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From the Enquirer:

As the Reds' baseball brain trust sets up shop Monday at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, another set of meetings will be in the back of their collective minds.

Robert Castellini, the owner-to-be, has met with employees from various departments, according to sources close to the team. Neither Castellini nor the Reds' people can talk about the meetings.

But Castellini made himself clear to those he has spoken to: He wants to turn things around - now.

Heard that before.

That's a departure from outgoing owner Carl Lindner, who is relinquishing control of the team with a sale to a group headed by Castellini, pending approval from Major League Baseball. Lindner said he wanted to win, but he was patient. All you have to do is go back to the hiring of general manager Dan O'Brien to see that.

O'Brien stood at the podium when hired and talked about building the franchise in the mold of the Houston Astros, with an emphasis on player development.

O'Brien was given a three-year contract but he came in with a five-year plan.

It doesn't sound like that will fly with Castellini.

So these are critical Winter Meetings for O'Brien and Co. The fact that marketing director Cal Levy's contract wasn't renewed last week got folks' attention down at Great American Ball Park.

"We all could be gone before long," one Reds employee said.

Hmm.  I like that.

Castellini probably is set on bringing in his own people, so whatever O'Brien does between now and the time ownership transaction is complete may not matter.

Pure John Fay speculation, but it still makes me feel tingly inside.

But to have even a chance to survive, it's critical that O'Brien gets on with Castellini's mandate and starts turning things around.

So, again, the Winter Meetings - where general managers meet to talk trades, among other things - and the weeks that follow are critical. O'Brien's shopping list for the Meetings:

Pitching.

Pitching.

Pitching.

Well DanO certainly has picked the right offseason to go after pitching, what with it's abundance and cheapness.  Wait.  Damn it.

That is likely to require trading some offense for arms. The Reds' bats - they led the National Leagues in runs - have gotten the attention of other GMs.

"Following up on the general manager meetings and leading up to the Winter Meetings, there has been a tremendous amount of interest expressed in a variety of our position players," O'Brien said. "The focal point for us in all of these conversations revolves around pitching coming back to our ballclub."

Everyone expects one of the Reds' four outfielders - Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Ken Griffey Jr. or Wily Mo Peña - to be traded. But O'Brien said anyone on the roster could go in a trade.

"I don't think you can focus on the outfield situation, because at this point there are a number of different avenues with our position players that are available to us," O'Brien said. "It's basically a matter of looking at what would bring us the best possible package of talent in return. Whether or not that involves an outfielder remains to be seen."

Casey maybe? Could DanO actually be tipping his hand?

That probably means catcher Jason LaRue, first baseman Sean Casey, utility player Ryan Freel and even shortstop Felipe Lopez are available.

"There are players that we would rather not trade," O'Brien said. "But it's best not to close any options."

Heh.  DanO is all about having options.  Acting on them is another story, but having them ... that's good stuff.

Even with every player on the table, it won't be easy to turn things around. Pitching remains the top commodity in baseball. The money being thrown at relievers confirms that. "The rapid salary rise has caused us to make adjustments," O'Brien said.

Heh.

The free-agent list of starting pitchers is rather underwhelming. O'Brien said he's still operating with a player payroll budget of $60 million.

So the club doesn't have a bundle to blow on free agents anyway.

A trade is the most likely avenue to improve the pitching.

"We've got a lot of room for improvement," O'Brien said.

Yeah, don't go saying DanO doesn't know the score.  The Reds have a lot of room for improvement, and uh, DanO is going to explore some options, go over various scenarios, do some considering, and then possibly do something about it.  Maybe.