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The Reds have a lot of room for improvement. The team was second to last in the NL in OBP last season, and 13th in the league in slugging. The pitching wasn’t much better, as they were 14th in FIP.

Unfortunately, Cincinati doesn’t have any money to spend. GM Walt Jocketty says the team won’t be very active on the free agent market, and the rumor is the team will be a seller, not a buyer.

That’s a shame, because the Reds have a decent shot at improving this season, even without many big purchases. A healthy Edinson Volquez and the continued emergence of Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey could help the pitching, while full seasons from Scott Rolen, who the Reds acquired at the trade deadline last July, and Joey Votto, who missed a bunch of time in 2009 due to depression, should help the team score more runs. And Rolen’s defense will be a huge improvement over Edwin Encarnacion, while the recently promoted Drew Stubbs can’t help but be better than the guy he’s replacing, Willy Taveras.

Where Cincinnati really needs help is at shortstop. But there’s just no money for the guy who would make the most sense, Marco “.379 OBP” Scutaro.

Where did all the money go? The economy is somewhat to blame. But let’s not kid ourselves — all 30 teams (OK, not the Yankees or Red Sox) are dealing with the economic downturn.

150859_reds_pirates_baseballNo, what’s really hampering the Reds is one dumb move.

When Cincinnati signed Francisco Cordero to a four-year deal worth $47MM, they really shot themselves in the foot.

The easiest position on the diamond to fill is the closer spot. If you’re a team with limited resources, the last thing you want to do is spend big money on a relief pitcher. Fangraphs says Cordero has never been worth $10MM in a season, but he’ll make $12MM this season and next.

So what do the Reds need? They need a time machine, so they can go back in time and not sign Cordero. Unfortunately, they’re not likely to find a time machine (unless they got to the mall super early this morning), and they’ll plug that hole at shortstop with a rookie or journeyman and — barring complete collapses of the Cardinals and Cubs — they’ll finish out of the running. Again.

-What They Need Index-

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