So, what can we expect from the Reds this season? Well, according to GM Wayne Krivsky, improved pitching and defense:

Their biggest move was signing free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a three-year deal. Gonzalez, who has one of the best gloves in baseball at his position, will undoubtedly improve the Majors’ second-worst defense from a season ago when he teams up the middle with talented second baseman Brandon Phillips.

However, Gonzalez lacks much of a track record for hitting.

The only significant offensive player added was 40-year-old outfielder/first baseman Jeff Conine, and that was in response to the free agent departure of Rich Aurilia, who was the Reds’ most consistent hitter last season. Conine, who had 10 homers and 66 RBIs combined with the Orioles and Phillies, will likely serve as a role player.

Judging by the types of moves he made, Krivsky wasn’t concerned about a continued offensive deficit heading into the 2007 season.

He wasn’t?

“Our pitching has improved. Our defense has improved,” Krivsky said. “Theoretically, maybe it doesn’t take scoring that many runs, but obviously you still have to score runs to win. But if you pitch better and catch the ball better, it won’t take as many runs to win a game.”

Just how will they score those runs?

Expect small ball to be one avenue.

Look, I’m the last person to get on the Wayne Krivsky Tar and Feather Bandwagon, but I admit to a growing concern over the direction of this franchise. “Pitching and defense” has its merits, as a strategy, and we can debate that. But don’t you need good pitching to make that work? Until you get that good pitching, shouldn’t a team try to maximize the runs they score? (For what that’s worth, shouldn’t a team always try to maximize the runs they score?)

Reds Spring Training opens when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 17 in Sarasota, Fla. As workouts begin, look for Narron and his coaches to drive home the importance of doing the little things to win.

“That philosophy is there. It’s what I believe in,” Narron said. “We’ll see if we can get it done and execute it.” …

“Do the little things it takes to win ballgames, whether it’s taking the extra base, being heads up on the bases to take advantage of a mistake, moving runners,” Krivsky explained. “It’s doing all those types of things that help win ballgames. You can’t always depend on the three-run homer. We have to execute better than we did last year doing the little things.”

Okay, let’s have at it. This should be a fun discussion for a Monday morning.

What do you think? Is Krivsky right on the money, or is he out of his mind? Or somewhere in between?