Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot Stove!

Well, I was planning on rolling this out a little further down the line, but Dayton Moore has started to look towards next season, so I guess I have to also. Up until this point, I had been blogging about the Royals at my other blog, Inconsiderate Prick, but I have found over the course of this past year that I was getting two distinctly different groups of people stumbling across my site, and that it would be much, much simpler to just separate the Royals entries to an entirely different site devoted solely to the Royals. But that's enough exposition, let's get on to the news...

In the first move of what promises (if we're to take Dayton Moore at his word, which I think we can) to be an eventful offseason, the Royals have dealt 25-year-old righty middle reliever Leo Nuñez to the Marlins for left-handed hitting first baseman Mike Jacobs, who turned 28 today. Happy Birthday.

My initial reaction was displeasure. This stemmed from the standpoint that if the Royals were able to solve one of their deficiencies from last year from within, they would have had the best chance at doing so at first base, with Shealy playing very well after his call-up and Kila Ka'aihue having an unexpectedly amazing season splitting time between Double- and Triple-A. That isn't taking into account the possibility of Billy Butler logging time at first either, who at least upon watching him play there (in an admittedly small sample size) this past season was not horrible.

Now that is muddled by the fact that they have brought in Mike Jacobs, a player who has never played anywhere but at first base in the majors. Jacobs does give the Royals another power threat from the left side of the plate of which they were clearly in need. The drawback would initially seem to be the fact that he hit .247/.299/.514, with his AVG and OBP being particularly worrisome. At 28 years of age and three full years in the majors, I'd be shocked if he suddenly learned how to walk. Before anyone is scared off too much, his career ratios are a little better: .262/.318/.498. I'd assume the SLG can stay more around the .514 he had the past season, while his average and on-base suffered as a result of a .264 BABIP, which will presumably correct itself. There is the worry that he is moving over from the lesser league, so his numbers could drop a bit but probably not enough to be of concern.

As for Leo Nuñez, his BABIP was a little low (.280) last year, which may have inflated his trade value slightly, but anyone who watched him before he went to the DL mid-season saw a pitcher who could be overpowering. This was the first year that he really seemed to have figured things out, and a move to the senior circuit should do nothing but help him. The Royals clear strength last season was their bullpen, so trading from that strength had to be expected. Losing Nuñez is also better than the alternative, which was Carlos Rosa, who the Marlins balked on with injury concerns, but figures into the Royals future as soon as next year, when he may be competing for a spot at the end of the rotation. Nevertheless, losing Nuñez will be felt.

The Royals did need power, but this move begs the question as to whether or not Moore is committed to correcting the Royals abysmal OBP as a team (there were only three teams with worse OBPs than the Royals--the A's, the Mariners, and the Padres, none of whom had great seasons). Jacobs' career OBP is lower than the team's .320 OBP from this past season, which is discouraging.

It is difficult to look at this trade from the perspective Royals fans find themselves in right now, as plenty of moves are sure to be made this offseason. Within a vacuum, this trade is a bit puzzling, but I would be shocked if the Royals went into spring training carrying the contracts of all three first baseman and DH-for-eternity Billy Butler. Hell, there have already been quelled rumors of Teahen going to Cleveland for one of their outfielders, and if both Teahen and DeJesus are in Surprise in March, Moore will have shocked me.

All we can hope for is that Shealy's September was enticing enough for someone to bite on (at least in a package deal) and that the Royals do not have a logjam of first basemen come next year.