LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — New Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price said he has heard the talk about slugger Joey Votto needing to tinker with his approach. Votto, who is third among active players in OPS, supposedly needs to be more aggressive, expand his strike zone and not take so many pitches — the argument goes — so that he might drive in more runs.
Votto has resisted that notion, and Price doesn't buy into it, entirely. Speaking on Monday at baseball's winter meetings, Price said:
"It's been mentioned, 'Oh, I think he needs to extend the plate and drive in runs' and I don't believe that. It can be very difficult to work hard and get an understanding of the strike zone and be able to manage it like Joey does, and then ask him to go outside that strike zone and be productive with runners in scoring position."
Phew. You've got to be blotto to want to change Joey Votto.
It seems silly to ask Votto to do anything at all differently, considering the production he already gives the Reds. His career line of .314/.419/.541 is topped only by Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera since Votto came into the league in in 2007. And yet, critics see his RBI totals the past two seasons —56 in 2012 and 73 in 2013 — and see a problem with Votto. He's also led the league in walks the past three seasons — so he must not be swinging enough.
His critics include Reds GM Walt Jocketty. Dennis Janson, a TV reporter in Cincy, brought up the topic to Jocketty earlier in the offseason, shortly after Price was hired:
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