A call for patience with Nunez

On the heels of Yankee prospect Eduardo Nunez throwing away the game on Thursday afternoon, many fans were at their wits end. He committed his 2nd throwing error of the game, his 5th error in just 22 innings (17 games) of playing time this year. You can’t keep a job on a High School Varsity team making errors at that rate, much less on a team with annual championship aspirations like the New York Yankees. But for the same reason it would be unfair to judge any player on such a small sample, it’s equally unfair to make judgments about Nunez and his ability to play at this level.

Not only is it unfair, it’s also uninformed. In their “Best Tools” category, BA gave the nod to Nunez for “Best Infield Arm” in the Yankee organization in 2009 and garnered both best arm and “Best Defensive Infielder” in their 2010 rankings. There are certainly questions about whether Nunez will be an everyday regular on a championship team like the Yankees, but those questions are related to his bat, specifically because he “lacks selectivity and has fringy power” according to Baseball America. Defensively, they say “His best tool remains his plus-plus arm that allows him to make highlight plays from the hole”. He’s certainly made the highlights lately, but for all the wrong reasons.

So if he’s such a good defender, what’s going on with him? Two things. First, he’s out of position playing 3B. He got high marks in the minors for his ability to play SS, but even there would at times rely on his plus arm too much, which would lead to throwing errors. This tendency is magnified playing 3B, as Alex Rodriguez explains:

“For one, depth is an issue; he could play a little bit more shallow. Once (the first baseman) catches the ball, the runner’s already at first base and it creates a lot of pressure on the throw. If you can come get the ball a little bit better and give Tex a little bit more margin for error, even if he jumps for that ball, he comes back down on the bag for an easy out. That just comes with timing and working on your personal clock. I’m sure Mick (Kelleher) and Thomps (Rob Thomson) will be on him pretty good.

“You don’t play shortstop with your arm; you don’t play infield with your arm. Arm is just a plus. Infield is only played with your legs. You’ve got to come get the ball, narrow the path and narrow the throw. If you’re throwing 160 feet every time, that’s a lot of pressure. If you make that 135 feet, it makes it a lot easier play. That’s something he’s going to get with time. It’s a little bit complex, what I’m trying to explain.

“I made a lot of the same mistakes. If you talk to most young shortstops, they do a lot of that. You’ve got to come get the baseball. It’s narrowing that throw. That’s a long bridge from shortstop, so the more you can come get the baseball and attack the base when you throw; I think he’s going to be fine. Having a strong arm does help – and he’s got a cannon.”

When Alex says he made some of the same mistakes, he’s not just being kind. Fans may recall Alex went through a bout of wildness of his own. In 2006 he committed 24 Errors, matching his career high from when he was a 21 year old in Seattle. Of those 24 errors, 14 of them were throwing errors, 5 coming in one week and 3 in one just game. For context, he made just 2 throwing errors the year prior, and 4 throwing errors his first season at 3B in 2004. Fans were questioning at the time if he was turning into the next Chuck Knobloch, questioning his psyche and his ability to play under the pressure in New York. But as Alex explained, it was just a matter of getting into some bad habits and playing the position with a Shortstop’s tendencies. It appears the same thing is going on with Nunez, and as with Alex, it is easily correctable.

0 thoughts on “A call for patience with Nunez

  1. Andy in Sunny Daytona

    So what the hell am I supposed to do with all these pitchforks and torches now?

    • bornwithpinstripes

      find frankensteins castle or go by joe torres house.

  2. oldpep

    Good article.

  3. Justice Beaver

    Also, sitting on the bench for a month doesn’t help his cause.

    • bornwithpinstripes

      jeter made a hugh amount of errors coming up..so much so he wanted to quit baseball..if he had more playing time ,the results would be different.. send him down to hone his skills and shake the rust off

      • T.O. Chris

        You can’t send him down without having someone to bring up and right now neither Vazquez or Montero are showing enough patience to call up. At some point they may decide his power is too much to leave in Triple A, but if he continues his free swinging the power may not translate well enough.

        • bornwithpinstripes

          chris he is hitting .370….how about the parraz kid.

          • T.O. Chris

            Vazquez would be called up before Montero to replace Chavez, and as I said with his lack of plate discipline the power may not translate as well to major league pitching.

            What does .370 have to do with plate discipline and walking? In the minors it’s not about the results it’s about how you get those results, and not walking is a concern. If you face a bunch of AAAA players, washed ups, never has beens, and someday maybe’s good minor league hitters will hit but it doesn’t mean it will translate. He has to show the ability to draw base on balls, and that is one of the reasons he needs to continue to stay in the minors. The other maybe even more important reason is we aren’t givkng up on him as a catcher, both for us and the trade value side of things.

            When would Parraz play? He has great numbers but he would simply fall into the category of 5th outfielder. Chavez backed up both 3rd and first, Nunez and Pena can both play every IF position other than first and Catcher, and Pena can play the OF as the 5th outfielder as well. Parraz just doesn’t have the versatility and it hurts his value to this team.

          • T.O. Chris

            He’s hitting .370 with a .385 OBP and a 17 to 3 strikeout to walk ratio. You have to expect to batting average to fall and the strikeouts to rise once he gets to the majors, and if he cant supplement that with walks he is going to struggle.

            For comparison Eric Hosmer was hitting .439 at his call up date but his OBP was .525 and he had a 16 to 19 strikeout to walk ratio. That is a kid who knows the strike zone and can work a count, Montero has yet to show he can do that this year. No one is saying he can’t, he just needs to show it, and he won’t get better at it as an occasional DH and pinch hitter.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            so, looking at posada strike out or pop up is a better choice..and chris i know what cash and joe said..posada is the dh period..this is just my opinion..what is he now 0 for 25 vs lefties..i take either one of those kids and get rid of jones..randy winn and austin kearns of last year

          • S

            you do realize like 8 of those K’s came in his first and second games back from getting his juevos crushed by a foul ball.

            Besides if I dont think whats going on is a lack of patience, I think he really is seeing the ball and opposing pitchers are trying to challenge him and are frequently losing

          • bornwithpinstripes

            i would send jones back to the comedy club in soho..

          • T.O. Chris

            Jones still has tremendous power for a RHB off the bench and he is more than capable defensively in the outfield. He is hot and cold with his hitting, but we knew that when we signed him. I wouldn’t DFA him for Parraz.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            are you watching the game..he looks lost at the plate and in left.

          • T.O. Chris

            Yes I watched the game, and I have watched the other games he has played in as well and he hasn’t looked like the butcher Thames last year, granted he hasn’t had the bat either but he has driven in key runs for us in games earlier in the season. I just don’t feel like dumping a guy this early on when he has had limited playing time to prove anything. Especially for unproven kids, or proven worse players.

  4. T.O. Chris

    “so, looking at posada strike out or pop up is a better choice..and chris i know what cash and joe said..posada is the dh period..this is just my opinion..what is he now 0 for 25 vs lefties..i take either one of those kids and get rid of jones..randy winn and austin kearns of last year”

    He’s 0-20 as a RHB coming into tonight.

    Vazquez can’t play the outfield and neither can Montero so getting rid of Jones only opens up a hole in the 4th outfield spot that we have no one to fill. Maxwell, Dickerson, and Parraz are not better choices at this point in the year, you can’t just dump players like this is fantasy baseball.

    The point still remains that I am not willing to compromise Montero’s growth as a hitter for the future just because he might be an upgrade over Posada right now. Not everything can be about right now, sometimes the future is more important. No one came into this season thinking we were going to be a World Series favorite who was being reasonable with themselves, and as is we are still first in the division. I am willing to make changes with Posada if things keep going this way, but I don’t want to call Montero up to just forget about being a catcher so he can face lefties as the DH once or twice a week. It just doesn’t make any sense, it wouldn’t have made sense to call Hosmer up if he wasn’t going to have an everyday role.

    The first choice for callup in my opinion would be Jorge Vazquez, he could start taking over for Posada as DH against lefties and we can see if his power holds up against big league hitters, but I wouldn’t DFA Jones to do it, and I would hold off at least another couple of weeks. However Vazquez has an even worse strikeout to walk ratio in triple A at 35 to 5. I have a hard time believing his .546 SLG% will hold up in the majors with those kind of numbers.

    • bornwithpinstripes

      chris ..i am not stuck on montero..i would love to see him get a shot sometime this year..but anyone for now..not pena cervelli nunez jones on the bench..

      • T.O. Chris

        Well if you can in the immortal words of Mike Francesa “wave a magic wand” and have 3 knew bench guys show up that might happen haha.

        We simply don’t have a glut of bats in the minors ready for call up, as I said Vazquez would probably be the first one and he has awful peripheral numbers. After that Golson, Maxwell, and Parraz have the most ABs in Scranton and all 3 are nothing more than 5th outfielders right now. Pena can be a 5th outfielder with the added value of backing up every IF position other than first and C. Brandon Laird can play 1B, 3B, and OF but he is currently sporting a triple slash line of .191/.238/.287 in triple A so I doubt he is getting a call up anytime soon. There just isn’t a better choice for the time being, I’m sure Brian will be on the phones and at some point he will bring in another bench bat. Possibly even Jerry Hairston Jr who is playing with the Nationals, but at the current moment everyone pretty much wants to see how the next month or so plays out before trading pieces away.

        • bornwithpinstripes

          don’t tell me you listen to that guy..he is a tooth ache

          • T.O. Chris

            I don’t have to listen to him thankfully in Texas, they just always show that clip on the YES network where he says “you can’t waive a magic wand and 3 new arms are showing up”…. I was making fun of him, I thought you of all people would know I can’t stand Mike F. Haha.

          • bornwithpinstripes

            thanks i am relieved, that guy makes me ill

  5. T.O. Chris

    “you do realize like 8 of those K’s came in his first and second games back from getting his juevos crushed by a foul ball.

    Besides if I dont think whats going on is a lack of patience, I think he really is seeing the ball and opposing pitchers are trying to challenge him and are frequently losing”

    So you are saying he is really locked in and pitchers are doing nothing but going after the hottest bat on the team? I’m pretty sure Hosmer was seeing the ball extremely well hitting .439 but he still managed to walk 19 times and hit with more power than Montero has done so far. Pitchers in the minors don’t have the best control, you can draw walks if you are patient, something Montero has never really been the best at. Montero is a very free swinger that is who he is, he needs to learn to reel that in somewhat because swinging at everything won’t work in the major leagues. It is something he has to work on, and it is something that won’t get better sitting on the bench to occasionally play DH and pinch hit. Montero would probably have hit more than one HR already if he wasn’t just swinging away. He has the talent to put even bad balls into play, and that kind of ability can get a hitter into trouble because they do become less selective.

    Cano has always been an extremely free swinger but his best season didn’t come until last year when his walk totals went up. He got IBB a lot more as well but his pitch selection overall improved a ton.