CINCINNATI -- The honeymoon period is over for the new Reds regime.
Led by chief executive officer Bob Castellini and his ownership group, the club spread plenty of goodwill through its passion and energy, new community programs, promotions like half-priced tickets for some games and the recent return of Redsfest in early December.
On the field, the Reds won 80 games -- up seven from the previous year. They were in the playoff hunt most of the way but endured a stretch-run collapse that took them out of it.
Now Reds fans, both optimists and pessimists, are demanding the same thing this offseason:
That's not a sure thing in the National League Central division, where the Astros added Carlos Lee and the Cubs have made a flurry of moves, including bringing in Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and manager Lou Piniella. Of course no one can forget the Cardinals, the defending World Series champs despite an 83-win season.
Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky likely won't match those blockbuster moves, preferring to make smaller ones that he hopes completes the puzzle. After getting the job last winter a week before Spring Training, Krivsky made a flurry of transactions in an effort to take what he inherited and make Cincinnati competitive.
It's been clear from the beginning that Krivsky wants to convert the Reds from an offensive-minded team to one that stresses pitching and defense. He continued that process in November when he added Gold Glove-caliber shortstop Alex Gonzalez to help improve the second-worst defense in the league. Mike Stanton was added to the bullpen and gave the bullpen its fourth left-hander.
Krivsky has a better base to start with in 2007 than he had in 2006. The rotation has a solid 1-2 tandem in Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Kyle Lohse and Eric Milton will be seeking more consistent seasons and the rotation's fifth spot is up for grabs. Will right-hander Homer Bailey, the organization's top prospect, finally break through to the Majors or will he need more seasoning in Triple-A?
Season in Preview
A lot can change by Opening Day, but as 2006 becomes 2007, this is who is projected to take the field for the Reds:
RF Ryan Freel
1B Scott Hatteberg
CF Ken Griffey Jr.
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Adam Dunn
2B Brandon Phillips
C David Ross
SS Alex Gonzalez
SP Aaron Harang
SP Bronson Arroyo
SP Kyle Lohse
SP Eric Milton
SP Matt Belisle/Elizardo Ramirez
CL David Weathers/Mike Stanton
In the lineup, second baseman Brandon Phillips and catcher David Ross are coming off career seasons. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion showed plenty of promise and is expected to be better after the experience of his first full season. First baseman Scott Hatteberg is the lineup's most patient hitter and its toughest strikeout, and his glove is very dependable.
Despite hitting 40 homers for the third straight season, left fielder Adam Dunn is coming off a disappointing year after he batted only .234 and drove in 92 runs. Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. is expected to be fully recovered from a toe injury that kept him out the majority of the final month last season.
Griffey will be someone to watch this spring. The Reds have asked him to be open-minded about a switch to right field, which he has not dismissed. But the club has made no attempts yet to add a center fielder that could replace the 37-year-old.
Cincinnati isn't a team without some issues however. Its offense dipped from first to ninth in runs scored last year and has not made major moves to address that shortcoming. One of the club's more consistent bats, infielder Rich Aurilia, left as a free agent. Aurilia was replaced by 40-year-old Jeff Conine, who was acquired from the Phillies for two Minor Leaguers on Dec. 22.
The club is also heading into Spring Training again without a dedicated closer. That means Stanton and right-hander David Weathers, who re-signed with the club Dec. 12, will share ninth-inning duties.
Now the question is, just how many wins will they get to lock down?
Offseason report card: On a scale of 1-10 -- with 10 being the best - the Reds get a 4 at this point. They haven't replaced Aurilia's bat, and they probably won't land a new closer. But it's still relatively early in the winter, and Krivsky is trying to make more moves to improve.
Arrivals: OF/1B Jeff Conine, SS Alex Gonzalez, LHPs Mike Stanton and Bobby Livingston, OFs Bubba Crosby and Josh Hamilton, C Chad Moeller, RHP Jared Burton and IF/OF Jerry Gil.
Departures: C Jason LaRue, IF Rich Aurilia, SS Royce Clayton, LHPs Brandon Claussen, Scott Schoeneweis, Chris Michalak, RHPs Ryan Franklin, Jason Johnson, Sun-Woo Kim, and Jason Standridge, OFs Todd Hollandsworth and Dewayne Wise.
The road ahead: As the free agent and trade markets shake out in the new year, several unsigned players will be seeking new clubs and the prices might be more reasonable than they've been to this point. Expect Krivsky to add more complementary pieces leading up to Spring Training.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.