The Reds are pretty close to being contenders in 2008 and IMHO we're two players away. Neither of which will be overly expensive.
1. Starting pitcher. Even with Affeldt on his way, he is a swingman with a possibility of being in the rotation. A one-year deal for a veteran like Colon (not necessarily him, just throwing out an example) would be ideal. One could make the argument that our rotation is already set and the Reds won't add another starting pitcher to the fold. But there is nothing wrong with spending around $5 million on another starter leaving Belisle, Affeldt, Volquez, Bailey ad Cueto to fight for the remaining two spots. If Bailey and/or Cueto aren't ready, they can go to AAA. If Affeldt doesn't make the rotation, he goes to the 'pen (where he's probably going to be most effective anyway, even though he was given a promise to be given a shot to make the rotation). If Belisle doesn't make the rotation, he goes to the pen. If Volquez doesn't make the rotation, he can go to AAA or the pen. However, two of them are going to make it for sure and it will be three if we don't sign someone else. Any way you want to look at it, unless you love our current rotation, I think we need to add another starter. Nothing bank-breaking and not a trade that will cripple our farm system. Just whatever we can find that's left on the FA market, and yes I know there isn't much to choose from. Find the best deal you can get and make it. And hopefully it's not Livan Hernandez. Ha. But honestly that would be better than doing nothing (and I'm sure many would disagree).
2. A right-handed hitter, preferably an OF (and someone who can play 1B and maybe even 3B in an emergency). Again, not someone who is going to break the bank, far from it. Said player would know he would be coming here as a reserve with a chance to get a lot of ABs if things fall right. Some people have mentioned Morgan Ensberg. That is a good example. Although I would prefer an OF. But someone like that is what I'm talking about. A RHH with some pop to come off the bench. I like having Keppinger and Hopper on our bench, but they have no pop. Get someone with some pop and suddenly we have a pretty damn strong bench because the other parts are in place (crazy utility man in Freel, high OBP OF in Hopper, high OBP INF in Keppinger, decent backup catcher in Valentin).