10 Things I'd Like to See–Reds 2009 Offseason

I nabbed this idea from Red Reporter, but I’ll do my best to amend on some things that were said over there. Making it all-original content of course

1. Begin talking long-term contract with Jay Bruce
So it’s no secret that we’re big Jay Bruce fans here at Diamond Hoggers. However, the facts are facts. The guy is a commodity and as much of an asset as the Reds have had in a long time. Show the city and rest of the organization that this is the guy you’re going to build around by locking him up to a long-term deal like the Devil Rays did with Evan Longoria early on this season and the Indians did with Grady Sizemore before 2007. Or at least attempt to get the ball moving in that direction and show the interest.

It would allow Bruce the chance to settle in both literally and figuratively. Something in the neighborhood of 6 years and $40-50 million might do the trick. Or at least let you know if you’re in the ballpark. Bruce is the kind of guy who deserves to have his arbitration years bought out. He’s the face of the franchise, so sign him and show him off. Which brings up the next point….

2. Market the franchise more
I go to downtown Cincinnati and I see a building with a picture of Bronson Arroyo on the side of it. It’s obvious that the Reds want to market Bronson Arroyo, but lets go in a different direction.

You’ve got Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez, Joey Votto, and Bruce. Plaster the faces of these players all over town. Get the baseball town that is Cincinnati behind these guys again. The Bengals are not going to be good anytime soon so let them know they’ve got a young group of players in the way of the Reds that they can fall in love with, and trust that they’ll be there for the long haul. This is what is missing in too many big league cities nowadays and its something that was definitely there in 1990.

I’ve been to Redsfest one time and it was cool, but the whole offseason should be like Redsfest. Get these guys around the city and get them to know their fans. The fans are the lifeblood of the organization. Get them excited again at all costs.

3. Name Wilkin Castillo the back-up catcher to Ryan Hanigan
The Reds have carried 3 catchers all season long for way too long now. Its time to change things. Let Hanigan and Castillo be the catchers on this team. Let Castillo get the at-bats when Hanigan needs a day off and let him be a utility guy the other days. Use him for the value he has (Castillo). But for Pete’s sakes no more carrying 3 catchers.

4. Have a good, long talk with Dusty Baker
I didn’t think that Baker did a great job of managing last year. The group was under-achieving and low energy. Dunn and Griffey are gone now. The scapegoat needs to be Baker, at least partially. You tell him if you’re the owner or the GM exactly what needs to happen. You tell him that he must get his team ready to compete at all costs and that his job is on the line.

Talk to him and ask him how he’s going to bring out the best in these young players. He hasn’t had the best track record with non-veteran ballplayers. Honestly, if Baker doesn’t overwhelm you with answers you might want to start looking for a new manager that fits the personnel better. There is nothing written in stone that says that Baker is the man who will lead this group to the promised land. Sure he could be–but make certain that he is.

5. Come up with some new promotions
I think that the Reds promotions are a tired act. Bobblehead day here, calendar day there, Edwin Encarnacion poster day here. Give us something new. They’re paying young interns good money to be in the Reds marketing department. Let us be the franchise that comes out with the cool promotion. The one that is mentioned on Sportscenter. In actuality, this isn’t that important and I think that the product on the field really trumps this area; but it all goes hand-in-hand with allowing your fans to love the team again. Not all fans are genetically coded like me. Some need more than just a game to make them come out to the park. If the Reds aren’t winning next year in June, and there is a decent chance they might not be; these are the things that will bring them out. Get cracking Reds marketing department.

6. Make a strong run at Matt Holliday (or a ‘splash’ RH bat)
Holliday is like the match-made in Heaven for these Reds. He’d be a great guy to hit in the middle of Bruce and Votto. He could play in left field. If the Reds really want to make a run at the World Series, go after Matt Holliday. They might be outbid by the Yankees, but can the Yankees do better than Homer Bailey/Todd Frazier + another fill in prospect? I’d even think about throwing in Encarnacion.

If you’re not going to get Holliday, you MUST go after someone who can rake from the right side of the plate. Brandon Phillips isn’t going to be enough. Encarnacion may never arrive as a lineup changer. Make a splash and go get the best of what is available on this side of the plate.

7. Freel and Hairston should be back
These are the type of guys that solidify your bench. They aren’t starter types. They are in reality, the 24th or 25th guys on a championship contending ballclub. That is what they should be here. However, those are the guys that win you pennants. They have shown us they can’t succeed as everyday ballplayers for one reason or another, but they can be some of the best role players in the entire league I think. Talk to them about their role, let them know they’re very wanted and see what they think. If you can, bring them both back and let them accumlate 100 games played next year one way or another. They should each comply.

8. Settle the shortstop situation
Alex Gonzalez returns from injury. He hasn’t played baseball in a year, so who knows what we’ll get. The Reds have Jeff Keppinger who really hasn’t been the same player since he got hurt either. I think that Keppinger and Gonzalez should be in a big time battle next spring training for the job. The winner plays (regardless of money/mood).

9. Give Todd Frazier every chance to make the big league roster
Goes back to young players and Dusty Baker. Bruce should have been here from day 1 in 2008 but he let Corey Patterson take away valuable playing time. Now what good did that do us? Frazier is going to be young, raw, and strike out too much. He might hit .230 for the first few months. Or he might play his way into some statistics in that ballpark. I bet he could hit 25 home runs as a rookie. Frazier can play some outfield, third base, even shortstop if needed. You’re telling me that it wouldn’t be a thrill for this kid? This should be stressed even more if we can land a huge right handed bat. He could hit 6th or 7th in the order and cause some problems seeing a lot of fastballs in that spot.

10. Figure out what you’re going to do with Homer Bailey once and for all
It’s sink or swim time for Homer. Let him have a spot in the rotation for a full year, or trade him, or put him in the bullpen and change his role for now. You’re not helping him by jerking him around from minors to majors and back to AAA. He’s not getting any better. It’s not working. Maximize his chances to succeed or get something while he still has a little value as a prospect. I think Bailey can be good, but the Reds just haven’t found a way to bring it out of him (they got the worst of Kyle Lohse as well).

Do something with Homer and make it clear to him what you’re going to do.