Looking Back: Dayton's Best Move

You may have heard about this, but former Royal Billy Buckner was traded from Arizona to Detroit for former phenom Dontrelle Willis. You hopefully recall that Buckner, a former 2nd round pick by the Royals in 2004, was traded in December 2007 for Alberto Callaspo.

Needless to say, the move was a win for Dayton Moore. Let’s look deeper:

First let’s see the stats.
Billy Buckner – MLB

Year Age Tm W L ERA G IP H R ER HR WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2007 23 KCR 1 2 5.29 7 34.0 37 20 20 5 1.559 4.2 4.5 1.06
2008 24 ARI 1 0 3.21 10 14.0 16 5 5 3 1.429 2.6 7.1 2.75
2009 25 ARI 4 6 6.40 16 77.1 94 57 55 12 1.591 3.4 7.4 2.21
2010 26 ARI 0 3 11.08 3 13.0 26 17 16 4 2.385 3.5 7.6 2.20
4 Seasons 6 11 6.25 36 138.1 173 99 96 24 1.641 3.5 6.7 1.91
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2010.

Billy Buckner – Minor Leagues

Year Age Tm Lev W L ERA G IP H ER WHIP BB/9 SO/9
2004 20 Idaho Falls Rk 2 1 3.30 7 30.0 36 11 1.333 1.2 11.1
2005 21 2 Teams A+-A 8 13 4.78 28 154.1 171 82 1.516 3.7 8.9
2005 21 Burlington A 3 7 3.88 11 60.1 66 26 1.376 2.5 9.0
2005 21 High Desert A+ 5 6 5.36 17 94.0 105 56 1.606 4.4 8.8
2006 22 2 Teams A+-AA 12 4 4.24 29 165.2 170 78 1.545 4.7 8.0
2006 22 High Desert A+ 7 1 3.90 16 90.0 92 39 1.544 4.7 8.5
2006 22 Wichita AA 5 3 4.64 13 75.2 78 39 1.546 4.6 7.5
2007 23 2 Teams AAA-AA 10 10 3.92 31 124.0 128 54 1.290 2.3 7.0
2007 23 Wichita AA 1 3 4.66 4 19.1 20 10 1.345 2.8 6.1
2007 23 Omaha AAA 9 7 3.78 27 104.2 108 44 1.280 2.2 7.1
2008 24 Tucson AAA 5 10 4.95 21 116.1 136 64 1.539 3.3 5.3
2009 25 Reno AAA 9 3 3.32 18 103.0 91 38 1.320 3.9 8.4
2010 26 Reno AAA 3 1 3.53 7 43.1 40 17 1.315 3.5 5.6
7 Seasons 49 42 4.20 141 736.2 772 344 1.442 3.5 7.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2010.

Alberto Callaspo – MLB

Year Age Tm PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2006 23 ARI 47 2 10 1 1 0 6 4 6 .238 .298 .310 .607 54
2007 24 ARI 156 10 31 8 0 0 7 9 14 .215 .265 .271 .535 36
2008 25 KCR 234 21 65 8 3 0 16 19 14 .305 .361 .371 .731 97
2009 26 KCR 634 79 173 41 8 11 73 52 51 .300 .356 .457 .813 114
2010 27 KCR 223 25 62 16 2 7 31 10 19 .295 .323 .490 .813 119
5 Seasons 1294 137 341 74 14 18 133 94 104 .288 .338 .419 .758 100
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2010.

Alberto Callaspo – Minors

Yr Age Tm Lev PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2002 19 Provo Rk 324 70 101 16 10 3 60 17 14 .338 .374 .488 .862
2003 20 Ced.Rap A 565 86 168 38 4 2 67 42 28 .327 .377 .428 .805
2004 21 Arkansas AA 612 76 156 29 2 6 48 47 25 .284 .338 .376 .714
2005 22 2 Teams AA-AAA 613 81 171 29 2 11 80 38 30 .304 .346 .422 .768
2005 22 Arkansas AA 385 53 104 8 0 10 49 28 17 .297 .346 .406 .752
2005 22 Salt Lake AAA 228 28 67 21 2 1 31 10 13 .316 .345 .448 .793
2006 23 Tucson AAA 554 93 165 24 12 7 68 56 27 .337 .404 .478 .882
2007 24 Tucson AAA 261 48 77 15 2 5 30 28 17 .341 .406 .491 .897
2008 25 Omaha AAA 17 5 3 0 0 0 0 1 4 .188 .235 .188 .423
7 Seasons 2946 459 841 151 32 34 353 229 145 .317 .369 .436 .805
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2010.

At the time, Buckner’s future in the majors wasn’t very clear – some suspected he could be a solid bullpen arm, some thought he might be a starter with upside down the line.  Callaspo looked like he would be a solid hitter, but it wasn’t definite if it would be enough, since his defense and speed leave much to be desired for a middle infielder.  Add off the field troubles to that  and it seems the Diamondbacks weren’t sold that he’d be able to make it to the bigs and stay out of trouble (and in 2008, he missed some time on the disabled list for “medical reasons” related to a DUI in June.)

At the time, Bob Dutton called it a “gamble“:

The question for the Royals, however, is whether it’s worth trading a young, back-of-the-rotation starter for a young second baseman with high-end potential. If you need a second baseman, I think it’s a no-brainer — until you factor in that the second baseman brings some baggage. That baggage makes it a gamble.

There’s no argument that would say that the Diamondbacks got the better end of the deal. As Buckner hangs out in Toledo, after Detroit optioned him to Triple A after the trade, Callaspo is performing at a near All-Star level. Even his defense, a huge weakness at second base, has come around upon the move to third base. His range is less of a factor and he’s able to rely on instinct, which has suited him so far.

When Dayton Moore talks about pitching being the currency of baseball, this is what he means.  And in most cases, I think a gamble like this – for a young, skilled hitter – is worth taking when you have the chance.

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Tags: AL Central Alberto Callaspo Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Billy Buckner Dayton Moore Detroit Tigers Dontrelle Willis Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals

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