Royal Mistake, Part Deux
Well, it looks like Dayton Moore is at it again. Less than three weeks after completing the Leo Nunez-for-Mike Jacobs clunker with the Marlins, the Royals GM has engaged the Red Sox in a Ramon Ramirez-for-Coco Crisp swap. This trade was a horrendous one for Kansas City, and here are three reasons why:
1) Crisp will replace David DeJesus as the Royals’ center fielder, with DeJesus shifting to left field. While Crisp is a strong defensive center fielder, he’s only a marginal upgrade over the competent DeJesus. However, DeJesus’ bat is far superior to Crisp’s, as evidenced by his sizeable edge in career OPS .782 to .740. Thus, in terms of both players’ all-round game, DeJesus has significantly more value to Kansas City in center field than Crisp.
2) In less than three weeks, Moore has considerably weakened the Royals’ bullpen by trading two key setup men in Nunez and Ramirez. Both relievers were not only effective in 2008, posting ERAs under 3.00 and WHIPs lower than 1.25, but they are also not yet arbitration eligible and therefore likely to earn just above the league minimum next season. Regardless of whether Moore looks inside or outside the system for relief help, it’s doubtful that he’ll find anyone who’s as cheap and successful as the guys he just traded away.
3) Crisp represents a substantial opportunity cost for the cash-strapped Royals. He’ll earn $5.75 million in 2009 and has a 2010 club option for $8 million – a decent deal, but by no means a steal for a solid, though not spectacular, center fielder with a career .280/.331/.409 line. Instead of tying up valuable financial resources on Crisp, Moore should have realized that his team’s primary deficiencies in 2008 were a lack of power (Kansas City was last in the A.L. with 120 homeruns) and an inability to get on base (the Royals were tied for second-to-last in the junior circuit with a .paltry 320 OBP) and addressed those issues by leaving DeJesus in center field and acquiring, through either a trade or free agent signing, an offensive-minded corner outfielder.
A Giant Signing by Sabean
The signing of free agent lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year/$8 million contract was a master stroke by Giants’ GM Brian Sabean. Not only is Affeldt a highly durable reliever who has appeared in nearly 150 games over the past two seasons, but his effectiveness against both left- and right-handed hitters (the latter hit .255 against him last season with just a .726 OPS) means that he could emerge as an option at closer should the unsteady Brian Wilson falter. Furthermore, the tenor of Affeldt’s contract is highly advantageous for San Francisco. Most quality relievers in recent years have been able to command three- or even four-year deals on the open market, thereby placing considerable financial stress on their teams should they regress or succumb to injury. However, the Giants’ short-term commitment to Affeldt protects the club in the event the marriage does not work out. Finally, because of Affeldt’s Type B status, this contract did not cost San Francisco a draft pick. Instead, the Cincinnati Reds, Affeldt’s former team, gain a sandwich pick in between Rounds 1 and 2 in next June’s draft.
So long, Mike
Congratulations to Mike Mussina on a wonderful 18-year major league career which saw him compile a 270-153 record and pitch in nearly 140 postseason innings. Despite the numerous accolades Moose collected during his sterling career, we salute him most for his decision to retire on his own terms following his only 20-win campaign. In an era when too many has-beens decide to hang on in an effort to pad both their bank accounts and win totals, Mussina took the high road and chose to retire in order to spend more time with his two young sons. So, with #35’s career now just a memory one of the most interesting debates this decade is about to begin – is Mike Mussina a Hall of Famer? Infield Chatter will provide its own analysis and answer to this very question in a special feature next week. Until then, have a great weekend…