1) Hire the top manager available. Any saavy baseball man can see the Reds have great talent and are on the uptick--so a top name can be attracted to Cincy. GIVE THE NEW MANAGER FREE REIGN TO HIRE HIS COACHES. No keeping Hume or whatever insider nonsense has happened recently. If you are getting a top manager, let him freely shape his own staff.
2) Here's the real biggie. The financial position the Reds are in dictates one thing: they need to free up cash to get a #3 starter, two quality relievers, and a catcher. These were the brutal weaknesses of the club. How is it done? Those players are out there on the free agent market this year. Let's assume for arguments sake they can get one of the relievers through trade. The cost to buy the rest? It ain't pretty:
The #3 starter will cost $12 mil a year.
The other reliever $6 million
The catcher $12 million.
I may be overestimating the cost, but am I?
Teams are not trading pitching on that scale, and the best catchers in the game are the ones that could be free agents this year. These players must, and can, be BOUGHT this year.
the Reds need to clear around $30 million to make these moves. Unavoidable conclusion: Dunn and Griffey must go. I believe Seattle would take a Griffey who is in the last year of his contract and nearing 600 home Runs. And I think Jr. would agree to it. I don't like losing Dunn as he cut his errors in half, brought his average up 30 points and shaved 30 Ks off his total this year. But in order to serve the very weakest elements of the club, he must go. As must Gonzalez and Hatteberg. Now I'm sure a great wail will rise from the center of Redszone, "Then how do you replace that production?" Here's the explanation:
Griffey can not only be replaced, but eclipsed by Hamilton in production and defense. If Jay Bruce (Baseball America AND Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year) starts for the Reds and lives up to HALF the hype, CF will have juiced up production next year. After that, I'm willing to risk that Hopper, Freel, and/or Cantu can give the adequate boost to the team to make the outfield production comparable to this year. Not to mention the addition of an OF the VERY tradeable Hatteberg or Gonzalez could bring. Keppinger must replace Gonzalez, to free money. Votto must replace Hatteberg to free money. How much does that free up?
With these moves, and Saarloos and Milton off the payroll the Reds free up over $35MM. Then consider a $2 million dollar cost of releasing Stanton and you've got $33 million. See Brandon Phillips getting around $2.5-$3 million in arbitration and there you have it.
Around $30 million to fill the Reds desperate needs in a decent free agent season. As much as we hate to see Griff and Dunn go, imagine a lineup with Jorge Posada or Ivan Rodriguez in it, while giving Bruce and Hamilton more playing time? Then imagine a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, and Carlos Silva? Add Shawn Chacon to the Reds' bullpen? Then the Reds would really have a team of BALANCED quality.