I have seen rumors that the Reds have signed former Rockies reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a one-year contract with the thought of having him start. Having a veteran lefty in the middle of the righty dominant rotation would be great, but how successful will he be? He has not shown great results as a starter in the past.
-- Dan M., Indianapolis

As of Monday morning, nothing was official with Affeldt yet, but all signs point to something getting done soon. The first impression is to like this move. The Reds didn't settle for giving a long-term deal to any of the slim pickings left among free-agent starters on the market. Instead, they agreed to a bargain one-year deal with a reliever, with thoughts of making him a starter again.

Affeldt didn't have good numbers as a starter with the Royals (8-17 with a 5.41 ERA, in 42 starts), but it wasn't a very good team and his role was inconsistent between starting and the bullpen. Still, 28 years old and coming off his best year as a late-inning reliever for the Rockies, he has decent stuff -- a low-90s fastball and a good curveball. If he makes the rotation, the Reds have a nice lefty to give hitters a different look from all of their right-handers. If he doesn't, the bullpen has another solid addition for the late innings.

Why leave the Florida area and lose the fans that go there for Spring Training? Florida is much closer than Arizona. --
Harold, Hilliard, Ohio

The Reds haven't announced they're leaving Florida. What they've done thus far is kick the tires on a potential site in Goodyear, Ariz. (pun intended). Consultant John Allen completed a two-day tour there last week.

Obviously, Arizona is tougher to reach for Reds fans in Ohio, but you can't blame the team for exploring their options as their lease in Sarasota, Fla., runs out this October. Voters in the Gulf Coast city already rejected a November referendum to upgrade outdated Ed Smith Stadium. There aren't a lot of Florida communities publicly stepping up to embrace the team yet.

Arizona's Cactus League currently carries 12 teams and will increase to 14 when the Dodgers and Indians begin training out there in 2009 (the Indians are to train in Goodyear, too). The desert state has been economically more willing to host sites and could soon have more teams holding camps there than in Florida. More than likely, they would get a brand-new facility to play in. Another advantage for Arizona would be proximity. All but a couple of teams train in the Phoenix area, which cuts down on travel time and expenses for games while increasing the pool of potential opponents. The farthest trip would be two hours to Tucson.

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But, with Florida comes history. The Reds have held Spring Training in the sunshine state since 1923, except for three years during World War II. Sarasota, where the team has trained since 1998, is a nice area and about a two-day drive or two-hour flight from Cincinnati. Arizona is several days away from here by car and four-plus hours by plane. Some in Sarasota -- realizing what they'd be losing if the Reds didn't return -- have tried stepping up with an alternative deal. On Tuesday, the county and city commissions will vote on a new proposal that could keep the Reds there. If it too is denied, the search for a new facility will definitely continue.

In last week's mailbag response about Wayne Krivsky, you wrote: "Many believe you should evaluate a GM's performance over a five-year span before making determinations about his future." Really? Many people believe that? I'm not sure I can recall a GM getting a five-year grace period.
-- Chris G., Columbus, Ohio

I think many believe it, but it doesn't always mean it works out that way. I wasn't saying GMs should get a five-year grace period. In the bottom-line results, instant-gratification-driven business of professional sports, no one is handed anything. I also know fans in this town have heard enough about five-year plans, which I also wasn't advocating. I should have done a better job explaining my point last week.

This much is true: Most general managers don't inherit perfect or even near-perfect situations. They're usually hired to turn around lousy teams. Even in the win-now-or-else state of the game, that takes time -- especially for smaller- or middle-market teams. It takes at least one or two years to get rid of some of the bad players and bad contracts. It often takes three-to-five years for a new GM's draft picks to reach the Majors and either pan out or bust. There are inherited managers, coaches and front office staff that have to mesh with the new regime, if they're kept at all. Then, it takes formulating a philosophy and a plan for success and then sticking with it, despite potential bumps in the road.

With Scott Hatteberg and Joey Votto both being solid first basemen, what do you think will happen with Andy Phillips? Will he start the year in Triple-A, or does he have a legitimate chance of making the team out of Spring Training?
-- Danielle K., New Jersey

Outside of utility player Jeff Keppinger, the Reds really lack a right-handed-hitting first baseman at the big league level. Phillips, who will be in camp as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League contract, fits that bill, and therefore would have a decent shot, I'd think. Of his 67 games played for the Yankees last season, 57 were at first base in a platoon situation. The Reds seem to covet versatile guys (like Keppinger and Freel). Phillips can also play second and third base and the outfield.

Just wondering what the latest is with Pete Mackanin? Has he landed a job for the upcoming season?
-- Mike J., Mount Prospect, Ill.

Mackanin, who was 41-39 as an interim manager last season, recently accepted a scouting position with the Yankees and chose not to take the Reds' offer to remain in the organization.

Correct me if I'm wrong. Didn't Jim Brower, who just recently signed with the Reds as a non-roster invitee, start his career with Cincinnati?
-- Michael J., Dayton, Ohio

Brower's career didn't start in Cincinnati, but he did pitch for the Reds before. He spent the 2001 season split between Cincinnati and Triple-A Louisville.