Muneer: In other news, the Royals are finally trying to replace Angel Berroa, something they should have done last season. Right now, there are apparently 20 players the Royals have targeted, none of whom are in the Royals’ camp. The possibilities range from Clint Barmes of the Rockies all the way to Brandon Wood, the Angels’ superprospect. I don’t expect the Royals to get Wood, and I hope they don’t get Barmes. The last time they picked up a light-hitting shortstop from Coors (Neifi Perez), the results were less than satisfactory.
I am very happy that Dayton is finally addressing what has been a problem for too long. With the offensive prowess displayed by some of the other SS’s, there is no reason to keep trotting Berroa out there. Berroa has been a textbook example of a player who not only brings nothing to the table, but actually takes things off of it. Who but the Royals could justify starting a light hitting SS who also happens to be horrible defensively?
Kevin: I think everybody agrees that Berroa is done… I bet he’s actually like 35 and not 28 years old.
Muneer: Well, the weekend has passed, and Berroa is officially out as the Royals’ SS. In his place we have Tony Pena, Jr. Here is what USA Today’s fantasy baseball people had to say about him:
“Pena has a career .253/.285/.335 line in 2,308 minor league at-bats. He did take a step forward last year, batting .282/.312/.359 in 298 at-bats as a 25-year-old in Triple-A, but with no power or patience, that’s the top level of his ability.”
So, we’ve basically gotten an Andres Blanco type at the expense of Cordier, who was deemed good enough to be a second round pick in 2005. This doesn’t look good for Dayton. Pena is a mediocre hitter, has no power, and is not a good basestealer. Given his defense over the last few games, he seems to have trained in the Berroa school of shortstop play. How does he bring anything to the table that Blanco or Alex Gonzalez couldn’t have?
I’d say it’s his worst trade since JP Howell for Gathright. Before you say anything, Gathright is sitting on the bench, while Howell has been better than most of the Royals’ pitchers and is quite likely the new 5th starter in Tampa.
Back to the subject at hand though, why get a guy like Pena when you have Alex Gonzalez in camp? The guy has a .243 lifetime batting average, but at least he compiled those numbers in the majors, as opposed to Pena’s unimpressive minor league stat line. He also has had some decent power numbers, which Pena has not shown at all.
The only thing that makes this trade make any sense to me is that Dayton drafted Pena, and sees something. I sure hope he’s right, because at the moment, this trade has the potential to blow up in the Royals’ faces.
Kevin: We are still the Royals financially, and so I’m not sure what other options they really had in terms of bringing in a new SS and not wasting any more money. I would like to know what it was about Alex Gonzales that they didn’t like – I suspect though that Dayton Moore wanted a more dynamic defensive player and, well, he sounds like he’s of the belief that Pena will hit and will develop more in that area (and from what I understand, Pena actually got a late start in his baseball career). I’m willing to see how it goes, but both sides had to take risk here, and while Cordier might have a higher ceiling if healthy, it seems we really needed to make a move at SS. On the bright side, Pena has walked in each of his first two games with the Royals, so I think that’s a huge improvement over what we had. I feel bad for Anhell … but when he played SS in KC (other than that magical rookie season) it was more like we were “Inhell” as fans.
Muneer: Pena appears to have begun his minor league career at 19, and then resumed it at 21. I don’t know what he was doing for the two years in between.
We did need to make a move at SS, but why not make a move for a guy who will at least be guaranteed to hit better than Berroa. That’s not a sure thing with Pena. He may walk, but there is not a lot of evidence to indicate markedly better plate discipline than Berroa or Gonzalez.
Finally, by bringing Pena in, Berroa’s market value has dropped considerably. Teams know that the Royals have no interest in keeping him, and will not be motivated to offer any real value. I think Dayton has really botched this situation.
What I would have done is platoon Berroa and Gonzalez, try to establish some value for Sanders and Brown, and then trade one of those guys for a SS better than Pena. As it stands, the Royals now have 3 no-hit, mediocre-fielding SS’s. That’s two too many.
Kevin: I think the only conclusion that we can draw from why Pena over Gonzalez is that Pena must have better defensive capabilities, and has a better bat than Blanco, and is somebody who knows how to play the game in the right way (the intangibles). I think if the Royals were ever going to get anything useful in exchange for Berroa it would have happened, at this point, making him a utility player is their only hope. And as for saying Dayton more botched the situation, I couldn’t disagree more – botch is a strong word. Neither of us have seen Pena play yet, and Dayton was obviously VERY familiar with his capabilities being that he came from Atlanta, plus he’s making the major league minimum. Cordier has been hampered by injuries, heck look at the broken road riddled with injured minor league pitchers – they guy won’t even pitch this year. Not to mention, Pena is just keeping the spot warm until Bianchi is ready (which is another IF as he’s been hampered by injuries constantly). Savaging this trade is like writing a movie review without having seen the movie. Lets revisit at the All Star break.