Being out of the office this week, it came a good-sized shock to me to hear on a local talk show that Walt Jocketty was no longer the Cardinal GM this afternoon. While they seemed to paint the scenario as a firing, I couldn’t believe that and figured that it was more likely that Walt had resigned. It seems both points of view have merit, but the former is closer to the truth.
Fallout seems to be mixed. VEB says it is stunning. Ryan at Cardinals Diaspora thinks it may be a good thing. Erik at Future Redbirds gives Walt his due, but thinks the move helps protect the farm. Tom at CardinalsGM declares that he will fill the vacancy. Kujo at Rockin’ the Red doesn’t mince words. And there are a lot of different views on the CCH thread.
Since I have to be up early again tomorrow for another long day of driving and auditing (never at the same time–friends don’t let friends audit and drive) let me quickly put down what I think.
Walt has been huge for St. Louis. My initial reaction was that this was not Bill DeWitt’s finest hour, and I’m still not sure that I’m wrong on that. That said, the points made about Walt “slipping” (i.e., not pulling off the spectacular trade that he easily wins) and the hostile work environment that was caused by Jeff Luhnow’s promotion are solid issues.
I think it boils down to some of the behind the scenes stuff we really don’t know. (Though we do know more than normal–a lot more came out than “we decided to part ways”.) Did Walt push for a higher payroll and DeWitt finally had enough? Did DeWitt figure someone needed to take the fall for a rough 2007, not factoring in the fans’ ability to understand injuries and other extenuating circumstances? Was it all due to Walt’s inability to get over Luhnow’s promotion, which may have put some of his friends on the outs? Was Luhnow’s just a jerk to him, which got tempers flaring? Is this a flashpoint in the “scouting vs. stats” debate?
I like the fact that the Cards are getting into the sabermetric realm. I think it’s a good thing long term, and if Walt couldn’t be on board for that, it is probably best that he moved on. That said, it’s going to be tough to fill his shoes. You have to figure that LaRussa is less likely to return, which means that the whole management team will be turned over. Will John Mozeliak get that interim tag shed quickly or will the GM search take a while? If it does, how will that affect the free agents and trades that need to be done to get this team to a competitive level in 2008?
I do find it interesting that Luhnow’s not a candidate for the GM slot. I’m guessing that the new GM will have to be of his sabermetric mindset. I do hope they’ll get that done quickly, because I’m sure LaRussa won’t decide anything until they do, and these matters need to be cleared up so the real business of fixing the team can go ahead.
I wish Walt the best and hope he gets an AL team so he won’t make us regret this move constantly!