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Who's coming out of left field? beat reporter Mark Sheldon, over at his eponymous Mark My Word blog has a very direct and unambiguous response to those wishing for Carl Crawford to bring his talents to South Ohio:

I have two words for you on that:

Forget it.

We can assume this proclamation has a number of teeth to it seeing as how Sheldon is on the Reds beat for and not prone to making a lot of premature hot stove speculation, whether up or down. And it was a pretty ridiculous notion to begin with. That Carl Crawford, arguably the top OF prize in the 2011 free agent class, is not coming to the Reds is not at all out of left field. It's out of whatever field contains obvious information that people often willfully ignore. Wrigley Field? So when The Decision II: The Crawfording airs on ESPN IV, don't get act like a jilted Cavs fan all over Twitter. It's unseemly.

Chances are, if the Reds can't make a play for Crawford, they won't be competitive in the market for Jayson Werth either. Werth has been about as valuable as Crawford over the last three seasons and is likely looking for his first eight-digit-a-year pay day. After Werth and Crawford, there's a pretty staggering drop-off in talent in the free agent class. So much so that it makes sense to start looking at trades, el cheapo/minor league signings for depth, in-house options and Weird Science-style human engineering. Sheldon brings up the intriguing possibility of trading for Brett Gardner, who, for those of you whose hatred for the Yankees has scabbed over into indifference, is a slick-fielding speedster entering the mythical age 27 season (not the Kurt Cobain / Jackie Jormp Jomp kind) who actually gets on base at a decent rate. But aside from swiping more bases, how much better would he be than Chris Heisey next year? This is a real question and I don't know the answer.

So Jonny Gomes is available for a $1.8M retainer. Heisey, Todd Frazier and Wlad Balentien are all due league minimum. What to do?