Holding Banuelos loosely

Saturday Open Thread
ST Game Thread: Some pitchers cut as Mo debuts

He is the greatest pitching prospect you’ve ever seen. He is more polished than Clayton Kershaw was at this age. He is composed. He is poised. He has plus velocity. He harnesses and controls that velocity like it’s no thing. He is not afraid to pitch inside. You think he’s afraid to pitch inside? Child please. He has a major league fastball. He has a major league curveball. He reminds you of Johan Santana. He is nineteen years old.

He is the new hotness, and his name is Manny Banuelos. Due to a velocity jump, a superb 44.1 inning showing at High A Tampa, and a very good, very brief (15.1 innings) stint at Double A, Manny Banuelos rocketed up prospect lists this winter and shot into the forefront of national baseball consciousness. A year ago, many didn’t have the slightest idea who he was, and now many Yankee fans view him as an untouchable commodity. Who can blame them, the fans that wouldn’t part with Banuelos any easier than they’d part with their own checking accounts? Who wants to lose six years of team control of the next Johan Santana for a lesser specimen?

The only thing is the risk. With any asset comes risk. With a home it’s the risk of a housing market decline, of the neighborhood going to pot, or the market turning illiquid. With a car it’s the risk that you could own a lemon and be forced to shell out big bucks for repairs. With stocks there is greater risk. Anything could derail a stock’s upward climb: rumors of illiquidity, or the CEO getting sick or dying, or the latest product turning out to be a bust, or of good old-fashioned fraud.  Yet compared to pitching prospects, houses and cars and stocks look like the most stable index fund your investment manager has ever laid eyes on: pitching prospects blow up in your face more frequently than cars in a  Michael Bay flick.

Manny Banuelos is no different, of course. He’s not any less risky per se than Casey Kelly or Julio Teheran or Zach Britton or Stephen Strasburg. It’s funny how the constructed meaning of Strasburg’s name has changed over time. Last year he was the sure thing, the next Roger Clemens incarnate. Now he’s rehabbing his new elbow ligaments and hoping for an August or September return. This is a roundabout way of saying that Manny Banuelos’ value could plummet at any time without any prior warning. Sure, there are reasons to be optimistic about his long-term future. Scouts love his easy delivery and the way the ball jumps out of his hand without any apparent effort. But it doesn’t change the fact that the next time Manny Banuelos takes the mound could be a game-changer. All it takes is one occasion of him injuring his shoulder to forever change the way fans, analysts, rival teams and talent evaluators perceive his value. He’s no longer Manny Banuelos, the kid with the poise beyond his years and the command of a man ten years his senior. No, now he’s Manny Banuelos, the prospect who impressed in A-ball but found his ascent to the majors marred by injury concerns.

It’s easy to ignore this, particularly because of the way the Internet has changed the way that fans perceive the value of their own prospects. More casual fans are aware of the ups and downs of prospects than ever. Thus when Keith Law says in a chat that Banuelos could start the season in the rotation, his perceived value in the minds of fans goes up. Ten years ago this never would have happened, but digital technology allows fans to become hyper-aware of the goings on of their favorite prospects. Yet the risk is the same right now as it’s always been. The big difference is that the Banuelos looks more like a bird in the hand than ever. He’s our prospect, he’s our DotF darling, he’s our guy. Yet Banuelos is the same guy whether or not fans have any concept of who he is, and he’s just as likely to go bust as he always has been.

This is easy to ignore, beause no one wants to think about the fact that a prospect’s value could be destroyed overnight. It’s far more fun to think about Banuelos and Betances joining Hughes and Sabathia to win 80 games combined and multiple World Series championships. Yet all it takes is one measly bad outing on the bump followed by one very rapid right hand to the left shoulder or left elbow for Manny Banuelos to become the one that got away, the new Brien Taylor or Joba Chamberlain, the new “why didn’t that idiot Cashman trade him when his value was high”. Manny Banuelos is the hotness now. But this is the way it goes with assets: there’s risk involved. Anyone who sells you a big guaranteed return for your assets with no risk is probably playing you. This is precisely why the temptation to sell high is so strong, and this is why we should temper our expectations even if the team doesn’t succumb to that temptation. It’s our natural tendency to expect things never to blow up in our faces, but it doesn’t take much for our best hopes and dreams to vanish in a second. Appreciate Banuelos’ rise now; he may turn out to be that ace in the hole that we’re all dreaming about. But hold him loosely. There’s a lot of runway between now and his first Cy Young award.

Saturday Open Thread
ST Game Thread: Some pitchers cut as Mo debuts
  • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Brien Jackson

    While it’s very nice to know you’re thinking of me Stephen, I think you meant Brien Taylor.

    • http://www.theyankeeu.com/author/steve-s/ Nostra-Artist

      Either way, you were overrated.


      • MikeD

        No, he wasn’t overrated. He was what he was. A young lefty with a great arm who had a lot to learn, yet had already made it up to AA ball in his second season with his raw ability. Any team would take him again in a heartbeat.

        Many problems with the article.

    • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

      Lol. Fixed it. In the words of Matt Foley, motivational speaker: “WHOOPSADAISY!”

      Didn’t you recently write about Taylor at IIATMS? That musta been what did it.

      • http://itsaboutthemoney.net Brien Jackson

        Jason did, yes.

  • HKG Yankee

    Sorry but what a time wasting load of nonsense.

    • 28 this year

      thats disrespectful. When talking about this stuff, everything is opinion and you should respect that. Even if you disagree, you don’t say things like that. Its an opinion article meant to start a discussion.

      • camilo Gerardo


        • 28 this year

          Why are you yelling?

          • camilo Gerardo


            • 28 this year

              Caps lock maybe?

      • Poopy Pants

        Having an opinion is disrespectful?

        • 28 this year

          Not at all. But saying thats a waste of time or something like that is disrespectful. I respect everyone having an opinion and to some ManBan is completely untouchable, which is a fair opinion. But to call the other side bad things, thats just disrespectful.

    • Louis

      Really? Cause honestly it kind of changed my perspective on things. I’ve only been actively pursuing the minor leagues for like 3 years now so I haven’t really had much of a chance to see prospects value “plummet in an instance”, so I tend to overvalue prospects and not ever want to trade them. The realization that banuelos could just flame out or multiple prospects could have bad years and weaken the farm system makes me realize why cash was willing to trade montero or Hughes at one point. I think the article was just reality check kinda thing. If you already were aware of things in this article than great. If your on this site in the 1st place you probly have time to kill. So why not kill it on this article?

      • Louis

        Not sure who that responded to but I meant to respond to the comment about the article being a waste of time.

  • dean

    Duh, he’s a prospect and a pitching prospect to boot. There is always risk….doesn’t mean Yankee fans should be any less excited about this kid.

    • 28 this year

      I think you missed the point. He never said people should be less excited, he just says that trading Banuelos for the right player is not a bad move because there is a good chance he flames out. There is no reason not to be excited, just realize that maybe you trade the player.

      • dean

        Depends on who you’re trading him for. Felix, yes….but the kid is legit and you don’t trade him unless its for a very proven commodity that is young themselves. All prospects carry risk, but then every good player in the big leagues was a prospect at one point.

        • 28 this year

          Definitely. I never said you trade him for anyone, he is a special prospect so of course, I would only trade him for certain players.

      • http://www.theyankeeu.com/author/steve-s/ Nostra-Artist

        The best argument for trading Banuelos is that he’s undersized. Smallish pitchers tend to break down more than the Sabathia types. But at 20 years old, those concerns are years away. I’d be worried if he was a 29 year old Johan Santana, but as of now his health is neither a positive or negative. It’s incomplete.

        • S

          That size equals breakdown belief is complete crap, small pitchers aren’t any less risky than a big guy. (can you really say that Zack Greinke is the work horse he is because he’s 2 inches taller than Manny?) Until the last 30 yrs have pitchers even been big guys, the old legends were short and were able to pitch 30 complete games every year.

        • Mike

          Is this true? I hear the undersized thing all the time, but I feel like it’s now something that’s just been repeated so much that people assume it is true. I’m skeptical given how little we know about the bio-mechanics of pitching. Is height more important than thickness? Is delivery more important than physicality? Age? I don’t think we know any of these answers. I see Banuelos pitch and it looks a hell of a lot more natural than just about every other pitcher. I don’t know if that means anything, though.

          • S

            its not true its an unfounded idea, that somehow crept into existence

          • http://ranger2709@gmail.com Ken (O.R.)

            Maybe some people should look at Whitey Fords records. Whitey was 5’10” and about 175/180#. Sal “The Barber” was about 5″11″ he also was very good.

  • ManBan

    Don’t you mean Brien Taylor? Never heard of Brien Jackson.

  • http://www.theyankeeu.com/author/steve-s/ Nostra-Artist

    Scouts love his easy delivery and the way the ball jumps out of his hand without any apparent effort. But it doesn’t change the fact that the next time Manny Banuelos takes the mound could be a game-changer. All it takes is one occasion of him injuring his shoulder to forever change the way fans, analysts, rival teams and talent evaluators perceive his value.

    I understand that at his age, his health history is incomplete. But can’t we say this about every pitcher? That doesn’t diminish any of his other attributes, and its a question we really can’t answer for a few more years, if then.

    • A.D.

      I think the main thing right now is Man-Ban has his stock at a ridiculous high right now, especially compared to Brackman and Betances, so he has more to lose

  • dean

    “But it doesn’t change the fact that the next time Manny Banuelos takes the mound could be a game-changer”

    so could any pitcher (see Adam Wainwright). He’s the only lefty of significance in the Yankee system and is really good….

  • Real Deal Fan

    Let’s stop Babying our prospects. Hes been lights out in spring training. Let’s put him in the #5 spot. He does bad you bring up nova. Or fat boy Colon. But he could end up being Rookie of the year.

    • 28 this year

      cause mark prior and kerry wood worked out sooooo well for soooo long.

      • bakekrukow412

        Mark Prior and Kerry Wood burned out because Dusty Baker forgot how to use the bullpen phone. He let those guys pitch way too many innings. If Banuelos can slide into the 5th slot, we can control his innings and maybe skip him when possible. We’re not asking him to be an ace.

        • 28 this year

          I realize that, but Banuelos has too much of an innings limit to really slot in the 5th spot. He threw about 108 innings in a year so far and so ~150 probably a fair limit. Thats not easy to keep, especially if he pitches well. Plus, you’re asking him to jump basically from A-ball to AA. He might have finished in AA, but he hardly threw 30 innings there, if even that much.

    • Joe R

      How do you plan on bringing up Colon who wont be on the team if he doesnt make the major league roster out of ST?

    • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      No. The Rays know how to make pitchers. Copy exactly what they do which is basically leaving them in the minors to build up innings before rushing them.

    • bakekrukow412

      Totally 100% agree with you.

      • http://ranger2709@gmail.com Ken (O.R.)


  • Stryker

    wow the creatures that come out to comment on the weekends are ruthless. how disrespectful.

    • 28 this year

      Yea, its weird right?

  • PaulF

    I believe it is Manny’s birthday today. Happy 20th Manny!
    Good article.

  • Ed G

    The Strasburg comparison is poor. The first time we saw Strasburg pitch with his arm-only delivery my son and I both said “There’s Tommy John surgery waiting to happen”. And it did. The point of Banuelos is everything he does is natural and smooth. Saying there’s a “good chance” he’ll blow out is saying there’s a good chance anybody will blow out, so dump any prospect you have for a proven backup infielder. Branch Rickey offered $100,000, an immense sum then, plus anybody the Yankees wanted from the Pirates farm system for Mickey Mantle in 1951. Mantle had chronic osteomyelitis, and there was a “good chance” he’d lose his abilities quickly, but the Yanks appreciated the positives of building a club from within, not to mention recognizing greatness, and said no. There’s no reason to say yes for offers on a real deal like Banuelos now.

    • pete

      It’s also not a great comparison because Strasburg had ManBan’s a consistently 98+ FB (as a starter) and a consistently plus-plus slider, and a very good changeup, and he had fantastic command of all of those pitches, and had multiple college seasons under his belt, and he had a great pitcher’s build.

      But it’s true, Banuelos’s delivery does look prettier.

      • pete

        * It’s also not a great comparison because Strasburg had ManBan’s a consistently 98+ FB (as a starter) and a consistently plus-plus slider, and a very good changeup, and he had fantastic command of all of those pitches, and had multiple college seasons under his belt, and he had a great pitcher’s build.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/iiKeane JobaWockeeZ

      I will agree. We can’t compare him to every pitching prospect out there. ManBan doesn’t throw pure gas like Srasburg or Teheran and Brittion is a sinker groundball type.

      Kelly is a decent comparison I suppose despite handedness being different but even though I want him to fail epically, the jury is still out on him.

      • Reggie C.

        Interesting comparison. I agree Banuelos’s rise up prospect charts is reminiscent of the ride Kelly enjoyed last year. Kelly is still the must watch prospect in the Padres farm. Let’s hope Banuelos enjoys a kinder AA season than what Kelly experienced.

        • CS Yankee

          Kelly will now wash out of MLB as he no longer has the BoSox org to help in his development; too bad that he developed an attitude forcing Theo to sell high on him.


    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      I’d agree more if Mantle wasn’t a top-ten all-time player. Hindsight’s 20-20.
      Ok, it’s risk management. You’re gonna lose every now and then; trading risk for certainty will always be controversial.

  • NJYankeeFan

    Good Article. Today’s untouchable phenom could become worthless tomorrow due to injury (like any player, superstar or otherwise) or ineffectiveness. Sometimes you win by keeping them (Hughes) and sometimes you would have been better off trading them while there value was high (Joba). I would think these have to be the toughest decisions of all for the front office.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    Only problem with the Joba comparison was who would you actually trade him for when he was ranked #3 overall? Hypothetically maybe Jay Bruce or Ryan Braun? Garza possibly? There was no one really available that was worth that value.

    • NJYankeeFan

      Im sure cashman would have had plenty of offers to pick through.
      The time to trade Joba was the offseason after he injured his first injured his shoulder but who knew at that point that his stuff would never be the same.

  • CS Yankee

    I guess I just don’t look at it like that…meaning that we should not “sell” high. No doubt the 3 B’s are highly unlikely to all be MLB productive. However, it seems that the percentages could net the next Pettitte or better.

    Hughes, Joba & IPK netted a legit #2/3, set-up & #4/5/6 starter respectively and they still have upside (Hughes is only 24).

    In trading one or two of your top guys cheapens your commitment to your farm, its scouts and coaches, IMHO.

    The exception to trading a top 5 guy is for a proven warrior…the Halladay rumor of Jesus & Joba made sense except of the long term extension needed; but who would of thought that Doc settled for so few years. The 3 months of Lee for Jesus was surprising but could of netted 28.

    The best approach is to land them in FA, like CC or AJ but realize that we need to have 2 or 3 rotation spots developed from within due to the extreme costs of FA.

    So, keep these 3 kids along with Jesus and Sanchez (unless a King F trade occurs) and trade outside of that top 5 for what is needed even if it costs more shortterm we will be better off at the end of the day.

  • Kevin Ocala, Fl

    Next time any of you guys want to give up the farm for King Felix, just remember, he’s 25, was brought up young, and HIS shoulder could blow up as easily as ManBam, et al…..The Yanks would be foolish to package a bunch of top minor league pitching talent for Felix….

    • Mike c

      I’d take my chances with Felix if that was an option