Of course there is trepidation in terms of what Walt will (or more-specifically won't) do this offseason, but if he can find a way to have a "winning" offseason for once, this Reds team is set up for success in 2012.
We've been waiting for the young crop of studs (Alonso, Mesoraco, etc) to be in the same lineup with proven guys like Votto, Bruce and Phillips. It's going to happen in 2012 from the beginning of the season on (not just in Sept when it doesn't matter). I think Cozart will be at least "good enough" at SS, which has been a complete black hole for this team the last few years.
The pitching staff needs someone at the top along with Cueto and there is plenty of talent in the organization for Walt to come up with a good trade. He should be able to put together a nice package in exchange for someone who can be the co-ace with Cueto. Actually, it would be great to have Cueto as the No. 2, but I'm trying to give Johnny respect. He's showing he might be the ace of the future for a team that hasn't had a real ace since Jose Rijo tore up his elbow. But I would love to see the Reds package Bailey, Volquez and Francisco (and maybe one other player) for a true ace. I'm going to throw a party at my house for this entire board if it happens.
Need to find a closer, but there are in-house options, or perhaps Walt could sign a veteran for a one-year deal (something not too expensive -- in the $6 million range). Guys like Putz were available last offseason for a very reasonable rate -- hopefully there will be someone like that out there this winter that Walt can grab if he's not sold on any of the in-house options.
BTW: I'm in the "Chapman should be a starter" camp. His control problems won't be nearly as big of an issue stretched across several innings as opposed to the ninth inning in save situations when every baserunner and every out is crucial. Also, there is way too much money invested in him to be a guy that pitches 60 innings a year. He needs to be up in the 160 IP range next year. Eventually 200 would be great, but he's not ready for that. The Reds would just get so much more out of him as a starter and that's what he had always been before the Reds signed him. I'm still not convinced his comfortable as a reliever. I think the Reds will make the decision to make him a starter this winter.
Bottom line: Unless the front office completely screws the pooch this offseason, the Reds are going to be very good next season. Most of the pieces are in place. Votto is going to be his usual fantastic self, Bruce is getting better each year, Phillips will be in "another" contract year, Alonso is becoming the masher we hoped (I know, I know, small sample size, but admit it, you're excited), and Mesoraco is the long-term answer at catcher and he's finally here. Need to upgrade the pitching just a little bit and it's going to be a fun year next season. Who's coming with me!?