By now, the trades of Alberto Callaspo, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth have been picked apart by the Royals community. I couldn’t help but think that there were still a few scraps of meat on those bones that hadn’t been picked at yet, so I looked at them again.
With a strong background in scouting, Moore’s rebuilding of the minor league system via the draft has been touched upon, and while he hasn’t been very good at constructing a major league roster, he’s shown an eye for finding talent in other minor league systems as well. That looks like the theme behind this season’s trades – Dayton Moore found a mostly overlooked player and was able to get him included in a deal.
I hate to draw the comparison, but I’ve done this dozens of times in fantasy football and rotisserie baseball leagues. It goes like this: 1) find a player that has little to no buzz around them (yet), but has some upside to contribute later 2) start trade negotiations with whoever has that player and get something close 3) ask for that sleeper as a throw-in, something to even up both sides. “Which player would you be cutting? I’ll take him, then.”
What got my attention and steered me down this path was the initial reports involving Alberto Callaspo being discussed by the Angels. The first I heard about it, the Angels offered Sean O’Sullivan and a toss-in minor leaguer. Reports told us that Dayton declined that offer. Maybe all the sources are off and that toss-in was Will Smith and Dayton went back and accepted, or, what I think, is that Dayton was fine with O’Sullivan as part of the deal, but instead of the original scrub offered by the Angels, he asked for Will Smith and finished the deal.
Smith, looking at his 2010 stats, has been all over the place. The Angels skipped him from High A to Triple A, then shuffled him back down to Double A before finally trading him to Kansas City. Just barely 21, Smith clearly wasn’t ready for that advanced level of baseball yet, so it’s curious why Los Angeles moved him around so much. Still, he’s made one start for Wilmington and it was a solid Royals debut, as he went seven innings, surrendering only one run and walking one. He was a top-30 prospect before 2010 for the Angels, so the talent is there. It’s just a case of development, now.
In the case of the Podsednik deal, the Royals got Luke May, a Triple A catcher and Elisaul Pimentel, who incidentally is exactly a year older than Smith. Dayton was able to flip an aging league-average-at-best left fielder for a system’s top catching prospect and some guy who’s a little old for his level but has a 3-1 K/BB ratio for his career. Pimentel is in Burlington in Low A ball for the Royals, but he’s got a shot to be a future #4 or 5 starter at the big league level. With a fastball that touches the mid-90s and a strong strikeout rate, he was a nice addition to May. Dodgers fan and blogger had this scouting report on Pimentel in a July prospect review, where he ranked him #18 in the organization:
Elisaul Pimentel|Currently #18-This honestly might be too low for him, as he has better peripherals than Webster, and is just a year older. However, I would like to see him repeat this dominance and command before I completely buy into his transformation. Sitting in the low-90s and touching mid-90s, he has plenty of arm to project well going forward, but questions will remain for me until he turns in a similar performance in 2011.
Not too bad for some spare change tossed in with a reasonable catching prospect. Pimentel’s made one start for Burlington, going four innings and striking out five. He did walk three while surrendering seven hits, though. Still, he limited the damage to two runs only.
But the really interesting pickup of the trade deadline was Tim Collins, the diminutive left handed reliever. As part of the Yunel Escobar trade earlier in the year, Collins had barely any time within the Braves organization, which may be why Dayton was able to target him. Sure, the Royals got Gregor Blanco and Jesse Chavez for major league roster depth, but I have a hunch Collins was the prize of the trade. You can imagine the negotiations going on where Moore offered Ankiel and Farnsworth with the hope to get something for expiring contracts and came back with two replacement level players (if that) for the major league team (but with years of team control left), a full-time spot for Alex Gordon in the outfield, and as he’s about to finish the deal, he asks for this intriguing 5’7″ (on paper) Double A reliever. Fine, Atlanta says, he’s all yours.
So at 20 years old (21 in about two weeks), Tim Collins finds himself promoted to Omaha immediately upon joining the Royals organization. So far he’s made two scoreless appearances, striking out one and walking two in 2.2 innings. But Dayton has the confidence in him to put him within a level of the major leagues. And for a few in the Royals online community, Collins is filling the underdog role vacated by Chris “Disco” Hayes as the quirky reliever who looks more like a fan than a ballplayer. (Hayes for his noted lack of velocity, Collins because, well, I was taller than him in eighth grade)
Moore has a track record of turning trades like this. When he traded Mike MacDougal, all the attention was on Tyler Lumsden, but it was Dan Cortes who came along for the ride and was pushing for a spot in the Kansas City bullpen. (Okay, fine, he was then traded for Yuniesky Betancourt…so they aren’t all winners) For what it’s worth, Lumsden was also turned into a decent prospect, when the Royals swapped him with Jordan Parraz, who could compete for a spot in the Royals outfield in spring training next year. Lumsden has since floated around the minors.
He’s also traded Horacio Ramirez for Paulo Orlando, who’s currently in Northwest Arkansas, was a Texas League All-Star and is starting to develop as a hitter. The Brazilian outfielder has an OPS of .852 right now and may be the fastest (or at least in the top three) player in the organization.
Dayton Moore has turned a journeyman starter into an all-star. He took a former all-star closer who lost his mojo and turned him into two pitching prospects. Of those two, the add-on became the more valuable player. But he flipped those two and got a potential fourth outfielder for the future and a major league shortstop (okay, it’s still Yuni).
What if Moore had traded Callaspo for O’Sullivan straight up? Or Podsednik for May? Or Ankiel and Farnsworth for Chavez and Blanco but no Collins? There’d still be the same openings in the major league roster. Still the same payroll movement, but there’s a lot less upside. Any of those deals on their own would be reasonably unsurprising to hear about. But I have to believe, Dayton had his eye on a handful of those mid-level prospects in all of these systems and found a way to get one tossed in as a little extra.
And maybe Pimentel, Collins and Smith won’t go beyond Omaha. Maybe they’ll flame out, lose their command, and never be heard from again. That’s the risk with any minor league player. They’ve only gotten their drivers licenses within the last four or five years. But when trading away players who didn’t figure into the major league plan (dubbed “Mission 2012″ by Sam Mellinger), Moore has found a few players who could develop to be part of that plan.