If I were to choose the keys for winning for the 2005 Reds, they would be, in order:

1) Health of our hitters
2) Scouting , coaching, and management
3) Quality of our pitching
4) Fielding

Those may seem like blanket statements, and, anyway, what else is there outside of baserunning…but, let me be a little more specific…I’ve ordered them in this way purposely.

1) If we get full seasons from Griffey, Kearns, Casey, Dunn, and Pena I think we’ll be competitive no matter what else happens to the rest of the team. We may not win any short playoff series, but if these guys play a full season, we’ll be in the hunt…we may not even finish first, but we’ll scare enough people that may be something can be done about our other problems at midseason.

2) Scouting…we have to do a better job of identifying talent (including health and injury proneness) and developing this talent for us to win. I think we need to know whom our shortstop is going to be (hey, I wonder how much it would take to get Arizona’s Alex Cintron?), we need to identify real relief pitching (at a bargain) and identify really talented young starting pitchers and develop them. We need to pay top dollars to the right coaches and scouts, and allocate financial resources on our team appropriately (we paid too much for Mercker and Weathers in my opinion…as well as Milton).

3) Pitching….I’m concerned for our entire pitching staff, not just our starters. I actually think our relievers are worse than our starters, and that seems really surprising to me…the Reds have had quality relievers from the day I started listening to them sitting in my kitchen over 35 years ago. I think our starters are good enough for our hitters to carry us….if we can finish the game.

4) Fielding–this is what may undermine our pitching…if we’re pitching to contact, there had better be someone around to catch the ball…and we don’t have a good fielding team. Our best defender is Austin Kearns….who we tried to move to 3B in the offseason. Randa is supposed to be a good fielder, but Griffey has declined enough to be considered “average” now…everyone else is below….this may have our pitchers screaming and nibbling before the year is over…