Friend of the Nation Mark Sheldon spoke with Walt Jocketty, as Jocketty begins the GM Winter Meetings. Our intrepid General Manager says that a leadoff hitter and help for the bench are his off-season priorities:

“We’ve been talking to clubs and looking for a potential leadoff hitter, and maybe someone to improve our bench,” Jocketty said by phone on Tuesday night. “There’s not a great deal to do, but we’re talking a lot.

“Generally, we talk to clubs before we come down and follow up here with discussions. We, hopefully, finish what we start [here] at the Winter Meetings. I don’t know if we’ll find a [leadoff hitter] or not.”

I’ll say this: yeah, get a leadoff hitter, but if he doesn’t play left field, Jocketty is aiming in the wrong direction. Upgrading LF is the single biggest need this team has before 2011 begins.

Other news of note:

–Jocketty is trying to re-sign Arthur Rhodes and Miguel Cairo.

–In the article linked at the top, Jocketty says that he is in favor of the proposal to add another Wild Card team to the playoffs. That’s just a terrible idea, in my opinion.

–The Reds may be able to do something via trade, but it’s unlikely that they’ll be players in the free agent market. That’s not particularly surprising, given all the pay increases they are going to have to dole out this off-season.

–Jay Bruce’s agent continues to beat the drum for a multi-year contract. I think it will be a great idea to ink Bruce to a long-term contract, and the Reds should try to do that after the 2012 season ends. It makes no sense to talk long-term with Bruce right now, since the Reds have him under their control for four more years. Signing him to a big long-term deal now would be a serious waste of resources.