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Posts Tagged ‘Eduardo Nunez’

For the past 2 ½ seasons, we Yankee fans have been on the Jesus Montero hype train, with appetites whetted by amazing tales of baseballs launched into orbit by the 21 year old phenom’s bat. Last season, we were shocked when we learned that Montero was nearly sent to Seattle for Cliff Lee. I think the shock was even more palpable when we discovered the reason the deal fell through wasn’t Yankee reservations about dealing the stud prospect. It was Brian Cashman‘s reluctance to send along Eduardo Nunez.

Still, entering this past offseason, the general assumption was that Montero would be joining the Yanks for 2011, sharing catching duties with Jorge Posada and perhaps Francisco Cervelli. Instead, Cashman signed Russell Martin. Martin has been solid this season – especially defensively. And that’s where the story of Jesus Montero seems to constantly wind up – with his defense, or rather, lack of defense. We all watched Jesus demonstrate how not to play catcher during Spring Training and further solidify the case that Montero actually projects to more of a Victor Martinez type – good bat, but his best defensive position is the bench.

And if that’s the case, he becomes a luxury for most teams: in the NL, he has nowhere to play. In the AL, he locks up the DH spot.

To make matters worse, the occasional rumors about his mental make-up seem to be holding true. He was recently benched for “attitude problems.” He seems to be taking his defensive struggles and expectations into his at-bats. So far at AAA this year, he’s hitting .283 with only a .747 OPS – or around 125 points lower than last year. More worrisome, his strike out percentage is higher: 22% this year from 17.7% last season while his power numbers are way down. Last year, he homered once every 24 plate appearances. This year, it’s once every 44. It has to concern the Yankees that this supreme talent may not be able to get his head into the game.

We’re now a year later and already Montero’s name has come up in trade rumors. Once again, the Yankees seem more willing to deal him than other top-flight prospects – and he recently dropped out of the top five baseball prospects for the first time since 2009. The organization obviously has reservations about his ability at the big league level, otherwise we wouldn’t have Cervelli on the ML roster. (Or Martin, for that matter). If he survives the trade season still wearing Baby Pinstripes, he will need to perform over the second half of the season and then show something in September with the big club. If not, I suspect will be gone this offseason in some package or another. And we’ll remember Montero the way we remember other über prospects who were never able to realize their full potential, from Ken Phelps to Roberto Kelly.

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If you missed the news this morning, Alex Rodriguez may miss up to a month. This comes from Joel Sherman, after reports that yesterday’s MRI showed a slight meniscus tear in his knee.

Personally, I would rather see A-Rod get the surgery now and be healthy for the final 6 weeks of the season. I know CC pitched through a similar injury last season. But the Yankees have internal options (Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez, and maybe Eric Chavez) that can tide them over for 4 or 5 weeks. Having Alex able to launch bombs during the stretch run is much better than a singles hitter in the clean-up spot going into the playoffs.

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On his blog, Bryan Hoch reports that in the greatest upset since the St. Louis Browns 1944 World Series win, neither Jesus Montero nor Austin Romine will break camp with Yankees. Instead, the backup catcher (at least for now) is Gustavo Molina. In other news, the primary back-up infielder for the past two years, Ramiro Pena, is on his way to Scranton. His roster spot is taken by Eduardo Nunez.

You can read all the details here.

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Yesterday, I reviewed the Baby Bomber’s pitchers and catchers and evaluated their chances of making the opening day roster. Today it’s time for the infielders and outfielders. Unlike the wealth of talent behind the dish and on the rubber, there isn’t any outstanding talent in these spots, but there are some intriguing guys who might help out somewhere along the line.

Infielders – Let’s face it. As fans, we don’t want another season of Ramiro Pena’s average glove and Mario Mendoza bat. And while Kevin Russo seems like a nice kid, he wasn’t any better. Who might replace him?

Eduardo Nunez: If any of the young infielders in camp have a sincere chance of unseating Pena, this is the guy. He continues to hit decently, showing some line-drive power and decent speed. He isn’t the smoothest guy in the field, but he isn’t a liability, either. Besides, he is the guy who was supposed to replace Derek Jeter had Armageddon come to the Bronx this past winter.

Eduardo Nunez

Eduardo Nunez

Reegie Corona: Quite frankly, I don’t see much difference between Corona and Pena. Both of them get the bat knocked out of their hands by anyone who throws harder than 85mph. Both are competent, but not other-worldly, fielders. He looks targeted for AAA Scranton and will likely be first guy up should Jeter or Robbie Cano get injured.

Brandon Laird: The Yankees are sending the natural 3B to AAA Scranton to learn a “super-utility role” – 3B, 1B, RF, LF. It makes sense since both 1B and 3B are sewed up for the next few years. And I doubt the front office wants to keep bringing in retreads for reserve RH bench spots, when there may well be a better option in the high minors.

Jorge Vazquez: Look, when you’re 29 and never been on a major league roster, you might want to start thinking about taking the Crash Davis route. Vazquez possesses a slider speed bat but can’t hit breaking balls. He plays the corner spots, but is known in the minors as a defensive liability at third and barely adequate at first. He does have power and displayed it against other minor leaguers early in camp. He’s a classic “AAAA” player – too good for AAA, but will get eaten alive in MLB.

Outfielders – Fortunately, the Yanks don’t really need anything other than competent bench players here, because this is easily the most underwhelming part of the minor league system.

Justin Maxwell: Ok, so he isn’t exactly a rookie, with 122 major league appearances over three seasons. But the Nationals aren’t exactly a MLB club, either. He has a career ML slash line of .201/.319/.379 with a .698 OPS. What he brings to the table is decent speed, the ability to play all 3 OF positions adequately and the high expectations from his college career at Maryland. Hopefully, a full season at AAA (something he never got from Washington) will help him rediscover the form that made him a 1st round pick.

Colin Curtis: Yankee fans got a glimpse of Curtis last year, when he appeared in 31 games for the Bombers. He didn’t really impress, putting up a .538 OPS in 64 plate appearances. (Although he did hit a memorable homer against the Angels). The former Arizona State standout may have reached his limit. If so, that would be a shame because he certainly has a compelling back story.

Greg Golson: Yet another player that fans have seen in Pinstripes, the 25 year old Golson also saw MLB time while with the Phillies and Rangers. He has become a speedy defensive specialist, and his arm proved invaluable in a key game against the Rays last year. Still, he needs to do better than his career MiLB slash line of .263/.309/.398 if he wants to stick with the big club.

Melky Mesa

Melky Mesa: Another long shot, the 24 year old Mesa has played 5 seasons of MiLB and never reached AA. He does have speed and power but his strikeout percentage (.319) is higher than his on base percentage (.307), never a good sign. I hope he figures it out, since he is the prototypical 5 tool player. The Yanks are taking something of a chance, assigning him to AAA to start the season and skipping AA entirely.

Jordan Parraz: In 7 minor league seasons, the 26 year old former Astros and Royals farmhand has compiled a MiLB slash line of .289/.376/.438, which is decent. But he may be another case of the classic “AAAA” player, since he has yet to see the majors despite an ability to play all three OF spots and good peripherals in the minors.

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A bit late on this, but Baseball America has released the New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects for 2011. And here it is:

1. Jesus Montero
2. Gary Sanchez
3. Dellin Betances
4. Manny Banuelos
5. Andrew Brackman
6. Austin Romine
7. Hector Noesi
8. Eduardo Nunez
9. Slade Heathcott
10. Brandon Laird

No real surprises on the list. Montero ranking #1 makes sense, considering he could very well be holding the starting catcher position out of Spring Training at the start of next season. As you can tell by the list, some prospects have made considerable improvements. Sanchez (#7 in ’10) and Brackman (#10 in ’10) have moved up the ranks. The thing that has to catch your eye is Dellin Betances ranking #3 on this list. It just shows how good of a year he’s had, considering he was left off the top 10 list all together in 2010.

With Zach McAllister and Arodys Vizcaino leaving the team, it opened up some new spots for other propsects. New additions to this year’s list include: Noesi, Nunez and Laird.   (more…)

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Are the Yankees posturing for what may turn into a nasty contract fight with Derek Jeter?

After the Yankees finished their off-season meetings Tuesday, Hal Steinbrenner made a few comments. Undoubtedly, his comments regarding the organization’s initial stance regarding the upcoming negotiation with the team captain are what has most of baseball abuzz. As quoted in the NY Daily News, Hal said:

“He’s [Jeter] one of the greatest Yankees in history; no doubt about it,” Steinbrenner said on WFAN. “But at the same time, I’m running a business. I have responsibilities.

“Hank and I are responsible to our partners, so we have to remain somewhat objective. I want to get a deal done that he’s happy with, but also that I’m happy with.”

Bill Madden reported that the plan is to move Jeter, perhaps to 3rd base, in 2012 and install Eduardo Nunez as the everyday shortstop:

“Though no one in the Yankee high command is ever going to even speculate about the future after 2011 – especially with the very sensitive contract negotiations with Jeter about to get underway – but it’s becoming increasingly clear the plan is to phase out Jorge Posada next season when his contract expires, opening up the DH slot for Alex Rodriguez,thereby allowing Jeter to move to third, making room for a more athletic shortstop, which would be the 24-year-old Venezuelan, Nunez, who hit .289 with 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games at Triple-A Scranton this season.”

And then earlier today, John Heyman wrote this:

“There are early indications the talks with Jeter may take awhile. Some industry sources still say they wouldn’t be surprised if he initially sought to obtain a six-year deal to match the expiration age of Alex Rodriguez’s contract, which would put Jeter at 42. The Yankees haven’t opened talks yet with his agent, Casey Close, and while it’s unconfirmed, there are a few early hints that the team may be thinking about a deal of about half that length, perhaps three guaranteed years.”

Add it all up, and what you get is the feeling that the Yankees are at least posturing for a potential Johnny Damon-ish repeat of last offseason. We all know Jeter’s pride in his performance, and hopefully this is simply a way to try and motivate the 11 time all-star to regain his form after posting career worsts in virtually every offensive category last season. If not, then the messge the Yankees front office is sending is, “You’re not the player you were 10 years ago; we have no place for over-the-hill shortstops in the long run and we refuse to reward for your years of loyalty to this organization. Besides, you need us more than we need you.” Personally, I would be devastated if this is anything more than a negotiating ploy pulled from the George M. Steinbrenner playbook for negotiating with aging stars. The mere prospect of seeing Jeter get #3000 in another uniform is unfathomable to me, and I suspect to many other Yankee fans, too. I was forced to witness Reggie Jackson clubbing his 500th homer for the Angels, and that memory still hurts.

Here’s hoping Hal and Hank remember what their dad said about basically forcing Reggie to walk 30 years ago – “It was the dumbest mistake I ever made.”

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According to Marc Carig of the Star Ledger, Mark Teixeira is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a Grade II sprain (6 to 8 weeks). With Teixeira being removed from the roster, he will not be allowed to be added in the next round (if they were to advance). Eduardo Nunez will be activated.

  Mark Teixeira #25 Of The New York Yankees Is

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Joe Girardi took the team out to an arcade to build up team chemistry once again. Last year, Mariano Rivera showed us that he was a pool shark on the ball club. It worked last year, so why not do it again? The NY Yankees passed along these great photos to Chad Jennings, so I thought I would relay them to my readers.

The Contest Results:

Indy car Winner: A.J. Burnett Runner-up: Dana Cavalea

Skeeball  Winner: Andrew Brackman Runner-up: Eduardo Nunez

Pop-A-Shot Winner: Royce Ring Runner-up: Mark Melancon

(more…)

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John Sickel of MinorLeagueBall recently listed the Yankees top 20 prospects going into 2010. I am going to include the list with his grades, but without his write ups and analysis. Click the previous link to see his write up of the players.

  1. Jesus Montero, C, Grade A
  2. Austin Romine, C, Grade B
  3. Manny Banuelos, LHP, Grade B
  4. Zach McAllister, RHP, Grade B
  5. Slade Heathcott, OF, Grade B
  6. Mark Melancon, RHP, Grade B-: Borderline C+
  7. Gary Sanchez, C, Grade C+
  8. John Murphy, C, Grade C+
  9. Kelvin De Leon, OF, Grade C+
  10. D.J. Mitchell, RHP, Grade C+
  11. Wilkin De La Rosa, LHP, Grade C+
  12. David Adams, 2B, Grade C+
  13. Corban Joseph, 2B-3B, Grade C+
  14. Adam Warren, RHP, Grade C+
  15. Neil Medchill, OF, Grade C+
  16. David Phelps, RHP, Grade C+
  17. Andrew Brackman, RHP, Grade C
  18. Jose Ramirez, RHP, Grade C
  19. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Grade C
  20. Bryan Mitchell, RHP, Grade C

OTHERS (All Grade C): Sean Black, RHP; Gavin Brooks, LHP; Jairo Heredia, RHP; Jamie Hoffman, OF; Brandon Laird, 3B; DeAngelo Mack, OF; Melky Mesa, OF; Juan Miranda, 1B; Hector Noesi, RHP; Ivan Nova, RHP; Eduardo Nunez, SS; Kevin Russo, 2B; Romulo Sanchez, RHP; Graham Stoneburner, RHP; Brad Suttle, 3B; Pat Venditte, RHP-LHP; Kevin Whelan, RHP.

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