From Ken Rosenthal over at Fox Sports (via Red Reporter):

Rival executives continue to suggest the Reds blew it by signing center fielder Willy Taveras to a two-year, free-agent contract. The Reds instead could have alternated Chris Dickerson and Jerry Hairston in center and pursued a right-handed hitting left fielder such as Josh Willingham in a trade or Ty Wigginton as a free agent. Willingham would make sense in a platoon with Dickerson.

Rosenthal and these “rival executives” have an astute command of the obvious. Too bad Walt Jocketty doesn’t share that trait.

(Although I’m coming around to the idea that Taveras isn’t going to be a disaster this year — more on that later — signing him to a two year deal was just ludicrous.)

19 Responses

  1. Scott

    What exactly did they blow? They chose a poor player out of a selection of below average options on a team that is a year away from getting serious about competing. Probably a bad decision but not going to cost them too much in the big picture.

  2. daedalus

    I agree with you, Chad, about coming around on Taveras. I don’t know what it is, really, that has made me kind of change my mind – nothing concrete, really. I just have this unexplained feeling that this is going to be a career year for him, that he’s just going to be one of several who benefit from the energy this team is giving off. I mean, it’s not like the guy doesn’t have potential, right? He did finish second in ROY voting, and he’s still young. I’m taking the wait and see approach right now, I guess. I just don’t think he’s Corey Patterson II and I am going to stop letting that bad taste cloud my judgment of Taveras.

    Jocketty has a track record for reviving players and getting the most out of them for a year or two. I think I’m starting to find some trust in a guy who put together two World Series teams and six playoffs in a decade.

    And to think this off season I was depressed about being a Reds fan…

  3. Mark T

    The number 68 sticks in my mind, and the fact that he has played on two championship teams. He had to have had a little to do with that. But then they both cut him loose. They had to know something.

    Confused, I am.

  4. nycredsfan

    I agree with all. I’m not so down on Taveras this year. For me it’s two things: a new commitment to bunting, which he’s pretty good at and is a repeatable skill, and his willingness to take a walk so far this spring and at the WBC.

    Having said that, the second guaranteed year, when apparently no one else was offering it, is just dumb.

  5. NickP

    The option in LF should have been Edwin.

    Then we could have signed Joe Crede or someone like that to play third.

    Oh well.

  6. Dan

    I agree w/ all of the above, and I also hope that with his speed he actually will be a great defensive CF. That would be worth a lot.

    However, I have one more idea to throw out there… This is really a fantasy, but just imagine for a second that Jonny Gomes goes all Josh Hamilton-y or Carlos Quentin-y on us and just makes it clear that he needs to be out there in LF every day. (I know, not too likely, but just play along.) Imagine he’s the clear cut LF and cleanup hitter every day. Think of how nicely that would make other things play out?

    For one thing, I think there’s a decent chance that pushes Dickerson over to CF and then we’d have a Dickerson/Taveras platoon, which I think would be pretty darn nice.

    Phillips would become a #6 hitter where he belongs. (Maybe #2 vs. LHP’s, which I’d be fine with.)

    Anyway, I know this is a long shot, but I’ve been pro-Gomes for a while, and I just love this thought. It would make a lot of things look a lot better.

  7. Bill Lack

    Dan, stop it. You’re getting me all “positive”…and that just isn’t done.

  8. per14

    They blew it by feeling that they had to sign someone at all. Sure, maybe there wasn’t much else out there that was better than Taveras. But I would rather have had the Reds not spend the money at all than spend it on a lousy player, esp. for 2 years.

  9. RiverCity Redleg

    Why would you rather they have saved the money? Why would you not want the option of using Teveras over the alternative of not having that option? That makes no sense. I would understand if you said that money could have been better spent on someone else that was available, but to say he’s worse than nothing at all is a stretch.

  10. Dan

    CF Dickerson/Taveras
    3B Encarnacion
    1B Votto
    LF Gomes
    RF Bruce
    2B Phillips
    C Hernandez
    SS Gonzalez/Hairston/Keppinger

    Ahhh… I like that a lot… if Gomes blossoms this year. (And by blossom I guess I mean, I don’t know, .250/.350/.500 with not too terrible defense in LF?)

    The more I think about it, the more I think this is about the only thing that’s going to make me believe the Reds can be a factor in the division or the wild card — to have serious offensive threat develop out of (almost) nowhere. (And to have the pitching hold up.)

    Otherwise, I just don’t see us scoring enough runs. Not enough OBP.

  11. Dan

    By the way, if Dusty follows through on his moronic idea to start the lineup out this way:

    CF Taveras
    SS Gonzalez
    1B Votto

    … then I think poor Votto might hit 30 HR and have about 60 RBI.

    I mean, how stupid would it be to load up two out-making machines in front of your best hitter?

  12. brublejr

    Dan, I like the lineup above if Gomes isn’t the player of last year. I think he is mostly a lefty basher, who is having a great spring. But yes, had the Reds gone after a big bat for the middle to play LF, this is how the lineup should be constructed.

  13. Dan

    Good point, bruble.

    I looked up Gomes’s splits. In 2005, when he finished 3rd in the AL ROY, he mashed both LHP’s and RHP’s equally — actually a tad better vs. RHP’s.

    Then in ’06, ’07, and ’08, he was just awful vs. RHP’s.

    I wonder what happened?

    Anyway, I’m pulling for the 2005 version to re-emerge.

  14. Mike

    I’m willing to give Taveras a chance. At least we don’t have to suffer another season with Corey Patterson.

  15. per14

    I’m thinking the mashing vs. RHPs was an aberration and/or the league figured Gomes out. I’m hopeful on Gomes too, Dan. But it speaks volumes of this organization that our hope for a clean-up hitter and team-wide offensive production is one who was acquired mainly to be half of a platoon split.

    As for Taveras, who knows, maybe he’ll pan out. I’m not saying he is worse than nothing, but the Reds are spending 6 millions bucks on him. If he goes out there and puts up a .270/.290/.350 line–which is a strong possibility–then I much rather would have had the Reds use Dickerson, Hopper, or heck even Stubbs in CF, than spend 6 million bucks on Taveras. In other words, if Taveras was the best they could do, then why even bother? Save that money and either invest it in the farm system, scouting, or use it next year. I’d feel differently if they spent $500,000 on him. This is a classic case of a GM having cash burning a hole in his pocket and feeling like he has to spend it on someone, anyone, no matter how bad he is.

    As pessimistic as this all sounds, I’m a little optimistic on the guy, but it’s hard to overlook the money they spent on him.

  16. per14

    Oops. Meant to say .270/.350/.290 line. Heck, I’d be probably be happy with a .270/.290/.350 line.

    “I’m willing to give Taveras a chance. At least we don’t have to suffer another season with Corey Patterson.”

    I agree. I’ll give him a change. I don’t think he can be worse than Patterson. I’m glad it wasn’t my money the Reds spent.

  17. per14

    Man I’m having a bad day on these slash stats. Brain is getting fuzzy. Let’s put it this way: a .290 OBP from Taveras is a strong possibility. A .350 OBP would be great.

    I will now go take a nap.

  18. RiverCity Redleg

    I understand what you’re saying. I guess I just live in the make-believe world where a player’s salary doesn’t dictate playing time and if Dickerson, Hopper or Stubbs turns out to be the better option in CF then that’s who’ll be out there. Also, in my fantasy world, the money they spend on Teveras has nothing to do with a decision to sign or get someone else (at any position) if they thought that person could help the team.

    We both know that this Utopian Baseball world does not exist, but I like to dream anyway.

  19. Steve Price

    Info blurbs from different writers and from different angles

    1) Taveras may be worse offensively than Patterson since Patterson actually offered some power. Patterson is also considered to be better defensively.

    2) The Rockies couldn’t find anyone to even take Taveras in a trade…so we signed him as one of the first free agents of the winter to this contract?

    3) There were other options….we have players already in our system who would have offered at least what Taveras has already offered.

    4) If Gomes hasn’t hit right handers in the last three years, it’s probably not going to happen this year either (I’m not a gambler, but the odds would seem to suggest he’s a platoon player)

    5) As for not spending the money on Taveras, other options were listed in the original article that would have helped us more

    6) Read a new study last night on “ground ball hitters” and fly ball hitters….(new Bill James book “The Bill James Gold Mine 2009”.

    Know what it said?

    It said almost all hitters hit in a 4-2-4 ratio: four ground balls, 2 line drives, and four flyballs.

    It said that line drives typically go for a .725 batting average. Fly balls and ground balls average to about .250.

    It said that there are precious few “fly ball hitters” for it’s hard to keep the upper cut in the hitting zone long enough to be continuously effective.

    It said there were “ground ball” hitters (mentioned Taveras by name) andit said that ground ball hitters, at the max, hit into a 5-2-3 ratio.

    Unfortunately, without a power hitter hitting ground balls, they, too are easy outs. Juan Pierre’s career ground ball BA is .237….but, that’s better than the .122 he hits on flyballs….

    It didn’t give Taveras’s ground ball numbers, but being fast does help.

    However, it did say this about Taveras…in 2007, when he batted .320, he batted .347 against pitchers with an ERA of 3.50 or less.

    In 2008, against pitchers with an ERA of 3.50 or less, he batted .205.

    ERA of 3.51 to 4.25…he batted .218.
    Over 5.00…305..

    This kind of goes along with the batting average on balls in play stat….it’s somewhat random….

    Unless you hit line drives….