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Published: Monday, 1/23/2006

New Reds owner fires GM


CINCINNATI General manager Dan O Brien was fired today by new Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini, his first major change since he took control of the team.

O Brien was entering his third season as general manager and had a year to go on his contract. The Reds are coming off their fifth consecutive losing season, their longest such streak in 50 years.

Major league owners approved the Reds sale to Castellini last

Thursday. In a news conference a day later, he indicated he was impatient with losing and was planning to make changes as he learned more about how the team operates.

Castellini s first move was to put chief operating officer John Allen in charge of the business side of the franchise, with O Brien reporting directly to him. Under previous owner Carl Lindner, O Brien reported to Allen.

I want someone in this job who is my choice, Castellini said in a statement. I told Dan he has worked hard and has worked diligently to rebuild the farm system and scouting department of the Reds, and that we appreciate his efforts.

The two have different management styles, though it wasn t immediately clear whether that was a major factor in the decision.

Castellini spoke passionately about his love for the game and his commitment to getting the franchise turned around fast. O Brien is analytical and deliberate, preferring to study all sides of an issue before making a decision.

O Brien s firing left the team without a general manager less than a month before the start of spring training. Baseball operations director Brad Kullman will serve as interim general manager until a replacement is picked.

The Reds have been in turmoil since they moved into Great American Ball Park for the 2003 season. General manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone were fired midway through the inaugural season, with Kullman helping to fill in until O Brien was chosen after the season.

O Brien s top goal was to rebuild a farm system that had failed to produce pitchers during Bowden s tenure. After only two years, he was fired by a new owner who is making major changes much faster than anticipated.

Castellini said last week that he would have an office in Great American Ball Park and would make changes as he became better acquainted with how the team operates. He gave no indication that the changes would come so soon.

Castellini said at his introductory news conference that he tried to hire Lou Piniella as a special adviser, but the former Reds and Devil Rays manager wanted to take a year off from baseball.

During his two years in Cincinnati, O Brien restructured the minor league system and imposed pitch limits for minor leaguers to end a trend of prospects getting hurt. He also signed left-hander Eric Milton, who made $8 million last season while giving up a club-record 40 homers, and traded popular first baseman Sean Casey to Pittsburgh last month.

The Reds have two pending arbitration cases with Adam Dunn and All-Star shortstop Felipe Lopez that will have to be handled without a general manager.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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