It feels like open season on Yasiel Puig these days. Miguel Montero dumped on him, he was accused of being disrespectful to Luis Gonzalez, he lost the Final Vote to Freddie Freeman and now he’s accused — or rather, his interpreter is accused — of going up into the stands to get a woman’s phone number.
That was reported by ESPNs Pedro Gomez — in the most serious of tones — last night. I get it. I myself am shocked that a young baseball player was scoping women in the crowd too. I wish players these days were more like Mickey Mantle and didn’t do such things.
Wait. Bad example.
Whatever. I do think it’s pretty remarkable how quickly the pile-on Puig has been of late. It’s like everyone is suddenly realizing that A-Rod is going to be gone soon and we’ll need a new villain.
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.