For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

Have You Had Your Phil? Ask Table 28 at the Rosie Luncheon at the Ballpark Down by the River last January 14. They know.

They know that the sons of bankers, sons of lawyers—and yes, even the sons of baseball owners—cannot see past the chicken fingers at Table 2, much less the sky.

Mangled discourse about professed profit-deferred revenue turned into a 501(c)(3) lesson by his critics and poor PowerPoint skills have missed the larger point. Yes, we’re tired of Phoolish Phil and his arrogance. He wore out his welcome last Opening Day with his ramshackle rhetoric and insulting and tone deaf tongue. His father long ago wore out his welcome with his meddling ways. But what angers me the most about the Castellinis is that they’ve hijacked the important conversation we should be having in Cincinnati—and in baseball writ large—with their abject buffoonery.

Baseball is broken for many of us. We should be discussing that, making the case that despite how vociferously some blow the tanking shofar, there really are small market teams, and they deserve more than just an open crack in their postseason windows to compete for a title before they are forced back into mediocrity, while the mega-rich franchises—with mega-rich owners—sit at the top year-after-year:

It was a winter’s day in a deep and dark Simon and Garfunklean December—the 21st to be precise—when the Mets signed Carlos Correa, temporarily, to a $315M contract that sent the baseball community into an uproar. Steve Cohen, who has taken Phillies owner John Middleton’s vow to spend “stupid money” in the pursuit of a championship to the stratosphere, provoked this curious response from Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner:

“Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner praised what is to come for the city of New York, while also adding that such a spending spree is something that needs to be ‘looked at.’”

The remarks, coming out of both sides of the mouth, demonstrate simultaneously the politics of New York baseball—the need to play tabloid nice-nice with a cross-town rival owner—and the fear that Cohen is going to drive up the cost of free agents for the Yankees. It’s a delicious irony.

We have been sold a snake oil narrative that baseball owners are all billionaires who can compete if only they wanted to win instead of pocketing ducats. Maybe. If you want to crucify John Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group owns the Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Liverpool Football Club for not spending to keep Mookie Betts, be my guest. That’s not my fight. Winning 4 World Series in the last 18 years apparently doesn’t garner the slack from the local fans it once did. But Red Sox fans, you do you.

Just mention small market and you’ll hear naysayers dragging you for siding with billionaires.

“For the love of god, stop worrying about the financial health of people rich enough to own sports franchises. People forget that team owners are not rich because they own baseball teams; they own baseball teams because they are rich”

It’s a canard, a 42nd street version of the 3-card monte, designed to distract you, by using your utter disdain of the rich, while slight-of-hand arguments purport to buttress the belief there is no such thing as an unlevel playing field in baseball.

There are in fact, a half dozen owners who are not billionaires. Not that anyone should feel sorry for multi-millionaires, but we should at least acknowledge the hyperbole of some of these arguments. If it sounds like I’m defending the rich, think again. Full disclosure: I like to think I’m pretty liberal. My world view is that the rich don’t pay nearly enough taxes, and no, corporations are not people. Estate tax loopholes and the ability to declare no income on your taxes while raking in millions in long-term capital gains income taxed at lower rate than many of us regular Americans are privy to—are driving an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

Baseball owners deserve our scorn for a slew of reasons, but suggesting they are all equal in their ability to compete is laughably wrong.

Whether it’s making mouths at the invisible Forbes event that is franchise valuation, or writing opinion pieces that slyly use words like “oligarchy,” or phrases like “plutocrats posing as paupers,” it’s all designed to remind you of those evil rich people as a way to slant the argument.

This disdain is not merely reserved for owners; players get targeted as well. If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a faction of Reds fans that slander Joey Votto at every opportunity on social media, remember that he makes $25M a year. Hating on those that make money the rest of us can only imagine is nothing new, especially is these post-pandemic days, where the divide between the Haves and Have-Nots has only widened.

In the December 7, 2022 edition of the Joe Sheehan Newsletter, while positing on the signing of Aaron Judge, Joe said the quiet part out loud:

“The money won’t matter; the Yankees print money.”

And there you are. In poker parlance this is known as “The Tell.” Joe knows. And so do we.

Joe is a really smart guy. It’s the reason I subscribe to his newsletter. He brings a wealth of data and savvy analysis of that data to his subscribers. If you want to understand the game better, Joe’s newsletter would be a good place to start. But we all have our own biases we fight to keep at bay in an effort to present an honest and accurate point of view. I have my own to be sure. And while there are certainly some owners who don’t value putting the best team on the field the way they should given their prodigious wealth, there’s another side to all this.

In 2015, the website FiveThirtyEight wrote an article titled “Don’t Be Fooled By Baseball’s Small-Budget Success Stories.”

“The success of the Astros and the (comparatively) minuscule payrolls of other plucky small-budget teams is often cited by people trying to advance an egalitarian narrative: that the amount a team spends does not matter. In recent years, Time called the Royals the future of baseball. The New York Times went with Smaller Markets and Smarter Thinking. Sports Illustrated argued that the average payrolls of playoff teams show that money isn’t the factor it used to be and the Providence Journal offered, “money can’t buy success.” Andrew McCutchen, 2013 National League MVP, is the poster boy for what small-budget teams can accomplish, saying, “Payroll doesn’t mean everything. If that was the case, the Yankees would win every year.”

That’s all heart-warming, but evidence suggests that the relationship between money and winning is as strong now as it’s been any time in the free-agency era.”

Things have only gotten worse since that article was written with the arrival of the “stupid money” owners and their willingness to tilt the playing field starkly in their favor.

A 2016 Fangraphs article titled “The Massive Payroll Disparity of the 2016 World Series” illustrates just what money means:

“there’s also one major advantage which Chicago possesses over their counterparts in Cleveland: money. While both teams feature younger players who’ve assumed major roles, the Cubs have gone out and made major fortifications through free agency while Cleveland has had to complement the core of their roster through the free-agent bargain bin.

Both teams feature a lot of homegrown talent, but when the Cubs needed to make a push for contention, they were able to sign Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Jon Lester, and Ben Zobrist to big contracts. Cleveland, partially hamstrung due to Zobrist-size deals for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, signed Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis to fortify the roster.

Due to the team’s different financial realities, the disparity between the two teams’ total payroll this season is one of the biggest in the 21st century.”

Payroll info in the 17 years between 2000 and 2016 tell the following story according to Fangraphs:

“Among teams that have possessed a payroll advantage of $10 million or greater, the World Series record is 9-4. The team with the larger payroll has gone 10-6 and won eight of the last 10 World Series championships. When the margin has been greater than $50 million, the team with the larger payroll is 5-1, with the Marlins’ victory over the Yankees in 2003 representing the lone defeat.”

So, what happens when the payroll disparity becomes $100M—or more?

This argument is seen not just through political and generational lenses, but a geographical one, as well. This Mets fan on social media offered a typical view:

“It is the small market teams fault. If the 25 of them now were even trying to win the big market teams (all 4 of them) wouldn’t be able to buy every player. Those clubs are robbing their fans. There’s no reason CIN, COL, BAL, etc couldn’t go in and buy themselves a star player.”

One of my favorite arguments is the inevitable comparison of different sports, and the claim that baseball has, in fact, more competitive balance than the NFL. The argument goes like this: “Look at the domination of the league by the Kansas City Chiefs. What has a salary cap done to stop this? Nothing.”

This is not just apples and oranges, this is an apples and kumquats comparison. Patently ludicrous. A single transcendental player can lift an NFL team in a way that is just impossible in baseball. Just ask any Bengals fan. If you wish to pretend the Brown family has suddenly become savvy football folk, be my guest. But I tend to believe that what has measurably changed the Bengals’ fortunes is a guy named Joe dropping deus ex machina-like from the sky into Mike Brown’s lap.

Baseball has its transcendental stars, but how much has Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout changed the fortunes of the LA Angels? Still, Mr. Met fan says there’s no reason CIN couldn’t just go out and buy themselves a star player and voilá—playoffs. Simple, huh?

It’s the art of pick-pocketing, finding your mark, executing the misdirection (look over here at the shiny BAMTech deal, while I lift the wallet and slide out the subway door at the next stop and head to Yankee Stadium for Game 6.


I have a take and here it is:

I think the pandemic and resultant loss of income spooked the ownership group of the Reds. When the Wilder, Kentucky-based Castellini Group of Companies restructured its business model, laying off 150 employees in the process, and Bob Castellini sold his Arizona Spa and Resort to a group of New York investors in the winter of 2022, it should have been a clue. I believe the failures of the Moustakas and Akiyama signings added to the angst. But what drove the Castellinis into full retreat may have been the failure of the resulting Collective Bargaining Agreement to keep the Competitive Balance Tax at a place the Reds and 3 other teams were hoping for.

So, ownership has basically said, “we’re not playing that game.” And that’s how you get “realigning payroll with resources.”

Now, Nick Krall has been sent out to sell a new, sustainable win plan to the fan base. Whether we’re talking about a 2013 Houston Astros teardown approach, or a Rays’ Way strategy, there remain huge roadblocks to the success of either strategy.

The problem with comparing the Reds’ approach with the Rays’ Way is while Tampa Bay has mastered the skill of “find & develop,” the Castellini-led Reds ran off Dick Williams, Kyle Boddy and the analytic framework they built. The problem with comparing the latest teardown with the Astros’ blueprint is Houston has steadily added to their core by driving payroll steadily upward—at the $200M level in 2021. Does anyone think this ownership group will ever spend that kind of money? Does anyone really think they have that kind of money to support a payroll north of $175M a year for the foreseeable future?

There’s a segment of the fan base that believes ownership should have found a way to pay Luis Castillo, taken the window they have with Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India, and run with it until that window closed. And there’s another segment that believes this influx of quality prospects will be worth the step back the organization has taken and will push the franchise back to relevance sooner rather than later. But it will likely take more than locking up Greene and India to long term deals and seeing another couple of prospects blossom into stars. It will take diving back into free agent market in a serious way in order to compete with the likes of Steve Cohen and Peter Seidler as they and others push the envelope.

Meanwhile, commissioner Manfred has his hands full. He has to keep his four disgruntled owners from turning into eight or more disgruntled owners by the time the next Collective Bargaining negotiation rolls around.

The easy answer is for the Castellini ownership group to sell and talk Jeff Bezos into becoming a baseball fan down by the river. But this is not the hand that’s been dealt. And to not recognize that is the difference between knowing if it’s dark outside, or light.

57 Responses

  1. Rednat

    Thank you Richard. I think it is a supply and demand issue more than anything. The pitching is just so dominant now that there are so very few position players that can really compete. Therefore even average position players demand way more than teams like the reds can afford. I look at Castellanos. Good player and good guy and all but a .276 hitter. I wouldn’t pay him 20 million a year either.
    Maybe the rule changes will help a little bit I hope mlb Really thinks about banning some of these hard sliders and other unhitable pitches. I look at a guy like Aquino. He had all the tools to be a superstar at a very cheap price for the reds. Mlb pitching caught up to him fairly quickly. Same may be true with Barrero I am afraid.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      You said “can afford” when you probably should have said the Reds decide not to pay. The Reds had a payroll over $140M a few years ago. The money is going to be there if they actually try to be good.

      • BK

        Several important things have changed since that $140M payroll team was built. It’s really unclear how that would be a realistic number going into 2024. The Reds will likely need sustained success to draw enough attendance to support that figure. While the Reds have sufficient revenue inflows to operate, attendance is their best lever to increase revenue to support payroll spending.

      • LDS

        It’s not rational to spend money on crappy products. That includes the Reds. The Reds were once capable of drawing 2+ million fans per year. Now the attendance is at decades old lows. No product, no attendance.

      • BK

        @LDS, I did not blame the fans for not attending.

  2. LDS

    Any owner not committed to competing should lose their franchise for the good of the game. The Reds used to be a regional team and quite successfully. This ownership group gave that away. As for taxes, what you’re arguing for is a wealth tax not an income tax. The “rich” already pay well more than 90% of all income taxes paid. For that matter, most people don’t realize how little money one must make to be labeled rich by the tax code, especially jf one is single. But, tax rules are where the elites derive their walking around money and pick winners and losers. It brings in the campaign donations from both sides, one side claiming to make the tax code “fairer”, the other claiming they’ll soak the rich. It’s all a game played at the taxpayer’s expense.

      • LDS

        Actually no, but this isn’t the forum for a tax/political discussion beyond recognizing that both parties lie through their teeth. You want to fix baseball, strip them of their anti-trust exemption

      • BK

        @LDS, I’m not against MLB losing their anti-trust exemption, as none of the other leagues have one. However, I don’t understand how that change would affect competitive balance.

    • greenmtred

      If you say that “rich” starts at 221 thousand a year, the rich pay 38% of total income tax collected. Lower the threshold of rich to 151 thousand and it’s still less than half.

    • Melvin

      “Any owner not committed to competing should lose their franchise for the good of the game. ”

      Can’t complain about that statement.

      • greenmtred

        I can’t complain about it, either, but it might be hard to prove, and one would think that it would have to be proven before a team could be confiscated from its owner.

      • Melvin

        greenmtred – Salary floor would help.

  3. BK

    Richard, this is an excellent summation of where MLB is today.

  4. redfanorbust

    Count me in as one of the one fan that says baseball is broken and has been for quite some time. At what point do owners, commissioner, players and fans say enough is enough. If there are bad/greedy owners who refuse to compete with other teams for good players services then they need to be weeded out and confronted. How much longer can a game survive when year after year after year the same 8-10 teams have great chances to make the playoffs and the rest are long shots or non existent. Even when bad teams get early draft picks and they turn out to be very good/stars they have to be traded because they can no longer afford them. Only reason I continue to this day to watch games is I think baseball is the best game ever and not because I think the Reds or teams like them will have much of a chance to be in any serious kind of contention. It’s been over 30 years since the Reds were seriously good and only a handful when they had a puncher’s chance.

  5. Schneidlywhiplash

    My problem is the transparency. We forget that Castellini only owns the “managing share”. The Reds are owned by a group of millionaires – not just Bob. The fact that Castellini sold his resort, does not reflect what the other owners have financially. I liken it to Ford or GM saying we’re going to put an inferior product on the market until you people buy enough of them that we can build really nice cars. People are not going to support a “lemon”. If the Reds ownership “group” would invest some additional capital or sell additional shares to new owners they could invest in the team. Until then, Cincinnati, KC, Cleveland will function as minor league feeder teams for the few teams willing to invest.

  6. Jon

    This past series vs. the Cubs was a tale of two ownership styles. Both teams are attempting to emerge from rebuilds. The Cubs went out this past winter and signed a variety of players to Major League contracts. The Reds did not. With a core in place and rising stars like De La Cruz, McClain, and CES likely to be called up sooner rather than later (barring injury of course), the Reds are two quality starting pitchers and four or five decent bullpen guys away from being a contender. Had ownership actually allowed money to be spent this year in those areas, the Reds may have had a chance to contend this season. Instead, it will be another summer of “maybe next year”.

    • BK

      Was it a tale of ownership styles or a tale of market sizes? If you compare the operating incomes (losses) of the two franchises over the last three years, the Cubs are $110M ahead of the Reds.

  7. old-school

    I always here that SD v Cinci media market/small market comparison and Nielsen vis a vis.

    San Diego Metro is the 8th largest city in the country with $1.4 million people and Sand Diego county is the 5th most populous country in the United State at 3.3 million people. Not to mention the southern California area in general. SD diego is a huge destination spot and 25 million people live in Southern California. Dense dense population. Say what you want about the Reds but using San Diego as a comparison market seems way off. KC/Pittsburg, Minnesota is fair.

    • AMDG


      Technically, SD is “small market”, and are the one team apologists of large market teams turn to, to “prove” market size means nothing.

      But the greater SD area has tons more population. It also has great weather with many people going to ballgames. Plus, the higher cost of living means higher ticket prices and higher income per game. I think last year, taking the average ticket price x the total attendance, the Padres made something like $50M~$70M more than the Reds just at the gate.

    • Michael

      Old school what you say about population is true and this might be nit picking but the county San Diego is in is over 80 miles up the coast. If we are comparing areas then you are talking about the Cinday metro area and then some.

      For reference point San Diego county population density is 837 per sq mile. This is on par with Butler County at 830 and well below Hamilton (2,000), Montgomery (1,200) and above Warren (600). Cinday metro population is comparable to San Diego in roughly the same physical size.

      Last of all it is fair to bring up overall Socal population. Having said that in the best of times LA center to San Diego is 120 miles and over a 2 hour drive. This is not factoring in the parts of Orange county that are north of LA center and the nightmare of trying to drive down I5 from there.

      • old-school

        I m really going off on a tangent now but If Cincinnati had a mass transit system- light rail up 75 to dayton and 71 towards columbus like spokes of a wheel out east and west and to the the airport as well,….they’d sell a ton more season tickets. You hop the train at 530 pm after work, shoot down town and watch 6-7 innings on a weeknight and your home by 930 pm. On a weekend, you could see multiple games and make an afternoon or evening out of watching the Reds and going to the banks. I’d definitely buy a package but that ship has sailed.

      • Jim Walker

        The 15 corridor through the foothill country NE of San Diego is a quicker route to San Diego than the coast run on the 5. We stayed at a timeshare a little north of Escondido and were in downtown SD in just over 30 minutes. There are people living in the valleys and on the mountain sides all the way up into Riverside County (10th most populous in the US) where things spread out a bit more. It is about an hour to SD on the 15 from Temecula in Riverside Cty.

  8. David

    To have a winning baseball team, you have to have players that have value quite above “Wins Above Replacement”…WAR. You have to have several high WAR players, and likely the rest of the players have to have 2-3 WAR (or better). You can’t afford to have a replacement level starting line-up player on a team and be winning ( 0 WAR).

    All the people that manage ML teams know this, as do all the people on this here blog. This is no secret. There is a rough “going rate” of a player per WAR. Early on in Joey Votto’s BIG CONTRACT, he was likely delivering a lot of value, ie WAR for the annual salary. The last year and likely this year…not so much. Moustakas never delivered WAR at all with his big contract.
    If you are going to hire expensive free agents (high WAR players), be they pitchers or position players, they have to produce. The Yankees, Dodgers, etc… the RICH TEAMS, can afford to make a mistake on these things from time to time.
    The small market franchises cannot afford to do that…so they get skeered away from doing it, taking a risk like that. The Reds are in this predicament now (losing!!!) because they are still paying Moustakas to DH for the Rockies, and paying Joey Votto to rehab in AAA and maybe get 400 AB’s this year, at a lower production level (likely) than most of his career. Maybe next year…..

    I don’t care much for the way Top Management has run the Reds since…well, 2014. Their Field Managers through that time have been largely no great shakes either.
    But the relationship between what high WAR players cost and what small market teams can afford points to the present expected disparity in baseball.
    The Tampa Bay Rays have a system, but it also means there will be lean years of tear down and rebuild, with actually no guarantee of getting to a World Series, without having enough high WAR players. Just that they will cycle through winning years, and then trade away the players that they will no longer be able to afford for younger talent that has potential.

    Baseball may be broken, but it is the way it is because both the PLAYERS and OWNERS want it this way. And I think this is the ugly secret that the fans of baseball in general have to acknowledge.
    And a lot of fans who may not think like this, have intuitively decided that it is not worth their time to follow an organized professional sport with such inherent disparities in outcomes now built into the system.

    I’m glad that I am old enough to have seen the Reds in the Great Years of the 1970’s, because as Bob Howsam said after the 1976 World Series win…..(paraphrasing) You won’t see another team built like this again.
    Truer words were never spoken, and who really knew then it was the end of a era?

    Bob knew. I don’t have any real answers, but someday the owners and players association will realize the game’s financial structure has to be changed so that there is more level competition, so really all the franchises have an opportunity to win, if well managed. That won’t fix block headed owners (who would that be?), but it might make the league more competitive and interesting.
    And maybe the fans will come. Who knows?

    • greenmtred

      Good summation, David. I remember the slight chill in my gut when I read the Howsam statement. I took it that he was referencing the serious onset of free-agency, and free-agency–despite the clear moral arguments in its favor–certainly seems to have helped upset the applecart. Another development that, at the risk of sounding like the codger I am, seems to me to have accelerated the decline of the game is expansion. Probably much too late to put that cat back in the bag.

  9. Doc

    Baseball made a major change circa 1969 when pitching became too dominant. Lowered the mound 5 inches. Players are bigger, taller, stronger and throw harder now. So move the mound back a couple of feet and lower it a couple more inches. Make the game more balanced.

    • Rednat

      Yes yes yes! This is in response to Dave and Doc. Moving the mound back would immediately create more high War players. Thus lowering the cost, giving the small market teams a better chance

    • Colorado Red

      If you quit trying to hit everything 5 miles, and make contact you will be fine.
      The ERA is much higher now, then 48 years ago (BRM days).
      The game has changed, and not for the better.
      BTY, The Gov’t spend way too much money.
      Cut the spending.

    • Melvin

      I don’t know if moving the mound back would increase arm injuries but I’m very confident that it would increase batting averages.

  10. MBS

    We need all tv deals to become national deals, and even distribution of the $$$. Ballpark $$$ would stay with the club. Salary Caps, and Floors should be adopted. Anything short of that is window dressing, and we’ll continue to have a widening gap between organizations.

  11. Mark Moore

    Well thought out and articulated. And I’m definitely in the camp that says the overall system is “broken”. For me, one of the bigger problems is that we haven’t had a true commissioner in pretty much forever. What we get is an extension of ownership. Kuhn was far from perfect, but he was nobody’s lapdog either.

    The oft heard whining about market by Silly Philly and Good Ole Bob just serves as a smoked red herring for the most part (IMO). We’ll never know because the transparency isn’t there for the financials. What we do know is that people won’t flock to GABP for an inferior product. So much of it becomes self-perpetuating.

    Yet I still watch and cheer for our Reds. Because I’m that kind of fan.

    • Melvin

      “Yet I still watch and cheer for our Reds. Because I’m that kind of fan.”


  12. Votto4life

    Baseball used to be a such a great game. I couldn’t wait for the first Spring Training game radio broadcast. For fifty years, I watched ever single pitch, even the games on the west coast. I would watch until the final pitch of the World Series and then impatiently wait for the first Red’s Hot Stove broadcast.

    Now, I check this site once a week or so. I Check scores on the internet, but no longer watch or listen to the games.

    The Castellini’s tight fisted ownership is partly to blame for my lack of interest. Phil Castellini’s comments last year also went a long way to make me embittered toward the Red’s ownership . But mostly, baseball is just not the same game I grew up with.

    Baseball in the 1970s and 1980s was really something special. I just don’t find today’s game entertaining. Maybe the game has changed or maybe I have. I just no longer find it entertaining. It’s a shame, because Red’s baseball used to be such a big part of my life.

    I am glad you guy still find enjoyment in Red’s baseball. I hope you have a great season.

    • Colorado Red

      TRUE, analytics has ruined the game.

    • TR

      I’m glad baseball is back, at least for the next seven months. I’ve been a Reds fan since the late 1940’s so I certainly understand the angst of the fans over the condition of the Reds organization. It’s not unique, but happens in many cities with professional sports teams. Things will work out for the Reds when we eventually have a change in managing ownership. In the meantime I look forward to each game and usually watch it as a ballet with the audio off and music on with my preference being classical.

  13. Old-school

    Louisville loses
    McLain homers
    Votto 0-3 with 3 K’ and a walk
    Senzel 0-2 walk
    Stoudt solid again. Looking like next young starter up is taking a step forward

    Joey Votto ?????

    Luis Ortiz is Pirates # 9 prospect so legit AAA pitcher

    • MBS

      So far Abbott is looking like that guy. 9 Batters up 9 K’s

    • Doc

      Wonder if Votto really meant what he said about retiring if he were no longer able to perform. Certainly not performing presently.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        He is on rehab assignment for a reason and even he stated that reason. He didn’t think that he was ready yet.

    • Jim Walker

      In Votto’s last 2 game appearances (9PAs), he has 6K’s, a walk, a single, and a ground out.

      By my quick count, since BBRef and Fangraphs haven’t updated yet as I am typing, Votto has now K’d 10 times in 18PAs on his rehab. He has walked twice and had 3 hits (1 HR, 2 singles).

      • David

        He’s 39 years old, and his bat speed is likely gone. Even though his shoulder is repaired and is getting stronger, that doesn’t replace the “twitch” muscle response that is one thing that distinguishes a pro athlete (in the 99.9 percentile of the human race) from the rest of us normal schlubs. But everybody loses that with age.
        I guess a little more time will tell, and next week Joey may start scorching the ball in AAA.

  14. Brad

    After listening to Krall in his interview the other day I am convinced that you are correct. The Reds are scared to spend money because they may lose money. Everything was about the minor leagues. I do not think that they will extend or sign anyone ever again to longer contracts. All the kids they are starting now will be traded with a year or so left on their contracts so that they can get another “hull” and repeat again with cheaper talent. Why spend 100 million when you can spend 60 million and people still go to games. I am a fan of baseball. I love watching games and going to games. I have been a Reds fan for over 50 years, but I no longer go to games and can’t watch games anymore. Cut the cord 3 years ago and Hulu no longer caries games so no Reds games. I stopped going to games when I realized that I was no longer treated as a fan but a ATM. It just cost way too much to be able to go to the games.

    • Votto4life

      I agree Brad. I think the Reds have decided they are no longer in the business of signing multi-year free agents or even extending their own young players. It’s hard to see them ever being competitive with such an approach.

      Regardless of what happens with this current crop of prospects, the Reds will, once again, be in full re-build mode in another four or five years.

  15. Amarillo

    It’s really easy to say that teams should spend more, but spend more on who? There isn’t unlimited available talent, and players have to want to sign with your team. There wasn’t any one free agent that would make this team an immediate contender, and of the players we traded away, only Castillo would have been worth extending.
    Maybe the Reds could run a $170MM payroll, but teams are running $250+ payrolls, so it would still be a case of rich team and poor teams, and the only change is the number being complained about.

      • Amarillo

        You can sign lots of free agents and not actually be trying, like the Cubs. Or, you can not sign free agents and be trying, like the Guardians.

        It’s whether you make good decisions for your organization, not simply the payroll number.

    • Jimbo44CN

      I know they have tons of money, but how do you think the Met’s management and fans feel about it’s two big signings this offseason. Verlander’s hurt and Scherzer is just plain getting old and not very good. Beleive their two salaries this year comes to 86 mil. That’s more than the entire Reds 2023 payroll. Just spending a ton of money does not always work. You can take the chance and then wind up with something like this, or the Moose

  16. Melvin

    Smart decisions sometimes/often trumps money. If you’ve got both of course then you have a real good chance at a championship. Common sense.

  17. Jim Walker

    On Thursday, MLB, Twins, and Guardians filed an emergency motion in the Diamond Sports Group/ Bally bankruptcy case. The motion asks that Diamond Bally be enjoined to make the telecast right payments now due to the Twins and Guardians or alternately that the two teams be released from their contracts with DSG.

    Four additional teams ask the court to add them to the motion if DSG fails to make upcoming payments to them on time. Interestingly enough, the Reds did not sign on to the motion despite being among the teams DSG is reported to be losing money on.

  18. TMS

    My biggest problem is that there are usually only four or five FA each year that can legitimately help a team win. They are absolute upgrades for the teams who sign them. Those are the players who currently get signed to long-term “stupid” money by the billionaire-owned teams who throw money around like raindrops in a hurricane.

    All the rest of the FA’s are players who have big enough holes in their game that they may or may not help the teams who sign them. They come with huge risk because they may or may not be a better option than a younger, cheaper option – or a dumpster dive find. These FA risks can be signed for shorter-term contracts, but they still come at hefty price tags, based on some past career success or name recognition.

    The Reds have a long-term contract already on the books with Votto. Votto has had a great run. He’s arguably the best Reds player to ever appear in a game in this city. But can we agree that for the last 3-4 seasons, Votto has not been $25 million per year great? That’s the rub for teams like the Padres who are collecting superstars and signing them to ten-year deals. It’s great now, but five or six years from now, the star quality will vanish but the contract expenses remain.

    As the author mentions in the original article, the real story here is the fact that ownership cleared the decks of all the scouting and development departments that were in place during Dick Williams’ tenure. Since then, there has been a lot of turnover, but not much new blood from outside the organization. Here’s the rub: for the investment of an additional $10-$15 million per year, the Reds could build a top tier scouting and development staff. That would move the Reds closer to the Rays and Guardians as far as producing young quality talent.

  19. Tom Reeves

    Should any of us to expect the Reds current ownership group to go broke to support the Reds? Is that reasonable.

    The team lost $60m over the last 3 seasons (Forbes). That loss is current covered by a line of credit. Bally Sports (Diamond) is current in bankruptcy. Two teams haven been paid their TV contract. The Reds have been paid some. But that’s a huge percentage of the Reds revenue that’s now uncertain.

    The Bob Castellani has an estimated network of $600m. I can’t imagine he’s liquid enough to keep pumping in tens of millions of dollars into the team to try and make it competitive – while remaining solvent for long.

    I know everyone “gets rich” when they sell the team. The team value has grown – not as much as other teams but definitely a lot. When this ownership group sells, it will take a billionaire to buy the team. Will that billionaire want profits? If they do, the team will probably need to be moved to a faster growing market. “Can’t move – stadium contract with the county prohibits it.” The stadium contract might be one of the first things lost if the team goes bankrupt and Bally Sports now makes that a real possibility.

    Phil Castellani was dumb to say what he did last year on opening day but he was more right than he knew – and we all knew. The economics of baseball are broken and where are Reds fans going to go to find a billionaire who doesn’t want to make profits off the Reds? It’s time we spot blaming the Castellanis and put pressure on MLB to fix the economics of baseball. Or, we can get used to the idea of the Charlotte Pirates and the Nashville Reds.

    • David

      Well, I think the Reds would move to San Antonio or maybe Monterrey, Mexico.

      But, yeah, I agree with every thing you said.

  20. Roger Garrett

    Unless the team is sold the Reds will never compete.Must develop and extend you own players and fill in with free agents which Reds haven’t done so we just become a farm team for other teams.Reds rarely even get good value on trading their better players because someone has to help put fans in the seats so they hold on to those way too long.Its just sad that this once proud franchise has fell this far but it is has to the point where winning is just not even important.Blame it on whatever but we all know that only a handful of teams have a legit chance to become world champs and its because money gets you the best players and over a 162 game season talent always wins.Is MLB in trouble?Of course not since it continues to make everybody richer and richer.Even the crumbs left over make somebody richer.