Even I'm a bit tired of monitoring the on-going Krivsky Name Poll, which by the way has the catch-all 'Other' category narrowly beating out 'Kriv' so far. Anyway, I thought I'd expand my thinking from WK's blog alias to his future stratergery with the Reds.
If what we've seen so far is any indication, this is a workaholic GM with a quick trigger finger and an impatient intelligence to go with his Terry Ryan pedigree. Judging from the tone of recent posts, Red fandom seems to be cautiously optimistic about this combination. And why not? He just signed our best player to a 3-year deal which, under DanO, seemed next to impossible.
So... what will Way-K do over the next year or two in order to point this ship in the right direction?
My best guess (and I'm clearly not stretching my brain too far for this) is that he will reconfigure the team around the extant small-market, Twins model: good pitching and defense with reasonably-priced, timely hitting. Of course, that will require working with what we already have, which is terrible pitching and bad defense with soon-to-be unreasonably-priced, untimely hitting.
Sadly, I think what this all means is that we Reds faithful will endure some uncertainty and pain over the next few years. Here are some things I see likely to happen
1) Dunn and/or Pena get traded for pitching. The unsung thing about Austin Kearns is that he is actually a fairly solid outfielder, unlike his two young buddies (is Mo his buddy?). Dunn, I think, is the most likely to go since he is already coveted by several pitching-rich franchises. I'm not sure of the timing on this, but I think it is pretty likely that a non-contending Reds team trades our friend Adam for a pair of young arms, possibly before the end of 2006. Mo's case is a bit more complicated since he has not yet posted dependable value. If he does start rocking, look for him to get traded around the deadline this year. Yes, that means that we're looking at a Denorfia-Kearns-Freel outfield. Not the star names we're used to, but perhaps a better set-up for a team trying to develop a financial emphasis on pitching contracts.
2) Lopez, LaRue, and Encarnacion become the core of the infield with Aurilia and Womack backing them up. LaRue is a solid defensive catcher (Bob Boone eat your heart out) and perhaps more importantly he is great at handling pitchers. We need him for the next few years. Lopez and Encarnacion are still a bit raw on defense, but both display flashes of the type of range you want for an infield built around fielding ground balls. If Dunn goes, I think Kriv is comfortable with Hatteberg as an interim starter until someone else (Joey Votto?) arrives to replace him.
3) Milton and Wilson end up in the bullpen. They are both clearly washed up as starters, but could have value as long relievers or spot starters. We ride out their contracts thus and then dump them promptly after 2007.
4) If they fail at landing a pitcher in a trade for Dunn/Pena, the Reds go after several free agent pitchers in the off season of 2006. However, Kriv knows better than to invest all his money in a Chan Ho Park or an Eric Milton, instead opting for young, second tier free agents who throw heavy sliders. If anyone knows some names that might qualify here, I'd be more than interested.
5) Homer Bailey is joined in the minor leagues by a slew of smart Special K draftees, many of whom arrive from well-scouted college teams or Latin American countries. They start to appear in small droves in 2007 and 2008, slowly making Reds fans forget the high scoring days of yesteryear by posting sub 4.00 ERA's. By 2009, Reds fans begin to speculate about how to get some offense to back them up.
Okay, so that last number is a bit fanciful... but what do you all think?