The Cincinnati Reds have had an offseason so boring that the first newsworthy thing in weeks is something that’s actually not happening - and not even 100% Reds related. Last night, Canada’s own Joey Votto announced that he would bypass playing in 2017’s World Baseball Classic, instead intending to focus on aspects of his game that he "decided were lacking" during the 2016 season, as The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans relayed.
Yep, that’s the Joey Votto who had the NL’s best OPS+ last year.
Surely, it’s his defense and second consecutive year with a "slow" start that he’s talking about, as those are things he’s mentioned in previous months as having irked him as he critiqued his own performances. Jesse Spector echoed as much over at Yahoo Sports in his breakdown of the decision, but Spector also brought up a pertinent point that may not have been the origin of Votto’s decision, but surely made his decision that much easier to make.
The fact that those pool games are in Miami from March 9-13 could be a hindrance for Trout, and may well have been one for Votto, as their MLB teams train in Arizona and a transcontinental junket for an exhibition tournament – national pride at stake or not – is a hassle when you’re trying to get ready for a six-month grind that features constant travel.
The last time a WBC went off sans Votto was 2006, when the likes of Stubby Clapp patrolled the Team Canada infield. Votto participated in both the 2009 and 2013 editions of the event, but it appears veteran Justin Morneau will again take the reins as their de facto 1B this time around.
In other news, Doug Gray took a closer look at the 2016 season posted by former 1st round draftee Phil Ervin - particularly at the drastic/home road splits he endured and perhaps the reason why. It’s these great nuances that make following minor league baseball both so difficult and so intriguing, as we might look back on his 2016 season years down the road and be able to chalk it up to something simultaneously obvious yet easy to overlook. I still have some hope that Ervin can develop into a productive big leaguer, as his eye at the plate and baserunning abilities should allow him to carve out a role somehow.
A recent trip to the Reds Hall of Fame - and an obnoxious comment from a worker there - led Redleg Nation’s Nick Kirby to pen (keyboard?) this piece, which is worth a read. Remember, though, that as Marty all told us, Joey Votto is no longer "elite." Riiiiiiiiiight.
Over at Blog Red Machine, there is nothing you should read.
Mark Sheldon looked back at the 2nd half of Cincinnati’s 2016 season, choosing to highlight the progress the team made during that span. That’s a novel idea, one that goes in stark contrast to the concept of yelling and screaming online about what the front office #shouldof done and how Dick Williams and Walt Jocketty are dumber than anyone with a keyboard.
Remember Jeff Sullivan’s article we linked to a few weeks back about how one-of-a-kind Billy Hamilton is? Well, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello had a similar eureka moment when sifting through 2016’s statcast data.
If you’ve got a few minutes, I suggest you read Kate Preusser’s excellent look at the evolution of baseball broadcasting, minor league baseball jobs, and the struggle to find a "familiar voice on the airwaves" from The Hardball Times.
Finally, VEB overlord and FanGraphs scribe Craig Edwards took a closer look at the projected free agent class for this time next year, noticing that it’ll look quite similar to the one seen this year. Perhaps, though, that class might actually have someone the Reds will go out and sign...?