2013 Reds / Joey Votto is Perfect / Price is Right / Reds - General

Citizen Votto

Below is a transcript of much of Joey Votto’s conversation with Lance McAlister for those in Redleg Nation who may not have access to the podcast. Left out are a few of the opening remarks about Bryan Price, but it does reveal the bulk of the interview in areas of most interest by the Nation.

Votto broaches the subject of money—and how it has altered, in his opinion (and my opinion as well), fan expectations. He also goes to great length to communicate just how much the fan base means to him, as well as wearing the wishbone C. To paraphrase another (famous) Richard:

Was ever a city in this humour woo’d?
Was ever a fan base in this humour won?

Because if you haven’t been won over before, you surely will be now. Joey Votto once again displays the intellect, the curiosity and humbleness that has made him the face of major league baseball.

Votto’s silence in the immediate aftermath of the Price hiring have been fodder for parts of a local media trolling for fan angst. McAlister was tweeting it with faux concern. WCPO’s Dennis Janson ominously intoned “I could be wrong but to date, I can’t find any reaction from Joey Votto to Baker’s firing or Price’s hiring. Telling.”

Or not very telling, depending upon how high the rpm needle needs to spin on your overwrought narrative. Everything we know about Joey Votto suggests he is not arrogant or self-absorbed enough to think a city is breathlessly awaiting his approval. Nor is he so inclined, if only the media would stop treating him like St. Peter standing guard at the manager’s office door. Above all, he is careful and considered with his words—something painfully missing from many of today’s athletes not named Peyton Manning.

I’m going to watch this man play baseball as much as I can over the next few years. We may not see his like again in the city of Cincinnati for a long, long time. Here are some of Joey Votto’s “telling” remarks:

 _________________

[On Bryan Price] Everybody seems to be using the word “accountable,” holding players accountable. I just think he’s a “professional.” I think he communicates well and I think he’s knowledgable and I think those three things go a long way for guys who have gotten to the highest level of their job.

[More on “Accountability”] I definitely don’t want to get into some sort of debate or discussion about other players, the front office, the coaching staff. I can’t speak for other people. I think you accept that paycheck. You do the best you can the second you get to the major leagues. You have a responsibility to yourself, personally, and then to the team, and then the city, and the uniform you’re wearing. And I think that accountability kinda comes as part of the package. Same as any other profession, there’s going to be different personalities, there’s going to be different styles of preparation, there’s going to be different styles of work. Everybody wants a player to behave a certain way, to have a certain “fire,” or to be the type of person that they’ve seen have success in the past. And I think one of the great things about Bryan—and Dusty was very good at this too—I think one of the great things about the both of them, they both respect everybody’s style, they understand that there’s going to be a guy who doesn’t need a lot of work and he just goes out there a performs at a high level—and there’s going to be people who are high maintenance, there’s going to be personalities who need to play with energy. There’s going to be people that need to play their game in a more subdued way.

I think, like Dusty before him, Bryan has a healthy respect for different personalities and will be able to understand that some guys are going to hold themselves accountable in one way—and another guy is going hold himself accountable in another way. Now, nobody’s going out on the field trying to fail or trying to trip themselves up or trying to compromise the team’s chances for a win.  So I think “Accountability” is the wrong word.  I think that preparation, there could be a style of preparing, there could be a personality to a team, a certain character. You know, everyone brings up Scott Rolen. Before he left, we talked a lot about base running—and he was a great leader by example—a fantastic base runner and very aggressive. And that became kind of the culture of our team. And it’s important for us in general to have kind of a culture. And Bryan mentioned in his press conference he wants to have a team that no team wants to play, that’s not a fun team to play and I think that’s very well said.

[McAlister quoting Jocketty] “you have to fit better into the role that they see for you or you might have to hit in a different spot in the order.”  What’s your reaction to that?

[Votto] Well, if they want me to hit in a different spot in the order, I have no problem doing that. That comment can be kind of taken both ways. I imagine a lot of people think that it’s a really big deal that Walt said something along those lines, that ‘I better change my ways or I’m gonna be penalized.’ But, I think from what I’ve gathered from that, what Walt was trying to say is that I have certain responsibilities in a position and it’s important for me to maximize the opportunities I have, and if not, there might need to be a change in the way the order is laid out for me to get the most out of it.

A lot of complaints this year were about my lack of RBIs, and you know, that’s a very fair complaint. But at the same time, this is a team sport, and my responsibility to the team is to play as well as I can and provide as many opportunities as I can for the guys in front of me to cross the plate, and behind me to drive me in, to create more runs. I thought that I had a pretty good year last year. I know that in an ideal world, there would a have been a one hundred in the RBI category, but that’s just one number. And a player should not be judged based on one particular number.

[McAllister] “Should someone who reached base a franchise record 316 times have to change his approach at the plate?”

[Votto] The year before in 2012, I wasn’t having this conversation about the number of RBIs. And, it kinda makes me scratch my head. I know I was injured, but I still played 111 games, and that to me, is probably an 80-85 RBI-pace. But, there’s a lot of people saying that before my knee injury, the conversation was not ‘should Joey drive in more runs?’ It was more along the lines of ‘is Joey the best hitter in Baseball?’ And, I think the thing’s that’s changed is, I’ve had a couple of knee surgeries and I didn’t play quite as well as 2012. But that kinda clouds the conversation, the argument that all of a sudden this year ‘there’s something wrong with Joey’ and last year, with pretty much the exact same team, we’re not going to complain about it.

So, I think that people need to maybe look at the whole picture. I’m not making excuses for myself. I’d love to drive in a hundred runs. I’d like to hit 30 homers. I’d like to hit .300. I’d like to do everything I can for the team. But, I still feel like I provide value for the team. And I really, you know, conversation is always going to be is he underpaid, is he overpaid at the end of that contract or for his salary this year. I’m not understanding some of the complaints because of my performance this year. I’m a little confused, but I understand, I understand, it’s a tough sport, part of what I signed up for, and I really appreciate criticism at times, or at least the comments at times because it does make me better and it motivates me and reminds me about all the different facets of the game that I need to be accountable for.

[Regarding his career-high 44 strikeouts looking and a “lack of aggressiveness”].  It could be an isolated year, it could be an isolated … sometimes there’s some luck involved in Baseball. There are all kinds of numbers that, when it’s one isolated season, you ask whether or not it’s going to be a trend going forward. So, I really couldn’t answer that. I certainly, certainly don’t make a point to go up there to strike out looking, but if it’s a career high, I guess it happened, but I don’t think my strikeout percentage was too far off my career average. So maybe this is one isolated year where I just had more stikeout lookings. The funny thing is, I’m always trying to get better, to figure out ways to be as productive as I can and be the best ballplayer I can be for the fans of Cincinnati, who I so desperately, so consistently want to please. It’s almost like an insecurity complex. I’m constantly thinking about how can I make the fans—how can I satisfy them and at the same time, do the very best I can to help the team win? And post-knee surgeries, the best thing I thought I could do was be productive with the bat, but if that didn’t come up, I’m gonna get on base for the guys behind me. So, it wasn’t necessarily a passive approach, it was what’s the best bang for the buck, how can I do the most I can to help the team win, while still acknowledging that I am not where I was before my knee surgeries for a good percentage of the year. And it’s pretty, pretty difficult in August, to all of a sudden have a surge in energy and leg strength and power while you’re in the middle of the season. No excuses, I thought I did alright, but I can understand the comments and I really am grateful for them.

I am trying to be me. Again, where I’m most confused was where was the criticism in ’12? I just didn’t understand that. But, it’s perfectly acceptable for people to have complaints and I think that a lot of people are fixated on round numbers. We’re paying him THIS much, he should produce THIS. He DID produce THIS. Why is he not doing THAT? Well, things change, and I’m not sure whether I was pitched around more or not, I really don’t know, you’d have to ask somebody else, but I think some adjustments in maximizing the efficiency of my at bats, that I’ve tried to do over my career, I think that’s the reason why I probably have less RBIs, my first goal is to drive the runner in so I can get on base, get a hit and then hand the bat to the next guy so we can continue to score runs. I know a lot of people complain, ‘why doesn’t he hit a ground ball to make an out and score the run?’ I’m really, really greedy, so I want to get a hit and if that hit doesn’t come, all of a sudden the at bats have a tendency to get really tough and the strike zone gets pretty narrow and I’m not getting a lot of opportunities presented to me and then it ends up being a walk at times, and that where the accumulation at the end of the season came.

76 thoughts on “Citizen Votto

  1. I love how Joey has been turned into a martyr on this blog. If Joey didn’t disappoint so many, I don’t think you would find the need to defend him so often.

    The criticisms leveled at Joey are legitimate, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a very good player this year, if he had altered his approach he could have been great this year.

  2. The man with one eye in a blind city. Amazing how well this humble dude still strives to succeed for a fan base full of people who’d rather say, “I told you so”. Count your blessings RedLeg nation, Santa Claus is going to keep dropping by whether you believe or not.

  3. Votto is clearly one of the most thoughtful and interesting interviews in baseball, and maybe all of sports. That said, I don’t see him being the “face of major league baseball” though.

    The thing that frustrated me about Votto this year was his unwillingness to change his approach to make up for offensive holes in the lineup. I don’t have the numbers but it certainly seemed that during several games this year Votto was willing to accept a walk rather than trying to drive in runs in key situations. I understand the desire to get on base, and I will even recognize the importance of OBP, but when your clean up hitter leads the team in DPs and it’s a one run game, your best hitter should try to hit. Guys stepped up and covered for Votto in 2012 when he was injured, but it seemed as though Votto was unwilling to do the same when the Opening Day clean up hitter went out for four months.

    All that said, I am very glad that Votto is on the Reds and will be for years to come. However, I don’t think that so many articles and posts on here need to defend him–it seems taboo amongst most here to offer the slightest criticism of him.

  4. It’s good to see that Joey can shrug off the hand wringing ignorance by so much of the fan base here – and driven by the increadingly pathetic local media. In all likelihood we’ll be telling our grand kids we watched him play and no one will remember the projection dumped on him by people too miserable and bitter to appreciate what he brings today.

  5. It is tough to satisfy us, we want our players to drive in runs every time. We want our heroes to show fire, humility, gratitude, and allow us to live out our lives through them. That is a lot of weight to be carrying by oneself. The guys after Votto need to do the job, and then he will get more pitches to hit. I think it also explains his comment on situational hitting. His style is to keep an even keel and not put more pressure on himself. He is just a little different cat than we are used to seeing.

  6. I still say one of the most telling stats about Votto is his career high in strikeouts looking. That tells me he was up there looking to walk instead of looking for a hit.

    Look, I’m not some Votto basher. I love the guy. I just know he can be better than what he showed this year. It’s great that he walks as much as he does, but as I keep saying (and keep getting lambasted for), a player of Joey’s cabliber should not only be the guy getting on base to be driven in, he should be doing some of the driving himself, especially if he is going to continue hitting 3rd.

    But I and all those who keep “criticizing” him (if that’s what you want to call it) know he is capable of being that 3 hole hitter, scoring and driving in runs. He has done it before, after all. Perhaps if he had swung at half of those strike 3s, we would be having a different conversation. Or perhaps if instead of walking 130 some-odd times he had swung at a strike earlier in the count, he could have helped the team more by driving in more runs.

    And please, Votto defenders, stop saying that those of us who want Joey to return to his old form “know more about hitting than Joey Votto”. It’s a needless condencending personal attack. This is a forum for discussing Reds baseball, and Joey Votto happens to play for the Cincinnati Reds, so we are entitled to discuss his performance, just like you are entitled to say, by your meassures, that Joey Votto was fantastic this year and doesn’t need to change a thing. However, you need to accept not everyone values players the same way, and personally I think Joey Votto helps the TEAM more when he is driving in more runs instea of counting on inferior hitters behind him to drive him in. As I said, he is capable of being that kind of player, it’s just that, as the number of times he struck out looking and his number of walks show, he was reluctant to swing as freely as he did during his MVP season.

    I sincerely hope that it truly was just the knee that was holding him back this year and next year we see the return of 2010-2011 Votto.

    • @CI3J: I agree pretty much with you.

      Anyone who has watched a lot of baseball over the years knows that many of the biggest most important hits come on pitches that would have been called balls had they not been swung at. If a batter is looking to drive a ball and looking for a certain pitch in a certain zone, he knows when he sees such a pitch; and goes after it. He isn’t worried whether it might technically be an inch or two out of the strike zone.

      What we saw this year from Votto was that he seemed to be trying to hone his superior batting eye and bat control to a razor’s edge to take or spoil enough of these very close pitches to draw walks versus putting the ball in play.

      Based on recent comments, it seems as though the GM wants more of those pitches put into play; and ultimately he is Votto’s boss.

  7. I’m sorry, but bashing Votto is ridiculous. The guy broke the Red’s record for most times on base in a season this year. Morgan doesn’t have that record. Bench doesn’t. Rose and Perez don’t. VOTTO DOES. THIS YEAR. THE YEAR THAT HE WASN’T GREAT. ONLY GOOD. Give me a break. Bubba, the reason people are so quick to defend Votto is because of just how ludicrous it is that some very bored people have this major issue with his “lack of production”. I think the guy is humble, very intelligent, and I believe that he tried as hard as he could given the fact that he had to change his approach due to a slow recovery from a major injury. Quit slamming one of the greatest Reds of all time and you won’t have to worry about the moderators defending him. I’ll break all of this discussion down neatly. He didn’t have the type of great season people expected. It was a different type of great season. Overall, it was somewhat of an off season compared to his best. However, considering the lingering issues from the injury physically and mentally and the lack of production in the lineup right before and after him for much of the year, I think he had a fantastic season. Also, for one to say his approach to situational hitting is a product of his being stubborn, or is somehow a wrong-headed personal decision that he needs to get past for the better of the team, is laughable. Do you know the guy personally? Is that how you are so sure of what goes on in his head? Give me a break. Listen, Votto’s knee will have a full off season to completely heal, he won’t have Dusty Baker deciding who hits around him, and he’ll be able to spend his whole off season rehabbing his knee. I’m sure his rbi’s and hr’s will rebound nicely. There. Now would you all please just sit back and enjoy the fact that the Reds have long term control over a player who is so good that you are driven to angst by a season in which he broke the Red’s record for times on base??

    • @Pete Snow: I can’t disagree with you, although I am among those who think that he had an off year–not just the strikeouts looking, but the decline in doubles. He hasn’t had significantly better people hitting behind or in front of him since he’s been here, and won’t next year barring roster additions–the guys we need aren’t lurking on the bench or batting 8th–and I fully believe that he’s not completely healed. So he did what he could still do, and that is an admirable trait. I think that it’s possible to recognize that he had an off year (consider fielding and base-running) without being a delusional fool or anti-Votto.

  8. Well shoot. I meant to say Votto “doesn’t” have to spend the offseason rehabbing his knee. He can focus on preparing for the season. I have a question to all those who were heavily disappointed in Votto’s production this year. Do you think Votto would make it to the hall of fame if he averaged this years stats over the next 10-15 years?

    • @Pete Snow: He probably would make the Hall. I don’t see anyone saying that he isn’t a fine player, just that this was a different sort of year for him, for reasons numerous and perhaps unknowable. We don’t want him traded or sent to triple-A, we want him to be healthy and productive and surrounded by players who will help him maximize the Reds’ chances of doing better next year.

  9. Numerous times over the years, I have read about Ted Williams feud with one of the Boston sports writers. I never read, but often wondered, what the criticism was regarding. Williams regularly hit over .300 with a bunch of home runs and walks.

    All I could think of is the writer was saying “Yeah, you’re great, but you could do better in certain situations.” This is how I view the criticism of Votto. It’s so far down on the list of concerns for the Reds that I find it hard to believe it is still being discussed.

  10. Sometimes the reds just need a groundout to drive the run in. In my opinion he needs to change his approach n those situations. I feel criticism in those situations is valid.

    • @miamigrad93: That’s one thing I would change. I believe Votto said he wouldn’t have a problem taking a walk and let a player behind him drive in a run. If the pitcher is giving him pitches he can hit, I would rather bet more on Votto driving in the run than anyone else on this team.

      • @steveschoen: The three sentences here expose the incoherence of the argument that Votto should change his approach. If the pitcher is giving Votto pitches to hit, *everyone* including Votto, wants him to swing the bat. The reason he draws so many walks in those situations is exactly because the pitchers, by definition, aren’t giving him pitches to hit.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Steve Ii. Some situations Reds need an out to drive in the run, not a hit. votto seems not willing to do that. That is my only complaint of his hitting approach.

        • @Steve Mancuso: I thought comments were suppose to be about the Reds, Steve? “Incoherence” is disrespect and needless.

          As for the topic, I’ve always said the exact same thing you’ve said. So, I don’t understand what your beef is. Again, I’ve never “only said” Votto has to make an adjustment. I’ve always said “an adjustment needs to be made”. I just include Votto in that possibility, what Votto admits that he does himself. So, I’m not really sure what your beef is.

        • @steveschoen: I was pretty careful to say “incoherence of the argument” not “incoherence of the people who say this.”

          “Incoherence” means “lacking connection, harmony” which is exactly what afflicts a two-sentence proof where the assumptions are exact opposite (Votto gets pitches he can hit, Votto walks too much). That’s a textbook example of an incoherent argument.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Steve, I don’t know how much simpler I can say:

          I’ve always said “an adjustment needs to be made”. I just include Votto in that possibility, what Votto admits that he does himself.

          If you don’t think Votto needs to change anything, then you need to be arguing to him that he shouldn’t be changing anything. All players make changes and adjustments from season to season, from game to game, from even pitch to pitch.

        • @steveschoen: If you comment, whether is is right or wrong, smart or stupid, you can be held accountable and people have the right to disagree.

          It’s not about the Reds. It’s about our opinions of the Reds.

        • @steveschoen: The three sentences here expose the incoherence of the argument that Votto should change his approach. If the pitcher is giving Votto pitches to hit, *everyone* including Votto, wants him to swing the bat. The reason he draws so many walks in those situations is exactly because the pitchers, by definition, aren’t giving him pitches to hit.

          And here is where I disagree Steve.

          If you are really implying Votto is getting nothing to hit, that would mean every time he walks, he is walking on a 0-4 count. As I said earlier in this thread, maybe Votto should be a bit more agressive and swing at some of those earlier strikes that he watches go by. Or maybe he should swing at some of those called third strikes that he struck out on in a higher number than ever in his career this year.

          Whatever he did this year, we know two things are true:

          1. He posted his lowest SLG% by a lot this year.
          2. He walked more than he ever has.
          3. He struck out looking more than he ever has.
          4. He posted the lowest RBI rate of his career, despite hitting behind Shin Soo Choo.

          I don’t know, for me, reaching base isn’t something to celebrate for a player like Votto. The name of the game is scoring runs. Yes, you need to have people on base to score runs, but that also means you need people behind them to drive them in. why should we be happy with our best HITTER just getting on base when he could in fact be using his skills to drive in more people or advance the runners beyond just the one base that a walk would grant them?

          Some people make such a huge deal of the fact that Votto reached base more than any player in Reds history this year. Yes, that’s fantastic. It’s really a shame games aren’t won only by reaching base.

        • @CI3J: And, that’s where I said is how I saw Votto is being pitched, exactly as you described, I believe. I described it as:

          Votto likes to go long into a count, so he would have no problem getting two strikes on himself. After that, the pitchers were nibbling at the corners, where he would either K looking, K swinging, walk, or get weak hits.

  11. Related but a bit astray from the post (which I really enjoyed, thank you) I have a sincere question for everyone who is still reading the blog here in the off season.

    Why is so much focus being given to Joey? Why are we not talking about Ludwick, Frazier, Cozart, Philips? When I ask that question I don’t mean if they should be traded (Philips) I simply mean their approaches at the plate, their stats this year, etc. I see lots and lots and lots of discussion about Joey’s numbers, his comments, his attitude, etc. Yet I see very little talk about the other guys around him. That’s pretty odd to me personally because Joey Votto is one of the very last guys I am disappointed in this year.

    I thought Joey had a good year for us offensively. His defense and running made me shake my head and I think that will be greatly improved next year knowing how big a perfectionist Joey is.

    I thought Cozart had a very very bad first half and then gave me a lot of hope those last couple months after he moved down in the order.

    I thought Todd was mediocre for us in his sophomore year with the exception of his defense which was stellar and I look forward to seeing if he can keep that up for us next year. Having a rock down there at third is a big advantage over a lot of other teams but of course we need his bat to pick up a little to make the glove worth it.

    Philips I’m not sure where I stand on. The off-field stuff was really a let down. I have been a big Brandon supporter even with his on-field flare and style. I know it’s not smart but I love watching it because it’s so special. He carried the team with his bat the first two months (along with Choo) and I was all set to see him really have a great year. Then it felt like he suffered a couple injuries in a row that seemed to just kill his ability to take pitches the other way and produce those same kinds of at bats that had us so excited at the start of the year.

    Bruce was nothing but a big positive this year from my vantage. He started really putting it together, defense was gold glove and him starting to bang balls the other way against lefties has me really excited for 2014.

    Our catchers probably were the single biggest source of angst from me. It felt like this weird drama-infused thing all year where they couldn’t get consistent at bats, there were injuries.. there were wild Corky sitings, it was strange.

    I’m also not sure what to think about the left field situation because frankly when our starter goes down on day 1 I’m not sure anyone can be expected to salvage that. Guys tried, we had some good moments from Heisey and Robinson and XPaul and even Ludwick near the end had a few big hits.

    The bench was the bench, very weak but I don’t think expectations were very high to start with there.

    Choo was a monster and when he leaves (does he have to leave? please get him to stay somehow) I will be sad to see him go. His defensive ineptness was vastly overplayed in the media and his offense was nothing short of everything we’ve wanted for the last I don’t know how long at the top of the order.

    So again guys and gals, why are we only talking about Joey? What does everyone else feel about all the other guys in the lineup that we’re not talking about? What are you excited about from this year that you can’t wait to see stepping onto the field next year? Those are the kinds of things I really want to know from all of you who have been a fan even longer than I have and from all of you who grew up in the same era as myself.

    • @Mwv: I suspect that the focus is on Joey because we identify him as the best, and therefore as the greatest source of hope. You are right, of course, that the other players are equally important, since Joey can’t bat for them. My point all year was that the team was good but not great, and that it didn’t seem rational to blame Dusty for endemic shortcomings. No more than it is rational to blame Joey for the same general shortcomings. But hope springs eternal…

  12. Friendly heads up: If you are posting comments that are about other commenters or complaints about the threads, they are going to be deleted. Please keep the discussion on the Reds and not each other. Complaining about the thread topics is a sure way to get your comment sent to the trash.

      • @steveschoen: I’ve already deleted one comment here this morning that insulted the people on your side of the issue.

        Another reminder: When a comment is deleted, the comments that were in response to those comments become homeless and float to the bottom, so we end up having to delete them as well, which is often regrettable.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Seems like a good time to thank you guys for a very intelligent and readable resource for geographically isolated Reds fans. I don’t always agree with everything that I read here, but I do enjoy reading it and thinking about it.

        • @greenmtred: I agree, as long as it’s posts about the Reds and not about bashing each other. Even if it’s posts about “bashing the Reds”, at least the posts are about “the Reds” and not each other.

  13. Joey had a very good offensive year and a very bad year defensively. To my eyes he just looks different than the player when they signed him. I don’t know or understand all the stats, he just looks different. For the salary he makes and the reds limited payroll, the reds need more from him, whether it is possible or not.
    I think what he have them in 2013 isn’t what they paid $250 million for. Yoga. BP Ludwicks and all need to do more! but they don’t have his price tag. The top salary will always get criticism, though the real blame goes to Cueto, Broxton, Marshall and. Ludwicks not producing to their salary.

  14. Choo coming back would be huge. It solves the problem of leadoff and should solve the long term question with left field. He was an above average LF before coming to the Reds and is limited in CF.

    Then the real question for the outfield is who plays in center. I believe Heisey could contribute more at the plate than Stubbs while providing very good defense in CF. What happens after Hamilton gets some more time in AAA remains to be seen, but provides a future alternative. Ludwick’s gone after this year, so he can be the 4th OF unless someone else really struggles.

    • @MikeC: That’s one of the questions for this off season, Mike. The thing is, the Reds have so many options and routes to go to make a competitive team for next season, I could take most any of them. If we let Choo go, who comes in behind him? If we let BP go, who comes in behind him? What happens if Bronson accepts our offer, if we even make one? Do we extend Homer? Latos? Both? Both and Bronson?

      If everyone comes back, Bronson accepts, and we extend Latos and Homer, I can’t help thinking the payroll balloons even more next season. That’s why I think there will be some payroll measures taken. And, those will involve Choo, BP, Bronson, Homer, and/or Latos, I believe.

  15. I’ll be interested to see how the younger players approach to batting changes. Price alluded to the players having a higher ceiling than what we saw. I think many were asked to bat in certain situations in ways that were favorable to their skill set.

  16. WJ certainly has some work to do this offseason. I wish him well in his efforts to fill the holes in the Reds lineup.

    If Choo comes back, he fills the biggest hole in the lineup as the leadoff hitter extraordinaire. That’s a BIG if.

    No one on the Reds current roster has proven effective at hitting in the #2 hole except Votto and if Votto hits in the #2 hole, no one has proven effective at hitting in the #3 hole, so even if Choo comes back (a big if), the Reds still have a big hole hitting in the #2 slot. The Reds need to fill both the leadoff and #2 holes if they are going to be effective. Good luck with that Walt.

    With Votto hitting 3rd, Bruce hitting 4th & Ludwick (after an offseason of serious conditioning and strength training) hitting 5th, I’m pretty comfortable with the middle of the lineup. I also think regular playing time for Mesoraco will provide him the breakout chance at the major league level he has missed to this point and that further fortifies the middle of the lineup.

    Cozart had a stellar performance once he moved to the bottom of the lineup where he could simply concentrate on what he does best at the plate, swinging aggressively and driving the ball. I feel very comfortable with his performance at the plate and at SS.

    That leaves 2B & 3B as positions of contention (with CF also if Choo is not signed). Both Phillips and Frazier provide excellent defense, but their offensive contributions do not fill needs for the Reds. They could both hit 6th or 7th effectively, but neither has demonstrated the ability to hit 2nd or 3rd effectively and that is a hole that needs to be filled. Of course if Choo isn’t signed, the same problem exists for both the leadoff and 2nd positions.

    Options are out there to fill these needs. We have speculated on some of those options and we will continue to speculate on those and other options. I’m sure WJ sees the same issues and problems we see. I think Choo is at the top of his list of issues to be resolved (one way or the other), so he can address the remaining issues. I hope he can work his magic and put an effective lineup on the field at GABP within the budget constraints imposed by a mid-market franchise.

    Good luck Walt. You nailed the manager this team needs. The pitching staff is solid with options galor to improve both the pitching and position players. The minor league prospects are looking up, but need another year or two to reach major league readiness. It’s not all doom and gloom, just those pesky holes on the major league roster that need to be filled for 2014 without mortgaging the future of the franchise.

    The problem isn’t Votto. Votto will excel in any position he hits. He just needs those holes filled around him. Votto provides the flexibility to be utilized in various positions of the batting order depending on which holes can be effectively filled.

    • @Shchi Cossack: And, with the hitting, it could even be something that the new hitting instructor could assist with. Likely? Probably not. But, possible. Where, if we were to get in a new hitting instructor who could switch a lot of the batting approaches around here, like more contact and less swinging for the fences, then we may not need to do one thing player-wise and could still possibly lose Choo.

      Now, I will say, I do believe something does need to be done. We are due to lose Choo. If we do, we have a hole in CF. Over Stubbs, I would have been happy with Heisey. But, over Choo, I wouldn’t be happy with Heisey. Do we open the wallets to afford Choo? Or, do we trade BP to afford Choo? If we do that, we have a hole at 2nd. Or, do we let Bronson go to afford Choo? We have no hole there; plug in Cingrani. But, then, what about money to extend Latos and/or Homer?

      Just so many ways to create something. It will be interesting to see what Walt does. I suspect he will first be looking at getting the coaching staff set. Then, he would worry about the players. We probably won’t know anything for a while.

  17. I will concede I know nothing about lineup construction so I will defer to those who do. I think votto is best at 2nd and good at 3rd, test of lineup I have no idea

  18. “You have a responsibility to yourself, personally, and then to the team…”

    “So I think “Accountability” is the wrong word…”

    Above are two quotes from Joey Votto from the McAlister interview per the transcript posted by Mr Fitch.

    The mantra of the newly named manager has been team unity and single minded team purpose. Mr Price and Mr Jocketty have both repeatedly used the word accountability in describing a part of the team culture they see as lacking.

    Here we have it in Votto’s own words that he puts himself ahead of the team; and that management has it wrong when they say the team needs more accountability.

    Couple these two quotes form Votto with what Mike Leake said to McAlister about there were people on the team (2013) who were going to play their own way regardless and that led to everyone going off in their own directions which became in his opinion a big issue for the team; and, don’t we have a pretty good picture of where at least part of the problems lie?

    BTW, since the comparison often gets made between Votto and Ted Williams, during Ted William’s long career with the Reds Sox, the team won a single pennant (1946; lost the WS 4-3) and for the most part were mired securely in the middle of the pack of the then 8 team AL.

    • @OhioJim: I think that when Votto speaks of responsibility to himself, he speaks of being as good as he can be, and since he is clearly a perfectionist and intelligent, I don’t think that that is incompatible with responsibility to the team. Your accurate observation about Williams-era Red Sox confirms what should be obvious to all of us: baseball teams need more than one great player to succeed.

      • @greenmtred: I don’t disagree with you about Votto being a perfectionist etc. but I think if one goes back and reads/ listens to a large body of Votto’s statements, it comes through consistently that he and only he knows what is best for Joey Votto; and for all his intelligence I think on the public record, he does come off as being stubborn to say the least. I’m not sure that works well in a team setting like baseball.

    • @OhioJim: I understand, Jim. I took that as, like all of us, our priority may be ourselves and our family, then our jobs, etc. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t focus on our jobs. When we are on our job, or main focus is on the job, not necessarily ourselves nor our families.

      Walt and the players deal with Votto on a daily basis. If he is like that, and with all the team unity talk from Price, something may come from it. But, I don’t think anything will.

  19. So, some people are saying, essentially, that the 2013 Joey Votto model only works if the 2010 Joey Votto model is hitting behind him?

    • @vegastypo: Doesn’t have to be as good as the 2010 Votto but needs to be better than anybody the Reds have run out there lately.

      The alternative is to reshape the entire line up so it is a groups like (gasp) the Cardinales have where everybody can seemingly consistently get a hit when the team needs one.

      • @OhioJim: I’m just sayin’, it would be hard to match up, regardless of Votto. Speaking of the Cardinals, for example, our catchers don’t hit like Molina, our left fielders don’t hit like Holliday, less sure of Frazier vs. Freese, and Phillips can’t match the season Carpenter had. Unsure how the lineup can be rejiggered to get the “keep the line moving” approach that I think we’re talking about here.

        No matter what Joey does, though, if he doesn’t have more offense around him, I’m not sure it matters what level of Votto-ness the Reds get from year to year.

  20. I thought the interview was pretty good, and I did like the stuff Votto had to say about caring about the fans. It’s not that often that megastars go out of their way to say stuff like that.

    If I had one criticism of the interview, it was the part where he said this: “The year before in 2012, I wasn’t having this conversation about the number of RBIs. And, it kinda makes me scratch my head. I know I was injured, but I still played 111 games, and that to me, is probably an 80-85 RBI-pace. But, there’s a lot of people saying that before my knee injury, the conversation was not ‘should Joey drive in more runs?’ It was more along the lines of ‘is Joey the best hitter in Baseball?’”

    First off, when he got injured he was definitely on pace for more than 80 RBI.

    Second, of course no one was complaining, he was hitting .337/.474/.567 and this year he hit .305/.435/.491. His walk rate actually went down last year, for all the griping about his walks. The issue was his average dipped 32 points and his slugging dipped 76 points. That’s what people are complaining about. If it was the knee, it was the knee. Just say that then.

  21. All did Frazier bat 3rd when Votto was hurt in 2012? I’d consider him at 3rd if a votto batted 2nd.

    • @miamigrad93: During 2012, when Votto was on the DL and Ludwick & Frazier were putting in superior performances, Frazier hit 3rd in exactly 1 game, with 1 2B in 4 PA. As I recall, that was one of those throw away games where multiple players were substituted.

  22. I think the stat about Votto looking at called third strikes is misleading. It seems to suggest that Votto had a high rate of watching strikes. But according to this excellent article, Votto was league-average at swinging at pitches in the strike zone. How exactly does that make him passive?

    My own impression of watching Votto was that he swung at pitches he thought he could drive, and didn’t risk swinging at pitches outside his own “zone” (which is similar to, but not identical with, the actual strike zone). I honestly don’t see how anyone can criticize him for that approach (or the results). We act like if he just swung the runner would score. But it is just as likely that swinging outside his comfort zone would lead to pop-ups (you know, like other players hit), swinging strikes or weakly hit grounders which advance no one. So I’ll take the walk to those options.

  23. Enjoy having Votto on this team while you can redleg nation. He will be gone sooner than later I’m afraid!!!! You will miss him when he is shipped out of town I promise you! I know I will.

  24. Enjoy having Votto on this team while you can redleg nation. He will be gone before you know it I’m afraid!!!! You will miss him when he is shipped out of town I promise you! I know I will.

  25. @GolfGuy75: I’m not saying right this second he will be traded. But if you look at the people having some issues being reds brass, certain radio announcers, countless fans, ignorant reds players whining about his contract etc. He will be wearing pinstripes or a B on his hat sooner than later I’m afraid! Cincy will no way keep paying that contract for the whole time of his contract. Hope this is no way the case but just a hunch in my gut!

  26. The whole K-looking argument is so nonsensical. As Votto pointed out in the interview, his overall K rate was basically the same, so why do we care, whether those are looking or swinging? Actually, if I have to have one, I’d rather have more of his strikeouts coming from the looking category. Presumably, if you are laying off a pitch it’s because it’s a marginal pitch. Maybe it clips the outside the corner, or maybe you just don’t get the call, but if that’s the case, that’s probably not a ball you can drive anyway. Most of those balls are going to be outs anyway, even if you put them in play. On the other hand, A swinging strike means that you are up there hacking at junk, throwing away swings. An awful lot of those would have been balls if you’d laid off them. So are we really more upset because a guy laid off a bunch of pitches that more than likely would have been outs anyway than we would be if he struck out the same number of times by throwing away swings on balls in the dirt? That is insanity.

    • @bhrubin1:

      The difference is, if you strike out looking, you were looking for a walk and struck out verses swinging at a good pitch and getting a hit.

  27. There are few times in sports that when you watch someone, you know that you are watching a future iconic figure. When we watched Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, and Barry Larkin, we realized that we might not see their likes again. We savored those moments and those games. Can you imagine if blogs and twitter had been around in 1976 when Johnny Bench had a horrendous season but came up big in the World Series? People would have been clamoring to get Bill Plummer into the game if it were today and beating up Sparky for continuing to use him. With Joey Votto, he is one of these elite players and an elite person. His interviews are much different than most athletes. They are thought provoking and provide an insight into a man who thinks about the game. He actually put words into a sentence and stays away from “street jargon” and “filler words”. He is never going to throw a base into right field or kick dirt on an umpire.

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