The stars have aligned.
Unfortunately, they're aligned against our Cincinnati Reds.
Jocketty and company, then, are left with two options:
1. Standing pat
Wait out the injuries, hoping the Cardinals and Brewers don't get too far ahead and hope everyone is ready to go pretty much immediately after coming back, while also hoping Milwaukee and St. Louis continue to languish where they are without adding to their own teams.
2. Blow it up
Screw it. Minimize payroll, maximize opportunities for young, cheap players. Deal flotsam. Peel away the fluff. Deal with an eye on the future.
If Jocketty decides to indeed blow it up, here are a few suggestions:
Let's start off small. The Angels' bullpen is a mess. Broxton fixes that. LAA also needs some OF help. Believe it or not, Ludwick actually improves their team. The Reds, meanwhile, jettison $13 million of 2015 salary and an albatross LFer for a potent bat still young enough to play significant innings in the middle infield. Green instantly makes the Reds a much better team. Start him at SS, between plus gloves Frazier and Phillips. Deal with the limited range and hope he's a Jed Lowrie clone.
Gigantic deal that transforms the Reds into a (likely) last-place team-- for a year.
Dealing both Cueto and Bruce hurt. A lot. However, there are reasons for both. Bruce, despite his decent numbers, has never lived up to his potential. He routinely ranks among the middle of the WAR pack for RFers and Red fans seem to always take the wait-til-next-year approach with the Texas native. Perhaps the short porch in Fenway will allow the Beaumont Bomber to hit 50 HR in a reason while also doing his best Dewey Evans impression. Could happen. And, make no mistake, Boston needs that type of production, particularly from the OF. Cueto will never be more valuable than right now. The Reds can sell him as a true TOR arm. Boston could also use that. (As could any team in baseball, really.)
Why would Cincinnati give up that much established talent? Simply put, it's expensive and limits the team's ability to make other deals/ free agent signings to truly compete in the talent-rich NL Central. Betts and Checchini are phenomenal bats, patient enough to take walk after walk after walk. They're also adept defensively at tough positions to find quality players. Both instantly become starters, with Checcini moving Frazier to RF. Betts moves to both 2B and the second spot in the order.
Workman is really struggling this year, as evidenced by his 5.00 ERA in both Boston and AAA Pawtucket. The Sox have a dozen solid pitching prospects, so his poor year likely dooms the former Longhorn to a mop-up or fifth starter role anyway. (The addition of Cueto to the Boston rotation further cements that pecking order.) In Cincinnati, he's got the chance to take the fifth starter role for the rest of the year-- or at least until Robert Stephenson finds his mojo.
Trade Brandon Phillips and SP/RP Alfredo Simon to the Oakland A's for SS prospect Daniel Robertson.
Again, a money-saving (around $15 million) move, but one with another purpose as well. Phillips' 1.0 fWAR trumps Oakland 2B by 1.4. Over the course of a full season, you're talking about almost four wins of difference between the production of Phillips and Oakland's 2B. Billy Beane knows his team's weakness. Phillips can fill it. Simon can float between starting and relieving, though I'm guessing he'll relieve in this situation.
Robertson would immediately become the SS of the future in Cincinnati. He's another patient bat with glove enough to stick at his position. He's playing in High A right now, but could be ready by September 2015 for a full-time role.
Those deals would leave the Reds with the following for the rest of the year and beyond:
- Hamilton CF
- Betts 2B
- Votto 1B
- Frazier RF
- Mesoraco C
- Checcini 3B
- Green SS
- Heisey/ Lutz LF
It also allows the Reds to sign Mat Latos long-term if they so desire. Of course, they might also send Latos packing, if Workman shows decent stuff and Stephenson proves ready. Or Moscot (who's underrated across baseball), Or Lively. Or Lorenzen. (They could also put Lorenzen in the pen to take the spot of Broxton as a set-up guy.)
If Green doesn't work out at SS, they could also sign a FA SS.
What say you, RR? What are your deals? Be creative. Try to be realistic. What players would you like to target AND other teams might be willing to give up? (I really tried, for example, to deal for Bogaerts, but there's no way Boston deals him-- too young, too talented, too cheap, too productive.)