In response to the hole at catcher, the Royals traded what some consider a top-20 prospect in Kevin Chapman for a catcher who wasn’t even going to make the Astros and a 30-year-old outfielder who didn’t get any kind of full-time action until last year. And Chapman might not be the only prospect the Royals give up.
It’s a move that has many fans scratching their heads and others in baseball questioning the wisdom of the deal, too.
More AL Exec: “Quintero’s going to get squeezed out, makes 7 figures, and you give up a real prospect for him?”
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) March 22, 2012
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said that the player to be named later would be a key to the Quintero deal. The implications behind that amaze me. Quintero, among the worst players in the game at getting on base, being a piece of the trade is fine. The Royals needed a catcher that wouldn’t be a liability behind the plate until Perez could return. No problem. I’m not even too sore about losing Kevin Chapman, who has real skills but has to harness them to be productive. He’ll probably have a career as a lefty middle relief guy with Matt Thornton upside for a couple of years. It’s not a crime to give him up.
But this player to be named later business is increasingly worrying. Usually, a PTBNL isn’t much. They’re just someone to plug into the lineup somewhere in the minors most of the time. But because recently signed players aren’t eligible to be traded. Recently signed players such as 2011 draft picks. Just the thought of some speculation concerns me.
But the week gets worse still.
The Royals most important pitching prospect, Mike Montgomery, has already been jettisoned back to minor league camp with no further shot to make the team out of spring training and no signs of improvement from last year’s dismal year.
It’s a bit frustrating, especially considering the optimism entering spring training. Perhaps the optimism even makes it more disappointing to see certain aspects of the team continue to flounder. At least before nobody really thought there was progress in the near future. Royals fans could focus on the koan of “one of these years” while accepting their suffering.
My biggest fear is that there’s a solid chance that the Royals open this season with Johnny Giavotella and Danny Duffy in Omaha. I’ve railed against Luis Mendoza before but he’s performing. The Royals are pretty much stuck with Chen though, unless he’s just so awful that they can’t avoid dumping him (not that they would because of that second year on his contract and all).
Moore signed Yuniesky Betancourt, and while I accept the premise that if his name was Jeff Betancourt or Yuniesky Smith and had the exact same attributes, I’d be less offended, it’s still Yuniesky Betancourt, and everybody knows who he is as a player. And he might end up being the opening day second baseman. Or it might be Chris Getz, who has changed his batting stance and is hitting this spring. My issue is that players rarely change who they are after a certain point and Getz is past that point. Maybe he’s figured something out, but odds are he hasn’t. Giavotella won’t improve defensively beyond what experience in the big leagues can give him. It’s clear who he’ll be with the glove. That makes it all the more important that he works out how to hit major league pitching because that’s where his value lies.
But Giavotella, with sporadic playing time, hasn’t hit that well. He drove in a run today against the Angels with a single. He’s still hitting just .220, so he’s not doing himself any favors. If he hits for the next two weeks of spring, he’s a cinch to open up in Los Angeles on April 6, but if he’s only made slight progress, I wouldn’t put it past the Royals to keep Getz and Betancourt platooning at second. Giavotella can go back to crushing Triple A pitching and staying stagnant.
The same goes with Duffy. Though now that Soria is out, the Royals may be able to keep all six of the potential five starters (be sending one of Felipe Paulino or Mendoza to the bullpen), if that’s not an option, Duffy, with options, will go back to Omaha. I still don’t see Mendoza keeping this up into the season, but to this point, he’s managed to keep building on last year’s numbers and if it’s between he or Duffy, Mendoza’s winning.
That’s not to say that Duffy’s been as bad as the 7.56 ERA he sports now. He’s had two bad innings out of 8.1 pitched this spring, he’s striking batters out and hasn’t had bad control. Today’s second inning is a great example of how numbers can sometimes deceive when not viewed in the proper context.
Duffy opened up the second inning by getting Vernon Wells to pop out for the first out. Kendrys Morales came up for his first at bat of spring and didn’t make solid contact on a pitch, but it was placed well enough to get into right field for a single. Bobby Abreu got to two strikes then fouled a pitch off towards the left field foul line. Alex Gordon went over and had plenty of time but lost it in the sun. It fell foul, but prolonged the at bat. Abreu doubled. After a strikeout by Alberto Callaspo for the second out, Chris Iannetta doubled in both Morales and Abreu, then scored himself after an Erick Aybar single and Howie Kendrick triple.
If Gordon catches the foul ball, though, Callaspo’s strikeout ends the inning and Duffy doesn’t give up a run. It wasn’t ruled an error – plays in the sun rarely are, especially on foul balls – but if it were, reconstructing the inning would compel the official scorer to deem all runs unearned. Duffy had another unearned run in the first after a passed ball allowed Kendrick to advance from second to third. He scored on a ground out to short that would have kept him on second.
No, those circumstances don’t excuse Duffy from giving up the runs. He still gave up the hits after Callaspo’s strike out (though he also had a two strike pitch to Iannetta called a ball that looked like a strike as well and would have avoided all the trouble he ran into on the next pitch and beyond).
Despite that, and despite his being the most talented pitcher the Royals have in the rotation mix, it’s probably going to chase him to the minors where he has nothing else to learn.
I guess right now I’m having a crisis of confidence in Dayton Moore to make the decisions necessary to put developing, talented players in a position to continue to develop and exhibit their talent. His wonky moves aren’t helping. Nevermind the redundancy that is Jason Bourgeois (who is faster than Mitch Maier but not as fast as Jarrod Dyson, and who hits better than Dyson but not Maier). While I also liked the Jonathan Broxton signing, it’s an odd use of $4 million when the Royals have an overflowing bullpen as it is.
Can anyone talk me off the ledge?