A report from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun has a hidden tidbit about the Royals:
After 2010, Lorenzo Cain had just finished a half of baseball at the major league level where he’d hit .306/.348/.415 for the Brewers and looked set to be their opening day center fielder in 2011.
Then Zack Greinke put the Royals in a position to trade him last winter and Cain was a key part of the package that sent Greinke to Milwaukee. It seemed he’d have a shot to start for the Royals, but there was one little obstacle. The Royals stated something about a “promise” to Melky Cabrera for playing time.
Cabrera, of course, went on to have a career year. While at the beginning of the season, I thought it crazy to favor the former Yankee and Brave over a big part of a trade involving a young Cy Young winner (still under contract for two years, too). That Cain had a slight record in the big leagues and good numbers in the minors further made his case.
But as Cabrera continued to hit, it became apparent that, barring a trade at the deadline or injury, Cain was going to be stuck in Omaha until September. He finally made it into six games for the Royals in the last month of the season after helping the Storm Chasers to a Pacific Coast League championship. Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur were no help to him either, as they had great seasons as well. It was a good problem to have and a position that the Royals have rarely found themselves in. They had so much talent for the outfield that they couldn’t find enough spots for everyone.
Then Melky was traded and Cain slotted into his spot. As of right now he’s expected to be a full-time player in center.
And now there are these rumblings that the Royals are looking at Colby Rasmus.
Rasmus has three times been the top prospect in the Cardinals system according to Baseball America. Before 2008 and 2009, he was a top five overall prospect. Colby Rasmus is a fine baseball player.
His numbers, however, have been just above average.
He’s a former first round pick, taken 28th in 2005 by St. Louis and after a 2007 season in Double A where he hit .275/.381/.551 and belted 29 homers, he became one of the better young hitting prospects in the minors. At the age of 23 he had 23 homers and a 132 OPS+ in 534 plate appearances in 2010.
|2009||22||St. Louis Cardinals” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/STL/2009.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>STL||147||520||72||119||22||2||16||52||36||95||.251||.307||.407||.714||89|
|2011||24||Toronto Blue Jays” href=”http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/TOR/2011.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool”>TOR||35||140||14||23||10||0||3||13||5||39||.173||.201||.316||.517||37|
|162 Game Avg.||162||609||89||136||29||4||20||66||57||138||.251||.322||.432||.754||103|
|STL (3 yrs)||385||1440||218||330||64||11||50||158||144||320||.259||.334||.444||.777||110|
|TOR (1 yr)||35||140||14||23||10||0||3||13||5||39||.173||.201||.316||.517||37|
|NL (3 yrs)||385||1440||218||330||64||11||50||158||144||320||.259||.334||.444||.777||110|
|AL (1 yr)||35||140||14||23||10||0||3||13||5||39||.173||.201||.316||.517||37|
Then he ran into issues with Tony LaRussa in St. Louis and was traded to Toronto in the three-way deal between the Cardinals, White Sox and Blue Jays. He didn’t adjust right away and a wrist injury that sidelined him for three weeks didn’t help either.
He’s only 25 right now and if you compare his numbers to those of, say, Alex Gordon, he might be the kind of “post-hype sleeper” worth taking a risk on. To do so, the Royals would have to take on Alex Anthropolous, considered one of the more cagey General Managers out there. I’m no good at the water cooler trade talk, but considering that the Jays gave up a good #3 starter (Edwin Jackson, acquired for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart from the White Sox), an established late-inning reliever (Octavio Dotel) and a good left-handed specialist (Mark Rzepczynski) as part of the deal to get him, the Royals would have to give up something somewhat close to that.
Cain deserves a shot this year. There are concerns that he won’t be able to keep up at the plate. He will strike out and doesn’t walk much, and while he has some power, it doesn’t come with a high ceiling. His biggest asset is his speed, which helps him cover a lot of range in center field. If he can hit with any consistency, he’ll be valuable. That’s what the Royals have to weigh – can they risk Cain in center with their reported concerns or is the price going to be right to make a move for Rasmus?
The winter meetings are next week – and Dayton Moore isn’t shy about trading a player. Maybe Lorenzo Cain’s shot won’t be with the Royals after all.