Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Addressing the Reds 3 Biggest Needs

In a piece published earlier today, Christine Kahrl of suggests three problems and three solutions confronting each team in the NL Central this offseason.

The following is the excerpt pertaining to the Reds (to view her post in its entirety, follow this link):

"1. Sorting out the rotation.

After not really resolving the situation over 2011, the Reds are still confronted with tough choices from among six plausible alternatives for four rotation slots. (Thanks to still owing Bronson Arroyo $28.5 million, they're stuck with him in the other slot for two more years.) However, GM Walt Jocketty's choice seems to involve a lot of “none of the above,” given rumors that his offseason interests are focused on even more young starters, with Jair Jurrjens of the Braves or John Danks or Gavin Floyd of the White Sox getting mentioned.

Probable solution: Assuming that where there's smoke there's fire, expect the Reds to deal from offensive depth to land a starting pitcher, with some of the overflow splashing over into the bullpen.

2. Closer: Open (Francisco Cordero, free agent)

With the market already overstocked with closers, Jocketty sensibly ditched Cordero's $12 million option for 2012 to explore his alternatives. Then the early-acting Phillies prompted a small run on that market segment with their signing of Jonathan Papelbon, and with Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton already signed, the best fit for the Reds' homer-happy park might be ... Cordero, because Heath Bell is out of their price range, while Brad Lidge or Matt Capps would be a bit combustible.

Probable solution: Getting Cordero to come back for a multiyear deal for a lower average annual value on the deal ought to work for the two parties, but if cost is still an object, Jocketty could reach for a mid-market right-hander like Octavio Dotel or Frank Francisco as a placeholder, and groom Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman for the role of save generator.

3. Lineup choices.

The fun challenge for the Reds will be seeing how they integrate the talent they have coming up. Devin Mesoraco should win a share of the catching duties, while Zack Cozart will give them a solid two-way player at short. Juan Francisco and Yonder Alonso could both slug their way into taking playing time from Chris Heisey in left, but Francisco could also start nabbing starts from Scott Rolen at third base.

Probable solution: Dusty Baker has built job-sharing set-ups in the past, so this mini youth movement won't get nipped in the bud. However, Alonso is getting dangled in trade talks; if he's dealt for a starting pitcher, that would at least kill those Joey Votto trade rumors deader than Elvis."

Nothing too ground-breaking here. Anyone who follows this team on a regular basis knows that the greatest needs right now are a closer, a top-line starter and an answer in left-field (preferably a right-handed bopper to protect Votto in the lineup).

Although the club has been virtually inactive since the end of the regular season, look for some chips to fall here in the coming weeks. Namely, a long-awaited announcement on a contract extension for Brandon Phillips.

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