Doug shared his list of possible Rule V candidates last week. Given the lack of catching depth in the Reds upper minors, I find Oakland A’s AAA catcher Anthony Recker most intriguing.

He has a career minor league line of .270/.344/.451 and last year’s performance was in line with that .267/.342/.462. It appears that he’s had a problem with passed balls in the past, but last year cut that rate in half (6 in 77 games.) He also has a good CS% of 33% each of the past two seasons.

I know that no one would get very excited about the prospect of carrying three catchers on the roster, but I would find this scenario a better use of roster space than carrying Willy Taveras in a misguided attempt to recoup that sunk cost.

48 Responses

  1. preach

    I’d rather carry four catchers than have Willy Taveras. Seriously.

    Catching depth around the majors is pretty lean, but this guy doesn’t seem to warrant a space. Of course, Rule 5 makes life simple: he works out or he’s gone, and it’s a cheap experiment.

    It is a guaranteed win if he comes and Willy goes.

  2. preach

    “Three Catchers or Willy Taveras” really sums our situation up nicely, doesn’t it? Sheesh.

  3. Eric Davis Fan

    We should’ve gotten Torre to manage when he was available. Taveras, Weathers and Encarnacion needed to go (praying on Taveras). We need to get better with trades too, hopefully Jocketty has some sense on this. I am still po’ed about The REDS trading Paul O’Neill to the Yanks! Heck we should’ve done that with Adam Dunn, not Hairston. They better start bringing up the young guys and start preparing them for the show. Problem is we are not a big market team. This year we might get over .500 depending on who leaves, hopefully not Nix or Gomes. GO REDS

  4. pinson343

    I was going to say: “I’d rather have four catchers than Willy Taveras.” But I see that was the first sentence of the first comment.
    Actually, for part of September, Taveras was out and 4 catchers were active, and that was better.

  5. Dan

    Is it true that if no further moves are made, the 40-man roster is full, so we’d be unable to take anyone in the Rule V draft? That’s my understanding.

  6. pinson343

    Yes we’d have to dump someone to take anybody in the Rule V draft.
    Looking thru Doug’s list, Recker was the most interesting.

    How about if we pick up Clemens so his old man will pitch for us for the 2nd half of the season ? (Just kidding.)

  7. Shawn

    Unless Recker is a really good defensive catcher, he’s not worth it. His offense has been pretty pedestrian at some good places to hit, like Midland, where he struck out 140 times in 117 games. In the majors, he’d get eaten alive.

  8. JasonL

    Why not three catchers AND Willy Taveras. Then we could have a totally useless bench!

  9. brublejr

    Taveras has only one thing he can do to help the team and that is pinch running. So as long as someone else can help the team more than just pinch running than they are more valuable than Taveras. Personally if he can hit alright and can play a little bit of first base as well as catcher, then you can take a flier on him…plus we wouldn’t have to endure watching Corky Miller again. 🙄

  10. Chris

    As much as Taveras bothers me, there’s no way he can be THAT bad again. Right? Right? 😯

  11. Travis G.

    I wish Corky Miller could hit just a little. I’m not sure whether the stats entirely bear this out, but I just felt like everyone pitched better with him behind the plate. He seems like one of those guys who’ll end up being a good manager someday.

    I’d personally rather clone Javier Valentin, circa now, and carry both the original and the clone on the 25-man roster than one Willy Taveras.

  12. JustTheFacts

    Taveras is a career .985 Fielder. He was .986 last year with a UZR of +8.3 (UZR/150 +14.1). Just wanted to put that out there to clear some of the clutter. If Walt hadn’t have paid him all that money and Baker not run him out there every day at lead off would there be so much hate out there?

    • JasonL

      JustTheFacts: Taveras is a career .985 Fielder.He was .986 last year with a UZR of +8.3 (UZR/150 +14.1).Just wanted to put that out there to clear some of the clutter.If Walt hadn’t have paid him all that money and Baker not run him out there every day at lead off would there be so much hate out there?

      Yes, because his anemic bat makes him below replacement level. Players that bad should not be starting on Major League teams.

  13. JustTheFacts

    Career Hitting: .271 AVG, .321 OBP, .329 SLUG, .318 BABIP, .649 OSP.

    Hitting, he’s right in the middle of the ML averages. He’s going to be here, there nothing anyone can do unless Bobo eats his salary.

    Recker should go in the Rule 5. He’s got decent numbers. I’d be okay with 3 catchers, but if you drop Taveras, I’d rather keep one of the OFs you’re keeping off the roster.

    • Dan

      JustTheFacts:Hitting, he’s right in the middle of the ML averages.

      Sorry, Facts, but I couldn’t let this one go. Hitting, Taveras is right near the middle of the MLB averages???

      Taveras career – .276 AVG
      NL non-pitcher – .273 AVG (park-adjusted to Willy’s home parks)

      Taveras career – .321 AVG
      NL non-pitcher – .345 AVG (park-adjusted)

      Taveras career – .328 AVG
      NL non-pitcher – .437 AVG (park-adjusted)

      Taveras career – 68 OPS+
      NL non-pitcher – 100 OPS+ (park-adjusted)

      Actually, I’m not sure… if we only look at non-pitchers, I think the average OPS+ might be over 100…

      But at any rate, Willy is NOWHERE NEAR an average offensive player. Not even close. He gets hits at a league-average rate, he walks less often than average, and he has WAY WAY WAY less power than average.

      Offensively, other than speed, he is replacement-level, meaning that most any team has someone in the minors who could come up and do the same thing (or better) at the league minimum salary.

      On the Reds, we have Dickerson, who could do BETTER than Taveras for LESS money. That is what irked me so much about the signing — we already had someone better and cheaper! The only catch was that Dickerson was not “established” whereas, apparently, Fast Willy was.

      Teams that give players jobs just because they are “established” are bad teams. Managers who play guys just because they are “established” are bad managers. See, e.g., Reds and Dusty.

      I know, I know, this is worn and tired territory… but let’s not excuse the decision. It was a terrible decision, even at the time, and it actually turned out even worse than expected.

      Please, Reds, admit a mistake, and cut bait.

  14. JustTheFacts

    I’m not defending Taveras, I just think it is vogue right now to trash him. Numbers lie, they don’t show all the times he didn’t come through when it mattered which is way everyone is hating on him. I’d rather he not be on the team, but there is nothing that can be done. Baker likes speed, if he’s on the team he will get his starts. But until Bobo eats this salary, all this doesn’t matter.

  15. Dan

    Oh yeah, I guess I should say… we now have Dickerson, Stubbs, and possibly Heisey who almost certainly better and cheaper than Taveras… so the signing (for 2 years) looks even worse in that light.

    I mean, it’s not a surprise that Stubbs is ready to be The Man in CF now. That was totally foreseeable a year ago at this time when the 2-year deal was offered to Willy.

    And the guaranteed 75% raise for Fast Willy for 2010… oy…

    I swear, if not for the Reds, Willy would’ve probably had a Joey Gathright type offer (1 year, $800K), or a Scott Podsednik offer (minor-league deal, also $800K if he managed to make the team). I just don’t see how Willy merited any more than that.

    He was, apparently, a very good defender. I will give him that. (But I think a Dickerson/Stubbs combo would’ve also been excellent defensively in CF – possibly even better than Willy.)

  16. preach

    Corey Patterson has more power, is a better defender, hits for higher average, and has almost as much speed.

    Corey. Freaking. Patterson.

    Next topic, please.

    • preach

      preach: Corey Patterson has more power, is a better defender, hits for higher average, and has almost as much speed. Corey. Freaking. Patterson. Next topic, please.

      Corey. Freaking. Patterson. Why are we still having this conversation?

  17. JustTheFacts

    Dan, if your numbers are correct, then I stand corrected.

  18. JustTheFacts

    Any ideas why Devin Mesoraco has been so slow to develop? Almost three years in the minors and is hitting .238 in Single A? He was 15th overall in the 2007 draft. I know he was injured, but what’s up?

  19. Dan

    @JustTheFacts: Sorry about the rant… the Willy decision just kind of gets me going.

    But yeah, those numbers are right off baseball-reference.com, so I think they’re accurate. I suppose you could quibble with how “park adjustments” are done, but the fact is that he’s played in 3 good hitters parks — Houston, Colorado, Cincinnati — so I think you do want to take that into account when you put his career numbers in context.

    I don’t have anything against Willy personally. But the signing (Jocketty) and the starting him and batting him leadoff (Dusty) over and over and over again… those are indefensible, and it makes me worry about what other moves are forthcoming.

    In my opinion, the savviest move we’ve seen out of Jocketty here in Cincy so far was the Gomes signing. That was a nice buy-low play, and we definitely needed the power. (Of course… they did also pick McDonald over Gomes for the first month or two of the season…)

  20. JasonL

    @WORLD:

    Here are some numbers for you:
    75, 74, 89, 55, 48

    Those are Willy’s OPS+ numbers, in order, for his five full seasons in the majors. Notice a trend? He has never been good. He had one year when, balanced with his fielding he was probably okay, but most of the time he has been bad to awful. Unless a player is Ozzie Smith or some near equivalent, he simply cannot make up for those awful hitting number by being fast and a decent fielder. The last two years, he has been below replacement level. Below replacement = Not a Major Leaguer. He is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Not a useful player because others, who are better could be had, in essence, for free (free = league min.). That is what a replacement player is. Someone who is readily available for the league minimum. Taveras is worse than that, and thus not a major leaguer. Last year, he was by every statistical measure the worst hitting player in the NL with at least 300 at bats.

    In conclusion: Taveras bad. Anyone else better.

  21. baparent

    there seem to be 3 options with willie taveras in order of preference
    1. pay some team 2 million to take him (my favorite)
    2. pay willie 4 million to go away
    3. pay willie 4 million to play here (no no no no …)
    as for a third catcher the reds keep 12 pitchers (leaves 13 position players) none of the top 5 outfielders can play infield, you must have 6 infielders to substitute freely, this leaves room for just 2 catchers unless one of can play the infield (other than 1B)

  22. BigRedMike

    Good post Jason. Taveras is just flat out bad no matter how you look at it. The fact that he is signed for more than $4 million this year makes things even worse.

  23. Dan

    @WORLD: I’ll grant you that Willy is very fast and is a good defensive player.

    But neither of those things is as important as how a player hit and get on base.

    The problem is that Willy walks so rarely and has SO little power that he needs to bat at least .320 to be helping at all. (He’s done that 1 out of 5 years.) Given his game, even if he bats .320 his overall line is likely to be something like .320/.360/.370, and believe it or not, that’s STILL not very good. (It’s OK, it’s just not great.)

    If Willy is going to bat .250 or even .280, I don’t want him anywhere near my 25-man roster. His speed and his glove are not enough to make up for a .280/.320/.330 line. Good teams don’t play guys like that.

    • Travis G.

      Dan: Willy walks so rarely and has SO little power that he needs to bat at least .320 to be helping at all.(He’s done that 1 out of 5 years.)

      It’s important to note that the season Willy T. looked like a decent ballplayer, when he hit .320/.367/.382 for the ’07 Rockies, he played in only 97 games and made 408 plate appearances. That’s not quite a full season, and his BABIP was a robust .371 (50 points higher than his career average).

      He simply didn’t play in enough games to regress to the mean.

  24. Dan

    @Dan: Whoops… meant to say how a player HITS, not hit. Sorry about the bush-league grammar…

  25. Greg Dafler

    Dan: @WORLD: I’ll grant you that Willy is very fast and is a good defensive player.

    Dan, I fixed your comment.

  26. hoosierdad

    The big problem with WT is that he takes a roster spot away from another player (we could all name many candidates) who could really help this team. Would love to see some stat which could give an idea as to how many games he and AG cost the Reds in 2009 vs. what the MLB average at those spots would have given us. If those additional wins means the Reds are in the hunt for a playoff spot till the end, that should equal more fans in the seats. More fans equals more bucks. More bucks means you can affort to say bye to WT and eat the contract.

  27. Greg Dafler

    @hoosierdad: I did an analysis of that back at the beginning of August. At that time, the Reds offense was 15th in the NL. Replacing Taveras & Gonzalez at that point in the season would have made the Reds a league-average offense.

    I plan to do some projections this offseason and plug them into the lineup tool to see what kind of things we may expect for the Reds offensively in 2010.

  28. Drew Nelson

    I am not questioning how bad Willy T. is, but if he is so bad, how does he keep a job on the Major league level?

  29. Dan

    @Drew Nelson: Good question. I guess the allure of speed… the allure of 68 SB… the allure of that one year he batted .320… it’s all enough to entice some teams. (Particularly teams that value speed over getting on base, like our very own Reds.)

    The Reds talked themselves into thinking that if they could just change Willy’s approach (get him to hit the ball on the ground more) he’d go right back to being a .300 hitter. (Thank you, Jamie Quirk!)

  30. Dan

    By the way, I just found this on mlbtraderumors.com. I know that there’s no guarantee that the Red Sox will actually make this switch, but progressive teams consider it. Unlike the Reds (with Phillips), of course…

    The Red Sox asked Dustin Pedroia if he’d be able to play shortstop, according to ESPN’s Peter Gammons. Pedroia’s thoughts:

    “They’ve put it out there and I’ve told them I’m all for it. I can do it. I can’t wait for Tito [Terry Francona] to call me and ask, ‘Can you do it?’ I can do it. I really want to do it.”

    Right now it appears that the Red Sox are just considering the switch for Pedroia. As Gammons notes, shifting Pedroia would create flexibility, allowing the Sox to pass on Marco Scutaro and pursue Orlando Hudson or even Brandon Phillips.

  31. JustTheFacts

    My final thought for this thread, is please don’t bring in a Rule 5 guy who is going to occupy a spot on the bench and not contribute. Drop Taveras, leave Sutton in Louisville and pick up a stinken power bat in the market.

  32. pinson343

    Taveras isn’t attending RedsFest, maybe that’s a good sign.

    It’s more than in vogue to dump on him here, it’s an obsession, and there’s a reason for it.
    For whatever reason, he did not seem to want to play last year. I believe he had a leg problem for most of the season. He was so cautious about trying to steal, what sense does that make ? The injury scenario comes back to management. Why would you put Taveras out there (with a bad leg) every day ? It takes away his entire game.

    Watching him play, he’s just not a good player. People say he should draw more walks. He can’t draw walks, pitchers pitch to him like he’s the opposing pitcher. When he’d take pitches he’d quickly be 0-2.

    He’s supposed to be a very good bunter. But when that’s the only way he can get on, it takes the bunt hit away. And when the situation called for a sac bunt, he couldn’t do it.

    My biggest disappointment was with his defense. I do not care what the metrics say. How many times did he run all the way to the wall, to have the ball carom past him for a triple ? It seemed like a nightly event. How many times did the other team take an extra base on his weak arm ?

    I don’t like the tendency of blogs to pick a scapegoat. I complained in 2008 that when Corey would do something good, it wouldn’t be mentioned. Last year I complained in the same way about Gonzo.
    But Taveras plays like he doesn’t have a clue and like he doesn’t care anyway, I can’t tolerate that.

  33. Travis G.

    I thought his body language from about July onward indicated that he’d given up, and his teammates seemed to avoid him like the stink was contagious.

  34. JustTheFacts

    Okay, one last thing… To add insult to injure (pardon the pun) the Reds released the a real bunter, Norris Hopper, to get open a spot when they picked Taveras up. Enjoy that.

    By the way, Pinson, nice sum up.

  35. J-DUBB

    I think leaving Tavares on the roster is the right decision. He’s insurance…If someone were to get hurt in training camp (i.e. Stubbs, Dickerson, Bruce) he would give depth in the OF to begin the season. Of course, if you could move him that would be great, but nobody’s going to want to take on a 4 million dollar contract for a mediocre player (unless we pay like 3 of the 4 mil.). Let him go to training camp, let the OFs fight for their jobs and if he doesn’t perform cut him loose before the season begins. His roster spot can then be given to a non-roster invite or an early season acquisition to add depth to the roster.

  36. preach

    “My biggest disappointment was with his defense. I do not care what the metrics say. How many times did he run all the way to the wall, to have the ball carom past him for a triple ? It seemed like a nightly event. How many times did the other team take an extra base on his weak arm ?”

    I know I’m on record regarding this point when he was first acquired. People were pointing to metrics, and by watching him play about 50 games a year with Houston and Colorado it was clear, absolutely stinking clear, that his defense was not as good as what we let go of. His speed covered some errors, that’s all. He’s another proof that defensive stats are dubious at best.

  37. GRF

    I am very late to this thres, but what stood out to me is that you could say “blank or Willie Taveras” and pretty much fill in the blank with anything and I would take it. 12th pitcher, 3rd catcher, ham sandwich, it would all be good.

    • Dan

      GRF: I am very late to this thres, but what stood out to me is that you could say “blank or Willie Taveras” and pretty much fill in the blank with anything and I would take it. 12th pitcher, 3rd catcher, ham sandwich, it would all be good.

      Mmmm… I do like a good ham sandwich now and then.

  38. preach

    @Dan:

    Throw in a jar of mustard and PTBNL and I’ll give you Mike Lincoln as well.

  39. Matt McWax

    We have three better options. We have depth without him. We need the 40-man spot for something else. No one will trade for him. The cost is sunk so why not take care of it now. Dorn would be a better use of the spot, for example, as a platoon or lefty bench bat. See his numbers in ’09 from June-September.