Three years ago this month, the Cincinnati Reds looked to San Diego for help in turning around the fortunes of a franchise that had just had a dismal, backwards stepping season despite a roster full of much promise. Starting this weekend, Reds faithful will again turn their eyes to America's Finest City with hopes that something, anything will emerge to help their team dig itself out of the expensive, injury riddled mess they've created.
While there will be no trading of Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos this time around, there will be the new front office contingent of Walt Jocketty, Kevin Towers, & Co. heading to MLB's Winter Meetings, which will be held this year at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, just steps* away from the abode of Red Reporter's own Johnny Weez. They'll be tasked with sorting out a pitching situation in dire need of direction, a LF situation currently so lean it barely even has enough components to be called "a situation," and a payroll that has become more bloated than former San Diego quarterback Ryan Leaf.
No pressure, Walt.
While there's a very real chance that nothing concrete comes out during the meetings themselves, the past few Decembers have indicated that Jocketty certain likes to use them as a way to lay the building blocks for his biggest moves. The Latos trade, the acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo, the re-signing of Ryan Ludwick, and the pickup of Sean Marshall all came in mid to late December, and with the pressing concerns this roster faces, there's bound to be a level of activity similar to those moves as opposed to the inactivity (read: Skip Schumaker) of the past offseason.
What Walt will be up against, however, is nothing short of formidable. He needs bats in a landscape devoid of them, and he comes bringing a wealth of arms to a market already saturated with hurlers on the move. Partner that with the All Star Game coming to GABP in 2015, the flurry of early deals in November that limited an already scarce market, and an ownership group with a penchant for wanting to keep the band together, and there'll be enough on Walt's plate that he'll be wishing there was an alarm feature on his Jitterbug.
And before I make this situation sound like it's too dire, let's remember that while it's not likely, there's plenty of bounty in the Reds coffers - both in terms of talent and dollars - to make some super stupid mega-deal come to fore. They have aces with little to no long-term money tied to them. They have who some have called the best pure hitter in the minor leagues in Jesse Winker. They have, in Robert Stephenson, a prospect who many considered the best RHP in the minors just months ago. They have a hole in LF, and each of Justin Upton, Melky Cabrera, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yoenis Cespedes, and Shane Victorino can play there and may be on the move. They have a track record of signing their established players to massive contracts, and each of Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco established themselves last season.
Beginning Sunday and lasting through Friday, the Winter Meetings will be the center of the baseball world. If the Reds pick this week to make the moves they're expected to make, they'll be the center of that center.
Be a centerfold, Walt Jocketty. But please, use airbrush.
*Perhaps several steps. Perhaps even a plethora of steps.