Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote a column over the weekend hyping 23-year-old prospect Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees’ eventual successor to Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Madden frames it as if the Mariners asking for Nunez held up the Cliff Lee trade. That could be technically true in that at some point general manager Brian Cashman surely said no to adding more and more prospects to the proposal, but Nunez was hardly the centerpiece of the negotiations and the Yankees would have gladly given him up in a deal for Lee if they felt the rest of the package was reasonable.
Madden also quotes two different scouts who have doubts about Nunez both offensively and defensively, none of which stops the columnist from writing that he “is viewed as a big part of the Yankee future.” Mark me down as skeptical, to say the least.
Nunez is still fairly young and has plenty of physical tools, so he’s certainly capable of developing further and becoming a viable big leaguer. However, right now he looks like utility infielder material after hitting .289 with a .340 on-base percentage and .381 slugging percentage in 118 games at Triple-A this season. Nunez managed just four homers in 464 at-bats and drew just 32 walks in 506 plate appearances.
At some point Jeter will cease being New York’s shortstop and when that time comes the Yankees may turn to someone like Nunez to take over for him, but he’s far from a top prospect, let alone “a big part of the Yankees’ future.” Barring some major improvements, Nunez looks a lot more like a Bubba Crosby than a Robinson Cano as far as promising young Yankees go.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.