Odds & Ends: Smoak, Grandal, Harper, Zambrano

Links for Thursday, as the Pirates try to recover from their worst loss in franchise history

  • Highly regarded Rangers first base prospect Justin Smoak has gotten the call to replace Chris Davis at first base, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.  The timing of his promotion ensures the Rangers will control Smoak through 2016.  Super two status is likely if Smoak is up for good, meaning he'll go to arbitration four times beginning after the 2012 season.  As for Davis, you have to wonder if a trade is in his future.
  • In a mailbag, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian speculates on when Blue Jays fans can expect to see Adeiny Hechavarria and Brett Wallace arrive in Toronto.
  • In an excellent piece for Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan looks at the state of baseball in the Dominican Republic, a topic MLBTR's Nick Collias addressed earlier in the week.
  • Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Royals minor-league lefty Adam Bostick has been suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test.
  • ESPN's draft coverage team tweets that the Royals are looking at University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal for the fourth overall pick in June.  Five days ago ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Grandal: "He's the top college catcher in the country, can absolutely stay behind the plate, and hits well enough to be an above-average player in the majors."  Click here for a reminder of the full 2010 draft order. 
  • Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein looks at four question marks about potential #1 pick Bryce Harper.  Harper is not getting good reviews for his makeup.
  • Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune points out that Carlos Zambrano and Lou Piniella don't seem in complete agreement on whether the righty's bullpen move is temporary.

42 Responses to Odds & Ends: Smoak, Grandal, Harper, Zambrano Leave a Reply

  1. Ferrariman 5 years ago

    top catching prospect is grandal? i thought it was harper. either way, grandal isn’t top 20 worthy IMO. probably an early sammich pick. if the royals do choose him, it just shows how little interest they really have in winning.

  2. jwredsox 5 years ago

    “One scout called him among the worst amateur players he’s ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents. “He’s just a bad, bad guy,” said one front-office official. “He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.””

    Wow. Harsh words for Harper. I knew people weren’t happy with him leaving school but that is brutal. Not sure how important the interview process is in the MLB draft compared to the NFL draft but words like that in the NFL certainly drop a guy a few notches in the draft board to even a couple rounds. But if you compare a prospect like Harper to a top QB it still makes it very very hard to pass on him. Btw I have a feeling he will end up being the next Arod (if not worse) in terms of drama and on field moves that cause people to lose respect for him.

    • kevmill21 5 years ago

      this seemed really strange. i had heard little snippets like sense of entitelement in articles before, but this is a major part of the article. his makeup is really played up to be a major negative.
      i just think of how much he has to turn off a Professional front office executive for him to call a 17 year old a bad bad guy. It would have to be pretty bad in order for someone to not desribe it as simply an arrogant kid.

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        It isn’t something that should be taken lightly either. If you think of a kid like that you know he is going to expect a huge signing bonus. It also means that he likely won’t sign past arbitration unless it is for a lot of money because he wants all the money he thinks he is entitled to, which the Nationals likely won’t have. Also, it’ll make people question his coach-ability. How willing will he be to change his approach? Or maybe a part of his swing if they think it is a problem. And how will he face adversity? Most of these problems will likely be nothing but it does make you wonder.

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      I don’t get it. The kid doesn’t smoke, drink, or screw around. He was an honor student in HS and is doing well academically as a 17YO college student. I’ve read no complaints about this performance this year at school on the field. And then you read stuff like this and wonder what is up.

      How about some specifics? Is he really a bad guy or is he just not personable and kind of cocky? Law I think summed it up best:

      “I’ve seen a few pieces like that, one that called him a “terrible role model” … for one thing, he’s 17 years old. For another, the coaching staff at CSN seems to have no problem with him, and his behavior on the field – where it matters – has been fine. What you’re really seeing is a bad combination of the kill-your-idols school of writing and plain old contrarianism – take down the best guy. You heard it last year with unfounded criticisms of Strasburg’s arm action. So, to answer your question, I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s irrelevant.”

      My guess. Harper is probably really cocky and is a jerk. That fits in with most A type personalities and most elite athletes. Doesn’t mean he is a bad guy or won’t be a tremendous player. Look, I don’t want my players to be like Milton Bradley. But, I also don’t need them to be Kevin Millar either. Most players fall in between. Decent enough people who are self-centered and have a high opinion of themselves. Harper is a prodigy and has been for some time. To expect him to be a total normal and amazing kid at 17 is asking a heck of a lot out of him.

      • jwredsox 5 years ago

        He got ejected from a college game after hitting a home run for taunting. As he rounded third he saluted the visitor’s dugout. In reference to his behavior on the field.

      • Hey, wasn’t Barry Bonds just an unprofessional, excessively arrogant douchebag?

        And he seemed to do just fine for himself, even if nobody liked him. There’s a difference between being a good person, and being a good ballplayer.

  3. Rich_in_NJ 5 years ago

    It sounds like there may be a perverse incentive for Zambrano not to pitch all that well out of the pen.

    • If he totally sucks out of the bullpen, why would they put him in the rotation? I’m guessing that Zambrano tries to pitch his ass off in the hopes of regaining his rotation spot soon.

  4. coach_coryell 5 years ago

    if anyone watched zambrano’s last start, his hand was cramping up in a completely contorted way after each pitch in his last inning. trainers ran out a couple times if i remember right. i wonder if that has something to do with this move to the pen. maybe pinella and co. don’t think he can give them 5-6 innings at the moment.

  5. Suzysman 5 years ago

    Maybe I am taking these quotes incorrectly, but…

    “Temporary?” Zambrano said. “He told me that probably (assistant general manager Randy Bush) or Jim Hendry was looking for an eighth inning guy. And when they find a guy and trade (for a) guy and get that guy here, I will be back to the rotation.
    “Right now they need somebody to step up in the eighth inning. I don’t like to be a reliever. I don’t want to be a reliever, but this team needs somebody to step up and help the bullpen.”

    Two things stand out. 1) Zambrano is not feeling this is punishment, at all, so this isnt a wakeup call to anyone like some tried to claim. Lou’s comments support that they somehow honestly believe the team is better off with Z in the Pen and Silva the Hutt in the rotation 2) “probably Randy Bush or Jim” looking? As a guy hoping Hendry is tied to the firing post, I like that Z was specifically told Randy was looking – supports my “Hendry losing power” hopes.

    And Lou?
    “Temporary?” Piniella said. “We’re trying to stabilize things and win some baseball games. This will give Jim and the front office more opportunities hopefully to do something (via a trade). If not, this could be not temporary.”

    Wait, what? Give “more opportunities to do something”? What opportunities would this give? And its only temporary if a trade is made? Sure sounds as if Lou is saying someone in the rotation is going to be traded – and that might even be Zambrano.

    So I almost take it as if they are jerking Z around and creating a PR nightmare in the hopes they can capitalize by trading Silva’s off a couple of fluke starts or get Z so upset he waives his no trade. Lilly is not even off the DL yet so I cant imagine he is the one possibly traded. Dempster just makes too much money to realistically expect him to be dealt. Wells is a young arm, so they better not be shopping him. And who in their right mind would want Gorz, even if it was beneficial to his trade value to leave him in the rotation over Zambrano. But BigZ’s being a starter is hinging on the trade, so that leaves Silva or Zambrano as the choices.

    And if we are really jeopardizing our season in hopes we can trade Silva, well read my little icon thingy. (which I should probably note would include Lou if it didnt get too small to read)

    Of course, the comments don’t exactly remove my feeling that its a big “up yours” finger-pointing move directed at Hendry either. Maybe its solely “you don’t trade for a reliever, I will make your 90 million dollar Ace into one instead” kind of thing. Could also be a “you arent going to fire me over this mess without me taking you down with me” kind of thing. Who knows – no matter what, its a gigantic mess and I am truly embarrassed on behalf of my organization.

    • studio179 5 years ago

      “Zambrano is not feeling this is punishment, at all, so this isnt a wakeup call to anyone like some tried to claim.”

      I don’t know. I think the majority (myself included) feel this move is not directed at Zambrano as much as it is Lou calling out Hendry for the bull pen woes. It’s all guess work, but I have heard very little in the way of ‘punishment’ toward Zambrano.

      • Suzysman 5 years ago

        Yeah, I agree and don’t feel that way either, as you know. But we have heard the “send a message to the team” type stuff, as well as people saying he was demoted because of his numbers/poor results. Just pointing out that its clearly not the case in whatever is going on here…

        • studio179 5 years ago

          I here you. The move itself does not trouble me as much as others. However, the concept of taking your opening day starter or mega million ‘ace’ (loose term) and placing him as the 8th inning set up guy three weeks in the season or at all is something laughable by MLB. People like us that follow the game and team know this is not a championship team, but this could get ugly. I wonder what desperate move Hendry makes to get a pen guy off the scrap heap. Trouble is, he has multiple guys that stink it up and do not belong there.

          • Suzysman 5 years ago

            Yeah, its not like one BP arm will even help us here – we cant use the same reliever in every game, but every game the BP is giving up runs. And sadly, Marmol somehow hasnt been one of those guys yet; but we know his control issues are likely to lead to many such instances.

            But I don’t know, I do hate this move just as much as most everyone else because of the absolute joke it makes us (on top of what we already are) and it being made with Fat Silva in mind. Really? Our Opening Day starter with the career 3.56 ERA/1.303 WHIP and the .231/.322/.354/.676 line against is bumped from the rotation because of a career 4.66 ERA/1.396 WHIP starter that opposing batters have hit .302/.337/.465/.802 against. Seriously Lou? Oh, but that’s right, you just want the better pitcher in the BP – who cares if it comes at the expense of every 5th game, right? Every 5th games where the BP, yep this horrific pen, will probably be asked to cover 6-7 innings when Silva the Hutt starts imploding like he inevitably will. Yeah, tacking on those extra innings every 5th day wont affect the pen at all, right Lou? And let’s think about one of Z’s biggest problems – over excited/over throwing. That probably wont be a problem in the pen, right Lou?

            (with that, some people might reply “but Silva has pitched great”. To that, I will repeat yesterdays fun little fact inclusion)

            ^Interesting Fact Insertion^
            4-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.17 WHIP in 42 Innings
            That is Carlos Silva in his first 6 games of 2008 on his way to that sparkling 4-15, 6.46 ERA, 1.598 WHIP in 153 IP season.

            Yeah, think about that one. 2.79 ERA over first 42 IP, so what has to happen for a 6.46 over 153? Try a 7.84 with a 1.76 WHIP and .355/.382/.536/.917 line against over his final 22 Starts. I’m dead serious, look it up – 22 starts for 111 innings of THAT.

            That said, I hope Lou has the sanity to stop this before it actually goes down. That is, I hope he just wanted to give Zambrano a couple extra days off anyway and figured he might as well make a “up yours Hendry” point out of it. I still hold out hope we dont see Zambrano get into a game the next couple days and instead see a rotation reschedule with Z going Monday or Tuesday. I can still dream, right?

  6. I think Omar needs to pray to the gods that the first 6 GM’s fall for that make-up crap….
    Shawn Green was a standup guy…I’d still take Straw and his coke habits in RF faster than u can say Pookie ( a free cup of ice cubes for anyone who gets the reference )

    • Suzysman 5 years ago

      “pookie”, cocaine, “ice cubes” – Chris Rock/New Jack City reference?

  7. Spirit of '69 5 years ago

    The Zambrano move is just absolutely bizarre. The comments from Piniella are even more bizarre. Keep your best starter in the bullpen indefinitely? Pay him $18M to … set up Carlos Marmol? Has to be more going on here. I thought the Mets had the most inexplicable front office, Cubs are giving them a run for their money with this nonsense.

    • jb226 5 years ago

      Well, I’m not necessarily sure I agree that Zambrano is the Cubs’ best starter. He has the best stuff, certainly, but he has shown me no indications that he can control it. I honestly wonder with him (and Marmol too) how many games they would lose if teams simply walked up to the plate and left their bats in the dugout. Even in that super-exaggerated, just-throw-it-down-the-middle, no-risk-to-you scneario, could they do it reliably? How many walks would they issue even if they got it done?

      But I digress. The most puzzling thing, to me, is exactly that control problem. If Zambrano really could help anchor that abysmal bullpen, I’d consider it a good move regardless of what it did to the staring rotation (which is doing well at the moment) or how much he was getting paid. But is it really the best idea to put yet another pitcher in the bullpen who can’t find the plate with a map and a compass? (And a freakin’ GPS? Plus, you know, a guy standing around behind the plate waving his arms to let them know where it is?)

      If they can make a move or two, awesome–regardless of whether it ends up with Zambrano back in the rotation or not.

      • Spirit of '69 5 years ago

        jb – Agree that Z can be erratic and perhaps didn’t get off to the best start, but in his last outing against the Mets he looked pretty good. The Mets aren’t exactly crushing the ball lately, but Z looked good. Pelfrey matched him, so it was a tight game til late.

        I also agree you do whatever you can to win, but what’s bizarre is this notion that the move to the bullpen is open-ended. Zambrano is an accomplished top-end starting pitcher, he’s willing to help right the ship but his place is at the top of that rotation. The fact that Piniella would even suggest it could be for longer is just bizarre.

        And your point about his control is a good one, because this just puts even more pressure on him to perform out of his element. So who will really be surprised if he comes into a game where the Cubs are up by a run or tied and he just starts walking everybody? Then, not only is it a bizarre decision but completely counterproductive – exacerbating the original problem.

        Why risk falling further behind so early? Call me conspiratorial but there just seems to be more going on here. I don’t see any other team doing this if they had the same problem absent something else behind the scenes. Santana to the bullpen? Halladay? Sabbathia? Carpenter/Wainright? Hernandez/Lee?

      • Suzysman 5 years ago

        “But is it really the best idea to put yet another pitcher in the bullpen who can’t find the plate with a map and a compass? (And a freakin’ GPS?”

        Ding-Ding-Ding, we have a winner!

        Who in their right minds corrects a BP with control issues by adding a pitcher with control issues to it? Well, other then Hendry who has targeted nothing but pitchers with control problems for our minor league system. The answer sadly seems to be our coach! How sad is that?

  8. aap212 5 years ago

    Jeff Kent was a pretty terrible character when he no longer had the excuse of being a teenager, and he was the best player in his draft. If you can say with a straight face that Harper’s downside is something like Adam Dunn with worse makeup, that’s a nifty number one pick right there.

  9. baseballz 5 years ago

    Please let Grandal get picked by the Royals ! That would be awesome and help out those poor teams in the double digit picks !

  10. bomberj11 5 years ago

    I just wanna throw it out there, but I don’t trust any player any more, due to the fact that tons have been caught using PED’s. This is ridiculous, this isn’t the way baseball should be played.

  11. AnnvilleHammer 5 years ago

    A seventeen year old superstar athlete has attitude problems? This isn’t surprising. It really doesn’t sound like he’s a bad kid, he’s just immature. Personally, I think it’s pretty reckless to call a kid a “bad, bad guy” unless he’s out doing terrible things. It’s not like he’s out getting arrested or causing trouble on campus, he’s just a cocky kid, i’d be willing to say most star atheletes are.

    • jb226 5 years ago

      Today he’s just a cocky kid. In a month and a half he’s a professional ballplayer. If he is truly getting ejected from his college games for taunting the opposing team, then one has to question what kind of a professional he will be.

      The reality is, makeup questions probably won’t cost him anything right now. Most teams are perfectly happy to pay a great talent even if he is a major headache. At the same time, that sort of thing does get old. See Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Elijah Dukes, etc.

      • AnnvilleHammer 5 years ago

        Give me a hall of fame talent player (Manny/Barry/Sheff) that acts like a jerk any day over an ok “good” guy.

        • jwredsox 5 years ago

          But those players were superstar players when they were jerk/cocky. Sure he has talent and is more likely to be a star than not but he has proved nothing to the ML level. Ask Lastings Milledge what happens when you have proved little and are a distraction.

      • Suzysman 5 years ago

        “If he is truly getting ejected from his college games for taunting the opposing team, then one has to question what kind of a professional he will be.”

        ARod 2.0?

        I mean seriously, once a year he is pulling some bush-league move on the field it seems, and he is hardly a wonderful picture off the field…

  12. XD23 5 years ago

    Send Davis to Baltimore! We’ll give you more bullpen help!

  13. Davis to Houston would be sweet. Maybe CHia Jen Lo..

  14. kevmill21 5 years ago

    welcome to arlington tomorrow justin smoak. as always, hope its for good.

    davis has been a buzz kill in the lineup with those k’s, i think smoak can struggle and still provide a much needed jolt to whats been a very untimely and stagnant offense.

  15. I am very high on Justin Smoak. He will win ROY and be a star for years.

  16. MadmanTX 5 years ago

    Trade Davis to the Cubs to reunite him with Jaramillo or maybe we can trick the Astros into a trade and give them Davis for Oswalt?

  17. dodgersfan1 5 years ago

    Dodgers should make a move for C. Davis. Mattingly could help this kid and we need his pop.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Damn, the Russ Martin hate still continues.

      • dodgersfan1 5 years ago

        What are you talking about. I am saying that C. Davis the 1B for texas would be a nice addition to the team. I never hated on Martin. Maybe you meant Loney…but I don’t hate on Loney either. I like Loney. I like his defense. Would i like mor pop…sure, who wouldn’t. I’m just saying if Mattingly could help Davis, then why not. Manny leaves after this year. Shift Blake to LF and have Davis man 3B which is his Original position I believe. Or maybe Davis is good enough to play LF himself…

        • Yankees420 5 years ago

          Davis can no longer play 3B, he’s a defensive liability at 1B nowadays.

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