Okay…I’m going to be the first to say it, I think…at least, I haven’t seen anyone else write it, or I haven’t heard anyone say it…

I think we need to deal Aaron Harang for a big bat.

Folks…we don’t get a big bat, at least one that will stay awhile, by trading a minor leaguer…even if it’s Homer Bailey. You get a half-season of rental property, and, like it or not, this dog’s (that is, this year’s Reds) not gonna hunt. A rental bat for this season will only cost us more cash and cost us future investment in a prospect.

However, trading a known pitcher with star power gives us leverage, and we may even be able to sneak out a shortstop from someone, too.

I haven’t researched any deals anywhere, and contrary to what Walt Jocketty’s publicly saying (he’s known to keep close to the vest…his style), the deal talking has begun.

But, why Aaron? The numbers are suggesting that whatever ailed him last year is still ailing him, and it may simply be he’s lost some effectiveness. When the season started I would have expected to be writing Brandon Phillips and Bronson Arroyo here because of their contracts. I’ve changed my thoughts to Harang (and Phillips) because I fear if we finish the whole year Harang’s trade value will decline as his salary requirements will go up, making him difficult to deal for a quality player.

Before last season, Harang was allowing around 9 hits per 9 innings. Last season and this season he’s allowing 10 hits per 9 innings. His home runs allowed ratio jumped 50% last season, and this season is up 25% from previous seasons (it is lower than last year’s ratio). His strikeouts per 9 innings have also dropped one per 9 innings this year and last year.

These are the signs of a pitcher in decline….

Phillips’s situation has been complicated by the injury to Chris Valaika in Louisville. In a similar vein to Harang, I think we need to deal Phillips before the trade deadline, but I believe everyone thought Valaika would be ready or close to ready by this time. However, Valaika, who’s a better hitter than fielder, was only hitting .161 in Louisville before a hand injury sidelined him. He’s supposed to be ready soon, but the Reds will want him hitting before making a deal. We’re already desperately short on hitters in Cincinnati and Louisville (and, yes, that’s Walt Jocketty’s responsibility), and dealing Phillips without someone ready to step in would bring this team to it’s knees, if it’s not on it’s knees already.

Phillips does have star power, his Gold Gloves are still shining, and folks remember the 30 homers, whether it’s stretched our perception of his actual ability or not. Alex Gonzalez is playing below replacement level at shortstop. We either need to give Janish a real shot or find us another shortstop.

We have pitchers; some unproven, but now’s the time to find out. Homer Bailey is in his last option year; he needs major league experience for him to be ready for next year; that is, unless he is just truly trade bait. He won’t get a bat that lasts more than a few months because we don’t have that much leverage with Bailey at this point.

So, I think it’s Harang and Phillips. Well, no doubt, I would have dealt Francisco Cordero last off-season, and I still think he needs to go, too, even if it’s at a loss due to his salary. We have relievers and can find many more since reliever effectiveness is so erratic. Mike Lincoln and Willy Taveras have no business being in the big leagues, and we’re into them for nearly 10 million dollars. If we’re not in contention at trade deadline time, and I don’t think we will be, David Weathers, and, especially, Arthur Rhodes should be made available, too, and could be in high demand. Alex Gonzalez would be a good reserve for a contending team with a high payroll.

Well, that’s my trade block list….who do you think we could get for these guys? It doesn’t have to be just one deal…..