#4 – Johnny Cueto
Before everyone gets their pitchforks out, just hold on and look at how Cueto has done in the American League for the Kansas City Royals. Try to forget the fact that the eight-year vet has been the ace for the Cincinnati Reds, before being traded at the deadline. Pretend that the 29-year-old righty had many of Red Sox Nation drooling before he was moved.
The man, who thinks that he’s worth a heck of a lot more than $10 million this season, is expecting a big payday for a 9-9 record, with a 2.94 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 171.2 innings. If you rush to the argument that his ERA is very respectable and that he lost games playing for a bad team, consider the following: Cueto is 2-3 in six starts, allowing 19 runs (18 earned) on 45 hits in 41 innings of work. That effort was for one of the best defensive teams in the majors and the AL champs from a year ago; it doesn’t get much better than that.
Cueto’s opposing batting averages are .243 against lefties and an astonishing .310 against righties. Imagine that in Fenway Park.
Why imagine? In his recent start for the Royals in Boston, Cueto allowed seven runs, six earned, on 13 hits, no walks, and three strikeouts in six innings. The Red Sox’ .433 batting average alone made the Royals’ manager give Cueto the hook, as he took the loss.
Cueto’s seven-pitch arsenal didn’t do much to help the situation. His fastball moves at just under 93 mph and he relies on it 50.9% of the time. When you have a sinker, a slider, a curve, a changeup, and a cutter, why the reliance on the fastball? Age catching up and trying to deny it? Maybe not, but if that’s not pretty suspect then his recent outings have been.
Unlikely that any of this will cut through the hype surrounding this polarizing figure, as Cueto will continue to ask for a great deal of money. The Red Sox should be wary of this man, as they need more than one player to help fix their issues. Putting ace-money into a man whom has only made middle-rotation results, so far, seems foolish. Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays with their R.A. Dickey contract. Cueto is not Dickey, but even the knuckler needed at least two years before he started performing better.