12-28-2008, 07:17 AM
Box of Frogs
Join Date: Mar 2006
Re: Reds sign Willy Taveras to 2 year deal....
Reds think speed's the ticket
Signing Taveras signals new direction
By John Fay • email@example.com • December 28, 2008
The signing of Willy Taveras might be a precursor to a new, different type of Reds team.
General manager Walt Jocketty said as much when he said the club is still interested in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr.
"He could end up being the left fielder if we can't get that RBI man, which might be hard to do at this point," Jocketty said. "We may have a different type of team, where we rely on speed and defense and try to manufacture runs. We've still got some guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark - (Joey) Votto, (Jay) Bruce and (Edwin) Encarnacion. But we're going to be a little bit different kind of team."
How different? Consider the Reds had Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn as starting outfielders for the past seven seasons. Griffey and Dunn have 889 home runs between them. Taveras and Hairston have 46.
The Reds targeted Taveras as soon as the Colorado Rockies, his last club, didn't offer him a 2009 contract. The Reds were the first team to call, and quickly made an offer.
"He fills a couple of needs," Jocketty said. "He gives us very good defense in center field, and he's potentially a very good leadoff man."
Potentially is the key word in that sentence.
Taveras is coming off a year in which he hit .251 and had a .308 on-base percentage.
"He needs to get back to the way he was swinging the bat and getting on base a couple of years ago," Jocketty said. "Jamie Quirk, who's with us now, was with Willy in Colorado and feels like Willy can get back to that."
Taveras hit .320 and had a .367 on-base in 2007. His career on-base percentage is .331. He has virtually no power. His career slugging percentage is .337. He has 80 extra-base hits in 1,973 career at-bats.
Taveras is one of the fastest runners in baseball. He led the majors with 68 steals last season and was caught only seven times in 75 attempts.
Taveras is still young. He turned 27 on Dec. 25. He sees this as an opportunity to get his career back on track.
"It's a young team," he said. "I think I fit in well. I'll come in and play hard. I'm happy to play for Dusty (Baker). It's an opportunity to play every day, no matter what happened the day before."
Taveras mentioned Baker several times in a conference call with reporters.
"I've heard from plenty of guys that he lets you do what you do well," Taveras said. "I'm looking forward to playing for him."
Taveras broke into the majors with the Houston Astros.
"A couple of teams were interested," he said. "The best situation was with the Reds. I really like playing in the Central Division. I feel lucky to play for Dusty."
The Reds have an offer out to Hairston. They are still in the running to sign Rocco Baldelli, another free-agent outfielder. Jocketty said the Reds still are looking into Baldelli's medical reports but expect to have further discussions.