November may not have been the most 2014-y month for the Cincinnati Reds, but it certainly followed in the same awful footsteps as its ten monthly brethren in this, the most miserable baseball year in recent memory. The Reds came barreling into this offseason with a bevy of must-do's, a lengthy list of please-do's, and a post-it note full of should-do's, yet with the Winter Meetings looming just a week away, there's been less action on the Reds' ledger than you got prior to that growth spurt at age 17.
Except for Jake Elmore, that is. Ol' Jake got more action than he knew what to do with.
But aside from the tribulations of the third brother Blues, moves impacting the big league club have been nearly nonexistent, with the only real shake-up coming within the front office itself. While the St. Louis Cardinals were busy swinging a blockbuster deal to get Jason Heyward, the Toronto Blue Jays were nabbing Josh Donaldson in a whirlwind, and the five biggest position players on the market (Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz, Yasmany Tomas, and Russell Martin) were each inking lucrative long-term deals, the Reds were busy swapping Bill Bavasi's semi-leadership for that of Kevin Towers.
Cripes. It gives us the impression that Walt Jocketty has been watching far too much Seinfeld: Everybody's doing something. We'll do nothing!
In reality, though, there's not been a tangible move that should directly impact the Reds' offseason goals, provided that you actually believe the few snippets that Walt has let leak so far this offseason. Most every bargain basement FA leftfielder is still available, and none of the five shiny stars whose signings were mentioned above were really in play for the Reds, either, as they were all slated to make way too much money and mostly play positions where the Reds have cogs (3B, C) or don't have at all (DH).
Part of the inaction can be attributed to Walt's style, since the veteran GM has become notorious for keeping his dealings close to the vest. The huge deals that brought both Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds in recent Winters came out of the blue - as did the stealthy signings of Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias - which suggests that we should be on the edge of our seats even when there aren't whispers in the news.
Unfortunately, the other (and possibly larger) reason there's been so little action can be directly traced to an abundance of starting pitchers available, the very same commodity the Reds have en masse. It's no secret that the most tradeable asset the Reds possess is proven starting pitching, and with each of Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon, and Johnny Cueto expensive and on the brink of free agency, it's logical to expect that any move the bolster the offense will include moving one of those talented arms. However, with names like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Cole Hamels, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija, Bartolo Colon, Hisashi Iwakuma, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson all publicly available, too, the demand for what the Reds have on the block has yet to materialize enough for something to get done. With the projected payroll set to be record breaking and tight at the same time, that's a huge barrier to any subsequent moves being made, and is something that won't be alleviated until the price for the biggest names begins to take shape.
There are a few things that we do know, however. The Boston Red Sox desperately need starting pitchers, and will have to find a way to jettison two - if not three - of a packed outfield featuring Ramirez, Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Los Angeles Dodgers, too, have an outfield logjam creating a cacophony of cha-chings that will need to be dissolved to some degree before the next season begins. The Tampa Bay Rays will likely move one of David DeJesus or Matt Joyce, the Los Angeles Angels need pitching, pitching, and more pitching, and the Atlanta Braves seem intent on moving Justin Upton with just a single year left on his contract. And while Torii Hunter appears to be uninterested in what the Reds have to offer him, the two players who Walt has actually mentioned as potential targets - Mike Morse and Nori Aoki - are still on the market and looking for contracts.
There will be moves. Of that we can be certain, and while we'll have to be patient in waiting for them to occur, they may well come fast an furiously once they begin. Between December 10th and December 13th of 2012, the Reds signed Ryan Ludwick to his 2-year contract, traded for Shin-Soo Choo, and nabbed Jack Hannahan over a lengthy list of suitors for a 2-year contract of his own, each of which went down in the wake of the 2012 Winter Meetings. The 2014 edition of those kick off in roughly a week in San Diego, so the coming two weeks may be the prime time to keep an eye on the wire to see what Walt can manage to pull off.
And, while you're at it, tip a glass and celebrate last week's 1-year anniversary of when Skip Schumaker became a Red.