Please, don’t get sexy: Lisalverto Bonilla

Lisalverto Bonilla. That would have been fun to say seventy times a season for the next half dozen years. Instead, the diminutive Dominican is taking his interesting prospect profile and Grade-A moniker to the Texas Rangers system as part of the Michael Young trade. While all sorts of hullabaloo (I had to spell check “hullabaloo”) has been focused on what the Phillies might be able to get out of Young, I’d like to poke my head into the discussion and educate everyone about what the Phillies gave up. For me, Bonilla is the principle return in the deal because Lindblom’s fly ball rates terrify me. I have a feeling that the fat kid who always seems to be the first one in the batter’s eye in Arlington will add a few souvenirs to his collection courtesy of Lindblom’s fastball. I’ll be quick here, since the guy isn’t going to be playing for the team you root for anymore.

Lisalverto Bonilla is a 22 year old Dominican righty who stands an unimpressive 6’1” and weighs in at a slender 164lbs. He really accelerates his arm well, though it comes through late and his mechanics are difficult to repeat. Bonilla’s frame is small enough that evaluators have concern about his ability to hold up under a starter’s workload. The Phillies (who are hard pressed to give up on anyone as a starter until they absolutely have to, which I love) conceded this and moved Bonilla into the bullpen for the 2012 season.

Bonilla’s repertoire is interesting enough that Texas, a franchise that is not interested in babying pitchers, may try to move him back to the rotation and see how things shake out. Bonilla pitches with a fastball in the low 90s that I’ve seen touch 94mph but reports say he’s kissed higher. Bonilla compliments that with a changeup that is comfortably plus. He maintains his arms speed and generates terrific action on the pitch. He’ll get swings and misses with it in the big leagues. Third pitch status belongs to a mediocre (that might be generous) slider. It will flash average but not consistently so. That would need an uptick if Bonilla was going to have any chance to transition into a rotation.

More than likely, Bonilla is going to fit nicely in a middle relief role in Texas after another year and change in the minors. He’s pitched well in the in pro ball to this point and would have represented the Phillies in the Futures Game this past season if he hadn’t sustained a…uh….self inflicted hand injury the night….er…a…morning before the game. It was reported that he was “rough housing.” The only concerns I have are that he struggles to throw strikes due to the delivery and maybe has issues generating downhill plane which could lead to lots of flyballs in a home park that doesn’t forgive that sort of thing.. He’s a nice little arm, one of about eight the Phillies have from Double-A on up who’d still need to pay an underage fee to rent a car. They traded from surplus. Not a huge loss.

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  1. Frank Reynolds

    December 08, 2012 11:34 PM

    The last line makes feel better. “Not a huge loss.” Good. I did not think Lindblom was a big deal at all.

  2. BradInDC

    December 09, 2012 12:20 AM

    Agree on the high-level surplus. Do you have an opinion on Kenny Giles? Anecdotal reports, (aka tweets from Cam Rupp and Chris Duffy), have him hitting triple digits and blowing guys away at A+ late in the year, and his numbers looked pretty good in CLR for the half year he was there.

  3. Carl Stocklin

    December 09, 2012 02:36 AM

    That injury report softened the blow. Thanks!

    Futures Game tho. Trading future for guy off down year. Young proh best of limited options.

  4. hk

    December 09, 2012 07:50 AM


    What injury report softened the blow? Do you know of something other than the self-inflicted hand injury?

  5. hk

    December 09, 2012 08:00 AM

    “They traded from surplus. Not a huge loss.”

    My first point in response to this is that I can’t believe that Jon Daniels would have turned down an offer of just Lindblom for Young. This is a huge addition by subtraction deal for the Rangers. It is almost inconceivable to me that the Phils had to forfeit any asset of value – and pay $6M – to get Texas to part with Young.

    The second point is that one way to turn a surplus into a deficit (or at least reduce the surplus) is to unnecessary squander some of it. This is especially so when the surplus is of an asset that can have a long shelf life. If I have a huge surplus of whole wheat bread and I don’t have a freezer to enable me to keep it for a long time, I better use it or trade it for something else of value quickly or it will go to waste. If I have a surplus of young, cost controlled pitchers who can throw in the mid 90’s, I am better off not giving them away unnecessarily.

  6. TomG

    December 09, 2012 10:19 AM

    If Bonilla pans out at the big league level, I think that alone makes the Young deal a bad one because the most we’ll get out of Young is one year, and it’s far from guaranteed it will be a productive year. I hope I’m wrong on this.

    By the way, your reply to Scooby Dude on the last post was the best thing about that post, and that’s not meant as a slam at the post.

  7. nik

    December 09, 2012 12:53 PM

    TomG, Phils can always replace a BP arm without a problem. Getting a 3rd baseman THIS year obviously was a challenge. Its not just pure WAR but where on the field it comes from and how easy it is to replace.

  8. Jesse

    December 09, 2012 04:34 PM

    Frandsen arguably could’ve been “just a body out there” as much as Young might turn out to be.
    Or, offering Youkilis a sweeter deal than the Jankees wouldn’t’ve been that bad. At least we’re not giving anything up, spending a little bit more money (but when has that been a problem in past 4 years?), and he can at least work the count as good as anyone…

  9. Max

    December 11, 2012 10:15 AM

    This has nothing to do with the article but I was looking over the Wil Myers trade and I couldn’t help but wonder if the phillies could have pulled that trade off. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that if we hadn’t traded for revere and instead had flipped lee, worley and may or biddle we could’ve picked up myers? It looks like we might have missed on a franchise changing oppurtunity. I get that lee is older than shields but if we hadn’t asked for odorizzi along with myers we might have been able to pull off the deal.

  10. Eric Longenhagen

    December 11, 2012 11:51 AM

    I won’t take the time to compare a package of Worley/Lee to SHields/Davis. Davis’ contract is long and cheap, Worley has a proven record in the rotation, Lee is better than Shields but the deal isn’t as long and expensive…there’s a lot there to debate. But regarding Myers, he’s a very interesting player but not one I’d consider a franchise changer. I’d struggle to call any single player a “franchise changer,” especially someone who profiles in an outfield corner. But Myers is damn good.

  11. LTG

    December 11, 2012 03:50 PM

    Reports are that RAJ considered sending the Worley package to the Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera, who would have “solved” the 3B problem. I’m genuinely conflicted over whether I prefer Cabrera+XCF or Revere+Young, especially when considering that signing a CF would limit options to improve other areas. Thoughts?

    (Caveat, Indians wanted more than the Worley package, so the above is even more hypothetical than it would be if RAJ chose Revere over Cabrera.)

    (Caveat^2, Don’t ask me the method for measuring hypotheticalness.)

  12. Pencilfish

    December 11, 2012 04:39 PM

    It is hard to put any credence to these Lee trade rumors, given the uncertainty over Roy Halladay’s right shoulder. How can Myers or the rumored Boston proposal of Ellbury for Lee trade help the 2013 Phillies? I don’t dispute the idea we can save money, but there are smart ways to do it, and there are dumb ways to do it. All Lee trade rumors/ideas (at least for 2013) belong to the 2nd category.

  13. Phillie697

    December 11, 2012 08:14 PM

    People do understand that the difference between Lee and Shield is $29M even just in the next two years right? Plus the Royals would be on the hook for AT LEAST $37.5M more for one more season or $52.5M more for 2 more seasons. Why do people ignore contracts when talking about trades? Shield was an under-valued asset; Lee is not under-valued anything, even if he IS fantastic. Whether you think Worley or Davis is the better pitcher, I’m okay either way, but this deal was about getting James Shield for two years at significantly below market value.

    PLUS, the ONLY deal I saw floating around about Lee/Worley/Biddle wasn’t just for Will Myers.

    “Phillies send to the Royals:
    Cliff Lee (with 50% of his salary paid by Phils)
    Vance Worley
    Brody Colvin

    Royals send to Phillies:
    Mike Moustakas
    Wil Myers

    Is there any planet that would theoretically work on?”

    Even if you substitute Colvin for Biddle, Royals would laugh at this trade.

  14. Phillie697

    December 11, 2012 08:19 PM

    “Or, offering Youkilis a sweeter deal than the Jankees wouldn’t’ve been that bad. At least we’re not giving anything up, spending a little bit more money…”

    Apparently DOUBLING the salary is now “a little bit more money.” Do people forget that we ARE in the mess we are in because we spent too much money right? Thoughts like that is why RAJ was bad. Sorry, I want none of it.

  15. Phillie697

    December 11, 2012 08:21 PM


    Your bread analogy is actually how you should look at the Young trade. You assume Bonilla is eventually going to be an asset, which is the wrong assumption, because given the number of live arms we have that project to just be relievers, he’s more apt to be the bread that will rot without a fridge analogy that you made, i.e. he might sit in the minors and never get a chance to contribute, or worse become someone else’s Rule 5 draftee.

  16. EricL

    December 11, 2012 08:57 PM

    Phillie, if you have a few hundred dollars in your bank account, I’ll send you an empty Slurpee cup (but with a valid, unused rewards Slurpee Rewards code on the side), in return for $100. You’ll be dealing from a surplus, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to you.

  17. hk

    December 11, 2012 09:30 PM


    You’re right, he might sit in the minors and never get a chance to contribute, or worse become someone else’s Rule V draftee…but he also might become a #3 or #4 starter or a top notch closer or a chip in a trade for something better than one year of Michael Young.

  18. Eric Longenhagen

    December 11, 2012 10:39 PM

    Some of you guys act as if this 21 year old kid who is making an adjustment to a new organization, while he is still adjusting to a new culture away from his family, who makes a living doing something wholly unnatural with his right arm is a finite asset, like money. I can’t decide if it’s amusing or frustrating.

  19. LTG

    December 11, 2012 11:09 PM


    What do you mean by ‘finite asset’? Are finite assets distinct from other assets that are not finite, as in infinite assets? Are finite assets distinct from mortal assets, which are finite but not exhaustible, like, say, creativity?

  20. Eric Longenhagen

    December 11, 2012 11:38 PM

    Me saying “asset, traded from surplus, who cares” is my way of saying, in one word, that Bonilla has value, but that value is always changing and the likely outcome of his career is insignificant and replaceable enough that we shouldn’t fret over his exile. He’s probably a middle reliever.

  21. EricL

    December 11, 2012 11:40 PM

    Longenhagen, I don’t know what you’re talking about, exactly.

    My silly analogy was pointing out that if you have something of value (Bonilla, and Lindblom for that matter), you shouldn’t exchange it for something of very little–possibly even negative–value to you (Young) just because you have a surplus of that first valuable thing.

  22. Eric Longenhagen

    December 11, 2012 11:46 PM

    My evaluation of Bonilla is totally independent of who they got in exchange for him. If they had acquired Andrew McCutchen for him, this write-up would have been identical. I just wanted to educate people about what was given up.

  23. EricL

    December 11, 2012 11:54 PM

    Okay, I guess my response was geared more toward people like Phillie697 who was making the point that Bonilla isn’t an asset because the Phillies have a surplus of live-armed guys.

  24. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 12:36 AM


    You compare the Phillies farm system with more bullpen arms than we know what to do with to a few hundred dollars in the bank account? Really? It’s more like, I’m Bill Gates, and I need to get to the airport right now, and you along and said, sure I’ll give you a ride, but it’s gonna cost your $1,000. Since I’m Bill Gates, and I need to get to the airport (ala Phillies need a 3B), even though you drive a PoS 1981 Pento, hey, since I need a ride, beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, it’s $1,000 and I’m Bill Gates, what do I care?

    Now THAT is what the Phillies did.

  25. hk

    December 12, 2012 08:12 AM

    Eric Longenhagen,

    Thanks for clarifying your position. I think we all accept your take, despite our stupid analogies which might say otherwise, that Bonilla will probably end up as a middle reliever, if that. Where we differ is when we expand the conversation beyond your write-up to assess his inclusion in this deal.

    On a separate note, do you do extensive research into other teams’ farm systems or just the Phillies. I ask because I was wondering whether you think that Freddy Galvis is better than Didi Gregorious, another young, cost-controlled, non-hitting, slick fielding SS who the D-Backs received for Trevor Bauer?

  26. hk

    December 12, 2012 08:19 AM


    While my bread analogy may have been bad, your Bill Gates in a pinto analogy is much worse. First of all, Bill Gates’s net worth / $1,000 provides an immeasurably larger surplus than the number of young, hard-throwing reliever types in the Phillies system. Secondly, your analogy assumes that EricL’s 1981 Pinto (Michael Young) is the only way for Gates to get to the airport, but he already has a 1980 Pinto (Kevin Frandsen) in the driveway, plus he could pay $2,000 for a ride in a 1985 Corolla (Kevin Youkilis). By the way, just the fact that you are comparing Michael Young to a 1981 Pinto should be reason enough to conclude that they should not have had to include Bonilla, no matter how fungible his talent is, in this deal.

  27. Eric Longenhagen

    December 12, 2012 08:48 AM


    Yes, I make sure to scout every team’s farm system. When I go to minor league games I take notes on everybody and when I talk to industry sources we talk about everybody. It’s important for me to do that to have perspective on what sort of talent is rare. It’s also important for me to watch plenty of major league baseball so I can see what the finished product should look like.

    As far as Didi and Freddy go, Didi is the superior prospect. There’s more hope for the bat just because Gregorious has more physical projection left.

    When I wrote up my Galvis scouting report for my old site I said I thought Freddy could be a two or three win player, annually, based on the offensive strides he made at Triple-A and because replacement level at SS is so low. His pitch recognition and approach went WAY backwards in the majors last year. Keith Law said the exact same thing about Didi in his write up on yesterday’s trade. I don’t think Gregorious will hit much in the majors, but damn can he pick it. The term for players like this is “empty wizard.”

  28. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 10:48 AM


    I think the point of the article was this wasn’t a big loss, not that the Young trade was bad. You and I already differ on that even before the trade was announced, so I’m not going to rehash that.

    The reason why the analogy is bad is that money is ALWAYS useful, no matter how much more you have, so I had to resort to a Bill Gates analogy to make my point. Having too many relievers is NOT always useful; there are only 25 roster slots on the team. If you can’t accept that premise and continue to want to talk about Bonilla’s talent, then there is no point discussing any longer.

  29. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 11:46 AM

    You know what, let’s boil it down to an equation, because, you know, we are saber nerds.

    Value of what we gave up in Bonilla in the Young trade = % chance that Bonilla will make it onto the 25-player roster * ( Bonilla’s talent – talent of the best reliever we have in the minors who DOESN’T end up making it onto the 25-player roster). Seeing as how we’re talking about relievers here, does that seem like a lot to you?

  30. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 12:01 PM

    Just read the Diamondback’s trade. Doesn’t it look like Arizona got fleeced? Indians IMO made out like a bandit on this trade, and at least the Reds got a pretty good player out of it. What did the Arizona get besides a lot of questionable potential?

  31. Eric Longenhagen

    December 12, 2012 12:04 PM

    Bauer has question marks, too. But yes, I liked the deal for Cleveland. They turned one year of Choo into six of Bauer. Kevin Towers LOVES Didi.

  32. Phillie697

    December 12, 2012 03:05 PM

    Towers also thinks Didi is a young Derek Jeter. Anyone who would make such a comment in public needs to have his sanity checked.

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