2010 Player Previews: Esmailin Caridad
Fun with other cultures - many of the Cubs' Latin American relievers have names that tend to lend themselves to lame-o nicknames. There's Carlos Marmol, who some call "the Marmot". There was former Cub Jose Ascanio, who I was emotionally unable to refer to as anything else but the "Asscan". And now we have Esmailin Caridad, who I am going to have to dub "Smiley". It is like throwing salt over your left shoulder after knocking over a salt shaker. There's no reason why - I just have to do it.
Get used to Smiley. After watching a weekend of guys with 60's and 70's, and occasionally 20 on their back (yeah, Thomas Diamond, you suck, too) walk batter after batter, you quickly realize why Lou Piniella likes guys who throw strikes. Caridad throws strikes, and unless we can finally complete a trade for Jason Frasor, I think Smiley is going to end up as the new 8th inning guy.
One negative is that out of 6 inherited runners last year, 4 scored. Another negative, as I perceive it, is that he was used exclusively as a starter in the minors. A third strike against him - he is only in his third season of professional baseball. Perhaps in his brief stint last year, he was too dumb to realize what he was doing, but he was very impressive with his 1.40 ERA and his 17/3 K/BB ratio. These are numbers that please Sweet Lou, and they have continued this spring.
All in all, I still strongly advocate a trade for Frasor, especially if it involves Micah Hoffpauir, who more and more looks headed back to Iowa this spring. Of course, the worse Hoff looks, the less likely Toronto will want him. I'm sure they are holding out for Tyler Colvin, who they simply cannot have. I am not comfortable, myself, handing the set-up man job to Caridad. But he will at least come north with us, hopefully as a 7th inning guy, or something else. It is only fair to him to have the time to develop.
Rob is right: If Caridad continues to not walk opponents, Lou will be very pleased.
I also wanted to direct your attention to a few words on Caridad as written by a guy whose writing I really enjoy, Harry Pavlidis of Cubs f/x. Of Esmailin's recent spring performance, Pavlidis writes:
"Caridad looks headed towards later innings than expected, barring a move by Trader Jim. Caridad is… just about 2 mph off his 93+ average fastball from 2009. He did crack 94 a couple of times, so he's not far from his 95 that makes me so giddy.
"He broke 95 mph 39 times last year, 97 seven times, including his top pitch of 98.2 mph."
In other words, this kid throws heat. Just thought you'd like to know.