Crown Gems: Alberto Callaspo for A.J. Ellis?


There are times in life when you come across something and you experience opposite emotions at the same time.  Today I had one of those moments when I read an article posted by Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

About a month ago, I took a look at the position of catcher for the Royals and came to the conclusion that Olivo would decline his mutual option and that John Buck would not be offered arbitration.  Since those events would leave Brayan Pena as the only ML-caliber C option, I took a look at all the catchers in Triple-A in the hopes of finding a few targets for Dayton Moore to consider.  At the end of my research, I wrote an article that culminated in a 5 player list of reasonable options that would upgrade the Royals roster at a reasonable cost in terms of dollars and talent.  My number one target was Andrew James Ellis.

So imagine my mixed feelings when I read the following from Dutton:

"One rumor to watch: A deal sending second baseman Alberto Callaspo to the Los Angeles Dodgers for catcher A.J. Ellis, a 28-year-old rookie who currently projects as a backup to Russell Martin following the anticipated free-agent departure of veteran Brad Ausmus."

On the one hand I was elated because my analysis and evaluation came to the same player that has emerged as a legitimate trade target in the eyes of Dayton Moore and the Royals.  Before I could even get a little bit excited about the rumored deal however, the reality set in that the other player in the deal was Alberto Callaspo.

Alberto Callaspo?
The guy who hit 0.300 last year at age 26? 
The guy who had a 0.356 OBP on the team? 
The guy who had an OPS+ of 114?
The guy who hit 41 doubles and 11 home runs after showing very little power in his career prior to 2009?
The guy who was the team’s 2nd best hitter, and finished behind only Billy Butler in BA, OBP, OPS+?
The guy who was one of only two Royals to walk more times than he struck out, the other being Coco Crisp?
Yup.  That Alberto Callaspo.

Time to queue up an oldie but goodie to express my feelings:  you’ve got to be freaking kidding me!

If this is the end result of trading Mark Teahen to acquire Chris Getz and Josh Fields, then that trade goes from being a lateral move to an unmitigated disaster.  I was on board with the acquisition of Getz, because I assumed it would result in Alberto Callaspo being annointed the primary DH and occasional 3B.  If Gordon or Getz faltered in 2010, I assumed it would be Alberto who would be the one to pick up the slack.  Apparently the Royals, if Bob Dutton is to be believed, don’t feel the same way.

"Callaspo, 26, became expendable Friday when the Royals acquired second baseman Chris Getz from the Chicago White Sox along with third baseman Josh Fields in a trade for third baseman Mark Teahen and $1 million."

The Royals need to assemble as much young and cheap talent that is under team control for several years as humanly possible if it is ever to legitimately emerge from the deep dark hole it has fallen into.  Instead Dayton Moore wants to trade one of the very guys he is saying the team needs to target to acquire a player who is 2 years and 10 days older.

Clearly I like Ellis.  He was the player I came up with after looking at all catchers who received significant playing time at Triple-A in 2009.  He seems like the ideal player to pair with Brayan Pena for the 2010 season, and perhaps longer depending on how some of the catching talent in the low minors develops.  That said, Callaspo is too steep of a price to pay for A.J. Ellis.

If the price really is Callaspo, and it is a one-for-one deal, then I recommend Dayton Moore takes a look at the players I ranked 2-5 on my list; John Hester, Kyle Phillips, J.R. Towles, and John Jaso with the hope that one of them could be acquired at a more reasonable price.

It is entirely possible that the deal could be Ellis plus other parts for Callaspo, and if that is the case my opinion of this rumored deal would certainly be adjusted.  Still, despite his limited defensive capabilities, Callaspo can and probably should be a part of this team’s future success.