Well, this is absolutely not the news that the Reds needed today…first baseman Joey Votto has torn his meniscus in his left knee, and will miss three to four weeks. The Reds are currently leading the NL Central by a game over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The good thing for the Reds is that over the next four weeks and thirty games, they play just six games against teams above .500: three against the Pirates, and three against the Mets. All six of those games are at home. The Reds also only have two road trips, with each lasting a week, over the expected period that they'll be without Votto. So obviously, that's a huge break for the team.
Now, the rather obvious bad news: Votto is the team's best player, and there is absolutely not an adequate replacement for him on the team. In 86 games this year, Votto has totaled 4.9 fWAR, 14 homers, and a 1.069 OPS. Yeah, that's pretty good. Brandon Phillips is the only other offensive player on the team worth more than two wins (2.4), and the catching platoon of Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco are the only players with a walk rate over 10% (Votto is at 17.8%, while Hanigan is at 10.1% and Mesoraco is at 10%).
Replacing Votto in their lineup is going to be a chore. The Reds are using Todd Frazier at first tonight, while Scott Rolen is starting at third. Rolen has been hurt and ineffective this year, playing in just 45 games and tallying a .574 OPS with only three homers, along with declining defense at third. If the Reds do keep that alignment, Rolen will essentially be replacing Votto in the lineup….and that's a huge loss offensively. Last year, Rolen had just a .676 OPS and five homers in 65 games, but he had 20 homers and an .855 OPS while healthy in 2010.
If the Reds can get *that* type of performance from Rolen while Votto is out, they can survive. But if the Rolen from the last two years is the guy they're getting…it could be a rough month, even with that extremely favorable schedule.
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