Prepare for Brian Wilson to sell you Chalupas

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I thought the idea behind those Taco Bell ads with Mariano Rivera from last postseason was pretty clever.  The execution was a bit off — seemed rather local-used-car-ad-quality and Joe Girardi and Rivera are not, alas, a great actors — but the ad was fun, at least before they decided to run it every half inning.

Taco Bell is doing it again this year, but this time they’re going with someone with a few more theatrical bonafides: Brian Wilson.  The description of the ads, sent to me by the ad agency because they want free advertising:

Titled “Closer 2.0, it’s a follow-up to last year’s commercial with the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi, where Girardi has to call in Rivera to finish a customer’s XXL Chalupa as it’s too big.  Well: an exact follow-up to last year is the director’s idea for this current spot.  With hair-and-makeup stylists including a woman with a Roman Bacchus-style beard groomer, Wilson’s sense of grandeur leads to other ideas of how the commercial should go, zany ideas that – like the size of the XXL Chalupa – play off of his extra-large personality.

They probably could have just said “Wilson is a big ‘Archer’ fan,” because that’s clearly what he’s going for when he claims to be “Black Ops!”  You can watch two versions of the Wilson ads here plus — if you really, really like Wilson — a making of video here.

Personally, I’ll be at Chipotle. Don’t complain, ad agency. I gave you some exposure for free. If you want me to not say that Chipotle is way better than anything you can get at Taco Bell, you’re gonna have to pay us. This is America and that’s how it works.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.