Following an offseason in which the team parted ways with several established, higher-paid players in an apparent strategy to cut payroll and forego competing, Reds fans have not been shy about voicing their displeasure with the direction of their club. Four games into the season, there’s at least one key figure for which these complaints have fallen on deaf ears: team president and COO Phil Castellini.
Castellini, whose father, Robert, is the team’s controlling owner, spoke at Cincinnati’s Opening Day parade ahead of Tuesday’s home opener and was asked about criticism from the fans—including calls for the Castellini family to sell the team—and sent a warning that a change in ownership could mean relocation.
“Well, where are you going to go? Let’s start there,” Castellini said, per Fletcher Keel of WLWT. “Sell the team to who? You want to have this debate? If you want to look at what would you do with this team to be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists, it would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else. So, be careful what you ask for.”
After the parade, Castellini was asked to clarify his comments on the field at Great American Ball Park, and doubled down on his earlier sentiments.
“Are you gonna abandon being a Reds fan?” Castellini said. “Are you gonna abandon following this team? We haven’t abandoned it, we haven’t abandoned investing in the team and the community. The point is, how about everybody just settle down and celebrate and cheer for the team. You can hate on us all you want, we’re not going anywhere.”
Castellini did eventually issue an apology Tuesday night, saying, “I apologize to Reds fans and regret the comments that I made earlier today. We love this city, we love this team, and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I am sorry.”
The Reds finished 83–79 last year, seven games behind the Cardinals for the National League’s second wild-card spot. Despite expanded playoffs this season, the team elected to let outfielder Nick Castellanos and pitcher Michael Lorenzen walk in free agency, and placed starting pitcher Wade Miley on waivers rather than pick up his $10 million option. Cincinnati also traded away Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suárez, Amir Garrett and Tucker Barnhart.
The Red were a wild-card team during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and prior to that had not made the playoffs since 2013. Cincinnati has not won a postseason series since 1995.
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