As we know, hindsight is 20/20. With a little over a month gone in the 2009 season, Reds' leftfielders are OPSing a paltry .625, good for 28th out of 30 MLB teams. The Chicago White Sox's right-handed bat who we were rumored to have been considering trading Homer Bailey for is OPSing .891 with 7 HRs. I can't run the numbers like many on this site can, but eyeballing it, I'd say that we'd have at least 2 more wins with Dye instead of C-Dick/McDonald/Cherry/Nix starting in left field.
So, with the Reds' early success, and especially seeing how good this starting rotation and bullpen can be, is it too early to try to fix the team's most glaring hole? To make an early fix, a candidate would have to come a team that has no realistic shot a competing and who is not in the team's long-term plans. Because the AL West and AL Central are terrible, this eliminates a lot of teams who currently feel they are competing. Also, teams that suck normally do because they have bad players, so that leaves us with 2 realistic early-season candidates:
Matt Holliday - A's - $13.5M ('09) - a contract-year hitter who has struggled thus far in Oakland, but has a big-time track record of hitting. The career 1.050 / .800 home / road OPS split is a warning given the time he spent in Colorado, but he's still a big-time hitter. And he's playing on a club that sucks (trust me, I'm an A's fan too). That said, this was Billy Beane's big splash in the offseason, so there's no way he's pulling the trigger without significant prospects coming back in return. This type of acquisition would be mortgaging the future.
Josh Willingham - Nationals - $2.95M ('09) - 1st year arbitration - Willingham is the 4th outfielder in what has become a decent-hitting outfield in Washington with Dunn, Dukes, and Kearns (one of these things is not like the other...) each OPSing over .900. He's been reduced to a part-time starter and a pinch hitter and is not taking kindly to the role. Willingham would be a much cheaper option for left field, both in $$$ and in prospects. He's OPS'd over .800 the past 3 seasons with good power considering he played in Dolphins stadium. Because he's the odd man out, and because he's hitting about as well as Edwin Encarnacion so far in 2009, his price tag would be significantly less than Holliday's. And, we wouldn't have to deal with Bowden.
Others considered: Luke Scott, Brad Hawpe, Miguel Tejada (to replace A-Gon if he's injured more severely than thought), Eric Byrnes, Ben Francisco.
My Take - I think that if we could pull off a trade for Willingham without having to give up Homer/Yonder/Frasier/Valaika, I would seriously consider it. Would Maloney and Darryl Thompson be enough for Washington to pull the trigger? If so, I would say go for it! It's better to correct an obvious problem early in the season than to wait until the trading deadline. I wouldn't go for Holliday - too expensive.