The clock ticks. The sands in the hourglass continue to obey the law of gravity. Watching Luis Castillo pitch his final innings on the mound at GABP this month brings back painful memories of Johnny Cueto spending his last days on the bump, knowing he would soon be wearing another uniform, likely heading for October without the team he’d spent so many summers toiling in the summer sun.
It’s just coincidence the New York Mets were in town and the Reds are now in the Bronx, a little more than a fortnight before Luis pulls off his red uniform for the last time, likely pulling on some shade of blue; maybe the color of the Chevez Ravine cerulean sky; perhaps a gaudy royal Metropolitan hue. Or god forbid, the darkest of all—a Bronx navy. Think Aroldis Chapman and cringe all over again.
The Reds need to get everything for Castillo now. He’s 151 days away from being on the wrong side of 30 years old and his agent surely wants 6 years. Minimum. That’s not a deal that makes sense for a small market team. He’ll have two more postseason opportunities with his new team. Make them pay. Names like Anthony Volpe, Andy Pages, Francisco Alvarez and Oswald Peraza may be viewed as untouchable by their teams, but they should be mandatory starting points in any discussion if an organization with a Madison Avenue roster wants in on the La Piedra Sweepstakes.
According to MLB insider Jon Heyman of The New York Post, the Yankees like Castillo, as do many teams. However, the Reds are asking general manager Brian Cashman and staff for one of their top two shortstop prospects, Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza.
This all but demolishes the possibility between the two sides striking a deal. This ask was a non-starter in the offseason when the Yankees were trying to trade for first baseman Matt Olson, too.
All of this was before Luis Severino left Wednesday’s game with shoulder issues pending an MRI. The injury-prone Severino has to now worry the Death Star in the Bronx. But, if it’s a non-starter for Cashman, so be it. Move on to the next suitor. The point is—do not settle. Make somebody pay.
If it feels like you need the new James Webb Space Telescope to see the Reds next window, you’re not alone. It’s always the future for the Have Nots, while it’s always today for the Haves.
You hear all kinds talk from big market presidents and fans alike decrying the tanking that goes on in baseball. How teams like the A’s and the Reds are pocketing revenue sharing dollars instead of investing in winning. Whenever you hear this, just remember: you’re being played.
Revenue sharing is the price teams like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, etc., pay for the yearly bacchanal that takes place at the trading deadline, when, like sharks, they circle the waters of the smaller fish who cannot afford the best players in the game, who are retooling or rebuilding. The sharks rarely go into these bad cycles themselves. Their windows stay perpetually open, the fresh air of winning always blowing in from off the coast. The farm systems they build are used as chits to acquire the best players in the game in exchange for something called “the future.”
If owners and their toadies are angry with anyone, it’s the teams that take their money, then beat them—like the Tampa Bay Rays. But that’s the outlier.
Who really hates revenue sharing and tanking, rebuilding, retooling, or whatever label you wish to slap on it? The players’ union. They want as many teams competing for their members services as possible, driving up salaries. And when there are only a small handful of teams that can afford Mookie Betts, that’s bad for business.
But don’t get this twisted. None of this is meant to excuse the cheap and shoddy behavior of the Castellini’s after the new CBA was announced. They should have spent and given their team on the field a reasonable chance to compete. Especially on the heels of last season. But this is not a binary choice. We can expect ownership to spend while still acknowledging that they can never spend enough to compete on the same level with those with almost unlimited resources. An organization can be expected to draft and develop better, while still acknowledging that a team with the resources to hire five times the scouts to look under five times the rocks to unearth talent has an unholy advantage. And we can acknowledge that while on any given night a team with a pitcher making the major league minimum (Graham Ashcraft) can best a team with a $325M pitcher (Gerrit Cole), it’s not a blueprint for sustained success.
So now we get to watch another player go, one the Reds shrewdly acquired and developed, one we loved watching on days rainy and sun-drenched, only to see him put on a fresh new suit and take another girl uptown to the dance, while we sit at home and watch reruns of Johnny Bench and the Baseball Bunch bathed in the flickering light of the family room TV.
We should make them pay dearly for it. Anything else is highway robbery.
In truth, it always is, no matter the outcome. The sharks rarely go hungry.