No change for the next 11 months? I’m not so sure.
Walt Jocketty and Dick Williams insisted at their press conferences last week that until Jocketty retires from his job of President of Baseball Operations at the end of the 2016 season, Reds decision making would stay the same.
“This year, I don’t think it will change a lot, day-to-day,” said Williams.
“For this year, it shouldn’t change a lot,” said Jocketty.
This sentiment has a simple appeal. Last year, Williams was one of Jocketty’s assistant general managers. Jocketty was #1 and Williams was #2. In 2016, Jocketty will still be #1 and Williams remains #2 regardless of title. The relationship remains that of subordinate (Williams) to boss (Jocketty).
Meet the new arrangement, same as the old arrangement.
Eh, not so fast. Color me skeptical that the dynamic will remain unchanged. Says here that Dick Williams’ vision for the Reds will supersede Walt Jocketty’s sooner than we expect. Maybe even more quickly than Jocketty anticipated when he signed off on last week’s announcements.
Yes, Walt Jocketty will still have the final say. But it’s not the new title for Williams that will confer additional authority. It’s tapping Williams as Jocketty’s successor. That plus the not-too-distant transition date could expedite the shift in influence to the 44-year-old general manager.
In the next few months, the Reds front office will make many decisions that will have a substantial impact on the 2017 Reds and beyond. Those will be Dick Williams’ teams. Their records will appear on his ledger as a GM. Williams has a much higher personal stake in the outcome of internal deliberations than he did a year ago.Ã‚Â That’s a new and transformative development.
In the past, if the two men disagreed, Jocketty’s point of view would prevail. Walt Jocketty was the boss. It was his team and as the GM/President the wins and losses landed on the back of his baseball card.
Going forward, Dick Williams will be less inclined to back down. That’s natural. At the same time, it will be human nature for Jocketty to be more deferential. Their decisions will affect the 2017 and 2018 teams. Williams’ teams. If Dick Williams favors a certain outcome it could rightly carry more weight than before.
For example, the Reds will soon decide whether to sign Todd Frazier to a long-term contract extension. That choice doesn’t affect this year, because Frazier is already under contract for 2016. The extension would affectÃ‚Â only Reds teams that Dick Williams will lead. His teams. Yes, Walt Jocketty has the final word for 11 more months. But it’s hard to imagine the Frazier decision going against what Williams wants. That $80 million-plus will be on Williams’ tab, not Jocketty’s. It will bind Williams, not Jocketty.
In fact,Ã‚Â the vast majority of the crucial choices – trades, signings, extensions – over the next year or so will fall into that category. They will primarily affect the future.
Sure, pure armchair speculation.
We have no sense of how much influence Williams has had with Jocketty in the past, or how much they disagree. If their ideas for building baseball teams are in lockstep, this is a moot point. It’s also possible that Jocketty won’t be more deferential if they disagree — that he’ll continue to run the Reds as he sees fit, even as his decisions outlast his tenure. That would be awkward and weird in house, but possible.
We also have no way to know, if this new dynamic does come to pass, whether it will be good or bad for the Reds. That’s because we have no idea if Dick Williams’ judgment will be better or worse than Walt Jocketty’s. To say Williams is unproven and an unknown is to say that water is wet.
But if Dick Williams does have a different method or strategy in mind for how the Reds should be run, we may begin to see it soon. Contrary to the first-blush assumption that last week’s promotion wouldn’t matter for a while, it may actually transform Reds decision-making in 2015 and 2016. Even at this week’s GM meeting in Del Boca Vista.
The Dick Williams Era may already be here.