From the Enquirer and John Fay:

If Bailey can do for the Reds in 2007 what Justin Verlander did for the Detroit Tigers in 2006, the Reds can be contenders for the postseason.

It would be a huge leap for Bailey to do that. Verlander was 23 when the ’06 season started. He pitched three years of college ball.

Bailey doesn’t turn 21 until May 3.

Verlander’s numbers in the minors in 2005 were better than Bailey’s were in 2006, and Verlander was given two starts in the majors at end of ’05.

So it may be a stretch to hope that Bailey can be close to having the success Verlander had.

But if I’m running the Reds, I take a shot on Bailey.

Because when you look at the Reds today – just over a month from the start of spring training – it’s hard to fathom them competing for the National League Central title.

Tough to argue with any of these points…

But this is the part I liked…

General manager Wayne Krivksy said Friday that he likes the club he’s put together.

“I think we’re better,” he said. “We improved defensively. We’ve got competition for the (fifth) starting spot. We’re looking for more ways to improve. I like the additions we’ve made.”

But again, Fay makes a good point…

But for the first time in a long time, you’ve got to wonder if the Reds can score enough runs to be competitive. The offense struggled mightily in August and September last season, and the one guy who came through consistently late in the year, Rich Aurilia, is now a San Francisco Giant.

Because if the offense figures to be watered down from recent years – remember the Reds led the NL in runs scored two seasons ago – the success of this team is going to depend on pitching and defense.

That brings us back to Bailey. Krivksy mentioned the competition for the fifth spot. Matt Belisle, Elizardo Ramirez, Phil Dumatrait and Bobby Livingston will compete for the spot along with Bailey.

All of the above have potential. But Bailey is the only one in the field who projects as a top-of-the-rotation type of pitcher.

I don’t think this team competes with or without Bailey because they aren’t going to have enough offense to be competitive. Krivsky has to defend his “plan”, but I don’t see how he can believe this team is better than it was last year at this time.

But this is the part of the Reds Insider that got my attention…

Read in Baseball America that Washington GM Jim Bowden was building the Nationals for the future. A couple of days later, Bowden signs a guy, Brandon Claussen, who turns 28 May 1 and is coming off shoulder surgery.

Bowden talked a lot about building for the future when he was here. The future never came.

I’m not saying that he’s wrong about Bowden (though he never said anything close to this negative about him while he was here and he’s yet to say anything negative about Krivsky), but I think signing Claussen to a minor league deal is a smart move.

He’s only 28, has had some major league success, and I’d guess most of the pitchers available via free agency have had arm/shoulder problems at some point.

According to another article I read, this ties him to the Nats for 4 years. Sure seems like a pretty smart signing to me. I’m still trying to figure out why the Reds cut him loose.