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Arroyo: Reds can't outspend, must outsmart

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[quote][size=3][b]Arroyo: Reds can't outspend, must outsmart[/b][/size]
Pitcher, Narron are in town, upbeat


Reds manager Jerry Narron and pitcher Bronson Arroyo were in town Thursday to promote Redsfest, which opens today at 4 p.m. in Duke Energy Center.

It's going to take Redsfest, back after a two-year absence, to get the Reds back on the minds of fans. The club has been quiet since signing Alex Gonzalez and Mike Stanton and trading Jason LaRue a week and a half ago.

National League Central division rivals the Chicago Cubs (Alfonso Soriano) and the Houston Astros (Carlos Lee), meanwhile, have each made $100 million signings.

The Reds haven't made that kind of splash. But Arroyo didn't expect the Reds to.

"It's not a big enough market where they're going to go out and sign Barry Zito or Miguel Tejada," Arroyo said. "They're going to sign guys like myself, where it's a little bit unknown what you're going to get out of them. You've got to hope the front office is making good moves and can put a team together that can get us over the hump."

Narron and Arroyo say the Reds have to be better to hope to compete.

"I do not expect the Cardinals to play as bad (in the regular season) as they did last year," he said. "I think it's going to be a tougher division. That makes it tough because (the Reds) aren't going to go out and sign guys who make $15 million for next year."

Said Narron: "I'm not surprised (by what the Cubs and Astros have done.) The last three years a team from this division has gone to the World Series. You've got to keep getting better."

Gonzalez should make the Reds better with his glove.

"I know he's a super slick fielder," Arroyo said. "He's as good as they come at that position.

"He's probably not going to be the biggest stick in the lineup. But I know when the ball's hit his way we're going to turn a lot double plays and he's going to make all the routine ones."

Narron got his scouting report on Gonzalez from Perry Hill, the Florida Marlins' infield instructor. Gonzalez played the first eight years of his career with Florida.

"The thing Perry really likes is that (Gonzalez has) a great work ethic. He said during batting practice he'll take groundballs like it's the seventh game of the World Series. He really thinks he'll help (Edwin) Encarnacion and (Brandon) Phillips, just the way he goes about his business. (Hill) thinks he'll be a better hitter in our ballpark too."

Improving the defense was high on Narron's offseason to-do list.

"You have to," he said. "You can't give outs away. If you can't go out and get top-of-the-rotation guys, you got to catch it. This guy does that. What (did he make), seven errors last year?"

Narron said the biggest question marks about the Reds are fifth starter and closer.

As for the closer, if the season started today, the Reds probably would use a lefty-righty tandem like they did at the end of the season with David Weathers and Scott Schoeneweis, although both are free agents and unlikely to be back.

"It could be Stanton and somebody," Narron said. "We'll see. I'm sure Bill Bray would like to be a closer. I'm sure Todd Coffey would like to be a closer. We've got some guys who would like the opportunity."

Narron would like to have a set closer like Eddie Guardado was for part of last season.

The most obvious candidate to fill the the fifth spot in rotation is Homer Bailey. Narron hesitated a long time before answering the Homer question.

"Anyone who comes to spring training has a chance," Narron said. "How's that? It gets me off the hook with (GM) Wayne (Krivsky)."

Later he said, "Homer's going come to spring training and get a chance to pitch some. We'll see what happens. I know the smart thing to do would be to get him some time at Triple-A. All of us want to do what's best long-term. Our long-range vision is he can be outstanding."

Speaking of Bailey, he will not be at Redsfest because he's at a family hunting trip in Canada.[/quote]

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[quote][size=3][b]More dealing likely on Reds' horizon [/b] [/size]
By Marc Lancaster
Post staff reporter

The acquisition of Bronson Arroyo paid off for the Reds last season, and they hope to make similar moves before the 2007 season.

Bronson Arroyo understands the Reds' place in baseball's economic food chain, and with that knowledge comes a certain level of expectation about winter wheeling and dealing.

"You know we're not in a big enough market here where they're going to go out and sign a Barry Zito or a Miguel Tejada, someone like that," Arroyo said Thursday at a news conference to promote this weekend's Redsfest. "They're going to sign guys that are like myself when they traded for me: a little bit unknown about what you're going to get out of them."

Three such pieces already are in hand in the form of shortstop Alex Gonzalez, left-hander Mike Stanton and catcher Chad Moeller, but more action figures to be on the horizon at the winter meetings next week.

Compared with previous offseasons, the Reds have been more active early in the market, signing the above free agents and dealing Jason LaRue to Kansas City. That doesn't necessarily mean their work is done, even though it remains to be seen how much payroll flexibility they'll have moving forward.

Asked on the eve of Redsfest what his primary concerns are, manager Jerry Narron cited the fifth spot in the starting rotation and clarifying the closer situation.

It looks as if the Reds will once again enter spring training without a defined closer, even though Narron clearly would prefer a go-to guy at the end of games.

"I know the difference it was when Eddie Guardado came (in a July trade)," said Narron. "I know what a difference it made to me and what a difference it made to our players, too. I thought David Weathers did a great job for us early. He had that one stretch where he blew I think three saves in a row, and they were all tough spots - a one-run lead in all of them. A lot of guys would have done that. The difference when Eddie came in was it was a guy that had done it, wanted to be in that spot and had been successful in that spot."

For the time being, Narron said the Reds would go with the same setup they used after Guardado's season-ending elbow injury - a matchup-based pair of a left-hander and right-hander. Last season, those jobs fell to Scott Schoeneweis and Weathers, and there is still a possibility Weathers might return. Stanton would step in for Schoeneweis, but everything really is undetermined at this point.

"I'm sure Bill Bray would like to be a closer, Todd Coffey would like to be a closer - we've got some guys that would really like the opportunity to do it," said Narron. "As for right now, who's going to do it? We'll see when we get to Sarasota."

That's where the final rotation spot will be sorted out, too, barring the acquisition of another established starter to join Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse. Narron said Matt Belisle, a reliever the past two seasons, would be in the mix. Other in-house possibilities include Brandon Claussen, Elizardo Ramirez, Phil Dumatrait and the ultimate x-factor, Homer Bailey.

Most in the organization would prefer to start the 20-year-old Bailey in Louisville next April, but the top-rated prospect might force the Reds' hand.

"With Homer, he's going to come to spring training, he's going to get a chance to pitch some, and we'll see what happens," said Narron. "I know the smart thing to do would be probably to get him some time at Triple-A and go from there, but I think all of us will be open-minded about it. But definitely, no question, we want to do what's best for the long-term."

More generally, Narron said he hopes to continue refining the team's overall approach at the plate, moving toward more situational hitting and fundamentals.

"I think we've got to be more consistent offensively," he said. "We just can't have so many strikeouts; we've got to put the ball in play. We've got to do some things to score some runs besides hitting the ball out of the ballpark."

Even if the Reds manage to improve in that department and on defense - the primary goal of the Gonzalez signing - they figure to face a much more difficult challenge to make the playoffs next season. The Cardinals, Cubs and Astros already have splurged on talent upgrades, and it's left to the Reds to find a way to keep up.

"The money that's being thrown around is just ridiculous," said Arroyo. "I'm just hoping that our front office is making some good moves and they can put a team together that'll get us over the hump, because I do not expect the Cardinals to play as bad as they did last year. I think it's going to be a tougher division and we're going to need things to click for us, obviously, because we're not going to go out and sign guys for 15 million bucks a year. ...

"We've still got some time left, so hopefully we'll pick up a couple guys and the guys we have picked up already will hopefully come through for us."[/quote]

[url="http://news.cincypost.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061201/SPT05/612010336/1035"]Cincinnati Post.com[/url]
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