CINCINNATI — Reds team president Phil Castellini apologized for the comments he made during his response to fan criticism of the team's management Tuesday.
While on 700WLW Castellini questioned fans calling for ownership to sell the team: "Where are you going to go?"
Castellini called on fans to "have a little bit of faith" in the front office this offseason after a fire sale saw Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez and more shipped off for prospects. Though he said this year's squad would be a "good, entertaining team," fans expressed disappointment in this year's roster and general manager Nick Krall's quote about "(aligning) our payroll" in 2022.
When asked why fans should maintain their trust in an interview with Scott Sloan and Mo Egger, Castellini said fans should "be careful what you ask for."
"Well, where are you gonna go? Let's start there. Sell the team to who?" Castellini said. "If you want to have this debate — if you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it 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."
Castellini compared the fan response to that of the city's NFL team, saying "the Bengals haven't had the lovefest that they had this year for the last decade either."
"We can't expect to get and retain the fandom if we don't win. I mean, that's the simplest formula that there is in the game, but we're going to continue to do everything we can do to get there," Castellini said. "And when you win, they'll come back."
When the interview was shared on social media, baseball fans and reporters called Castellini's comments tone deaf and disrespectful.
"The answer (to where fans are going to go) would seem to be: Not to Reds games," ESPN reporter Jeff Passan tweeted.
Jesse's story today is awfully timely seeing as the first words Reds COO Phil Castellini used earlier today to answer a question about why fans should maintain faith in the organization were: "Well, where are you gonna go?"— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 12, 2022
The answer would seem to be: Not to Reds games. https://t.co/g4dtk4QFGH
The story Passan shared, written by ESPN's Jesse Rogers, quoted former Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos.
"What sucks is in a great city like Cincinnati where the fan base is impeccable, it's suffocating," Castellanos said, "because of ownership. I'm not saying that they are bad people. The system is bad."
Castellini said the team has "tried a lot of things that didn't work," but said he believes they have learned from those moves and trust Krall's approach to "grow your own."
"I think we're doing the best we can do with the resources that we have," Castellini said. "We're no more pleased with the results than the fans. I'm not sitting here ... polishing any trophies in the office right now and that's what we're here to do."
While the team traded some former All-Stars, Castellini said the team's payroll "is still significantly more than the revenues we're generating to produce it." Spotrac ranks the Reds 2022 payroll 21st in the MLB, while Forbes listed the team's $1.19 billion value 26th.
Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday the Reds released a statement from Castellini that said "I apologize to Reds fans and regret the comments that I made earlier Tuesday. We love this city. We love this team and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I'm sorry."
The team's performance against the reigning World Series champions to start the season did provide some hope — especially Hunter Greene's major league debut, but Castellini's comments continue to put ownership under fire.