I’m tired of writing about Willy Taveras. Really, I am.
The Reds have a lot of interesting players and storylines, and I’m going to focus more on those things in the days ahead. Besides, everyone who isn’t named Johnnie B. Baker Jr. knows that Taveras is rotten and has no business “hitting” leadoff in the Reds lineup. There isn’t even an argument anymore. Dusty is just being stubborn by sticking Taveras at the top of the order. He’s trying to prove that he’s smarter than everyone else.
And I do mean everyone. Is there anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to lead off with Wee Willy T? (And don’t forget that I tried my best to be open-minded about this acquisition.)
Anyway, sometimes these posts just write themselves, so I’m going to dip my toe into the shallow waters of this subject once more. First, I just saw this post over at Baseball Prospectus, headlined “When Cliches Go Bad”:
Small sample, but Willy Taveras has put up some unbelievable numbers over the past calendar month or so. In 97 plate appearances from May 15 to June 18, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hitting .085/.113/.096, with three walks and 20 strikeouts. Taveras also has been thrown out in two of five stolen base attempts during that span.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my question: If speed never slumps, then what is the word for this?
Of more substance is this Sports Illustrated piece by Tim Marchman that was forwarded to us by Ian, a loyal citizen of Redleg Nation. The article tries to determine the biggest free agent bust of the year. I’m sure you can guess the identity of one of the two finalists:
In fairness to the executives who signed them, if every player mentioned here was clearly a potential catastrophe, each also came with some mitigating factor attached. The two players competing for the prized title of worst signing of the winter did not.
The first is shortstop Edgar Renteria. Thirty-three and a mediocre defender with an unreal amount of wear on his treads, he has had one year in the last six in which he was something more than a decent hitter, and is thus exactly the sort one doesn’t want to tie on to. So of course the San Francisco Giants, who have made a cult of this class of player, signed him for two years and $18.5 million, and have been rewarded by the sight of Renteria trying to keep his slugging average and OBP above .300.
The second is Reds center fielder Willy Taveras. We can grant that there must be something about him that doesn’t show up in the boxscore — he has, after all, played for two pennant winners — and still marvel at the idea of paying a man with a career slugging average of .337 $6.25 million for two years. Always inept at the plate, Taveras is hitting like a pitcher this year, with a remarkable .220/.269/.273 line, and may be the single biggest reason why the Reds aren’t quite in the race right now.
Whether one thinks Taveras or Renteria was the worst signing comes down to matters of principle and philosophy. Is it worse to pay an outrageously bad player a relatively small sum of money, or to pay a merely bad one three times as much? I would tend toward the former — Renteria, after all, is usually passable even at his worst, whereas Taveras strains mightily to be so at his best. Either way, the sight of Taveras weakly grounding out to first, or of Oliver Perez throwing a ball three feet wide of the plate, and the accompanying mental images of burning piles of greenbacks, are what should come to mind this winter once the elderly and injured hit the market. People do win the lotto, but tens of millions lose.
I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.