Cincinnati Reds fans were optimistic when Bob Castellini broke from the Cardinals ownership group and gained control of the Cincinnati Reds in 2006.
They hoped he would do for the Reds what Bill DeWitt Jr. did for the Cardinals after rescuing the team from indifferent Anheuser-Busch ownership.
“We buy the Reds to win,” explained Castellini. “Anything else is unacceptable.”
So the performance of his ownership group was unacceptable.
This regime got off to a good start, earning postseason spots in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Former Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty seemed poised to replicate his success in the STL.
But the Reds have only returned to the playoffs once in 13, and now they’re going through a painful refit.
During the offseason, they traded pitcher Sonny Gray, outfielder Jesse Winker, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, and reliever Amir Garrett while cutting payrolls and adding young talent.
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Bob’s son, Phil Castellini, the Reds’ CEO, fueled further fan unrest during an interview on WLW radio with derogatory remarks.
When asked why a fan should trust him, he said the following:
“Well, where are you going? Let’s start there. I mean sell the team to who? That’s the other thing – do you want to have that debate? If you want to look at what you would do with this team to make it more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists in? It would be to pick it up and take it somewhere else.
“And so be careful what you ask. I think we’re doing the best we can with the resources we have. We’re no happier with the results than the fans. I’m not sitting here saying that anyone should be happy. I’m not polishing trophies in the office right now, and that’s what we’re here for. But the bottom line is – and I think we had to change discipline. We tried many things that didn’t work. And they came so close to the work and didn’t. Nobody has to tell me it didn’t work. So I think we learned from those things. and trust me [general manager] Nick [Krall], he’s a guy on a mission. And he’s a bull in a china shop that has his way of doing it and the way is to breed your own and that’s what he’s doing.”
Those remarks didn’t play well, especially after the Reds took a 10-5 shot down the throat from the Cleveland Guardians in their home opener. So the team made this statement, attributed to Phil Castellini:
“My apologies to the Reds fans and I regret the comments I made today. We love this city, we love this team and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I’m sorry.”
The Reds’ continued failure is another example of why Cardinals fans shouldn’t take their ownership group for granted. DeWitt Jr. remains an outlier among middle-class owners as he aims for perpetual arguments.
Here’s what people are writing about our national pastime:
David Roth, The defector: “Opening Day is a big thing in Cincinnati, even if and perhaps especially when it promises to be something of the team’s highlight of the season. The Reds are, as they have been for the last few decades, either a team poised in the murky limbo between an unexciting recent past and a potentially bright future, or a team built specifically for that endless, mediocre present . They pulled some ruses to do the things and spend the money it takes to compete in the National League Central and then backed away from them. The team spent the last offseason before and after the lockout furiously jettisoning every veteran it could, even if severing an unwanted contract meant adding a young All-Star to the deal. But here, too, the reds don’t quite fill up. They brought Hunter Greene north from spring training, and the former runner-up was electric in a successful MLB debut; Nick Lodolo, a very different but similarly promising pitcher, will also make his debut this week. It’s difficult, as has often been difficult, to see where the Reds are headed, although if it were revealed that owner Bob Castellini had placed a 10-figure bet on his team winning exactly 78 games, it would honestly be a lot to explain .”
Patrick Dubuque, Baseball prospectus: “Mark Belko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette just published an article analyzing the state of pirate finances, and it’s not a pretty one. Bob Nutting and company are playing on their old tricks, running the third-lowest payroll in the league and entertaining trade offers for their top player, Bryan Reynolds, because they have no reason to believe the team will do well as long as he’s in control of costs. Belko spoke to the team and they argued that their payslips were tied to the previous year’s attendance and concession earnings, which if true sounds like a downward spiral if I’ve ever heard one. . . If anything, it’s even worse than it looks. That third-lowest payroll was even the lowest a week ago, before the Pirates signed Ke’Bryan Hayes on a team-friendly extension. We’re talking about a roster where not a single player has been paid more than human pitching machine Jordan Lyles. The best part? To get there, the team actually preloaded the money, paying him $10 million each over the next two years. . . This happened in part because of new restrictions on receiving revenue royalties in the recent CBA. I know you have to spend money to make money, but I’m not sure that was the original intent of the saying.”
Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com: “The good start to the regular season comes after an offseason in which the Yankees passed on all the big names and instead patched holes with short-term signings. (Anthony) Rizzo was brought back on a two-year deal to play first, and Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa were brought in to shake up the left side of infield. The Yankees also played defensively behind the plate in the post-Gary Sanchez era. With that, the Yankees handed over one of the best free-agent leagues in recent memory. They have been linked with Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman all winter, though GM Brian Cashman confirmed Monday the Yankees have not made an official offer to either player. Such statements often depend on the semantics. “We didn’t show them a piece of paper to sign, even though we discussed terms and knew what it would cost.; such. Still, Yankees fans don’t want to hear that their team didn’t bother making an offer to two of the game’s best players. They only want the best players.”
Ben Lindbergh, The ringtone: “It would have been enough if the same old major league baseball players had returned. This MLB campaign would have come so close to being drastically cut or even lost to a prolonged lockout that the sight of the sport’s established superstars — at least those without bad wrists, knees or shoulders — would have been enough for most fans in the early stages the 2022 regular season. Trout and Ohtani; Soto and Vladito; Scherzer and Verlander; Mookie and Turner; harpers and judges; Franco and Ramirez; Wheeler and Woodruff; Buxton and Correa; Cole and Buehler; Bieber and Burnes. These and other prominent major leagues returned to action in or just after last week’s season openers, and their presence seemed particularly sweet because Opening Day was delayed by just a week instead of months or more. But Week 1 of the MLB season had so much more to offer. Correa’s replacement in Houston, Jeremy Peña, hit his first major league homer while his proud parents laughed and cried on camera. The Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr., the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez and the Phillies’ Bryson Stott all pulled left with ropes to score their first or second MLB hit. Reds starter Hunter Greene, the 22-year-old right-hander with the storied fastball, threw five pitches at 101 mph or faster in a single launch, a feat by only four pitchers — Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Nathan Eovaldi and Verlander — before achieved in the pitch tracking era. The Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki pulled a ball into the stands at Wrigley, the Giants’ Heliot Ramos had a two-hit debut and the Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson…well, he hasn’t hit yet, but he made a jump catch? Meanwhile, the Guardians’ Steven Kwan has dominated the season so far by having a baseline record 15 times in his first four career games, highlighted by a 5-a-side Sunday.
“Being a cornerstone of the Pirates means a lot to me. I feel like we have a lot of talent in the minor leagues and we’re doing something special here.”
Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes on his eight-year, $70 million contract.