Spin: Willy T goes to Cincinnati
December, 28, 2008
By Eric Karabell, ESPN.com | ESPN.com
Good for Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Reds. A season after foolishly giving Corey Patterson more than half the team's at-bats in center field, fellow overrated speedster Willy Taveras has been given a two-year contract. While Patterson was truly awful in 2008, Taveras is in theory a mild upgrade. But if you were hoping Jay Bruce was going to knock in 120 runs ... well, it won't happen now.
Taveras is actually a fine fantasy asset because he steals so many bases; he swiped a majors-leading 68 bases in 2008 and stole 33 or 34 bases in each of the prior three seasons. The guy is fast. Of course, he can't steal first base, which continues to be a problem that will eventually, maybe even during the term of this relatively cost-effective two-year deal, force him to fourth outfielder status. Taveras has a career .331 on-base percentage, which is not good for anyone, let alone a leadoff hitter. Taveras had a .308 OBP in 2008, which certainly didn't aid Matt Holliday's RBI totals, and despite playing in Colorado, his slugging percentage was an incomprehensible .296. This is not a great baseball player.