No one in baseball expected Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty to be reunited with MVP and new Anaheim Angel Albert Pujols, who played for Jocketty in St. Louis. Fortunately, the Reds were not in need of a first baseman, having All-Star and MVP Joey Votto there for two more years.
Had Pujols signed with Cincinnati and bumped Votto to left field, the move would have not been all that surprising based on the loyalty his former players have shown to Jocketty.
When free-agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick officially signed with the Reds last week, he joined a continuously growing club within the organization. Ludwick, who was a 2008 All-Star with St. Louis, is the eighth player to be reunited with Jocketty. All eight were members of the Cardinals while Jocketty served as GM for St. Louis from 1995-2007.
The biggest names among the octet that have reunited with Jocketty since he took over the Reds in 2008 are All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen and retired outfielder Jim Edmonds. Both helped lead the Cards to the 2006 World Series championship over the Detroit Tigers before joining the Reds just a few years later.
Current Reds utility player Miguel Cairo also helped Jocketty's Cardinals reach the postseason in 2001 and 2002. His teammate on those two St. Louis teams was All-Star and two-time World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, who served as Reds shortstop in 2011.
Several Reds pitchers played for Jocketty in St. Louis. Reliever Mike Lincoln was in the Cardinals bullpen in 2004, as was former Red Kip Wells in 2007. Middle reliever Russ Springer did two stints (2003,2007-08) under Jocketty's regime in St. Louis before joining the Reds in 2010.
The number of Reds reunited with Jocketty could grow even larger, depending on how several players perform in spring training. Outfielder Daryl Jones, a non-roster invitee, was a highly-touted Cardinals prospect after being drafted by Jocketty in 2005.
Jones, a left-handed batter competing with veteran Willie Harris for an extra outfield spot, is hoping that with a change of scenery he will look like the promising player he was just a few years ago. Splitting the 2008 season between A and AA ball, Jones hit .316 with 13 home runs and 24 stolen bases.
Another non-roster invitee hoping to win a spot with the big league club is Brian Esposito. The veteran catcher played in the St. Louis system under Jocketty, actually reaching the Major Leagues in 2007. Esposito is a long shot to make the Reds on Opening Day, given that he is behind Ryan Hanigan and rookie Devin Mesoraco on the Cincinnati depth chart. Former starters Corky Miller and Dioneer Navarro are also competing for spots behind the plate.
Even though Albert Pujols was not among the eight players who left St. Louis and reunited with GM Walt Jocketty in Cincinnati, some of them could actually help Jocketty add a World Series Championship to the one he captured with the Cardinals. Rolen helped them win the NL Central crown in 2010, and Ludwick could help the Reds advance even deeper this season.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Tony Perez, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.