My latest at Cincinnati Magazine examines an open letter that Bob Castellini and the brand new ownership group wrote to Reds fans back in 2006. You can see the actual letter below this post, but Castellini and company essentially made five promises to Reds fans.

I examined whether the ownership group has lived up to those pledges, twelve-plus seasons into their tenure:

Bob Castellini was correct during his opening press conference: Reds fans are passionate and desperate for (and will support) a winner. The truth is that Castellini is just as desperate as we are; he wants nothing more than to hoist a World Series trophy above his head. And, if we’re being honest, the Castellini group has been light years better than the owners it replaced.

But we are more than a decade into Castellini’s tenure, and Reds fans are getting antsy for the club to deliver on the promises that were made back in 2006. Look at those grades above. Final grades will be posted soon, and I’m perfectly happy to grade on the curve, but it’s time for Castellini and company to demonstrate some urgency.

All we’re asking is for Reds ownership to do what they told us they were going to do. If they can’t live up to those pledges, well, Reds fans will very likely continue to turn their attention elsewhere. And that would be heartbreaking for a city that has the local baseball team woven into its DNA.

Go check out the entire column and come back here and let me know what you think. (If you wanted to share it on Twitter or Facebook, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings.)

Also, if you read this in time, I’ll be on ESPN 1530 with Lance McAlister today at 3:20 to discuss it. Be sure to listen in.

39 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    They have delivered on #3 – community presence – and I’m not equipped to judge #5. But I’ve been disappointed more often than not on the other 3 promises.

  2. Redsfaned

    This ownership has been in over their heads from the beginning. Dan O’Brian and Wayne Krivsky we’re the GMs that drafted well and put together the teams that had the most recent success and do not get the credit they deserve. Yet they we’re immediately fired as the 1st move they made.
    They brought in Jocketty who’ was mediocre at best and missed on 50 pct of the high drafted picks made and traded with the same results.
    Dusty Baker was an awful field manger and by the time Bryan Price was hired the talent pool was unaffordable as they waited much too long to trade valuable pieces and got deminished returns.
    They have had no real talented baseball people worth a damn and we are where we are today.

    • George

      Would like to have seen that in the article to support the premise that they have failed to deliver a winning culture. 🙂

  3. George

    A very civilized article.
    If big BOB can read between the lines he may get the message. IMHO the financial success and the enhancement of “BOB’s” legacy only affects the stockholders position and does nothing to improve the on field results for the ballclub. The product on the field is the true measurement of an effective ownership group not the “feel good” community projects that “Bob” never misses the opportunity to be seen at.

  4. WVRedlegs

    I read your article over at the Magizine yesterday with great interest. It is way past time for those in the Cincy media to start to hold this ownership group and front office accountable. Your grades were a bit generous in a couple of categories.
    1. You gave a “C”. I think a “D” is more in order.
    2. You gave an Incomplete. Again a “D-” is in order.
    3. You gave an “A+”. An “A” or “A+” is good.
    4. You gave a “D”. I think an “F” is more in order.
    5. You gave a “C-“. A “D-” would work here.
    For someone who thought the 2018 Reds were a .500+ team and close to a wild card team, that disappointment I thought would play into your grading scale a little more. Don’t let these owners off of the hook. Hold their feet to the fire. They should be reminded EVERY DAY what hollow promises they made and what little they have done to back up those promises.
    By your account, attendance has fallen almost 50% from 2014 season to the 2018 season. A sobering reminder that the fan base is losing much, much interest.
    Something has to be done to turn around the fortunes of our once great franchise and organization. But it ain’t coming from the Castellinis. THE worst ownership group in MLB and that includes Baltimore and Miami. Just the absolute worst.
    You know the old saying, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, sit on the porch and bark.” Well there sitting on the porch are Big Bob Castellini, Phil Castellini, Walt Jocketty, Dick Williams and new puppy Dick Krall yip-yapping away. No big dogs in that group, just ones with a bad case of the mange.

  5. lost11found

    #4 can be considered checked in most peoples minds probably. This site and others like it are proof of that.

    2012 had two bad pieces of luck in the final third of the season (Votto/cueto) or #1 might be a different story. But hey that’s baseball and that’s sports in a nutshell.

    #2 and #5 corporate boilerplate filler (much like ‘urgency’) that are subjective and wide open to interpretation.

  6. redsfan06

    #2, building a winning management team, begets #1, bringing championship baseball to Cincinnati, resulting in #4, rekindling the Reds Nation spirit. I guess I am willing to wait and see what the results are (like I have a choice anyway), but I am not convinced nephew Williams was a good choice for GM or now as President. He has no real baseball experience to evaluate his selection, which is exactly why I question the decision to put him in those positions.

    As for Kroll, I have no idea whether or not he was a good selection. Based upon the bumblings of the reboot, I would have preferred to see some outside blood brought in from an organization where some success has recently been exhibited.

    This letter just sounds like a bunch of corporate happy malarkey to me. Show me some results to prove the team is not more than just a family toy for you to play with.

  7. eric3287

    In the 13 years (2006-2018) since Catellini has owned the Reds, they have 3 playoff appearances and 4 90 loss seasons (I am including this year because frankly it is almost mathematically impossible for them to lose fewer than 90 games at this point. I don’t see this team finishing the season 57-57).

    From 1994-2005 the Reds never finished in last place, made the playoffs in 1995 (and won a series), would have made them in 1994 without the strike, and made a one game playoff in 1999, essentially identical to the one game playoff of 2013. The 13 years B.C. in every way imaginable were better than the 13 years A.C. The highs were higher, the lows not as low.

    The only grade I’ll quibble with is the Incomplete given to building a respected organization. The Reds front office has slowly devolved into a complete laughing stock. They are running the front office the way you’d expect to see a mom and pop store run; hiring family members for jobs they’re ill-prepared for and refusing to look outside to bring in talent that will cost a lot of money. Until Bob cleans that front office out completely and starts poaching the top talent away from the organizations that are actually the class of MLB, he will deserve an F here.

  8. Sliotar

    Personal negative comments towards whom? Maybe Castellini in his role as an owner, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank. Why would he care?

    I have seen several writers here chastise commenters much worse than the above criticism of Good Ol’ Uncle Bob.

  9. Jack

    Every time I see big Bobs letter it makes me want to throw up. He should be a politician.

  10. Bill

    I understand the frustration, but did anyone actually expect him to say “I am the new owner I will do everything in my power including bankrupting the entire ownership team in order to win the World Series”

    This was obviously more of a political statement to let the fans hear what they wanted than a promise. Could he do more to win, yes. Could he do things differently, yes. Could he actaully deliver a World Series to the Reds, that is beyond his control.

    • lwblogger2

      I agree about delivering a World Series. Getting to the playoffs is a more reasonable goal. After that, it isn’t quite a crap-shoot but luck sure plays a giant part in it. The thing is though, a lot of fans would be thrilled just by getting to the playoffs and winning a playoff series and then getting to the playoffs again. I think “World Series Championship or it doesn’t matter” is the exception rather than the norm. I think fans would be thrilled with a team that can regularly get to the playoffs because sooner or later, a team like that IS going to win a World Series. Took the Braves a lot of tries to win when they had their great run but they did win one.

  11. Spaceman Red

    Kudos, Chad. Kudos to all of the writers on this site who make really good faith efforts to offer insightful commentary on the team and ways they can improve. I am not sure this post will do any good but I bet it felt really good placing it on the interwebs.

    I know many of the posters and readers for this site do not live in Cincinnati. I am among those and, in fact, I am not even living in the United States. So that gives me some perspective, I think, on how things are standing from a macro view in terms of major league baseball and the Reds, in particular.

    The unfortunate fact from all that is that this is still a team trading on its legacy from the 1970s. There has been periodic success since then, most especially the 1990 World Series team (not the most successful in terms of winning percentage, though), that has periodically pushed the Reds onto the national scene. Regret to inform, however, that the Reds are not a major player on the national scene and have not been for a long time. From where I sit, the Reds appear as a middle market team like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Baltimore, Denver or Oakland.

    I grant you there is some great tradition there but other middle and small markets have that, too. Right now we’re simply an also ran and an after thought. We are not part of the national conversation. We will not be, I believe, until the front office embraces some of the advanced ideas propagated by some of the writers on this site. Like Pittsburgh, Oakland or Tampa in recent years, the only way to run ahead of the curve is to innovate and never cease. Living in the past with tride 70s strategies just makes people roll their eyes and chuckle. Wish it were not so. I want the Reds to win. But it is not happening as things are.

    • Scott Carter

      I would posit that we are not even also rans at this point. We are barely out the gate. Perhaps the better horse racing term would be scratched at the starting gate.

      • Indy Red Man

        Horse down. Jockey hurt. Horse euthanized

      • Indy Red Man

        Actually horse broke thru the gate early and is riderless and loose on the track:)

    • Dave Bell

      Good points about living in the past, I’m afraid. The irony is, the Big Red Machine was assembled in a very forward-thinking manner for its day. Certainly, Sparky Anderson along with Earl Weaver would have been the darlings of the SABR crowd, if such a crowd would have existed. Sparky wasn’t necessarily eloquent about it (like Weaver could be), but he wasn’t afraid to experiment and he valued outs (another way of saying he played high OBP players and wasn’t enamored with the sacrifice or hit-and-run) and the long ball.

      • Dewey Roberts

        To your point about Sparky, when the Teds were losing in the seventh game of 1975 World Series with Boston, Sparky told the team at the end of six innings, “You have 9 more outs. Use them well and you will win.”

  12. Matt Esberger

    Whether it’s Grocer Bob or Mikey Brown, both organizations will always favor loyalty & complacency over competence.

    • Mason Red

      You nailed it. The occasional flirtation with prolonged success is something both the Reds and Bengals have in common. It’s like they get there,look around and then decide mediocrity is better.

  13. Jeff Reed

    I’m, of course, not privy to the inter-workings of the Red’s front office, but it seems to me that if Walt Jocketty is still around, the recently promoted DW and GM NK, are not going to have the freedom to do their own thing including a national search for the next manager. A key is that the principal owner should let everyone know Jocketty is no longer associated with the Reds and that it’s a new day at the top of the organization.

  14. Alex

    The reboot focused on near majors instead of talent and that cost them. I really liked the last two drafts and i thinks it’s becoming clear that the vast majority of the next good reds team is in Dayton and Daytona. Good moves now can set them up for a run in three perhaps two years.

    Maybe you even think about trading barnhart. Valuable position, steal of a contract and he is playing great, maybe even over achieving. Perhaps you sell high.

    Age, talent, or contrability will conspire and I just can’t squint and see this current roster outside of maybe two starters, and some bullpen pieces scattered on the mlb and AAA roster.

    Iglesias, Lorenzen, barnhart, Disco and scooter are your most valuable trade assets who will be approaching or will be able to be in FA by the time your good again.

    There will continue to be opportunities in free agency. Harper and machado will get paid but I still believe the market correction on good to mid level players will continue until the next CBA and that opens up things for the reds.

    Keep senzel down all year and do the super two next year lol.

    The reds have consistently failed to pick a path. Mostly they have claimed to be a rebuilding team and yet show a complete disdain for playing young players, and yet, a total aversion to trading them. Facing facts, no longer relying on hope but numbers, valuing upside, and no longer WAY over valuing their own players are the way out of this.

    PS. Bob stick to consolidating your producr shipping supply chain and stay out of the baseball room.

    • eric3287

      You’ve hit the nail on the head. The Reds are kind of at a cross-roads right now; they either have to commit to trading the Shed Longs and Taylor Trammells and Tyler Stephensons for established big league pitching to supplement what you hope can turn into a well rounded offense with Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker producing like they did in AAA.

      Their other path is to trade the established big leaguers that will be replaced in 2020-2021 and, most importantly, to target in those trades prospects currently in AA or A+ that you expect to be ready in 2020/2021, not fringy AAA prospects. That would mean trading Scooter, trading Schebler, trading Billy, trading Iglesias and aiming to have a very good and very deep team by 2020. This half in half out stuff has got to stop.

  15. Old-school

    Great article Chad and thanks for giving a forum to frustrated fans who want the Reds to win. Steve’s forward thinking article was spot on as well.

    Castellini has too many personal/ executive advisors. Why? You have a baseball operations department. In my view, this wing of the organization needs total control of all things between the lines. They dont.

    Why have Walt Jocketty, Joe Morgan, and Lou piniella advising the owner? These are baseball men from a time gone past. It’s organizational schizophrenia to have this power block influencing / competing with baseball decision makers. I love Joe Morgan and Barry Larkin and Eric Davis. I don’t need them and Bob and Walt and Lou all agreeing speed trump’s OBP.

    That doesn’t even get to the influence in the executive board room the marketers and corporate partners possess in this insular city that Cincinnati has become.

    Winning baseball and championships need to be the only focus.

    Wayne Krivsky did a solid job Bob.

  16. james garrett

    I am part of the good ole boy network because of my age and I can remember how things use to work in business.Normally it was the men and women that worked the longest and hardest that were successful but the rest caught on and now everybody works long and hard.Then came along data that was used to run a business and of course the people that could make sense of the data came with it.The men Old School mentioned will be part of Reds lore forever but ALL are part of the good ole boy network that go on gut and feel.They will always add value but they all will add the same value which won’t work in business or in case the Reds if that’s all you got because NO new ideas or even new thoughts ever come in to play.In today’s world you can have and should have faith in the all mighty God but in the business world you better bring some data to back up what you feel and believe because the guy you are competing with does.In today’s era of baseball here is enough data available you could actually know how different pre game meals effect certain players on certain nights.Of course I am joking but you get my point.The Reds don’t appear to put much stock in the data that is available or it doesn’t appear they do.

  17. doofus

    Nice write up Chad. You got it right.

    • Colorado Red

      Thx for the link.
      Makes me want to cry.
      No rush to be winner, no desire to be a winner.

    • jveith1991

      Dick Wiliams, aside from the disastrous signing of Gallardo, made excellent moves while serving as GM. He picked up Dan Straily off the waiver wire and then flipped him the following offseason for Luis Castillo. He picked up Scooter Gennett and we all know what he’s done since the start of last season. He extended Suarez and Barnhart with extremely team-friendly contracts. He was able to swap Mesoraco for Harvey, a move that will hopefully pay dividends come the July trade deadline. He oversaw the last two drafts, which included the selections of Senzel, Trammell, and Greene. The two relief pitchers he signed in free agency last winter, Hernandez and Hughes, have helped transform the bullpen this year.

      The Reds are in the position they are in now due largely to the fact that the Reds drafting under Walt Jocketty was horrendous. Between the time that Leake debuted in 2010 and Mahle this year, what successful starting pitchers have the Reds drafted and developed through their system? (And honestly, it is too early to judge Mahle.) Cingrani is the only one who comes to mind, and even he ended up in the bullpen. Combining this and the fact that Jocketty/Castellini waited too long to begin rebuilding, and you end up with the Reds where they are today.

  18. doofus

    Nothing in the Krall interview speaks to the urgency to get results. My take away is that Krall is another Castellini-Williams-Jocketty sycophant.

  19. doofus

    When Krall says he’s in no hurry, it tells me that the Castellini/William’s brothers 2006 “Winning” proclamation means nothing. In other words ownership has NOT told him he needs to “Git it done.” These owners are content to sit on increasing team valuation, decent revenues and the belief that the Fan base is not informed enough to realize they are being taken for granted.

  20. Joey

    I emailed the Reds and sent th m a link to this article as a healthy reminder!!! 🙂

  21. bouwills

    Well that winning baseball thing hasn’t worked out, but we got Bobbleheads! Fireworks!, & Dogs in the park! If they could get McCartney back, I’d go to another ballgame.

  22. lwblogger2

    Fantastic stuff Chad!! What a great read on Cincinnati Magazine. I think the part that Reds’ ownership and management needs to focus the most on is:

    “In fact, my not-so-scientific radar says that the mood of the Reds fan base is as low as it’s ever been in my lifetime.”

    I would concur 100%. I’m 47 and have been a Reds’ fan that whole time. Aside from my 4-1/2 years in the USAF and a brief attempt at playing semi-pro ball and a minor-league spring training washout with the Orioles organization, I’ve followed the Reds very closely every day. I’m getting exhausted by the organization, right down to the announcers, local TV and radio personalities, and even a good portion of the fans (who I can’t blame). I’m not ready to give up on baseball but my belief in the Reds and dedication to the Reds is waning. For it to wane on a guy like me should be a sign that most fans are either angry or worse, apathetic.

  23. jveith1991

    When the Reds continue to have a lineup day in and day out with the likes of Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, and Jose Peraza, along with struggling Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker, it is completely understandable that the fanbase is frustrated and disappearing. The Reds had opportunities last winter to improve their offense, but chose to do nothing. Lorenzo Cain, CF for the Brewers, is slashing .295/.401/.454, with 11 SB. Yelich for the Brewers is slashing .305/.371/.467. Cincinnati could have acquired either or both of these players. Yes, it would have cost them money or prospects. Instead, they went to a division rival. The Reds will have to upgrade their outfield sooner rather than later. While Winker may be the leadoff hitter for the Reds for years to come, the jury is still out on Schebler. If Duvall and Hamilton are still wearing Reds uniforms in 2019, it will be a sign of complete ineptitude by the front office. Why the Reds didn’t try to acquire one of these two players boggles my mind.