Notes: Clearly an off night for Joyce, who batted ninth in Joe Maddon’s ever-changing lineup mash-up. Okay, so he can’t really hit left-handers. But that doesn’t explain why Jeff Keppinger hit cleanup.
On the latest installment of The Baseball Show, Clint, MJ, and I discussed the week’s most interesting story lines as well as our usual assortment of nonsense.
We started things off by discussing Yu Darvish and how his signing was inevitable after the Rangers posted a $51.7MM bid, so it’s no surprise that they ultimately paid $111MM. According to MJ, Darvish would have to produce a 22 WAR over the next six years to justify his price. But what separates Darvish from previous imports like Hideo Nomo and Dice-K?
We also debate whether or not Darvish will perform like the No. 1 starter that Rangers expect him to be.
A day after our last show, the Yankees and Mariners conducted a big-time prospect swap, as the Bronx Bombers sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. We evaluate the trade and can’t help but feel that the Yankees were on the winning end of this swap.
Who has received the best return for their starting pitcher this offseason? Although we agree the Padres received a great haul for Mat Latos, we unanimously agree the A’s received the best return this offseason.
And of course, what would The Baseball Show be without “Ask MJ…”
Would you take a job in the Angels front office if it were offered to you today?
Cure for hangover? No booze – note: you can’t say “more booze.”
You’re going to have to find a Waffle House and order the greasiest Cheese Stake plate with hash browns and jalapeños to get through it.
Weirdest thing you’ve ever owned or collected?
I was a huge baseball card fan, but mainly when I was growing up I spent a lot of money on hockey cards for some reason. I doubt I could get anything for my Pavel Buree rookie card. I do have an autographed John Smoltz Starting Lineup figurine still in its package.
If you could sit at a bar and have a drink with any three sports figures, who would it be and why?
1) Mickey Mantle – We’re going to have a good time and hopefully get into some trouble
2) Wayne Gretzky – He was my hero growing up
3) Dana White – I like I guy who curses every other word
4) More so 3a) Mike Trout received an honorable mention provided that MJ can find him a semi-decent fake I.D.
1) Mickey Mantle
2) Willie Mays, but he’s just an old saltry prick
3) Joe Nameth – he likes to drink Johnny Walker
4) Babe Ruth – The more drunk Yankees the better
1) Mickey Mantle
2) Michael Jordan
3) Mark Grace
We agree that Vin Scully would have to be there to narrate the entire night.
If you could sponsor one BR page, regardless of price, who would it be?
Too easy. I literally sat around waiting for Mike Trout to buy his page. If not, then it would probably be Barry Bonds.
Your favorite Disney movie?
Cinderalla, and you’re not going to believe his response…
Rookie of the Year or the Sandlot?
The Sandlot. No question.
Celery or Celery Salt?
Celery. They should just re-name it “ranch shovel”
Jered Weaver: Long hair or short hair?
Long hair! Come on, he’s a dirt bag.
If you could assume a fake identity, what would it be?
MJ: Viagra Nopantsman, a middle-aged pitcher; Hunter Dye and he’d carry around a shotgun like Omar from The Wire.
As the centerpiece of the deal that sent Michael Pineda, a power arm in his early 20s that has already been named to an All-Star team, Montero obviously has earned himself quite a reputation already. This trade is further evidence of the reevaluation that is taking place with regards to the relative worth of premier bats and premier arms. Additionally this represents the second consecutive season in which the Mariners have managed to land a hitter in our top 10.
Montero blew up at Yankee Stadium, slashing .328/.406/.590 in 61 at-bats during the Yanks’ playoff push. While no one expects him to immediately hit that way to open 2012, and he notoriously starts slow regardless, that slash line is not impossible or even unlikely for the 22-year-old catcher/1B/DH/?.
We at The Sombrero expect Montero to be used a lot like Victor Martinez was used in 2011 with Detroit. Everyone is fully aware of Montero’s struggles behind the dish and the unlikely prognosis of him ever even reaching replacement level status as a backstop. Montero is slow, uninterested, and inaccurate behind the dish. He calls a poor game and is likely to be bad defensively no matter where he plays. The logical play is to put him wherever he can do the least damage on the defensive end. He is plus to double-plus in both the hit and power tools as well as the eye tool.
It remains to be seen exactly what Seattle intends to do with Montero given the presence of Justin Smoak at first, suggesting that some time behind the dish might be expected in 2012. Wherever he plays, Montero is an All-Star-caliber player and needs absolutely no more seasoning on the farm. He should open 2012 hitting somewhere near or within the middle of Seattle’s order.
Don’t look now, but it appears the Yankees will graduate a quality young starting pitcher to the Big Leagues for the second consecutive season. Banuelos’ 5-foot-11 and 155-pound frame certainly does not ooze projection, but the southpaw can reach back for 95 mph when he needs it and cruises at 92-94 mph most nights.
Because his command is shaky (52 walks in under 160 innings), most evaluators prefer him at the lower end, but he should improve as he matures. His secondary stuff has great action in the form of a changeup with sharp fade and a heavy, digging breaking ball. He can afford to come up a little in terms of command with all of his pitches, but the stuff is there.
Between Double-A and Triple-A, Banuelos posted a 3.75 ERA and recorded nearly as many strikeouts as innings pitched. He is not quite ready for the AL East, but the Yankees will be pressed to give him a shot out of Spring Training, We think he belongs back in the International League for a couple of months until he proves his fastball command is ready for the Show. I’m usually far more conservative in projecting guys who cannot command their fastballs, but 20-year-old lefties with this kind of stuff are hard not to fall in love with.
Due to the Braves’ outstanding mismanagement of the bullpen in Atlanta, they were forced to temporarily convert Vizcaino into a reliever for the last few months of the season. He made 17 appearances for Atlanta and walked too many guys, but was otherwise effective and posted a 4.67 ERA and struck out nearly a guy an inning.
For a 20-year-old in a playoff race, those numbers are pretty impressive. The problem now is that the Braves will have to make a difficult decision in terms of how to use Vizcaino in 2012, and the organization has never shown a propensity for patience. We at the Sombrero are under the impression that the Braves will force Vizcaino into a bullpen role to open 2012, offering themselves almost zero flexibility in how they use him for the season.
The righty tossed 114.1 innings in 2011 and could probably jump to around 130-150 in 2012 if used as a starter with a chance of reaching 200 innings by 2014 health permitting. The Braves could also use him in 2012 in what will mostly be low-leverage seventh inning outings and stall his development by at least a year.
Vizcaino has a fastball that reaches the upper-90s, but sits in the 93-95 mph range. He is a tad under-sized, so there is less plane to his stuff than we prefer. However, he gets some ride to his fastball on the arm side, and his breaker is a true 60 pitch. His third pitch is a changeup that currently is average, but he hasn’t used it often enough because he spent so much time in the pen.
With 15-20 starts in the high Minors, it is very possible that Vizcaino could reemerge in Atlanta with three plus or better pitches and improved command making him an immediate impact arm in the NL East.