The recent optioning of EE started me thinking once again about the Reds future. I’ve been a Reds fan all my life. During that time, I’ve gone through many long bleak periods (1940 till the mid 60’s for example), but, until the reserve clause was outlawed (thanks Curt Flood), there was always hope for the future. Now the Reds are involved in another long bleak period. Up until this year I haven’t seen much hope for the Reds near term future.
The Reds can not hope to win by signing top free agents(they’re going to go to the wealthy teams). For the last 10 to 15 years the approach has been to patch together teams with declining, mid priced, veterans coupled with the few players we’ve developed within our minor league system. The success of that approach has been startlingly underwhelming.
This year our minor league system is the strongest I’ve seen in my 68+ years as a Reds fan. That, coupled with a young core at the ML level, give the Reds a window starting no later than 09 to field a strong contender. It’s sort of interesting that a good share of the credit(the minors) belongs to the much maligned Dan O’Brien. I made the following comments in a recent thread which outline my thoughts on building and sustaining a Reds winner:
1. Heavy emphasis on player development – Worldwide(US, Latin America, Asia) Scouting, Trading for youth, Draft, etc
2. Keep your players in the minors until they’re fully ready(minimize the development required in the majors)
3. Identify and sign to contract extensions(that last thru the first 2 or 3 years of free agency) key players early in their Arb years
4. When a player has reached the peak of his cost/performance value trade him at the deadline for multiple AA prospects(I’d want 3 very good young AA prospects for Dunn)
My concern is that WK doesn’t blow the current opportunity trying for another quick fix. BC should insure the Reds capitalize on this opportunity by:
1. Recognize that all chance for this year is gone. There is NO quick fix that will allow this team to get back in the race. Don’t give up any high ceiling prospects unless you’re getting a similar return (no aging veterans).
2. Identify, keep, and nuture the young ML core(Arroyo, Harang, Belise?, Coffey, EE, Phillips, Hamilton)
3. Determine Dunn’s intent. If he’ll sign a three year extension at a reasonable cost(around $10M/yr), do so. If not look for the most favorable time to trade him before his option runs out next year, I’d want at least a BA top10 AA player plus a couple of high ceiling high A players.
4. Same as #3 for Loshe, keep at a much lower salary than Dunn or trade for a BA top 50 AA player plus a good high A prospect.
5. Use the rest of 07 to determine the value of the ML & minor league players whose age, performance, and experience suggest a thorough trail at the ML level(Coutlangus, Salmon, McBeth, Bray, Majewski, Medlock, Livingston, Saarlos?, Keppinger, etc ).
6. Resist the temptation to bring up the true gems(Bailey, Bruce, Votto?) or young guys who could use more time in the minors(for example Dumatrait who’s coming back from injury) too early.
7. Identify areas of future weakness(SS, C, Closer) within the system and look for ways to fill them(draft, trade, etc)
8. Finally get a management team oriented to developing and playing younger players(I don’t think that team is WK & JN). Although a mix of good veterans(Gonzo?) is still desirable.
I don’t consider myself an expert talent evaluator so the players I’ve show in parenthesis above are for illustrative purposes only.