Breaking My Silence on Mahay and Yabuta

I had planned to keep quiet about the Mahay for Yabuta move when it went down.  After the Twins signed Ron on Friday night, I could no longer keep quiet.  Now I am compelled to react to the latest puzzling move that Dayton has made.

It all started on the 24th when the Royals DFA’d 38 year old LHP-Ron Mahay and replaced him on the roster with 36 year old RHP-Yasuhiko Yabuta.

When the news came down, I didn’t have a huge problem with giving Yabuta another shot at pitching in the majors.  The Royals do have a 2010 club option on Yabuta’s contract and he was already making $3 million this season.  If the team picks up his option, they will pay him $4 million to pitch next season.  If they decline to pick up the option, they are obligated to buyout the option for $500,000.  No matter what Yabuta does the rest of this season, there is no way he will be worth $4 million heading into next year.  However, considering they will be paying Farnsworth $4.5 million and Juan Cruz $3.25 million for their services in 2010, I wouldn’t be surprised if Yasuhiko was a part of the bullpen next year.  In an ideal world, he will pitch well enough to garner some trade interest in the offseason.  Anyway, outside of 2010 and the contract, Yabuta had earned the right to pitch for the Royals based on his performance in Omaha.

Yasuhiko turned in a solid Triple-A season prior to his call up.  In 45.2 innings he had a 3.55 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, and 3.12 SO/BB  and he provides a definite upgrade to the bullpen.  People have called him a 4-A player or fringe major leaguer.  That may be true, but his 2009 Omaha numbers provide some hope that he might be something more.  Consider his 2008 Triple-A numbers:  5.36 ERA, 1.537 WHIP, and 2.06 SO/BB.  They are hardly representative of a 4-A player.  He is either as bad as his 2008 stats suggest or last year was a struggle because he was adjusting to Major League Baseball.  Even if he is as bad as he showed while in the majors in 2008; 37.2 IP, 4.78 ERA, 1.540 WHIP, and 1.47 SO/BB, his ERA+ of 89 would rank him ahead of Cruz, Bale, Chen, Colon, and Farnsworth in the current bullpen.  In short, he deserved a shot at pitching in the Royals bullpen.

No doubt he would have been an upgrade if he had replaced Cruz, Bale, Chen, Colon, or Farnsworth.  However, the Royals chose to have him replace Ron Mahay.  Apparently they overlooked the fact that despite his recent struggles, he still had an ERA+ of 91.  Clearly, due to the contracts, Dayton wasn’t going to dump Cruz or Farnsworth.  I believe Chen has some value as a spot starter and bullpen arm, but there was absolute no reason to keep Bale or Colon over Mahay.

When it was Mahay who was DFA’d my immediate thought was that Dayton had worked out a deal to send him to another team for a minor league player.  As it turns out, the Royals just gave him away to the Twins and still have to pay the rest of his salary except for the prorated portion of the ML minimum that Minnesota is responsible for.

So they cut loose one of their (almost) ML-average bullpen arms to make room for another almost ML-average bullpen arm.  They did so while blindly ignoring that they have 2 bullpen arms on their roster that aren’t even close to being almost ML-average.  For the fans still following this organization, the cherry on top of the crap sundae is that they save only $80,000 by making this move.

Does Mahay have value?  The Twins sure think so and they are in contention to win the AL Central.  From their perspective, why wouldn’t they take a chance on him?  He was basically free.

This switcheroo of 35+ year old relievers won’t change the fortunes of the Royals this season or next, but why not dump Colon for Yabuta?  If Dayton was obsessed with dumping a LHP, how about designating Bale to make room for Yabuta?  Several more logical options, and yet, once again Dayton Moore has left me dazed and confused.  Maybe that is part of his process.  Make moves that are either completely irrelevant, confusing, or both just to convince us all that he is operating on a higher level than everyone else.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Bruce Chen John Bale Juan Cruz Kansas City Royals KC Kyle Farnsworth MLB Roman Colon Ron Mahay Royals Yasuhiko Yabuta

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