Water Into Wine

Big thanks to Wally for passing along this tidbit from Keith Law:

Two Rangers farmhands had disappointing Fall League debuts on Friday. Eric Hurley, in his first game action in over two years, touched 91 in the first but was mostly 88-89, and his slider was flat at 81-83. His arm is very stiff and he was struggling to stay on top of the ball … but he was Walter Johnson compared to Danny Gutierrez, who was 82-85 — not a typo — with no arm speed and a very restricted throwing motion. Gutierrez, who was suspended for unapproved use of Adderall but has a history of off-field issues dating back to his time in the Royals organization, is a non-prospect at this point unless his former low- to mid-90s velocity returns.

Danny Gutierrez, you may remember, was a former Royals relief prospect until the Royals traded him to the Rangers for minor league outfielder Tim Smith and catcher Manuel Pina.

So maybe the wine is merely Franzia, but that still carries a lot more punch than Aquafina… and it’s not the first time Dayton Moore’s come out on the winning side of a small trade like this one.

Maybe it’s not even going to be a trade of any significance. Smith has hit at every level so far in the minors, showing both power and speed. Even better, he’s been ridiculously consistent.

Year Tm Lev PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2007 Spokane A- 96 18 23 5 0 1 9 1 11 16 .284 .396 .383 .779
2008 Clinton A 538 67 144 25 4 13 70 21 33 81 .300 .359 .450 .809
2009 3 Teams AA-A+-Rk 311 42 87 15 0 8 53 17 24 45 .321 .392 .465 .857
2009 Rangers Rk 13 2 4 1 0 1 2 2 0 4 .333 .308 .667 .974
2009 Bakersfield A+ 138 18 40 5 0 4 19 7 10 20 .333 .413 .475 .888
2009 Frisco AA 160 22 43 9 0 3 32 8 14 21 .309 .380 .439 .819
2010 Northwest Arkansas AA 350 52 94 18 0 9 50 15 33 42 .306 .372 .453 .825
4 Seasons 1295 179 348 63 4 31 182 54 101 184 .306 .373 .450 .823
AA (2 seasons) 510 74 137 27 0 12 82 23 47 63 .307 .375 .448 .823
A (1 season) 538 67 144 25 4 13 70 21 33 81 .300 .359 .450 .809
Rk (1 season) 13 2 4 1 0 1 2 2 0 4 .333 .308 .667 .974
A- (1 season) 96 18 23 5 0 1 9 1 11 16 .284 .396 .383 .779
A+ (1 season) 138 18 40 5 0 4 19 7 10 20 .333 .413 .475 .888
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/19/2010.

At the age of 24 and over 350 plate appearances last year at Double A Northwest Arkansas, Smith came very close to hitting his exact career averages in batting average, OBP, Slugging and OPS.  It’s a little weird to look at.  He can take a walk and doesn’t strike out a lot and has added a 75% success rate in stolen base attempts.

On top of that, the Royals added Manuel Pina, a catcher who they now have on the 40 man roster and who’ll likely start in Omaha next season.  Pina’s mostly known as a defensive catcher, but hit nine homers in 362 plate appearances in 2010 across Double A and Triple A.

Gutierrez has done alright since the trade, striking out 7.4 batters per nine innings this season in three levels of the Rangers system.  But reports like Keith Law’s above about Gutierrez’s lack of velocity aren’t encouraging.  The Royals traded him mostly due to off the field issues, related both to arguments over his rehab after shoulder injuries and also some run ins with the law (including chain link fence irrigation).  His velocity has usually been in the 91-95 mph range, so such a steep drop is alarming.  He may have resurfacing shoulder issues.

Maybe it’s just good luck, but Dayton Moore has come out on the good side of a lot of these kinds of small deals.

He’s traded journeyman southpaw for Paulo Orlando, the speedy Sao Paulo sensation who broke out in Double A this year for the Naturals, showing 20/20 skills and posting an OPS of .846.

He’s traded lefty Tyler Lumsden to Houston for Jordan Parraz, who, despite a slow start, finished 2010 with a .760 OPS and had 39 extra base hits for Omaha and could be a candidate to make the big league roster next year (in a very crowded field, mind you).  Tyler Lumsden hasn’t advanced beyond Double A since 2008 when he pitched for Omaha.  He’s since spent time with Houston (of course) and, after being released by the Astros, San Diego’s Double A affiliate.

Even Lumsden’s acquisition by the Royals was a stroke of luck for Moore.  At the deadline in 2006, Moore traded Mike MacDougal to the White Sox for Lumsden and Dan Cortes.  Lumsden at the time was the prize of the deal and only later did Cortes develop into a prospect.  Cortes, you’ll note, was the key to the Yuniesky Betancourt trade in 2009 and has since debuted for the Mariners and struck out six batters in 5.1 innings in September but his 5.13 ERA in 151 innings since joining the Mariners system isn’t an automatic win despite his good stuff.  MacDougal, however, has bounced between the minors and the majors in a handful of organizations, never sticking anywhere for long.

The big takeaway from all of this is simply that Dayton Moore has a keen eye for developing talent and dark horses.  Think back to 2008 when he pieced together free agents and future considerations trades to build a reliable major league bullpen.  Then there’s the deadline deals he’s made this season to add depth to the minors while adding a few major league stopgaps to hold the position until prospects arrive.  He still has issues with constructing and managing a 25-man roster, sure, but he’s building up the depth of talent top to bottom one move at a time.

Maybe none of the minor leaguers will pan out.  Maybe Gutierrez has a hitch in his delivery that, once corrected, will dominate the minors and turn into a #3 starter somewhere.  Maybe he’ll never reach the the majors at all.

But I don’t think it’s just luck that leads to these kinds of trades.  My feeling is that Dayton Moore’s background in scouting and development is helping him dig up some decent talent for minimal cost (and in cases when the former Royal flounders, almost nothing).  One time can be luck.  Two times can be a pattern, but if it keeps happening, that’s a trend.

And I’m on board with that.

You can stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed

Topics: AL Central, Baseball, Dan Gutierrez, Dayton Moore, Jordan Parraz, Kansas City Royals, KC, MLB, Paulo Orlando, Royals, Tim Smith

Want more from Kings of Kauffman?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • http://calltothepen.com Wally Fish

    I’ve been critical of Dayton from time to time, especially when it comes to his moves that directly impact the major league roster, but he definitely appears to know what he’s doing from Triple-A on down.

    He gets props for the drafts and the minor deals and all of that. In fairness we should also give credit to guys like JJ Picollo, Mike Arbuckle, Dean Taylor, Scott Sharp and on the international front, Rene Francisco.

    I haven’t heard much from the other guys but Picollo has really impressed me in interviews he’s done on 810 other places.

    Dayton was man enough to surround himself with grade-A scouting talent and highly respected individuals. That perhaps more than anything is his greatest success.

    • http://kingsofkauffman.com Michael Engel

      Excellent point regarding the other front office members.

      “I’ve learned a lot of things in this business. If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”
      -Isaac Jaffe, played by Robert Guillaume on Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night

      I think it’s one of those two and perhaps both in the Royals front office.

      • frd

        It is good to see that Tim Smith is finally receiving some recognition for what he brings to the game. Consistency can be regarded as an additional tool along with his power and speed. Smith has brought his consistency to the Royals organization this year under very adverse cicumstances – recovering from an early season injury and playing for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on a very irregular basis. Smith came into the Royals organization as a starter with the Texas Rangers organization but as the season progressed, Smith became the odd man out in the Naturals outfield to the point where despite that he continued to put up the numbers he was playing in about 50% of the games. As we know, it is difficult for a player and especially a player that was starting every game to find and establish a “groove” when playing on an irregular basis. One can only wonder what Smith would have accomplished this past season had he been given the opportunity. There is nothing weird about his statistics. He has been doing this stuff back with Arizona State, Midland College and Mankato of the Northwoods League. Smith is the most consistent outfield prospect in the Royals organization. Here’s hoping that he gets the chance that he deserves.