In the midst of a wild 2014 campaign that has his Cincinnati Reds in contention as we turn the corner on August despite spotty play, could general manager Walt Jocketty have his eyes cast westward for next season. According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, the Arizona Diamondbacks might be a dark horse to lure Jocketty away from the Riverfront:
The idea of La Russa hiring Jocketty for the D-backs is intriguing; La Russa was Jocketty’s manager with the Cardinals, and Jocketty owns a home in Arizona. The Reds, though, stand a much better chance than the D-backs of winning a World Series in the near future.
“La Russa,” of course is the D’Backs’ new chief baseball officer who maintains that he doesn’t necessarily want to toss out manager Kirk Gibson or GM Kevin Towers. Still, as Rosenthal points out, La Russa was brought to the desert for a reason, and that reason is not to just stand pat and let things happen around him.
If La Russa does make a change at general manager, you would have to think that Jocketty would be high on his list of potential replacements. The two men enjoyed great success together with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2000s, and a reunion would likely be enticing for both of them.
La Russa would have someone he trusts running the team from the front office, and Jocketty would be close to his home in Arizona. The duo would also give the Diamondbacks a good chance to build a contender again, but that would take awhile, and these guys aren’t young — La Russa is 69 and Jocketty is 63.
If Jocketty did bolt for Arizona, where would that leave the Reds? Well, looking for a new GM, obviously, but it would also give them an opportunity to take a fresh look at getting over the hump.
Jocketty and his crew have generally done a good job of finding and developing young talent, especially in the rotation, but Cincinnati has struggled to find another gear and become a truly potent playoff force. Jocketty has bought into the recent trend of locking up his young players for the long-term with big contracts, and I think that has hampered his flexibility in exploring new paths for improvement.
Just last month, when the Reds desperately needed an offensive infusion, Jocketty lamented that the team’s payroll commitments would make it difficult to add a bat. And so we sit, wringing our fan hands night after night, hoping our team can hold onto playoff hopes for another week or two.
Don’t get me wrong: Jocketty is not a terrible GM and has been good for the Reds in many ways. It’s just that he has kind of painted himself into a corner, and new blood might be able to come up with some innovative approaches to the Reds’ shortcomings.
My inkling is that Jocketty will still be in Cincinnati in 2015, and the Reds will be fine for it. If Jocketty’s not here next season, well, the Reds will probably be OK then, too.