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Banuelos Groomed to Be LOOGY? Yanks Ultimate Losers at Deadline?, Grading Alderson, Early View of Mets Top 10 Prospects



By Mike Silva ~ August 1st, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

The promotion of Manny Banuelos to Triple-A coincided with the Yankees inactivity at the deadline. No Ubaldo JimenezWandy RodriguezHeath Bell, Matt Thornton, or Randy Choate. The Yankees have never replaced Pedro Feliciano, who went down in spring training. Boone Logan has been the lone lefty in the bullpen, and he’s been rather uninspiring against LH (.761 OPS).

Back in May, Brian Cashman said on WFAN that he wasn’t against promotion Banuelos mid-season to fill that LOOGY role. In 29 innings at Trenton versus left-handed batters, Banuelos has a 1.24 ERA, .229 BAA, and 32 strikeouts in 29 innings.

wrote in June how it would be unfair to call on either Banuelos or Dellin Betances. Trenton manager Tony Franklin believes that both pitchers needed to work on their command and control. I added this:

 It’s easy to look at numbers, but both kids are doing this in Double-A, as well as in pitcher friendly Waterfront Park. Any young player will tell you the quality of the hitters increases exponentially as you get to a higher level. Big league hitters aren’t afraid to hit with two strikes. They are less prone to swing at bad pitches. Command and control, opportunities for both, are dangerous things to develop on the job in a pennant race. Also, how will a kid handle pitching in front of 50,000 fans at Yankee Stadium? Is it fair to throw Banuelos into the fray against David Ortiz? He may be physically up to the challenge, but mentally? Waterfront Park is a long way from that situation. What long lasting effects will this have on their development? Hard to say, but is winning this year worth the risk of destroying one, or both, top pitching prospects. I think the answer is obvious.

June and July haven’t been kind to Banuelos (2-5, 4.66 ERA). This promotion is based on potential, not results. With his career high in innings being 109, you would assume his 2011 cap would be somewhere in the 140-145 area. It would make sense to get him 4-5 starts in Triple-A and save about 15 innings for the big league bullpen. His stuff may still be raw, but the combination of a 95 mph fastball and 79 mph curve should be enough to come out of the bullpen and get lefties out.

If that is the plan, I can’t argue with it as long as it doesn’t affect Banuelos innings progression, and it doesn’t create bullpen/starter debate we saw with Joba Chamberlain after his 2007 bullpen stint.

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports listed the Yankees as “ultimate losers” at the trade deadline. He wrote this:

2. New York Yankees who, with their lack of maneuvering, earn the tag of ultimate losers. It’s one thing to balk at ponying up for UbaldoJimenez(notes).It’s another to go into the season’s final two months, plus October, with CC Sabathia(notes) and the Misfits as a rotation. Maybe Bartolo Colon(notes) orFreddy Garcia(notes) can cobble together another half season of good luck, and perhaps Phil Hughes(notes) can find his first half of 2010, and it’s possibleA.J. Burnett(notes) won’t fold. But considering GM Brian Cashman said pitching was the Yankees’ No. 1 priority immediately upon losing to Texas last year and he’s added only old arms since, New York’s weakness is just as glaring as at it was last year. In Cashman’s dreams, he’s running the …

I think that is a harsh assessment of the Yankees. Their top competition: Boston, Texas, Detroit, and Cleveland all made moves at the deadline. None, however, are at the level of last year when Texas acquired Cliff Lee. Erik Bedard to be is not as big as deal as everyone is making out. Jim Duquette of Sirius/XM said “buyer beware” when it comes to Bedard. “He’s not a ’spotlight’ guy,” Duquette said of Bedard. “And he’s not reliable from a health standpoint — as we’ve seen. Caveat Emptor.” Duquette also believes Bedard lacks the ability to be successful in a big market.

The Red Sox have a great offense, but Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are minimally better than Sabathia/Colon. If Colon is healthy and on his game you might call it a wash. If Clay Buchholz doesn’t return then John Lackey and Tim Wakefield are just as reliable as Freddy GarciaIvan Nova, and Phil Hughes. There are some good arms in that bullpen, but the closer is just as combustible as they come. The Yankees can beat the Sox in as short series; it just won’t be easy.

Texas has put together a top notch middle relief tandem in Koji Uehara and Mike AdamsNeftali Feliz, like Papelbon, is no sure thing in the ninth inning. I have some major questions about their rotation. C.J. Wilson is good, but he is no Cliff LeeMatt Harrison and Alexi Ogando have very little experiences. When you add in Colby Lewis it’s not a bad rotation, but nothing to fear. You might see some high scoring affairs in a series with the Yankees since their offense can hit with the best of them.

The AL Central is the least of my worries when it comes to the playoffs. Jimenez is a good catch for Cleveland – if they make the playoffs- and makes a good 1-2 punch with Justin Masterson. Again, not all that much better than the Yankees. Their bullpen is very good, but let’s see these no-names get big outs in the postseason. Offensively, they may be the worst of all the contending American League teams.

Finally, that brings me to Detroit. They acquired a couple of decent arms for the rotation (Fister) and bullpen (Pauley). Their offense is scary, Verlander can take over a series, but like the other clubs they have questions in the backend of their rotation and bullpen.

The point of this exercise is the Yankees are in no worse shape than before the deadline. They aren’t any better, but the playoffs are a crapshoot anyway. I think they have a good chance to beat any of the above clubs in a 5 or 7 game series. The only team I might pick over them today is Boston. Even that series would probably go 6 or 7 games.

The Yankees will make the playoffs. They do have an excellent shot to go to the World Series. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is that other teams in the American League can say the same thing. That doesn’t make them ultimate deadline losers. That just makes them like everyone else.

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I don’t think holding on to Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Ivan Nova is Cashman’s most egregious move as a GM. I think allowing Eduardo Nunez to stand in the way of acquiring Cliff Lee last summer is.

Lee still may not have signed with the Yankees this offseason, but I do believe they get past Texas in the ALCS, and clobber San Francisco in the World Series. Who knows, after going down the Canyon of Heroes Lee May not have had the same affinity for Philadelphia. You just never know.

Nunez has a nice bat, but is embarrassing on defense. For all the complaints about Derek Jeter, Nunez is hitting .268 with 3 homers and 24 RBI. The Captain is at .269 with 4 homers and 36 RBI.

***

Earlier in the year I was asked how to grade Sandy Alderson’s job performance. I couldn’t do it based on the offseason as Alderson was thrust into the job in late October, and had to spend most of the first month filling out the front office and finding a manager. It’s safe to say he made a great choice in Terry Collins. The value signings from the offseason have provided the Mets the kind of depth they lacked under Omar Minaya. Not all have worked out, but when you live in the world of “upside” many will not pan out. If half do, then consider yourself lucky.

The real grade was going to come in how he handled the K-Rod contract situation, the draft, Carlos Beltran, and the future of Jose Reyes. I am not a Sandy Alderson acolyte (I criticized his first move in hiring Collins), but you have to give him an “A” for his work thus far.

In the spring there was no way you could see a scenario where the team could save any money on deals for K-Rod and Beltran, much less expect prospects in return. He bluffed Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin into thinking there was a competition for K-Rod’s services (their wasn’t), and forced him to pull the trigger early. A couple of rumored names to be coming back to the Mets are reliever Mike McClendon and infielder Taylor Green. Neither are stars, but could be useful component pieces on the 40 man roster.

Carlos Beltran was moving around so poorly in late March that you would think he would be lucky to play four times a week. Not only did he do that, but he rarely missed a game, and returned to his All Star offensive form. Alderson held out for a top prospect, and San Francisco blinked in giving him Zack Wheeler. They even saved $2 million dollars off this year’s contract.

There are still unsigned players from this year’s draft, but the Mets should come away with their top 14 picks. Unlike the prior regime that would draft safe, low ceiling players (see Eddie Kunz in 2007), Alderson’s team took some risks and went for upside. Give ownership some credit on this one as they have reinvested some of the K-Rod/Beltran savings into the amateur market.

All that is left is for Alderson to sign Reyes to a reasonable deal. All indication is he will try to accomplish this in the offseason. If he does, and I believe he will, it would make 2011 a perfect season for the Mets. I would say this even if they didn’t win another baseball game.

Overachieving club on the field, a manager that seems to have found his voice, and a farm system headed in the right direction. Could you have asked for anything more when Alderson came on board in October?

***

I will reveal the annual NYBD Top 50 Mets Prospects sometime in the early offseason. Both Joe Demayo of St. Lucie to Flushing and long time Trenton beat reporter Jed Weisberger will assist me. For now, let’s do some early out loud thinking of how the Top 10 will turn out. I will assume Brandon Nimmo is going to sign before the August 15th deadline.

My prospect list is a combination of upside, closeness to the big leagues, and how an individual has progressed through the system. We try to combine stats, scouting reports, and personal observations we had of the individuals. Of course, we can’t see everyone, but I feel confident our yearly ratings have been intelligent and fair.

Here is a quick stab at what I am thinking about for the first 10 in this year’s list:

1- Matt Harvey

2- Zack Wheeler

3- Jenrry Mejia

4- Jeurys Familia

5- Kirk Nieuwenhuis

6- Brandon Nimmo

7- Wilmer Flores

8- Michael Fulmer

9-  Zach Lutz

10- Cory Vaughn

Remember, I am just thinking out loud right now. Think of this as a quick first draft. This isn’t official, nor have I extensively researched the draft picks and all levels of the minors. When you compare it to the first ten in last year’s Top 50 you can see the Mets are going in the right direction.

***

To hear all our deadline talk download last night’s podcast, which featured Mike Newman from Scouting the Sally.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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8 Responses to Banuelos Groomed to Be LOOGY? Yanks Ultimate Losers at Deadline?, Grading Alderson, Early View of Mets Top 10 Prospects

  1. Stu B

    “Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are minimally better than Sabathia/Colon.”

    This is extremely naive and wishful thinking, and what I would expect only from a myopic Yankees fan. Lester may be comparable to Sabathia, but there’s no comparison between Beckett, with a 2.17 ERA. a .92 WHIP, 30 more strikeouts than hits allowed, and a proven winner at 31, and Colon, with a 3.3 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, 7 fewer strikeouts than hits allowed, and a retread at 38.

  2. Ben Vinutti

    HOLY CRAP! For the first time since I have been reading your blog (2 years or so) I agree with just about EVERYTHING you posted. And I am a Yankees fan! Good work!

    As far as Sabathia/Colon vs. Lester/Beckett – I agree that when Colon brings his A game and is healthy, he matches up well with Lester, when Lester brings his B game (I have seen him struggle occasionally the last two years, though not all that often). When everybody brings their A game and good health, Beckett/Sabathia=wash, Lester>Colon (you can switch Lester for Beckett in the equations and get the same outcome).

  3. KC

    Good article, but a few things.

    A cursory glance shows Nunez at a .275 BA on the season (.720 OPS), and he’s performed better when playing full time (.333/.855 in July)

    and to Stu B, Beckett is such a proven winner that he had an ERA above 5 last year with 6 wins? Oh and his peripherals show that he’s the same pitcher this year that he was last year… He looks better due to a high LOB%(82%) and an ridiculous .220 BABiP.
    With those two numbers regressing I’ll bet that beckett provides some real stinkers these next few months.

  4. David

    I like Nunuz a lot more than most people do. His speed is comparable to Gardner’s, and it affects almost every game he plays in. He can also hit. Some patience required, but when the rough edges are smoothed out I see an above average MLB infielder.

  5. Stu B

    KC, you obviously are a myopic Yankees fan. Whatever Beckett did last year, at least he was in the major leagues, something that cannot be said of Mr Colon. And more to the point, his peripherals are much better that Colon’s, and he’s head and shoulders above Colon THIS YEAR. To put it in terms simple enough for you to understand, if the Yankees tried to trade Colon for Beckett, the Red Sox would laugh their asses off.

  6. Frank Russo

    Stu,

    You wrote, “To put it in terms simple enough for you to understand, if the Yankees tried to trade Colon for Beckett, the Red Sox would laugh their asses off.”

    That’s a bad example, since the Yanks and Red Sox, never makes trades with each other. A better example would be, if you were an MLB GM, who would you rather have on your team as the number 2 starter, Beckett or Colon. Even though I am a Yankees fan, and cannot stomach any and all things Red Sox, I would rather have Beckett, and it has nothing to do with his peripherals. I would rather have him because of his age and because of his pedigree and also because Colon has had a bad injury history over the past 5 years. You have no idea what you will get out of him as the season goes along or in the playoffs.

    BTW, do me a favor, please stop using the word myopic. It’s a word that has been used to describe the condition of my eyes, and every time I hear that damn word I think of the moron doctor who butchered my eyes. You can ask Mike Siva about what happened to me. God I hate that word.

  7. Stu B

    Sorry Frank – no offense intended.

  8. Russ Cress

    I really don’t get all the criticism of Cashman for not making a trade this weekend. It just seems short sighted and kind of juvenile in a “Buy me a present, and do it now, Daddy!” way.

    To be honest, there isn’t a single guy moved at the deadline that I feel Cashman should have moved premium young talent for. The Yankees do not need an innings eater, #3 or #4 starter type. They need a co-#1 or solid #2 at this point. Only Ubaldo came close to that description and they were in on him, but had reservations about paying ace prices for potential damaged goods. I don’t blame them for being cautious here and suspicious of Colorado’s motives for moving him now. I think they’re justified in their thinking and asking for the MRI was the prudent move.

    They were in on Kuroda, who showed he had no balls in not wanting to leave that mess in LA to pitch for a winner. Is Cashman to blame for Kuroda’s poor decision? Keep in mind, that it was undoubtedly a poor decision on his part as he’s a free agent after the season. What team is going to look at his actions and think he’s a guy who wants to win and throw big money at a 37 year old guy? Now LA knows he loves it there, and they are going to low ball him rather than offer him fair market value. The guy sabotaged any future he had in MLB by not being willing to play for a contender for two months after which he could have gone back to California as a free agent if that was his choice. To me it seems like he’s a guy who has decided to go back to Japan already, so he didn’t care and I bet that’s exactly what he does. How can you blame the Yankees for not getting him in that situation?

    Let’s call it like it is, the Ghost of George is haunting the Yankees. Just because he would have said MRI be damned, give up the farm and get Ubaldo, doesn’t mean it’s the smart move now. He conditioned a lot of Yankee fans to expect such things and that’s the problem. The Yankees are now in a no-win situation. You make one of those trades and you get ripped for trading away your top prospects yet again. If you trade for a bad contract in a salary dump deal like Wandy, you get ripped for “buying” a guy for the stretch run and absorbing another bad contract. If you hold on to your talent you get ripped for your inactivity even if there is no one worth giving up that talent to get. So Cashman was in an absolute no-win situation, whatever the Yankees did, they were going to get ripped. It’s really not fair if you think about it.

    That said, I do think Brian made one mistake this weekend and that was not being “in” on Jerry Hairston Jr. This team needs a 2nd back up infielder much more than they need to keep bringing Chris Dickerson back and forth or carrying 6 starters. They especially need one with A-Rod out. That was made crystal clear on Sunday when they were forced to play Cervelli at 2B due to an emergency. Hairston, with his ability to play 7 positions, would have been an ideal fit and cost next to nothing. He could have been both that 2nd utility infielder and 5th OF and only taken up one roster spot. Unfortunately, Cashman was so preoccupied with looking for pitching that this one got past him. It’s a shame, because he’s a piece that would have been very valuable to the roster right now.

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