On July 30th, 2019 the Cincinnati Reds traded away their number one prospect. In return they landed former All-Star starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. The move signaled the end of a rebuild and hinted that the time to win is now. Since then, members of the Reds’ front office have been anything but bashful about their desire to spend money and make trades this off-season to upgrade their current roster in order to contend.

Fast forward to October 29th, 2019. That brings us to the NFL trade deadline. The Reds’ 0-8 neighbors, the Bengals, spent the day seemingly sitting on their hands. The Bengals front office was reportedly opposed to the idea of making trades. The front office refused to trade players. They refused to trade draft picks in order to make the current team better or build for the future. They were content.

Looking beyond the vacuum of the Reds record over the past few years, the organization has done a lot of good things. There is a direction and a cohesiveness to get better. Starting in 2017, Dick Williams spoke about heavy investments in player development, analytics, and even minor league nutrition. All costs and money spent that the casual fan probably never noticed. Just recently the Reds made major changes in development at the minor league level, revamping the coaching staff and changing what wasn’t working. The Reds have even shown a willingness to pay and hire some of the industry’s best to their coaching staff with the addition of Kyle Boddy, among others.

Organizational changes like the ones mentioned above are a great foundation. But it also takes an acknowledgement and the execution of a rebuild on the field – which the Reds have done. They have successfully traded away aging assets for young controllable talent while stocking the minor league full of quality prospects.  They are just now getting ready to trade some of that talent for supplemental pieces to their already good/decent big league roster.

Looking at how the Reds’ and Bengals’ organizations have operated recently is like comparing Mike Browns’ sleeping patterns to those of my one year old daughters’ – one is making an effort and one is not. One is committed to a goal and one is not. 2019 has exposed the Bengals front office as being directionless and incompetent. They neglected to address holes in their roster in the off-season. They refused to trade a disgruntled/useless player in Cordy Glenn. The Bengals also missed the boat in trading away pending free agents.  They missed on trading away aging players to get a jump start on an inevitable rebuild. The front office’s mishandling of situations goes on to include the benching of their starting quarterback of eight years. On his birthday. Three hours before the trade deadline. The Bengals managed to upset an unupsetable guy in Andy Dalton.

Being the Bengals fan that I am, their 2019 season has provided a stark contrast and an eye opening perspective on how good of a job Dick Williams and the Reds front office has done over the past few years. The Bengals lack a plan or direction. And a lack of a willingness to win has exposed the success of the Reds front office in a way that makes you really appreciate it beyond the wins and losses. Hopefully 2020 is the year that starts to bear the fruits of the front office’s labor.

34 Responses

  1. Justin

    Professional sports teams are incredibly profitable, even as year after year losers. The Bengals have never talked like they have a desperate desire to win. Not even to appease fans. They make their money and Brown sees it as silly to spend any more.

    I’ve been a lifelong fan, but haven’t watched a single snap this year.

    At least we can point to attempts by the Reds over the years.

    • Joey

      I stopped watching the Bengals after what Burfict and Pac man did in the wild card game against the Steelers. Haven’t watched them since.

      • Zack

        Same, Joey. Watching with my wife, I said “I’m done” with the Bengals after the PacMan/Burfict debacle. Until they fully change the culture and commit to discipline, heart, and winning…I’m not wasting another dime on them.

      • Matt

        I don’t ever comment on here but I have to chime in now with wholehearted agreement. That debacle made me so angry and I’m still angry now. It showed a complete lack of basic respect for human beings and convinced me that the Bengals organization, the team I grew up with, is not worthy of my time or money. Go Reds!

    • REDLEGS 4 LIFE

      I agree. I have not watched a game since they drafter Joe Mixon. With our history, why do you go and draft a kid who punched a girl in the face. I am not judging him, everyone has their own demons, but another team should have given him a chance. It showed to me that they do not care about the prison orange label that all other teams pen on us and we can not defend. I to have been a life long fan, but it is getting harder and harder to support a team that Mike Brown owns. If he sells the team to someone who cares about winning I will start watching, but until them, I am out.

    • Darrel Schick

      Interesting. I’ve been a fan since 1970 and I haven’t seen a single snap this year either.

  2. greenmtred

    I’m not a Bengals fan. I’m a sort of Browns fan, but don’t care much about the NFL anymore. That said, what we know now is that the Reds are talking a good game and the Bengals aren’t bothering with the pretence. Talk is cheap, though.

    • CP

      I’m guessing your comment is in reference to free agency, where it still remains to be seen whether the Reds will finally participate in any meaningful way.

      In everything else, however, the Reds haven’t just talked, they’ve almost completely changed how they operate in the span of a a few years. Whether the change in operations will translate to wins is another story.

      • greenmtred

        You’re right, though it isn’t just the free agency. I’m too old and tired of the past 5 or 6 years to care much about anything but good, winning baseball.

  3. Pete

    If the Bengals determine Dalton was not going to be part of their future, they did the right thing by benching him. Regardless if it’s his birthday or not. Enough already, please let us see the Reds and Bengals start to treat their teams as professional sports organizations. Hiring of top front office personnel from within the family is just bad business. Hire the best people that you can find. In the end, the Reds are much more like the Bengals than they are not.

    • Jefferson Green

      St. Louis is family run with Bill Dewitt, Jr. as majority owner and Bill Dewitt III running the team. I’d love to have the success in Cincinnati that they have had.

      • Pete

        And how! Perfect job for Dick Williams:

        “Bill DeWitt III, just like his dad, graduated from Yale and then earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. After school, he went to work for the Cardinals; and in 2008, became team president. He’s earned respect through his work with the design and construction of the new stadium and has played a big role in raising the status of the Cardinals Care charities. This year, he was instrumental in finally getting Ballpark Village off the drawing board and into the construction phase.”

        https://www.laduenews.com/society/it-s-all-relative-bill-dewitt-jr-and-bill-dewitt/article_e01ab3ed-09e9-577f-9848-6f20ad2eb642.html

        I would like Williams to detach himself from the running of baseball operations and concentrate on new stadiums, rotary club meetings, charities, uniform designs and such just like DeWitt III. Good call. I’d like to see a guy like Chaim Bloom run the baseball side of things – perfect marriage.

        John Mozeliak is the President of Baseball Operations same position as DW. DeWitts handle the business end. Sweet arrangement.

    • Johnny

      Did you read the article? The Reds:

      1. Are making traditional and non-traditional investments to try to improve the organization

      2. Have done a complete reversal in terms of trading and free agency, and

      3. Not mentioned, but they’ve tried to make the fan experience a bit better. The Bengals philosophy is… I hope we draft well. They are nothing like each other.

      • Pete

        Outside of the results on the field, the Reds provide a wonderful experience for their fans. Both teams are run by amateurs as far as I’m concerned. I hope the Reds prove me wrong in 2020.

  4. TR

    At least Big Bob Castellini, the principal owner, has the Reds pointed in the right direction, in contrast to Mike Brown and Family who still refuse to hire a general manager and are, therefore, often the laughing stock of the NFL.

  5. Andrew T Webb

    This is column that I wish I could have written, I will go one step further I think the reds are delaying their next rebuild with the moves they have made. When Castellini brought in Walt Jocketty I think he wanted two think what he did build a winning team and what he did not do make a Reds way in the minor league’s. I think that Dick Williams saw that and being younger is more willing to embrace the new analytical style of baseball and it will work. I also think (or hope) we have a manager in Bell that during the regular season bye and large goes with the numbers but at the same time can use the eye test.

  6. Klugo

    I’ll believer it when I see it. Thus far, I see more similarities than contrast.

  7. James H.

    You’re just now figuring this out about the Bengals? That’s on you and anyone else following the team and spending money (and more importantly your time) on them.

  8. RobT

    Agreed

    Like the Reds direction and commitment to spend money. Seems like most fans are unaware of the changes the Reds have made. Would like to see some win-now moves with the current rotation

  9. CP

    The amazing thing about the Bengals is their lack of success in a league designed for parity. There is literally no reason they can’t modernize their front office and yet they refuse to do so. The family could retain certain key decision making authority and still hire an outsider GM and a real scouting/analytical department, and they purposely don’t do it.

    • Pete

      Whether it’s the Reds or Bengals it boils down to misplaced hubris. Mike Brown doesn’t need a GM, he’s smarter than any GM….. Delusion is very strong with this one.

      Williams better be good because the Reds are stuck with him for a long ride, I’m afraid. Less so but the same is true with David Bell. Blood is thicker than water. If the Reds pull up lame next season, I hope some of you guys will raise your voices in disgust.

      Going to be fun to juxtapose Williams and Chaim Bloom (Red Sox). Williams & Co. may know what to do but do they have the necessary skills to pull it off? We’ll see. Until proven otherwise, I think it’s a farce.

  10. Alex

    Reds ownership and Dick Williams are much better people and citizens than the miserly Brown family, but the Reds are doing a lot of talking with little to show for it. I know many of you are encouraged by the eight win jump in 2019, but I’m not sold whatsoever on Dick Williams and his staff yet. Let’s see a winner first.

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I don’t know why the NFL hasn’t kicked Brown out of the league by now. All he is doing is relishing in the revenue sharing generated by the other teams.

    Does Brown thinks there’s going to be another city who wants this team? I wouldn’t know why. For, that other city probably isn’t going to give him the deal that Cincy gave him here. I’ve heard the deal Cincy gave Brown was the best deal in the league “for the owner”.

  12. RedNat

    I loved Cincinnati. born and raised in Roselawn. will always love the reds and bengals. but even I HAVE TO ADMIT Cincinnati is a relic of a town. it greatest days were in the 1800s when the riverboat ruled!. we have lost population and now are around 300k. we are basically an irrelevant town now.

    my point is to have 2 major league franchises in this town is pretty amazing! I support the ownership of both clubs in their quest to keep the franchises here. I know the nfl would love for the bengals to leave town. and honestly I don’t think mlb would care too much if the reds moved to Charlotte or another up and coming town.
    Yes, neither team is very good right now. these past 5 years could arguably be the worst in Cincinnati sports history but a t least we have 2 pro teams that we can see without having to worry about big city traffic and at low ticket price to boot!

    • TR

      Cincinnati and the metro area with a population of 2.2 million has a lot going for it. It’s a great place to raise a family with most of the cultural and entertainment activities of more populous areas. Cincinnati, like most old industrial cities, has lost population since the 1950’s when it had a half a million. Not everybody is moving out with people moving in to the revived downtown with a probable census of at least 300,000 similar to fellow older cities like Pittsburgh, St. louis and Milwaukee.

    • Bill J

      I don’t know if the NFL & MLB want the Bengals & Reds to move, but just have owners that really care to WIN.

      • Pete

        Everyone wants (cares) to win, I think this is a false argument.. When I was 10 years old I wanted to be a MLB player – like MB & DW want to run a major sports organization. How about they just aren’t up to it – can we not handle the truth?

        Better to say, “they don’t care to win”…….. Never met a soul who wanted to be a loser. Mike Brown doesn’t know what the’s doing and I highly doubt Dick Williams does either but they’re family. You’re implying that if they wanted to win, they would. I argue that they can’t – period.

    • Jefferson Green

      Wow. MLS just awarded a major league franchise to Cincinnati. I’m pretty sure that they would disagree with your assessment, as do I. Cincinnati is indeed small for a major league town and has its challenges, but also has grown and has a lot going for it, as well.

  13. Colorado Red

    Used to care a lot about the NFL,
    But after so many terrible seasons, I switch to the Broncs.
    (in between the first and second championships.

  14. RojoBenjy

    Let’s clean up the language in this article. No more use of the “B” word. It is nauseating.

    😉

    PS- I tend to agree with Pete, in that there is no financial incentive for either franchise to invest a lot in winning. Owning a team, especially and NFL franchise, is exactly like having an ATM that prints free money, thanks to profit-sharing.

  15. AirborneJayJay

    I gave up on the Bengals 10 years ago when Marvin Lewis made it a team full of convicts. I started dispising them when they signed Burfict. I got rid of anything that said Bengals on it.
    Not quite at that point with the Reds, yet. The Reds front office has failed big time the last 2 off seasons as they tried to exit the rebuild. Two years ago the big gets were Hughes and Hernandez and last year it was The Debacle, the trade with the Dodgers. The trade for Sonny Gray is the only feather this front office can stick in their hat over the last 2 off seasons. Let’s tap the brakes on saluting this Reds front office until after this important off season. It was often said over the last two off seasons that each off season was the most important in decades. We are hearing much of the same this winter. If this off season goes like the last 2, another sub-.500 season should be expected. Lets remember, the Reds front office failed miserably at making two very makable and team altering trades because they didn’t have the kahones to step up. Remember the Yelich and Realmuto trades? The Reds front office folded like lawn chairs on those trades. They had good hands then and will have a good hand of cards this off season. Will they fold again, or hold them this time around? Or is another stupid trade like last years Dodgers trade in store for us?
    Let’s wait and see.

  16. BigRedMachine

    You’re analysis of the ineptitude of the Bengals management is far too forgiving. Recently, when asked why he doesn’t trade players, Mike Brown replied with something along the lines of: It isn’t the Bengals job to make other teams better.

    Let that sink in for a minute.

    Imagine you have several aging players. All of them are on the last year of their contracts before free agency. The chance you will be able to afford them is slim. Because of age none of them can be expected to keep performing throughout the length of any new contract. But you hang on to them during an 0-8 record out of spite–you don’t want any team to with the Superbowl with any of your players.

    I’ve said this on many Bengals sites. They will never, ever be competitive so long as Mike Brown and company own and manage the team. If they do it will be lottery-level luck and happen in spite of the management rather than because of it.

    • BigRedMachine

      Your*

      (Will we ever be able to edit comments? /sigh)

  17. Tom Mitsoff

    I’ve followed both the Reds and Bengals with equal passion for nearly a half-century. I have great hope that the Bengals will find a way to turn things around both this year and in the near future. But what I think is more likely is they will continue to run things as they have for decades, and when their Paul Brown Stadium lease is up in 2026, they will leave town because there will be no passion remaining in the fan base which will certainly be asked for more money to upgrade the stadium.

    I am very pleased with the pro-actively modern approach of the Reds front office. I believe that while they may fail, it won’t be from a lack of trying. From the Bengals perspective, they just have to get the draft right — particularly this next one if they end up with the number one or two overall choice and one of the top quarterbacks. They made the playoffs five straight years because of terrific drafting, and their recent skid has been marked by terrible drafting.