Dayton hasn't had a good week. It's getting to me. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

So How Was Your Week?

Eight days ago, Salvador Perez was diagnosed with a torn meniscus.

Joakim Soria found ligament damage in his elbow and is likely headed for Tommy John surgery.

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.

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.

To top it off, Bruce Chen got destroyed against the White Sox today and hasn’t had a decent outing yet. And he’s signed for two seasons. Oh, Danny Duffy got hammered as well.

Not Dayton Moore’s best week.

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.

March 22, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Danny Duffy (23) throws against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

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?

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Bruce Chen Chris Getz Danny Duffy Dayton Moore Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Mike Montgomery MLB Royals Yuniesky Betancourt

  • ethanbryan

    Sigh.  Many good thoughts listed here.  It’s been a brutal week followed by a tough day.  Good things are coming, though, I still believe it’s “Our Time.”   

  • michael.allen.engel

     @ethanbryan Yep. Sums it up. It was warm in my office, there was all kinds of chaos going on around me. I was on the third day of a fairly tedious (though necessary) project and the Royals were getting lit up. The perfect storm for an airing of frustrations. 
    If Yuni opens the year at second, there will be many many more. 

  • ethanbryan

     @michael.allen.engel There is no way that Yuni starts the year at second.  I’ll make a donation to your favorite charity in your name if he does.  

  • jim fetterolf

    Michael step back and take a deep breath. Quinteros was the best that could be had at the time and cost what he cost, probably because Tampa also needs a backup catcher from what I hear. Unlikely he made it to waivers and there may have been a competitive bid. If Quinteros performs as expected, he’ll stay when Perez comes back. Yost likes strong defense catchers. Bourgeois is a bit odd, but has some versatility and crushes left-handed pitching. He also has an option, so could go to Omaha for depth or could beat out Mitch, being faster, a better fielder, and more versatile.
    On Chen, he’s looked bad, so I can see Mendoza and Paulino beating him out and Master Chen returning to the ‘pen in the Teaford role. That would make the rotation Hochevar, Sanchez, Paulino, Duffy, and Mendoza. We can live with that til one falters or gets hurt, then Chen makes some starts. If he doesn’t get it together I expect him to volunteer for the ‘pen. He’s that type of guy.
    Giavotella had a clear shot to take 2nd, all he had to do was hit quite a bit better than two not good hitters and he has failed, thus far. I still think the hip is bothering him and he starts at Omaha. Royals don’t need another Aviles, which is what Gio is starting to look like. Getz knew what he needed to do and did it, changed stance, swing, and approach, just as Frenchy, Melky, and Gordon did last year. As for his “crushing AAA”, compare his AAA states with Pedroia or Kinsler or Kendrick’s.
    As for Broxton, sure looks like a brilliant move at the moment. Lots of folks speculated that Soria was hurting last year and that may have influenced GMDM.
    The one place I agree with you is Kevin Chapman. I expected him in Omaha and called up to spell Collins is a shift work bullpen, two months on, two months off. It seems dumb, but we don’t know what other teams were offering for a catcher described as a near elite defender and who is an experienced game caller. Good hit, good field catchers are rarer than ace pitchers.

  • jim fetterolf

     @michael.allen.engel  Right now Getz looks like the job is his. Haven’t heard anything on Yuni’s 2nd base work. If you have any contacts in Surprise, ask them.

  • michael.allen.engel

     @jim fetterolf you’re right, Gio hasn’t hit and in fact has the most strikeouts on the team so far this spring. Perhaps he was left out of some offseason work or he’s still feeling aftereffects. It stinks because I think he can do the same that Getz or Yuni could but has far more upside with the bat. We’ll see.
    Provided the PTBNL is nobody significant, the trade itself isn’t a big deal. Chapman wasn’t going to be a world changer but he has skills. What it represents is more of the problem in that they got Bourgeois who seemingly has no spot on this team and may not really be good anyway (his one role would be of a Dyson-esque late inning replacement/PR but Dyson’s better for that than he is, so I don’t know). Quintero carries a reputation and yeah Tampa was after a catcher too, but it’s not like Ramon Castro isn’t out there if teams wanted to go cheap. Plus, in a week or so teams will start feeling the roster squeeze and there’s sure to be options. Finally, Cody Clark could do the exact same job if given the chance to split with Pena. It seems a hasty move giving up too much. Those small transactions where you give up too much add up. Maybe Dayton paid 10% over what he needed to, but if you keep doing that regularly, any edge gained gets wiped out. 
    Honestly, I’d rather have Teaford in that Teaford role than Chen but that’ll never happen. Chen may end up with a “DL” stint and maybe everyone can stay in the rotation. Chen has a 2.33 WHIP. He’s only walked one. His pitching to contact isn’t working at all because they’re all turning into hits. 

  • jim fetterolf

     @michael.allen.engel Agree on Cody Clark, thought the same thing about Irving Falu rather than Yuni. Probably my big “management” difference with GMDM is that I believe in giving good “soldiers”, the organization guys who keep working for many years, at least a cup of coffee and a nice paycheck in the majors if it doesn’t hurt the team. Clark has been catching these guys, is said to be good glove and average arm, and deserved three months of part-time work.. Reading a little deeper though, I expect Quinteros to stay when Perez comes back. GMDM seemed to want Quinteros for more than just a band aid.

  • the5allens

    patience.  this move may prove yet another crafty job by GMDM.  Everybody panned the additions of Melky and Frenchy, and those weren’t completely awful.  Bourgeois looks to me like the bench-playing love child of Mitch and Jarrod = can play all 3 of spots (+ some IF, apparently), can hit and can run.  solves the dilemma of keeping mitch or jarrod
    this rotation, however, is something about which you should be concerned.  I have been all along – this group has the potential to be dreadful.  Chen is showing that, and personally I think Paulino is not far behind.  Duffy needs time, and will get better.
    I still believe that the team needs to make a move to bring in a starting pitcher.  we don’t have a rash of young arms ready to make it into the big league rotation, so we wouldn’t be blocking anybody. Let’s be honest, we can improve over Chen / Paolino / Mendoza, and don’t get me started about Hochever, without blocking any young players.
    Adding a young good starter (a decent #2 guy would probably be about right) right now will not only stabilize us in the immediate term, but can bridge us to guys who are not quite close yet (Odorizzi, Lamb, etc.)

  • michael.allen.engel

    @the5allens which #2 starting options are currently on the market and within reach and what’s the cost to get them? My idea is a) not many and b) too much

  • the5allens

     @michael.allen.engel  I am not sure who would be available, and at this point in time (closing up spring training). it may take some creativity on our part, and we may have to pay a premium to get someone who would then sit atop our rotation. he doesn’t need to be a true #1, just someone who looks like a rockstar in this rotation.
    Such a pitcher may cost a lot, but let’s be honest – with this rotation, we aren’t going to win much.  And based on internal candidates, the rotation won’t be getting much better very fast (Unlike this time a year ago, when speaking of the batting order – we knew that there were several contributors coming on quickly)
    as of right now, the “cavalry” in terms of starting pitching includes Mike Montgomery (who has struggled for a year now), John Lamb (still on the shelf after the TJ, and only has 15 games above A ball), and Jake Odorizzi (only 12 games above A ball).  i believe these 3 will be good, but when, and what are the odds that all 3 achieve their full potential ?  I am worried that Teaford looks like Jimmy Gobble v2.0, and I hope I am wrong about that.