LA Angels: Should They Make a Big Push for Superstar Joey Votto?

Luke JohnsonContributor IIIOctober 21, 2011

LA Angels: Should They Make a Big Push for Superstar Joey Votto?

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    Four days ago, Reds star first baseman Joey Votto was postured next to soon-to-be free agents Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols as another plausible mover come baseball's winter extravaganza.

    Yet, how relevant are the rumors?

    A league parlayed by maddened media think tanks and persuasive gossip and rumor mills is commonly confused by these sorts of blown-out-of-proportion circuses.

    Votto has yet to address the rumors. His inaction is either a quiet way of distancing himself from his current franchise or paralysis for the TV hocus pocus that often plagues and messes with the reality of things.

    Ricky Lake aside, many teams would love to take on the 28-year-old class act. With $25 million left on his contract, Votto is the biggest bang for any shopper's buck. 

    A nice left-handed bat with power to both sides of the field, the slugger consistently hit with authority (.306/29 home runs/103 RBI) this season within an emaciated Reds lineup.

    If the star does hit the open market, how seriously should the Angels go after him?

    It is hard to fathom a move that would give the Halos a shot at Votto. But crazier things have happened—including the sign and trade of Vernon Wells—that beg the possibilities.

    Take a look with me at how realistic or unrealistic a move would actually be and why.

Act of Ownership

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    Business 101: Contracts are binding agreements unless one of the two or more parties involved in the agreement do not meet the specifications of the deal.

    Until Walt Jocketty, GM of the Cincinnati Reds, involves himself, the organization and the product, Joey Votto, in a trade, the star first baseman remains technically employed with the club until 2014.

    Yes, Votto can initiate trade talks and demand that the rights to his services land elsewhere, but that decision will ultimately land in the lap of Reds upper management.

    Just ask Carson Palmer about the reality of that.

    Persisting rumors and spin circles are loving the concept of a Votto sweepstakes, but Walt Jocketty insists, “We haven’t talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it. Why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We’re trying to win.”

    Harsh words for media outlets begging for a story. Until proven otherwise, no deal means no deal.

Comparing Apples to Oranges

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    Despite Ken Rosenthall's insistence that the Reds don't have to rush into any deal until Votto's worth is garnered next to Fielder or Pujols, the reality is that the Reds are not shopping him.

    Unlike Fielder and Pujols—both with open-ended futures—Votto is solidified as the Reds' franchise face.

    With $25 million left on his original three-year extension, Votto symbolizes what it means to find value at an extremely cheap rate. Add a bat or two around the star and the Reds are right back to the playoff form they possessed in 2010.

    Why, then, shatter a team that has the potential the Reds have?

    Angels fans know far too much about seeing potential shattered too early. Losing Kendrys Morales to injury the last two years has beleaguered the Angels offensively and distorted their playoff hopes.

    Tinkering with Votto in Cincinnati is like removing both the starter and the engine of an automobile; sending the one-of-a-kind first baseman elsewhere re-routes the Reds into a five-year rebuilding plan.

Kendry+Trumbo+Votto=Cranial Pains

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    The Angels already have their hands full addressing the current log jam at first base between the re-energized Kendrys Morales and the star-child Mark Trumbo.

    Both (when healthy) are considered two of the top first basemen in baseball.

    Trumbo emerged this year as one of the team's franchise faces. Arguably, the 26-year-old had the most productive rookie year in Angels history, setting in motion a Weaver-Trumbo-Trout-Conger quartet.

    In 2012, the biggest question swirling Angels camp will be the health of Morales.

    Breaking onto the scene two years ago with tremendous power, 34 home runs and high hit-for average, .306, Morales emerged as one of the future faces for all of baseball.

    The sweet-hitting lefty was the Angels' direction. But injuries proved that assertion misguided.

    With nearly an entire year to get healthy, Morales will be looking to reestablish himself as that starting first baseman. Balancing both bats will mean one or the other will have to cut his ego and take a ride as a feared DH. Considering Kendrys' past, it is fair to believe that will be his role.

    Now, imagine packaging a deal for Votto.

    The star has two years left on his contract. If the Angels package Trumbo to the Reds, they lose out on a face both the fans and franchise adore.

    It is doubtful Morales would be the type of player the then Reds would be looking to build around because of his inconsistent health.

    And who's to say Votto wants a long-term future in Anaheim anyway?

    Losing Trumbo then hurts that much more, while upsetting Morales in turn—thus, losing all three in a matter of two years.


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    As much as the Angels need a big bat in the middle of the order to backbone a young unit, the reality of the situation is that Votto is not the guy.

    From my perspective, Votto is happy in Cincinnati. It is the place where he bloomed into a superstar, and it was just last year he won an MVP and participated in the postseason.

    He has a brilliant manager in Dusty Baker and an owner willing (it seems) to make something happen in order to foster an elite team in the coming years.

    I imagine the Reds' asking price for Votto would be enormous. They would certainly ask for things the Angels simply cannot part with.

    Mike Scioscia relishes in managing a team with tremendous team chemistry. In fact, it is that chemistry that won the Angels their first World Series in 2002, and it is the same small ball chemistry that led to the team overachieving this year.

    Arte Moreno and Scioscia have always found ways to foster an incredible farm system of talent while mixing it in with an elder statesman or occasional superstar.

    The Angels' young unit is something that makes the Angels special.

    This offseason, they will be looking to Kendrys Morales to get healthy, Vernon Wells to rebound, their pitching staff to get even stronger and the youngsters to continue their ascents toward stardom.

    Chuck in a possible move for David Wright—who will come much cheaper because of recent back issues—and the Angels have a lineup worthy of fear.

    90/10 Votto stays put with the Reds.