I'd do either trade for these reasons:
1. There may be no other team interested in Casey, and Pittsburgh is likely only interested in him as part of a salary swap. They'll move Kendall to SD somehow, and I'm sure they can find takers for Benson -- whether the Reds are involved or not.
2. We create space in the OF for WMP. In my opinion, we need to get him 500 ABs, not 250, to get a better read on whether he's a possible keeper/cornerstone for the future. There's a lot of talk about EdwinE, but WMP is the #1 position player prospect we have, a possible middle of the lineup difference maker (and possible bust), so committing to his development is more important than rolling the dice that we'll find another taker for Casey.
3. I have no problem with taking on a burden (Jarvis or possibly Benson) in 2004 if it means we have more resources in 2005. Like Falls City, I believe the Reds will invest the money in their baseball operation, whether it's at the MLB level or in player development. I don't think this team will compete in 2004, nor do I think they should allocate dollars with only 2004 in mind -- that was always Bowden's MO, I thought -- trying to be competitive every year and sacrificing the future (for example: no $ for draft signings). I hope this administration sees farther than 6 months ahead.
There's no downside to moving Casey in either deal, in my opinion, so long as you accept that 2004 will be a year to build, not compete. If we hold onto him, we may be stuck with him through 2005 at least, and possibly through 2006. Is that a gamble you're willing to take, when the payoff is possibly just something a little better than Kevin Jarvis (or a savings of $4.25 million in 2004)?
"Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini