Still wanted: Pitching
My plan for today was to write something profound off the Mitchell Report and performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
But really, what's left to say? Baseball had a huge drug problem. Big Bud Selig's going to mete out some punishment. It will cost some guys games and money. The guess here is Selig won't take the 2000 World Series trophy away from the Yankees even though they allegedly were using steroids like they were competing for Mr. Universe.
But I'm sick of the Mitchell Report talk, and I'm sure you are too.
So rather than pontificate on the ramifications, I'm going to write about what I think the Reds are going to do for the rest of the offseason.
They're going to continue to try to land a starting pitcher. That's Wayne Krivsky's mandate from ownership.
The only limitation is he has to do it without giving up Jay Bruce. So far, that's what has kept the Reds from completing a deal with Baltimore for left-hander Erik Bedard.
They continue to try to swing the deal without Bruce included. The hope is the Orioles will ease off their demand for Bruce and accept a package built around Homer Bailey.
Bedard was one of two pitchers not named Johan Santana who really could help the Reds this season.
The other was Dan Haren, who got traded from the Oakland A's to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
The Reds had expressed interest in Haren but thought the price was too steep. The A's apparently wanted a package that included Johnny Cueto.
The Haren trade makes the competition for Bedard stiffer, particularly since it upped the ante for the National League West. The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly are leading the race to land Bedard.
If the Dodgers land Bedard or the O's don't back off wanting Bruce in the deal, the Reds will have to turn elsewhere.
The Haren trade also might mean the A's are in full rebuilding mode. Oakland right-hander Joe Blanton would fit nicely into the Reds' rotation. He was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA. He threw 230 innings and gave up only 16 home runs. He's from Kentucky, so he could be willing to sign long-term.
The drop-off after Bedard and Blanton is significant.
Cleveland's Cliff Lee is said to be available. He's coming off an injury-plagued season - 5-8, 6.29 ERA - but he's been good in the past. He was 46-24 the previous three seasons.
Jon Lieber is still available. He was 3-6 with a 4.93 ERA and missed significant time with a foot injury. Like Lee, he's been good in the past. Lieber was 17-13 in 2005. But at 38, you wonder if he can get back to being that guy.
None of the alternatives beyond Bedard and Blanton is very comforting. Bedard is ideal because he gives the Reds a left-hander.
My sense is the Reds will get something done. Going into the season with Matt Belisle as the No. 3 starter isn't a good plan. Belisle might develop into a consistent winner. But "might" is the operative word. The same can be said of Bailey.
The stakes in the NL Central got a little higher last week when the Houston Astros added Miguel Tejada (speaking of the Mitchell Report) and Jose Valverde, the major-league saves leader.
Reds ownership doesn't want three question marks in the rotation. Krivsky, in the final year of his contract, knows winning is essential to his job security.
That sounds like a recipe to get a deal done.
I am not sure how up to date John Fay is. The fact that the Dodgers signed Kuroda makes it unlikely that they would be leading in the race to land Bedard. I believe the Mariners and Reds are the main contenders now to land Bedard. It may very well be that the Reds would be best suited to trade for Blanton, especially if the Orioles continue to remain obstinate about us trading Bruce.