Tag: Reds


UPDATE: Padres agree to deal with Aaron Harang


UPDATE: The deal is essentially done. No word on the specifics yet, but according to Corey Brock of MLB.com, Harang only needs to pass a physical for the contract to become official.

4:47 PM: Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Padres “could be close to signing” Aaron Harang, although he attaches an amusing “according to two sources who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak on the matter” disclaimer.

We may have reached absurd levels when it comes to putting unnamed sources into context, but whatever. Harang is a San Diego native and, like all pitchers trying to resurrect their career, would benefit from calling Petco Park home.

He just finished a four-year, $34.5 million contract, compiling a ghastly 18-38 record in the final three seasons of the deal.  With a 4.71 ERA and 377/131 K/BB ratio in 458 innings his secondary numbers were much better than the win-loss record suggests, but his days of being a top-of-the-rotation starter are gone.

Still, the Padres are looking for someone to eat innings after losing Jon Garland and Kevin Correia (and Chris Young), and Harang would certainly be worth a low-cost flier.

Reds haven’t talked long-term contract with Joey Votto yet

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General manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that the Reds haven’t had any long-term contract talks with Joey Votto yet in part because “we were waiting until after the MVP [was announced] to be fair to him.”

Now that he has an MVP award at age 26 the long-term price tag has probably gone up, but Votto seemed unsure when asked about whether the two sides would engage in contract talks:

We haven’t had any talks. How open am I to that? I don’t know. You’d have to see the figures and talk about the years. Because we haven’t have any conversations about it. It wouldn’t be fair to comment on it. I’m not trying to dodge the question. But I’ve got nothing. That’s OK right now. I don’t want to be peppered with contract stuff all offseason.

I’m sure many Reds fans are clamoring for the team to get Votto signed long term, but at this point there’s really no hurry to do so. Because he got a relatively late start and didn’t become a full-time player in the majors until age 24 he’s arbitration eligible for the first time in 2011, which means Votto is already under team control through his age-29 season in 2013.

Plenty of time for the two sides to work on a deal and plenty of time for the Reds to see if he’s able to repeat his MVP-winning performance before committing to Votto into his 30s.

Dontrelle Willis’ latest comeback attempt will be with the Reds

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Dontrelle Willis hasn’t been healthy and effective since 2006, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the 29-year-old left-hander will make his latest comeback attempt with the Reds after agreeing to a minor-league contract today.

Willis was let go by the Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Giants last season while posting a 5.62 ERA with more walks (56) than strikeouts (47) in 65.2 innings, and dating back to 2007 he’s 13-24 with a 5.81 ERA and 228/206 K/BB ratio in 329 total innings.

Willis’ raw stuff is perhaps still good enough to get big-league hitters out even through his velocity has definitely declined compared to his 2003-2005 peak, but the quality of his stuff will remain a moot point as long as he can’t consistently throw the ball over the plate.

He’s someone to root for, but Willis is facing some awfully long odds at this stage.

Joey Votto named NL MVP with 31 of 32 first-place votes


Leading the league in OPS and leading the Reds to the playoffs for the first time since 1995 has earned Joey Votto the National League MVP award, as the 26-year-old first baseman easily topped Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez by receiving 31 of the 32 first-place votes cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members.

I wrote this morning that Votto and Pujols should share the award, as their individual performances were nearly identical, but Votto actually winning the MVP was expected. His being atop all but one ballot comes as a surprise, but BBWAA voters have always placed a great deal of emphasis on team success and Votto and the Reds beat Pujols and the Cardinals by five games to win the NL Central.

Beyond that, BBWAA voters also tend to lean toward good stories whenever possible, and for better or worse Votto emerging as a superstar in his third full season was certainly a bigger story than Pujols’ 10th straight MVP-caliber campaign, particularly after he won the award in each of the past two years. In addition to his three MVPs, this is the fourth time Pujols has finished runner-up.

Carlos Gonzalez finished third, followed by Adrian Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Roy Halladay was the top pitcher at No. 6 and the Cy Young winner received one second-place vote. For the complete voting totals, see the BBWAA’s official website.

Votto led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage while also ranking among the NL’s top three in batting average, homers, and RBIs. He also took his game to another level in high-leverage spots, batting .369 with a 1.129 OPS with runners in scoring position and .370 with a 1.138 OPS in “close and late” situations. He joins Larry Walker and Justin Morneau as the third Canadian-born MVP and is the first Reds player to win the award since Barry Larkin in 1995.

Who should win the National League MVP award?


My assumption is that Joey Votto will be named National League MVP when the award is announced this afternoon, as his monster season combined with the Reds making the playoffs for the first time since 1995 will likely have him atop most of the 32 ballots cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members.

However, based strictly on his performance–rather than some combination of his performance and his team’s success–it’s not quite as clear if Votto was actually the best player in the league.

Consider the following comparison between two MVP candidates:

                PA     AVG     OBP     SLG      OPS    HR    RBI    RUN
Player X       700    .312    .414    .596    1.011    42    118    115
Player Z       648    .324    .424    .600    1.024    37    113    106

Which of those two players was the most valuable? Player Z had a slightly higher batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS while performing better in high-leverage situations, but Player X came to the plate 52 more times and had more homers, RBIs, and runs while playing better defense. I think they’re close enough that there’s really no “right” answer, yet I’m fairly certain that Votto will be the runaway winner when the voting is announced in a few hours.

Player X is Albert Pujols.

Player Z is Joey Votto.

Carlos Gonzalez is also very much in the mix, but his numbers aren’t quite as jaw-dropping as Pujols’ or Votto’s, as he trails them by 37 and 50 points of OPS despite calling Coors Field home for half his games. Gonzalez had a tremendous season, but a .974 OPS in Colorado just isn’t as impressive as a 1.011 OPS in St. Louis or a 1.024 OPS in Cincinnati. And sure enough, Gonzalez hit .380 with a 1.161 OPS at Coors Field compared to .289 with a .775 OPS on the road.

I tend to think Pujols’ extra 52 plate appearances and superior defense at first base give him the edge over Votto, but it probably wouldn’t be all that difficult to convince me Votto should be the pick and ultimately the difference between them is so slight that it’s impossible to say with any kind of certainty either way.

Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell were named co-MVPs in 1979 and if ever there was another year for the award to be split between two equally deserving candidates this is probably it, but I suspect Pujols has a better chance of finishing third than first. His excellence has almost become routine at this point and the Cardinals underperformed as a team despite his MVP-caliber season, and those two factors are likely more than enough to break any sort of performance-based “tie” in the voters’ eyes.

Votto and Pujols were the MVPs of the National League this year, but only Votto will get the award.