This is not a notable signing in and of itself. Jeremy Hermida will, at best, be a bat off the bench for Cincinnati. It’s notable, however, because it shows just how powerful first impressions can be.
Hermida raked during a cup of coffee with the Marlins in 2005 and had another nice 120 games with them in 2007. Since then: blahsville. A little pop, a little plate discipline, but probably not enough of either to stick as a corner outfielder. But man, that early promise lingers. It was enough to make two really bright GMs — Theo Epstein and Billy Beane — take a chance on Hermida last season. He flopped in both Boston and Oakland.
I’m not saying the Reds signing of Hermida is based on a fantasy or anything because even if he plays at the level he showed in 2008 and 2009 he’d be useful. I bet, though, that even if he puts up another season like he did in 2010 that he’ll get more chances based on that 2005 and 2007. Why? Because there’s a sense out there that what a player does when he’s young represents his true talent level, and that if given enough time he’ll get back to it. Likewise, there’s a sense that if a player first does well when he’s older, it was a fluke.
Sometimes, though, the fluke seasons come when a player is young. Look at Jeff Francoeur. I think Hermida might be the same kind of player. Not in substance, but at least in terms of career pattern.