But many feel Castellini can do it

"I'd certainly like to go to the NCAA Tournament next year. If you get a good draw in those kinds of things, you have a chance at the Final Four."

Bob Huggins at his introductory press conference as UC coach, March 29, 1989

"We don't do this business without wanting to play on this final Sunday. When you don't win that last game, it's like you fall off that cliff. Let's not fall off that cliff. Why do we do this? To win that championship."

Marvin Lewis at his introductory press conference as Bengals coach, Jan. 14, 2003

"I want to make a promise today to Reds fans, a promise from one fan to another: We will bring championship baseball to Cincinnati."

Bob Castellini at his introductory press conference as Reds CEO, Jan. 20, 2006

So the question to ponder over your breakfast this morning is: Can Castellini deliver on his promise the way Huggins did and Lewis is on his way to doing?

The guess here is yes.

I've met Castellini twice and have been very impressed. I know people who know him well, and they are convinced he'll come through.

That said, it is an enormously difficult task, much more difficult than the one Huggins or Lewis faced.

UC was in awful straits when Huggins took over. The Bearcats were 70-100 the previous six years under Tony Yates.

But in college basketball, you're always one good recruiting class from turning it around, and everyone from Duke to Drexel gets the same number of scholarships.

The Bengals were in awful shape when Lewis took over as well. The Bengals were 12 seasons removed from the playoffs and 56-139 over that span.

But the NFL is set up for parity, and you draft players who are instantly ready to contribute.

Baseball is not set up for quick fixes. How is this for parity? The New York Yankees started last season with a $208.3 million payroll; the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, their division rivals - in the loosest sense of the term started with a $29.7 million payroll.

In baseball, you draft players and hope they can contribute in four years. They don't always pan out - see Ty Howington, Chris Gruler, Brandon Larson, et al.

The other big difference is Huggins spent his working life in the basketball business and Lewis spent his in the football business before they arrived here.

Castellini has been involved in baseball for 30 years, but he's running a team for the first time.

So what led me to say about 17 paragraphs ago that I thought he could succeed?

The thing he has in common with Huggins and Lewis is the sheer force of his personality. Castellini has been successful in his other business ventures because he's a forceful, no-nonsense leader who demands results.

The Reds can use a healthy dose of that. We were told Carl Lindner wanted to win. But he never took the podium and made promises to the fans. He was a hands-off owner, content to stay in the background and let his point man, John Allen, take the heat.

Castellini says he'll be out front.

He knows a quick turnaround is difficult in baseball. He admits it will take some luck, at least good fortune, for the Reds to contend this year.

"Look, if all the stars line up right, we're going to have a pitching staff that's a lot better than it was last year," he said. "St. Louis had no idea Chris Carpenter would come off rehab and become the Cy Young Award winner. We've got two or three instances like that on our pitching staff.

"We're going to be better than a lot of people believe we are, even though we've been picked last. We're going to be better than that. We'll have a contender."

That sounds hopelessly optimistic. But then again, so did Huggins back in 1989 and Lewis in 2003.

JOB ONE: One of the first things on Castellini's to-do list should be to sign Adam Dunn to a multiyear deal. If the Reds let Dunn go to arbitration, there's about a 90-10 chance Dunn will walk when he becomes a free agent after the 2007 season.

But Castellini is Dunn's kind of guy - direct and to the point - so if the Reds want Dunn long-term, Castellini probably could get the deal done.


If RCast can do that, then I'll have some hope.