If the Reds play at .500 or just below it for the next few weeks, which seems likely, they will be somewhere between five games over and even .500 in the middle of July. As the second week of the seventh month is traditionally the moment when GM's around the league begin trade talks, this puts home team in a strange place, somewhere between contention and extinction. What do you think Krivsky and co. should do? I think there are strong arguments on either side, as well as a strong one to stand pat.
The Reds have been struggling for about five years now, and the new front office should make some moves to prove that this team is different from the 2002 and 2004 editions. The fan base needs it, and a spark like that could really boost attendance. Depending on who is available and for what price, the Reds should go after a strong starter and some bullpen help. It is always a big mistake to assume that things will go better in the future. In 2007, Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang could turn back into pumpkins and Junior could pull up lame in the first week. This team still has a surplus of good, young hitting to work with and also has some big name prospects (Bruce, Bailey, Votto, Wood) to further entice trade partners like the Marlins, Giants, Mariners, and Pirates. There is no time like the present to deal for pitching. We've spent too much time since 1999 engaged in double-talk, rationalizing ourselves out of contention with "small market this" and "small market that". The time is now!
This team has already turned into a pumpkin, and we're better off building for the future than trading young talent that could help form the foundation of competitive teams in the future. Yes, this team has a surplus of hitting talent, but we should use it to acquire younger talent to fortify the AA and AAA squads, which are talent poor right now. A stronger farm system could really boost the chances of maintaining a strong major league nucleus for the foreseeable future. The trade deadline is the only time you really get trading partners who are desperate for that one final piece they need for a championship run. Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey, Adam Dunn or Felipe Lopez might all fetch good talent from one of those teams. The time is now, yes, but it's time to sell!
The Reds success this year is nice, but it is no reason to lose perspective on what Kriv and the front office are doing. Despite the rhetoric Bob gives to "winning now", not even he expected "now" to mean "this year at this exact moment". If the front office is smart, they will maintain a low profile over the next month, surveying the scene for offers they can't refuse, but avoiding the frantic, snap decisions involved in true buying and selling. They've already done a nice job acquiring some key pieces (Arroyo, Phillips) and developing some others (Bailey, Bruce, Votto, Stubbs). Yes, the team is outperforming most expectations, but trading a big piece of the puzzle now (Dunn, Kearns, Griffey, Lopez) could really disrupt the chemistry that has been so important to the Reds' improbable rise in 2006. This year's success has been a pleasant surprise, but what we need to do at this point is just ride it out. The off-season is the time when this team can really be improved. Everybody needs to calm down, put things in perspective, and wait till next year.