First of all, Happy New Year! I know we're way into 2009 already, but I wanted to make sure I said it.
Secondly, I've been looking at the list of available free agents trying to figure out if there is a way the Reds can start to sniff a playoff spot by picking up one player. It's unlikely, but what else do we have to talk about?
Before we look at the available players, let's look at the projections we currently have for the Reds outfield:
I haven't looked at other outfields, but I'd guess that getting only 5 wins from your outfield isn't all that good. Clearly, the Reds need some help.
Can anyone bring that help? There has been talk about Rocco Baldelli (0.7 WAR over 300 PA projected), Ty Wigginton (1.5 WAR/500 PA), and Pat Burrell (1.6 WAR/560 PA), but none of those players would be the significant upgrade that the Reds need to be contenders.
In fact, the way I see it, only two remaining free agents could bump the Reds up enough to make a serious impact toward this season. The first is unrealistic given his expected price tag. Manny Ramirez (3.1 WAR / 595 PA) is going to get $20+ million a year and there is no reason the Reds should or could pay that.
The other player is someone that I've hesistant about, but now I think might be worth it. If Milton Bradley (3.1 WAR / 462 PA) can play decent defense in LF, he may be worth the 3yr/$30 million that he is asking for to the Reds. If you give him Dickerson's at bats and then bump everyone down to the next level in playing time, the outfield goes from a 5.1 win OF to 7.7 win OF. This would also bump the Reds as a team up to a 82-win projection.
I know 82 wins is not much to get excited about, but I think we're starting to get within range of the playoffs in the "if everything goes right" scenario. This is especially true if you consider that the Reds have two serious break-out candidates in Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto. If both of those players reach their 70th percentile CHONE projections, the Reds will pick up another 2-3 wins. Given a little luck (say, Bradley reaching 600 PA or EdE also breaking out big time), we could be in the hunt for the playoffs.
Or maybe the liquor hasn't worn off from New Year's Eve.