No, not exactly Willie, Mickey, and the Duke, is it?

John Fay brings up one of our favorite topics in response to a reader email:

Question from Steve: My question is about the Reds’ current view of Willy Taveras. Do you think they will let him come to spring training and try to win the job from Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson, or do you think the Reds will try to move him in the offseason? Do you perceive a split between the way Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty view Taveras? My sense, from afar, is that as long as WT is around, Baker will play him too much. I’m not naive in thinking the Reds could get anything back for Taveras. They would have to trade him, along with paying part of his salary to interest any team. But my feeling (hope) is that is what they will do, just to take the controversy and temptation away.

Answer: I think Taveras was Jocketty’s guy. But Baker loves the idea of speed at the top of lineup. I don’t think anyone thought Taveras would hit as little as he did or be as rough defensively. I think they would trade in a second if they could. But his $4 million salary makes that difficult. The center field job is Drew Stubbs’ to lose. The problem with Taveras is he doesn’t fit as a bench player. He has no power. He only plays center. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him designated for assignment.

Basically, Taveras is our GM’s guy, but the manager loves him too. That doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

I think Taveras is the starting CF on Opening Day 2010. What say you?

16 Responses

  1. Dan

    No, I’d bet a lot of money that Taveras will not be in the starting lineup on Opening Day.

    His piss-poor on-field performance went totally unnoticed by Dusty, but his (apparently) lazy rehab from the quad injury did not. Remember those Wally Pipp quotes from Dusty just before Willy came back?

    I think Taveras is in Dusty’s doghouse now, and with as good as Stubbs was, I think he’s our guy in CF.

    Mercifully…

  2. Dan

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit, however, to see Willy on the 25-man roster on Opening Day, which would still be some pretty serious stubbornness/stupidity.

    Let’s just DFA him and let someone else give him a minor-league invite to spring training. Please…

  3. per14

    Nothing would really surprise me from these guys.

    You know, as bad as he was last year, I don’t think he’s THAT bad. Maybe next year will be a bounce-back year, a “progression” to the mean. Maybe?

    Probably not.

  4. Mike

    As I said on redszone, I think that if he was truly Jocketty’s idea, that speaks volumes and says he will not start in CF. Dusty’s found his new toy.

  5. RiverCity Redleg

    As slow as they are to make adjustments during the seasons, they aren’t as blind in the offseason, e.g. they didn’t even consider re-signing Patterson last offseason. Fay’s words give me hope.

  6. mike

    I’ve said it many, many times but if anyone says stuff like this…
    “I don’t think anyone thought Taveras would hit as little as he did or be as rough defensively. ”

    they understand or pay attention to baseball.
    tons of people and almost EVERY projection system have Taveras as AWFUL

    the only people I know who thought he would be better are Reds management, Reds media, and Mr Redlegs

  7. Drew Nelson

    Walt has to good of a record of putting good teams on the field. Yes he made a bad judgement with Willy but name one GM who has never made a bad move. I think Drew played well enough to show them they don’t need Willy.

  8. Matt WI

    I think if he’s on the roster, he’s playing most days in CF. Fay makes sense when he says that Taveras makes almost no sense as a bench player. It’s DFA or play.

  9. Dan

    @mike: Well, mike, I don’t think your statement is entirely fair.

    I, for one, expected something along the lines of .260/.320/.320 (very bad) out of Taveras. I did not expect what actually happened — .240/.275/.285 (worst regular in all of baseball).

    I was 100% down on the signing even at the time… and yet I would still say I did not expect Taveras to hit as little as he did.

  10. Drew Nelson

    Didn’t willy hit in colorado? Maybe Walt thought given the size of GAB and how well the ball travels here he could catch lighting in a bottle again for a season or two. Sometimes you have to take a risk.

  11. Dan

    @Drew Nelson: The ball travels BETTER in Colorado than it does in Cincy, and Taveras was coming off a year in which he hit .251/.308/.296 in Colorado at the time of the signing.

    Sure, sometimes a risk is warranted.

    Other times, it’s good to know when the best move is… nothing. (Dickerson was better and cheaper and I think the vast majority of us knew it.)

    It’s telling that this is not revisionist history on our parts, too. We’re not just reacting to a bad year. I think just about all of us hated the signing before Taveras had even played a game for the Reds.

  12. Drew Nelson

    Actually I believe that over the past number of years, the balls have been flying more out of cincy then in colorado. They are doing something to the balls out there and the better hitting ballpark now is GAB.

  13. Steve

    I was the one who submitted that question to John Fay.

    When I read these words in his answer – “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him designated for assignment” – my heart skipped a beat.

    Can’t we all agree that (a) Taveras did not have a track record that should have inspired confidence of his performance in Cincinnati and (b) he underperformed even those very low expectations.

    I agree with Dan that Baker didn’t seem to care about WT’s terrible performance in CF, but seemed to pay attention to his rehab work ethic. I wonder if Baker’s newly-found scrutiny was related to Drew Stubbs’ performance?

    I still hold out hope they will be able to trade him, picking up a large chunk of his salary. That’s more face-saving for WJ and DB than just DFA.

    I just wish the Reds would get rid of him one way or another as soon as possible. One less thing hanging over the club.

  14. GRF

    I think they will admit the mistake on this one. Stubborn during the season was one thing, but with all the 40 man roster issues we have, I do not think they will risk losing a low cost prospect to keep him around. The salary is a sunk cost at this point.

  15. Dan

    @Drew Nelson: I was surprised to find that GABP actually has been a better HR park than Coors for 2 out of the last 3 years…

    But in terms of overall offense (run scoring), Coors has beaten GABP pretty much every year, including this year when Coors ranked #1 in all of baseball again.

    According to baseball-reference.com, based on 3-year totals, Coors’s run-scoring factor is 107 (which I think means 7% more runs are scored at Coors than in Rockie road games), which GABP’s factor is 104.

    The details are kind of irrelevant… the upshot is, Coors is a good park for offense, and to put up .251/.308/.296 playing half your games in Coors is atrocious.

    Signing Taveras to a TWO-year deal at that point, and guaranteeing him a 75% raise in year 2, while Dickerson was already a “bird in hand,” is just plain dumb.

    I know, I’m just a dope on a blog, and I know, Jocketty put together some very good teams in St. Louis… but this move was horrific. We were already a team w/ OBP problems, and Jocketty went out of his way to make it worse, I guess in the name of “speed and defense.” ugh…

    I will gain some faith in him, actually, if he can admit a mistake and just cut bait on Taveras.

  16. aaron

    I must agree with the poster above (Dan), we should have seen the writing on the wall with Tavaras. He isn’t suited to play in an “offensive park”, if he is in fact suited to play anywhere at all. His game is a better fit for large “defensive parks” where his speed and spaciousness of the park actually make him slightly valuable. With GABP (Coors alike) so small a player of his skillset is destined to fail. Playing in homer park with NO power will definately sink your stat line. Willy need big gaps to drop his weak little dinker drives into and then motor them into doubles. While we can say we didn’t expect him to perform this badly, I am willing to bet if we adjusted it for the inverse of the park rating (which is truly what wilys offensive skillset is: the inverse), we wouldn’t be too far off. I thought: .265/.310/.320. Anyone know what his adjusted line would be if you park adjusted for the inverse?