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.