Dear Santa,

Reds fan here. We haven’t been on the greatest of terms since Clinchmas, now over four years ago. Where have you been since? And what’s with all the coal in our red stockings?

What do you think about when you’re checking your list and you get to the Cincinnati Reds? Clinchmas was amazing, but that team got swept by the Phillies. Then after a deflating 2011 season, you put Mat Latos under the tree, and we witnessed arguably the best Reds team in over a decade.

But it was weird, Santa. Joey Votto suffered then an injury that’s affecting him now, and Johnny Cueto couldn’t come home for the holidays when we needed him most.

Weren’t we good? How could our behavior have been any better?

I got over it when you gave us Shin-Soo Choo the next year. Because it was all about the lead-off man. It was awesome; Choo finished with a .423 OBP that season. The Reds had a .323 OBP for the year, No. 6 in the game. But Cueto got hurt again. We got him back just barely in time to throw him right into a one-game playoff, where he not only got shelled but created a moment that will follow Cueto back to PNC Park in every start he will make there.

You lost me there, Santa. But I sucked it up. Maybe Pittsburgh had just stacked more karma than the Reds. I know not to be envious. But after 2014, I’m struggling to find any Christmas spirit.

You know what happened. No one likes talking about it, but you know it had a lot to do with injuries and the bullpen failure. Most reasonable Reds fans will admit as much, even if the local media won’t.

But baseball doesn’t wait. And since we could no longer afford 2011’s Christmas gift, we had to trade him away, along with another starter. And now what do we do? How does a team built on its rotation, the third-best rotation in baseball, have any success without its No. 2?

C’mon, Santa. It’s all tidings and good cheer until it’s time to sit down at the arbitration table, isn’t it?

Will you please bring us something for the back of the rotation? I know the Reds have tons of minor league talent nearing ready, but there’s no reason to rush them. Aaron Harang is out there. He threw over 200 innings and cashed in a 3.75 ERA. And he only made $1 million last year. Not asking for much.

Then there’s our bullpen, which you know was naughty. To be second in bullpen losses and have the third-worst bullpen ERA is to replace your eye drops with lemon juice. I know we were bad, so can you help us be better and maybe bring us another bullpen arm? If Raisel Iglesias is all, I won’t be mad, but a middle-relief guy would be decent, and if nothing else, maybe let Sean Marshall stay healthy?

Speaking of health, can you bring two bubbles? One for Votto and one for Homer Bailey? You understand.

This last request will come as no surprise, Santa. And you already know what I’m going to ask. It’s been years since we had a good left fielder to watch on an everyday basis. Instead of bringing us some cheap knock-off, better-as-a-pinch-hitter brand, can you just get us Nori Aoki?

I don’t care about all the talk surrounding his declining power numbers, or how he hit just one home run last year. Who cares? His OBP was .349 and .353 for his career.

This is serious, Santa. Honestly, it would be cool if you got me everything else, but this is like the Nintendo 64 when it was new. You could get me all the cool stuff in the world, but without the 64 centerpiece, Christmas is ruined.’s Jon Heyman says Aoki is going to get anywhere from $7 to $8 million. Is that in the budget this year?

That’s all I got, big man. I want a back-of-the-rotation veteran starter, I want a middle-relief bullpen arm and I want a left fielder. And if it’s not too much, I’d like to be able to enjoy the 2015 Reds product, not its understudies.

And don’t give me any excuses this year. You can travel around the world in a single night, you can force yourself down chimneys, even in houses that don’t have one, and you fly reindeer. That’s great and all, but wake me up when Aoki is under my tree.


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