The Reds could have traded Aroldis Chapman in July.

We don’t know exactly what Arizona, Houston and the Yankees were offering then. We won’t know how the reported offer by the Dodgers or others early this week compare to the proposals from five months ago. The secrecy that inherently accompanies unaccepted trade offers protects mistakes of omission by the front office from public scrutiny.

We do know last summer the Reds were asking for the moon, the stars and a couple small planets for Chapman. Even with those astronomical demands, deals were close. Maybe really, really close.

But the Reds declined. They made a decision to wait.

With Chapman’s value now worth pennies on the peso, that choice looks to all second-guessers and hindsight-peddlers to be not only catastrophic, but terrible judgment.

The obvious reply is obvious. The Reds had no way to foresee Chapman’s gunplay and alleged rough treatment of his girlfriend in October.

Here’s the point the nay-sayer chorus should be making: The cratering of Chapman’s trade value is an example of the downside of putting off decisions. The consequence of old-school grinding. Of dithering, if you prefer that description. Of allowing risk aversion to paralyze decision-making. Moving slowly has its virtues, but is also full of danger. Despite driving 45 in the express lane, the Reds off-season plans just smashed into a pothole the size of Fountain Square.

(It needs to be said that we have no idea who in the Reds organization – Walt Jocketty, Bob Castellini or someone else – decided to slow-play the Chapman trade last summer. Let’s leave the blame – and credit, when due – at the doorstep of the “front office” that includes all those folks.)

On Monday, the Dodgers trade fell apart in spectacular fashion. Spectacle, to be sure. After that, the Reds front office accomplished little else. The club let it be known heading into Nashville that every player, not just Chapman, was on the table. A week later, that’s where they all still are. The Reds left Nashville with a couple meh Rule 5 selections and an empty shopping cart otherwise. Unless you’re into Fifty Shades of Walt, stay away from the “Winners and Losers” columns about the winter meetings.

It’s important to keep the lack of progress in Nashville in perspective. It’s just four days out of a long off-season. Trades can and will be made in the next few months. They count just the same. The Aroldis report detonated just as the curtain was rising on the winter meetings. It would have been great if the organization we cheer for had been uber-resilient. Chapman, after all, is but one player out of many. The Reds front office could have brushed its collective self off, rallied and given fans something to get behind. It didn’t. At least not yet.

But making a trade just to change the narrative, as cathartic as that might have been in the moment, would have only felt good in the short term. You only get to trade Todd Frazier (and Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips) once. If the Reds are going to do any of that, they need to get it right.

It’s not the calendar that should concern Reds fans. It’s the calculation.

Reports coming out of Nashville described Reds offers in negotiations as being unrealistic. Maybe that’s just clever strategic leaking on the part of prospective trade partners and the product of a strong hand by the Reds. Maybe. As we’ve seen with the Chapman case, the longer you wait, the fewer potential matches are out there. Trade partners won’t wait forever. They figure out other fits and move on, leaving the Reds holding on to their stars too long to get full value. There are costs in methodical grinding. It feels safer but it isn’t always.

They say the Reds front office is too in love with its own players. We know that’s true. For better or worse, it’s part of the organization’s culture. The Reds have been insufficiently aggressive in recent years at crucial times – the trade deadline in 2013, the off-season before 2014, the off-season before 2015. Now we can add the trade deadline of 2015 to that list. That history of being unable to figure out matches with other teams speaks to a systemic failure of player valuation. If you want to see an aggressive rebuild, look in the direction of Atlanta.

Before we melt into utter despair, it’s worth remembering that the Reds have made four productive rebuilding-style deals in the past twelve months – the trades of Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. Those sell-offs were dictated by obvious contract considerations. But sometimes the low-hanging fruit is nutritious as well as delicious. The Reds appear to have received market value in those transactions.

Where does that leave things?

Look, I’m as frustrated as anyone. Frustrated and impatient. Frustrated, impatient and skeptical.

If the Reds front office needs time to regroup from the Chapman debacle, so be it. It’s understandable. But their glacial past undermines any inclination to give them much benefit of the doubt. As we have just seen, it’s possible to overplay even a great left-handed reliever.

77 Responses

  1. csmountaineer

    I really like your thoughts here, Steve. Here are a few of mine:

    – Regarding Chapman – He could be facing a possible suspension or discipline from Major League Baseball. I’m not sure it wouldn’t be wise to wait until that decision is given before they pursue a trade. What if the Reds trade Chapman, only to find out a week later that he will not become a free agent until after the 2017 season?
    – Regarding Frazier – I think his market will pick up once the free agent bats have found their homes. He is not Jason Heyward or Alex Gordon, but still requires a great sacrifice (through prospects) by the team that acquires him.
    – Regarding the Reds’ FO – Maybe they move slower than we like, but they HAVE done a good job with the trades they have made in the past (as you mentioned above). They may be down (from the Chapman situation), but they’re not out.

  2. mel reed

    Good post Steve. Was listening to a football podcast this week and one of the analysts said the real mark of a winning (NFL) organization was not how well they draft, but how well an organization evaluates its own players. Probably even more critical in baseball then since the draft payoff is so much further down the road.
    I also wonder how much keeping Chapman through last year has to do with the continued underestimation of Reds fans by management. They seems to think we are little more than empty headed spoiled brats that would never understand the case for rebuilding if it were laid out clearly. I think they are wrong but who knows.

  3. Dan

    The best that the Reds can do with Chapman is to re-sign him and them trade him.

    • ohiojimw

      Maybe not a bad thought but I am not sure how realistic. But if they would do it put a 24/7 chaperone on him like they did with Josh Hamilton till they have it in writing from MLB that the trade is official and irrevocable.

    • Chuck Schick

      I assume you believe the Reds could sign him on favorable terms at this point? Why would Chapman do that? No arrest, no charges and no cooperating witnesses. Even if he’s suspended…very unlikely…there’s no way baseball is going to start a war with the players union by suspending him long enough to impact free agency. .

  4. Jeremy Conley

    The reports about the Reds being too slow to make deals were troubling. So many players got moved at this year’s winter meetings, that the Reds did nothing says something, and combined with the reports it doesn’t say anything good.

    I wish the Reds had fired Jocketty and hired a forward thinking GM from outside the organization. With all that said, I still think the Reds are in ok shape.

    The Reds future primarily depends on Stephenson, Iglesias, Garret, Desclafani, Lamb, Reed, Finnegan, Bailey, and Travieso. We haven’t lost any of them. In 2018 we’ll still have Votto, Mesoraco, Hamilton, and Suarez, plus Winker and Blandino.

    We need to trade Chapman, hopefully to help 2017. Others can probably be traded to help 2018 2017 isn’t looking good.

    I guess my point is just that as much as it would have been fun to see some new players come in, the only thing the Reds really had to do this offseason was trade Chapman. Most of the moves for the rebuild have already happened, now it’s a question of waiting.

    • CP

      Yeah, I think their pitching staff is in good shape. They have a good mix of cheap pitchers, with a few potential #1s, #2s, and #3 and 4s spread out. If one of the guys like Stephenson pans out as a #1, they could really be something.

      Assuming Bruce, Frazier, and Phillips eventually get traded, their position player situation is still a pretty big mess.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Yeah, it’s just never been clear whether the Reds are trying to compete in 2017 or 2018. If it’s 2017, then they need all of those guys to be good. If it’s 2018, then yeah, they need to move them soon to get the best players they can to replace them.

      • CP

        They may actually have the money to go after a free agent or two the next couple years. I don’t think the free agent class next year is expected to be strong, but they are going to need a middle infielder, and a 3B/OF.

  5. reaganspd

    I really like this discussion and agree Steve,

    However, there is an alternative in keeping Chapman if the market falls off completely. I actually think the Simon issues were much worse than Chapmans and his value came through in the end when traded so I do not think that will happen.

    But if Chapman had to play in Cincy in 2016, and we don’t trade anyone, and the team gets healthy, I am on the half full side that says we add. I really do not think this team is that far off of 2012 if our young pitching continues to grow up this year. I see 2017 all of the time, but this team could be competitive with a player or 2 and health in 2016.

    If the trade value is not there, and I am thankful that they are not just giving our players away I am ok to roll the dice and play 2016. Health for Meso, Cozart and Homer adds a lot to this team.

    then, pitch Chapmans arm off, let him set the ML record for saves at 60+. I would talk with him now about extending while value is down. but if nothing else happens to increase value for the Reds, I am OK with another all star season with a draft pick.

    He does allow our young bull pen to develope

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Nice thought but there are those who don’t believe the Reds can win 60 games next year, much less give Chapman the opportunity to save that many. Time will tell. I’m not quite that pessimistic but maybe by June I will be–just hopefully not.

  6. Matt WI

    Regarding the narrative that the Reds are over-valuing their guys… it’s hard not to believe that’s more truth than just negotiation subterfuge. It’s a chorus being heard too often to be explained away.

    • greenmtred

      I can’t judge whether or not the Reds are overvaluing their players, since I don’t know what they were asking, but as for the reports coming from other front offices: they would say that, wouldn’t they? No negotiator is likely to say, in the midst of a negotiation, that the other guy is offering enough. They say that when the deal is consummated.

  7. james garrett

    I agree Steve the Reds do need to get it right but I am not sure the front office even “gets it” to begin with.We missed out to trade some guys when their value was high such as Frazier and Chapman at the trade deadline last year and we have put are future in the hands of Walt who to my knowledge has never been in charge of re-building or re-tooling a major league team.It has been mentioned several times on here that we play in arguably the best division in baseball and yet we probably will just roll the dice again and hope the stars align just right and we win maybe 75 games next year.I love this core group as much as anybody but the time has past for most of them and their production and trade value will continue to go down until we are forced to just let them walk away or trade them for nothing.

  8. WVRedlegs

    The Reds front office needs a clean sweep. This current front office has embarrassed the organization, its players and coaches, and especially the fans. They made the Reds the butt of many a joke the last couple of years. They are the mockery of MLB.
    If Bob Castellini doesn’t recognize this, he doesn’t deserve to be majority owner. There has to be some minority owners that have to step up and buy some of Castellini’s shares in the team and name a new majority owner. A new direction is needed. A new majority owner means a new front office. It won’t happen any other way!
    Cubs gonna Cub now is in a good context.
    Reds gonna Red certainly isn’t now. It now has the connotation of having the Keystone Cops leading your front office. 1st place, Gone in 60 seconds.
    What an embarrassing front office and ownership group.

    BOB CASTELLINI HAS TO GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Playtowin

      WV REDLEGS! Bob Castellinii has done a great job of improving the product on the field, the stadium, and the fan experience over the past 8 years. I think it is fair to criticize some of the baseball decisions made by GM Jocketty but he has made some good ones as well. You seem to be a Cards fan…
      certainly not a Reds fan. Don’t be so bitter about the Reds. It is not becoming. Life will continue. Pitchers and catchers report in 70 days.

      • jessecuster44

        Keep expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed. Especially if you like bobbleheads. If you like winning…. that’s another story.

        Bob C and friends have ruined a product that in 2010 could have challenged for multiple WS titles. I agree that he and the front office should all be swept out the door.

      • lwblogger2

        One could also argue that if not for Bob Castellini the Reds never would have been in the position they were in from 2010-2014. I’m not ready to toss ownership. I don’t see Castellini as a guy who doesn’t want to win. The guy has and always will be a fan. He’s already starting to see that changes need to be made, he just is glacially slow at making them. So far, I’ve really only seen two bad seasons from this ownership group. I think I’d have to suffer a lot more before trying to drive them out. I remember the previous ownership group and Castellini has done a lot for this team.

      • jessecuster44

        BAH! I despise the “At least we’re not back to terrible.” platitude that is so common with Cincinnati sports. Demand better than mediocre.

        You know, Dan Snyder wants to win badly too. Does that make him a good owner?

        At this pace the earth’s temperature will rise another 4 degrees before Bob C and co. get around to changing.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Being the majority owner has nothing to do with deserving it. It is about who had the money to buy the team. It’s his money and his team so in that respect I guess he can do what he wants. I may be naïve but I assume he understands the potential consequences for decisions he and the front office make. The worst thing that could happen is fan apathy. at least if fans still care, that means they’re following the club. Once apathy sets in, they find other things to occupy their time and minds (and money).

  9. Philip Brody

    The Washington Nationals need a 2nd baseman and lead off type player. They’ve missed out on Zobrist and Walker. If our guys thought a little outside the box, I can’t believe Brandon wouldn’t accept an opportunity to play for the Nats if Dusty called. We also know Dusty loves Chapman. A package of the 2 might get us something in the way of market value. D Storen, J Ross etc.

    • Matt WI

      I like that thought. That Nats are not the most rational team in the first place… they were rumored to be the ones that offered Heyward $200 Mil.

      • CP

        Assuming its $200m over 10 years, it doesn’t appear all that unreasonable to me. Teams are also adding extra years so they can defer year-to-year costs. A $20m per year contract over 10 years at a 4% interest rate is equivalent to:

        $22.6m over 9;
        $26.0m over 8;
        $30.0m over 7.

        I think this explains why guys like Greinke now get $33m per year for 6 years. They are basically being paid equivalent to the position players.

      • jdx19

        Yeah, that’s reasonable for Heyward. He was a 6 WAR player last year and he’s 26. Most FAs are much older, so maybe your glasses are tinted to that reality. Players rarely hit unrestricted FA at 26.

  10. WVRedlegs

    The Cardinals are not having a good off-season either. They’ve lost Heyward and Lackey to free agency, to the Cubs no less. They traded away Jon Jay for a back up 2B/3B. They have holes to plug. Their front office will fill those holes while the Reds front office stands around and plays pocket pool.
    Watch the Cards sign 1B Chris Davis then trade 1B Matt Adams to Colorado for one of their OF’s, either Cargo, Blackmon, or Dickerson. While the Reds dawdle and shillyshally around.

    • ohiojimw

      The Cards can do whatever they like and I won’t be upset unless it includes landing Cueto

    • Playtowin

      You must love the Cards. The Cubs took Lackey and Heyward away from St. Louis. Great move. They are happily laughing in Chicago. The Cards traded Shelby Miller to the Braves for one year of Heyward. The Braves traded Miller for 3 excellent players. I hope things work out in St. Louis but my money is on the Cubs.

  11. James

    It’s hard to know if the Reds are over-valuing their players and/or dithering. As you pointed out, they secured good deals for four-fifths of the 2014 rotation. And they knew how to add pieces (Latos, Marshall, Choo) when they were winning. So, while I’d like some decisive moves, as well, I’m not quite ready to agree with the strong suggestion of this editorial that the front office is somehow not active in making trades or accurate in valuing their players. The Chapman fiasco is an obvious headwind that could impact the way in which other teams are approaching different trades.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I agree that it’s hard to know. Even in the trades they make, there’s no way to compare the offer they accept with the ones they reject. I liked the Rolen and Marshall trades at the time. But note how the pieces on your list stop after Choo in the 2013 off-season. None at the 2013 deadline, no significant ones in 2014 or 2015.

      • James

        Agreed. It’s almost as though they knew their window had closed after 13, but were slow to allow that recognition to filter into more proactive trading and rebuilding. For my part, I just hope they can get six good AA/AAA prospects for Chapman, Frazier and Bruce combined.

  12. DHud

    Cubs strategy: aggressively make roster moves to acquire good players to put together the best possible lineup

    Reds strategy: wait around and see what happens but mostly hope that somehow the players we already have will miraculously win more

    We’ll let the record show which strategy is working

    • I-71_Exile

      Cubs strategy: play to lose as many games as possible for as long as possible while drunken fan base keeps drinking. Find a GM who has watched a baseball game. Acquire top notch/cheap talent through the draft. Steal additional talent from Billy “I am the smartest person in the room” Beane. Fill holes with ex-Cardinals.

      Reds strategy: Strike gold by drafting Votto. Find a GM who has watched two baseball games. Acquire good/cheap talent through the draft. Steal Brandon Phillips from the Indians. Empty the farm system in 2012 to WIN NOW. Pay the price. Fill holes with ex-Cardinals.

      The record shows that the Reds won two division titles and one wild card birth in three years. The Cubs have won one wild card birth and look to be the favorite for 2016. We’ll see how that pans out. We’ll also see if MLB takes steps to stop the tanking strategy that the Cubs, Braves, and now Brewers seem to be employing from working. Is there a draft lottery on the horizon?

      • Dan

        Cant have it both ways. I’m in favor of the tanking system as long as there is no firm salary cap or spending limit on international players.

      • lwblogger2

        The tanking system has a good chance of working but it also has a good chance of failing. There are teams that have tanked for a long time and either haven’t gotten better or took a very, very long time to get better.

  13. jack

    Spring training isn’t here yet. There is still time. I would rather they hold on to them than trade them and get nothing. Then I would have to listen to all the crying that they got screwed. I laughed at all the people who said Votto got to much money. Well look at the salaries being paid now. In 5 years people will be getting 35 Mil a year. Votto’s contract will look good in 5 years.

  14. earmbrister

    I’m not buying the narrative that says that the Reds “overvalue” their players. Any potential trade partner who chooses not to pull the trigger on a trade is going to say that. The Chapman deal didn’t fall apart because the Reds overvalued him, it fell apart because of Chapman’s appearance in a domestic violence police report. The Reds didn’t “overvalue” Cueto, Leake, Latos, or Simon; they got a good return in each case. We’d all have a bigger gripe if WJ “undervalued” Reds players when he traded them.

    The Reds were forced by the economic realities of MLB to trade off/let walk 5 quality starting pitchers in the last 2-3 years (Cueto, Leake, Latos, Simon, and Arroyo). The fact that they got quality returns in trade is encouraging, as is the fact that they seem to have a promising rotation going forward. If the Chapman deal had gone thru (as it would have been expected to), we wouldn’t be having this conversation. There was concern here that the Reds might stop trading upon Aroldis’ departure, and that they should consider trading Frazier. Well even while the dust was still settling from the Dodger fiasco, the Reds worked hard to do just that: trade Frazier. I don’t see it as methodical grinding at all …

    • Steve Mancuso

      The evidence for the Reds overvaluing their own players is in the trades that weren’t made, not the ones that were. Chapman at last year’s trade deadline is the best example. Being unable to find any fits at the 2013 trade deadline and meaningful fits after that, is more of it. But yeah, it’s speculation, since none of us have been in the room. Trade partners always leak selectively. And saying the Reds overvalue is part of that. But it does seem like a consistent line we’ve been hearing and the national writers who have mentioned it cite several teams, not just one.

      • CB

        I truly believe the Reds have a hard time facing reality. It’s almost like Walt can only do one thing at a time instead of multitasking with trades. Not his fault Chapman got in trouble but clearly should’ve moved him in July. I see Chapman ultimately ending up with Nats. Makes too much sense. Frazier to Cleveland for Clint Frazier and Kaminsky. Move Bruce after the OF free agent market settles. Tickets gonna be a hard sell unless they make a clear decision on direction.

      • earmbrister

        CB — You write that “it’s almost like Walt can only do one thing at a time instead of multitasking with trades”. Yet, he traded away two important players, Latos and Simon, on the same day a year ago. And not only did he multitask then, he obviously multitasked well, getting a very good return in both trades. As for Chapman, I agree that it’s not his fault that he got in trouble, but the whole narrative that he clearly should have been moved in July is one people here can easily make with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. If the trade with LA had gone through, all of this hand wringing would not be happening.

        The complaints over lack of activity at the Winter Meetings this year ignores that the Reds were actively shopping Chapman and Frazier. Yes, Cincinnati didn’t complete any trades/signings, but neither did Tampa Bay, Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, or San Francisco. And St. Louis, the Mother Theresa of front offices, only completed one minor trade while watching the likes of Lackey and Heyward walk. I’m sure it wasn’t for a lack of trying that the Cards didn’t accomplish much. And I’m also sure that the Reds and Cards are still at work trying to complete a trade or two.

      • earmbrister

        The evidence in overvaluing their own players are in the trades that weren’t made. Ok, where’s that list? Or is it a list of one; Chapman is the “best” example. If the Reds don’t feel like they’re getting adequate compensation in return for Chapman in July, of course they pull him back and trade in the off season. The returns for players can be argued to be better in the winter, because instead of a handful of teams being in the market, you have more teams where hope springs eternal. Who else besides Chapman are easily tradeable assets that the Reds waited too long on (I’ll grant you the 20/20 hindsight huge advantage).

  15. Jim m.

    What bugs me is how the New Cubs and Cardinals will go fix thier weaknesses, where our Reds FO will not do that, then sit back and pretend we can win. Do they think Red’s fans are stupid???? They screwed up 2013 after Ludwick went down and did not go find true help, then had a chance to claim Marlon Byrd and let him go past and be claimed to help the Pirates. That still ticks me off!!!! If you say “we are all in” and do nothing, dont expect to win. Just like this off season. They act like the only plan was trade Chapman. Because they did nothing else after his domestic issues. Tell me how many Reds fans will be happy when we see them loose 100 games the next 3years??? That wont have me buy tickets. Sorry niether will a bribe of 50 bobble head nights!!! I could careless about free pizza, bobbleheads or fireworks. I want to see a World Championship Caliber team year after year like the Cardinals have as a goal every year. That will get my money for tickets. I dont trust this ownership to do smart moves. And Price is not the manager to lead this team. He preached accountability. Ha ha.. that didnt happen. He said he wouod use Chapman in the 8th more often. That also wasn’t true. Now you want him to lead rookies when he couldnt do it with veteran players???? Never will happen. He will not ever win 81+ games a season. Sadly the FO is ok with this. I love the Reds, if I had Bobs money like heck I let this team suffer. Muchless give out bad contracts to players. 100 million for Bailey was a mistake. Giving Ludwick money and a 4 million dollar buy out was a joke. Anyway I hope they prove me wrong, but I knew once the Cubs got Boston’s GM, I knew he would fix the Cubs. Now we get to see the Reds suck for years with zero accountability.

    • Playtowin

      I love Cubs fans. The have not won in 108 years and they are more positive than Reds fans. The Cubs have been rebuilding for a century…the Reds have begun the rebuild process. The woe is me attitude by some is sad to see. Cheer up. Things will get better. The Red Sox proved it and the Cubs will soon.

  16. jessecuster44

    Reds’ major need for 2015 – A left field bat. Walt dithers and waits until 12/29 – after almost all OF bats are signed, then trades for Marlo Byrd.

    Reds’ major need for 2016 – roster turnover and good value for veterans. Walt dithers through winter meetings, comes away empty handed with nothing close. Potential trade partners Houston, White Sox and others all make deals with other teams instead of Reds.

    Same old, same old.

    If your goal is to turn over the roster, pull the trigger and do it. Don’t pussyfoot and wait for the best deal to arrive. Many teams struck quickly in Nashville, but the Reds didn’t.

    This will be a long and disappointing offseason.

  17. Dave fleck

    Steve, I love this website, but you are wearing me out. It seems like everything you write is negative. I’ve gotten almost to the point where I am skipping your posts because I know you will not have anything good to say. I get that the Reds haven’t measured up to the fans’ (and your) standards this off season, and maybe I’m just a glass half full kind of guy, but lighten up please.

    • Steve Mancuso

      You need to read that post more closely. Although if you’re looking for unbridled optimism about a team that lost 98 games last year and hasn’t made a move yet in the off-season, you’ll need to turn the dial to the right. I renewed my season tickets, so it’s not like I’m not looking forward to the season. But I’m not going to blow smoke, either.

      And please keep your comments directed toward the Reds, not the writers or telling us what or what not to write. That violates the guidelines for the comments section.

      • RedAlert

        I for one Steve appreciate your insight and straight forward comments. No need to sugarcoat the way this organization has conducted business recently. It stinks ! No other way to describe it. The sooner that Walt Jocketty distances himself from this organization , the better. Gotta take the negative with the positive on this site – that’s what makes this place great to converse with other Reds fans.

      • Pa Redsfan

        Good, honest assessment Steve. Appreciate the writers hard work here.

    • jessecuster44

      Dave, what is there good to say? The current narrative is the winter meetings and offseason, and the Reds have bungled the whole thing so far.

      Please enlighten us as to positives re: the offseason.

    • Gonzo Reds

      He’s just writing what we’re all thinking and what the world is thinking. ESPN;

      Cincinnati Reds — Grade: F

      RedsOffseason goals: Starting and relief pitching, left fielder, elite prospects.

      Key Acquisitions to date: None.

      The Reds almost had a deal with the Dodgers for Aroldis Chapman, and based on my sources, the return was good enough for me to grade a solid B. However, that deal fell apart when Major League Baseball announced they were investigating Chapman for domestic violence allegations. They were also unable to move Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips — at least to this point. There has been a lot of effort, but no results.

  18. streamer88

    No fan wants to become Randy Quaid’s character in Major League – but as fans we get to ride along in the back seat and shout obscenities at the driver – that’s what our ticket stubs allot us!

    A quick (cool) sidebar: a fascinating article about team fan bases and how they respond to team performance, payroll, star player performance, etc. Reds fan appear to care the least about payroll and can be more supportive when the team is winning, relative to other teams. That said, they are more loyal to losing campaigns than some fan bases.

  19. Mark Cowett

    I just discovered your site and find both new articles and comments to be thoughtful and provocative. And, for the most part, not knee-jerk. I share frustration about slowness of moves this off season. However, I believe refusal to act in July a case of merchandising over long term– a dump would have kept fans away in droves. Perhaps, shorter thinking but let’s give them time to do their business. Using models of Chicago and Boston seem Ill advised because they throw money away. Reds took risks with Votto, Bailey, and Phillips on good talent. Give Bailey time. Phillips is a good player and a marketing plus,IMO. No one predicted Bruce’s trouble. Was good 4-5 skill player. I hope Castellini is not struggling with unknown money issues–note he cut spending after 2013 and brought new money in. Why? I love the Reds and hope we shall give them more time to bring in and carefully subtract talent!

  20. james garrett

    Thanks Steve for telling it like it is.Its hard for me to get excited about another roll of the dice by Walt but I will remain a loyal fan.I also am a realist and we lost 98 games in the best division in baseball and the front office has done nothing so far.The only thing positive I can say is that Walt hasn’t signed a couple of ex Cards at an astronomical price and hired a couple from the good old boy network.Still plenty of time though.

  21. redslam

    I think the chickens are simply coming home to roost on a long line of miscalculations, over-optimism, and certainly in some cases, failing to pull the trigger at the appropriate time. My sense is that we aren’t really projecting out well and that leads to these situations where we seem paralyzed. In isolation, inaction on any particular deal NOW may be totally defensible and appropriate, but that really isn’t the point.

    While it is very hard to armchair manage with our relative paucity of information, but the circumstantial evidence is piling up that we just aren’t that proactive, savvy, and strategic, let alone analytic.

    To those that argue we want to avoid a firesale in consideration of fan morale and tickets – I agree to a point and that just reinforces how ridiculous our situation is now. We should have traded MORE pieces EARLIER in an intelligent and incremental way… now we have no choice but to either get stuck in limbo OR be perceived as dumping multiple players all more/less at once. It WILL look like a firesale now when we end up losing Chapman, et al… instead of a measured, intelligent, and proactive/strategic move (a la Braves).

    There is still time to do some deals and obviously we can also do some mid-season, but my confidence in this organization to navigate a “rebuild” or a “reboot” is mightily shaken atm.

    • ohiojimw

      ….In isolation, inaction on any particular deal NOW may be totally defensible and appropriate, but that really isn’t the point.
      ….the circumstantial evidence is piling up that we just aren’t that proactive, savvy, and strategic, let alone analytic.

      Yes, very well stated.

    • redslam

      I’m going to assume he is radioactive until the MLB comes down…. even if just for PR-sake.

      • CB

        Let’s admit the obvious. The reds hold on to players way too long. The 2015 all star game has set this team back for the next few years at least. They couldnt proceed with the needed rebuild until after the all star game. Now that it’s over we will see how ticket sales fair next year. Walt got lucky that Cueto pitched a gem in Colorado or he was on the verge of being stuck with a draft pick. You have to evaluate your team and the teams in your division and choose a direction quickly. Chapman can still bring back a large return in July. He’s the best at what he does and a contender will go after him at the deadline if not before. The reds run there team and front office like a country club. If we like you you’ll stay and get paid no matter what.

  22. james garrett

    Well said CB and you are exactly right and that’s why until Walt exits we will continue to be exactly what we are and that is a poorly ran,living in the past organization.I do agree with you about Chapman in that he is the best at what he does and somebody at some time will give us a good return.One only needs to look at what the Braves are doing and obviously their front office gets it.They won forever and then hit the skids and may struggle for a year or two but they realize they must rebuild.To me it comes down to this if you are going to lose and we are going to lose then would you rather do it with young guys with some upside that are cheap or old guys on the decline that are expensive?

    • ohiojimw

      I think it is becoming fair to question if the Braves really have a plan and know what they are doing. The original plan (they said) was to be reaching competitiveness when they opened their new stadium (start of 2017 season).

      As they continue to make deals to gather more and more prospects, it appears based on the levels of many of their prospects and the talent remaining at and near the MLB level, that a realistic shot at meeting the 2017 deadline for being competitive may be slipping away. It may all still come together for them but a lot of folks won’t be surprised if that turns out to be much later 2017.

      • TR

        I’m not so sure the Reds have a plan to implement the so-called rebuild/reboot, and if they have a plan are the powers that be willing to act on it?

      • lwblogger2

        I was going to bring up this same point. If you ask me, the Braves need to be careful because they are teetering on the brink of the dreaded ‘perpetual rebuild cycle’ that some teams get on. They are starting to move players that were supposed to be part of the rebuild for 2017. So, honestly, we are probably looking at 2018 for the Braves.

        I can’t help but think of the Reds’ repeated mantra that they were rebuilding for the opening of the new ballpark in 2003. We all know that it was 2010 before the Reds had a winning team. That’s also why I’m not too hip on the “Castellnini needs to go” movement. He’s done a lot for this team and he’s a fan. I’m not sure I’m ready to call for his head and new ownership quite yet.

  23. Frogger

    Completely agree with your assessment the Reds front office decision making the past few years. I worry that it will be compounded now as they force a trade to look better in the immediate future. They can only trade these players once. During the course of the next six months they should get proper offers. I hope they get their processes in order to make the decision quickly when those opportunities arise.

  24. Chuck Schick

    As long as the Reds look to placate their fan base they will be continuously apologizing to said fan base. If the internet existed in the early 1970’s, would Bob Howsam have been willing to trade Lee May and Bobby Tolan? Would he have been forced to fire Sparky Anderson after the 1973 playoffs? I’m sure there would’ve been threads calling for George Scherger to manage game 7 of the 75′ World Series.Would there have been calls for Louis Nippert to sell the team because they had the audacity to lose 2 World Series?

    When it come to trade offers, none of us know anything. We might get the 5% of the information that is usually agenda driven by other GM’s and/or agents. Perhaps the Reds are being patient and judicious….or inept and irresponsible…..we have no idea.

    • RedAlert

      “Inept ” would certainly seem to apply in a multitude of ways regarding this front office .

    • I-71_Exile

      You are right on. Internet Posterâ„¢ not only possesses the sharpest mind in baseball, he can predict injuries with certainty and sniff out domestic violence disputes before they ever happen. Is Player X preparing to launch himself into space on a homemade rocket chair? Internet Poster can see it coming a mile away—that’s why they traded him last week.

      Following the Reds is a choice. We are all free to jump ship and watch the Cubs on WGN if we want to follow a “winner” and bask vicariously in their glory.

      • rhayex

        ^This. It’s been frustrating to me watching Reds fans constantly complain about their team, about our payroll, about how we need to fire everyone. Jocketty has done good work in his trades for the rebuild (and I’ve been one of the biggest Jocketty criticizers when it comes to his lack of trades in the past).

        There was a graph that came out a short while ago about how the Reds are 4th in the league in percentage of revenue that goes directly back into the big league roster. For people that are constantly complaining and saying we never seem to do anything, I’ll point to that as proof otherwise.

        Granted, we can disagree on the moves the Reds have spent the money on, but nobody should doubt that they’re doing everything they can to get value out of the players they control. There was no way they could’ve known what Chapman was going to do. For all we know, we were offered very little comparative to what Chapman is worth at the deadline. It’s easy to say in hindsight that Todd should’ve been traded, and point to his numbers before the All-Star Break, but for all we knew, he could’ve fixed his issues and gone on the same kind of streak Votto did. Nobody is omnipotent, and the Reds shouldn’t be constantly harangued because they didn’t correctly foresee everything.

      • earmbrister

        RAX — Thanks for a breath of fresh air/sanity. It was good to know that the Reds are 4th in revenues invested directly back into the MLB roster. Well stated comments.

        Rumors have Phillips going to the Nats and Frazier to the AL Central. Apparently the FO isn’t sleeping/sitting on their hands …

        Go Reds !!!

      • rhayex

        Its also important to remember that Jocketty/Williams are also beholden to what other teams are offering. If nobody is giving value for Frazier, then you can’t justify trading him. The whole point of trading him is to kickstarter the rebuild. Hes the Reds best trade chip in a weak 3b market.

    • streamer88

      “It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.” — William Storey, 1861. I’m sure Mr. Storey and his compatriots at the Chicago Times would have totally approved of this website and its readers’ glorious banter!!

    • WVRedlegs

      You are right, we’ll never know the details of teams bartering. But you can judge it by the end product that they put on the field. The results of being aggressive or having the market come to you.
      However, when your end product has Boesch, Dominguez, Marquis, and Gregg on your opening day 25 man roster when you claim to be competing and contending, well that is at best inept and misleading the fan base.

  25. wildwestlv

    The Reds are going to have to hope for the best: a monster first half out of the likes of Frazier, Bruce, Cozart (even Chapman, assuming his forthcoming discipline is completed before All-Star break), then the intestinal fortitude to actually make these trades with teams that are serious contenders. Forget about the winter moves. It’s over.

  26. lwblogger2

    Looks like Cueto is going to pitch in San Fran. Initial reports say 6yrs/$130-million. I would have done a higher AAV over fewer years but honestly, this is lower than I thought we’d see for Cueto. I figure he’d be around 6/150.

    • Shchi Cossack

      The contract has an opt-out after 2 seasons, with $46MM guaranteed for those 1st two seasons. That sets Cueto up for another nice payday for his age 32 season if he pitches up to his standard with a fall back of 4 seasons @ $21MM per. That’s a good deal for Cueto after his end-of-season inconsistencies.