Tag:Joey Votto
Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 4:18 pm
 

Joey Votto, Canadian hero

By C. Trent Rosecrans

PHOENIX -- Last year Joey Votto was the winner of the "Final Vote" and only had three days to prepare for his first All-Star Game. This year the reigning National League MVP was voted in by his peers and enjoying his second All-Star appearance.

At the All-Star Game in Phoenix on Monday, Votto talked about being the face of Canadian baseball, his friendship with fellow Canadian Justin Morneau and watching teammate Jay Bruce enjoy his first All-Star appearance.


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Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Offense rules in NL Central

By C. Trent Rosecrans
2011 All-Star Game

SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL West

The National League Central has the most teams, some of the game's brightest stars and perhaps its best story in the Pittsburgh Pirates. How deep is the talent in the NL Central? The last two men to win the National League MVP are first basemen in the division and neither makes this NL Central All-Star team. The pitching isn't too deep, at least in terms of starters, but this lineup can absolutely mash the ball.

Ramon HernandezC Ramon Hernandez, Reds: This one is a surprise, as Yadier Molina -- perhaps the game's best defensive catcher -- is an All-Star and a deserving one at that. But the nod here goes to the guy Reds manager Dusty Baker calls "Clutch Man Monie." On opening day, his three-run homer gave the Reds a walk-off victory and he's been producing at the plate since, including a ninth-inning homer yesterday against Brewers closer John Axford and the delivered the game's winning hit in the 13th inning Wednesday night in St. Louis. Hernandez's overall line -- .316/.374/.526 -- makes up for the difference between his defense and Molina's. Molina is hitting a respectable .279/.329/.408, but Clutch Man Monie has been money, especially for a player who is still essentially splitting time with Ryan Hanigan.

Prince Fielder1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto was the National League MVP in 2010, but Prince Fielder's been the league's MVP for the first half of this season. Fielder is hitting .302/.418/.588 with 22 home runs and 71 RBI, tied for the most in the league. Votto's been good as well, but Fielder's power numbers put him over the top. So why is Votto listed here instead of Fielder? Because as I filled out the lineup card, I looked and had Votto as DH and Fielder at first. Anyone who has seen those two with gloves on their hand know you'd rather have Votto (especially with Starlin Castro also in the infield) playing the field. So Fielder wins the spot, but Votto gets the nod, if that makes sense.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Andrew McCutchen PIT CF
2 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B
3 Joey Votto CIN 1B
4 Prince Fielder MIL DH
5 Lance Berkman STL RF
6 Ryan Braun MIL LF
7 Aramis Ramirez CHI 3B
8 Ramon Hernandez CIN C
9 Starlin Castro CHI SS

Rickie Weeks2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Another Brewer nips a Red. While Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is far and away a better defensive player, Weeks is having an incredible offensive season so far. Weeks is hitting .275/.345/.476 with 15 home runs. Phillips has 10 more RBI, but that's not all that surprising considering Weeks is used as a leadoff man. 

Aramis Ramirez3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: It's easy for Ramirez to get lost among the Cubs' mounting losses, but the 33-year-old is having a solid season, which may be his last with the Cubs. The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez for 2012, with a $2 million buyout. The Ricketts family may want to find a cheaper option, but Ramirez has produced this year, hitting .298/.346/.495 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also playing a decent third base, much better than his reputation would suggest. 

Starlin CastroSS Starlin Castro, Cubs: Sure, he's a mess defensively, but the kid can absolutely rake. Castro is hitting .305/.334/.428 with two home runs and 38 RBI, while stealing 10 bags as well. The 21-year-old is the player the Cubs will build around in the future, and for good cause. He also doesn't have a lot of competition in this division. The Pirates' Ronny Cedeno has been good defensively, but lacking offensively. The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot is hitting well, but was a below-average defensive second baseman and now he's playing short and then there's Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been terrible offensively and defensively.

LF Ryan Braun, Brewers: Talk about a stacked offensive division -- in left field you've got Matt Holliday and Braun. Braun, though gets the nod. He's been healthy (of course, Holliday's problems may make his numbers more impressive) and produced, hitting .320/.402/559 with 16 home runs and 62 RBI. He's also stolen 19 bases to boot.

Andrew McCutchenCF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: If Bruce Bochy doesn't want him, I'll sure as heck take him as my starter in center. A Gold Glove-caliber fielder, plus a .291/.389/.491 slash line and 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. McCutchen should be in the MVP discussion with the season he's had. If it weren't for McCutchen, Michael Bourn would be the pick. Bourn's hitting .288/.350/.399 with 35 stolen bases. Between those two and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs, you could put together a heck of a relay team.

Lance BerkmanRF Lance Berkman, Cardinals: Sure he's a first baseman playing in the outfield, but who cares because he's made up for his atrocious defense with an offensive rebirth. The Cardinals gambled on Berkman this offseason and have been rewarded to the tune of .287/.399/.598 with a league-leading 23 home runs and 62 RBIs. The division also has Jay Bruce, Corey Hart and Hunter Pence, so it has right fielders to spare (not to mention Jon Jay, who played right field while Berkman was playing first for Albert Pujols.)

Prince FielderDH Prince Fielder, Brewers: This is a bit of a cheat, since I initially picked Fielder at first base. The decision here was between Votto and Holliday, and in a toss-up, I went with the reigning MVP, although either has a good case. Votto's hitting .319/.434/.497 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI, while Holliday is hitting .320/.417/.570 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI. Votto's seen fewer pitches to drive than he did a year ago, but is still producing. And once I was filling out the lineup card, I went with Votto at first base and Fielder as the DH.

Johnny CuetoSP Johnny Cueto, Reds: This division doesn't have a Cy Young candidate in the bunch, but does have several good young pitchers, including the 25-year-old Cueto, who started the season on the disabled list but is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Cardinals' Jaime Garcia is 8-4 with a 3.23 ERA and one of the best young left-handers in the game and Chicago's Matt Garza has been a victim of pitching for the Cubs, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and an xFIP of 2.86.

Sean MarshallRP Sean Marshall, Cubs: The Cubs' left-hander is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 43 in 41 1/3 innings, while walking just nine. His xFIP is 2.27 and he's induced ground balls on 60.4 percent of the balls put in play, a good characteristic for a middle reliever, who will often come into the game with runners on base. Apologies to the Reds' Bill Bray and the Cardinals' Jason Motte.

Joel HanrahanCL Joel Hanrahan, Pirates: Hanrahan leads the division in saves with 25 and hasn't blown a single save this season.  Of the eight runners he's inherited this year, none of scored. He has 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings and eight walks. He's allowed just six earned runs (good for a 1.37 ERA). The division has several good starters, including the Reds' Francisco Cordero (17 saves, 1.69 ERA), the Brewers' John Axford (23 saves, 2.90 ERA) and the Cardinals' Fernando Salas (15 saves, 2.41 ERA).

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:18 pm
 

On Deck: Pujols back, not in lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


SUPERMAN'S BACK: Albert Pujols is back after missing a little more than two weeks with a broken bone in his wrist. He's not starting tonight, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him pinch-hit at some point. Pujols is 4 for 10 with two homers in his career against Reds starter Edinson Volquez. Reds left-fielder Jonny Gomes is 4 for 8 with two doubles in his career against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia. However, the Reds' two-through-five hitters (Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce) have combined to hit just .179 (7 for 39) against the Cardinals left-hander. Reds at Cardinals, 7:09 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Ryan BraunBRAUN, TOO: Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun is back after missing two games with a strained left calf will miss his third game and will not be available to play at all Tuesday. Braun has a 22-game hitting streak that will resume when he does. It's too bad for the Brewers that Braun isn't playing tonight, as he is hitting .366/.418/.573 with three homers during the streak. Braun is 7 for 19 with two homers in his career against Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke. Duke is 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA in seven starts at Miller Park and the Brewers haven't lost back-to-back games at home this season. Diamondbacks at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET (Follow live)

Justin VerlanderDan HarenBEST MATCHUP: Justin Verlander may be the game's best pitcher right now and will look to prove it by becoming the first 12-game winner in baseball (although the Yankees' CC Sabathia will have a chance earlier in the night). Verlander is 11-3 with a 2.32 ERA and was 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA in June. He faces off against Dan Haren, who has four wins in his last six outings after suffering a seven-start winless streak. Haren was dominating in his last start, allowing just two hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Nationals, and is 8-5 with a 2.85 ERA this season. He's even better at home where he has just a 3-3 record, but a 2.12 ERA and opponents are batting .090 points lower against him at Angel Stadium than on the road. Tigers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Follow live)

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

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Posted on: June 27, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Weeks takes over lead at 2B in All-Star voting

Rickie Weeks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Brewers are closing strong, not only on the field but also in All-Star voting, as Rickie Weeks has taken over the lead from the Reds' Brandon Phillips at second base and Prince Fielder has overtaken Cincinnati's Joey Votto for second at first base, both behind the injured Albert Pujols.

Pujols is unlikely to be healthy for the July 12 game in Phoenix, so the starting nod will go to the second-place finisher. Fielder has 2,903,584 votes with Votto just behind at 2,832,857.

Voting is now online only and goes through Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Weeks leads Phillips by 78,397 votes.

The rest of the leaders remain unchanged -- Philadelphia's Placido Polanco at third base, Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, Atlanta's Brian McCann at catcher and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, as well as Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals in the outfield.

Of those, the closest races are at shortstop and in the last outfield spot. The Mets' Jose Reyes is still 245,000 votes behind Tulowitzki and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp 192,038 behind Holliday.

The full teams will be announced Sunday.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: June 21, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Pepper: Pujols' injury keeping him in St. Louis?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Well, just who is that handsome man joining Lauren Shehadi today? Why, it's me. Hear me ramble about Josh Outman, Dillon Gee and the Marlins in today's Baseball Today.

Cubs TO PASS ON PUJOLS: There are questions about whether the Cubs can even afford to go after Albert Pujols, but the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer speculates that Pujols' wrist injury could keep the Cubs from even entering the sweepstakes for the three-time MVP.

Although Pujols has been incredibly durable throughout his career, the injury he suffered Sunday could send red flags to teams considering the long-term investment that Pujols will require. Pujols will likely be looking for the security of a long deal, one that could be the final contract of his career. With concerns about his health, the Ricketts family may just have the excuse they were looking for as to why the Cubs can't lure Pujols from St. Louis.
It could also be nothing; it could be a blip on Pujols' career -- but at this age, you have to consider how long you can be saddled with a declining player. The Cubs have been hamstrung by contracts in the past (see Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley) and a decline triggered by injuries and aided by age can even happen to the game's best players (Ken Griffey Jr.).

There'll still be a market for Pujols after the season, that's for sure. But it'll be interesting to see what kind of markdown there will be following Sunday's injury.

Or, perhaps, this spurs the Cardinals and Pujols to reconsider signing an extension during the season, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! urges both sides to consider.

Either way, the injury may hurt the Cardinals in the short term but help keep Pujols in St. Louis for the rest of his career.

M'S LEADER: In St. Louis, Brendan Ryan's energy and personality was seen as an annoyance to Tony La Russa. In Seattle, it's a positive, as the shortstop has emerged as a team leader for the surprising Mariners. [Seattle Times]

HOLD FOR FULD: And yet another chapter in the legend of Sam Fuld. While Fuld's numbers have dropped from his hot start, he helped out the Rays in another way Monday -- on the mound. Really, Fuld warming up for the eighth inning isn't as much a testament to Fuld as it is manager Joe Maddon. The Rays needed more time to warm up lefty Cesar Ramos and since Fuld had already entered the game in the pitcher's spot, he didn't have to throw a pitch in the eighth but did take up enough time to allow Ramos to get ready to pitch. [St. Petersburg Times]

NEXT PROSPECT UP: 'Tis the season for prospect call-ups, and the next one may be the Pirates' Alex Presley, the team's 2010 Minor Leaguer Player of the Year who's hitting .332/.382/.506 with eight home runs in Triple-A. Pirates GM Neal Huntington said if the Pirates weren't in the stretch of games in American League parks, Presley would already be with the big club. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

PASSING OVERBAY: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said first baseman Lyle Overbay won't start during the team's series with the Orioles to work on his hitting. Garrett Jones started at first in Overbay's place Monday. Overbay is 4-for-30 in his last 11 games, dropping his season line to .228/.307/.353. Hurdle said Overbay may still be used to pinch-hit or as part of a double switch, but Jones will start the next two games. [MLB.com]


NL CATCHES A BREAK: While the National League gets pounded by the American League in interleague play, the senior circuit may catch a break in the All-Star Game. The way the Tigers' rotation shakes out, Justin Verlander would pitch on the Sunday before the July 12 game in Phoenix, making him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game two days later. [MLB.com]

INSIDE THE BASEBALL STUDIO: In one of the great, "I wish I would have thought of that" features of recent years, Patrick Cain of FanGraphs.com asks baseball players actual questions from James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio. His first one is with Reds starter Bronson Arroyo -- I will say, it'll be interesting to see how many guys go along with this. Bronson's one of those who will answer any question -- and give you great answers. Anyway, bravo Patrick, bravo. 

JOEY BALLGAME?: Had the Reds not taken Joey Votto in the second round of the 2002 draft, the Yankees were ready to snap up the reigning National League MVP. Former Yankee scout Dick Groch was in Votto's living room on draft day waiting for the Yankees to take him. It wasn't quite that close, though (not like, say, the Reds skipping Derek Jeter to take Chad Mottola in 1992), as the Reds selected Votto with the 44th overall pick. The Yankees didn't have a pick until 71 after losing their first-round pick by signing Jason Giambi as a free agent in 2001. So, even if the Reds had passed on Votto, we might be saying the same thing about whatever team picked him up between picks 45 and 70. [ESPNNewYork]

RAYS WOES: There was some positive baseball attendance news from this past weekend, but it wasn't coming from Tampa Bay. The Rays are second-to-last in attendance, yet have the most affordable tickets in professional sports, according to an ESPN the Magazine. [Tampa Tribune]

COFFEY RUN: Nationals reliever Todd Coffey has sprinted in from the bullpen his entire career. At the Nationals' annual Dream Foundation gala on Saturday night, Coffey made his entrance at a full-on sprint -- in a tuxedo. [Washington Post]

RICKEY A LINK TO THE A'S PAST: Rickey Henderson is working as a roving instructor in the Oakland minor league system. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy remembers how beloved an older Rickey was in San Diego, while the San Francisco Chronicle's Gwynn Knapp says Rickey is a link to the team's successful past. Rickey being Rickey can't but help Rickie's brother, Jemile Weeks, and the rest of the A's. 

HUGHES' ROAD BACK: Coming off an impressive start for short-season Staten Island on Sunday, Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes will make another start Friday for Double-A Trenton. [Trentonian]

Mets MESS: The Mets owners fired back at Irving Picard, the trustee overseeing the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, in their motion to dismiss the $1 billion lawsuit filed against them. [New York Daily News]

CANADIAN HALL: One of my all-time favorite baseball cards was the Topps Tom Henke All-Star card from 1988. I'm not sure why it always amused me so much, but I'm sure it had to do with the glasses. Still, the glasses often overshadowed one of the best pitchers of the 80s. Henke was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend. [National Post]

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Votto, Fielder to battle for NL starter at 1B



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Although St. Louis' Albert Pujols still leads the voting at first base for the All-Star Game, the race for first base will likely come down to two other National League Central first basemen, Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

Even if Pujols hangs onto his lead over Votto and Fielder, he went on the disabled list on Monday with a forearm fracture and is unlikely to be available for the July 12 All-Star Game at Phoenix's Chase Field. However, All-Star rules stipulate if a voted starter in unavailable, the honor goes to the second-place finisher at the position.

In the next-to-last National League balloting update before the July 3 announcement of roster, Pujols is second in total votes for NL players behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Braun leads the voting with 3,034,057 votes while Pujols has 2,806,864 votes.

Joey Votto is second in balloting among first basemen, narrowly edging the Brewers' Prince Fielder 2,270,211 to 2,066,327. Both Votto and Fielder certainly have convincing arguments. Votto, the reigning NL MVP, leads the NL in on-base percentage (.449) and is third in batting average (.327), while Fielder is second in the league in OPS (1.031), is tied for the league lead with 20 home runs and leads the league with 61 home runs.

The second base spot has a similar split between a Red and a Brewer, with Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips leading Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks 2,286,378 to 2,094,502 with Weeks closing in.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco leads Atlanta's Chipper Jones by more than a million votes at third base, while Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki has a respectable lead over the Mets' Jose Reyes at shortstop. The Braves' Brian McCann leads the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by nearly half-a-million votes. The outfield's top three are Braun and the Cardinals' duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, along with the Reds' Jay Bruce, are the next three in line.

Complete balloting is up at MLB.com.

The American League update will be released tomorrow.

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 7:57 pm
 

Reds, Phillips haven't discussed extension

Brandon Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Reds are expected to pick up Brandon Phillips' $12 million option for next season, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.

The team hasn't spoken to Phillips about an extension, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said, but didn't rule it out.

"He's got an option," Jocketty told Fay. "That's what options are for. We might try to get something done later."

Earlier this week, Phillips told Amy K. Nelson of ESPN that it would be "hard to keep me here," when asked about his future in Cincinnati. He added, "I'm not trying to break the bank. I'm just trying to be fair. I don't want Jayson Werth money or CC Sabathia money."

That's a little different than what Phillips has repeatedly told the Cincinnati media for the last couple of years. When speaking to Cincinnati people, he's always said he wants to stay in Cincinnati and follow in the footsteps of his boyhood idol, former Reds great Barry Larkin.

He reiterated his desire to finish his career as a Red when speaking to Fay on Saturday.

"I told the Reds and the whole world this is where I want to be," Phillips said. "If it doesn't happen, I'm going to be very, very disappointed. I feel like I've made this a second home. I bought a house here. This is where I want to be, man. The fans just took me in. I feel like I need to stay here and give back.

"Hopefully, it happens. If it doesn't happen this year, I feel in my head and my heart, it's not going to happen."

Phillips has not only made himself a fan favorite through his use of Twitter, but has also donated enough money to help rebuild a local youth baseball field through the Reds Community Fund. He's backed his talk up with actions off the field, to be sure.

Atlanta signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a five-year, $62 million deal this past offseason. Uggla has more power than Phillips, but Phillips is a better all-around player. Philips won his second Gold Glove last season and has been even better defensively this year. His batting average and on-base percentage are about the same as they were a year ago -- and better than his career averages -- but his slugging percentage has taken a dip, as he's hitting .280/.338/.387 this season with five home runs. He hit 30 homers in 2007 and his home run numbers have dropped each season since. 

Phillips will be 30 later this month, so any extension will take that into consideration.

Last year the Reds showed they are willing to pick up a questionable high-priced option when they picked up Bronson Arroyo's $11.5 million option before spinning that into a three-year, $35 million extension.

Phillips will probably be looking for something similar, although he's possibly worth more.

Uggla's contract will be one comparison, but the Reds could point to Rickie Weeks, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million extension heading into this season. Weeks has outperformed Phillips at the plate this season (although, Phillips is much, much better defensively). Phillips has also been much more durable than Weeks, who has played more than 130 games just once in his career, while Phillips has played at least 140 games in every season since coming to the Reds in 2006.

Phillips has the second-highest salary in the game for a second baseman, trailing only Chase Utley.

The Reds' payroll is at $80 million this season -- but they have Francisco Cordero's $12.125 million coming off the books after this season. The team also has raises coming to Arroyo, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce. Votto's signed through 2013, his last season before he's eligible for free agency. He gets a $4 million raise for 2012 and $7.5 million raise to $19 million in 2013. Bruce also has an increased salary for each of the next five seasons.

Reds owner Bob Castellini has said he could afford to keep the core of his team only if the team's attendance picked up after their National League Central run of a season ago. So far this season, the Reds are averaging 24,230 fans a game at Great American Ball Park, which is actually down from last season's average of 25,438. The average should increase as school lets out for the summer, but if there's a big enough increase in attendance for Castellini to keep his word is still to be seen.

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