Today RHP-Juan Cruz was placed on the 15-day DL today and the team activated RHP-Doug Waechter to take the open spot on the roster. After today’s win, the Royals are a dreadful 42-66 and still trail the Nationals, who also won, by 5 games for the worst record in MLB. Yet today, the Royals are better than they were yesterday.
Back on April 21st, Waechter was placed on the 15-day DL with a elbow strain. He was supposed to be given a few weeks off before returning to the team. Then on May 13th, while on a rehab assignment in Omaha, he strained his left oblique muscle. After the oblique injury occurred, Waechter was expected to only be out another 2 weeks, but when the calendar turned to June he was not ready to return. June turned to July and there was still no sign of Doug Waechter on the Royals active roster but he was finally back on a rehab assignment. On August 3rd, he completed his 30 day rehab and was waiting to be activated.
Tonight, Waechter finally appeared in his first ML game since April 17th and thus concluded his DL journey. As an added bonus he actually looked effective tonight throwing a scoreless inning. The question looming is whether or not Waechter is an upgrade for the bullpen. Comparing Waechter’s career numbers, since his 2009 season amounts to 4.0 innings, to Juan’s 2009 numbers we see that the answer is yes. In ERA+ Waechter comes out on top 83 to 70. He also has a slight advantage over Cruz in WHIP 1.436 to 1.500 and SO/BB 1.78 to 1.30. ERA may be a flawed statistic, but Doug comes out ahead in that one as well 5.29 to 6.17.
The Royals are having an awful season, and have played themselves into the Bryce Harper draft sweepstakes, but Moore’s 3 recent moves have each made the 2009 version of this team better. Acquiring Betancourt and designating TPJ improved the team on both offense and defense. It also allowed Bloomquist to move back into the utility role that he was signed for. The Betancourt trade will almost assuredly have negative consequences to the team in 2010 and 2011, but for this season alone, I get it. Acquiring Josh Anderson and designating Ryan Freel should make the team a little better on offense and defense. At worst it is a push, but regardless Anderson definitively upgrades the team speed. The Acquisition of Anderson makes acquiring Freel in the 1st place completely moot, but in defense of Dayton, he couldn’t know Anderson would become available. Of course, jumping the gun on moves is part of the reason this team is in the state it is today, so I’m not putting much weight into that defense. If Josh Anderson can play himself into part of the Royals future in 2010 and 2011, it will help offset the future negative impact of Betancourt being on the roster. For his part, Yunie is 5-16 in his last 4 games, and it is notable that those same 5 hits equal TPJ’s output in 51 ABs this season. For the record, I am not pro-Yunie, or anti-Yunie, I’m basically Yunie-neutral or perhaps Yunie-puzzled. Finally, activating Waechter and putting a clearly struggling Cruz on the DL, whether he’s hurt or not, gives the team a fresh and presumably healthy bullpen arm.
All three moves individually provide only a slight improvement, but collectively they could result in a win or two by the end of the year. Of course 1-2 wins at this point only serves to hurt their draft position, and isn’t worth a celebration or even a pat on the back for Dayton Moore.
I’m trying to stay positive, but even slight improvements are tainted with a negative side. If they Royals play better down the stretch, they only hurt their draft position. If Betancourt or Anderson play well the rest of the season, Dayton Moore may consider the gaping holes at SS and CF plugged for 2010. I have no idea what Waechter’s 2009 season can do for his future as a Kansas City Royal, but based on the state of the rest of the pen, even replacement level pitching may be enough to secure a job in the 2010 Royals bullpen. So …
Welcome back Doug Waechter!!