying on Jeff Francis to replace injured starting pitchers.
The moves Jocketty has made with the Reds are eerily similar to those in which he made with the St. Louis Cardinals. Take a look below.
TRADE FOR STARTING PITCHER
Acquired – Mat Latos (San Diego Padres)
Traded – Yonder Alonso,Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez
with St. Louis:
Acquired – Mark Mulder (Oakland Athletics)
Traded – Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and Daric Barton
TRADE FOR ALL-STAR OUTFIELDER
Acquired – Shin-Soo Choo (Cleveland Indians)
Traded – Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs
with St. Louis:
Acquired – Larry Walker (Colorado Rockies)
Traded – Jason Burch and two players to be named later
Heck, Jocketty has even resorted to bringing some of his former Cardinals players over to his Reds teams (Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Edgar Renteria, Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker). The way he has handled the two teams is similar and the way he has constructed the teams is even similar. It seems as though the only difference between the two is the level of success they achieved.
Many clamored for the firing of Dusty Baker citing that he could take his team to great success in the regular season, but could never seem to overcome the postseason hump. Maybe the same could be said for Walt Jocketty. In an offseason that seemed destined for a team overhaul following the firing of Baker, Jocketty failed to address the
few many concerns and needs of the team. His failure to do so has been evident in the Reds’ 13-16 start to the 2014 season.
It seems as though Jocketty has taken the Reds as far as he can, and he should be commended for bringing winning baseball back to the Queen City. With that being said, fans (and Castellini) should no longer be pleased with return trips to the playoffs. Settling for mediocrity is not acceptable.
With the fate of the Reds in 2014 currently in jeopardy, so is that of the franchise’s future. Robert Stephenson is the lone “can’t miss” prospect in the Reds’ farm system and the depth is no longer beneficial to the major league club. Combine this with the fact that the team’s stars are continuing to age (Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto), and suddenly “the future ain’t what it used to be”.
Perhaps the time has come for Bob Castellini to replace Walt Jocketty as general manager of the Reds, but is he willing to fire an old friend?