This almost feels like I should start another thread with it, but since we already have too many Taveras threads, I will put it here and hope it doesn't get lost.
The difference between the vast majority of us of who are annoyed/frustrated/upset etc. with this move and the few who seem okay with it is one of expectations and a divide over what speed can do to mask other offensive flaws.
Basically, what would Taveras have to do in order to make his woeful inability to hit a ball with any authority, ever, not a millstone around this team's neck?
I see a few extremely unlikely possibities, but possibilities nonetheless:
1. Channel Vince Coleman's 1987 season
. Coleman, in 1987, hit .289/.363/.358 for a .721 OPS. Yes, he had a worse slugging percentage than his on-base. Hard to do, but Coleman also swung a noodle at the plate. He also stole 109 bases and was caught only 22 times, getting on base enough to score 121 runs in 623 at-bats. Ominously for those us now forced into rooting for Taveras, Coleman drew a career-high 70 walks that year, but, that provides a template for what Taveras will need to do. If he can put together that kind of line, he will not affirmitively hurt the Reds.
By the way, check out Coleman's 1986 season, just for fun. If you want to know the line at which speed does not help, that's it. Coleman stole 107 bases and was caught only 14 times. Course, he OPS'd .581 (.301 OBP w/ a .280 SLG). Yuck. And don't think for a second that such an armageddon line is out of Taveras' reach. It is as possible as a .720 OPS...)
2. Historical Reds precedent for what would acceptable? Dave Collins' 1980 season.
.303/.366/.370 for a .736 OPS. 79 steals and caught 21 times. 94 runs scored. Easily his career year, by far, it occurred at age 27. He never approached that kind of effectiveness again.
3. M a y b e I could live with Brett Butler's 1989 season
where he went .283/.349/.354 for a .703 OPS. 100 runs scored, but only 31 stolen bases. His steals were off a bit that year, relative to the years he had been having, largely because his .349 was so LOW compared to what he usually put up. In fact, the marvel of Butler, who also swung a noodle, was that he found a way to get on base at rates that made him crazy valuable to teams, even with his low SLG, even as he got older. A remarkable player, and if he had not tortured the Reds so much over his career, one I would have appreciated more at the time.
Of those three players, only Butler had a career where he was a valuable starter while swinging a noodle at the plate. To say that I don't expect Tavares to all of a sudden learn the ways of the Butler is an under-statement...
So, there. In fairness, from my head, are three comps of seasons that Taveras could put up that are technically in his reach, as they are seasons that don't require him to all of a sudden have found power. Which ain't happening.
So what am I left with, as a fan? I will root for a miracle. I will root that he puts up a career season this year and close to one next. I will root that if he defies expectations based on his history and puts up two years with .720+ OPS' (again, I laugh at just how awful he is that reaching for below league average represents his high point), that the Reds don't turn around and then give him a long-term contract. I will root that he by himself resurrects the go-go 80s, and gives the Reds a jolt of speed that impacts the games he gets on base like Coleman did.
Course, in rooting and hoping for all that, I completely understand just how crazy unlikely that is. Do those of you who support the move similarly understand just how crazy unlikely it is? But I will root and hope for it all the same, because I am a fan, and that's the nature of fandom, in the end. Hoping that the guys wearing your favorite team's laundry do wonderful things.
But I most certainly do wish they had chosen other options that didn't involve a player needing a career season/miracle just to be slightly below league average. That would have been swell. Ah welll, the road less traveled, as always, for the Reds...