The Reds can't afford any more of the haplessness of the past 20 years when it comes to finding and developing starting pitchers.
They have to decide, and decide quickly, whether the ways of Reds general manager Dan O'Brien are going to work.
O'Brien's decision to throw money Eric Milton's way last year looks bad in light of what the numbers analysts were prophesying at the time: a fly-ball pitcher in a bandbox ballpark is a bad combination. O'Brien defied the science of those prophecies, took a flyer on Milton and got knocked out of the park.
On the other hand, hot-shot pitching prospect Homer Bailey - projected as a bona fide No. 1 future starter by everybody who has seen him - has remained healthy. That's no small thing for a minor-league system that has done wonders for orthopedic surgeons specializing in shoulder and elbow operations.
"Bailey could pitch here (Great American) right now," says former Reds star Chris Sabo, now working in the Reds' minor leagues.
"He is imperial," says Sabo, inflating his chest to show what he means. "Isn't that what you want? Twenty-five guys like that? Nine of them on the field and the other 16 believing they should be?"
The emphasis, of course, is on the "could." As in "could" be pitching here right now.