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.