Within a week and a half, Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini has turned the world of medium-market baseball on it's head. The Reds' owner has dished out a whopping $297.5 Million to lock up two of his own—two of the premier players in Major League Baseball in Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. It seems as though Mr. Castellini doesn't believe in middle-class baseball, but should we be surprised by this assumption?
The man who is bringing a large-market mentality to this medium-market city led a group that purchased the Cincinnati Reds in 2006 for a mere $270 Million (less than he just guaranteed his two stars) and promptly took over as CEO. Even at that time, he made a clear statement during his press conference that he would "bring championship baseball back to Cincinnati."
Within two years, a proven top-tier GM in Walt Jocketty had been placed at the helm, followed by a big-name skipper in Dusty Baker that has steadied a rotating wheel of managers that included such names as Dave Miley, Jerry Narron and Pete Mackanin. He has handed out other long-term contracts to Jay Bruce (6 years and $51 Million), Johnny Cueto (4 years and $27 Million) and Sean Marshall (3 years and $16.5 Million).
All of these examples are large, clearly visible and measurable. But, let’s look at some un-measurable items that he has brought to the Cincinnati Reds.
There is a belief in his winning approach throughout the entire organization. Two marquee players were willing to give up testing the free agent market in order to secure contracts to stay with his team. They signed on for the remainder of their careers because they believe. He has instilled a sense of pride and tradition by keeping former Reds greats and World Series champions such as Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Eric Davis and more involved with the team.
Mr. Castellini has made his point loud and clear. His approach is not to follow in the steps of previous ownership who begged fans to watch an inferior team while dangling the possibility of spending for contention in the future.
No, his approach has been to put his money where his mouth is. His approach has been to let his actions speak for themselves. His approach has been to ignore the media belief that medium markets cannot spend with the teams that get most of the coverage. His approach has been to build that championship team.
Reds owner Bob Castellini is a man of his word and truly an owner on a mission. He is showing the baseball world that his club does not adhere to the rules of social class divisions. People will talk and question his moves.
But, I am not about to question a man who was able to build his empire by dealing in salad and fruit of all things. Especially when that man stands in front of reporters and cameras and boldly says, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, "What we are doing will not be to the financial detriment to our team in the future."
He understands his finances and the concept that "If you build it, they will come."