Blog Archives

June 9, 2012

How to get Joey Votto out: Don’t throw it in the strike zone

I saw this image on Twitter today (HT Joel Luckhaupt).

What you’re looking at is Joey Votto’s heat map during his 14-game hitting streak. The player on the left represents Votto, and the white outlined square represents the strike zone.

See all that red? That’s where Votto’s been getting most of his hits. He’s batting more than .500 on pitches he hits in that area. That’s an amazing coverage.

So the moral of this image is: if you want to prevent Joey Votto from getting a hit, walk him, or hope that you can find that upper-strike zone wiggle room for your fastball.

Dang, I enjoy having him on the Reds.

May 14, 2012

Votto’s bat goes to HOF just 18 years before he does

Round-tripperJoey Votto made history yesterday, and Cooperstown took notice. Though his three-homer performance against the Washington Nationals wasn’t a first (heck, Votto has done it before himself), it was the first time one of those three home runs was a walk-off grand slam.

The Hall of Fame has requested the bat that so punished all those balls:

“It’s an honor for the Hall of Fame to be interested in something of mine,” Votto said. “It’s a first for me, and I’m happy about it.”

Though it was Mother’s Day, it was a black bat that’s going to the Hall, according to the story on On the pre-game show tonight, Votto was saying that it was a bat he was sad to part ways with, it being particularly well made, even among all the well-made bats Louisville Slugger provides.

In fact, Votto did go hitless tonight without that bat, though he was lacking many opportunities. The Braves walked him twice.

April 20, 2012

Joey Votto decides learning Spanish will make him even more awesome

I saw this Sporting News article today on Redleg Nation, who are starting to beat the drum to make Joey Votto the next captain of the Cincinnati Reds. While I think it might yet be too early to bestow such an honor–the last one was Barry Larkin–it does strike me as an inevitabile choice at this point. Of course, that’s not what this little post is about. This post is about other ways Votto demonstrates his extraordinary awesomeness.

“I was getting tired of running into situations when I couldn’t communicate with my teammates,” he says. “I’d like to befriend some of my teammates and become a better teammate in general. I think speaking the same language and understanding their perspective would help a lot.”

Votto hired a private instructor this past offseason and took up to five hour-long classes a week during the winter He hasn’t had time for all the classes since the season started, but he still spends part of nearly every day studying Spanish. He conjugates verbs, works with the Rosetta Stone program and recently has made a point of hanging with Latin teammates during pregame stretches.

That is just so awesome. For most people outside of the US, learning another language isn’t an uncommon thing. Here, it often feels like an almost impossible accomplishment. Of course, that could be because the only place to practice in much of the US is in schools and classrooms.

But Votto has the perfect immersive environment. And he’s taking advantage of it, much like a certain other career Red did.

Votto isn’t the first North American in the Reds’ family to learn Spanish. Hall of Famer Barry Larkin grew up in Cincinnati but learned the language so he could get along better with all of his teammates. And as Votto says about Larkin, “He’s a good guy to emulate.”

Damn straight. This also means that someone on the team besides the trainer or Dusty Baker will be able to talk to the Spanish-speaking pitchers, including Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. Votto is so intent on improving all areas of his game that it’s even extending to learning Spanish.

Just when I thought I couldn’t like him any more. I certainly hope Jay Bruce is paying attention.

April 4, 2012

Reds make the Joey Votto extension official

There’s been a loud buzz emanating from Cincinnati since the rumor of a contract extension for Cincinnati Reds’ slugger Joey Votto broke at the beginning of the week. And now the Reds have made it official with a press release and a press conference.

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Walt Jocketty today announced the signing of All-Star 1B Joey Votto to a 10-year contract extension through the 2023 season with a club option for 2024. Votto had been signed through 2013 as part of a 3-year contract he received in January 2011, when he avoided arbitration.

“We recognize the historical significance of this signing. Ownership has committed to Joey, and we anticipate that he will continue to be one of the best players in baseball for the next decade or so,” Jocketty said. “He wants to stay here, and we want him here. We have shown we are committed to building a solid foundation from within the organization.”

Added team President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini, “Joey not only is one of the game’s best players, but on the field and in the community he represents himself, the organization and our city with extraordinary professionalism and dignity. We certainly are proud to be able to keep him in Cincinnati for 12 more years.”

Selected by the Reds in the second round of the June 2002 first-year player draft, since his 2007 debut the National League’s 2010 Most Valuable Player ranks among Major League Baseball’s offensive leaders in almost every statistical category. Votto, 28, is a 2-time NL All-Star (2010, 2011), a Sporting News NL All-Star (2010) and the only Reds first baseman ever to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award (2011). In the Sporting News’ 2011 poll of baseball executives was rated the fourth-best player in baseball behind Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki and Felix Hernandez.

Three times in the last 4 seasons Votto was voted by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America the Ernie Lombardi Award as the Reds’ Most Valuable Player (2008, 2010, 2011).

April 3, 2012

The Joey Votto Reaction

Since the rumor of a mega-long extension of Joey Votto’s contract was confirmed on Monday, the internet tubes have been clogged full of trucks carrying people’s responses, opinions, and analysis of the proposed deal.

The Cincinnati Reds have yet to announce the deal, but a press conference to address it has been announced for Wednesday. How are Reds’ bloggers handling the unexpected, wonderful news?

Chris Sabo’s Goggles

I’m not prepared to—nor do I want to—consider the sheer magnitude of this deal or how its ramifications could affect a small-market team like the Reds and their signings down the road. Let’s not do that, okay? You guys (myself included) wanted the Reds to pay Joey Votto and keep him in Cincinnati for a long time. The Reds did that. We’re not allowed to complain.

Blockbuster deals like this don’t happen to the Cincinnati Reds—ever—so enjoy it.

Redleg Nation

The Votto contract is roughly in line with comparable signings. The most remarkable aspect was that the agreement was reached two seasons before Votto’s free agency, which is virtually unique among the comparison contracts. Only the much-shorter Howard deal was equal in that regard. Votto negotiated only with the Reds; he was not engaged in a bidding war like those exploited by Fielder and Pujols. The Reds must have felt these terms were better than ones they could have reached a year or two from now.

Red Reporter

The numbers can project what Joey Votto is going to be worth over the life of this contract, and how much every dollar paid to him is worth in free market wins available, but in this rare instance they utterly fail at fully understanding the real value of Joey Votto the Red. This has been one of the league’s most moribund, dysfunctional, impotent, and inconsequential franchises for a number of years. Most will shake their fists at past ownership groups and management teams who failed to develop resources and squandered what few were available. Most will also point fingers at a league that allows for such unbalanced distribution of resources. Not only did the Yankees develop a rare talent like Derek Jeter, but when he approached free agency there was never a question that he would be re-signed. This winter, with two years before scheduled free agency, Votto was one of the most talked-about impending free agents. The Reds could never afford a talent like his, not in a market like this.

But they signed him.

The established, traditional media weighed in, too.

Hal McCoy

When they said the Cincinnati Reds couldn’t sign Joey Votto, they came up with millions of reason to say they can get it done.

225 million reasons.

That’s the figure being thrown around that the Reds are offering Votto — $225 million for 10 years.

And Reds CEO Bob Castellini can light up one of his Liga Privada No. 9s and take a deep, deep bow. If this doesn’t show fans that the Reds are dedicated to putting the best possible team on the field for now and for the future, then nothing will.

John Fay

You can read several things into Joey Votto’s mega-millions deal with Reds:

–The club is convinced its revenue stream will increase. A Reds insider told me as much. Part of that comes from national television, part of MLB other new media revenue sources.

–The club is convinced that it will be to get a new local deal with Fox Sports Ohio before the current one expires in 2016. The Reds won’t be getting anywhere near with the Angels and Rangers got. But, say they get a $10 million a year bump, that covers the difference between Votto’s salary this year ($11 million) and what he’s getting when the 10-year, $225 million extension kicks in.

Was it risky to agree to such a huge deal? Certainly. Votto isn’t likely to be the same player at 38 as he is at 28. But he takes great care of himself. He plays a position that is less taxing than outfield or the middle infield.

But it would have been just as risky to let Votto walk. The current ownership is trying to rebuild credibility with the long-suffering fan base. It’s hard to do that when you let your best player walk.

Overall, the reaction has been very positive. Once the final numbers are released, there will be time for in-depth examination of who got the better end of the deal, but right now, it feels like the Reds fans did. I’m confident the Castellini ownership group is not going to make the mistakes of the past. Votto is going to take up a large percentage of the team’s payroll, like Ken Griffey Jr once did, but Castellini has demonstrated he’s smart enough to realize it takes more than one slugger to win. The Reds now have an exciting young core locked up for several years to come–more than just Joey Votto–and I am even more excited about wearing my Votto jersey to games than I’ve ever been before.