You don't need to read another shrugging non-quote from Walt Jocketty to know that this offseason has been pretty lifeless. Around here, we've been forced into talking about literally anything other than the major league team. Books, even.
But has it become a lost cause? The idea, if you're a competitive team, is to improve your major league roster. And it's pretty clear Jocketty has not done that. Even so, there's been so much focus on what the Reds haven't done, that it might be worth taking a look at what has been accomplished.
Mostly, it's been about depth, which was a major issue last season:
- Starting pitching depth has improved with the acquisitions of Holmberg, Wang and Francis and the proximity of Rogers and Stephenson to the majors.
- Bullpen depth has improved by retaining Parra and signing Pedro Beato. With Beato and Ondrusek, the Reds have AT LEAST two useful bullpen arms in addition to the seven who figure to compose the 'pen right now (assuming Broxton is healthy).
- Despite trading Hanigan, the catching depth has actually improved. Barnhart, recently added to the 40-man, joins Corky and Max Ramirez as a 3rd-string option.
- Thomas Neal is an interesting acquisition. No OF in the org will come remotely close to replacing Choo, but with Billy, Heisey, Schumaker, Neal and Bourgeois, there are plenty of options to back-fill the outfield. This should improve the bench a little bit, even if it leaves a massive, gaping hole in the lineup.
Even though I would still call the offseason (to date) an unadulterated failure, Walt identified a problem - lack of depth - and has made a bunch of little moves to make it a little bit better. In 2014, the Reds shouldn't have to call up players from AA to fill vacanies or make a hasty in-season trade for a spot-starter. And that's something.
Of course, it isn't much of anything. They're still missing Choo's production, while relying on the uncertainty of Ludwick, Mesoraco and others to pick up the slack. Less important, but they're also missing a back-up SS.
The remaining options at SS are two guys who seems like a textbook Reds' back-up IF signings - veteran, switch-hitter, versatile, no bat - Ramon Santiago and Elliot Johnson. There are also several former Reds (Alex Gonzalez, Paul Janish, Justin Turner) and some non-Reds (Nick Green, John McDonald, Omar Quintanilla). Between those guys and maybe a Wilson Valdez-style trade, I'd guess Jocketty will get his man.
I think I would punt on back-up SS and take two swings at trying to replace Choo - even if that meant no spot on the roster for the traditional back-up SS. There aren't many plausible scenarios, given the Reds' lack of budget room, where they trade a pitcher, replace the pitcher and improve the starting lineup. So what we're looking at is probably two little moves here - maybe Sizemore and a lefty partner for Chris Heisey.
Or is that too much to hope for?