Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WasWatching What?

As any knowledgeable baseball websurfer realizes, WasWatching is a Yankees blog with a flare for creating discussion. Though most of us understand Steve is a "glass half empty" kind of fellow, his outlook on prospects are often times morbid to borderline delusional.

His inability to accept Phil Hughes as a dynamic prospect comes after observing an athlete pitching for a few months after succumbing to major hamstring/ankle injuries. The infinite scouting reports and superlative statistics Hughes collected while dominating the minor league levels seems to escape him.

Tonight I was directed to take a look at the most recent post on the blog which discussed the Mets acquisition of Johan Santana. I found myself mildly disturbed after reading Steve declare this:
[The Mets] were not afraid to part with prospects. And, they're not afraid of Santana's salary demands.

Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber should be decent big league pitchers some day. But, Deolis Guerra is a baby. Anything can happen with him. Carlos Gomez? Yes, he can run and he can field. But, will he hit in the majors? How's his attitude?

To me, this would be as if the Yankees traded Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata, Alan Horne, and Dellin Betances for Johan Santana.

Considering the Mets trade proposal, had the Yankees offered Kennedy, Tabata, Horne and Betances, they probably could have gotten Johan Santana and Pat Neshek. A package of Horne, Jeffrey Marquez, Zach McCallister and Austin Jackson would comfortably overshadow the winning package by the Mets. Some might even suggest substituting Brett Gardner for A-Jax without losing ground to the Mets' offer.

But I digress. As of today, Ian Kennedy is double the prospect of any of the Mets prospects listed above. Last year Kennedy strolled his way through three minor league levels by pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA and earning himself Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors. All this came before making an impressive three starts at the major league level... at age 22.

Kevin Mulvey is the most projectable piece of the package, but Deolis Guerra may be the top pitching prospect of the three mentioned. An 18 year-old with a ceiling as a #2 starter, he is certainly a strong prospect, but has yet to post any substantial numbers at Port St. Lucie.

Even with an injury-shortened 2007 from Dellin Betances, the native New Yorker and 6'9'' flamethrower has as high a ceiling as any prospect in the Yankees system. During instructs, Betances reportedly made significant strides in correcting his mechanics and has returned to 100% health. The teenager's fastball, which lost velocity last season, typically sits at 94-96 mph and he's touched 98 in years passed. Though only time will tell, Betances - like Kennedy - outclasses Guerra.

Phil Humber was a highly touted prospect 18 months ago, but his arm never fully made it back from Tommy John surgery and his velocity dipped noticeably. Maybe most important, his curveball never developed and his 2007 season saw him post decent - not dominant - peripherals. At AAA Humber compiled a 4.29 ERA, less hits than innings pitched, and a k/9 of 7.77.

By comparison, Alan Horne finally posted the numbers Yankees farmers had expected and took a giant step forward in his development. Horne returned well from Tommy John surgery and saw his velocity and stuff return to pre-op levels. After completely making over his mechanics in 2006, Horne took major advances toward the big leagues in 2007 by compiling 165 strikeouts in 153 innings and earning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors. . . all from a prospect two weeks younger than Humber.

Sure Horne spent last year at AA while Humber was in AAA, but Humber only pitched 30+ innings at AA while Horne tossed over 150. Had the Yankees not been as patient, Horne easily could have been promoted to Scranton at some point last season.

As for Jose Tabata, all the native Venezuelan did from ages 16-18 was hit .305/.375 in the GCL, Charleston and Tampa. Last year saw Tabata bat .307 while playing with a hand which needed surgery to remove the hamate bone following the season's conclusion. The only question scouts reserve for Tabata is how much power he will develop moving into his early 20s to accompany great plate discipline, pure hitting ability, a plus corner outfield arm and an average glove. When all is said and done, Tabata will be 19 years old and competing at the AA level next year, and that says a lot.

Certainly Carlos Gomez has the advantage in the outfield, flashing exceptional instincts tracking the ball and throwing out runners. However, last year saw Gomez promote himself as a singles hitter who uses bunting and incomparable speed to get on base. Unfortunately, scouts aren't very optimistic about Gomez ever developing much more of a hitting prowess. Regardless, every prospect list in the industry lists Tabata considerably higher than Gomez.

For all of these reasons, Steve's crackpipe inspired proposed trade of Betances, Tabata, Horne and Kennedy grossly exceeds the one which brought back Santana today. This is not to discredit what the Mets accomplished, only to apply a little reality to a post derived from fantasy land.


illville said...

great post and couldnt agree with you more. the yankees package of hughes and melky blows the mets one away. the proposed deal waswatching compares to the mets is crazy. tabata, kennedy, betances and horne? riiiight

Steve Lombardi said...

Tony - FYI, you may be interested in my follow-up today:


Regards, Steve

Bronx Liaison said...

Good stuff Steve.

I was essentially busting your chops in my post because I respect you as a great source of knowledge in baseball and particularly the Yankees.

I read your post regarding the prospects packages and though I strongly disagree in several areas, I respect your opinion as nothing I wrote can be labeled "fact."

Bronx Liaison said...

these are "prospects" we are talking about anyway. measuring a prospect largely depends on each individual's criteria. some value projection and experience over ceiling and potential. etc. etc.

Franchise65 said...


Mulvey throws low 90s and tops out at 94.
Hornes sits at 93-94 and can hit 96 with relative ease. His numbers last year show much stronger big league ability.

Kennedy commands all of his pitches with precision and maturity.
Humber saw his two years following TJ surgery show deteriation of his stuff which basicaly stripped him of his prospect status. As Pete Abe wrote:

"Phil Humber is a kid the Mets had no faith in when they were searching bus stations and homeless shelters for starters last season."

Betances is ranked by PinstripesPlus as the Yankees #4 prospect. That's how high they are on him, and he is back to throwing 94-96 and touching the high-90s.
Guerra, to quote Pete Abe, "is a big (6-5) kid with a below-average fastball. Kevin Mulvey’s ceiling may be as a No. 4 starter.

Gomez is fast, hjas a glove and not much else. Tabata has been described as a future Manny Ramirez type.

yankee1010 said...

You had it right the first time. Steve was definitely smoking his anti-Cashman/farm system crackpipe. His blog is like watching a train wreck - you don't want to look at it, but you can't stop staring at the complete lack of logic.