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Why Does Everyone Hate Yuniesky Betancourt? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 20 December 2010 23:15

OK, so I voiced a view on the Royals side of the big Zack Greinke swap, but what of the Brewers?

Well, clearly Greinke is a stud pitcher, and on a good team, could do well, especially with Yovanni Gallardo and Shawn Marcum behind him in the rotation. Randy Wolf is passable as a #4, but the jury is still out on Manny Parra.

Position-wise, the Brew Crew is in pretty good shape with this breakdown:

  • C-Wil Nieves/George Kottaras
  • 1B: Prince Fielder
  • 2B: Rickie Weeks
  • 3B: Casey McGehee
  • SS: The Hated Yuniesky Betancourt
  • LF: Ryan Braun
  • CF: Carlos Gomez
  • RF: Corey Hart

Now, save the backstop and center field spots, that is a pretty good and productive--and young--starting eight.

And, the NL Central is not that strong a division, so with that starting troika--Greinke, Gallardo, and Marcum--on the hill, and good position players, the Brewers could do ok. Save some bench strength (and, there are Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Naverson on that list).

However, in every piece I have seen written about this swap, poor Yuniesky Betancourt is just raked over the proverbial coals.

I actually did a Google search, in fact, asking why indeed Betancourt had such a poor rep. It seems as if he is lazy, or at least perceived as such as this blog piece from the USS Mariner:

"We’ve all watched first hand as Yuni has regressed from an athletic young player into a complete waste of space and time. His lack of hard work is nothing new – even after an offseason where he trained with Raul Ibanez, he showed up to camp as the same rotund non-athlete that he was at the end of last year. He’s getting worse at every facet of the game, and at this point, he’s not a major league player."

Ouch.

The thing is, Betancourt had his best year as a major leaguer in 2010. His average did drop to .259, but the shortstop easily had his career high in homers (16), banging one-third of his career total of 47 during that campaign. He also collected a career high 79 RBI, and though his OBP of .288 is not very good, his career total is .296.

And, though that is still not very good, Betancourt does get his stick on the ball, with just 276 whiffs over 810 games. Similarly, his .974 fielding percentage is his full season career best as well.

Now, I am not saying Betancourt is going to improve to Omar Vizquel-land (check out how much he improved) but hey, he certainly is not that bad. I also don't think Betancourt is a World Championship shortstop. But then no one thought Buddy Biancalana was either.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 09:48
 

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Comments  

 
# da_big_kid_94 2010-12-21 11:21
In a nutshell, see if you can find the May 10, 2010 "highlight' of his "catch" of a pop fly to short. It was a disgrace to watch - he doesn't seem to give a damn.
 
 
# Milnertime 2010-12-21 11:55
No offense, Lawr, but those stats you are citing are just about the worst ones to actually show value outside of fantasy baseball. His only redeeming quality for fantasy is the fact that he plays SS, anyway.

Fielding percentage tells just about nothing of how deficient his defense is. His UZR has been well below zero in every year but his first full one with the Mariners.

The guy is the definition of replacement player. A .300 wOBA last year sporting a .6 WAR, according to Fangraphs.

And probably the biggest issue people have with him is the fact that he's only got 4 years of service time and is being paid 4MM this year. Some idiot in the (former) Mariners front office decided to give him a contract extension after one OK year and an even bigger idiot in Kansas City decided to trade for that same guy.

A .288 OBP being not very good is probably the understatement of the century.
 
 
# Rob Leibowitz 2010-12-21 12:09
What continues to amaze me - he's been traded for not once, but two times. What are other orgs seeing that says "yea, let's go get this guy". Good job Mariners for getting Dan Cortes for him.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2010-12-21 13:34
From a strict fantasy perspective, I have always looked to use the "he sucks" perspective to get him on the cheap as he makes for a passable MI in mixed and SS in single league formats.

My only comment about the general perception of Yuni as a player, and I think is what Lawr is suggesting is sometimes players get labels, fairly or unfairly. Sometimes the player proves the label wrong, sometimes they don't. For whatever reason with Yuni, the overwhelming prevailing opinion is the rep is warranted, probably because the only thing worse than his advanced SABR metrics is his alleged attitude.

This reminds me of the line used by Fred Smerlas on Boston Sports talk radio, back when I used to listen to it, pre XMSirius -- if Jeffrey Dahmer could run a 4.4, he would have an eating disorder.

MLB organizations see the raw talent and think they can be the team to harness it.
 
 
# Captain Hook 2010-12-21 16:23
One of the reasons that YBaSS was included in the trade was that the Brewers looked around the FA landscape and didn't see anyone they liked (or liked at the presumed price I presume in the case of OCab) and they didnt have a fulltime SS on the roster or in the organization (again, that they management) wanted to play right away and thought Betancourt was better than their other options - AND he came with a $2 million check to help pay his salary.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2010-12-21 18:55
And, perhaps, not so coincidentally, the 2MIL is also what it takes to buy him out of his deal at the end of 2011.
 
 
# lawr 2010-12-21 21:59
i give. although, i was trying to suggest maybe yuni did not deserve to be known as a blight on humanity.

actually, in tout last year, rick wolf and glenn colton paid $1 for him, and he did earn a profit for them. not that it helped them win a title.

there have been worse shortstops, to be sure.

and, you are correct milner (great name, btw)...fielding percentage does not really reflect range any more than batting average is a complete on-base indicator.

just think everyone is a tad harsh on the guy. and i lived through johnny lemaster.
 
 
# thebig747 2010-12-22 23:49
The Brewers are likely to keep Manny Parra in the bullpen, where he pitched much better toward the end of last year. Parra doesn't have the mental stamina to be a starter and does a lot better when little is expected from him. Chris Narveson will probably be the 5th starter and shouldn't embarrass himself in that role.
 

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