After going through a lot of changes since then, including moving into a new stadium, multiple GMs and three different owners, the Reds have now found stability with Walt Jocketty as general manager.
Jocketty came over from division rival St. Louis Cardinals where he won seven division titles, two pennants and a World Series in his 13 years. He was fired in October of 2007, one year after winning the World Series, due to divisiveness in the baseball operations front office. The Reds were quick to pounce by hiring him as an adviser in January 2008 and was named GM in April.
Jocketty inherited a 72-90 team after the 2007 season. They gradually increased their win totals while waiting out the contracts of high-priced players like Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. In 2010, they won their first division title in 15 years before losing in the playoffs to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2011, they struggled with injuries to pitchers and ended up missing the playoffs.
Before 2012, Jocketty traded starter Edinson Volquez, first-base prospect Yonder Alonso and catching prospect Yasmani Grandal to the San Diego Padres for starting pitcher Mat Latos. Jocketty felt Latos was the missing link to them making a championship run and was willing to pay a high ransom for him.
After winning the division in 2012, the Reds lost in the ALDS again. Seeing the potential of his roster, Jocketty made another big splash by trading for Shin-Soo Choo to be their leadoff hitter. The Reds struggled getting anything out of their leadoff hitters in 2011, so this was going to be the missing piece that put them over the top.
The Reds have the majority of their roster locked up for the next few years. Joey Votto is signed through 2023, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are signed through 2017, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto and Ryan Ludwick are signed through 2015 and Latos is signed through 2014. Unlike the majority of teams, it is not a win-now situation for the Reds. They have the ability to reassess their team at the end of the year and add whatever they need while keeping their core intact.
A World Series win would be validation for Jocketty after being let go by the Cardinals. It would also give them bargaining power to keep Choo, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake at the end of the year. It would give one of the all-time great managers, Dusty Baker, his first title after a few heartbreaking postseason experiences. More than anything, though, winning a World Series would be a way to bring back the older Reds fans to the games. Since they opened The Great American Ballpark in 2003, the Reds have only been filling the stadium at a 66 percent rate. For a city that closes down for Opening Day each year, this shows the fans want to come back, they just need a reason to.