Saturday, August 14, 2010

Walt Jocketty for executive of the year

Should Jocketty be the executive of the year? Let's take a look. Starting back last season when he traded good prospects for Rolen, a move that was widely criticized, Jocketty has been on quite a roll. First, the team really responded to Rolen last year, finishing strong with him in the line-up (which wasn't everyday because of injuries). But Reds fans have seen the non-contending-great-finish routine before, so count us as still skeptical after the late-season run. Jocketty then restructured Rolen's deal, knocking him down from about $11 mil to $6 mil for 2010 (and $5 mil signing business paid over 3 years at no interest). To agree, Rolen got two more years at $6.5 mil for 2011 and 2012, each. The extra money allowed Jocketty to sign Orlando Cabrerra. O-Cab's stats have not been great, but by all accounts he is a leader on the team (and played pretty good defense). For awhile, he was our best clutch hitter. At least by batting average, that moniker now belongs to Jonny Gomes, who Jocketty signed to a minor league deal in the off-season.

The pitching staff has also been great, mostly due to solid depth (see Travis Wood). The staff has survived injuries without missing a beat. And the team bench has been awesome. Cairo has played very well as a back-up infielder and injury-replacement starter. That's critical with an older, fragile Scott Rolen. Janish is also filling-in well for O-Cab (currently on the D/L).

So far, the Aroldis Chapman signing hasn't helped the Reds this year, but he still may be called-up late to improve the bullpen. At one point, he had 11 straight scoreless appearances out of the Louisville bullpen. If he could do what David Price did for the Rays (or at least close to that) in 2008, he'll be a great signing. But even if he doesn't help this year, this was a good signing and should help a lot down the road.

The guys Jocketty went and got (Rolen, O-Cab, Cairo) have done well, and the guys he's stuck with (Bruce, Stubbs, Gomes, Nix, etc.) have either done well or haven't hurt yet (Bruce is showing signs and Stubbs has at least helped in the field, on the base paths, and with the home run). Starting Leake in the bigs looks good right now (although he has struggled of late -- we'll see him tonight, so look for a re-cap of that game soon). And not calling on Chapman so far looks like the right call, as well.

So is he executive of the year? I think this is a no-brainer, but making the playoffs would seal the deal.

It's not getting any easier for Jocketty, however, as everyone knows this is Dusty's last year on a three-year pretty lucrative deal (about $10.5 mil) that he signed before Jocketty was the GM. So Dusty, theoretically at least, is not Jocketty's guy. And the Reds really have no business over paying a manager like Dusty. Any "extra" money should go to players.

But there's no denying that Dusty has done a good job this year. Assuming the Reds make the playoffs (I'm not, but for purposes of this post) the Reds can't let Dusty just go after having a great year. And they can't just do a one-year renewal, can they? That doesn't seem adequate for a "name" manager coming off of a playoff season. On the other hand, can the Reds really afford another three-year deal (with, presumably, at least a small raise) with Dusty? I think Jocketty is in a real box here. The best thing might be to get a one-year renewal done right away, before either side knows one way or the other if the Reds are going to make the playoffs. This keeps Dusty here in the event the Reds do make the playoffs, but isn't irreparable if they don't. The Reds can survive another year, or just fire him and pay-off the contract. This would also give Jocketty the off-season to see who might be available that could replace Dusty. I think Jocketty's in a real box here, and how he handles this situation will be critical to the future of the club, and, if successful, will cement his legacy for 2010. Count me among those that want Dusty to stay.

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