MLB Today: Joey Votto Not Yet Delivering on Huge Contract
Could Kila Ka’aihue start earning more PT?
After a winter of inactivity following the 2010, the Reds raised a lot of eyebrows this winter by being among the most active clubs – dealing away a good chunk of their prospect cadre, penning a few big free agents and locking up franchise player Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225-million deal.
The deal gave Votto his wish – to be the highest-paid Canadian-born player. But Cincinnati didn’t have to go that crazy to fulfill his dream. The previous record deal for a Canadian player was Larry Walker’s six-year, $70-million contract. Now Votto is signed through age 39 in yet another example of a deal that may not look as good as the player ages. Time will tell, but we believe the Reds do understand that this contract can come back to haunt them six or seven years from now. Let’s not forget that Votto dealt with anxiety issues a couple of years ago, something Aubrey Huff understands all too well right now. We’re not saying it will be an issue for Votto again, but it’s not out of the question, either.
For now, the Reds have a long-term solution at first base, a move cemented when the club dealt away Yonder Alonso.
Still, regardless of Votto’s MVP-calibre play, signing a first baseman to that long a deal and giving him that much money seems unwise to us.
Meanwhile, the now incredibly rich Votto is off to a sluggish start. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk Wednesday, but hasn’t gone yard since the second game of the season. One homer in 18 games? Well, Albert Pujols — who knows a thing or two about crazy long, massively expensive contracts for first basemen — would kill for numbers like that.
Votto does lead the NL in walks, and with a .444 OBP, he’s on pace for his finest season in that regard. But let’s face it: he’s not getting paid the big bucks to draw walks. The Reds need dingers, RBI and BA from Votto, and through 18 games, his 1-10-.279 mark is not inspiring. He’s also failed to swipe a base yet and striking out more often than ever before.
- Kila Ka’aihue, who has pretty much become a forgotten man, is off to a very nice start for the A’s and he played the hero Wednesday night with a game-winning single in the 14th inning. While the Kila Monster has failed to go yard yet this season, he’s been doing a good job of getting on base while splitting time at first base and DH. Daric Barton continues to underwhelm us at first base, so don’t completely write off Ka’aihue’s chances of becoming a useful asset in deeper AL-only leagues. For now, watch how things play out.
- Troy Tulowitzki’s modest five-game hit streak ended in the second game of the doubleheader Wednesday, but his single in the seventh inning of the opener busted up James McDonald’s no-hitter. Tulowitzki, of course, sat atop our pre-season shortstop rankings, but he’s barely performed like a top 10 shortstop through the first few weeks of the season. He’s already been sat once to try to shake him out of his slump, and his strikeout rate is up slightly – although hardly at an alarming level. Looking for a buy-low candidate? Tulowitzki could be a fine choice if his current owner is getting a tad frustrated.
- Ben Zobrist snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a home run Wednesday to help the Rays rack up their fourth straight win and improve to 6-1 over the past seven games. After scoring 99 runs last year, Zobrist has just 10 through 18 games, and it’s surprising he even has that many considering his .180 BA. A groundball hitter as a rookie, Zobrist quickly became a perennial flyball hitter, but over the past three seasons, he’s morphing more into a neutral hitter in that regard. It will be interesting to see if that affects his home run total; he’s now smacked three already, which puts him on pace to match his career high, but his current ratio of one home run out of every four fly balls is way unsustainable. Assuming his flyball rate doesn’t increase, keep a close eye on Zobrist’s home run rate over the next few weeks.