Author: Bob Harkins


Joey Votto isn’t interested in switching positions


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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Dustin Ackley already has quite an eye for the strike zone


In case you haven’t noticed, Dustin Ackley has been on quite a tear of late.

The Seattle Mariners rookie, drafted No. 2 overall behind Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, has a .315/.377/.559 line in 39 games since being called up from Class-AAA Tacoma. His OPS+ is 165, the fifth highest OPS+ ever for a rookie with at least 150 plate appearance.

He’s showing unexpected power as well, with five home runs and five triples. (Although to be fair, one of those triples was a line drive that Ryan Sweeney botched badly, and another was a bit fluky and involved an Ichiro impersonator. Ackley has wheels, but he’s not exactly Jose Reyes.)

Anyway, Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing has a nice breakdown of what Ackley has done so far, and ponders the possibility that it’s pointless to guess what Ackley will become, because Mariners fans might already be seeing his best, and that’s a good thing.

One thing’s for certain, the 23-year-old seems to know the strike zone. Below are two charts, courtesy of Texas Leaguers. The first shows pitches from lefties that Ackley has swung at, the second shows pitches he has taken. Impressive.














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Ryan Braun: ‘Any good hitter has to be pitched up and in at times’


We’ve written plenty in this blog today about Tony La Russa and the shenanigans in Tuesday night’s Cardinals-Brewers game, so while it’s been fun, I’m not going to rehash the whole thing again.

If you need a recap, go here, here and even here.

But I did want to point out that Ryan Braun, the innocent victim in all of this, handled the whole thing perfectly. If you’d like a lesson in maturity, Mr. La Russa, have a talk with Mr. Braun.

From Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I get it; I certainly understand where he (La Russa) is coming from,” said Braun. “At the same time, i think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched up and in at times. I get it, Prince gets it. You have to throw Albert that way, (Matt) Holliday, Lance Berkman. You can’t allow guys to be comfortable.

“Occasionally, you have to make that pitch. Nobody wants to hit anybody. I don’t think that’s really the intent. Clearly, we weren’t trying to hit Albert on an 0-1 pitch, first and third with nobody out, and Holliday and Berkman coming up next. But I think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched that way on occasion. Again, the intent is never to hit anybody.

“In general, every good hitter, anybody that can consistently drive the ball and hit home runs, occasionally you have to throw them inside. That’s just the way the game works.”

There are plenty of good nuggets in the story, so click and read. Braun said the incident was over for him and he didn’t expect any lingering problems. He also said that he was surprised the Cardinals decided to hit him with the score tied late in the game, joking that “maybe it was an accident.”

And on a final note, Braun said that while walking to first base he told Yadier Molina that the Brewers didn’t hit Pujols on purpose, and that Molina agreed. La Russa has also stated that he didn’t think the Brewers hit Pujols on purpose, but that he needed to send a message by going inside on Braun.

But this begs the question: If the Pujols plunking was an accident, what message is La Russa trying to send? That he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his players from accidents? It’s all very silly, really, and Braun deserves praise for laughing at the whole thing.

On a side note, I tackled the issue of baseball’s unwritten rules last year, and Braun happens to be featured prominently in the piece. Check it out here.

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