The Reds Can’t Win

I guess the trade of Ryan Freel and the loss of Corey Patterson left Reds management desperate for another singles-only hitter who barely contributes to your team, they signed Willy Taveras over the weekend to a 2-year deal. Sure, Taveras has lots of speed and had a ton of infield hits (37 bunt singles in 2007!) but he is incapable of scoring runs. Even on that strong offensive 2007 Rockies team, which scored 860 runs, and in spite of hitting .320 and stealing 33 bags, Taveras managed a scant 64 runs.

Yes, it was in only 97 games, but that’s a pretty good sample size, and this year in 133 games he also scored only 64 runs, this time stealing 68 bases. Maybe it has something to do with having an anemic OPS and thus being incapable of hitting at the top of the lineup. In 2007, which by any reasonable measure was Taveras’ best year, he managed an OPS+ of 89. 89! He had 120 hits last season and 102 of them were singles, and that’s with playing in Colorado with the spacious alleys. Essentially, he can’t hit the ball out of the infield, and if he can’t leg out a hit he has no chance of ever getting one.

Also, his defense is atrocious. For someone who is so fast he gets bad reads on balls, misses plays he should get and doesn’t patrol center field impressively at all.

At first glance I hated this deal for the Reds, but astonishingly, after looking at the remaining free agent outfielders I changed my mind.  There really isn’t anyone out there that is worth a starting job whatsoever. I mean, Scott Podsednik? Jay Payton? Jim Edmonds probably had the best year of the available center fielders but even still, he’s totally unlikely to duplicate last season’s surprising success.

I think the Reds got the best available player without sacrificing anything. Taveras was non-tendered by the Rockies, so no draft pick was surrendered and all they did was outlay some cash. This move doesn’t help their club in any real way that I can tell, but at the same time, someone had to play center…Who knows, maybe, miraculously Taveras will learn to take a walk and then how to be an efficient lead-off man.

I mean, it’ s not likely, but considering the other options available? It’s actually not a half-bad move, if signing a useless all judy hitter who sucks in the field for 2 years can be considered at all “half-bad.”

Hey Cincinnati, get excited for your 2009 Reds, new team motto: “Our season is over before it even began!”

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December 2008


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