For the 2009 roster, here is what I, camisadelgolf, have in store:
If Ryan Hanigan and Wilkin Castillo don't pan out, the every-day catcher could once again be a Paul Bako-type black hole. Both Hanigan and Castillo could be optioned next year, so I might sign Johnny Estrada or Michael Barrett if the price is right. However, catcher is such a big need across the Majors, so I'd probably stand pat.
The Reds need outfielders. For me, this should be priority number one in the off season, and here are some players I would consider:
Starting left fielder:
Juan Rivera - I'd love to see what he could do in GABP; he's very toolsy, and I think he'd be a perfect match for the Reds
Milton Bradley - everyone hates to admit, but he's really, really good (when he's on the field); I'd sign him if the numbers are right (i.e. no more than a two-year contract)
Garrett Anderson - obviously on the decline but continues to produce; he's an injury risk, but maybe he could be signed to an affordable, one-year contract
Fernando Tatis - is 2008 a fluke? if not, the 1999 Fernando Tatis would be a monster in the Reds' lineup
Raul Ibanez - his age worries me, but his numbers have been good; he's certainly someone to consider, though
Manny Ramirez - there's no way I look to the Reds to obtain this guy, but if the Reds do obtain him, they will immediately become competitors
Mark Teixeira - if the Reds can sign him, this would push Joey Votto to left field; once again, the Reds have the salary room (if they decline Arroyo's option when it comes around), and it would immediately turn the Reds into competitors
Bench outfielder, if none of the above can be obtained (but say 'goodbye' to competing in 2009 and 'hello' to looking forward to 2010:
Kevin Mench - he's who I would want as the first outfield option off the bench; I'm fine with Norris Hopper only as the second outfielder off the bench
Craig Monroe - might like to put his career back on track in a hitter's park; a right-handed power bat is needed for the bench, and Adam Rosales might not be ready yet
Brad Wilkerson - he really knows how to work the count, has local ties, and before this year, he was consistently slugging around .450; if his swing hasn't slowed down too much, I'd like to see him in a Reds uniform
Greg Norton - is a switch-hitter, can also play third base (albeit poorly), and has a little pop in his bat
Emil Brown - see: Kevin Mench; unfortunately, he probably thinks he's worthy of being a starting left fielder somewhere
Jay Payton - personally, I'm not a fan, but maybe the Reds will be desperate enough; he shouldn't be too bad as a bench player
Gabe Kapler - the Reds already have Norris Hopper, so I see him as irrelevant, but maybe he can be brought in at a discount
The Reds' need for a fifth starter is exaggerated, especially with Micah Owings coming over after the season. Hopefully, between Homer Bailey, Daryl Thompson, and Matt Maloney, one of those guys is ready to produce at the Major League level if needed. And who knows? Maybe Nick Masset or Ramon Ramirez could be an effective starter. I'm ready to cut bait with Matt Belisle and Bobby Livingston, though. If the Reds look to free agency, the starting pitching options would probably be way too old and way too over-priced anyway. Then again, a heck of a lot of money was freed up by not re-signing Dunn and Griffey, and the Reds could really use a left-handed starter. The Reds have a reputation for stealing big-name free agents from the Brewers . . . Hey, a man can dream, can't he?
As good as the bullpen has been this year, a lot of that production has come from Jeremy Affeldt and Mike Lincoln, both of whom I'm not expecting back next year. The Reds could replace them both internally, which I hope they do, because the free agent market for relievers is absolutely pathetic.
A lineup I could be happy with:
CF Dickerson/Freel (a platoon I could live with, especially with Dusty Baker as manager)
C Wilkin Castillo (could theoretically be one of the best backup shortstops in baseball)
IF Jeff Keppinger (utility infielder, not an every-day shortstop)
IF Adam Rosales, Paul Janish, or Danny Richar (because he's left-handed)
OF Chris Dickerson/Ryan Freel (platoon)
OF Norris Hopper or Shaun Cumberland (probably not ready but underrated as a prospect)
SP Edinson Volquez
SP Aaron Harang
SP Johnny Cueto
SP Bronson Arroyo
SP Micah Owings, Homer Bailey, Daryl Thompson, or Matt Maloney
Wow, when was the last time the Reds had a rotation featuring 1-5 starters in the appropriate slots?
CL Francisco Cordero
RP Jared Burton
RP Bill Bray
Three of the following relief pitchers: Matt Belisle, Ramon Ramirez, Danny Herrera, Carlos Fisher, Josh Roenicke, Ty Pelland, Robert Manuel
MU Nick Masset
Compared to the rest of the league, that wouldn't be all that bad of a bullpen.