As I am quite sure most everyone has heard by now, Manny Banuelos will find himself under the knife on Thursday, October 4th. What does this mean for the Yankees and the diminutive southpaw?
With respect to the Yankees, this raises quite a few questions that the vast majority of us – that is, the fans – are ill-equipped to answer. Why, with Banuelos having last pitched competitively on May 18, is surgery just now becoming a reality? How long has the team suspected it may be a necessity? Was the hope that rest and rehab would cure whatever ails Banuelos? How often are players able to avoid Tommy John Surgery with rest? Did the injury develop while Banuelos was on the shelf? Does this mean that Jose Campos will manifest a UCL injury?
The reality of the situation is that we just don’t know. It is quite easy (and somewhat cathartic) to blame this on the Yankees brain trust. After all, the team’s success rate with young starting pitching is decidedly underwhelming – the ‘Killer B’s’ are down to a bust, a reclamation project, and an ‘incomplete;’ Campos and Pineda combined for 24.2 IP this season (with none coming for the Yankees; Hughes and Nova have been inconsistent (though the former seems to have found something of a groove) … and that’s just this season.
In my mind, the only certainty from a team-centric perspective is that Banuelos is highly unlikely to contribute in the big leagues until late 2014, which is sure to throw a monkey wrench into ownership’s plans for that year’s payroll.
For Banuelos, things look a bit bleaker – though, it is worth noting that he’s still only 21, and will not be 22 until March. The prospect will likely have lost nearly two full seasons of development between 2012 and 2013, at the bare minimum. Command and control – Banuelos’ greatest issue since he advanced beyond High-A – take quite awhile to return following this surgery, as well. Luckily, the stuff and smarts should remain intact.
In the minds of many, Tommy John Surgery is an inevitability, TINSTAAPP is something of a truth, and this is merely a simple bump in the road. To others, this is yet another red flag in a series of misadventures in player development. For me, there is a fair picture somewhere in between, yet this remains a bitter pill to swallow.
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