SweetSpot: Manny Banuelos
August, 1, 2011
By David Schoenfield | ESPN.com
The deadline is over. Admit it: You're kind of sad about that. Anyway, we now enter the really fun part of the season. Well, at least if your team is still in contention. Who made out the best? Everybody has an opinion, but ESPN Insider Dan Szymborski runs the numbers to see which acquisitions will have the most impact on the pennant races.
- He's been lost among the big numbers from Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, and the surprise of Vance Worley, the RBIs of Ryan Howard and the acquisition of Hunter Pence, but Chase Utley has been quietly awesome for the Phillies, as Bill Baer writes.
- Stephanie Liscio writes about the Indians acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez and mentions an old report that Cleveland once went after Dan Haren, but balked at including top prospect Adam Miller. History will tell.
- John Franco and Paul Sporer of Pitt Plank look at the Pirates' acquisitions of Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee. They might not be huge upgrades, but they should make the Pirates much tougher against left-handed starters.
- Brien Jackson with a good take on heralded Yankees pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. The basic take: Banuelos still has a lot to prove at Double-A.
- Kevin Orris is OK with the Braves not acquiring a right-handed reliever.
- Jon Shields looks at the players the Mariners picked up. Personally, I like the haul for Bedard. I think there's a good chance that either Trayvon Robinson or Chih-Swien Chiang turns into a starting outfielder.
- Austin Swafford says the Astros' top 10 prospects list is a little sad.
- I just did a short photo gallery on the Astros' history. Earlier this year Austin listed the greatest home runs in Astros history.
- Should Bronson Arroyo still be in the Reds' rotation?
- Four questions to consider for the Rangers.
- Rob Neyer asks: Did Clint Hurdle blow three games last week? You know, we probably don't spend enough time dissecting managerial moves, because there's still a lot of stuff going on that doesn't make a lot of sense.
- If you grew up in the '80s, you'll remember the posters that the Costacos brothers of Seattle put out. Oh, you should have hung on to them as well.
- It's not baseball, but another reminder that the '80s were awesome.
April, 11, 2011
By Christina Kahrl | ESPN.com
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireManny Banuelos is the Yankees' top pitching prospect, but he's only made three starts above Class A.John Ford's PT-boat classic, "They Were Expendable," might seem to be a strange sort of reference to kick off a recap of the Yankees' decision to sign Carlos Silva, but what are you going to do? It goes to the heart of the nature of the pickup, but also reflects its signal virtue. Silva ain't John Wayne, but for this outfit, he won't need to be.
The Yankees' signing Silva might seem like another admission of failure, as they try to make up for not landing Cliff Lee -- or anyone else of note. While the Yankees donned pinstripes to help slenderize the Babe, you make the case that they're just as necessary (and ill-suited) to the purpose when it comes to potentially suiting up the hefty Silva on a staff already employing the even beefier Bartolo Colon.
However, there are a number of things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the Yankees have their commitment to win now to observe. Rather than keep moping about what they could not control -- like making up Lee's mind for him -- or making a spectacularly expensive mistake on a poorly stocked pitching market, the Yankees have to work with what they can control for the time being. Until the also-rans start running out of hope and faith, and start peddling their veterans on the verge of free agency, arbitration eligibility, or general all-around expensiveness, Brian Cashman and company really have two options: call up the kids, or rely on temps until the inevitable ill fortunes of others expand their options and make those pre-deadline deals possible.
Calling up the kids will always have its attractions, of course. Prospects are always in vogue, everyone likes the thrill of something new, and Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman all look like they're the real deal as prospects go. Unfortunately, Banuelos and Betances have less than 30 innings above A-ball between them, while Brackman’s half-season at Double-A Trenton last year involved his giving up an unimpressive 4.2 RA/9 (the team-wide average in 2010) in pitcher-friendly Waterfront Park. Good as they may be, seeing what they do against upper-level hitters makes more sense than rushing them up.
Happily, these are not your daddy's Yankees, the team that called up and then quit just as quickly on quality homegrown arms like Jose Rijo, Al Leiter, or even a solid mid-rotation filler like Bob Tewksbury. That way lay Dave LaPoint, Andy Hawkins and madness. The kids will be allowed time to ripen on the vine, and it's more than a little possible that any one of the Triple-B prospects will be a Killer B down the stretch after proving their mettle in the first half. The nice thing for the Yankees is that they don't need to count on any one of them, taking comfort that by having all three they can reap the benefit if any one of them comes through down the stretch.
In the meantime, signing Silva is exactly like bringing in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, in that he's another inexpensive veteran with some reason to invest temporary faith in. Nabbing Silva will only end up costing them a pro-rated share of the minimum (the Cubs have to pay off the rest of his deal until it runs out at season's end), so the combined expense of employing these three vets adds up to less than $3 million. While signing Silva is another case of retreading a guy who isn't what he once was, Colon is demonstrating that age and bulk have not robbed him of the ability to dial up the occasional mid-90s fastball. Silva isn't that far removed from last year's first half, when he went 9-2 in 16 starts while posting a 2.96 ERA. While that wasn't going to last -- and didn't -- and while you can worry about how he'll do as a flyball pitcher in a homer-happy ballpark like NuYankee if they do call him up, as a Yankee he'll have the advantage of a good outfield defense. Like Chief and Colon, spotted against the right foes in the right situations, he can be successful for a short stretch, and that's all the Yankees would need of him.
Consistent with Cashman's past patience, such as during 2008, when he kept his powder -- and his pocketbook -- dry waiting for the day he could sign up CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, it's moves like adding Silva, Colon, and Garcia that afford the Yankees the opportunity to play a waiting game. That lasts until the people they'll want pitching for them for the stretch identify themselves: either from among their prospects, or those top-tier starters who will be shopped by the non-contenders in June and July. Then and only then should Cashman spend top dollar for the players who are worth it.
Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter here.