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OnBaseMachine
04-02-2006, 08:59 AM
Castellini's vision: Fun, wins
Entering first season as Reds CEO, Castellini already leaving his mark
BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER

SARASOTA, Fla. - Bob Castellini, the Reds' new chief executive officer, was everywhere at the team's Ed Smith Stadium complex during spring training.

He sat in on meetings with coaches and scouts.

He walked the concourse, chatting up fans.

He strolled the backfields, watching minor-leaguers, meeting players and staff.

"It's been a lot of fun," he said.

And Castellini wants fans to have fun, too. To make that happen, there will be some changes this season at Great American Ball Park.

The park will feature two new party areas and a new concert series.

The Reds also will open the gates earlier - two hours before game time, as opposed to 11/2 hours - so fans can watch batting practice.

But Castellini also is a pragmatist, and he knows if the Reds aren't competitive, nothing else will matter.

He thinks the Reds will exceed expectations this season. We'll start to find out whether that's true Monday, when the team plays its Opening Day game at Great American Ball Park against the Chicago Cubs.

Castellini's life has changed dramatically since he assumed control of the club from former CEO Carl Lindner in January.

Despite his prominence in the business community, Castellini didn't deal much with the media.

But once he took over the Reds, he jumped in with both feet, wowing local reporters with his candid and outgoing style.

As spring training was winding down, Castellini took time to answer questions about his new job and the season ahead.

Question: How's it been so far? Are you having fun?

Answer: Yes - how can you not have fun? Spring training is the best of all baseball. We've got a lot of hard-working people on and off the field, dedicated people. It's more of a relaxed atmosphere here. But there's more of an intensity to win. Everyone knows we're here to win.

Q: How would you rate the job new Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky has done so far?

A: Ten would be perfection. So let's say 9, 9.5. He's done 30 years of this stuff. ... He worked in a small market where he had to be right. He's got confidence in himself. That's why I've got confidence in him. He doesn't say, "All you guys are wrong; we're doing it my way." There's no agenda with Wayne Krivsky. I don't mean to deify him, but he's doing a great job.

Q: Phil, your son and the club's senior director of business operations, said the goal is to draw 2 million fans. Can you break even at that figure? If attendance eventually went to 3 million, what kind of payroll would we be talking about?

A: We budget to break even at that amount. Revenues go to cash flow. Whatever is left over after expenses goes to payroll. It's all budgeted. It's complicated. It's not that easily arrived at. ... But we're good at budgeting and feel like we're on track. In terms of payroll, if we feel like we have a real good shot at midseason, we know we're going to get more people in the ballpark, so we'll go out on a limb and spend the money that has to be spent within reason to continue to have us in the swim.

Q: Cincinnati and St. Louis used to be neck-and-neck in attendance and they would vie for the unofficial title of "Best Baseball City in America." The only significant difference in the two markets seems to be the size of the metro area; St. Louis is considerably bigger than Cincinnati. The Reds have a farther-flung fan base upon which they must rely to drive to games. How do you deal with that?

A: We're doing a lot. I have it written out. We have a lot in the pipeline. We've hired a lot of new people. We've got these young kids - young, relatively. They're full of (energy). They're going after it. ... One of the lively things we're going to do is MDX promotion, Pepsi's energy drink. We're sparking things up. We're going to have a bar that's open up to two hours after the game. We've got several concerts. We've got a party room we're putting together above the owner's box for groups. We're going to have people - our interns - in the stands talking to fans, asking if they've been treated right. ... We're going to open two hours ahead of time instead of an hour and half, so people can take in batting practice. We've got some neat things.

Q: Can you get another couple million in revenue out of the stadium in sponsorships?

A: Absolutely. Can we do 3 million in attendance? I don't know. But why not aspire to it? The most we've ever done is 2.6 (million). You have to set your goal high. Once you get up there, everything goes up. Your signage increases; you sell all the other things out. Demand exceeds supply and you get more for everything.

Q: Why haven't the Reds had good pitching? Is it scouting or development?

A: I had the guys in here yesterday to answer that question. I think you're better off hearing it from Wayne. It's not one or the other. It's a combination of a lot of things.

Q: You know the honeymoon is probably going to be short. Beginning on Opening Day, reality sets in. In what ways have you girded yourself for the criticism that is inevitable if you don't win? Will you avoid listening to sports talk radio? Might you take out another full-page ad (in the paper)? Write an op-ed piece? Go on sports talk radio? In other words, what specifically will you do to show the fans you are engaged?

A: Those are very poignant questions. No one puts more pressure on us than we do. My biggest disappointment is going to be any game we lose. That's going to be worse than any criticism. We don't want to lose. We're not op-ed people. We're not going to do that stuff. Am I going to do a lot of talk shows? No. I did one the other night, because it's necessary. But I'll do very, very few talk shows. This is not about ownership. This is about the people who have been empowered to make this the great franchise it can be.

Q: You said in answer to a question at your press conference that there is a place for Sabermetrics in the Reds. (Sabermetrics involves using deep statistical analysis to make on-field decisions and evaluate trades.) What is that place? Have you addressed it? Are you going to hire somebody? Have you looked into hiring somebody?

A: We've got an outside consulting firm that when we go to make big trades or a deal, we call on them. We've got two guys here who run our numbers constantly. ...

Sabermetrics is absolutely essential. But it can't be the tail wagging the dog. There are so many things that are as important, if not more important. So you just can't have a rotisserie type of selection of players in your draft, your free-agent signing, or your trades. (Character) makeup is extremely important, how that person fits in the team chemistry. The closer to the major leagues, the more important stats are.

Q: What exactly are your hopes for diversity in the seats at Reds games, and how are you going to accomplish this? Specifically, in what ways can you leverage a wonderful idea - minority investors having a share in the Reds - into more diversity in the stands?

A: That's a good question. Win. Win. I think the message is out there that Cincinnati is a diverse city and the Reds are probably as integral a part of the fabric of the city than any other sports endeavor. I think people understand we care about all Cincinnatians. We want all Cincinnatians to be represented at our ballpark.

Q: What has been the most difficult aspect of your job since you took over, and why?

A: I'd say two things. One would be the Sean Casey trade. When you have to trade a fellow of that caliber, it's very difficult. He's the type of ballplayer we want here.

The second thing has been the constant criticism of previous ownership. ... The fact that communication wasn't there is correct. But this rap that previous ownership did not want to win is just totally inaccurate. They wanted to win. They spent money to win. And maybe we stubbed our toe on some things. But the desire to win was there. ...

Anybody who tries to say Carl Lindner - one of the most important things in his life is Greater Cincinnati - anyone who says Carl Lindner didn't want to win is off base. Mistakes were made along the way. But to give him a personal rap that he didn't want to win is wrong.

Q: You have made it fun to be a part-owner in the Reds again. Witness your inviting owners to Sarasota for a dinner and on-field activities. Why was it important for you to do this?

A: The people we brought in - and demand exceeded supply; a lot of people wanted a piece of the Reds, it hadn't been sold for 40 years and might not be sold for 40 more - the people I chose to join me were people who cared about the Reds, not just people who wanted to own a piece of a baseball team. Everybody in our group has Cincinnati Reds ties, and all our partners are successful in their own endeavors and professions. They are types who know what it takes to build an organization and a winning team. And, other than myself, they will be my strongest critics.

Q: How important is it for that space next to Great American Ball Park to develop into something?

A: It's extremely important. It's going to happen. It's important for a city that the living room gets developed and decorated, which is our riverfront. It's important to the sports side of things. ...

We're going to make sure we coincide what we do in the ballpark with what's going outside it. Say you're a guy from Ashland, Ky. You've got three kids. You want to take them for a holiday. You bring them up to Cincinnati on a Friday. That night you go to a Reds game. Saturday morning, you go to the (Newport) Aquarium. You go to another Reds game Saturday night or afternoon. If you have the afternoon game, you go to the zoo or the (National Underground Railroad) Freedom Center, the Reds Hall of Fame. What a great way to be a great dad. Cincinnati provides an incredible outlet within 150 miles. Our market, when you extend it another 50 miles, is a hell of a lot larger. We've got to take advantage that.

As we speak, we're analyzing our fan base. We've always had that capability, but we haven't done it. Fifteen percent of tickets come out of Hamilton, Ohio. What are we doing there to keep those fans happy? We used to have 10 or 15 percent out of Columbus, now we have 5 or 6 percent because the Indians had a streak where they were doing well. What are we doing about getting back those fans?

Q: What if your baseball people came to you and said: "We can get this bona fide No. 1 starter for Adam Dunn, and we want to do the deal." What questions would you ask them?

A: I don't like that example. At the present time, we're in the direction to build our franchise around people like Adam Dunn.

Let's look at it generically. The first thing I ask is, what does everybody else think? What do Wayne's top people think? What does Jerry Narron think? Then you go into the stats - the ERAs, the age, the makeup. You bend over backward to make sure that there isn't one stat here or there that throws the deal off.

Our pitching is the biggest mountain we have to climb. What it comes down to after the economics are examined is a gut feeling. We've seen stats, the economics; we've heard from everybody, including the coaches. We don't willy-nilly do things. But it comes down to getting a feel. Business decisions - all decisions - come down to gut feel. That's not to say we fly by the seat of our pants. But when it's all said and done, at the end you've got to go with your gut.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060402/SPT04/604020421/1071

SirFelixCat
04-02-2006, 09:07 AM
The more I read about our new FO, the more I like it. How can you not? The last question/answer makes me very, very happy.

creek14
04-02-2006, 09:26 AM
At the present time, we're in the direction to build our franchise around people like Adam Dunn.

RCast is my new best friend.

cincinnati chili
04-02-2006, 11:55 AM
Talk is cheap, but for "talk" that was definitely encouraging.

pedro
04-02-2006, 01:01 PM
Talk is cheap, but for "talk" that was definitely encouraging.


yup, at least it was lucid and he did say the right things.

Shaknb8k
04-02-2006, 03:22 PM
I really look for his talk to be backed up with actions. From everything ive heard he wants to win now. In a recent interview on Fox Sports for one of the games, Krivsky was on there and answered a question pretty much by saying it takes time to get a team to be competitive and he finished his quote by saying, "But dont let Bob know that I said that." I loved that part of the quote. Im sure Cast. knows its going to take time but he also knows that he shouldnt take past a certain amount of time and if it does then somebody better start explaining it him.

On a lighter note im pumped to be able to watch batting practice and get to the stadium 2 hours before the game....Yes, im one of those people who want to be first into the stadium. Im starting to like everything this man is bringing to the Reds.

WVRedsFan
04-02-2006, 04:05 PM
It's all good.

All but the part about Lindner. Of course I'm prejudiced, but I saw nothing to suggest that he wanted to win.

But, he's gone and Castellii is in charge and somehow the world seems better.

corkedbat
04-02-2006, 04:43 PM
It's all good.

All but the part about Lindner. Of course I'm prejudiced, but I saw nothing to suggest that he wanted to win.

But, he's gone and Castellii is in charge and somehow the world seems better.

I wouldn't doubt he wanted to win. I think his shortcomings lay he in fact that he had precious few clues on how to go about doing it. RCast seems to be miles ahead of him in that regard.

Newport Red
04-02-2006, 05:16 PM
At the present time, we're in the direction to build our franchise around people like Adam Dunn.


RCast is my new best friend.
__________________


Watch out! That was a comment that could come straight out of the mouth of DanO.:)

KronoRed
04-02-2006, 05:22 PM
Talk is cheap, but for "talk" that was definitely encouraging.
Agreed, I didn't come away with the "we want to finish .500" I always got from the Linder articles.

Yachtzee
04-02-2006, 06:46 PM
I think it's interesting that Fox Sports Ohio, even if they haven't shown the Reds games up here in Northern Ohio, aired the Reds Week specials and I see a "Reds Weekly" show on my Direct TV guide. I wonder if that's part of the expanded marketing campaign. If so, I say good. I've long been a proponent of the Reds marketing department expanding their focus beyond the Greater Cincinnati area.

SteelSD
04-03-2006, 01:42 AM
Q: You said in answer to a question at your press conference that there is a place for Sabermetrics in the Reds. (Sabermetrics involves using deep statistical analysis to make on-field decisions and evaluate trades.) What is that place? Have you addressed it? Are you going to hire somebody? Have you looked into hiring somebody?

A: We've got an outside consulting firm that when we go to make big trades or a deal, we call on them. We've got two guys here who run our numbers constantly. ...

Sabermetrics is absolutely essential. But it can't be the tail wagging the dog. There are so many things that are as important, if not more important. So you just can't have a rotisserie type of selection of players in your draft, your free-agent signing, or your trades. (Character) makeup is extremely important, how that person fits in the team chemistry. The closer to the major leagues, the more important stats are.

This is one of the single most discouraging responses Castellini could have produced. If you're not paying close attention it sounds lucid and possibly reasonable. But it's neither.

But hey, an "outside consulting firm". Yippee. That's great...


http://images.despair.com/products/demotivators/consulting.jpg

traderumor
04-03-2006, 10:23 AM
I don't understand your complaint, Steel, other than you don't think "consultants" are a good thing.

Hoosier Red
04-03-2006, 11:54 AM
One other thing Castellini has done is put the Reds games on TV here in Indianapolis.
For the last 3 years, Fox Sports Midwest(the Fox we get here) has shown Cardinals games. But of course because Indianapolis is in the "Reds area" all games were blacked out.
Now Castellini takes over, and poof, all Fox Sports Midwest in Indianapolis will show Reds games.

RFS62
04-03-2006, 12:01 PM
I don't understand your complaint, Steel, other than you don't think "consultants" are a good thing.



I don't understand it either. He said exactly what I'd want to hear.

registerthis
04-03-2006, 12:28 PM
Q: Cincinnati and St. Louis used to be neck-and-neck in attendance and they would vie for the unofficial title of "Best Baseball City in America." The only significant difference in the two markets seems to be the size of the metro area; St. Louis is considerably bigger than Cincinnati. The Reds have a farther-flung fan base upon which they must rely to drive to games. How do you deal with that?

I really get tired of hearing this excuse as to why the Reds can't draw fans.

St. Louis has the 18th-largest MSA in the U.S., with 2.603 million people. Cincinnati is 23rd with 1.979 million, so St. Louis area is approximately 24% larger than Cincinnati. However, Cincinnati draws considerably from Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and Louisville--an advantage St. Louis does not share. It's impossible to say exactly how many from each of those cities attend reds games, but it's a safe bet that those four cities combined could more than make up for the 24% differential in size.

St. Louis, though, drew 45% more fans than the Reds did in 2005.

Clearly, the *size* of the city (or metro area) isn't the differentiator in attendance. I've heard this excuse trotted out for years, and to me it's just another way for Reds management to avoid responsibility for putting a crummy team on the field year in and year out. If the Reds were a competitive ballclub, the fans would come to the games. There are more than enough potential customers for the Reds within a 2-3 hour radius of Cincinnati to make up the difference in attendance. The difference, though, is in the competitiveness of the clubs.

Roy Tucker
04-03-2006, 12:41 PM
The difference, though, is in the competitiveness of the clubs.


Also the marketing/PR/advertising departments are light-years apart.

The Reds have perennially had a "build it and they will come" philosophy (and the problem is that they haven't even "built it"). They think because they roll the ball out to the mound, spectators will flock to the GABP.

In these days of heavy competition for the recreational dollar, the Reds will have to market the team, far and wide and heavily.

traderumor
04-03-2006, 12:53 PM
I really get tired of hearing this excuse as to why the Reds can't draw fans.

St. Louis has the 18th-largest MSA in the U.S., with 2.603 million people. Cincinnati is 23rd with 1.979 million, so St. Louis area is approximately 24% larger than Cincinnati. However, Cincinnati draws considerably from Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and Louisville--an advantage St. Louis does not share. It's impossible to say exactly how many from each of those cities attend reds games, but it's a safe bet that those four cities combined could more than make up for the 24% differential in size.

St. Louis, though, drew 45% more fans than the Reds did in 2005.

Clearly, the *size* of the city (or metro area) isn't the differentiator in attendance. I've heard this excuse trotted out for years, and to me it's just another way for Reds management to avoid responsibility for putting a crummy team on the field year in and year out. If the Reds were a competitive ballclub, the fans would come to the games. There are more than enough potential customers for the Reds within a 2-3 hour radius of Cincinnati to make up the difference in attendance. The difference, though, is in the competitiveness of the clubs.
This one has been bandied about quite a bit on the board. It seems the comparison comes to a head in that St. Louis has shown a tendency to support the team and attend games not only when they are winning (when they set records), but also finish in the top half in the lean years. The same cannot be said of Cincy.

SteelSD
04-03-2006, 01:41 PM
I don't understand your complaint, Steel, other than you don't think "consultants" are a good thing.

Well, let's take a look at Castellini's quote piece-by-piece...


We've got an outside consulting firm that when we go to make big trades or a deal, we call on them.

You don't get a competitive advantage by utilizing an outside consulting firm.

1. The information and methodology aren't proprietary. The consulting firm is going to be free to provide the same information and/or "analysis" to anyone who'll pay them a buck. It's a much different dynamic than say, the Red Sox hiring Bill James as a consultant.

2. The consulting firm is obviously not part of the day-to-day business structure, corporate culture, and/or decision making process. In short, it's much easier to ignore "objective" when "objective" doesn't have a loud daily voice in your business.


We've got two guys here who run our numbers constantly.

Every team- sabermetrically slanted or no- has "two guys here who run our numbers constantly". The Reds had this before Castellini came on board.

I'd have been estatic had Castellini noted that <insert name> and <insert name> were recruited to build a proprietary analytical system the Reds will be utilizing in their efforts to gain a competitive advantage.

Instead, we get "two guys here who run our numbers". Ugh.


Sabermetrics is absolutely essential. But it can't be the tail wagging the dog. There are so many things that are as important, if not more important.

Lip service 101. Sabermetrics ain't the whole dog, but it sure as heck ain't just the "tail" either.


So you just can't have a rotisserie type of selection of players in your draft, your free-agent signing, or your trades.

This kind of rhetoric is just plain insulting and it's an excellent demonstration that Castellini doesn't actually understand what sabermetrics is.


(Character) makeup is extremely important, how that person fits in the team chemistry.

Blah blah freakin' blah. When someone states that there are things "as important or more important" in this context, you can be sure they'll pull either "chemistry" or "makeup" out of their bag of "things I think matter as much or more than performance but actually don't".

Castellini's entire response was, unfortunately, all too common and all too predictible.


The closer to the major leagues, the more important stats are.

At least that quote is remotely accurate. That being said, the Reds are going to have a right side of an infield today that contains Scott Hatteberg and Tony Womack when better options are available. So take that quote for what it's worth.

Reds Nd2
04-03-2006, 02:02 PM
Blah blah freakin' blah. When someone states that there are things "as important or more important" in this context, you can be sure they'll pull either "chemistry" or "makeup" out of their bag of "things I think matter as much or more than performance but actually don't".

And when you hear these comments, the spectre of "veteran leadership" isn't far behind.

Falls City Beer
04-03-2006, 02:10 PM
Well, let's take a look at Castellini's quote piece-by-piece...



You don't get a competitive advantage by utilizing an outside consulting firm.

1. The information and methodology aren't proprietary. The consulting firm is going to be free to provide the same information and/or "analysis" to anyone who'll pay them a buck. It's a much different dynamic than say, the Red Sox hiring Bill James as a consultant.

2. The consulting firm is obviously not part of the day-to-day business structure, corporate culture, and/or decision making process. In short, it's much easier to ignore "objective" when "objective" doesn't have a loud daily voice in your business.



Every team- sabermetrically slanted or no- has "two guys here who run our numbers constantly". The Reds had this before Castellini came on board.

I'd have been estatic had Castellini noted that <insert name> and <insert name> were recruited to build a proprietary analytical system the Reds will be utilizing in their efforts to gain a competitive advantage.

Instead, we get "two guys here who run our numbers". Ugh.



Lip service 101. Sabermetrics ain't the whole dog, but it sure as heck ain't just the "tail" either.



This kind of rhetoric is just plain insulting and it's an excellent demonstration that Castellini doesn't actually understand what sabermetrics is.



Blah blah freakin' blah. When someone states that there are things "as important or more important" in this context, you can be sure they'll pull either "chemistry" or "makeup" out of their bag of "things I think matter as much or more than performance but actually don't".

Castellini's entire response was, unfortunately, all too common and all too predictible.



At least that quote is remotely accurate. That being said, the Reds are going to have a right side of an infield today that contains Scott Hatteberg and Tony Womack when better options are available. So take that quote for what it's worth.

You've pretty cogently addressed my concerns with Castellini--concerns I've felt and expressed since basically day one.

I can only hope that Krivsky doesn't entirely share Cast's values--and, at the very least, can work within the old-boy-scouts-and-firm-handshakes system to build a winner.

traderumor
04-03-2006, 02:31 PM
Well, let's take a look at Castellini's quote piece-by-piece...



You don't get a competitive advantage by utilizing an outside consulting firm.

1. The information and methodology aren't proprietary. The consulting firm is going to be free to provide the same information and/or "analysis" to anyone who'll pay them a buck. It's a much different dynamic than say, the Red Sox hiring Bill James as a consultant.

2. The consulting firm is obviously not part of the day-to-day business structure, corporate culture, and/or decision making process. In short, it's much easier to ignore "objective" when "objective" doesn't have a loud daily voice in your business.



Every team- sabermetrically slanted or no- has "two guys here who run our numbers constantly". The Reds had this before Castellini came on board.

I'd have been estatic had Castellini noted that <insert name> and <insert name> were recruited to build a proprietary analytical system the Reds will be utilizing in their efforts to gain a competitive advantage.

Instead, we get "two guys here who run our numbers". Ugh.



Lip service 101. Sabermetrics ain't the whole dog, but it sure as heck ain't just the "tail" either.



This kind of rhetoric is just plain insulting and it's an excellent demonstration that Castellini doesn't actually understand what sabermetrics is.



Blah blah freakin' blah. When someone states that there are things "as important or more important" in this context, you can be sure they'll pull either "chemistry" or "makeup" out of their bag of "things I think matter as much or more than performance but actually don't".

Castellini's entire response was, unfortunately, all too common and all too predictible.



At least that quote is remotely accurate. That being said, the Reds are going to have a right side of an infield today that contains Scott Hatteberg and Tony Womack when better options are available. So take that quote for what it's worth.

I think he showed the level of expertise on the subject that you would expect from an owner. I guess I didn't have expectations that he would be as well-versed in this area as you are.

SteelSD
04-03-2006, 02:50 PM
I think he showed the level of expertise on the subject that you would expect from an owner. I guess I didn't have expectations that he would be as well-versed in this area as you are.

tr, I don't need him to be as well-versed in this are as I am either. I don't care if he's able to argue the merits of Batting Runs over Runs Created or decipher Equivalent Average.

What I do need is for the guy to be less dismissive of sabermetrics as a methodology. He was asked a question that would allow him to very clearly outline high-level strategy as to the implementation of a methodology he's previously stated the Reds have budgeted for. That was a great opportunity for him to say something relevant.

Instead we get outside consultanting firms, a couple guys running numbers, makeup and quotes that demonstrate he doesn't understand the high-level relevancy of incorporating statistical analytics except when convenient.

It's great that Castellini can get the word "sabermetrics" past his soft palate and through his lips. But you can't just say it. You have to do it.