Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky has probably been the busiest GM in baseball this spring. Then again, Krivsky was the only GM in the game hired just before camps opened. Taking on a club coming off five consecutive losing seasons, including a disappointing 73-win campaign in 2005, Krivsky was not afforded a real offseason to upgrade his new team. But it hasn't stopped him from trying to cram a winter's worth of moves into Spring Training.
The new ownership, featuring straight-shooting chief executive officer Bob Castellini, expected a quick turnaround and a competitive team. Carrying a reputation for being a tireless worker earned as an assistant GM for Minnesota, Krivsky was prepared to accommodate his boss and came to the job with a plan. Will it be enough to put the Reds back in the right direction? "I hope so. Time will tell," Krivsky said. "We'll see how it plays out. You make decisions and go forward. You try not to look back. You take all the input and make what you hope is a good baseball decision and then go from there." The Reds lacked starting pitching and had some holes defensively. The February signing of free-agent first baseman Scott Hatteberg, a steady hitter and fielder, led to a bigger deal in March. Power-hitting project Wily Mo Pena was sent to Boston for starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. It is hoped Arroyo can shore up the rotation while allowing Cincinnati to move Adam Dunn from first base back to left field. Other lower impact additions included signing veteran Quinton McCracken to a Minor League deal and young pitcher Michael Gosling was claimed off waivers to compete for the fifth starter's spot. During camp, infielder Matt Kata was scooped up off waivers from the Phillies and catching depth was added with David Ross coming over from San Diego in a trade for a Minor League pitcher. Increased competition in camp indicated that jobs wouldn't be won by default. Whether the flurry of moves translates to wins in 2006 remains to be seen. But Reds players like what they've seen and the message the changes have sent. "What we've seen from Wayne is that he's a guy trying to put a winning team on the field now," center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said. "It's not about six, seven years from now. It's about what happens now. That comes from the ownership. When the ownership wants to win, it just trickles down." "We're making strides in the right direction," utility man Ryan Freel said. "I don't think you can ask for more."Another veteran, reliever David Weathers, was also impressed. "I think what it showed, not to get on the other guys that were here making decisions, is that they know our ballclub," Weathers said. "We traded Wily Mo to get Arroyo. We needed starting pitching more than we needed a fourth or fifth outfielder. I know a lot of people in Cincinnati were like, 'How do you make that deal?' because of Wily Mo's potential. ... What it shows the players is these [bosses] are paying attention." Krivsky and manager Jerry Narron have also shown a lack of patience when pitchers lack control. Luke Hudson and Allan Simpson had good arms but did not have a track record for throwing strikes. They were released this spring. "Some moves that have been made have been bold moves," Weathers said. "We've let some guys go with potential. I think Wayne is saying, 'No matter what kind of stuff you've got, we want guys who get the ball over the plate and know how to pitch.' It's refreshing to be around something like that. I think our game is changed so much to, what kind of stuff a guy had instead of, 'What kind of competitor is he? What kind of heart does he have? And does he know how to pitch? Does he know how to play the game of baseball?' Wayne brings that." Before the Reds can be considered real contenders, some key ingredients must be added. The pitching staff is still missing a true ace starter and an identified closer. Ninth-inning leads will be handled with a "closer by committee" for now. Those in the rotation, which had the National League's highest ERA in 2005, must show more consistency. Don't believe that Krivsky will wait until his first full offseason to add pieces to the puzzle. This could be a season to expect anything, and everything, as Cincinnati maneuvers to be relevant in the NL Central again. "He wants to win. What more can you ask for?" Freel said. "I think it's all you can really expect from a general manager. I think those guys are leading us down the right path. I guess we'll know more when the season starts and what adjustments we need to make. They're slowly but surely doing it. What more can you say?" Keep an eye on the transactions wire this summer.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.