The $1.05 million deal to the 38-year-old career Cardinal includes a club option for 2009 and performance bonuses.
From a Phillies release – Taguchi hit .290/.350/.368 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 130 games for St. Louis. As a pinch-hitter, Taguchi led the National League with a .406 (13-32) batting average. With runners in scoring position, he hit .323 (21-65). Of his 64 starts, 41 were in center, 21 were in left and two were in right. "Taguchi gives our team more defensive versatility in the outfield," said Phillies Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. "And he has proven over his career that he can get key hits in big situations." A native of Japan, Taguchi is a .283 career hitter with 19 home runs and 154 RBI in 578 games, all with St. Louis. He has a career pinch average of .284 (29-102) and has hit .337 (98-291) with runners in scoring position.
Beerleaguer: More outfield depth wasn’t something keeping me up at night, but I suppose it makes sense for all the reasons mentioned in the release, and some that weren’t.
Ask me whether Shane Victorino can go wire-to-wire in center and my honest answer would be ‘no.’ He'll wear down or break down, as he did last season. Time off for the Hawaiian, and others, will go a long way in keeping the group fresh for the playoffs. Ask me to predict whether Chris Snelling, the oft-injured fifth outfielder who signed earlier this fall, would stay healthy enough to replace Pat Burrell routinely, my prediction, again, would be ‘no.’ Knee injuries have ruined his career and even the Nationals and Devil Rays didn’t want him. It’s possible the Phils decided at the last minute they didn’t want to risk it, although my preference would have been a healthy, younger Snelling to the older, marginal Taguchi. In any event, Snelling is the No. 6 and it sinks Chris Roberson even farther down the depth chart, probably to Allentown where he belongs, or off the team entirely.
So there you have it. For one-year, one million, Taguchi is a dependable addition who won’t let you down in the role the Phillies will ask him to fill. With the veteran addition, there's a plethora of versatility (even Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett can play the corners). Taguchi will see plenty of time as Burrell’s defensive/base running replacement and earn the occasional Sunday afternoon start in center or left field. He's averaged 340 at bats a season since 2005. He is not going to waste away here, but if he sees anything close to 340, it's a good bet something will have gone horribly wrong. At-the-ready depth also doesn’t hurt when other teams pick up the telephone mid-season to replace the inevitable blowout.