Wayne Krivsky's opening weeks as general manager have been nothing if not decisive. He's been more than willing to shake up his 40-man roster, particularly concerning some of the pitchers, and sure enough, nobody else really wants guys like Bong or Standridge or Howington or Basham, the detritus of years of mismanagement. The real question is whether or not that shortage of pitching talent in particular makes for an acceptable motivation to go out and get a merely adequate starting pitcher in exchange for one of the team's few actual commodities. There's no tin badge for finishing fourth in the NL Central, so why Krivsky feels that his team is better off going out and getting a starting pitcher who, on a good team, might rate as a fourth or fifth starter, and giving up one of his coveted quartet of outfielders to do it, defies explanation.
Now, yes, a rotation that has to count on Dave Williams and Eric Milton, one with Aaron Harang as its putative "ace," obviously needs help. Maybe there's something to be said for having people who can give you six innings per outing, quality start or no, because it's going to be a long, hard summer for the Reds' pen. But is Arroyo really going to help? Other than being able to handle a larger workload last year, is he really somebody you want to rely on? His strikeout rate was in the dumper, he's a flyball pitcher with problems against lefties coming into a lefty-friendly power park. All because he's affordable, having been signed to a three-year deal? That's a Minnesota way of seeing things, acquiring cheap players to achieve cheap goals, except unlike the Twins, Pena was something of value, one of the very few players on this roster with a future, and he was also relatively affordable.
Dealing Pena for somebody else's fifth starter doesn't just give you a fifth starter, it may also cripple up your opportunities to swing other possible deals with the outfielders you've got left. Can the Reds afford to move Ken Griffey Jr. now? Even with Pena out of the way, they're not creating an opportunity for Denorfia, they're making it that much easier to give significant playing time to Scott Hatteberg, or perhaps to play Ryan Freel in the outfield a little more often, just to make sure they have Tony Womack in the lineup. As much as Krivsky inherited a weak hand, this was a deal that did nothing to make it any better, with the best possible outcome being that perhaps they'll flip Arroyo to a contender looking for a fifth man in July. Failing that, this is a reconstruction project that will really have to start from scratch, reliant on the draft's slowly-delivered gifts, and without the benefit of adding near-ready prospects from other systems through a needed tear-down.
There might be some head-scratching over the decision to pick up Ross, but even if Jason LaRue's knee wasn't an issue (he might miss a month), it makes sense for the Reds to have a fallback option in case they wanted to shop LaRue for a top prospect later on this spring. And if, instead, they wanted to peddle either Ross or Javier Valentin to somebody who needs a useful backup catcher, and get a second-tier prospect, again, that's a play that the Reds should have on their menu of in-season options. It isn't like Dane Sardinha is useful, and I would like to think his days on the 40-man will be coming to an end.
Finally, while I believe in second chances, and while I believe in the utility of slumming for the occasionally viable retread, there comes a point where you really need to check out what you might be getting yourself into, because if you don't dig up a bit of history, it doesn't repeat itself, it tap-dances on your present and expects you to foot the bill. Alex Sanchez isn't asking for a second chance, he's asking for his fourth or fifth, and there are several reasons for it. Like his hitting, like brainless baserunning, like his Wrongway Corrigan routine in the outfield or his throwing arm, or like his studiously developed reputation for surliness.