Rest assured, Joey Votto is a svelte dinger-smasher of a baseball player, the quintessential human to occupy new-age slim-fit uniforms. He’s in shape, and good shape at that. The man meticulously prepares for everything he does in the game, and is as ready as they come when tasked with making opposing pitchers look just plain stupid.
The man also has one of the wittiest senses of humor I’ve seen in my years of watching baseball, which makes the quote he gave The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan upon reporting to spring training in Arizona that much more hilarious to read.
Joey Votto is here and talked about his offseason goals. “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter."— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) February 18, 2018
Fat Joey Votto is still going to hit over .300, lead the league in OBP, and be the biggest battleship in the Cincinnati Reds lineup again in 2018. And, it appears, he’s going to continue to be funny as hell in the process.
What Votto is also quite sure of, though, is that it’s high time the era of sucktastic losing in Cincinnati ended, as Buchanan expounded upon yesterday. Votto was quite open about where the Reds are and what they’ll need to do to begin to win baseball games more frequently again, and while he hints that there’s still outside help that the front office will need to bring in to facilitate that, he acknowledges that the upside of the current group has ample room to improve this year, too. It’s an interesting read with great insight from the best player in the Cincinnati dugout, one who sure isn’t getting any younger.
And yeah, I’m sure as heck ready to start writing about the Reds winning instead of rebuilding, too.
In other news, MLB released its updated pace of play initiatives for 2018, and they’re about as interesting as typing “pace of play” eleventy thousand times over the last few months. The changes are largely minor and won’t greatly impact the game itself, but there are a few things - a limit on the number of mound visits, in particular - that just seem to be nitpicky enough that a fraternity pledge was meaninglessly tasked with creating them. Tucker Barnhart, it appears, seems to think so, too.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon spoke with Homer Bailey in Goodyear, and the veteran righty seems poised to have a solid 2018 after finally, finally having a healthy offseason schedule that didn’t include rehabbing from another debilitating surgery. Dear lord how important it would be to have 150 or so vintage Homer-esque innings in this rotation.
Also from Sheldon: notes on how Jesse Winker will be a consistent part of a 4-man outfield rotation, as well as news that Nick Senzel is getting plenty of reps at shortstop in early drills at camp. Hmm...
Finally, some great insight from Alex Chamberlain over at FanGraphs on the varying rates of success between two of Robert Stephenson’s pitches. The gist: his slider was one of the best pitches in all of baseball last year in terms of how often batters swung and missed against it, yet his four-seam fastball got pounded like ground beef in a Five Guys kitchen. If he can slightly fix his fastball - and given how hard he throws it, that’s something you’d think he could manage - there’s still a pitch arsenal within the former top prospect that makes him an incredibly enticing piece of the overall roster for the Reds. I guess this is as good a spot as any to interject my own personal opinion that Stephenson will win the 5th starter spot in the Cincinnati rotation out of spring training based solely on hunches and guesswork and little actual analytical fact.