CINCINNATI - There are two primary schools of thought regarding the monumental contract extension agreed upon by Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday. They are:
Which school you attend depends, I suppose, on whether or not your glass is half full or half empty.
Thursday was Opening Day at Great American Ballpark, when positive thinking is the rule, and just one day after it was announced that the Reds' slugging All-Star first baseman and once (and, perhaps, future) MVP will receive upward of $200 million between now and 2024.
Owing to that optimism and the good feeling provided by a sunny (but a little chilly) Opening Day Reds win, seldom were heard any discouraging words about the team's hopes for 2012 and beyond, and there were only cheers for Votto, who performed admirably in the 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins.
But have you thought about where you'll be in 2023? Heck, my crystal ball hasn't peered past Tax Day.
We can say with absolute certainty, though, that Votto, in 2023, will turn 40 years old, will be earning $25 million and will not be nearly the player he was in 2010, when he won his National League Most Valuable Player award.
It's not often that the Reds throw the dice (and dollars) around like this, much less find themselves breaking new ground in baseball's financial realm. But if history is to be our judge, the Votto deal is risky business at best and a franchise-strapping albatross at worst.
There's no question that Votto, now in his prime at 28 years old, is one of the best (if not the best) players in baseball, and that if any of them deserve to be so richly rewarded, it's the quiet left-handed slugger from Canada who, before Johnny Cueto's first pitch was thrown Thursday, shook hands with first-base umpire Ted Barrett and Miami Marlins first-base coach Gary Thurman, wishing them both the best at the start of a new season.
Votto's likeable if you're a fan of the game and downright lovable if he happens to be batting in the middle of your team's lineup and playing Gold Glove-worthy first base. Both of those virtues were on display early on Opening Day, when Votto's bloop single in the first inning was the only hit as the Reds scratched out a run, and later when he made a dazzling scoop of a throw short-hopped to him by Reds third baseman Scott Rolen.