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11-13-2006, 07:24 AM
Reds insider
Shopping season is on the horizon

The difference between shaping the roster for 2007 and 2006 for Wayne Krivsky is pretty stark.

"I've got the whole winter instead of a week," Krivsky said.

Winter is a ways away on the calendar, but as far as baseball, it starts this weekend. Krivsky is heading to Naples, Fla., for the general managers meetings, where trade talks start to heat up. Clubs are also free to contact free agents from other teams after today.

"We've had some (trade) conversations already," Krivsky said. "But sometimes it's better to get together face-to-face."

Krivsky plays his cards like he's in the World Series of Poker - he won't give a clue to what his plans are beyond the standard, "I'm looking at any way to improve the club."

But it's pretty clear the most pressing needs for the Reds are a shortstop and a closer.

The Reds have an internal option as far as shortstop. Moving Brandon Phillips there remains a possibility.

"There's a chance of that," Krivsky said. "He showed what he could do at second. He's athletic enough to play short. He's played a lot there in the past."

Phillips moving to short would open a spot at second. The Reds could fill that with Ryan Freel or by re-signing Rich Aurilia.

The free-agent shortstop list is fairly underwhelming.

(It should be noted right here that all the names mentioned from here to the end of this column are merely on free-agent lists. I have no earthly idea if the Reds will pursue any of them.)

Alex Gonzalez is the best defensive option at short. He had only seven errors in 111 games last year. But he hit .255 with a .299 on-base percentage.

He did hit nine home runs and drive in 50 runs. But the Reds already have a slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop on the roster in Juan Castro.

Julio Lugo is also out there. He hit .278 with 12 homers and 37 RBI last year.

It's highly unlikely that the Reds will try to fill the closer role with someone on the current roster. The top candidates would be Todd Coffey and Bill Bray. Coffey struggled in that role last year, as did Bray.

"It's an obvious question," Krivsky said. "Who's going to close? We might not have the luxury of having one guy."

The list of free agents is intriguing. Joe Borowski, who saved 36 games for Florida, is a free agent, although the Marlins are still interested.

There are plenty of guys who were successful in the past - Dan Kolb, LaTroy Hawkins, Octavio Dotel, Scott Williamson - who are trying to regain their health or form.

The one thing to be very conscious of this offseason is the Bob Castellini Factor. Castellini wants to win desperately.

You can rest assured his instructions to Krivsky weren't "think small, think cheap."