What a clumsy, embarrassing operation.

As outsiders, we get only glimpses into the way our favorite team does things. Every so often, reporters take us behind the scenes, when they can. But generally we have to make inferences from those brief peeks. Yesterday’s handling of Johnny Cueto — Johnny Cueto — offered a rare opportunity to look behind the curtain. And it wasn’t encouraging.

The headline yesterday was about the ill-fated trade between the Reds and the Royals for Cueto. More on that in a minute. The subtext – that Cueto was told he was being traded by Michael Lorenzen about ten minutes before his start – is another dismal sign of the creaky, antiquated way the Reds baseball operation (distinct from the world-class non-baseball side) handles its business.

Surely, we don’t have all the information. It can’t possibly as bad as it seems. But it’s hard to get past this:

“It was really bad the way I found out what happened. My head went around the whole way. My thoughts were all over the place. It was something really bad.”

That’s Johnny Cueto (John Fay) talking to reporters after the game. The Reds can mumble about their precious protocol, as Bryan Price did after the game, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where it makes sense to provide more information about Johnny Cueto’s trade status to Michael Lorenzen than to Cueto himself.

For Johnny Cueto, who has given everything to the Reds organization for more than 10 years, to hear that information from a teammate, and for it to be wrong information, is as heart-breaking as it gets.

It’s not just the Reds ace who was critical of the Reds bungling. John Fay spoke with another player on the team this morning who said:

“I’ve never seen Cueto so mad. And rightfully so.”

It should go without saying in the 21st century that communication is vital to the success of organizations. Great ones are excellent at communication. Yet, the Reds general manager and field manager have shown they are obsessed with control of information and sluggish with internal communication. Those are long-discredited characteristics of old-school methods.

Again, all we get are glimpses to go on, but that’s the evidence we have from yesterday. Maybe the club will be open about what happened when they get the chance to talk to the media later today. More likely, we’ll get an angry, defiant version of “pay no attention.”

In terms of the trade itself, the intrigue may soon be moot. By the time the Reds and Rockies take the field this afternoon (4:10 p.m. ET), yesterday’s debacle could be just a footnote in the new top-of-the-page story about an actual trade.

Heck, a new trade might happen before I finish this post (I’ll be sure to check).

Tweets in the know indicate that the Reds and Royals are reworking the deal (Bowden caveats apply) this morning and I expect the two teams to reach an agreement today. The Royals make too much sense as a trade partner for Cueto. This is their window to win and they have the prospects.

The explanation for yesterday’s deal breaking down was that one of the Royals players didn’t pass a health test. I’ve seen opposing reports that say health issues weren’t the cause. Rather, the agreement just wasn’t finished. What players were involved from the Royals? I’ve seen about a half dozen mentioned. There’s no point in speculating. We’re going to know soon enough. The deadline is Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

Running a professional baseball franchise is a year-round operation. But the importance of the next week to the Cincinnati Reds is hard to exaggerate. The front office needs to be working at peak competence. The mishandling of Johnny Cueto yesterday was a misstep. Throw it on the pile of reasons this crowd inspires little confidence.