Castellini has promised a winner. Has he delivered? Well, not exactly. When you are the owner of a sports franchise and you promise to deliver a championship and later rephrase it to producing a contender, you still send the message that you will open the wallet if need be.
Castellini has delivered a winning mechanism in the front office. He dabbled with a few expirements and didn't like the way things were going, so he changed things up bringing in more experienced pieces. Some may consider Jocketty an asset, while others consider him a possibility. But I haven't heard the usual cries of how the Reds GM is simply going through the motions. We have cried about that over many of the past regimes. But Castellini heard our cries and answered. He also looked for experience when hiring Dusty Baker. And some may feel like this is another expirement gone wrong. Perhaps he isn't the right fit. But do we really know right now?
When Dusty was hired, we all feared he would favor veterans over the young up and comers. He proved us wrong last year when giving the young nucleus every opportunity to succeed. With the exception of Corey Patterson, Dusty was pretty fair last year in given opportunity. We also feared that he would make pitcher's arms fall off. And that is still up for debate. Look no further than the Reds ace Aaron Harang last year for confirmation of the possibility.
Today, we should be a little more comfortable with Dusty. For now, Patterson is no longer a part of this team (Hopefully Tavares doesn't replace him). And we will have to wait and see if he learned his lesson with Harang last year.
So what do we have to look forward to? I believe we are exactly where we need to be. I think this team is not a contender as Castellini has promised, but I see that there is a plan in place. Perhaps the plan has taken longer than expected, but as said above, some experiments have gone wrong. Right now, I believe the front office is made up of solid and experienced personnel that will help make the best decision for this club moving forward.
The primary focus is bringing in a right handed outfield bat. Jermaine Dye would be an amazing help, but ask yourself, is it worth the cost? Getting experience over potential would be the answer for a team one move away. But this team is too young to be in that category. Yes, there is a ton of talent on the roster, but are we as talented as a similar team like Tampa Bay? Perhaps, but they had to have everything line up perfectly in order to get where they were last season.
With the addition of Dye and the loss of Bailey, would this team really contend? We would have to see many players improve on their numbers from last year. Sure, we should expect Bruce and Votto and possibily even Encarnacion to improve. But how often does it really work out that way?
I think this team is close, but not one player away close. If the team does make a trade for Dye (which is the absolute best option for an affordable RH bat), then I believe we still would need some more pieces. I think this is exactly where Jocketty's mind is at as well.
If Castellini told Jocketty that this is the year, which would mean he would open his wallet, then I think we would have seen Dye come over already. But Jocketty still has a budget to consider and knows that bringing in Dye or even a FA bat like Burrell would be the final move for the offseason. He also knows that this wouldn't be enough.
Perhaps the best way of looking at this roster is by keeping the young core together and watching them mature. Seeing who does climb toward their potential and who busts. Let's see if Volquez is for real. Let's see if Harang can bounce back. Let's see if Cueto can improve. We are all banking on these things to happen, but how many times have we seen them not happen?
As Reds fans, you should know. Gruler anyone? Howington? Bailey? Kearns? Larson? Wagner? I can go on and on. Maybe lady luck has changed and we might be able to see two out of every three young stud turn out to be something worth while. But we can't bank on all of it panning out. And that is what we would have to do if we traded for Dye and counted our blessings.
I'm trying not to be pessimistic here, but I am really thinking for the better of the team versus the better of 2009 at this point.