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

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

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

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

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

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

25 Responses

  1. Justin

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

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

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

    • Joey

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

      • Zack

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

      • Matt

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


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

    • Darrel Schick

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

  2. greenmtred

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

    • CP

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

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

      • greenmtred

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

  3. TR

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

  4. Andrew T Webb

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

  5. James H.

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

  6. RobT


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

  7. CP

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

  8. Alex

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

  9. Steve Schoenbaechler

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

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

  10. RedNat

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

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

    • TR

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

    • Bill J

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

    • Jefferson Green

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

  11. Jefferson Green

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

  12. BigRedMachine

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

    Let that sink in for a minute.

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

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

    • BigRedMachine


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

  13. Johnny

    Did you read the article? The Reds:

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

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

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

  14. Tom Mitsoff

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

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