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Tipsheet: Faded Reds slugger Votto taunts Cardinals fans

Tipsheet: Faded Reds slugger Votto taunts Cardinals fans

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Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto watches his RBI double off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, July 19, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto did some trash talking at Cardinals fans during his video conference Tuesday.

“We had some (stuff)-talking (expletive-ers) in St. Louis after the first series sweep,” Votto noted. “And it’s kinda nice to go on the road at (their) ballpark and let ’em have it. We had some people sweeping brooms and (stuff) like that while we were leaving.

“So, how’d you like that? How’d you like that?”

OK, so a couple of things here:

  • Votto wasn’t in St. Louis for the sweep. He played no part in it -- he was off on a Triple-A rehab assignment, recovering from his broken thumb – so his boastful outburst seemed comically out of place.
  • Votto, 37, has been a shell of his former self for years. He hit 36 homers and drove in 100 runs back in 2017 and posted an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.032. His OPS the next three years were .837, .768 and .800. This year his OPS .728 after 30 games.
  • Given that, Votto is one of the most overpaid players in baseball, earning $25 million per year through the 2023 season. That high salary for ordinary production has limited the Reds’ ability to make upgrades. So he is the about the last guy on that roster who should exude hubris.
  • The Reds have won two playoff games and suffered 10 losing seasons since Votto became a regular in 2008. During that same span the Cardinals suffered zero losing seasons, won two National League pennants, captured a World Championship and made six other trips to postseason play. So, yeah, the Reds can pop some champagne over that four-game sweep. Maybe they should hold a parade, too, just to feel what it’s like.
  • The Reds rallied behind Votto’s big talk by taking a 5-1 powder against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night to fall two games below .500.

Had Jesse Winker thrown shade on fans in the STL, that would have been completely understandable. That man destroyed Cardinals pitching over the weekend.

He is having a heck of a campaign. He appears to be an emerging star. He is a big reason why Reds fans can finally feel better about the future.

But Votto? His verbal jabs left lots of Cardinals fans with the sort of quizzical expressions they get with their first taste of Skyline chili.

TALKIN’ BASEBALL

Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:

Jeff Passan, ESPN.com: “As well as the Cubs have played, as much as they've exceeded expectations, they also are run by pragmatists. And anyone who is looking at this roster and comparing it to the Los Angeles Dodgers' and the San Diego Padres' -- and to a lesser extent, the San Francisco Giants', the New York Mets', the Atlanta Braves' and even the Milwaukee Brewers' -- understands that a World Series run remains a long shot regardless of how well the Cubs have played. That's the calculus this time of year. The Cubs were willing to give up a prospect of Gleyber Torres' caliber to acquire Aroldis Chapman because they were the best team in baseball in 2016 and had one glaring weakness. Not only does this Cubs team have far more weaknesses -- its outfield hasn't hit (aside from Ian Happ in May), and its starters' ERA of 4.62 is 21st in baseball -- perhaps its greatest strength thus far this season, its bullpen, is due for regression. So, yes, if they're in contention to win the NL Central, they should add talent. But it might be smarter to hunt for bargains.”

Jon Paul Morosi, MLB.com: “The reality is that the A's are in win-now mode, in a division with only one other strong competitor, and a trade for [Trevor] Story fits with their past rentals. I'd also keep an eye on the Brewers. Yes, they already traded for Willy Adames. But remember the year when Milwaukee traded for 342 second basemen in one day and nearly reached the World Series? (I might be exaggerating but only slightly.)”

Jesse Rogers, ESPN.com: “Milwaukee hasn't found its stride yet even though it is neck and neck with the Cubs right now. The Brewers are likely to pass them in the standings in June -- a hectic and tough month for Chicago. And here's a factor no one is considering: Some of the Cubs' best pitchers are young and hardly played in 2020. They're either going to hit a wall or the team is going to back off them -- something the Cubs already stated is a possibility. Standout starter Adbert Alzolay is at the top of that list. The Brewers aren't backing off Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes or Freddy Peralta or Josh Hader. If the Cubs had last year's pitching staff with this year's offense, they'd be set, but there are too many variables in 2021. The wild card does remain card a possibility, though it's looking more and more like three teams from the NL West could make the postseason. It's still way early to really know though.”

R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: “{Joey] Gallo, 27, was shopped last summer and is expected to again be one of the top hitters on the market. In his first 58 games this season, he's hit .207/.365/.389 (113 OPS+) with 10 home runs and four stolen bases. For his career, he's a .208/.331/.486 (112 OPS+) hitter who has accumulated 130 homers and 24 steals. In addition to having another season of team control remaining, Gallo's experience in center field, as well as in right and at first base, gives him more defensive versatility than is typical of three-true-outcome-heavy sluggers. The Padres are without starting center fielder Trent Grisham because of a heel contusion, leaving them no choice but to rely upon the underperforming Jurickson Profar. Adding Gallo would allow the Padres to shift Profar back to his super-utility role. The Padres would have a surplus of outfielders once Grisham returned from injury, though both Tommy Pham and Wil Myers have missed time this season, and it's at least possible the Padres would try to move Pham for financial purposes. (Pham is making more than Gallo this season.)”

Sara Sanchez, FanGraphs: “It’s rough to be in the bottom half of the NL West this season, where it seems like the Grand Canyon separates the division’s haves and have nots. On May 1, the Diamondbacks were 14-13, and while it didn’t look like they were going to be serious contenders, it also didn’t look like they were going to go 5–23 in May — which they did, losing staff ace Zac Gallen to an elbow sprain in the process. You would be forgiven for assuming the brightest spot in Arizona’s season has already come and gone with Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning ‘no-hitter’.”

MEGAPHONE

“We’ve taken a position as a front office, managers, coaches and staff as having no part of it. We’re not in the position to go try and find guys things or encouraging different things. It’s something we’ve addressed in our room as far as, hey, this stuff is common, and if we’re doing anything that is beyond the pale or below board, we need to clean it up. We’ve kind of talked to that as a group.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone, on the use of foreign substances to improve spin rate.

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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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