Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scott P. to Chavez Ravine.

Greetings from Kansas City, where I’ll be all weekend on my annual pilgrimage to Kauffman Stadium. I planned this trip weeks ago with the trade deadline firmly on my mind – I figured the Royals would be active, and having the time off would mean that I’d be able to respond instanteously to any moves they’d make.

This plan backfired a little, as the Royals traded Scott Podsednik just minutes after my radio show ended last night. With an early flight to catch there was no way for me to write this up last night, and it’s only now that I’m safely in my hotel room that I can put thoughts to keyboard.

In all honesty, my immediate reaction to the haul that Dayton Moore got for Podsednik was a bit of a letdown. For about 10 minutes, we knew that Pods had been traded to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers, and given Ned Colletti’s history of trading premium prospect for distinctly non-premium players (Carlos Santana for Casey Blake, Josh Bell for George Sherrill), I admit that I was dreaming big for those 10 minutes. Dee Gordon, come on down!

Instead, it turned out to be a fair trade for both sides. How very disappointing.

You’ve heard the reports that the Royals got Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel, but don’t be confused – the Royals actually got Elisaul Pimentel and Lucas May. May gets the headlines because he’s in Triple-A and is almost major-league ready, but he’s clearly the lesser player in the deal. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced that he was worth acquiring at all.

May was in his eighth season with the Dodgers, during which time he had moved from shortstop to the outfield and finally to catcher, which he has been playing since 2007. He still plays like a converted catcher; this season is the first time that has allowed fewer than one passed ball every four games, and he’s thrown out just 19% of basestealers this year. (He did throw out 35% last year.)

Offensively, some people are looking at his .296/.352/.496 line in Triple-A this year and projecting him as a good-hitting catcher; I’ve even read some comments implying that if he can’t catch, he can serve as a DH. This is patently ridiculous. The Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate is in the thin air of Albuquerque, which inflates the numbers of even the most marginal hitters. This year, May is hitting .347/.392/.603 at home; at parks closer to sea level, he’s hitting .252/.318/.403.

Baseball Prospectus does a great job (through their Davenport Translations) of converting the numbers of a minor-league player into his equivalent numbers in the major leagues, in a neutral ballpark. Based on May’s performance this year, if he had spent the year in the majors he could be expected to hit about .227/.278/.386. That’s backup-catcher material at best.

So what do you have, exactly? You have a catcher who can’t really catch, and can’t really hit, and is already 25. It’s always nice to have catching depth, I suppose, but in terms of the long-term future of the franchise May ranks no higher than fifth or sixth on the depth chart. If you want a catcher who can’t hit but can play defense, the Royals already have Manny Pina in Omaha. If you want a catcher who can’t play defense but can hit, Brayan Pena is already in the majors and is a better hitter than May. If you want a catcher who might develop into a two-way threat, the Royals have Salvador Perez in Wilmington. And if you want a catcher who might develop into a superstar, there’s always Wil Myers.

So what, exactly, does Lucas May do? I mean, other than take away at-bats from a younger, better player in Pina? He’s supposed to be a gamer and a leader on the field (he starred for Team USA last summer) and coachable and all that. Those are all great and wonderful things, but it doesn’t change the fact that he isn’t a better player than the guys the Royals already have, and likely never will be.

No, the Royals made this trade to get Pimentel. (At least I hope - what worries me most about this trade is that the Royals will fall in love with May for no good reason and play him over better alternatives.) The Royals have a history of acquiring Pimentels from the Dodgers – four years ago, Moore acquired Julio Pimentel (who had a promising arm before Tommy John surgery) in the Elmer Dessens/Odalis Perez salary dump. This Pimentel, presumably, has a better future.

Pimentel has developed rather slowly, working his way from the Dominican Summer League through two domestic rookie leagues over the past three years. He finally reached full-season ball this year, and has had a breakout season, most notably striking out 97 batters in 90 innings. He had a brilliant line (71 IP, 44 H, 27 BB, 75 K, 1 HR) before getting hammered a bit in last four appearances, although the strikeouts are still there. The fact that his strikeout rate has jumped (his career strikeout rate prior to 2010 was just over 7 per 9 innings before) despite making the jump to full-season ball suggests that his stuff has taken a step forward.

Scouting reports are not as impressive as his numbers – Baseball America reports that he throws 89-93 with an average changeup, but his breaking ball doesn't actually break much. He just turned 22, so he’s not all that young for a guy still in low A-ball. As a prospect, I would tentatively slot him behind Will Smith, who’s left-handed, a year younger, and has far more experience in the higher minor league levels.

Still, there’s something here. Pimentel has worked almost exclusively as a starter, and there’s always the chance his velocity picks up if he ever moves to the bullpen. The fact that the Royals wanted him would at least suggest that they think his stuff will play in the majors. Keep in mind the Royals have a decent track record at acquiring young arms who then pick up velocity; Daniel Cortes gained a few mph on his fastball right after the Royals got him for Mike MacDougal.

If nothing else, Pimentel is another live arm for an organization with a surplus of them already. Even if he turns out to be just a trading chip for the Royals to cash in when they are making a push into contention in a few years, that’s something. If he develops into a guy that can help the Royals directly, that’s just gravy.

Similar to the Alberto Callaspo trade, while I’m a little disappointed in the specifics of the trade, the fact that the trade was made at all means that Dayton Moore is – finally – doing his job. Podsednik has had as good a year as could be expected, hitting .310, stealing 30 bases, playing almost every day. (Meaningless trivia: Podsednik now holds all-time record for career batting average by a Royal with 200 or more plate appearances. Hal Morris held the record at .309.) He still had no future with this organization, and the option to bring him back for another year was more of a threat than a promise.

We all knew that the Royals simply had to trade him, and we were all worried that they wouldn’t. They did, and if the haul was something less than we expected, it’s still better than the alternative.

It’s only fair to ask, was it all worth it? Scott Podsednik gave the Royals nearly 400 at-bats of slightly below-league-average performance in left field, which had the unpleasant side effect of taking away playing time that could have gone to younger players – either Alex Gordon, who in fairness wasn’t an outfielder when Podsednik was signed, or Kila Ka’aihue, who presumably would have DH’ed if Jose Guillen were roaming the outfield instead of Pods. And in the end, the Royals traded Podsednik away for a live arm and a marginal backup catcher. Was it worth the players they got to inhibit the development of Ka’aihue?

I don’t have the answer to that question. But I will grant the Royals this: the Podsednik signing worked out exactly the way they drew it up. The Royals wound up paying Podsednik barely a million dollars, and in exchange they got a player who in 95 games hit .310/.353/.400 with plenty of speed and all the veteran goodness you could want – and then, when his value was at its highest, they cashed Podsednik in for a pair of prospects. For what they paid, Podsednik was an absolute bargain. If Moore always spent his money this wisely, the Royals would be in much better shape than they are now.

29 comments:

Duncan said...

Rany,
Are you going to hang out with your readers before the game or anything? I missed it last year.

steak said...

More importantly, Moore has hinted at other potential trades; plural.

So heres to hoping Jose Guillen has his bags packed.

Jeremy McNeal said...

I remember at the beginning of the season and I thought Dayton was crazy.

We had in the outfield:
Maier
Dejesus
Guillen
Bloomquist

And Moore then went on to sign:
Fields
Podsednik
Anderson
Ankiel

We had 8 outfielders. 8.

And now, there's only 4 of those 5 left, and we made George Brett an outfielder. Did I say George, I meant Gordon. Who I hope is the next Rickie Weeks.

Too bad this doesn't mean that Manny Pina is moving up to the Big Club to Backup Brayan and Kendell is leaving..

Bob Poon said...

Rany,

Where is your update on the Royals minor league prospect rankings? I've been anxiously awaiting that.

KCDC said...

Pods projected as a Type B FA, and his contract was so low this year that he would have likely declined arbitration if offered. Do you think this prospect haul was worth more than the sandwich pick we could have had?

Nathan said...

Hey! I'll also be at the saturday and sunday games, except I'm coming up from Wichita for them. It'd be cool if there was some kind of group thing before, after, or during the game. I have no idea what we'd do, but it'd be cool nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

How utterly sad..........the reason to go a game is to sit by Rany.

Which is the only reason to go.

In stating this, it would be an honor.

It's acceptable business Science to sell advertising, 1-4000 readers respond to blogs.

As Jethro used to say.......I be commencing to ciiferan....... 4 ought ought ought plus......

In short, thanks for what you do.

I do disagree with your opinion of May. My prediction........May in May MLB hits .345 with 3 HRs, and 1 strikeout. Yost suffers a disabling hernia while visiting the mound with the hidden goal of actually taking stuborn Kendall out.

I say, a trade Butler for Pods and Callaspo, then the deals make sense.

Elder Eddie said...

I think this was a good trade for us. I have read many other reports that say both players are good that we acquired and this was a win for the Royals. So far this is the most negative (not suprising) review I have read of this trade. I couldn't finish reading it because, frankly, I am tired of the negativity from you Rany. I am done reading this blog.

Michael said...

Um, Eddie, have you been reading his blog much? He's been lambasted by some for being too POSITIVE! His only negativity was that we didn't get a ridiculously awesome haul (like the Carlos Santana trade, for example) that some other teams got from the Dodgers. That's hardly negativity.

MoreHRsAndLesNorman said...

eddie...cmon...this is sunshine land. where we come to believe

rey rey said...

Rany, I would love to host you (free of charge) at one of our KC hotels. Let me know how to reach you...thanks.

Christopher said...

Eddie-If you feel that way, feel free to discuss the Royals on facebook, where you can catch up with fans such as yourself.

Anonymous said...

Elder Eddie- you are a fucking pussy. You need to wash out your vagina and become a real man. Who cares what the terrorist Rany writes about his adopted Daddys trades? That really hurt your bitch tits that much?

Anonymous said...

Rey Rey- host me at one of your hotels. At least I'm not some two-faced terrorist turncoat traitor like Rany.

Bryan said...

Eddie, Rany was actually pretty positive with this post.

Rany attempts to call it the way he sees it, whether positive or negative, and that is one of the reasons he has so many people reading his blog. He can also write pretty well.

This was a good trade for the time being. Pods was not here for the future and was taking ABs away. I am glad he was moved. It is a good question to ask as to whether or not it was a good signing.

Moore seems to be going out of his way to not bring anyone up too soon. He has overstepped with Kila, but as you have said befoe, they don't value Kila. I wonder if this is because of the Glasses putting pressure on him to get as many wins as possible. Of course I have no idea if this has happened, but it would be par for the course and foolish on their part.

What were the meaning of Moore's comments after the trade. Moore never says anything to the media unless there is a purpose behind it. I am of the opinion he was sending a message to the Yankees that he wants them to take Guillen in any trade that involves Soria.

I would like to see the Soria trade made just to shake things up a bit, and I think Montero would be a good get.

Will that happen? What can we possibly expect to get for Guillen or Farnsworth or anyone else?

On a side note, I think it is fascinating to watch the Yankees. It has been happening for the past couple of years, but now that senior has passed on I think it will accelerate. They are on a budget, and that budget includes contracts that were made during the heyday of free spending. Don't get me wrong, I am not feeling sorry for them, but it is interesting to watch. They don't have the pockets as deep as they used to, and I think it will continue to get shorter and shorter for them.

Rick said...

Bryan,

I disagree about trading Soria. It would be foolhardy to trade away one of the better closers in the game. Soria is the type of guy you build a team around.

It's very unlikely that the Royals would get equal value for Soria. Oh, I suppose if they were completely blown away with a ridiculous offer it would make sense, but other than than, you don't trade Soria. Great closers aren't that easy to find.

Anonymous said...

Rick- a closer means nothing on a 100 loss team, douche bag.

Nathan said...

Just because Montero is the Yankee's best prospect doesn't mean he's a great prospect. I'm not sure why he would be more valuable than Wil Myers, for example. Doesn't seem like much for a great closer who's still under control for years.

Trading relievers for prospects is usually a good idea. But Soria is a special pitcher. If you want to shake things up, move him to the rotation.

Nathan said...

Let's also bear in mind that the Royals don't mean to be a 100-loss team for long. They're going to need a good bullpen within two years.

Rick said...

To the anonymous poster who wrote "Rick- a closer means nothing on a 100 loss team, douche bag": All you are doing is showing what an idiot you are. Soria is 26 years old. He could be a great closer for another 10 years. If the Royals actually become a contender when Moustakas, Hosmer, Myers and everybody else arrives, it would be a shame if Soria is saving 40 games a year for some other team and the Royals are losing games because they don't have a closer.

Next time, think before you post. It makes it so much more interesting for everybody else.

Rick said...

In fact, the way closers typically have long careers, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if Soria is still a #1 closer long after Moustakas, Hosmer and Myers have come and gone.

Hopefully he'll be getting those saves for the Royals.

Jackie Ballgame said...

Some have compared Montero's bat to a young Miguel Cabrera. It's sort of a shame that we have so many first basemen or else I'd be whole heartedly in favor of trading Soria for him. Which is the bigger commodity? Lights-out closer or Mashing 1B? Mashing 1B's seem to grow on trees, which is why we have a log jam there: Butler, Hoz, Kila. Then again, we're going to have a ton of closer candidates in short order. It's a tough call.

Anonymous said...

Mashing 1B grow on trees huh? Check out the Royals starters this decade. And Billy don't mash anything- he is a fat slow singles hitter. Fact.

Jacko said...

We need some guys to start smashing some home runs. We're not getting it out of this AAA catcher. He won't even be able unseat Kendall. On top of that we lose a .300 hitter who could end up with 50 steals and plays gold glove defense. Most people would kill to have Podsy lead off. And we got back the catching version of Gordon and a guy that hasn't even got out of A ball. Yuck. Looks like we'll need some more veteran signings this offseason.

http://jackosroyalsblog.blogspot.com/

Kyle said...

If Soria could bring back Montero, and if Montero could stick at catcher, that is no brainer. But Montero won't stick at C, so can we trade Kila or Butler for a CF or SS? Hosmer can play RF, so I am not too worried about him. A lineup with Hosmer, Montero, and Mouse in the middle of it sounds pretty good though.

Rick said...

I wouldn't be in such a hurry to trade Soria for a guy who is only hitting .250 in AAA. If Montero is such a great prospect, you'd think he could at least put up numbers similar to the numbers that Ka'aihue is putting up in AAA.

Lots of great prospects never pan out. Just ask the Royals.

Jason Dixon said...

"On top of that we lose a .300 hitter who could end up with 50 steals and plays gold glove defense."

I think you're talking about Carlos Betran, there. Podsednik is a GG? Look, as screwed up an award as GG are, they still aren't screwy enough to give one to the below average in LF, Podsednik.

And 50 stolen bases also projects to 20 CS and 5 or 6 PickOffs for Scott.

As for Rany's post, I think May is a better hitter than he's giving him credit for. Yeah, ALB-Q is great for hitters, but he also hit well in Chattanooga and Columbus. The PB's are alarming, but they've gone down significantly from his first year as C.

I like the trade, and I guess, May more than most.

Kyle said...

I like Soria, don't get me wrong, but a 20 year old in AAA hitting .270 is pretty uncommon. He is a catcher too, if he sticks there. I would hate to see Soria go for just Montero, so they would have to throw in another top 15-20 prospect too. Or Brett Gardner. I really wish the Royals could have made that trade happen before the season, Gardner for Banny was floating around for awhile.

Nathan said...

20 year old in AAA hitting .270 is pretty uncommon.

So is a 23-year-old with a pedigree hitting .301/.362/.492 in the majors. (Admittedly, Butler's recent slump has put a dent in this year's numbers, but I don't think they're cause for worry yet.) I hope nobody with the Royals is listening to the fan frustration toward Butler. Look at Carlos Beltran, or Mike Sweeney at the same age. There's a good chance that in a couple of years Butler can hit in the middle of the order for a contender.

By the same token, the struggles of players like that are a good cautionary tale against the common practice of assuming your prospects are going to be superstars in two or three years. While I'd love to see Moose and Hosmer crushing MLB pitchers come 2012, don't count on it happening. Gordon and Butler were terrorizing AA pitchers not so long ago, but reality didn't live up to our daydreams.

It's not that these aren't good, talented players. It's that fans easily forget two things: 1) Lots of great prospects don't pan out, and 2) even the ones who do find success often follow a winding path to it.

That's why I don't think its so important to make room for prospects on the major league roster. Kila is a big exception, because he's been destroying AAA for two years now, but none of our other prospects have reached the point yet where we need to be trading away major leaguers just for the sake of promoting them.