The Joey Votto Silver Lining

Joey VottoThe buzz around Cincinnati baseball and rightly so has been the temporary loss of All-Star Joey Votto for likely a month give or take a few days. But these should not be considered times that try the soul of a team frankly no matter how much any team would miss one of the game’s consummate hitters, not to mention a Gold Glove first baseman.

It is however a span that will temporarily test the mettle of the team, but not to worry. Good teams, teams built for a serious run at a playoff spot are built to withstand such unforeseen events throughout the course of a grueling six-month regular season.

Votto is one of the game’s great hitters currently, but rest assured the Reds have plenty of pieces in place to withstand such a loss and if there is a silver lining, losing one of the best players in the game, it does give other players a chance to play and with a surplus of players itching for playing time, it is not a (real) bad thing and it too gives others a time to shine.

Do not think for a second players are not eager to step up and show they too have what it takes to help the team win and probably, silently they have to feel it is a time to show Votto is not the only star that is capable of leading the team to the promised playoff land, even if unspoken.

Each and every team of any stature within baseball has to endure injuries and the loss of key players and some are far more equipped to do so than others and the Reds seem to be one very capable of holding the fort in Votto’s absence.

Take for example the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team fighting each day of late for the top spot in the Central Division standings with the Reds. It would seem to this scribe, the Bucs would be far less equipped had they been forced to face a stretch without Andrew McCutchen.

And take the Cardinals as an example of a team that has proved time and time again they know how not only to endure, but flourish, winning the World Series a season ago without one pitch from one of the National League’s premier pitchers in Adam Wainwright.

This season St. Louis has hardly dropped off the planet in the absence of Lance Berkman, a key cog in the lineup, and have stayed quite close to the leaders while Berkman was on the injury mend until the veteran hitter’s recent return.

The important numbers now to keep in mind are not those of Votto who ranks high in every offensive statistical category in the league, but simply 50-38, Cincinnati’s record when Votto last played before succumbing to arthroscopic knee surgery, in today’s world, a relatively minor procedure all things considered. And keep in mind just how much worse things could have been.

Cincinnati could have been a mediocre .500 team at the time and even worse, Votto’s injury could have kept him out far longer had it been more serious. Electing now to have it taken care of bodes well for the future and the Reds’ 2012 future remains promising.

It seems rather strange around these parts for Reds fans to be keeping a watchful on the scoreboard checking to see how the Pirates are doing doesn’t it, in light of decades of doldrums in Pittsburgh and even more strange referring to what a “big” series the Reds and Pirates have upcoming in early August. Strange indeed, but good for the Bucs and good for baseball, really.

As for the month or so Votto will be out, realistically if the Reds can tread water, even playing .500 in his absence, they should be in rather good shape. And I still maintain somewhere in the neighborhood of 86-88 games will be good enough to take the Central Division even if three or possibly four teams will have a say deep into the season.