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Recalibrating Johnny Cueto
Posted by Scott Pianowski at 4/4/2008 3:47:00 PM
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So I watched Johnny Cueto mow down the Diamondbacks on Thursday, like most of us did. I had absolutely nothing to gain from the performance - he's not on any of my teams, and I didn't project Cueto as aggressively as some during March - but I found myself mesmerized by the performance. Fun to watch, easy to like.

Okay, shift back into reality. He's still a 22-year-old pitcher with 29 career innings above Double-A. He plays for a manager famous for abusing young arms. He's a fly-ball pitcher who gets half of his starts in a bandbox. He just had a loud, "here I am now, entertain me" explosion that got a ton of attention. Makes me wonder about the Adrian Peterson Principle; could today be the best time to trade Cueto?

Say you're in a redraft league, throw-em-all-back at the end of the season. What other starting pitchers would you accept for Cueto right now? Where is Cueto on your "rest of the season" cheat sheet for starting pitching? Discuss.


My first thought after I saw Cueto's line was that he's a perfect "sell-high." I even said that to a few subscribers in "Ask an Expert."

It's just SO unlikely that he continues to do anything close to that for the rest of the season. But there will be 3-4 guys in every league who will make trades as if we will.
Posted by MPStopa at 4/4/2008 7:24:00 PM
I'd rather have Yovani Gallardo or Rich Hill if I could swing a deal for one of them straight up for Cueto. You might be on to something with the "deal him while you still can" theory. He'd have to replicate his first start a few more times before anyone would think of him as a Top-20 pitcher, at least as far as trade value goes. Plus, it seems like as a rookie in Cincy, his one-year league value will hit a plateau and given that plenty of owners were willing to pay a steep price for him before Thursday's outing, a boost now starts to put him into that Gallardo/Hill tier.
Posted by dvr9484 at 4/4/2008 7:25:00 PM
To clarify, some people will think of Cueto as being worth that much (I'd be thrilled to get that much for him in a trade after one start)...he's still got plenty to prove after a fantastic debut.
Posted by dvr9484 at 4/4/2008 7:27:00 PM
Yeah if you could get that much for him you would have to do it, the risk would be a lot less. However, Cuerto does seem to be the real deal. A few things going for him is a GM in Krivsky that seems to be good at getting talent and seeing it before it happens. Dusty Baker has touted him as has an unnamed scout that says he has some special pitchers, projects as number two, so we will see. I saw him in Sarasota spring training game and he looked pretty good to me as well, pitches with a lot of poise and very fluid.
Posted by ubahero2252727 at 4/4/2008 8:29:00 PM
Here's a guy who went 4-1 in winter ball. Ate up spring training. Ate up his first start. Never showed weakness in the minors with a respectable WHIP. He's a kinda guy that however many innings he pitches, he will match with K's. Ken Griffey reffered him as a "young Pedro Martinez" before the game to Orlando Hudson. I agree with Griffey. I think the stuff is there. And i'm saying don't trade! Especially in a keeper league.
Posted by dlodog10 at 4/4/2008 10:41:00 PM
As Scott laid out in the hypothetical, this is a redraft league, so forget about keeper value for a second. Cueto's value already went up a few notches early in spring training (as did Manny Parra's). At the NFBC, he had moved up to a 15th-19th round pick in a 15-team mixed league draft. I think you'd have to pay a whole lot more for him now. The park (and the manager) work against him, but I'd rather have him for this year than Philip Hughes, but like DVR, I'd prefer Rich Hill to him, to name two pitchers.
Posted by Erickson at 4/4/2008 11:33:00 PM
If somebody offered me an established starter like Rich Hill for Cueto, I'd take that in an instant, especially in non-keeper leagues.
Posted by MPStopa at 4/5/2008 7:38:00 AM
How about Manny Parra?
Posted by cliss at 4/5/2008 11:34:00 AM
Before the season started, I had Cueto as my No. 48th starter - just behind Wang and Wainwright and just ahead of Parra and Bonderman. Nothing has changed too drastically in my mind, but that's probably b/c I was pretty high on him to begin with. Maybe I'd bump him up 10 spots or so. That said, I agree he's a solid sell-high guy right now, as that outing got quite a bit of pub, and he's going to battle control problems throughout the year. I'd happily accept R. Hill, D. McGowan, etc. for him right now in a redraft league.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 4/5/2008 2:41:00 PM
I got in a spirited bidding war with someone in my NL only home league late in the draft last Sunday for Mr Cueto and lost out when he surpassed my max bid. I ended up with Manny Parra instead (my other rookie man crush). Parra looked pretty nice also until the 6th inning yesterday (Granted Parra was facing a AA team - so hard to judge that start appropriately. This week's start against the Mutts will give us more info on Parra)

To Answer Chris's Parra suggestion - I would guess that Cueto finishes 2008 with better all around numbers than Parra but that it'll be close. What about Hiroki Kuroda? Think people will catch up with him after a couple starts? He looked pretty darn effortless in his first start.
Posted by billgoofnow at 4/6/2008 7:22:00 PM

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