A few minutes ago, Joey Votto called the Reds beat writers over to his locker and spoke strongly and at length about the concept of leadership and those critics who say the club lacks it. Fay and Rosecrans provide a rough transcript of Votto’s comments. Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript up now. More to come later.

Here’s Votto addressing the criticism:

“The thing that upsets me the most is the people that are talking about leadership and talking about our clubhouse are not in our clubhouse,” Votto said. “They’re not consistently here to make any sort of comment on the clubhouse. These are guys that very rarely show their face in the clubhouse, are never on the bus, not in the hotel, certainly not on the field and these guys are constantly commenting on the importance of leadership with no sort of experience to be able to have that conversation. They don’t see the interactions. They don’t see the bench. They’re going to write and talk endlessly on something they have no information on. To me, I think that’s doing a disservice to this team. It’s doing a disservice to the front office, to the coaching staff and I think it’s highly, highly convenient because we lost last year to highlight something like that.”

When pressed on who he was talking about, Votto would not list specific people. You have to wonder if he was talking about Walt Jocketty. The general manager mentions the leadership issue every time he signs an old-guy free agent, implying the team lacks that quality. Votto mentioned that this came up when the Reds signed Marlon Byrd. Cincinnati Enquirer sports writer, Paul Daugherty, wrote about the club’s leadership twice today. He would certainly fit the category of not being in the locker room. It doesn’t seem like Votto is primarily addressing Mat Latos, but other sources.  More from the Reds first baseman:

“I’m telling you, these guys are grinders, ass-kickers, you’re not going to lead Devin Mesoraco. He’s part of the leadership. You’re not going to lead Brandon, he’s part of the leadership. You don’t need one focal point, we don’t need rah-rah, we don’t need everyone to be slapped on the ass and patted on the back, because we’re not that group of guy. None of these guys need to be motivated to be at their very best. I’d like to think that this year we’re going to play and play well and win and win the division again and all that chatter will just be chatter — chatter in the rear-view mirror.”

“The thing I wanted to say is we’re doing all right. We just lost last year. We won three of the last five years. We had a couple of not-so-good runs in the playoffs. There’s a lot of variables involved. There’s no excuses. We just lost in the playoffs, but we got there. We won the division two out of three times. Last year, I would like to think was a bit of an aberration.”

Here’s to hoping this issue can become a rallying point for the club.