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Red Reposter - Skip Schumaker thinks all the Joey Votto speculation is "ridiculous"

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The Enquirer links to a piece from Chicago Tribune's Phil Rodgers
In which Rodgers posits that Joey Votto will inevitably be a Blue Jay. It's nothing we haven't heard before. The Blue Jays would look sharp with Jose Bautista and Joey Votto in the lineup together, and the Reds can't possibly sign Votto to a long-term deal. So the question is not if the Blue Jays will get their native son, but whether the Reds will trade him for a bevy or prospects or bid him farewell as he leaves via free agency.

It's all so speculative, though. There is nothing that says Votto actually wants to go to Toronto. Also, the Blue Jays have a publicly stated policy against signing contracts for longer than five years. And perhaps most obvious is the perhaps faulty assumption that the Reds don't have a prayer in re-signing him. I'm not saying they will, I'm just questioning the certainty that they won't. Either way, if you think this speculation is annoying now, it is most certainly only going to get worse.

FSO has announced their Spring Training TV schedule
It looks like the only Spring Training game that will be broadcast is a March 5th tilt against the Indians. That sucks. I know the live productions take some effort and treasure to produce, but I would have liked more than one game this spring. There is a robust schedule for Reds Rewind though, and a nightly show Reds Live - Spring Training 2012. So that should serve as an adequate appetizer for Opening Day.

Skip Schumaker sounds sour re: squirrel send-up
Topps baseball cards released a limited edition version of Skip Schumaker's 2012 card featuring the rally squirrel who interrupted his at-bat in Game Four of the NLDS last October. The squirrel became a minor but still cute story line as the Cardinals went on to take the pennant and the World Series trophy.

Predictably, Schumaker was whiny about it. "It's pretty ridiculous," Schumaker told "I have a shoe on my baseball card. And a squirrel. It's pretty ridiculous...It's not disappointing, it's just ridiculous...I don't know how else to explain it other than that. You expect to have some sort of action shot or something but it's like a mascot card to me...I'm not frustrated, I just think people are going to look at it and laugh and that's ridiculous. I don't care about what I look like or anything but it's literally just a squirrel that has nothing to do with me."

He thinks it's ridiculous. What is it about St. Louis that makes the players act so ridiculous and say such ridiculous things? I'm genuinely concerned that there is a hidden pocket of magnetism or radioactivity or something ridiculous that drains the team of any sense of humor. I mean, what kind of person gets that ridiculous about a baseball card? And it's not even his primary card, it's a limited edition card. His regular card will feature him missing a ground ball up the middle or chopping a four-hopper to the first baseman or something ridiculous like that. This cute squirrel on a few thousand cards with his name on it though, that's just ridiculous to him. This whole thing is ridiculous.

FanGraphs likes the Jeff Francis signing
"In an offseason where Jason Marquis nets a somewhat lucrative one-year deal, it’s simply stunning to me that Francis, who for all his faults was a 2.6-win pitcher last season, had to settle for a minor league deal. Sure, there’s more red flags than a Chinese embassy here, but projection-wise you have to believe Francis has matured greatly as a pitcher to be a nearly 3-win hurler despite an 84.7 mph average heater. Can you even call that a heater? Maybe it’s a warmer. Joking aside, Francis hasn’t landed in an ideal place with the Great American Ballpark (120-133 home run park factors via StatCorner), but if he gains velocity back in his ongoing rehabilitation efforts, as a lefty he could carve out a nice, long career in the back of a number of rotations."

In case you missed it
a few days ago, Sheldon gave the blood and guts of the recent contracts that the Reds doled out. I'm still jumping out of my socks over the Madson deal. The Reds are only paying him $6.252 mil this season. SIX MILLION DOLLARS for a guy who everyone thought would get multiple years and tens of millions. $2 mil is deferred without interest and his $11 mil mutual option for next year comes with a $2.5 mil buyout. Now, that $11 mil option has almost no chance of being exercised. If he's good, he'll decline it and take a shot at the multi-year deal he didn't get this winter. Then that buyout won't apply and the Reds will have (hopefully) gotten a top-flight closer at a cut-rate price. High five, Walt.

SI's Joe Lemire unveils his first pre-season power rankings
The Reds come in at #9, and behind only the Phillies and Cardinals among NL squadrons. Here's the blurb: "Notable additions: SP Mat Latos, OF Ryan Ludwick, RP Ryan Madson, RP Sean Marshall, IF Wilson Valdez, UT Willie Harris, SP Jeff Francis Notable subtractions: SP Edinson Volquez, RP Francisco Cordero, SP Travis Wood, 1B Yonder Alonso Last year's predicted rise to prominence -- I pegged them as a darkhorse NL champ -- was premature on the assumption that all of the Reds' young core would improve with experience. This winter, however, Cincinnati made undeniable external improvements by adding Latos and Madson to replace Volquez and Cordero. Marshall is an excellent eighth-inning reliever, freeing heralded Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman for a possible move to the rotation."

Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe has power rankings, too
and coincidentally, the Reds are at #9 on his list as well. The Cards, Phils, and Diamondbacks stand ahead of them among NLers. Here's the blurb: "GM Walt Jocketty made moves that indicate the Reds were a little sick of the way things have been going down, and they’re happy to take advantage of St. Louis’s and Milwaukee’s offseason losses. They added closer Ryan Madson on a one-year, $8 million deal. They traded for Mat Latos to strengthen their rotation. They seem poised to make a legitimate run in the NL Central."

Matt Klaassen at FanGraphs takes a look at the bunting slugger
In case you hadn't heard, Mark Teixeira recently said he was frustrated with the dramatic shift he was often seeing from defenses and that he was working on his bunting to counter it. I'm sure we all remember these defensive tactics deployed against the likes of Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr back in the day, and the subsequent harpings of the Brennamen for them to lay a bunt down the 3B line.

Klaassen admits his methodology isn't the most rigorous, but the conclusions drawn are interesting nevertheless. It seems that sluggers (ISO > .200) who square to bunt are more successful (higher RE24) than the rest of them. So it lends a bit of credence to the Brennamen's idea of taking what is given.

Baseball Nation's Grant Brisbee runs down the candidates for "Worst to First"
Last year, the Diamondbacks followed up their nearly-100 loss 2010 campaign with an NL West division title. This kinda thing happens every now and again, or at least often enough that it has become of a staple of off-season speculative conversation. Of relevance to the Reds is his take on the Houston Astros, in their last year as an NL Centraler, and their chances of taking the division this season: "Nope."

One of the loyal readers of Halos Heaven sent a hand-written trade proposal to Angels GM Jerry DiPoto
and to much surprise and delight, he received a note back from DiPoto. I gotta say, I'm not sure how to react to this. At first, I was all like, "Dig it, man. That's a really classy move from the new GM. He's doing the little things to make headway with the fanbase." But then I was all like, "Hmmm...I wonder how often he does this. He probably gets letters like this all the time, and I really hope he doesn't spend all his time replying to them personally." So yeah, I'm not sure what to think. I'll just say it's really neat and move on.

Kevin Goldstein at the world wide leader asked a group of big league executives to compare Yoenis Cespedes to some current major league CFs
The list of comparables includes our very own Drew Stubbs. To see how they ranked him against Cespedes, you'll need to be an insider. I'm not.