Not relevant to this post, but I like to think that Captain NL Central appears when this happens.
The Brewers have improved their pitching by picking up Zach Greinke, Shaun Marcum and now K-Rod. The Cardinals signed a major impact bat, in Lance Berkman, to a relatively low-risk contract. And the Pirates have improved their team by witchcraft. Meanwhile, the Reds added Fred Lewis and Edgar Renteria, which I'll charitably mark down as a wash.
It's frustrating to see the Reds sit idle, though it's difficult to know what deals have actually been available from the last offseason until now. We do know the Reds have at least been doing some sniffing around NL West starters, but it may be no more than "info gathering," according to Walt.
The trade market this season is underwhelming, but it's increasingly clear the Reds are not going to be able to fix their pitching problems internally. At least not this season. Here's a look at starting pitchers who might be available and of interest to the team:
EDIT: I have to admit, Tim Hudson is not available. And Wandy is probably not available to the Reds. But the market is bad enough that I kinda had to fudge it to bring this list up to 5 and not start adding Jeremy Guthrie or Jason Marquis types.
Contract: $2,.8M in '11, signed thru 2013, with '14 option voidable if traded
2011 line: 4.14 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 1.30 WHIP
I would agree with whoever said this is probably in the Justin Upton Dept. of trade possibilities. His criminally team-friendly contract suggests the Rockies are more than likely to hang on to him even if they fall further out of the race. But he's still the best name in the rumor mill. And the Reds have the MLB-ready talent in their system to match offers from most teams.
Deal? YES. Would probably have to include Alonso, Frazier (who fill Rockies' stated needs) and perhaps two other MLB-ready prospects among the Reds Top 10.
Contract: $12M in 2011, signed thru '11
2011 line: 3.06 ERA, 3.73 FIP, 1.22 WHIP
Kuroda's 2011 BABIP is exactly where it's been over his 2.5 year MLB career average, but his 3.06 ERA may still be a little bit lucky and in danger of crashing as an Age 36 pitcher. Still, there's probably not a better rental available on the trade market and, as a bonus, would represent the first Japanese-born player to wear a Reds uniform. We know the team as sent scouts to kick his tires - hopefully a socially acceptable gesture in Japan.
Deal? YES. I'd hate to give up anyone of consequence for a rental, but if the Reds were able to take on his pro-rated salary he might be had for a package of B prospects.
Contract: $7M in '11, signed thru 2013
2011 line: 3.52 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
Wandy is a popular player in Houston and not likely to be traded within the division. But if the Astros can be convinced they won't be in the division much longer and that Wandy Rodriguez had something to do with Enron, maybe they would unload him. He gets more expensive over the next two years of his contract and could lose #1/#2 starter shine over the next season and a half.
Deal? Yea... but I wouldn't want to give up more than one SP arm for him. One A-list, non-Mesoraco prospect and two Bs?
Contract: $6M in 2011, team-controlled thru 2012
2011 line: 4.21 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 1.35 WHIP
Danks is a good pitcher and still young. He's an injury liability, but could also be be a Bi-Lo extension candidate.
Deal? Probably. Danks may not end up an improvement over the starting pitching depth the Reds already have, but he would at least help restore it to pre-2011 levels. Would Sox accept a Heisey, END + Boxberger package?
Contract: $9M in '11, signed thru '12, team option in 2013
2011 line: 3.52 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
As a contender, the Braves don't seem likely to move their established starters. But they do have holes to fill. Hudson is another pitcher the Reds probably don't want to pay for a year and a half, but they would be on the hook for a maximum of $13M or so, depending on whether cash changed hands in a deal.
Deal? Probably, even though I can't see them taking on that salary next year.