Apr
20

The Obligatory Brandon Wood Post

By

I don’t think there’s anything less enjoyable in baseball than watching a highly touted youngster struggle, but unfortunately it comes with the territory. The Brandon Wood story is pretty well known  by now. He was a first round pick in 2003 and unmercifully annihilated the minors in 2005 (.321/.381/.667 with 53 doubles and 43 homers in 134 games), which is why Baseball America twice ranked him among the top six prospects in the game. The Angels finally cut ties with Wood yesterday, designating him for assignment almost four years to do the day after his big league debut. So … what does this have to do with the Yankees?

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

In case you hadn’t noticed, Eduardo Nunez hasn’t been doing much playing this season. Sure, he’s on the bench, but through the team’s first 15 games he’s appeared in one as a defensive replacement (played three whole innings) and has come on to pinch-run twice. That’s it, he’s just rotting away on the bench. And that’s fine, you don’t want to take Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano out of the lineup just to keep Nunez fresh, but it’s not really what’s best for Eduardo’s long-term development.

Nunez’s name has popped up a few trade rumors already, most notably for Cliff Lee last summer, though he’s also been linked to the Royals (for Joakim Soria) and Braves at various points as well. As a 23-year-old with true middle infield staying power and a history of making contact with six full years of team control left, it’s easy to see why he has value around the league. And that’s why he should be playing every day, not twiddling his thumbs on New York’s bench.

If the Yankees are going to make a move on Wood – which I don’t expect them too – they should do it with the intention of having him serve as the utility infielder while Nunez goes back down to Triple-A Scranton to play every day. Acquiring Brandon Wood wouldn’t necessarily be geared towards hoping he lives up to some of his potential, it would be about helping Nunez develop into the best possible whatever he may be for the Yankees, whether that’s a trade chip, utility infielder, Jeter’s successor, or something else entirely. If the Yankees really consider him a future everyday shortstop at the big league level, he should be playing more than he has.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Brandon Wood without mentioning his historic awfulness. The guy has a career .205 wOBA in 494 plate appearances. That’s a 22 OPS+. Among players with at least 400 PA through their age 26 season, that’s the second lowest OPS+ in baseball history. Only the immortal John Vukovich was worse (18 OPS+ from 1970-1974). Who knows, maybe the change of scenery will help, maybe Kevin Long will help (the two already have a relationship), who knows? This is more about Nunez’s development, Wood would just be a warm body to keep on the bench.

As I said, I don’t expect the Yankees to pursue the former Halo. A utility infielder is not a glaring need for them, but it is for some other clubs, especially those with higher waiver priority (though I bet a trade takes place first). Wood’s a legitimate middle infielder with some power in his bat, and the shine of being a former top prospect still exists to a certain extent. He’s out-of-options and will be arbitration eligible after the season (not that he’ll make much money, but still), so he offers little roster flexibility. Either way, it would behoove the Yankees to add a middle infielder to their bench so that Nunez could get some all-important playing time in the minors.

Categories : Bench

40 Comments»

  1. daddy says:

    where are you jeter fanboys now???

  2. zs190 says:

    Thought about this when I read that he was designated for assignment and I feel like he has enough of a track record to show that he is just not that good. Angels have some very pro-offense minor league stadiums that it really feels like he was a park/environment boosted hitter that can’t hack it at the major league level.

    There’ll be less off days soon and we’ll see Nunez more soon enough, we should probably pass on Wood. Plus I’m not sure Yankees even need to make this decision because it wouldn’t surprise me if an non-contender like the Pirates take a chance on a guy like this to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle.

    • Gonzo says:

      Remember Dallas McPherson and Casey Kotchman?

      • Steve H says:

        In fairness, Kotchman has had success at the major league level, amd McPherson had some success in the majors, and also had minor league success after leaving the Angels system (and has been battered by injuries).

        • Irony says:

          We can disagree on this one. I think we have differing views of success is all. I am using their non-success in relation to prospect ranking. To most people, having one at-bat in the majors is a success.

          A sub .800 ops from a 1st baseman is close to below average. IIRC, the average 1st baseman had an OPS of something around .790. Kotchman is a career .717 OPS guy. Dallas has a career OPS of .756.

          • Gonzo says:

            Forgot to change my name back for my joke.

          • Steve H says:

            I get that, but I don’t think you can lump those guys in with Wood. Wood has been a colossal bust.

            McPherson’s is 97.
            Kotchman was a 3+ win player at the age of 24.

            Wood has a career ops+ of 22.

            • Gonzo says:

              Oh, I am not putting them in the same league as Wood. I think they highlighted zs190′s point about the Angels minor leagues well. That is, they have pro-offense stadiums and that those #’s don’t translate well or that often to the majors.

  3. Steve H says:

    Brandon Wood needs to find Jobu.

  4. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Never trust PCL and California League numbers.

  5. mike_h says:

    then what does that do to Ramiro Pena if they stick Nunez in AAA? I guess cut ties with Reege Corona or Belliard

    • Drew says:

      Belliard was released after spring training. Forget Brandon Wood just call up Pena, and let Nunez get the everyday at bats in the minors. Pena/Wood aren’t going to play anyways. Does Wood even play SS?

      • Stan the Man says:

        Couldn’t agree more, there aren’t a lot of playing options w/the Yanks infield so why they sent Pena down and have Nunez sit on the bench w/the early season off days didn’t make sense. Pena can play SS/2nd and is hitting is inconsequential since he is only playing sparingly. Nunez needs to play everday.

  6. ADam says:

    My guess is you’ll see Nunez get a good amount of PT in this upcoming 19 games in 19 Days stretch… Yanks have had an easy full of rest schedule to start the year.. But they will need to rest Jeter/Arod/Cano a little bit in that stretch… Maybe even a little bit of LF action for Eddie???

  7. CS Yankee says:

    Agree that Nunez needs work.

    Pena was an upgrade at the glove for 3B & SS late in the game. However, Arod is playing better 3B this year so far than he ever has & Chavez is better yet.

    Nunez has range but throws crazy on routine balls-in-play. If he threw wild on a great play one could understand…point being, he should not ever replace Jeter in a close game and since Jeter is on the path toward 3,000 limping, I don’t see the point in using Nunez save routs.

    Bring Pena up for the 10-15 innings per month, let Nunez prove that he can overcome the “chuckies” in MiLB.

  8. mbonzo says:

    Lets do it!
    His low major league babip, low line drive rate tells my the Angels should have given him a larger sample size. He might completely suck, but at 26 he could still explode into a star, especially with a change of scenery and a new hitting coach.

  9. Gonzo says:

    How’s his fielding?

  10. Reads: “Nunez’s name has popped up a few trade rumors already, most notably for Cliff Lee last summer, though he’s also been linked to the Royals (for Joakim Soria) and Braves at various points as well. As a 23-year-old with true middle infield staying power and a history of making contact with six full years of team control left, it’s easy to see why he has value around the league.”

    Looks back at byline to see who wrote the post…

    Reads quote again…

    Rubs eyes, looks back at byline to see who wrote the post…

    (I keed.)

  11. icebird753 says:

    Brandon Wood was one HOT third baseman, and I’m a guy. Why are so many of the third basemen in the league smoking hot (exception being Youkilis and Encarnacion)?

  12. Neil says:

    Let Wood go to Citi Field where he can play 2nd and be an upgrade!

  13. mattr says:

    the conversation should be about how pena fits what the yankees are using nunez for over nunez, not should the yankees get wood

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