Dear Mr. Castellini,

First, I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything you have done for the Cincinnati Reds and the city of Cincinnati. Your generosity in check writing and spirit has revitalized the franchise. You have earned the respect of Reds fans. The club’s accomplishments since 2010 have made us proud once again of our team.

You promised to bring back winning and you did. Now we’ve come to expect it. Which is the way it should be in Cincinnati.

However, the time has come for you to make important decisions about the direction of the organization. And they aren’t easy decisions. Speaking as a season ticket holder, someone who was raised in Cincinnati during the Big Red Machine era and who devotes a sizable amount of time and income to the Cincinnati Reds, I’m offering you my unsolicited advice.

It’s time to allow the general manager to start building a roster that can compete in future seasons. While many people were calling for a fire sale this past offseason, I didn’t. I was glad you gave this group of players another year. The roster was deeply flawed, but in the end, if the core players had stayed healthy, who knows what the team could have done. But the injuries to Devin Mesoraco and Homer Bailey have been body blows the team’s post-season aspirations couldn’t survive.

That said, I am not part of the “blow up this team” crowd. The organization can still be built around Joey Votto, Devin Mesoraco, Todd Frazier, Homer Bailey and the group of young pitchers that is just about major league ready. Other players, who are either at the end of their contract with the Reds or unlikely to contribute to 2017 and beyond must be aggressively shopped for trade value.

But Mr. Castellini, it is not enough just to change a few players. The Cincinnati Reds are in need of a fundamental paradigm shift on the baseball side of the organization, just as you have already accomplished on the non-baseball side. The team has fallen behind on the playing field of ideas.

At its foundation, baseball is still the same game – hitting, pitching, catching, throwing and running. It’s still two teams, three outs and nine innings.

But the understanding of what it takes to win a major league baseball game has undergone dramatic change in the past ten years. Unfortunately, your organization is operating based on principles that worked in the past but are now out of date. Evaluating hitters based on batting average began during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and using ERA as a measure for pitchers started more than twenty years before Alan Turing invented the computer. New aging curves, the relative scarcity of hitting and the importance of getting on base are a few examples that are part of the revolution in thinking that has occurred. With the explosion of new information, the rate of change will accelerate in coming years.

You must hire a new front office, one that comprehends and endorses these new ideas — you need more than the fig leaf of a tiny analytics department. The people who make decisions must have an advanced grasp of the new information available and the right criteria to use to evaluate baseball players. Outside experts rank the Reds toward the bottom in terms of modern thinking.

In your other businesses, would you hire a Chief Technology Officer who didn’t understand cloud computing? Would you hire a Director of Marketing who was indifferent to social media?

Walt Jocketty was a great general manager 10 years ago, perhaps one of the best in the sport. But he has been unwilling or unable to adopt new thinking when it comes to managing a baseball operation. At a time when your organization is about to enter a period of profound transformation, it is difficult to imagine a person less well suited to see the Reds through the multi-year transition to modern professional baseball.

The core of a great team has existed in Cincinnati since 2010, comprised primarily of players already in the organization before Mr. Jocketty joined the Reds. For the past several years, he has been unable to make moves to take the Reds to the next level. The principle of accountability that led to Dusty Baker’s firing demands a similar fate for Mr. Jocketty.

You can judge Mr. Jocketty’s recent failure by his own words. He said numerous times during the off-season that the key was to acquire hitters with better on-base skills and with fewer strikeouts. He proceeded to put together a roster full of new position players with terrible on-base skills and who were among major league leaders in strikeouts. If any of your employees told you that Brennan Boesch could hit or Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis were still major league caliber pitchers, you should no longer trust that person.

More alarming than Mr. Jocketty’s ineffectiveness at meeting his own stated goals is the Reds actual deficiency in these areas. Your general manager has allowed this to happen. He has let your team fall behind. On-base percentage became a competitive advantage for the Oakland Athletics five years before the invention of the iPhone. Yet it was just last winter the Cincinnati Reds seemed to discover its importance.

To be clear, this is not about an eight-game losing streak. It’s about a several-year pattern of ineffective management of the roster and inability to make trades or wise free agent signings.

Financial or other constraints are no excuse for a general manager. Every team operates with constraints of some type — whether they be financial, personnel, or ownership demands. It is the job of the general manager to think creatively and operate within those constraints to figure out moves that can improve the team.

You only have to look at our competition in the NL Central to see how baseball organizations are succeeding by adopting modern analytical approaches to the game. The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs have been exemplary in stocking their front office leadership with people who are wholeheartedly committed to modern thinking about baseball. You see the trend toward hiring young, modern-thinking general managers throughout baseball.

But you don’t even need to look outside of Cincinnati to learn that lesson. Your own organization — the non-baseball side — proves exactly what can happen when new ideas and modern thinking are applied to running a major league baseball team. They have made coming to Great American Ball Park a wonderful, positive, family-friendly experience. It’s obvious your non-baseball staff is studying other organizations and willing to implement new ways of interacting with customers.

The contrast between the baseball and non-baseball sides of your organization could not be starker. The bottom line is this: How can you look at what has happened to the Reds the past few years and be satisfied with the way the team has been managed?

Even though time is short before crucial trades have to be made, you can’t replace Walt Jocketty with another old-school general manager and expect change. Attack this problem like you did with hosting the All-Star game. You led an assault on Minnesota last summer. You and your staff absorbed all the lessons. Your ticket office already copies the best practices of other organizations. Take a hard look at what has worked on the baseball side in Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Take the time to hire a young assistant general manager from one of the growing number of organizations who operate with modern principles. Then turn the baseball side of your operation over to that person.

You don’t have to worry about the fans. We will continue to support the team, just as fans have in other cities. We understand change. We see it all around in other organizations. Sure, we love our veterans, but we also love exciting new young players. Look at how Cubs fans have reacted to Kris Bryant. The two times this year when I went out of my way to attend a game at GABP were the debuts of Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias. You can market new players.

But to help bring the fans along, you also need to change the voice of the organization. The radio and television broadcasters — who work for you — must also understand and accept the changes in the game. They can help explain it to the fans. How can fans understand the critical role that on-base percentage plays when the voice of your organization never discusses that concept? Communication plays a vital role in a successful paradigm shift.

Other organizations include modern player statistics in their graphics. Their announcers introduce new concepts of how to think about baseball to their fans. In contrast, your announcers resist modernization with all their might. (Chris Welsh and Jeff Brantley are notable exceptions.)

I know that’s a lot — new players, a new general manager and a couple new broadcasters. But other organizations, ones without the head start yours has, have done it and come out the other side stronger and poised for a brighter future.

Start the process now. When the world arrives for the All-Star game, it’s more important that the Reds have taken steps to prove they are moving in the right direction than it is to have a few players in a Reds uniform for that one game. Being stuck and floundering in an outmoded paradigm is far more embarrassing than seeing Aroldis Chapman for fifteen minutes in a Red Sox uniform.

These decisions you face offer a profound opportunity to shape a positive legacy as owner of the Cincinnati Reds. You can take a historical franchise and move it forward. You would be the person who cemented the Reds as perennial contenders for championships. You’ve already done the hard part with your financial investment. Now you have to make your investment more productive.

People I’ve talked to who know you say that you are a fiercely loyal person. Some have suggested you’ve resisted trading players or allowing them to leave as free agents because of this quality. Right now, you have an opportunity to turn that sense of loyalty — loyalty to the Cincinnati Reds organization — into a powerful asset. It can steel your determination to make the hard decisions that will set the club on the right path.

Sincerely,

Steve Mancuso

168 Responses

  1. George Mirones

    Have it printed as a full page in the sports section of the Inquirer, other media will pick it up and run with the story. Wider audience and good timing before the All Star Game.
    Telling the King he has no clothes needs a broader audience.

    Co-sign

  2. georgestricker2

    Your letter is well written and well thought out. I will re read it to digest its entirety. We both agree that immediate, fundamental, and organization wide changes must be made before the all star game.

  3. deltaxray468

    I concur. Well done.

    It’s really a question of understanding the connection between leading and lagging indicators. And then coaching toward the critical performance drivers of success. Many coaches have pioneered this type of thinking. Pat Riley brought it to the NBA. John Wooden to College Basketball. Paul Brown to professional football. And this thinking is overtaking baseball. In modern baseball, OBP and other stats ensure the whole works better than the parts. The Reds have build a team of parts who do not complement each other.

  4. kmartin

    My congratulations. This was one of the most articulate, cogent, analytical and well-written articles I have ever read. This article reads as well as anything columnists for the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, or any other major national publication write.

  5. Matt garlick

    Excellent stuff. I too may have left out the part about broadcasting, although I do somewhat agree. And I love the quality in Marty where he shows no hesitation in being 100% honest, especially when it comes to poor performance. That said, I would like to know how I go about signing this. Cincinnati deserves a better club, or one that is at minimum, managed properly, top down.

    • farney_lives

      Cosign and amend that Bob actually hurt this organization with his fierce loyalty. Every player he threw money at got worse and the lesson was never learned. I respect that he improved the ballpark experience but he inherited a nice farm system and has run it into the ground with his old school thinking and loyalty to Jocketty. No mention of Kevin towers bringing brought in… that in a nutshell is the problem with this team.

  6. wyoRedsfan

    agreed–well written and argued!

  7. Adam Cook

    Fire Price and Jocketty or sell the team to someone who cares about winning!

  8. Redbuffs

    Wholeheartedly concur!!! Thank you Steve!!

  9. Ryan Dawes, Minneapolis Reds fan

    Co-signed. I’ll keep listening/watching/buying while Reds rebuild. Less likely to pay any attention if they do nothing drastic.

  10. D Ray White

    Co sign

    I agree with everything sans announcers. That might be a bridge too far, although the criticism is valid.

  11. PARED84

    Thank you Steve for speaking so eloquently for the pained Red’s fans. I have been a fan since 1970. I am from Pittsburgh and I assure you to be loyal to the Reds is difficult in these times.While I am sure that you have invested more time and money in the Reds than I have, be assured that many of us have a huge emotional investment in the team. So while I don’t always agree with you,l know you have the best interest of the Reds in mind.
    Once again Thank You very much.

  12. esbienenfeld

    Co-sign x one million! Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I cannot agree more with this open letter. Thanks for writing it Steve.

  13. Richard Fisher

    It’s time for Price to go, bring on Barry Larkin!!

    • Adam S.

      Larkin would be great for the Reds organization. Price is worst manager in Reds history.

      • redmountain

        Hardly. He is not the worst by a country mile, but he probably is not the man to head this team.

    • Gaffer

      Larkin is a bad idea, he would be like Tino Martinez with these guys who don’t answer to the old school rules. But, Price is a large part of the problem. He is as clueless and spineless as it gets. Corky Miller?

  14. Chris D King

    CO-SIGN!!!!!! This is perfect. It has to get to Mr. Castellini somehow. ASAP. Please find a way to make that happen Mr. Mancuso.

  15. Steve Checkosky, Syracuse

    Brilliant and well-stated. I can’t find a word that I would disagree with.

    I might also emphasize the waste of the extraordinary talent of Aroldis Chapman. Arguably the finest arm in the game, a salary of $8M, and yet we see fit to use him for all of 17 innings through the first quarter of the season. I would guess that less than half of those innings were situations where the game was truly on the line. Unbelievable!

    Co-sign!

  16. Adam S.

    I don’t co sign. Attack on Marty is not fair. Who do you want as announcer Kelch? He is boring. In terms of GM you want another terrible GM like Krivsky or O’brien?

    • Gaffer

      What was so bad about the GMs that built the teams that went to 3 playoffs? How is Walt so much better, just because he signed those players to huge long contracts. The point is the Reds need a new approach and Marty is a part of that need too.

      • I-71_Exile

        I’m not a fan of grouchy Marty, but if the Reds win he calls an awesome game. Tom? Not so much.

      • whereruklu

        Gotta agree on this one. I love Welsh and wish he had a more prominent role in the broadcasting booth. This dude knows his stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Cowboy does too, but JB can be a bit too monotone at times. Welsh deserves a bigger mic.

    • D Ray White

      You do realize that many of the players we’re watching were drafted or acquired during Krivsky’s tenure? On second thought, probably not…

    • Tzaousios (@Klibanophoros44)

      I would rather have Thom Brennaman get the boot from Reds broadcasting than Marty. Thom is SO annoying that I mute the TV half the time. It is a relief when he is absent and it is Brantley, Welsh, and either Kelch or Grande.

      • J. Roberts

        Anyone but George Grande! The TV voice of losing Reds baseball for so many years was let go, but now he’s back — and the Reds are losing again! (Although I’m looking forward to hearing him once again tell the life stories of opposing teams’ third base coaches.)

      • J. Roberts

        Actually, I mute the TV for both Thom and Grande. And when Brantley’s doing his innings on the radio, I usually turn off the radio sound as well. That gives me three innings (3,4,7) of total silence. Very peaceful.

    • Tom Reed

      Is Krivsky and/or O’Brien available?

      • I-71_Exile

        Krivski is a “Special Assistant to the GM” with the Twins and Dan O’Brien is out of baseball as far as I can tell.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      those two GM’s changed the scouting dept and traded for some of the players that have played well for the past 4 to 5 years and also put into place (since dropped) in the minor league system rules (take the first pitch etc)that helped to make better ballplayers–less strikeouts –more walks etc.

  17. Walks Will Haunt (@scheffbd)

    Co-sign.

    I agree the broadcast team needs an overhaul. Castellini should watch/listen to the Detroit broadcasts when the Reds play the Tigers. They’re pretty good on the analysis side and I don’t think they overwhelm casual fans with numbers.

    • Adam S.

      I do not want my reds broadcast filled with analytics.

      • Gaffer

        Sure, why would you want analysis from analysts? I hope the broadcasts continue to be filled with “oh boy” and “oh my” and similar nonsensical mumbling. Oh and more references to eating JTM and UDF malts please too.

      • Michael E

        Analytics is not announcing. Announcers are NOT ANALYSTS, they’re there to help describe the game and bring some excitement. They are NOT there to talk non-stop about jibberish and offer their own opinions non-stop, nor are they there to talk about data so abstract even THEY don’t know what it means.

        Analytics belong in the scouting and personnel deparment, NOT withe the broadcasting teams. This is beyond stupid.

      • Dr. K

        I couldn’t care less how hard Jay Bruce hits the ball. I do care if he’s at least making an attempt to use all fields rather than trying to pull every pitch.

      • Nick Doran

        Your Reds broadcast is already filled with analytics. The problem is they love outdated, disproven, misleading analytics like batting average with runners in scoring position.

    • Michael E

      I want announcers that describe the game with great detail (especially radio) and have the good sense to not talk all the time. I can remember the long silences of Joe Nuxhall and I liked it. I sometimes thought I lost WLW signal when I lived in Atlanta only to have Joe chime back in as the next pitch was being delivered.

      I agree with Adam, we don’t need announcers spewing non-stop, non-meaningful stat or measurement. I don’t want to here about WAR and BWAR and FWAR and WARWAR and crap. Just announce the game and suggest when a play was missed or botced or a questionable managerial decision, but not much else.

      • Nick Carrington

        If you want announcers that just announce the game and don’t comment on it, then you must not like the current team they have. Lots and lots of analysis.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        Be careful of too much “Moneyball”–some of the old ways worked then and they will work now–BUT—-you need winners–guys who will take what is offered pitch wise and use it to their own advantage–this goes for managers too–they must tell a Bruce–that when the shift is on–you MUST bunt the ball to the third base side or you don’t play–yes I know a HR hitter bunting the ball but over time the shift will stop.. The Andersons ,Alstons and LaSordas, Herzogs, Williams.,Pinellas (please don’t forget Hutchinson) of this world did not let their players do it their way –they told them even if it meant hard feelings and it some cases–fighting about it.. But WINNERS don’t care about any of that–they just want to win and will do anything to achieve the win.

      • Michael E

        Once again, analysis is NOT analytics. The words are closer in spelling but should not be confused. We don’t need EVERY pitch and every at bat diagnosed like some arm-chair psychiatrist. Just point out nuances, like pitches are up and he looks tired, hitter seems to be unable to recognize the breaking ball, etc.

        Rolling numbers non-stop is a cure for insomnia, not a recipe for excitement. If I need to sleep, I will request analytics review.

  18. Tony Davis

    Well written letter. Gets right to the point.
    Thanks Steve

  19. Reds fan in Indy

    Extremely well-written and spot on point.

    (Hope he reads it!)

  20. Michael E

    While I am sure “analytics” play some role, it isn’t nearly as big as some have been conned into believing. The real decisions are based on scouts on-site observations, as they should be. The extra detailed numbers (overdone to the max) do help if choosing between two similar players for a trade or signing or a promotion.

    Obviously (obvious well before analytics) hitters that walk more and strikeout less than others are more valuable, as are hitters that hit more and hit the ball harder or run faster. Pitching, very simple, keep runners off base…thus the ONLY stat that matters in pitching is WHIP, everything else is fluff.

    • Michael E

      I didn’t say the Reds agree, I just noted that analytics is overrated. The two are not mutually-exclusive and just because the Reds stink at evaluations, doesn’t mean the only answer is a new analytics department.

  21. Nick Doran

    Awesome letter Steve. I agree with everything you said.

  22. redmountain

    Mr. Castellini, tear down this wall. I do not believe that Walt Jocketty has done a terrible job, but also feel there have been some pretty obvious mistakes. Whether it is scouting, managing, or the players just need to be changed, find a way to fix it. You are a Reds fan and no one is probably suffering anymore than you, but loyalty to a broken system did not make you affluent. Therefore I , reluctantly, cosign the letter above.

  23. MU84

    Agree on the GM–been saying that for years. Please read: http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/st-louis-cardinals-sabermetrics-analysis/2015/3/2/8130063/john-mozeliak-vs-walt-jocketty-st-louis-cardinals-roster-construction

    As for Marty, disagree. Likewise for 3B–fails to hit with RISP. CF is not MLB caliber–certainly not a lead off hitter. RF, dud, 4-6 hot weeks does not a season make. SS, another dud, beginning of season was a fluke.
    This team laid down on Dusty the last 2 months of 2013 and nothing has changed.
    It may have been Sparky who said, “the back of the baseball card don’t lie.” Yet, our GM continues to “dumpster dive” for has-beens and duds. Price can only play the hand he has been dealt and that hand comes from the top.
    With the ASG coming up, its unlikely anyone will go anywhere until late July.

  24. Scott

    I would sign this letter as a season ticket holder in a heart beat. Mr. Castellini has done a wonderful job with the ballpark experience, the marketing, the ticket department, and basically everything outside of the baseball operations. Great letter.

  25. jeff tinker

    I agree 100% something needs to be done price and jockerty is not getting the job done

  26. jimmaloney46

    Nice ideas, Steve, but ultimately your letter is one big cop-out. You spend a lot of time rationally explaining, not just to BC but all of the world, why firing Jocketty is needed, something anybody with a brain already knows, and you tell BC the direction your religious fervor world of sabermetrics should point out to him, yet you fail to suggest ONE person to succeed him. It’s ludicrous. You’re ready to fire someone without having identified one GOOD successor? Pathtic?. It’s like the Dusty days, when everyone wanted him fired, but no one had one good idea on whom to succeed him. Look what we got. Freakin Bryan Price, a clueless manager is there ever was one.

    How bout you name for us one of these great assistant GMs you;re so sure about, you know, one of the guys hooked on sabermetrics that would be the right guy for the Cincinnati Reds? Anybody can call for a firing. Help Bob out the rest of the way. How can you expect Castellini and his organization to find the right guy, when you tell us they are clueless about sabermetrices and lost in the past?. Seems really weak to tell us how dumb the Reds are, so dumb you write this long letter to convince the boss to make to change in a completely new direction, yet you offer nothing on who to hire. I call bogus on this effort. You may love metrics, but until you identify a job candidate that is better than Jocketty, your letter is just more silly noise. Very weak.

    • CP

      That isn’t Steve’s job, but here’s a list:

      Kim Ng
      John Coppolella
      Tyrone Brooks
      Bill Geivett
      Thad Levine

      • jimmaloney46

        CP-tell me why these guys are so qualified to lead the Reds. Or rather, pick one and tell me what good things he’s done, that make him special enough to gamble on.

    • NCRedsfan

      really? that’s your response? at this point I would almost trade Cueto for a GM from any forward thinking team. I really don’t think there are many qualified people who could do much worse than the management we have now(?)

      • I-71_Exile

        Love Steve’s letter, but I’d like to see his suggestions for replacements as well. I did some work the other day trying to line up what would be a good trade for Cueto and it wasn’t as easy as I expected once the parameters were narrowed. It’s easy to say “Trade Cueto for a top-20 prospect” until you see who those guys are and who owns them.

  27. Greg Borchers

    I wholeheartedly agree with Steve. Mr. Castellini you once said the “losing needs to stop” and you fired Wayne Krivsky. Your other favorite quote was “If momma ain’t happy” I submit that momma is not happy, with the current course.

  28. John Jung

    Amen. Cincinnati fans will understand and stay loyal. That’s what we do. But respect us enough to tell us the truth, jettison the dead weight, and move on with a new plan!

  29. Indy Red Man

    Awesome letter. I’m loyal to the Reds but I’m coming down I-74 from Indy anytime soon to see this trainwreck.

  30. Tom Gray

    Maybe someone mentioned above (not gonna read 120 replies) but Bryan Price simply must go. He cannot manage at MLB (or any other) level.

  31. Eli

    I hope he reads this. Great letter.

    -co-sign- Eli Montgomery
    Dayton native

  32. Robby20

    The scouting/player development department has been good? If that were true one might expect there to be some major league ready talent in the minors.

  33. Robby20

    What do the radio or TV broadcasting team have to do with how the Reds perform? And what influence do they have on the local fans?

    Calling for a change in that regard seems silly. Welsh is as bad as anyone. I watch many of the Reds games through MLB extra innings and I watch 100’s of non-Reds games. The Reds broadcasting teams are better than some and frankly I don’t hear much from anyone about the analytics you want to hear.

    Vin Scully may still be as enjoyable to listen to as anyone and he never talks analytics.

    Writing that in your letter weakens your credibility in my view, The thrust of you letter should be about the failure of the front office to evolve with the game and nothing else.

    • Robby20

      I read the article/letter. Hypothetically, if this were a letter Steve wanted to get the owner to read and I’m guessing he doesn’t care, the letter needs to be much shorter and don’t throw a beef with the announcers into an argument about how out dated the the team’s management is. Just my view.

      We can all agree that the broadcasting teams the Reds have are not the best. but that has nothing to do with the team and has nothing to do with the fans understanding of the game.

  34. Art Wayne Austin

    I’m surely fed up but the Reds have to find the bottom in order to break this funk. Perhaps today was the bottom. Never have I seen the defense so bad since Encarnacion, Lopez and Dunn were on the same side of the field. The atmosphere has to be grim in the Reds’ locker-room. As the medic said to the seriously wounded soldier in the movie, Platoon, “Take the pain”.

  35. Kevin Meyers

    Mr. Castellini,
    This could not be stated any better. The time is now! Please make us proud to be a Reds fan again. I co-sign this letter.
    Diehard Reds Fan,
    Kevin M Meyers

  36. zed4man

    Hmm…co-sign I suppose. Not going to get too worked up about it as I very much doubt it will do any good. That being said, I can’t argue with your description of the rampant dysfunction that has crippled this organization for quite some time. I also come down on the side of not being so critical of the broadcasters. While I agree that they could embrace some modern aspects of the game, I don’t necessarily need an advanced analytics broadcast. I will also cut them some slack for the negativity. I have exercised my option of not watching or listening to this train wreck of a team lately and I am still frustrated and angry. They don’t have that option.

  37. Whoa Bundy!

    I think complaining about the announcers is low. I would rather have a good product in the field and if an announcer was complimentary of outs because how far they traveled I would laugh forever. That’s weak. Just a way to defend Bruce being bad. He strikes out too much so who cares when he finally makes contact It is a longer out than most of the team?

    I would like modern GM and manager approach too. Agree.

    Disagree that Bailey is someone to build around. He has two no hitters and not much else.

  38. RM

    It is obvious the Reds are in trouble. The areas that are in the worst shape are pitching and the bench. These are areas that one judges the ability of the general manager. Large contracts have not paid off for the Reds. Every player they have signed to large contracts have either been hurt or not performed to expectations.
    Jocketty deserves most of the blame, particularly in the ability to make meaningful trades and adding bullpen pitchers that could make a difference.
    A new general manager would help. A new hitting coach might also help. I am not sure hiring Larkin is a good idea. A manager with experience in utilizing young pitching might help. In watching the games, Price believe too much in his pitchers. He is unwilling to pull pitchers who are ready to implode.
    In short, the Reds are in a mess. It is easier to fire the general manager and the field manager that the whole team, but it probably will not make a difference. The last place finish that was predicted by the experts may come to pass.

  39. the Hoosier

    Informative and intuitive.. Modeling your play and modeling your thoughts,not a new concept. I agree players need to play, but does Bryan Price hold these guys accountable for bad play or just let it fester inside himself his next meltdown? Plate discipline is critical, and it just has not improved, big innings just do not happen with this lineup. Pitching ok at best, hitting with RISP SUBPAR. C’mon guys give us something to cheer about.

  40. Indy Red Man

    Defending Jocketty is like defending George Custer. The buzzards are picking them clean in both instances. Jocketty inherited talent and Bob C was willing to spend a little more. Jocketty did nothing

    • wkuchad

      I also wish the section about announcers was left out, but strongly agree with rest of letter. Nice job!

      • Steve Checkosky, Syracuse

        I can’t agree with your suggestion that Steve not mention the announcers. For better or, in the Reds’ case worse, announcers are a large part of the experience of being a fan. The Reds could go 0-162 and I would still enjoy listening to “The old left-hander”. I’m not a Dodger fan. But I’ll tune in to Dodger broadcasts on MLB.com just to experience the incomparable Vin Scully. The late Harry Kalas as well as Pat Hughes also come to mind. Say what you want about Harry Caray, but he was fun. And that fun was infectious. Which brings me to the Reds’ current group. I guess I’ll stop here.

      • wkuchad

        I just think it’s way off topic from the rest of the article. Castellini needs to act. Building a better team has a lot to do with the GM, manager, scouting department, 25 players that take the field. It has nothing to do with the announcers. Just my opinion. That section doesn’t ‘fit’ with the rest of the letter.

  41. Adam S.

    I want reds games to be announced by people with connections to the reds. I don’t want outsiders coming in with no knowledge of the reds only talking about a players war is. I don’t care what any reds players war is and I don’t want someone from Pittsburgh telling me. Also Kelch is a bore!

  42. Vanessa Galagnara

    At least it is thinking outside the normal box. Probably the best lineup he could pencil in.

  43. Adam S.

    I don’t want someone like c Trent ever announcing a reds game either.

  44. Vanessa Galagnara

    So is this going to be published in the local newspaper or is someone going to feed this to one of the TV networks to broadcast? Why not run it by Lance MCalister?

  45. big5ed

    I’ll co-sign and add a codicil.

    1. Walt Jocketty’s greatest crime is to have done absolutely nothing to develop Dominican and Venezuelan players, especially hitters. The Reds haven’t developed a good Latin American hitter since Tony Perez 50 full years ago.

    2. Why on earth is Billy Hamilton so scrawny after 5+ years in the organization? Did nobody ever consider that he needs more strength, especially in his upper body? Can a team with a $175mm budget not afford a minor league strength, conditioning and nutrition coordinator?

    3.. Why is Marlon Byrd on target to get 550 PAs and vest in his option?

    4. Why wasn’t Devin Mesoraco moved to the outfield at least a year ago? He is mediocre at best defensively, and can’t stay healthy back there. Anybody here think that the Astros or the Cubs or the A’s would have kept him at catcher?

    5. Ex-Cardinals.

    6. The fundamental rule of baseball management is that 24-year-old players are better than 34-year-old players. Hello, Walt? Did any team other than the Reds think that signing Brandon Phillips long-term would end well? Were there any other bidders?

    7. Middle market teams can’t afford long-term deals with pitchers, because there is too much inherent injury risk. The solution is to pay forward a year or two of arbitration, and maybe a year post-arbitration, but be willing to let them go. And to do so, the organization has to have plenty of young arms–oops on that, too, Walt.

    At least they will have one of the top 3 draft picks next year, and we hope somebody half Walt’s age making that decision.

    • Vanessa Galagnara

      Amen. Although I do disagree on Brandon Phillips. I think his contract was worth it. Everything else is spot on.

    • Robby20

      Mesoraco will never be an outfielder

    • VaRedsFan

      Agree with all of your points, except the Phillips one. He’s earned his salary.

    • PARED84

      Agree with most of your comments except one. Walt’s age has nothing to do with it. I am an old guy who’s played plenty of baseball and I am totally on board with the new thinking,in fact I love it ! It’s helping baseball.

  46. Adam S.

    Batting a pitcher 8th is ridiculous.

  47. cmbfehr

    One of the finest letters on fixing the Reds, I have ever read. Right on Steve.

    • Creigh Deeds

      Agree. Just hope somebody is paying attention. My friends want Price’s head; that won’t fix the problem.

  48. Robby20

    Jocketty had very little to do with taking the team to relevance and I for one have been saying that the Reds’ player’s approach at the plate has been bad for at least the last 4 years so I am not one of those ones who thought all was good while the Reds were winning 90 games a year.

    And I agree the main problem with the Reds is not a lack of analytics but rather and inabiity to scout, draft and develop players who play the game in a manner that is more productive. High on base guys who make contact more often than not are missing from the equation and that is Jocketty’s fault.

  49. Robby20

    Couldn’t agree more. Actaully add Votto and Bruce to that list.

  50. John Carey

    Not a bad letter, but if it targets Marty Brennamin and the Cowboy from Commo standpoint, I believe that’s OFF-base. Additionally, I still appreciate a .300 hitter, & a 25-plus HR hitter, and despise the high rate of strikeouts of today’s hitters. I’m not a season ticket holder – hard to do as an Active – Duty Soldier. I’m a Reds’ fan since the days of the Big Red Machine as well (age 7 – 1970).

    V/R,

    MAJOR CAREY
    US ARMY

    • Adam S.

      Thanks for your service Major Carey! You are the best of us on this website.

  51. JB WV

    Great mixture of respect and forward thinking. I’m sure Mr. Castellini has vestiges of these ideas already, but it never hurts to have them reinforced in such an articulate piece. I went up last weekend after their three game winning streak excited to see them continue, but they collapsed instead. There was a pall within the crowd, a sense of loss for this season as the Giants crushed them. There’s something wrong in the clubhouse- other teams want it more.

  52. Ih8Walt

    if we had to pick one word to describe this letter I would pick “genius!” Another impressive piece of literary work from a very talented writer and baseball mind. Can you please print this out and send it to Mr. Castellini?

  53. Steve Checkosky, Syracuse

    OK I get that. I’d put announcers in the “marketing” category. Steve mentioned that Mr C’s marketing dept. has made GABP a more fan-friendly place. I just don’t find the Reds’ announcers to be particularly fan-friendly.

  54. Berta

    Steve, excellent letter. I agree with everything you say. I hope Castellini gets this letter and reacts positively to it. And I agree with Steve Checkosky’s comments about the Reds announcers, especially Marty. Jeff is good when he’s not with Marty. But I’m so tired hearing about what movies Marty just saw, his golf game, what he had to eat… We say to each other “what’s going on in the ball game, Marty?” Castellini needs to listen to Pat Hughes – seldom hear about his personal life. You always know what’s going on with the Cubs games. Same with Vin Scully. The team can be good, it just needs some changes in management – it appears that there might be an attitude problem at this point with the current management.

    Co-sign.

  55. Jason

    I agree the reds should trade cue to an leaks. No one will take Phillips or votto without eating at least half of the money. Trade Bruce Pena Cozart Bryd and Frazier he’s 29 hell be old before next group is good. Plus you could get a very food package for him right Now. I would shake front office up too. Build around Winker in left Hamilton in center and Mesaroco in left. Please someone tell Hamilton to start pounding ball into ground and start legging hits out for Pete’s sake. Move cingrani to closer trade Bailey once he is healthy. Rotation would be iglesias Stephenson lorenzen mascot and whoever else earned spot. I would totally get behind this. Leave broadcast crews alone they’re old school and that’s what the allure is with them. From a frequent game attendee and life long fan.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      Jason—right on about Hamilton and have Mr. Gallent add some cement dust right in front of home plate and make it as hard as possible —remember those Pittsburgh teams with Alou -Cash and all the other fast,slap hitters

    • redmountain

      To do as you suggest would kill the Reds for the near future. Winker, while getting on base, is hitting in the 230s. Why would anyone trade for Bailey at this point, or for that matter Cueto. Gutting this team would be a major step backward.

  56. VaRedsFan

    Co-sign. I’m good with all of the announcers except THOM!

  57. Hoov Estep

    Your commentary falls apart by not understanding Marty’s point about RBIs and on-base percentage. The Reds are not paying Joey Votto $20 million a year to get on base. He’s being paid to be a run producer. The big contracts don’t go to leadoff hitters for a reason. If you don’t understand this, there’s not much left to say.

  58. Jeff Morris

    This is very well put together Steve. Need to seriously consider getting this to the Reds Owner asap!

  59. VaRedsFan

    I’ll buy the stamps when you’re ready to send this up the chain. I’d even contribute if you want to take out an ad in the paper.

  60. HerpyDerp

    Does this work like the All-Star ballot? Can I co-sign 35 times?

  61. Max

    This letter sums up just about everything that frustrates me with the Reds. Being a season ticket holder for many years, you come to realize what Jocketty is doing will never win a championship, probably even another division. You have made just about every point prefectly in this letter from the idea of building for 2017 around Votto, Frazier, and Mesoraco to the idea of on base percentage. As you said the team has plenty of good young pitching that fans want to go see not the Marquis type of player. Your point about broadcasting could not be better written. I’m sick of listening to (and yelling at through tge TV) Thom Brennaman talk about how many wins a player has and what there average is and how Phillips is so great because he gets RBIs in the middle of the order behind Votto and Frazier, and you can add in the whole innings he spends talking about his sons baseball team from Terrace Park. Jim Day, Jeff Piercoro and the whole pre/postgame is a joke. Why is Jim Day, some annoying clueless guy, promitting your team? There’s a reason the Blue Jackets management fired him. Marty is old, annoying, and whiny. His comments on Votto are ridiculous and it shows how much he knows about modern baseball. I have no problem with Welsh and Brantley. The broadcasters do make a difference in promoting this team and I can’t stand going places every day and hearing people talk about how Votto sucks (still a top 5 player in NL). These “fans” who watch an occasional game on TV learn from idiots like Thom Brennaman and Jim Day.

    The fact that the team thinks it’s embarrassing with the All-Star game is pathetic. Look at the last few years: Mets, Twins they weren’t good and they didn’t care. Why the Reds wouldn’t be happy seeing Cueto pitching in a Dodgers uniform or as you said Chapman with Red Sox I don’t understand.

    Finally, like it is said in letter, I too believed this team, healthy, had a chance to do well this year. Things haven’t worked out the first 2 months and it’s time to move on hopefully with someone else than Jocketty (I have no problem with Price)…

    I found myself watching the 2012 NLDS on YouTube over the weekend and it made want to be back in the playoffs. A quick rebuild with someone else than Jocketty (I could do a better job than him) would put us right back in the payoff picture by 2017 and I can actually be sitting at GABP in the 2017 NLDS instead of having to watch them lose the 2012 one on YouTube.

    • Patrick M

      Great post Max. Marty is definitely well liked though, but I understand where you are coming from

  62. FLA Red

    Steve, I’m late on reading this one because of the holiday weekend, but well-done. And I hope Mr. C. reads it.

  63. jmussa2015

    Hey, Steve, I know this is way late in the game, but I was pretty sick for almost a week and am just catching up. I don’t have a long screed because I agree 100% with your well-constructed and elegantly presented arguments. I would be very grateful to know Mr. Castellini (and let me reiterate Mancuso’s plaudits for our franchise’s wonderful benefactor and endless thanks to him and his family) would at least have read this. It is SPOT ON.
    I don’t like to pile on Walt, but time has CLEARLY passed him by. I just feel helpless looking at our roster–and most particularly–our bench. My god–what a travesty!
    Anyway, thanks again and as always for cogent insights and long-view thinking. This is my favorite place to go online…lots of mostly-smart people who really do care about the Redlegs. Let’s hope the pain subsides soonly…

  64. Michael E

    Co-sign

    I don’t agree with all of it, but the general idea is near my thinking zip-code. I want a full-on rebuild, but even a slight one is better than buying or sitting idle to try and look respectable hosting the all-star game.

    As I have noted several times the past 6 months, not trading Cueto in the winter could backfire if he got injured. We appear to have dodged that bullet, but we may not if it flares back up. The rebuilding accelerator almost went up in smoke…they’d better use that trump card and make the most of it. Chapman should be gone too, as many have noted, pitching a whole 60 innings of 1500 innings means 99% idle time.

  65. Mike

    I love analytics and I love Marty Brennaman. You can separate the two. He’s the announcer, not the GM. It cheapens what is otherwise an excellent letter. It goes from a well written piece to a bit of a rant. All great points, but pick and choose your battles.

    I agree that Walt needs to go, but I also realize that this team’s current problems are a combination of injuries and poor management (Walt). While I don’t think Price is to blame, he certainly is not to be praised either. His inability to rally the troops or compose himself have been concerning to say the least. While it doesn’t amount to much, it may be best that he go back to coaching and get a fresh start. I am starting to like the idea of either bringing on Barry Larkin or having Barry work his way up with the future propsects, so that he is ready to manage some day. I don’t know if it will work, but I just selfishly like the idea of him coaching.

    What they should do now….

    Trade Cueto, Frazier and Chapman for the most value you can possibly pick up in young offensive prospects. Throw in Leake as well, but I don’t expect too much. Realize that the next three years are going to suck. I believe teams will give up some really good prospects for Frazier. By the time the Reds are competitive again, Frazier will be a free agent and he’ll be 32 years old. It makes no sense to keep him on this sub-mediocre team.

    You’re stuck with Votto’s contract, so make the most of it. If a team will take him for $15M to $17M per year, strongly consider it and cut your ties. If not, ride it out and hope that he is productive 5 years from now when the rest of your players are young, cheap and hopefully good.

    Try to unload Bruce and BP. You may need to take on 40% or more of their salary, but it is worth it in the long run. The combination of picking up prospects, saving money and building through the draft will put the Reds in a promising position three years from now.

    Ask yourself this question, would you rather your team look like the Houston Astros or the Philadelphia Phillies? It is time to blow it up, what little there is to blow up. There is no reason to over pay for a team fighting for 3rd place in their division for the next five years.

  66. Jay King

    Steve…. I have criticized your writings in the past…. Honestly… Today I felt this was the best writing you have done in the past year.

    Thank you for your efforts and I honestly felt moved by the letter. I like you feel a major change is in need.. We have a few pieces we should hold onto but overall there needs to be major changes and the front office is a huge part of that. I like Jocketty, he seems very likeable after talking to him several times on caravans when I lived in Indiana. but like you, I feel its time for a change of thinking and the way baseball team is set up.

    Lets hope things change soon, I have my doubts though that nothing will happen until after the All Star Game, which is too bad cause we will lose some value on our trade potential players.