Ken Rosenthal says that teams are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano. I can only assume this means that they are kicking in anger, like you might kick the tires of your car when it breaks down on the side of the road. Not like you would when you were considering an investment in a quality used automobile.
Which leads me to ask: what, if anything, does kicking the tires on a car actually do? Is the car supposed to fall over if it’s no good? Is there a certain satisfying sound you’re supposed to get, not unlike when you plunk a melon in the grocery store? Also: if I ask to look under the hood but I know nothing about cars, is there something specific I should pretend to do so the salesman doesn’t take me for the rube I am? So many questions.
Back to Soriano: he’s owed $54 million over the next three years. People say stuff like “if the Cubs were to eat most of his salary …” but, really, even then, who wants Soriano? He’s probably a DH at best now, and even then he’s a bit-of-power/no-OBP skills option.
Which of course means that the Braves will probably get him and stick him in left field. God, why do I bother to think these things through?
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.