Reds gain by standing still

With Pujols and Fielder gone, things are looking up for Joey Votto and the Reds. Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Last week's winter meetings were filled with all sorts of moves, both big and small. There were a few teams, however, who did almost nothing, and the Cincinnati Reds were among them. That kind of inaction will usually make you the target of local talk radio hosts, but in Reds' case, it might -- just might -- have put them over the top.

The Reds, of course, muscled their way to the division title in 2010 but regressed last season to 79 wins and a third-place finish. The two teams in front of the Reds in 2011, however, have been diminished by recent events. Most notably, the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals lost Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels, and then outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, a vital part of any post-Pujols scenario in St. Louis, was revealed to have undergone knee surgery last month. He'll be lost until at least May.

The Cardinals certainly have room in the budget to add, say, someone like Carlos Beltran, but so far they look primed to fall from their 90-win level of a year ago, and that's the case even with the return of pitcher Adam Wainwright from Tommy John surgery. And all of this is to say nothing of the loss of Tony La Russa, who might be the best manager since Joe McCarthy.