08 April 2003

"Hey! Speaking of Declining, Overpaid, Offensive Superstars Who've Dislocated their Non-Throwing Shoulders Diving During the First Week of the Season..."

Wow, how about that? Another has been added to the list. During a game on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, Cincinatti Reds star centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr.dove for a fly ball, and sustained his Annual Debilitating Injury (ADI). Kudos to Griffey for getting creative with the ADI this year and not just pulling a hamstring, like he usually does. Griffey's expected to miss at least six weks, and more likely the whole season, if he needs surgery.

The fly ball came off the bat of lead-footed (and lead-batted) Cubs' catcher Paul Bako, who was credited with his Annual Only Triple (AOT) for his effort. Seriously, Bako has gotten exactly one triple every year since he broke in with the Detroits in 1998.

With Griffey out indefinitely, the plan apparently is for shortstop Barry Larkin to platoon in center field with Reggie Taylor. Larkin, once a top-flight SS, is now 38 years old and obviously in decline, after hitting only .247/.320/.368 the last two seasons, well below his career marks of .295/.372/.447. Larkin will spend some time playing CF as well as SS, and will undoubtedly be among the NL's worst centerfielders whenever he plays there. Thankfully, he will have competition for that honor on his own team, as Reggie Taylor might best be described as "Doug Glanville Lite". Ouch.

Reggie Taylor is a tools-guy drafted out of high school by the Phillies in the first round of the 1995 draft, ahead of Carlos Beltran, Randy Winn, Roy Halladay, Russ Ortiz, Jarrod Washburn, Brett Tomko, A.J. Burnett, Dave Dellucci, Mark Belhorn, and Mike Lowell, among others. Of course, hind-sight is 20-20, or maybe that's the number of steals and walks Taylor would get each year if he played every day? No wonder the Phillies never brought him up: they already had one of those.

Despite taking eight years to learn the trade and reach the majors, Taylor still doesn't know the strike zone from a No Parking Zone. He never hit higher than .280 in the minors, never walked more than 30 times and never hit more than 15 dingers in any year. The one thing he did do often was steal bases (20 to 40 each year), but with just barely enough profieciency that it was actually a useful skill. (Note: Baseball Cube (aka Sports-Wired.com) doesn't list minor league Caught Stealings, but Baseball Prospectus indicates that his minor league steals in 2001 and 2000 were 54/71 or 76%.)

Playing Larkin in centerfield will let manager Bob Boone get Felipe Lopez and Brandon Larson into the lineup more often. Lopez came over to Cincinnati from Toronto in a trade, and Larson has come through Cincinatti's own farm system. Both have "potential" (read: "haven't done anything yet"), having put up at least superficially impressive minor league numbers in 2002. Time, as always, will tell. The Reds probably lost about five wins to this injury, if you presumed that Griffey would have been healthy all year. But then you know what happens when you presume: You make an ass out of you and pre.

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