Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And, as the dust settles...

...it's time to evaluate where the Reds stand.

When all is said and done, the Reds chose not to shake things up. The Reds chose not to restructure the lineup. The Reds chose not to hold a fire-sale. When it was all said and done, the Reds chose not to do much at all. They decided to stay the course, which is slightly disappointing and yet, slightly encouraging.

Personally, I find it slightly encouraging because I don't believe the Reds need to hold a fire-sale. I think this team drastically underperformed in the first half and are closer to being a playoff contender than many realize. This team should be around .500, which puts the playoffs in reach with a couple of tweaks to the roster and makes the idea of a fire-sale ill-advised.

The Reds have a very strong core of young talent. A core that includes Brandon Phillips, Homer Bailey, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce stacks up rather well with just about any team's core of young talent. Shifting the focus of the team away from Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. towards this young collection of talent should have been the goal. We have passed the point where we are building around Dunn/Griffey, so reorganizing the roster with this goal in mind would have been wise. With that in mind, it would have been a nice idea if they could have dealt some of their older talent to bring in one or two more players to add to this core of young talent.

The list of players who were rumored to be dealt included Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Scott Hatteberg, Jeff Conine, David Weathers, and Mike Stanton. Out of this group, Krivsky only dealt away Kyle Lohse, which, as mentioned previously, is a deal I like. The rest are still with the Reds, so let's take a quick look at their situations.

Adam Dunn: This is the big chip that could have reconfigured the entire roster, which heading into 2008 wouldn't have been such a bad thing. Dunn was the only player whose trade value got substantial worse after not being dealt. Dunn is the only player for whom there was a pressing need to make a deal. At this point, Dunn is very likely to be a Cincinnati Red until after the 2008 season. The Reds have a $13M team option on Dunn for 2008, but Dunn gave the Reds that option during the last contract negotiation in exchange for trade protection.

If the Reds exercise the option, then Dunn gets full no-trade protection from that point until June of 2008. In June of 2008, Dunn will provide a list of teams to which he can be traded. So, in essence, the Reds will be facing the same problem they had with Dunn at this trade deadline, only far worse. Teams no longer want to give up 6 cost effective years of prospect production for a half season rental of an expensive player. That was the problem this year and will be continue to be a problem next year. However, next year Dunn's no trade list will pare down the number of suitors, which will diminish the demand for his services to a level even lower than this year's demand. Less competition and demand, very likely makes for a reduced return in trade.

At this point, Dunn isn't going anywhere until he leaves for compensatory draft picks after the 2008 season, which I think is a wasted opportunity for the Reds to reshape this team.

Ken Griffey Jr.: Realistically speaking, Jr. isn't going anywhere until Jr. pushes to get out. Just like his Seattle departure, Jr. will control when he wants to leave. When Jr. wants to go, then he'll go. Not until then.

Scott Hatteberg: Just a tremendous hitter with an awesome approach and seems to be a Krivsky favorite. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to see Krivsky work the 2008 roster to save Hatteberg's starting job. At the very least, he could be a very valuable bat off the bench in 2008, so I'm not sorry to see him stay.

Mike Stanton: Frankly, he just may not have had any trade value at all. Veteran savvy only goes so far, at some point you have to produce. Stanton has failed to do so and no one is likely interested in picking up his salary for next season, which is the big stumbling block. Still, Stanton is one possibility to pass through waivers in August and be dealt to a contender. Unfortunately, even that is a long shot.

Jeff Conine: He's 41 years old and might make a nice veteran, bat-off-the-bench for a playoff contender, but no one is likely to give up much to get him.

David Weathers: As for Weathers, I can see the argument for keeping him. I don't agree with it, but the idea of keeping Weathers because he signed to a cost effective contract for 2008 and would preclude the Reds having to bring in both a closer and a setup man is certainly a logical one. That said, I think Weathers would have brought in a nice return and due to his age is no sure bet to even be effective in 2008.

If the Reds head into 2008 with Weathers as the primary setup man, then I think they are once again headed for trouble. Regardless of whether Weathers in the mix in 2008, the Reds need to bring in a shutdown setup man and an effective closer for 2008. I don't think you can count on a 38 year old reliever who relies on grit more than pure stuff to maintain his effectiveness. There is just far too much risk to rely heavily on Weathers for next season. Given that he shouldn't be the primary 8th or 9th inning reliever, Weathers really isn't needed at all. Relying on Weathers for the 7th is overkill, as we have countless young arms who can work the 7th.

To me, Weathers trade value is at an all-time high. In fact, his trade value substantial outpaces his actual value to the Reds at this point. Dealing Weathers looks like the better play, but I can certainly see the logic to keeping him. Only time will tell which strategy is correct.

All in all, I'm really only disappointed that we didn't move Dunn for younger talent. I like the two moves that were made and can understand the rationale for keeping everyone else. That said, I think moving Dunn for young talent would have had a large trickle down effect on this organization. The talent we could have received in trade would have been of value, but moving Dunn may have had substantial ancillary benefits as well. These benefits likely would have included a new style of play for the team, improved outfield defense, a new attitude in the clubhouse, the opportunity to move Griffey to leftfield, and freeing up cash to pursue free agents to fill other holes in the roster. There are just far too many advantages to have been gained by trading Dunn to jusitify keeping him for 2008.

Some people want to remove Krivsky due to the lack of activity at the deadline. Personally, I think that's a mistake. It seems fans in Cincy are always of the mind that the grass is always greener on the other side. The Reds have had far too much turmoil over the past decade and you cannot have a successful organization without stability. It's time to give Krivsky some time to build this organization. "The Trade" was truly terrible, but outside of that he hasn't done anything that truly makes him deserving of being fired. He's made some tremendous acquisitions of undervalued talent and may have done so again with Cantu. Not to mention, for the first time in quite a while, the Reds farm system is starting to bear fruit.

Despite the knee-jerk public outcry to the contrary, there's actually much more positive than negative going on in Cincy these days.

Now, if they had only traded Adam Dunn....

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