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Joey Votto isn’t interested in switching positions

Aug 8, 2011, 11:21 PM EDT


Yonder Alonso is a promising young hitter and the top-rated prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization. The problem is he doesn’t really have a good spot to play.

Alonso, a first baseman by trade, is blocked by Reds All-Star Joey Votto, who is the reigning NL MVP and at 27, only three years older than Alonso.

So what do the Reds do with Alonso? They’ve tried him in left field, and things haven’t been all that stellar.

They’ve also given him reps at third, and while he claims that third base “was my position growing up,” it seems unlikely to be a legitimate option if he can’t even play the outfield.

One other possibility is to have Votto switch positions, and while the Reds have not asked their star about playing the outfield, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer asked him what he thought about the idea. Here’s his response:

“I think I’m a pretty good first baseman,” Votto said. “And I think one the best attributes as a team is infield defense. We have four very good — and obviously at second and third — great defenders.”

So apparently Votto isn’t excited about the idea, and I can’t say that I blame him. Frankly, I’m a little bit surprised the Reds didn’t deal Alonso to a light-hitting, pitching-heavy team like Seattle or Oakland before the trade deadline, and I imagine they would have had they not faded in the NL Central in the last couple weeks of July.

We still might see a trade in the offseason, though. Who knows, with the cries of financial woes in Cincinnati, perhaps it will be Votto – not Alonso – who is sent packing.

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  1. insaneinthemembraines - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    So does this fire up the Votto-for-Bautista rumor train, which first emerged around the trade deadline, again? Something to keep in mind come Winter Meetings time.

    • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 12:26 AM

      I think (hope) Yonder is a Ray next year. James Shields and BJ Upton for Alonso and their top prospect catcher (I forget his name, too lazy to look it up…hispanic kid) would be a nice deal for both sides. Rays get their Longoria protector and 1stbase/dh of the future, and a top tier rookie catcher, and the Reds get a legitimate #1 starter and a 26 year old centerfielder whose power numbers and RBI numbers go up every year.

      • Bob Harkins - Aug 9, 2011 at 12:35 AM

        Not sure who you mean, but the Reds’ top catcher prospect is Devin Mesoraco, who is from Pennsylvania.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:07 AM

        Yep… Thats the guy. I only know him by name and numbers. Mesoraca sounds latino to me.

      • Bob Harkins - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:38 AM

        Pretty sure it’s Italian.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:41 AM

        Uptons power numbers and RBIs throughout his career are consistent at best, but he hasnt come close to his ’07 production and his average falls every year. He wont be enough to entice the Reds into making that deal

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 2:33 AM

        OK. Thanks Bob. Completely irrelevant. Thanks for correcting me twice, even after I admitted I only knew the kid from reading about him.

        According to everything I’ve read, Upton will bring a top 50, and Shields will bring more than that. The Reds have no where for Alonso, so he will be moved. To get a 26 year old power hitting center fielder who steals 40 a year, and a #1 29 year old starter who has never thrown under 200 innings in his career would be a dream for the Reds. Shields has a very friendly contract, and I think the Reds would have Alonso and Mesoroco on the first flight out. But Bob’s the expert, so run it by him first.

      • wlschneider09 - Aug 9, 2011 at 8:06 AM

        In what alternative universe has Upton’s numbers gone up every year?

        I think Shields for Alonso makes sense, but I wouldn’t trade for either for Upton at this point.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:30 AM

        “In what alternative universe has Upton’s numbers gone up every year?”

        Cute comment. Research says stupid comment. HR’s since he was 22 years old. 9, 11, 18, 16 (with 50 games to go).

        RBI last 3 years. 55, 62, 56(with 50 games to go)

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:35 AM

        You guys are reakky over valuing Alonso. He wasnt a top 100 prospect to start the season. He’s a top 50 now because others are in the majors, not because he got better. He’s a 1 dimensional 25 year old rookie (next year), who has never been elite.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:35 AM

        edit button


      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        you conveniently left out his ’07 season when he had 24 HRs. I guess it’s easier to support your argument if you ignore those pesky facts

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        No. any good analyst throws out an anomaly. It would be easy to say BJ is great because he had 24 HR and hit .300 as a 21 year old. Now that it has been 5 years, and it is clear it was a statistical anomaly, it gets treated as such. Sheesh. No one brings up Roy Halladays 8.00 ERA. It is a statistical anomaly, irrelevant to how he is evaluated. Upton is no different.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        hahaha are you implying youre a good analyst? many have projected Upton to return to ’07 form but he continues to underachieve. what you see is what you get, ~20 HRs and an average under .300

      • wlschneider09 - Aug 9, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        2006 .246/.302/.291
        2007 .300/.386/.508
        2008 .273/.383/.401
        2009 .241/.313/.373
        2010 .237/.322/.424
        2011 .231/.312/.401

        Clearly I’m not a brilliant analyst like Hitt here, but seems to me those slugging percentages aren’t improving a whole lot. Not to mention BA or OBP. Even if you throw out your anomaly of choice.

        I don’t think it’s a case of the majority overvaluing Alonso, I think this is a case of a minority overvaluing Upton.

      • trigzter - Aug 9, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        take out his “anamoly” year and he is a below average hitting center fielder.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM

        I said his power number and RBI totals have consistently gotten better, and they have. Go ahead and re-write what I said to suit your narrative though guys.

      • spindervish - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:25 PM

        Well, leaving aside the irrelevance of his RBI totals, it’s not even true that they’ve gone up in each of the seasons you chose (read: cherry-picked). His highest total is the first season of your sample, though he’ll probably top that this year.

        More importantly, while you’re technically correct that the number of home runs he’s hit has increased in each of the last three seasons and is on pace to do so again, look at his ISO numbers:

        08: .128
        09: .132
        10: .187
        11: .170

        This suggests that the larger point you were implying (namely, that this “trend” is some sort of indicator of progress on Upton’s part) is pretty weak. His OBP has been pretty stable in the .320 range for three years running, and aside from a decent jump from 09-10, his power has looked relatively stable as well. Indeed, I believe one of the biggest knocks against Upton the last couple of years has been his lack of discernible progress as a hitter.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        I am not a great analyst, but I did take statistics in college. His sample size in my scenario was every year but his rookie year. Yours included his rookie year. Both are correct, and neither analysis is wrong. OPS is influenced by batting average, and his average has consistently gotten worse. But I never said his OPS consistently goes up. I said his HR numbers have gone up, and they have.

      • Tim's Neighbor - Aug 9, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        1: Alonso has been a top 100 spec since he was drafted.
        2: Upton, if you want to get all statty, is a top tier CF. His defense is superior. Despite his low average, he still has a solid OPS for a CF. Check out fangraphs for all things statty. It’ll save everyone some time.

        That said, I’m sure that the Rays would jump at that deal. I don’t think it’s awful for the Reds from a personnel stand point, but financially I’m not so certain that they’d pull the trigger.

      • hittfamily - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:02 AM

        Thanks for the input Tim. As a Rays fan, I have a tendency to believe we are the only with cash constraints. Upton will get a nice chunk of change this offseason, but they could immediately move him. Shields has a very team friendly contract, which is why I will be sad to see him go. But on a 40 million dollar budget, 9 mil is a lot for the Rays, top 20 starter or not.

    • proudlycanadian - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:38 AM

      Bautista is going nowhere. Sure the Jays would like to get Votto as he is from Toronto. Lind has done a good job at first base for Toronto, but is no Votto. An off season trade that sends Votto to Toronto for prospects would be great.

    • paperlions - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      First, Italian is a latin language, and while not “Latino” in a Latin-American sense, it is still a latin language and country.

      Second, Yonder was ranked 65th by Law and 73rd by BA to begin the season. I am pretty sure those numbers both fall within “top 100”. Purely on bat, he would have been ranked much higher, being tied to 1B already as a 23 yr old isn’t a good thing for you ceiling.

      Third, Upton has not been better every year, his best years were clearly 2007 and 2008, when he had OBPs in the .380s, which is great. Since then he is making many more outs with below league average OBPs every year (nothing higher than a .322, which sucks). His FB rate is up, and LD and GB rates are down. At this age, this is pretty much what you are going to get from upton, a few walks, some power, and lots of outs to go along with average defense.

      • paperlions - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:04 AM

        Also….the Reds are on a budget as well, trading cheap talent for expensive talent is NOT something that is a good deal for them.

      • cktai - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        Yes but he said Hispanic, not latin.

      • paperlions - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:29 AM

        Missed that…just saw the “sounded latino”, which it does, because it is.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        Finally someone reasonable. Thank you paperlions. I remembered reading about a catcher in the Reds organization that had a name I was unfamiliar with. A few months later, I casually said I thought he was a hispanic kid. Someone wrote back saying that he was Mesoroca, from Pennsylavania. I said thanks, and that the name sounded Latino to me. It had no relevance to what I posted. The rumors were there at the deadline between the Rays and the Reds, centered around Shields, so my possible trade wasn’t just pulled out of my ass. I didn’t think Alonso was in the top 100 to start the season. Was the list you quoted just for hitters, or pitchers and hitters. He still isn’t an elite prospect. Either way, if I’m wrong I’m wrong. Thanks for the info.

        I never said BJ Upton is better now than he’s ever been. That is far from the truth. What I said was his HR and RBI totals are consistently going up. the Rbi numbers are aschewed because he now hits from the 6 hole rather than the 2 as he did early. He is a better RBI man than he has ever been, excluding his rookie season. His batting average is way down, so his OPS is way down. But I never said it was up. I said HR are up.

      • spindervish - Aug 9, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        Yes yes, you keep harping on this point. You are technically correct about the home runs. Good for you. The point I tried to illustrate above is that his power is not actually consistently improving, which is the more important point. The reason people jumped on you is because you cited his home run totals in a way that clearly implied you believed he was improving as a power hitter, and the numbers show pretty clearly that that’s not really the case. So once again…your larger point is wrong. That’s why people are giving you a hard time.

        As for the “he’s a better RBI man than ever” nonsense…man, you gotta come a lot harder than that when you’re dealing with people who know their way around a stat sheet. Unless you’re talking to Phillies fans…those guys love RBIs.

      • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        You can quote stats other people create all you want. I respect those stats. Had I wanted to illustrate that Upton was a mediocre center fielder, I’d have done the same. He is a mediocre center fielder. My point was that certain parts of his game are improving. He had 9 home runs 3 years ago. This year he will hit 25+. He is only 26 years old. Had he not been a major leaguer at 19, he would still be considered a prospect. The Rays will replace him with Desmond Jennings. Desmond Jennings is only 2 years younger. Your stats are fair and accurate, but it has no relevance to what I said.

        “the Reds get a legitimate #1 starter and a 26 year old centerfielder whose power numbers and RBI numbers go up every year.”

        His power numbers and RBI numbers have consistently gone up. To start including strikeout to walk ratio, and on base percentage isn’t fair, because it is not what I said. Thank you for clarifying your position, and I agree that he isn’t the all around hitter he should be, but he is a home run and RBI threat.

      • spindervish - Aug 9, 2011 at 3:51 PM

        Really? Really? Are you really this dense?

        First of all, ISO is “isolated power,” which is just that…a measure of a player’s power output. No one mentioned K/BB ratio. So yes, since the only merit in citing an upward trend in home runs would be to argue that his power is improving, the relatively stagnant ISO numbers I cited earlier are most certainly relevant. His power is not improving appreciably. Maybe a few more fly balls have left the yard this year, but his overall power output is actually lower than last year’s. This is why your implied analysis is wrong. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.

        As for the RBI thing…look, I don’t care to get into an argument on the merits of the RBI stat, but in any case you’re just flat-out wrong about his RBI total increasing each of the last 3 seasons. Not true.

        Also, I’d take the under on 25 homers for Upton this year.

  2. spudchukar - Aug 9, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    Watching Alonzo play left field this week does not only bring in to question other positions besides first base, it begs the question if he has future as a position player. He makes Adam Dunn look like Willie Mays. Maybe he can attain the status as below average first baseman, but tolerable if he continues to produce offensively, but the Reds are nuts to consider moving Votto. Walt Jocketty is a bright guy, and most likely this is a ploy to encourage American League teams to believe he could occupy other positions occasionally. He is a young DH, and much like Montero of the Yankees, is destined to that role. The premise that he might be able to play 3B is a joke. Showcasing him has solidified that. Move him for a promising starting pitcher.

    • 78mu - Aug 9, 2011 at 9:05 AM

      If Dunn keeps hitting under 200 he may have some time next year to teach Alonso how to play left field like a drunken moose and still play in the NL for more than 10 years.

      Votto and Alonso (sounds like a song and dance team) reminds me of Pujols and Brett Wallace a few years ago. Wallace wasn’t going to play any position other than 1B despite being their top hitting prospect and the Cardinals moved him to get Holliday. If the Reds can get a Holliday in return for Alonso they would be crazy not to do it.

  3. buckeye2280 - Aug 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    @hittfamily your trade scenario is never gonna happen. First off we have 2 high upside CF kids already. Drew Stubbs and Dave Sappelt(who is the best hitter of all 3). Secondly, Yonder was considered the best hitter in his draft and closest thing to a ML hitter. He finally came into his own by the end of last year and has been pretty damm good this year.

    Mesoraco by some is the best prospect in baseball. A catcher with power, who is hittting above 300 is no joke. Find me other catchers who can do that? Oh and his defense is pretty good as well. He isn’t Mike Piazza behind the plate if you understand what i mean. The reason that the reds didn’t make a trade at the dead line was because teams like the Rays were asking for way more then the reds will give up for players. They supported this when Jockety made the comment that a few years ago teams wanted them to give up Votto, Cueto, and Bruce for a player. That trade didn’t go down and neither will any that expects the reds to empty a system for a single player. Also, Mesoraco is being pencilled in to be with the Reds next year. Hernandez is gone after this year as a Type A free Agent.

    The reds are looking for a power hitting LF at this point. IF Dusty is gone and people around here are starting to get a feeling like he is, then possibly Yonder could end up back in LF under a new coach. Dusty made the call that Yonder isn’t playing LF for them even though he played almost exclusively in LF at AAA this year.

    • hittfamily - Aug 9, 2011 at 1:30 PM

      I heard Shields to the Reds talk at the deadline. The Rays have an excess in pitching, throwing a 6 man rotation with 2 major league ready AAAers ready to come up. They need a first baseman.

      The Reds have 2 first baseman, and are desperate for starting pitching. Shields’ trade value is higher than Alonso, so a straight up deal won’t be made. Mesoroca and Alonso is too much, so the Rays would have to throw in another top tier trade chip. Upton was an obvious choice. I was unaware that Hernandez would not be offered arb. I still think Alonso for Shields with others mixed in is a good possibility, a nice fit for both sides. Shields is locked up for 3 more years after this season at a very team friendly salary, and very low buyouts if something goes wrong. You know the Red’s organization far better than me, and I learned some stuff from your post. Thanks for treating my idea with respect, as others here haven’t.

      • buckeye2280 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:55 AM

        Actually the talk around here is that Votto could get moved. It was rumor before the trade deadline and wouldn’t be surprised if it happens in the off season. Votto is unwilling to sign a long term deal atm with the reds. And yes Votto to Toronto is a very real possiblity. Sorry @proudlycanadian your wrong. Bautista would be coming over to the Reds along with a major prospect for just Votto. While Bautista has had a couple good years he came out of no where to do it. Votto was a 2nd round draft choice and one of the best prospects in the reds organization. Once he got the majors he continued to be the same great hitter he always was. Also, Votto is 3 years younger and from Canada. If you read the news up there the Jays are trying to build Canada’s team. Adding Votto only makes it that much so.

  4. wlschneider09 - Aug 9, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Actually, I thought the Shields for Alonso approach was a good idea from the beginning.

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