Tuesday, May 22, 2001

How we see it

Signing Casey is top priority

        Priority No. 1: Sean Casey, 1B

        Age: 26, arbitration eligible

        Credentials: Casey entered this season with a career batting average of .312 with seasons of 25 and 20 homers. He led the National League with a .372 average after the All-Star break last season. He leads team with seven homers and 37 RBI.

        Reds options: Many see an either/or proposition with Dmitri Young. Young could move to first if Casey was traded. Prospects Austin Kearns and Ben Broussard could potentially move to first.

        Likely scenario: Trading Casey -- the new mayor of the riverfront -- would likely be a PR disaster. His power is emerging and should be a fixture at first well into the new ballpark.

        Priority No. 2: Danny Graves, RP

        Age: 27, arbitration eligible

        Credentials: Graves has emerged as one of the National League's top closers. He has saved 27 and 30 games the past two seasons as well as winning 18 more. He made the All-Star team last season and has saved 11 of the team's 19 wins this season.

        Reds options: John Riedling would appear to be the on-staff option. He's a 25-year-old power arm who averaged 71Ž2 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors. He had a 2.35 ERA in 13 games last season and 2.84 in 21 appearances this season.

        Likely scenario: The team has been collecting good young arms, but it's hard to imagine it could move such quality player at such a key position.

        Priority No. 3: Pokey Reese, 2B/SS

        Age: 27, arbitration eligible

        Credentials: Reese won his second straight Gold Glove last season even though his errors doubled to 14. He hit a career-high 12 home runs last season and has stolen 67 bases in the past two seasons.

        Reds options: The team denies it, but it just might be showcasing him for a trade as he fills in for injured Barry Larkin at short. He might not hit enough to justify the salary he can command, even as a shortstop.

        Likely scenario: Arbitration, long-term deal, trade. This could go any way. Recent remarks critical of General Manager Jim Bowden could hasten his departure.

        Priority No. 4: Dmitri Young, LF/1B

        Age: 27, Arbitration eligible

        Credentials: A great personality and a line-drive bat. He's hit .310, .300 and .303 the past three seasons while averaging 38 doubles, 15 homers and 76 RBI.

        Reds options: Like Casey, an iffy PR move to trade him. But he's not the 35-homer guy left fielders are these days.

        Likely scenario: If he can bring a pitcher such as Tony Armas Jr., Sidney Ponson or Paxton Crawford, he may be gone.

        Priority No. 5: Aaron Boone, 3B

        Age: 28, arbitration eligible

        Credentials: He's been a solid .280ish hitter but is injured for the second straight season. Although he's not a corner home-run guy, he does have pop -- 75 of his 215 hits the past two seasons went for extra bases.

        Reds options: You could argue Boone is valuable because the Reds don't have a third baseman to replace him. Brandon Larson, the No. 1 pick in 1997, was hitting .248 when recalled from Triple-A.

        Likely scenario: They probably need to keep him -- unless Barry Larkin is the third baseman of the near future.


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