Reds must give Jocketty time

The Cincinnati Reds continue to be a team without an identity.

Most fans know the Reds are a very shaky team, both on and off the field. They seem to keep getting themselves into a bigger and bigger hole.

Nothing proves this point more than what the Reds have done already in 2008. On Wednesday 23 April, Reds front office fired General Manager Wayne Krivsky. They promptly named consultant Walt Jocketty as his immediate replacement.

In the long term, the move is good. Jocketty has a proven track record in the past 23 years. In that time, he has made World Series winners out of the 1989 Oakland Athletics and the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.

Jocketty is known around baseball circles as a shrewd deal-maker. He played a decisive role in the deals that landed stolen base king Rickey Henderson in Oakland and David Eckstein in St. Louis.

However, this move simply doesn’t add up just yet. The season hasn’t even gone a quarter of the way through. At the time of the trade the season was just 21 games old. In addition, the Reds record was not horrible at 9-12.

Moreover, there are a number of kinks that have to be ironed-out on the field. Dusty Baker is just in his first season as skipper. Although he is a great coach, it will take time for the guys to get onboard with his game plan.

Bear in mind, Baker is in a dicey situation for more reasons than one. He is the fifth manager in the last five years. Also in that time frame, the team has gone through four GMs and two owners.

The other big issue for me is the Reds level of talent on the field. They just don’t have many good players right now and they lack quality starting pitching. Harang and Arroyo can thread water and stay near .500 but they’re no solid 1-2 combo. As far as the guys behind them, they haven’t impressed anyone since they left the minors.

My other point of contention is that Krivsky would not be one of the first people I’d blame for the Reds turmoil. The man has gone on a trading frenzy the last few seasons.

Though he did make mistakes (I’m sorry but Mike Stanton is not worth over $3 million a year), he did have some success as Brandon Phillips and Ken Griffey Jr. have re-established themselves as good players.

Furthermore, he’s developed one of the NL’s best farm systems. Young talents like Ryan Freel and Adam Dunn have both come out of that system.

On the other hand I understand where the Reds are coming from. They desperately want to field a winning team.

To me, they have been one of baseball’s most disappointing teams over the last decade. Their last playoff appearance was 1995. Since then they’ve had a winning record only twice in spite of the numerous Gold Glove winners and All-Stars they’ve had.

The bottom-line for me is the Reds have to make deals involving players not in the front office. Starting pitching and their infield are areas that need quick addressing for them to contend this year.

Three guys I think they could make a good deal with are first baseman Scott Hatteberg and starting pitchers Johnny Cuento and Edinson Volquez.

Hatteberg can hit the ball though he’s no defender. Also, Cueto and Volquez are both under 25 as of Opening Day and they have time on their side to work out their mechanics.

In my mind, Jocketty is the future of the club. With his forthcoming deals, expect to see a different Reds team as soon as next year.

The man has been crucial in helping the As and the Cards, who were both struggling when he got there, become winners. I think he can definitely repeat that feat in Cincy.

Personally, I wish he was brought in at the end of the season. It would look better for Cincinnati in the end. However, I’m not surprised he was next in line after Krivsky.

After all, it was suspicious from the start for Jocketty to be a consultant for any length of time. The guy is known for being in the thick of things, not laying low in the background. Moreover, the Reds front office has been notorious for striving to recreate a modern-day version of the 70s Big Red Machine.

The big problem with this move is that the Reds want to win now and they need to be consistent with a steady hand in the GM slot to get on track.

At the end of the day, a team will only go far if they bear some uniqueness. Some of the more memorable winners include the Florida Marlins as the stingiest team in baseball, the New York Yankees as baseball’s richest team and the Atlanta Braves as arguably the most solid front offices in the game.

Until the Reds can keep consistent on and around the diamond, they’ll be known simply as an average team with no identity.