Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine

Well, Reds fans everywhere have fallen into their annual Dog Days of Summer malaise as the team has again dropped off the pace. It hit me today how much I miss seeing the team play meaningful games late in the season.

The Reds haven't sniffed the playoffs since October 4th, 1999, when the Reds squared off against the New York Mets to in a one game playoff to determine who would play in October. Unfortunately, Al Leiter pitched a two-hit shutout against the Reds, sending them back to the Queen City with hat in hand.

Unfortunately, since that game the Cincinnati fans have witnessed nothing but ineptitude and known nothing but frustration. What usually happens this time of year is that fan frustration leads to finger pointing at individual players and the front office. I'm certainly not above it and even Hall of Famer Hal McCoy got caught up in it this year. Fans put so much time, energy, passion, and money into their team that they almost live and die with that team. They identify with the organization and want it to succeed.

It's certainly understandable that frustrations would run high after a decade of incompetence, but finger pointing isn't productive or worth the energy. It may feel good, but it does little to move the discussion forward. The problems obviously run deeper than simply Willy Taveras and Dusty Baker. So, rather than looking at the problems on a micro-level, let's take a deeper look at the problems in the organization.

What would it really take to rebuild the Big Red Machine in this day and age? What type of business and baseball strategies need to be implemented? Obviously, the financial structure of the game has changed and competing against the large market juggernauts is a challenge that the Big Red Machine didn't really face . However, let's see if we can identify problems that plague the organization and find potential solutions to make the Reds the type of organization for which we all want to root.

I'm not sure how many total steps it'll take, but there are 3 clear phases. Phase 1 involves increasing the financial resources available to the organization. Phase 2 requires improving the typical return-on-investment of the organization's financial resources by making more strategic and better informed decisions. Finally, Phase 3 involves maximizing the performance of the assets brought into the organization.

In short, the organization needs to strengthen its revenue stream, make better investments with the revenue it generates, and ensure that the assets it brought into the system are performing at peak levels to ensure a healthy return on investment.

Now, I actually wrote Step 1 back in May of 2008, but other topics prevented me from following up on it. Unfortunately, the topic is still relevant in 2009, so it's time to pick it up again.

I'll be sprinkling in some posts that are based on "between the lines" topics for those less interested in the off-the-field aspects of the game, but for now let's start at Step 1 once again...

Go To: STEP 1

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