Reds Add Wlad

Big trades ruled the day yesterday. A minor deal that flew under the radar was the Reds buying low on Wladimir Balentien, having acquired him from Seattle for right-handed reliever Robert Manuel. M’s fans had to be hoping for a better return than a 26-year old reliever who recently broke into the big leagues. Manuel has notable minor league numbers but has done it with guile and pedestrian stuff.

Balentien’s descend from grace has been pretty dramatic. In 2008, Balentien was considered to be one of the better prospects in all of baseball. He just missed the cut on Baseball America’s Top 100 and the tough-grading John Sickels gave him a B+ grade. Balentien was coming off a season in which he hit .291/.362/.509 as a 22-year old in Triple-A, having shown improvement in pitch recognition after formerly being a hacker of the highest order. His minor league success didn’t translate to big league success. He was shuttled back and forth between Tacoma and Seattle last year and after posting a .269 wOBA in 434 major league plate appearances, Balentien was out of options and Jack Z. was out of patience. Wladimir was designated for assignment.

Yesterday, here and all over the blogosphere you read a lot of snap judgments as to what teams won what trade based on the package of prospects they were getting in return. I think Balentien illustrates that prospect grading will never be a perfect science, and even those who are considered to be very good prospects still have high rates of attrition. I for one love the snap judgments and make them myself based on scouting reports, the research that we have and by my own gut. But we won’t really know who won these trades until a few years from now.




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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


13 Responses to “Reds Add Wlad”

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  1. It's Electric! (Boogie Oogie Oogie Oogie) says:

    Well, sure we won’t really know who won til later, but we can evaluate them based on what we know at the time.

    I mean, if I buy a lottery ticket today with a 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000 chance of winning, then tomorrow I win, it doesn’t mean I’m prescient.

    It seems to me that this planet is littered with Robert Manuels. Why not take a chance on Balentien?

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  2. Boczer says:

    Imperfect science? Not really. Balentien never learned how to hit offspeed stuff. Or no one knew how to teach him correctly. Most professional ballplayers learn how to hit those pitches and move on. He didn’t. So for now, he’s a cross between Wily Mo Pena and Pedro Cerrano.

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  3. Rick says:

    Good move for both teams. The Reds are loaded with middle relief talent and need some upside guys. The Mariners need relievers and don’t have room for Balentein. Win-Win.

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  4. Jason T says:

    Actually, the M’s have a ton of relief “prospects”. However, Balentien was never going to be successful playing in Safeco. This deal is a ‘meh’, IMHO

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  5. mike says:

    I wish the bucs would have taken a chance on him

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  6. Rob H. says:

    I think it was a mistake for the Mariners to sell so low on Balentien. They really should’ve resisted designating him for assignment until after the deadline. He could’ve been a useful piece in a separate trade.

    I can see him really busting out with the Reds in the next few years. He’s similar, but much more talented (particularly with his plate discipline) than Wily Mo Pena. He began to show some real strides with his discipline earlier in the season and then it fell apart again. Reds fans should be excited about his potential.

    Manuel, on the hand, seems to have limited upside.

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    • Benne says:

      The M’s DFA’d him because they wanted Michael Saunders to get ABs. Wlad had no place on the team anymore thanks to Ryan Langerhans, and was out of options, so there you go.

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  7. Mike H says:

    Uh, the guy has 400 major league ABs. Yes, they’ve been putrid, but it’s slightly more than 1/2 a season worth of ABs. He has a PrOPS of around 650 for his career. You probably need to revise expectation downward a bit, but giving up on him seems premature.

    400 ABs.

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  8. Matthew says:

    Theres only 1 reason why they would DFA him so early on… He lied about his age and ehs older then what he is saying he is

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  9. joser says:

    M’s fans had to be hoping for a better return than a 26-year old reliever who recently broke into the big leagues.

    This fan wasn’t. Balentien pretty much only hits fastballs. And he’s a pull RH bat, which makes Safeco one of the worst possible home parks for him.

    His fielding is ok, but not great (he’s fast and usually gets a good read from the corners — not so much in CF — but he is weak at going back on balls: over the shoulder basket catches? Forgetaboutit)

    Wakamatsu had stopped putting him in the lineup even against LH starters; when Endy Chavez got injured, Zduriencik went out and got Langerhans rather than rely on Wlad. And now they’ve called up Saunders from triple A. Clearly, no one in the organization had much faith in Balentien improving at the plate, and they wanted something better in the field, too.

    In the NL, in a park like Great American that is not just hitter-friendly but particularly well-suited to a RH pull hitter, his hitting should look much better. If he ever learns to hit bendy pitches, he could turn into a minor star for the Reds. But he was never going to be that at Safeco, and there’s a good chance he’ll continue to flail away at breaking balls and wash out of baseball entirely. Whatever the case, he had no future with the M’s. His value was, essentially, one relief pitcher, or as a throw-in as part of some larger deal.

    Meanwhile Manuel is (a) right-handed, and (b) posts decent K/BB rates, both of which the Seattle bullpen has been lacking this year.

    It’s a small deal for both teams. The Reds get more upside, yes, but it’s low probability upside.

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  10. Rob H. says:

    How in the world has the Seattle bullpen lacked a RH relief pitcher this season? Apart from brief relief stints from Olson and Vargas, it’s ONLY been RH relievers.

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  11. marc w. says:

    Balentien needed a change of scenery, and here’s hoping he does well playing in a park that should really help him (instead of one that killed him).

    I don’t think Balentien’s an example of a scout favorite that just never hit – there are plenty of those. Instead, Balentien was a guy who scouts, and many in the M’s old player devel. group, hated for years. The prodigious K totals, the struggles in CF… he was a guy very few people gave a chance despite decent production in the low minors. His average tumbled in AA and people said ‘I told you so,’ but an increasing walk rate showed he was learning *something*. He broke out in AAA and for a time scouts/BA/BP rated him in the top 100. Just a really odd path to get there.
    I’ve seen him in AAA a ton, and still think he can help someone. It’s clear Seattle was a bad fit, but he could be a steal. Or he could be a Caribbean Val Pascucci. We’ll see.

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