More Wood On The Stove

Happy New Year to each and every one of you. I hope this year brings you great health, great joy and a championship for your favorite baseball team. Well, we can all dream, can’t we?

I think there are a couple of sleepers that were moved in the recent flurry of trades. One of those is R J Alvarez who went to the Athletics from the Padres. He had previously gone to the Padres from the Angels, the team that first drafted him. Alvarez has a back of the bullpen power arm. He could eventually close. He has one true pitch-a “lights out” fastball. He was a starter at Florida Atlantic University, but has since converted to the pen. Keep your eye on him. I like his stuff.

More widely known is starting pitcher Andrew Heaney. Heaney was traded to the Dodgers and then flipped to the Angels. I think he has a chance to be a very solid starting pitcher. The Angels have to be patient with him, as it is quite possible he could scuffle a bit against better quality hitting. In time, he can be an innings eater and a winner. He scuffled a bit in his 2014 debut-and that’s what I’m talking about. However, he throws a quality fastball, slider and changeup that should play on the big stage. I’m a huge Howie Kendrick fan (traded for Heaney) but he may have departed when free agency was available to him. This deal was good for the Angels.

Max Fried went from the Padres to the Braves in the Justin Upton trade. There was some risk involved for the Braves, as Fried is recovering from Tommy John surgery. But I think he’ll become a star once he’s recovered. He had great stuff before the elbow issues. He knows how to pitch. I think the big lefty will return to his 95 mph fastball and wipe out curveball once his rehab is complete and his arm is stretched out. We won’t see him this year, but down the road—he’s a keeper.

Manny Banuelos, who went to the Braves for David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve was once spoken of in the same prospect sentences with star reliever Dellin Betances. I vividly remember when Betances had trouble throwing strikes. Like Banuelos, he has had Tommy John surgery. Betances came back from the surgery, regained his power arm and started throwing more strikes. Now-he (Betances) could be closing games for the Yankees. Worse case, he serves as a set-up man for Andrew Miller. But back to Banuelos. He doesn’t have the huge 6-foot-8 height of Betances. In fact, he’s only
5-foot-10. But I really like his upside. I think he’ll bounce back fine from surgery and be able to pitch either out of the Braves rotation or out of their pen. Clearly-the Braves have faith that both Fried and Banuelos will return to their original prospect form. I wouldn’t bet against either.

Franklin Barreto was part of the Josh Donaldson trade with the Blue Jays. He may one day become a star on a team that always seems to need middle infield help. He’s still only 18 (he’ll be 19 in February) but he has the poise and moxie of a guy much older. He barrels pitches and has a terrific feel for hitting. He hit .311/6/61 at Class A Short Season Vancouver last year in 328 plate appearances. For me, he was a top 5 prospect with the Blue Jays. Keep your eye on this young man-he may eventually take some of the sting away from losing Donaldson.

By the way-I also like Shreve, the lefty the Yankees got for their bullpen for Banuelos. I think you’ll see him pitching in New York this coming season. Not in a prominent role, but as an early call southpaw out of the pen.
Remember the name Christian Walker. I think the young prospect could make the Orioles out of Spring Training. They aren’t deep in first basemen, and Walker has a nice bat with a level, doubles/gap bat. The home runs will come.

Marlon Byrd may be the right guy for Reds as they prepare to pass the left field baton to Jesse Winker. But Winker to Cincinnati may not happen until later this year. Frankly, I would have liked to see Winker start the season, but the Reds probably want him to get more development time. So Byrd it is.

I’m still wondering how the Phillies get younger with the likes of Grady Sizemore and Jeff Francoeur as well as the newly acquired Aaron Harang? I’m just wondering. Yikes!

And the Orioles? Yikes again. The AL East is flying past them.

Not to mention the Giants. But I just did. Some way they will shore up their club. It never fails. We look at the lack of moves they make and then suddenly…bam. Here comes a Hunter Pence or a Jake Peavy or a couple years ago a Cody Ross to save the bacon. I will never count them out. Or the Cardinals either.

Do the Marlins want James Shields? I say yes. But at what price? And I still think Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and the Boras Group will sit around the campfire, eat some pizza and come to terms on a return to Detroit for Max Scherzer. I just think it makes sense. The window on that club could slam shut–and the team has to make that expensive move. And they still need bullpen help. Scherzer would really make that starting staff even more amazing. Scherzer/Price/Verlander/Sanchez/Greene or Simon with the other to the pen. Probably Simon to the pen.

Can Alexi Ogando help someone or is he toast? I’m just wondering. I guess his shoulder is as bad as I thought it was. If not-wouldn’t he still be with the Rangers. Plug in the toaster.

The Red Sox will not start the season with their current starting pitching. I see another move or two coming in the future. Right?

Who can use the excess Padres outfielders (the accounting firm of Quentin, Maybin, and Venable)? Or the Red Sox excess of Bryce Brentz, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, and possibly Shane Victorino? Mookie Betts is too good. He has to stay and play. Well, the Mets, the Orioles, the Giants, the Phillies, the Athletics, the Twins and on and on all come to mind. There is an outstanding market for most of those outfielders. The fly in the ointment? Nobody has what the Padres and Red Sox covet-Major League ready starting pitching. And if they have it, they’re keeping it.

And do you remember…Jackie Bradley, Jr.? That love affair didn’t last too long. I hope he gets a shot somewhere. Add him to the Red Sox outfield inventory.

Carlos Quentin. I wonder what a healthy Carlos Quentin could do? Will we ever find out? When he was with the Dbacks I loved to watch him hit. Then he got hurt. Then he got hurt again. And again. And again. And….you get the point.

Do you think the Yankees have enough starting pitching or do they need a Shields or Scherzer? Will Pineda and Sabathia both return healthy? And the big question-will Tanaka hold up? Don’t they need another arm or two? I love Eovaldi, but what if those other three guys I just mentioned can’t pitch? That leaves Capuano, Warren and Nova (if he’s healthy). I give that a Yikes! I’d be looking for that arm or two, but that’s just me.

Have I mentioned that I think Garrett Jones is going to really help the Yankees? Perfect home park for his swing. He may take DH at-bats from A-Rod. You remember A-Rod, right? And he’ll take some outfield time as well.

OK- that’s all for today. I’m done.

All my best to the kids. And remember your New Year’s Resolution—you forgot already. Well let me remind you. You’re going to tell your family and friends that they are always welcome to follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and to read my work at

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