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Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Reds' new center fielder

You know about the 24-hour rule, right? According to the Unofficial Rules of Blogging, I've got 24 hours to respond to breaking news. Sure, 24 minutes is better. But life's complicated and there are 30 teams and some things just don't hit my (terribly imperfect) radar screen until later than they should.

Case in point: the Cincinnati Reds finally have a new (and improved!) center fielder:

Oh. A strained quadriceps. Got it. Otherwise Dusty Baker just would have kept running Taveras and his .238/.273/.284 line out there every day. Among players with enough time to qualify for a batting title, Taveras' stats are the worst in the majors by a lot. He's fast, but doesn't get on base enough to help much. Taveras is a fine center fielder, but when you hit like he's been hitting it doesn't matter how well you play center field.

In fairness to Taveras, he's never played quite this poorly before, and may have some decent baseball -- the sort of marginally useful baseball he once played with the Astros and the Rockies -- left in him. The problem isn't that Taveras isn't a good baseball player (which is true).

The problem is that the Reds, who used the eighth pick in the amateur draft to select Stubbs just three years ago, still owe Taveras $4 million next season. Which means they've got two fast guys who don't hit enough to play anywhere but center field. And if they play the more deserving of the two next year, they'll essentially have to eat four million bucks.