Assessing Cuban Imports
Let me start by saying I’m not qualified to wade into the projecting Jose Dariel Abreu, or any other Cuban import. Beyond Ben Badler of Baseball America and maybe Keith Law or Jason Parks, nobody else is either. Think about it. How many writers have both the ability and resources to scout Abreu in person?
Of course scouting contacts are also an excellent resource, but the information is second hand and varies depending on the scout. This isn’t to say it’s not reliable, but every Cuban player who comes stateside has both supporters and detractors.
Jose Iglesias was a glove first guy who could not hit.
Alexei Ramirez wasn’t good enough defensively to play shortstop.
Even Kendry Morales had questionable hit and power tools after signing with the Angels.
Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes were considered legit center fielders and remarkable athletes. No offense to Cespedes, but since when is a left fielder with seven stolen bases remarkably athletic?
Dayan Viciedo was a player who was pegged by the prognosticators, but they all jumped off the bandwagon too early after a less than expected Double-A debut.
As for Abreu, a Google search reveals pages of “trolling for page views” pieces discussing his hitting ability, defensive chops and contract terms in a vague manner.
He has already been labeled as a bat only guy who some scouts consider to be a AAAA hitter and risk considering his defensive limitations. For all I know, this might be an accurate assessment. But before signing on, I want to know where the information originated from?
For kicks, I posted something on the ROTOscouting Facebook page about Abreu. I’m curious to see responses from readers.
This morning, I took to YouTube to locate video of Abreu in the hope of gaining insight. After watching a few televised at bats from the World Baseball Classic, I’m left thinking he needs a strength and conditioning program because his forearms are soft. No, this is not a joke. Soft forearms are an indicator of strength and conditioning issues. Other than that, the angles and quantity of at bats aren’t there to assess anything else.
The 2013 season is over for all but two teams. I get it. We have a big break between the ALCS/NLCS and start of the World Series so websites need something, anything to write about. When Mike Baxter to the Dodgers (I look forward to seeing him in Jacksonville) is the story of the day, it makes sense to publish a piece about Abreu — even if it’s bullshit.
Unfortunately, this frames the conversation for the winter, spring training and 2014 regular season until Abreu does something to change it.
As it pertains to expectations of Abreu, the only real truth is the same as any player in his late-20’s, Abreu MUST be a starter for the White Sox and MUST produce immediately. Unlike Viciedo, he doesn’t have the luxury of spending a year or two in the Minor Leagues.
And while he may, or may not produce, I credit the White Sox for signing a player considered to be the best hitter on earth not in Major League Baseball through his prime. Besides, who are we to question the White Sox when it comes to Cuban players anyway? In the past few years, it’s about the only thing they’ve done well!
Alexei Ramirez contributed 11.5 WAR for about 5 million dollars during his first contract. That’s approximately 52.5 million in excess value to the White Sox.
Dayan Viciedo produced 0.6 WAR for about 9 million dollars during his first contract, or about a six million dollar loss. However, Viciedo has yet to reach his prime. And even though he’s a loss leader at this point, having control over a player with the potential to break out offensively has value.
Yes, Abreu is a risk, but a declining Brian McCann is rumored to receive a five year, 80-million dollar contract this off-season. Shin-Soo Choo is 31 and might top the 100-million mark. When compared to the two top free agent hitters not named Cano or Ellsbury, 68-million to Abreu doesn’t seem risky at all.
3 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
Categories: MLB Analysis
Tags: White Sox
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