TRICKS OF THE TRADE
How do you restore a once-proud franchise? Glad you asked.
By Steve Phillips
The Reds haven't made the playoffs in 13 years, and a slow start this season cost GM Wayne Krivsky his job. So how can new boss Walt Jocketty build a new Big Red Machine?
Baseball Tonight analyst and former Mets GM Steve Phillips has a few ideas.
1. TRADE JUNIOR Yes, Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the few reasons to visit Great American Ball Park, but it's time to make the tough decisions. Griffey is signed only through this year, with a club option for 2009. As a 10-and-five player, he can veto any deal, but Chicago is a popular destination, so call White Sox GM Ken Williams, who's tried to get Griffey in the past, and ask for Josh Fields or Carlos Quentin. The Sox have a shot, and Griffey would be huge in Chi-Town. Then call up top prospect Jay Bruce, and put him in center for the next 10 years.
2. DUNN DEAL Use Adam Dunn's power as a chip to get pitchers. The Reds have a limited budget and an even smaller ballpark, so they must deal for arms and develop them. Dunn is in the last year of his deal, so maximize the return by giving an interested team a 72-hour window to negotiate an extension. Go to the Giants, who need offense to replace Barry Bonds, and ask for Matt Cain. Go to Toronto and request a package that includes Adam Lind and Dustin McGowan or Shawn Marcum. Call Cleveland, which is desperate for bats, and ask for Cliff Lee and one of these three: OF Franklin Gutiérrez and lefties Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey.
3. BYE, BYE BRONSON In 2006, Bronson Arroyo was a great acquisition by Krivsky, but at age 31, and after throwing 656µ innings the previous three years, he's not the same pitcher. Get what you can, and get out from under his contract, because financial flexibility is critical for a small-market franchise. There are plenty of teams dying for starting pitching: Texas, Detroit, Houston, Milwaukee and Baltimore come to mind. After trading Arroyo, bring up Homer Bailey, and give him the ball every fifth day. Scouts think he can be special; let's see if they're right.
4. CALL HANK Have owner Bob Castellini ring Hank Steinbrenner and tell him you've got a way to move Joba Chamberlain into the Yankees' rotation. Offer Jared Burton, who's whiffing hitters in bunches, and Jeremy Affeldt for Phil Hughes. Sell Burton as Chamberlain's eighth-inning replacement and Affeldt as the situational lefty the Yanks lack. Throw in Arroyo if they want. Make it an owners deal. Castellini and Hank will love it; GM Brian Cashman will hate it. The bottom line is that Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Vólquez and Hughes would give Cincy four very different looks.
5. SHORT CUT The Reds have a tough decision when Álex González returns from his left-knee injury in a few weeks, because Jeff Keppinger has proved he can play shortstop every day. What to do? Trade utility man Ryan Freel to the Dodgers for Scott Proctor. LA can use a supersub, and Proctor can pitch the eighth inning if Burton is traded. Then Keppinger stays put and González becomes a defensive specialist—one with a lot of value if another club loses its starting shortstop.