The Reds would like to do a four year deal with Joey Votto

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Joey Votto is arbitration eligible this year and for the next two years after that.  While his potential award this season — probably in the $6-7 million range? — is doable for the Reds, they’re probably not going to want to go all three years with him, because they start running into Ryan Howard as a comparable salary pretty soon, and that means a lot of damn money.  If you’re the Reds you want to get him signed to an extension soon, I would imagine.

And such imaginings are likely soon, according to Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Equirer:

Simply, should the club try to lock up its best player and franchise cornerstone now, even though it controls his future for the next three years? One club insider suggested any long-term deal would start at four years, and be for something well north of $40 million, and that the club would be interested in going that route.

Daugherty talks to an anonymous agent who said he’d advise Votto to wait another year.  That may make some sense. While all of us would step on someone’s throat for $40 million tomorrow, the lesson to be drawn from a lot of the recent arbitration-avoiding extensions is that the players end up leaving a ton of money on the table. To wit: Evan Longoria’s six year $17.5 million deal. Which, while an extreme, extreme, extreme outlier in terms of a club-friendly, player-hostile deal, is an example of the dangers of signing too quickly.

Mercy. Longoria is going to make $2 million next year. And $4.5 million in 2012. I don’t know if there has ever been a worse deal for a star player since the advent of free agency.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.