Thursday, July 28, 2011

Michael Restovich and Wily Mo Pena have New Homes

Yesterday was a big day around baseball - major trades, a no-hitter, a Mariner win - so I won't blame anyone who didn't notice that Dunne Deal fan favorite Michael Restovich was dealt yesterday from the Chicago White Sox to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations. The release of Wily Mo Pena and call up of Collin Cowgill left the Triple A Reno Aces a little short on outfield depth. This led to the acquisition of Restovich, who was a BA top 100 prospect four times from 1999 to 2003, peaking at #26 in 2000.

Restovich, now 32, hasn't played in the majors since 2007. After very good minor league seasons in 2009 and 2010, he was hitting only .229/.282/.365 in 103 plate appearances this year. A consistent power source in the minors (211 career homers in the US minor leagues), his propensity to strike out and his poor defense have limited his chances in the majors: in 297 plate appearances, he has a .239/.313/.377 line with 68 strikeouts. In short, he's a less extreme version of Wily Mo Pena, with less prodigious power, less frequent strikeouts, less abysmal defense. He's probably been a better player than a few of the guys who have gotten shots in the last 10 years. He makes sensible depth on the Diamondbacks who don't value pure athleticism quite as much as the White Sox and a few other teams, and who are willing to give chances to failed top prospects from last decade who they think can help them (Pena, Sean Burroughs, Yhency Brazoban).

Speaking of Wily Mo Pena, he signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners this week. Mariner DH's have a .216/.328/.312, led by Jack Cust's take n' rake approach. Unfortunately, that approach only works when you both take AND rake, and Cust has rarely done the second, with three homers in 269 plate appearances. Rather than take n' rake, Pena has spent his career firmly planted in the "swing hard in case you hit it" category. He hits the ball about as hard as anyone I've ever seen, in the category with Gary Sheffield and Vlad Guerrero in their primes. His career line of .251/.304/.449 would represent Pena's true ability, and it would be an upgrade for the Mariners. His 46 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks represent extreme-Wily Mo: .196/.196/.522, with five home runs, 0 walks, and 19 strikeouts.

Pena is still only 29 (supposedly), and hit .363/.439/.726 in hitter-friendly Reno. To call him an "upgrade" over Jack Cust might be a misnomer, since they're such different types of hitters. Pena has exactly one skill, but it is a useful skill, especially in the DH league. I certainly wouldn't want to depend on him in a pennant race, but in two months of trying to bring excitement and play spoiler? Pena's the perfect choice, an exciting hitter who won't be taking plate appearances away from anyone who will be part of the next Mariner contender.

Aside: A note to both of my readers - it's been a busy couple days in baseball, as I mentioned above, and I haven't had a chance to write quite as much this week. As such, I have quite a bit to write about. I'm going to write in smaller, more concentrated posts, since they're about some pretty variant topics. This isn't an attempt to increase my "hit count" or what have you, but for ease of reading. People can simply skip over topics they are uninterested in. Is this something you prefer? Or is it easier for you if a single column is posted? Comment below or e-mail at to let me know.

No comments: