Commentary

Shedding the "4-A" label

Wily Mo Pena is one of many minor league vets who could help a big league club

Updated: June 24, 2011, 12:19 PM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Wily Mo PenaG. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesWily Mo Pena is better than a lot of players currently starting in the majors.

This week, Wily Mo Pena's long and winding career path took another turn when he was summoned from Triple-A Reno back to the major leagues. After watching him destroy the Pacific Coast League (.363/.439/.726) for two months, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided that he could help them provide some power off the bench and occasionally play a little outfield. Pena made the club look good by promptly homering in his first game back.

While this isn't the role that was projected for Pena when he bashed 26 home runs for the Cincinnati Reds at age 22, the reality is that Pena can help a major league team, and is an example of the kind of player that a lot of teams could actually use in this era of low-scoring baseball games.

Despite his obvious flaws (he still strikes out a lot and is a brutal defensive player), Pena is a better player now than he was earlier in his career. He's actually willing to take a walk once in a while and he's reduced his epic strikeout totals to merely being above average. However, he's been tagged with the dreaded "4-A player" label, and so he has had to settle for bouncing from minor league to minor league. His offensive outburst in Reno was finally too absurd to overlook, however, and Arizona was willing to give him another shot in the big leagues, albeit in a reserve role.

Unfortunately for Pena, he signed with a team that doesn't really need regular help in the outfield. With Justin Upton, Chris Young and Gerardo Parra all performing well, Pena is going to be a glorified pinch hitter in Arizona. There are several other teams where he could easily slide in as a starting outfielder. Let's take a look at a few clubs on which Pena would be an upgrade, as well as some other "4-A" players who deserve a shot.


For a full list of teams that can use Wily Mo Pena, as well as the names of other "4-A" players who deserve a chance, become an ESPN Insider.