Christmas Afterglow: Icy Rhodes and Tangled Webbs

Reds groundskeeper clearing rightfield at GABP for the annual Winter Classic between the Reds and, you guessed it, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms.

For those who celebrate, I hope you had a bright and festive Christmas. For our fans in Canada and the former British Empire (that means you, Nigel and Camila), Happy Boxing Day. December 26 is always has a peculiar feel to it, both a letdown and a relief. Appropriate that this year, it falls on a Sunday. For the 2010 Holiday Red Reporter Battle of the Faith Traditions, Christendom had no answer for the Eight Days of Brendanukkah. I promise to get an earlier start on the Twelve Days of RijoSaboCaseyWKristmas next year.

But we, Reds fans of all creeds and customs, are thankful this year that the offseason Wish List, short though it may be, is focused on new toys to defend the NL Central Championship. There's some disagreement about how to proceed with the shopping. We've seen our first return of the season, with Arthur Rhodes heading to his native Texas. Thanks to Collective Bargaining's return policy, the Reds don't get any compensation draft picks (though it does mean a potential $4M flagged for Rhodes can be spent elsewhere.)

Rhodes may well have been worth around the price arbitration would have set - and, as a fan, I wanted him to stay - but the team has other pressing needs. A potential second year (in the form of a vesting option) for a 41 year old reliever appears to have been one icy bridge too far. The reliever market is a little overinflated.

The Colossus was brilliant as a set-up man in his two years with the Reds. He was fun to watch and easy to get behind. Reds fans love their bullpen assassins, even when they become blowhard announcers. We wish him a fond farewell.

The other Reds news currently brewing may not be Reds news at all. The dance card for Kentucky native Brandon Webb is shrinking. According to ESPN, it's down to the Texas Rangers and that meddling NL central mystery team. It's time to assemble a handful or teenagers, a dog, a minibus and figure this thing out. While the latest reports from the front office were that the Reds were not suitors - not to mention the fact starting pitching is a position of depth - the Brewers aren't in on him and it's probably not the Astros. And Jayson Stark suggests the Reds have been "quietly" looking for starters with #1 potential.

It may all add up to nothing, but that Rhodes money is going to go somewhere. Webb is one of a shrinking list of free agents in the Reds price range, with upside worth paying. On paper, it's much more likely to be the Cubs or Cardinals, perhaps even the Pirates, but I don't see any reason to count the Reds out. If they check under the hood and can swing an incentivized deal, with a close-to-home discount, Webb could give the Reds unassailable starting pitching depth to outlast or out-trade any team in the Central, even without fielding the best 1-2-3 punch in the division.

What are you doing, this New Year's Eve?

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