The Royals have experienced a number of dark days this season: the triple play, Lorenzo Cain’s repeating injuries leading to Jarrod Dyson’s subsequent circus defensive catches/non-catches in Centerfield (and I mean circus in a bad “fun house of mirrors” sort of way), bunting, bunting, and more bunting, Broxton’s 12th inning meltdown in Oakland, Greg Holland’s left rib stress reaction (what is that?), and the countless base running blunders, etc.
I was actually sitting in the stands in Surprise on the day when Joakim Soria blew out his elbow. I didn’t know for sure what was happening before the trainer went to the mound, but after watching him pitch to a couple batters I tweeted to @Ethan_Bryan, “I can see Soria’s mojo slipping away before my eyes.”
One of the darkest days of this young year actually occurred before the season began. Last March 13 during Spring Training, Salvador Perez got his cleats stuck in the dirt and twisted his knee while warming up starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. An MRI revealed Perez had torn his lateral meniscus which required surgery to repair. It is likely he’ll be out of the lineup until sometime around the All-Star game break.
You may also remember that prior to Salvador Perez’s stint on the DL, Manny Pina suffered a similar injury that has prevented him from getting any playing time this year. This left the Royals with Brayan Pena as the only healthy major league caliber (stretching the definition of “ML caliber” just a little) catcher in their system.
We heard rumors that the Royals considered several temporary options to fill Salvador’s position, including Ivan Rodriguez who decided to retire last week, but settled on a trade with Houston that has Astros fans feeling pretty good and Royals fans a little uneasy.
To obtain catcher Humberto Quintero, and backup outfielder Jason Bourgeois from Houston (yes, the same Jason Bourgeois that was recently demoted in favor of “one-tool” Jarrod Dyson), the Royals packaged Minor League pitcher Kevin Chapman and the dreaded “player to be named later.” (PTBNL) On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a terrible deal for either team, except for the unknown piece of the agreement. The Astro’s gave up two guys who weren’t going to make their team, in exchange for a decent minor league pitcher from the Royals with potential to eventually become a respectable reliever, plus the ominous PBTNL.
Even the specter of the PBTNL wouldn’t be too worrisome, except for this comment which was Tweeted by Alyson Footer, MLB’s beat reporter and Sr. Director of Social Media for the Astro’s – “I’m getting impression that Chapman is projected to be 7th/8th inn reliever and that the ptbnl is a good one, not just throw-in.”
And then during the announcement of the trade, Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Astros, stated that the player to be named later would be the key component of the trade.
What are Royals fans supposed to think about this? While our farm system may still be loaded with talent even after the promotions of Hosmer, Moustakas, Perez, Duffy, and Cain; few of us believe that we have extra pieces to simply give away in exchange for a temporary player that could be virtually useless in a few weeks – unless he becomes Perez’s permanent backup. (Cue the ominous movie background music.)
Because Quintero (or “Q” as many call him) has played part-time in the National League, few of us knew much about him upon his arrival in KC. Dayton Moore told us “Humberto Quintero is a guy we like as a solid catch-and-throw guy and has a lot of experience at the Major League level and gives us the depth that we need at this point.” You remember DM calling Q a “solid catch-and-throw guy,” right? So what did you expect when you heard this? Did you expect the 3rd most stolen bases allowed? Did you also expect him to be among the leaders in passed balls? I doubt it. Considering Q is only a part-time player, these results are not encouraging.
Quintero is batting a semi-respectable .283/.366/.429 (before Tuesday’s game), with zero HR’s, but he has never hit higher than .250 over the past 9 seasons (except 2006 when he only played in 11 games) so I’m certain we can expect to see his numbers regress dramatically soon. Brayan Pena is hitting just as well as Q right now in nearly every category and no doubt will continue to produce offensively at a higher level than Humberto over the remainder of the season.
I haven’t been a fan of Pena’s defense ever since he failed to block home plate at least twice last year on critical plays, but stats suggest his defense has been just as good as Quintero’s so far this year. Quintero’s WAR is 0.2, Pena’s is 0.3. Pena earns $875,000 and Quintero earns $1M. But more importantly, Quintero cost us a PTBNL. (I know, I’m harping on the PTBNL thing, but it bothers me so I can’t help it.)
I just don’t understand why we needed Quintero? Couldn’t we have just picked up almost any journeyman free agent catcher off the street to backup Pena while waiting for Salvador Perez to recover, rather than trade away an unknown PTBNL?
Maybe I’m worried over nothing, but what if the PTBNL is based on playing time? Quintero is getting the majority of the starts this year (for reasons unknown) and it’s possible that the more games he plays, or more plate appearances he receives will result in us forfeiting a higher caliber prospect. Why wouldn’t the Royals have announced the terms of the PTBNL? I’ve always said – if someone purposefully won’t tell you something, it’s because they don’t want you to know. And why don’t the Royals want us to know? My guess is that if it was something we’d be happy to hear, they’d tell us.
In my opinion, the Royals didn’t make a good move here. We gave up prospects to get Quintero which tells me they projected him to be Perez’s permanent backup. It tells me they believed Quintero is a stronger player than Pena. It also tells me that once again, they don’t always know what they’re doing.