Prospects and movie ads - They often don't live up to the hype
One of my favorite parts of going to the movies is watching all the ads before the film starts.
It’s a guilty pleasure because (obviously) I just shelled out $10 to go watch the movie, and by the time it starts I’m sitting there imagining how good the NEXT movie will be instead of enjoying the movie I just bought. Unfortunately, no matter how excited I get for a movie, it’s usually never as good as I imagined it to be, thus reality always falls short of the hype.
This got me thinking about baseball prospects.
I have noticed prospects are always, ALWAYS better BEFORE they show up in the majors than they are when they reach the show, with a few rare exceptions. Take Lonnie Chisenhall for example. Chisenhall was drafted as a shortstop and moved to third base, and immediately the Tribe blogsphere hailed him as the solution at the ancient black hole which is third base for Cleveland.
Since Casey Blake was traded for Carlos Santana in 2008 the Tribe has struggled to find a suitable player to man the hot corner. They gave Andy Marte another shot (thankfully, this experiment didn’t last too long), they signed Jack Hannahan for his glove and learned (once again) that he could barely hit.
However, Tribe fans took solace knowing Lonnie was close at hand and ready to move up to the Majors. However, Chisenhall has not come close to living up to the hype. For that matter, Marte was once a hot-shot, can’t miss, prospect and turned out to be a dud.
Prospects are always better in our imagination than in reality, which is why prospects have trade value. Why would a team trade a proven commodity in someone like CC Sabathia for a prospect in Matt LaPorta? Well, there is the obvious “the Tribe wasn’t going to resign CC anyway” mentality, however consider the Tribe traded away Sabathia in 2008, who went on to produce nearly a 5 WAR for Milwaukee (according to Baseball-Reference) while the main piece the Tribe got in return was LaPorta.
At the time of the trade, LaPorta was one of Milwaukee’s top prospects and widely considered a safe bet to be a star at the Major League level as a slugging first baseman who could anchor a lineup. Since the trade LaPorta has produce -1 WAR for Cleveland according to Baseball-Reference. Thus the Tribe traded 5 wins immediately for essentially nothing in the future.
I am aware the Tribe also received Michael Brantley as the PTBNL in the Sabathia deal; however, the centerpiece of the trade was unquestionably Matt LaPorta. I know a lot has been made of the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ in place between Shapiro and Doug Melvin, but I do not believe Brantley significantly effected Shapiro’s calculus on this trade. Brantley, by the way, has produced about 5 WAR thus far for the Tribe.
There was an aura to Matt LaPorta in 2009. I remember feeling like Matt would solve all the offensive woes the Tribe had; he could be a star and the right-handed power bat the Tribe had lacked for so long. Before a prospect is called up, he can be anything. Before LaPorta was called up, he could be Frank Thomas. He could be the second coming of Ted Williams for all we know. That’s the fun with prospects, not what they actually become, but the POTENTIAL of what they could become.
So what exactly does any of this have to do with movies?
Well, I feel movies advertisements are the same way. Before the Hangover came out, all my friends raved about how funny it would be, then they all saw it (I didn’t, I was busy with sports that semester) and then all they could talk about was how funny the movie was and how I was missing out. A while later (after hearing weeks of hype) I was getting excited about this movie. It was the funniest movie they had ever seen, best movie of the year, and I had to see this movie…so I did.
My thoughts? It was OK. There were some solidly funny scenes that were generally amusing and kept me entertained for the roughly 90 minutes I spent watching it, but far less entertaining than the hype.
Like prospects, movies are rarely ever as good as the hype. So when I hear about Clint Frazier, and all the talent he has, and the chances he has on being a real difference maker, and the comparisons, I shrug.
Am I happy the Tribe picked him up, signed him under-slot and put him in our partially depleted system? Yes, of course.
Do I dream about the next Grady Sizemore playing at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario? No. For all I know, Clint Frazier could be the next Willie Mays, or he could be, you know, Aaron ‘Freaking’ Cunningham.
Regarding the first issue, that often is a surprise both ways, as opposed to LaPorta just take a look at someone like Chris Davis, who Baltimore acquired for an older marginal pitcher. Also, if you go back and read about the Victor Martinez deal the Tribe did with Boston, Hagadone was hyped up as the potential star acquistion for the team, with Masterson being viewed as yet another solid part of the deal.
As far as how prospects often disappoint, that is very common and applies for all teams. It would be interesting to go back to the projections for Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects from nine or ten years ago and see how many turned into nothing more than mediocre players, or failed to make an impact at all.