I pushed hard for two off-season free agents for the Reds, Juan Rivera (I know, I'm not supposed to mention him again) and Randy Johnson. The Reds chose to sign neither. They did sign David Weathers, Mike Lincoln, Arthur Rhoads, Lance Nyx, and Willie Taveras. Wow!
Johnson went for only one year at $8 mil. Rivera went for three years at a $4.25 mil average. Adding the $4 mil extra for Hernandez (after deducting Freel's $4 mil) They could have had Johnson, Rivera, and Hernandez (plus the three bullpen guys) for less than what they would have paid Dunn and Jr. I don't know what they will pay Taveras, but you could certainly fit him in there, too.
The bullpen and the rotation would have both been set and very solid. Can you imagine a rotation of Harang, Unit, Volquez, and Arroyo, with Cueto as your # 5 guy? (Being #5 would really take some pressure off of Cueto, both mentally and in terms of number of innings.) Remember, Unit is never bad. He's either good, or injured and replaced. At a one year commitment, I don't know how they pass on that.
The line-up would have been set with an outfield of Taveras, Bruce, and Rivera, and an infield of Votto, BP, EE and A-Gon or Keppy at short. And, finally, a decent catcher in Hernandez. Man I love that team, and we have plenty of extra-piece bench guys.
You could certainly argue that the Unit would not have signed with the Reds. He's a west coast guy, who grew up in Livermore, CA, but he said he picked the Giants because of their chance to make the playoffs in a weak division. We don't have Lincecum, but I'd take our rotation (with the Unit) over S.F.'s with the Unit. Plus our offense is way better. I do think our division is a little tougher. So it costs $9 mil instead of $8 to get the Unit? To me that's the difference between rebuilding for '10, and rebuilding for '10 with a chance to win in '09, and certainly a chance to break our string of losing seasons.
I will do my updated 25-man without Rivera and the Unit sometime in the not-so-distant future, but had to get that off my chest.