I must admit. I had one foot off the wagon.
When Wayne Krivsky was hired last year, I was excited. I thought he was a good choice, the best choice of those that they were considering actually. Then came the WMP trade that landed Bronson Arroyo. The Brandon Phillips trade that I was so glad was made. Tony Womack set free early on, another move I was happy about. The momentum was picking up. We stayed in contention. Then, "the trade" happened. Austin Kearns, gone. Felipe Lopez, gone. Ryan Wagner, gone. I thought to myself...what is he doing? What does he know that I don't? How is this going to work? It didn't. We lost Guardado, our closer for a brief time. Welcome Rheal Cormier, Scott Schoeneweis, Ryan Franklin, et al. What is he doing now? We started losing games and falling out of contention. "Well, that didn't work out," was my thinking. "Everybody who takes risks runs the risk of making a bad decision," I thought to myself still drinking the lemonade. The season ended. We finished 80-82, 3.5 games out of 1st place. The offseason comes. I'm excited to see Wayne Krivsky shape the Reds in his mold. "What's he going to do." Alex Gonzalez, signed to be the SS (Ok....). David Weathers resigned (ok, understandable...). Mike Stanton signed (uh, ok....). Jason LaRue traded (good job, a little salary relief, no more 3rd catcher). Chad Moeller signed (so much for that no more 3rd catcher thing and why?). Josh Hamilton traded for in the Rule V (good choice). We still need a RH bat to platoon with Hatteberg. Big hopes. Then, Jeff Conine. My mojo hit the floor. What? Jeff Conine?. All hope was drained. There would be no "big move" this offseason. The "big move" I had hoped for. The F.A. pitcher, the trade for an above average arm to stick in our rotation. I had one foot off of the wagon.
Then, today, reading through the posts here on Redszone, I had a thought. What if Wayne Krivsky's plan is in motion, but we're just not looking through the clouds to see it? Hey, wait, there is some hope. The Hatteberg / Conine tandem at 1B is only signed though 2007. Joey Votto should be ready to take over full time in 2008, and he has no one blocking him. Brandon Phillips had a pretty darned good year last year. He's still young, and he's got 2B to himself. Alex Gonzalez is a pretty darn good defensive player. Your SS should be a leader by example on the field. He's signed there for 3 years. There's no one in the minors that could challenge him for at least 1/2 of that contract. Edwin Encarnacion had a pretty good 1st year last year. There's no one blocking him either, not really anyone behind him forcing him to move either. Adam Dunn wasn't traded. He's still here. We're going to need him this year for sure. Griffey in CF worries me, but he's still here as well, and if they move him to RF, things start to look better. Ryan Freel and Chris Denorfia in RF (maybe switching to CF). Not bad. A David Ross / Javier Valentin platoon behind the plate isn't the worst thing ever (although I still can't defend the Moeller signing, it is pretty temporary, and there's nothing stopping us from DFA'ing him). As for the pitching. Harang and Arroyo are great. I don't like Milton, Lohse, or any candidates for the 5th spot, except Homer Bailey. Milton and Lohse are likely gone after this year, and Homer will be ready to step in as the #3 in 2008. The bullpen is a little better, if not older. Many of those names will likely change over the next couple years as well. We've got some talent in the minors to replace them.
The thing that jumped out to me, though, is that we let several F.A.'s go this year. Aurilia, Schoeneweis, Clayton, Franklin, and Jason Johnson to name some. I'm fairly convinced that DanO would have tried to retain some of those players, Krivsky let them walk. As a result, we picked up some draft picks as compensation. Maybe Krivsky had the foresight to let those guys walk knowing that it would be a waste of money to retain them. Maybe he knew that they wouldn't be able to pull a big name in free agency. Maybe his "plan" is to actually acquire talent in the upcoming amateur draft to continue to restock the farm system. Maybe we'll actually draft players in those slots that should have been drafted earlier, but weren't because of signability concerns. Maybe that's where Wayne Krivsky is deciding to spend his money? If it is, I think that's a smart move. We have a lot of high picks in the upcoming draft. If we'd be able to use each of those picks to choose 1st round type talent, our farm system could instantly become one of the better systems in baseball. We have Bailey and Bruce as nearly "sure things" not far away. We have Votto, who should be an above average regular in the near future. We have some bullpen arms and talent at the lower levels. If Krivsky spends the money on the draft and improves the minor league system, rather that frivilously spending money on F.A's to improve the major league team for "next year," we could be in pretty good shape in the near future. Krivsky also has the opportunity to move several of the "older" or "average" players we have on our current roster. Weathers, Cormier, Lohse, Milton, Valentin, Conine, Hatteberg, Freel, Denorfia, Stanton, all those guys will have a market most likely come trade deadline 2007. That could help replenish the farm system as well.
So, my "hope" for the Reds is back. I'm back on board the Wayne-wagon. I'll give Wayne a pass until the draft to see who he picks. After that, I'll wait to see what he does at the deadline. If we end up taking a real good player with our first pick and then take 4-5th round talent with our next 2 picks early on, I'll know I was misled. If we're out of it and he sells some of our marketable players for a bag of balls, I'll know I've been duped. And then, I'll jump off the wagon and go post on jmmclain's "firejerrynarron.com" and "firewaynekrivsky.com" sites.