Long time lurker lovin' the hot stove league talk and ready to put in my two cents....
Here's the current situation with the Reds as I see it:
We're obviously a small market team who can't compete with the big money guys for free agents.
We've got a trio of "studs" about to come on the horizon in 2007-2009.
By 2009 we'll most likely lose two of our best players: Dunn and Arroyo.
By 2009 we'll also be out from under the Griffey and Milton contracts.
I say we suck it up and trade Arroyo (arguably our biggest trading chip on the roster, besides Harang), Dunn, Freel, Ross, etc for as many "high-ceiling" prospects that are projected to be ready in 2008-2009 as possible. I'm targeting AA guys like Reimold, Liz, and Olson from the Orioles; Hughes (fat chance), Betances, Melancon from the Yankees; and so on.
We see if double E can have the breakout year that I think (hope) he'll have, see if Phillips is the real deal, and look for the continued improvement of Harang in 2007 and try to lock those three up for awhile.
Yes, we'll suck in 2007. But, starting in 2008 we'll start seeing these YOUNG, CHEAP, and (trusting the scouting department here) GOOD players all out on the field together.
We've got to break the cycle of having 2-3 good players in their prime surrounded by "crafty" veterans on the downside, too young players and free agent leftovers.
If its everything comes together, THEN you go out with the money saved and buy yourself an impact Free Agent(s) that fills your biggest need(s) in 2009.
Hopefully by that time, the money spent by Mr. Castellini in the scouting and minor leagues will allow the team to be constantly replenished with talent.