Reds finalize mega-deal with former NL MVP

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Reds finalize mega-deal with former NL MVP

From Comcast SportsNet
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Joey Votto got a big payday by staying in a small market, agreeing to a 251.5 million, 12-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday that is the longest guaranteed contract in major league history. The agreement adds 225 million over 10 years to his previous contract. The deal includes a club option for 2024, when the 2010 National League MVP turns 41. After watching NL Central rivals St. Louis and Milwaukee lose their first basemen to bigger markets, the Reds secured Votto with a package that easily eclipsed Ken Griffey Jr.'s 116.5 million, nine-year deal from 2000 as the largest in franchise history. In the majors, it trails only Alex Rodriguez's 275 million and 252 million deals, both over 10 years. "Is it risky?" said owner Bob Castellini, who sought a lot of outside advice before signing off on the deal. "No doubt. That's the environment we live in, especially as a small market. We feel Joe will be a cornerstone." It wasn't an easy decision for the 28-year-old Votto to make such a long-term commitment. He decided he had found contentment in Cincinnati, which took him in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft. "Maybe I could have found that elsewhere," Votto said. "Maybe not. But I like what I've got here." Under Castellini, the Reds have been trying to rebuild the franchise into a regular winner by developing players and holding onto them. Six of their nine starters on opening day have come through the farm system. Keeping Votto rather than letting him leave for a bigger market was considered a key. "It's hard to compete with the bigger markets," manager Dusty Baker said before a workout at Great American Ball Park. "You see those guys who have left - they couldn't come up with a deal - and they go to bigger markets like New York, L.A., Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim. "It means a lot not only for the franchise but also for the city. It means kids can grow up emulating him and pretending to be Joey Votto." Albert Pujols helped St. Louis win the World Series, then got a 240 million, 10-year deal from the Angels in December. Prince Fielder led Milwaukee to the division title, but left for a 214 million, nine-year contract with the Tigers. The Reds have been trying to lock up the young core of their team for the past few years. Outfielder Jay Bruce received a six-year, 51 million deal after the 2010 season, when Cincinnati won the division but got swept in the playoffs by Philadelphia. Votto was offered a long-term deal then as well, but chose a 38 million, three-year contract instead. He said he's more willing to make a long-term commitment now, and joked his girlfriend probably was happy about that, too. Votto gets base salaries of 9.5 million this year and 17 million in 2013 under his previous agreement. The new deal includes salaries of 12 million in 2014, 14 million in 2015, 20 million in 2016, 22 million in 2017 and 25 million in each of the following six seasons. The Reds have a 20 million option for 2024 with a 7 million buyout. Votto's contract tops the 11 seasons Colorado gave Todd Helton in 2001, a deal that guaranteed him 151.45 million. It's an aggressive move for a small market franchise. Castellini said Votto's deal won't handcuff the franchise in keeping other players or Baker, who is entering the final year on his deal. "What we're doing will not be to the financial detriment to the makeup of our team in the future," he said. The Reds essentially kept their roster intact after their 2010 championship season and slipped back to third place last year. They changed strategies in the past offseason, trading for starter Mat Latos and reliever Sean Marshall while remaking their bench. Votto is the fulcrum of an offense that is one of the most productive in the NL, playing in one of its most homer-friendly ballparks. Votto batted .324 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs in 2010, and followed that by batting .309 with 29 homers, 103 RBIs and a career-high 40 doubles last year. His contract eclipses the deal that Griffey got to return to his hometown team in a trade with Seattle in 2000 as the richest in club history. Griffey was the face of the franchise then, even though much of his time in Cincinnati was spent recovering from injuries. Now, it's Votto's turn. "It means a lot to the city to have Joey as the face of the franchise," Baker said. "He's a very good role model for the task." Votto's shy personality came across during a news conference broadcast live to announce the deal. He practiced reading a statement beforehand, but acknowledged that he was nervous. When he stumbled over a word, he joked, "There was a typo right there." Finally, he put the paper aside and talked about how he'd react to the deal. "I always try to do my best," he said. "I can't promise you anything going forward. I can't promise you health or promise you production. I can promise you I'll do my best."

Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

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Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

BOSTON – It was an excellent night for the many varied Bruins prospects in the preseason opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The B’s eventually dropped the game in a 3-2 shootout loss at TD Garden, but not before some of their young players showed exactly what they can do.

“For sure it’s a lot of fun. Coming in here everybody’s a little nervous, but it was, once you’re out there, it’s just fun. It was good to see the young guys out there,” said former University of Denver standout Danton Heinen, who scored the tying strike in the third period on a redirect. “It was definitely adjusting. You don’t totally know what to expect and then once the game went on I kind of felt a little more comfortable. We started playing better as a team.”

Former first-round pick Jake DeBrusk set up the B’s first goal with Jimmy Hayes by executing a nifty give-and-go at the Columbus net, and young skaters Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik made the initial transition passes that led up to the goal. In the third period Danton Heinen redirected a Brandon Carlo point shot from the slot area, and scored in his first career game played at TD Garden in an impressive show of hand-eye coordination.

Carlo, Czarnik, DeBrusk, Zboril and Heinen all had strong performances on the score sheet and at both ends of the ice, and that’s exactly what the Bruins coaching staff wanted to see with NHL jobs potentially up for grabs in main camp.

“A lot of young players in the lineup, I won’t go through all of them, but I thought quite a few of them acquitted themselves well,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “They were given opportunities to do that. I think some of them certainly took advantage of it, and did a nice job.”

It was good that the young players stepped up and made a nice impression in the preseason debut because the veteran players will cut into their opportunities once the World Cup of Hockey crew gets sprinkled into the mix starting this week. 

Tom Brady explains why he thinks Bill Belichick is the best of all time

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Tom Brady explains why he thinks Bill Belichick is the best of all time

Tom Brady may be biased, but he believes that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the best to ever walk a sideline. 

That's what Brady told Westwood One's Jim Gray in an interview before the radio broadcast of Monday night's game between the Falcons and Saints. After Belichick helped cook up a game plan for the Patriots to beat the Texans on short rest with rookie third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett behind center, Brady may not have many people argue with him. 

"I definitely think so," Brady answered when he was asked if Belichick was "the best coach to have ever done this."

"I think whatever hand he's been dealt, he finds a way to win. That's the mark of a great coach. Sitting in those meetings for the last 16 years and watching him prepare the team, there's no [other] coach I'd ever want to play for. He's just remarkable in every aspect. It's a privilege to play for him. I look forward to going back out there and, you know, getting yelled at by him. He's tough on the players and he expects the very best out of each of us every day. That ends up getting the best out of players. He's so consistent with his approach, and it's paid of for our team for a long time."

Brady said it's that consistency that stands out to him and separates Belichick from any of his peers.

"I think his consistency is just what's remarkable," Brady explained. "It's so much of what you don't see on these Sunday afternoons. But it's the way the offseason program is run in April. It's his urgency and enthusiasm at that time of year when no one's watching. His OTA schedule and his emphasis over the course of those practices in May and June when no one's really watching. There's no scoreboard to compete against. But we always feel like we're in competing against the other teams, even when there is no scoreboard.

"You go to training camp, and you can't waste days in training camp because you don't get those days back. Those days in training camp are going to prepare you for what's going to happen in Septmeber. There's urgency throughout the entire offseason to get us to the month of September, and then once September comes it's all about winning games and making improvements towards October.

"Then once you make improvements toward October, you can be in a really good position to really capitalize come November. That's when the playoff races start to shape up and you really see where you're at and there's a lot of scouting done at that point. That's whenn you really see the team develop and how the depth of the team really takes place. Coach Belichick is always understanding where the roster needs to be at and which positions we may need a little more depth at based on injuries over the course of the season.

"Then comes December when it's the last stretch of the season when you need to be at your best. He prepares us all the way throughout the season. His consistency has been remarkable. It's been fun to see from this point obvously for the last four weeks, but I've experienced that every day. That part of it doesn't really surprise me, but to see the way that my teammates have come out and played and performed under pressure on a Sunday night game, and the first home game, and a Thursday national TV game, it's just been so much fun to watch."