Joey Votto isn’t interested in switching positions

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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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The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.