I saw this earlier:
Who’s had the most boring offseason? I think it’s the Reds.
Who’s had the most boring offseason? I think it’s the Reds.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) February 4, 2014
I think I know what Jesse means by this, and I'm nitpicking a bit by responding. I get that. For the Cincinnati Reds, this offseason has been confusing, a change of pace from seasons prior, confounding in it's ability to get our hopes up and then let us down. It's been eerily similar to the Winter of 2010-2011, where an inability to make marginal improvements to a young ballclub and a stand-pat reliance on fragile veterans torpedoed the team to the depths of the NL Central standings.
This offseason has been cheap. It's been reserved. It's been counterintuitive to any mind privy to how Walt Jocketty has operated in the past (aside from the annual influx of former St. Louis Cardinals). Most assuredly, it has been stress inducing, and it's been crippling to the fingers of writers aching for something to write about. (Cracks knuckles.)
It has not been boring. If anything, it's been a convoluted gamble that is high-risk enough to be fancied as fascinating. It is not the Miami Marlins signing Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle after having the lowest payroll in baseball, nor is it the Toronto Blue Jays trading for those two and signing Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. It isn't the New York Yankees signing Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabbathia, signing Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann. It's not the Los Angeles Dodgers trading for everything but the "ox" in Boston Red Sox before sinking half a billion additional dollars into extensions. No, from a transaction perspective, it's the anti-that. It's letting your veteran, winning manager go. It's letting your franchise stalwart SP go. It's letting the leadoff hitter you plucked for near nothing the previous year go.
It's Spartan, but it is not boring.
Why? Because Billy Hamilton is not boring. Turning the reins of CF and leadoff over to the player who stole more bases in a minor league season than anyone ever is not boring. Giving a player speculated as the fastest player ever an opportunity to play full-time surrounded by a core that has made the playoffs in three out of four years isn't boring. Allowing a player who has drawn comparisons to Willie Wilson, Vince Coleman, Otis Nixon, and Lenny Dykstra - among others - a chance to show what he's got on the biggest stage isn't boring. That's scintillating.
Nor is Tony Cingrani boring, not the consensus Top 100 prospect who filled in competently in 2013 for an oft-injured Johnny Cueto. Lest we forget, Tony Cingrani led the entire National League in K/9 among pitchers who threw over 100 innings in 2013 - topped by only Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers among all pitchers in either league - or that those ridiculous strikeout numbers are actually in-line with his dominance in the minor leagues, not an aberration. That's not boring, either. That's exciting as hell.
Replacing Choo with Hamilton and Arroyo with Cingrani is a roll of the dice. A freaking big one, and there's no way around that. Once Arroyo signs somewhere, there will be some $150+ million in difference between the salaries of the predecessors and their replacements, and rightfully so. There's a wealth of experience to support what one can expect from both Choo and Arroyo, and for that (and their actual abilities), they'll get paid. There's predictability. There are post-it notes, mindless scribblings on bar napkins, and a few grainy videos detailing what can be expected of Hamilton and Cingrani, though. There's nearly zero predictability.
The Reds already sported the fastest-throwing pitcher in the game in Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto's FIP-subvergent Tiant-turn, Homer Bailey's dualing no-hitters, and the best left-handed hitter in the game of baseball in Joey Votto. Now, they'll be adding the fastest man in baseball and turning the spotlight on to one of the best strikeout pitchers the farm has ever seen.
Confidence inspiring? No, not really. Prudent? Eh. Borderline crazy? No doubt about it.
Boring, though? I think not. It's precisely the kind of gamble that should make us all wonder just what Walt Jocketty has up his sleeve.
I like reading Jesse Spector, and I'm certain that we've linked to his stories here at Red Reporter before. If you've not read his stuff at The Sporting News, you should, and I hope that you do. He is definitively not-boring.