Time for a rambling post about Joey Votto. From Mark Sheldon:

Dizziness from the inner ear infection that’s been dogging Reds first baseman Joey Votto struck again Friday night. The club has avoided putting Votto on the disabled list for more than two weeks but that could change soon….

After the game in the manager’s office, a 40-minute closed-door meeting was held with Reds manager Dusty Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty, head trainer Mark Mann and Votto.

No roster move was announced once the door opened, but Baker said that Votto would not play on Saturday….

It was the third time since May 11 that dizzy spells have forced Votto out of a game. On May 21 after a battery of tests, the inner ear infection was revealed….

Baker was asked if a transaction was coming.

“I don’t know yet,” he quietly responded.

Sheldon has more over at Reds.com, so be sure to read the entire article.

I’m torn here. We have been somewhat critical here about the Reds freezing like a deer in the headlights when someone gets hurt (particularly the Alex Gonzalez fiasco earlier in the year and the more recent Nick Masset and Brandon Phillips situations), preferring to do nothing rather than disable someone. Reds management has shown that they don’t mind putting Dusty Baker behind the eight ball, forcing him to play with less than a full roster.

That said, the Votto situation has been somewhat different. Votto is so vital to the team’s offense, I’ve been inclined to wait it out (as long as playing every other day, or whatever, wasn’t prolonging the effects of the condition). If I thought the Reds could get this thing cured, never to return, in fifteen days, I’d say put him on the DL.

Now, though, I’m not confident that the Reds really know what the problem is with Votto (or, alternatively, they know exactly what it is, but they aren’t telling us the entire truth). Who knows? Maybe it really is an inner ear infection. I don’t know enough about medicine (I’m in the field of law, after all) to say whether a DL stint is what Votto needs.

What I do know is this: the Reds desperately need Joey Votto if they are to remain competitive in 2009. The way they’ve approached this situation clearly hasn’t worked to this point, and the Reds continue to play with a smaller roster of available players than their opponents.

It’s just a bad situation all the way around, and it couldn’t be happening to a less-deserving player.

Now, let’s imagine for a moment that the Reds do place Votto on the disabled list. The first thought is that the Reds will bring up Wilkin Castillo, and let Ramon Hernandez take the lion’s share of playing time at first base. That’s a bad, bad idea, not because Hernandez can’t handle first base (he’s been okay there defensively, and his offense has been decent this year, too), but because Castillo just isn’t a major league baseball player.

The other option that has been suggested in many corners is that the Reds could call up Drew Stubbs to play center and left, and let Jonny Gomes take some of the playing time at first (combined with Hernandez and Adam Rosales). That’s a better solution, since Stubbs at least has the talent to play in the major leagues. I don’t see the Reds doing this, but it’s better than bringing up Castillo.

Of course, that would require the Reds to place Stubbs on the 40-man roster. Bill Bray could always be placed on the 60-day disabled list, which would open up space on the 40-man, so that’s not really a problem. It would require using up the first of Stubbs’ options, but he’s playing pretty well in AAA this year and he might be in the big leagues to stay next year, so that’s not a big deal to me, either.

Stubbs has surprised me a bit. His defense has always been great, and his hitting has actually come around more than I thought it would. Frankly, a Stubbs/Chris Dickerson platoon in center field in 2010 might be relatively productive.

If I were the Reds, however, I’d call up Kevin Barker for fifteen days and let him split time with Hernandez and Rosales at first. He’s old, a prototypical AAAA player, but he has some pop and, frankly, I’d like to see him get another shot at playing in the bigs, if only for a couple of weeks. Let him play strictly against right-handers, and he’d be fine. (Plus, I saw him play in high school; he looked great back then!)

Okay, that’s probably not going to happen either. What do you guys think the Reds should do, and what do you think they will do (those are often mutually exclusive)?

UPDATE: Joey Votto has officially been placed on the 15-day DL, and Wilkin Castillo (number 26 in your programs, number one in your hearts) has been recalled. You know what I think about Castillo being on the roster, but what about this line from the DL story:

The Reds put first baseman Joey Votto today on the 15-day disabled list with stress-related issues.

Stress-related issues? Someone mentioned that in last night’s game thread.

I’m officially concerned.