Jocketty expects payroll to climb, lists priorities
Posted by JohnFay at 9/27/2008 3:21 PM EDT on Cincinnati.com
Here's your weekly preview of the Sunday Insider for the paper:
Walt Jocketty wouldn't give an exact number, but he said he expects the player payroll to climb for next season. I don't like to write about money and payroll -- and I don't think spending is necessarily tied to winning -- but I think it's significant that the Reds will up the payroll for 2009. That means they're going to try to win next year, despite going younger over the last couple months.
My guess is payroll will end up in the $80 million range. It was $74 million at the start of this season. With Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. off the books, that will give the Reds money to spend on the free agent market.
The top priority?
"I think we still need a right-handed hitter, a runner producer," Jocketty said, "not necessarily, a home run hitter, but a run producer, someone who can drive in runs in the clutch."
I'm not sure that kind of player is available on the free agent market. A trade for high-salary guy -- Matt Holliday or Magglio Ordonez? -- might be the best way to fill that need.
Jocketty has re-evaluated the needs somewhat in light of recent play of young guys like Ryan Hanigan and Chris Dickerson.
"There are way to improve in different areas, but I've been very impressed with the way team's played the last few weeks," Jocketty said. "Hanigan did a great job catching. I would still say we're not sure with (Alex) Gonzalez at short. He should be able to come back. But we've said all along that catching, short and center field are our needs, along with the right-handed hitter, the leadoff hitter. Now we know we have some flexibility. We've seen what Ryan Hanigan can do. We all feel very good about what he's shown us. If a frontline guy's not available, Ryan could fill that need. If we allocate money in different areas, we know that Dickerson can play center field and be a leadoff hitter. We know Gonzalez is coming back and can play short. I think it's going to be more looking at what's available and if it upgrades our club.
"Our pitching staff was good but is there somebody out there who could make it better."
It's interesting that Jocketty doesn't list pitching as a top priority. When is last time a Reds GM said that at the close of a season?
"I feel real good about the starting pitching," Jocketty said. "I've talked to a number of clubs who say I wish I had your pitching going into next year."