CINCINNATI -- When Wayne Krivsky was asked Tuesday night to meet Reds owner Bob Castellini first thing Wednesday morning, he had not even the slightest hint that his life or career would be significantly jolted. "I didn't think much of it," Krivsky said. Krivsky's eyes were red and occasionally filled with tears while his emotions were still raw on Wednesday afternoon. It was hours after Castellini informed him that his tenure as general manager of the Reds was over after just under 27 months and only 21 games into the 2008 season.
"Completely shocked. I did not see this coming at all," Krivsky said. "I told Bob I was appreciative of the opportunity. I worked 29 years to get an opportunity like this in a city like Cincinnati that's starving for a winner. That's what hurts so much, not to see the job through to the end and bring that winner to Cincinnati. "I've had visions of being in the clubhouse with champagne being poured all over everybody. It's not going to happen here. Maybe it will be somewhere else. I only had positive thoughts about what we had going. I'm hugely disappointed I'm not able to finish the job." Krivsky toiled in baseball, but out of the spotlight, until he finally earned his first GM's job on Feb. 8, 2006. Castellini, then the new Reds owner, made Krivsky his first hire. The Reds went 80-82 in Krivsky's first campaign and challenged for the National League Central title until the final weeks of the 2006 season. "The ironic thing," Krivsky said, "is we had people in baseball tell me, 'Wayne, you won too many games. You're not that good. You set the bar too high, too soon.' Well so be it. Who the [heck] can control that?" Two losing seasons, including a 72-90 record in 2007 and a 9-12 record so far this season, made Castellini itchy. He pulled the trigger and named Walt Jocketty the GM. Jocketty, the former Cardinals GM, was named a special assistant to Castellini on Jan. 11. Many thought Krivsky's days were numbered after that move. But Krivsky, who was in the final year of his contract, said he didn't feel the heat. "I wasn't looking over my back at all. I never felt that way," Krivsky said. That's why Krivsky was blindsided by the decision that fell on Wednesday. He didn't walk away quietly from Castellini's office. Even had he known his job was in danger, Krivsky said he wouldn't have changed anything. Although dangled potential trades that could have shipped out top prospects such as Jay Bruce, Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto, he avoided making moves that mortgaged the future for instant success. Krivsky also wouldn't promote Bruce from Triple-A Louisville before he was ready, and has no apologies. "I [wasn't thinking] I'm only going to be here this year," Krivsky said. "I wouldn't do anything to damage the organization long term to save my rear end for one year. That wasn't going to happen."
Before joining the Reds, Krivsky had spent 11 seasons as a well-regarded assistant GM and National League scout with the Twins under Terry Ryan.
Krivsky brought his sense for scouting to Cincinnati and quickly made some shrewd moves while also building the organization's farm system to respectable levels. His first trade sent underachieving slugger Wily Mo Pena to Boston for pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who became an All-Star in 2006. Catcher David Ross was acquired from the Padres for Minor Leaguer Bobby Basham and hit a career-best 21 homers.
Krivsky's biggest coup came in April 2006 when unknown Minor Leaguer Jeff Stevens was sent to the Indians for Brandon Phillips -- then a faded prospect. Phillips has since revived his career and became a cornerstone of the Reds' future.
There were also deals that didn't work. An eight-player trade meant to boost the bullpen in July 2006 sent Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals for relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, among others. But Majewski revealed his shoulder was already hurt before the deal, and he has yet to produce results.
In November 2006, the Reds signed aging veteran reliever Mike Stanton to a two-year, $5.5 million contract. Stanton had a lousy 2007 season and was released at the end of Spring Training this year with the team still owing him $3.5 million.
Krivsky will continue to defend his transactions long after Wednesday.
"I challenge anybody to put the acquisitions in one column and what we gave up in the other. You tell me it's not a freaking slam dunk the job that was done here. It's not just Wayne Krivsky. It's on my ledger. If you want to talk contracts, I'll talk contracts. I love Mike Stanton, but it didn't work out. That one is on me."
Krivsky worked secretively, almost to a fault. He rarely trusted anyone not from his inner circle, especially the media. Although he was diligent about returning calls and being available to reporters, he avoided signaling the team's direction -- even about the most minor of moves.
That's why no one knew, until this week, that there was a positive ending to one of Krivsky's biggest mistakes on the job. He traded for reliever Rheal Cormier in 2006 and extended his contract for 2007 so Cormier would waive his no-trade clause with the Phillies. Cormier was released early last season and was owed $2.1 million.
What was kept hidden was the Reds got the A's to take that salary hit as part of the terms of the trade that sent Chris Denorfia to Oakland.
"I'm just not the type of person that's going to brag that we got seven figures," Krivsky said. "That's not who I am. I feel good walking out of here being true to myself and what I'm all about."
Rarely is the business side of baseball fair, and Krivsky accepted that fact when he took the job. He just didn't expect it to end so abruptly.
"I have to respect the decision, but I have to disagree with it strongly," Krivsky said. "I think I'm the right guy for this. I have a lot of confidence in my ability. I have a lot of confidence in the staff I had working for me. So much positive has gone on here the last two years and few months, I'm going to walk out of here with my head held high and feeling good. I'll be sleeping good tonight, I hope. Maybe not tonight. Maybe the next night."
|"I'll be sleeping good tonight, I hope. Maybe not tonight. Maybe the next night."|
-- Former Reds GM|
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.