I'm guessing that Joey Votto is not a bad guy. He's just a good guy who did a dumb thing Wednesday night. After striking out swinging to end the inning, Votto threw his helmet in disgust (likely with himself).
He was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Chris Conroy, but didn't immediately realize it. Running in from his position to protest he...well, just watch:
Votto pretty clearly initiates contact with Conroy. It's likely incidental, but Votto is obviously at fault for running up to get in Conroy's face. He is very rightly going to earn a hefty suspension and fine for it too.
That's bad for Votto, of course, but it's truly awful for the Reds, who have also had to contend with Homer Bailey's impending Tommy John surgery and Devin Mesoraco's extended non-absence. Votto, hitting .323/.427/.596 with seven homers, 17 RBI, and even four stolen bases in a resounding comeback from last year's injury-filled disappointment.
Maybe a sliver of good news?
On the bright side, maybe this will finally force the Reds to do something about their Mesoraco problem. The All Star catcher from last year hasn't started a game in almost a month due to a hip injury that, just yesterday, he acknowledged is likely to require surgery that will put him out for four months. It is unclear why the Reds are waiting, except that they really wanted to use him as a pinch hitter and as a reason for Bryan Price to cuss out the team's beat writers.
They've used him as a pinch hitter eight times since then, and he's gone 0-for-5 with three walks and a HBP in nine plate appearances. Overall, he is hitting .080/.233/.080 on the year. Those four free passes over the course of a month cannot come close to justifying what the Reds are potentially missing out on from a guy who hit .273/.359/.534.
Reds Roster Problems
If Mesoraco and the Reds had responded quickly to his injury, he might have undergone the surgery quickly and been back in August. If he had it now, he might be ready to play in September, which could be a huge asset if the club (currently 14-13) is still in contention for the Wild Card. Instead, the Reds continue to delay what seems inevitable, further reducing the likelihood that Mesoraco will be available when they might need him most.
Now, hopefully, they won't have that option. Someone must play first base. So far, Kristopher Negron and Brayan Pena (who is now the primary catcher with Mesoraco out) have spelled Votto there this season. Negron, a minor league veteran with a .227/.289/.344 career record at Triple-A, lucked his way into 150 good plate appearances last year and secured a bench job for 2015. He has reverted to his old self, of course, and is hitting .067/.200/.067. It's not a good option, but looking at the rest of the Reds 40-man roster (yuck, just don't do it), he may be the best and least disruptive solution.
Still other options
The Reds could also slide Todd Frazier over from third base, and use Negron, Skip Schumaker, or Ivan De Jesus (currently hot at Louisville and not on the 40-man roster) in his place. Or they could bring Jay Bruce in from right field, which they did a couple times last year, and use Negron, Schumaker, or Brennan Boesch in the outfield.
Whichever way they go, however, their bench is going to be awfully short, especially if they can only use Mesoraco as a pinch hitter. A much better solution is to finally acknowledge reality and call someone, anyone, up who can contribute both at the plate and in the field. And then hope both that Mesoraco can make his way back in September and that the Reds are still playing meaningful games at that point.