Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yuniesky Betancourt: Futility Infielder

Retro got the signing thread up at Royals Review, and Will will be writing something this evening, but I had to get this off my fucking chest.

Today Dayton Moore signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a one-year Major League deal worth $2.0MM with another $500K in additional playing time incentives possible. Betancourt is supposed to be the veteran utility infielder that the Royals have quite publicly stated they've needed. The one who "can play shortstop."

Great.

Color me ecstatic.

If there was anything in the Royals' history with Yuniesky Betancourt that suggested that they were in any way, shape, or form able to accurately evaluate who Betancourt is as a player, perhaps one could convince me that he won't see playing time more than once or *gasp* God forbid twice a week. In a vacuum, this wouldn't be the worst thing possible.

Unfortunately there has been nothing in their nauseating history with one another that contradicts this legitimate concern.

No one who is reading this needs me to explain who Betancourt is as a player. To call him a poor defensive shortstop would be kind. To qualify him as anything other than a poor offensive shortstop would only be short-selling his modest power which comes at the expense of his exceptionally poor judgment of the strike zone.

Over the past three seasons, Betancourt has compiled -0.7 fWAR. One could accuse me of cherry-picking those three years because the first of the three (2009) saw him put up -2.1 fWAR thus negating the worth of his two ensuing seasons of 0.9 and 0.5 fWAR. One would also be discounting the fact that he put up a season with -2.1 fWAR.

This is a player who hasn't had a season in which he has been at least One Win Above Replacement value since 2007 despite the fact that he played in 150+ games in all but his truly abysmal 2009 campaign. He will now be paid $2MM to back up three positions. That $2MM would be worth roughly half a win on the free agent market, a value that Yuniesky Betancourt would struggle to give the team if he were playing full time. He cannot ably play the key position that the team wants him to be able to play. His career UZR/150 is -8.1.

Furthermore, the bigger risk is that his playing time comes at the expense of Alcides Escobar, Johnny Giavotella, and Mike Moustakas. Naysayers will point to the fact that Ned Yost doesn't remember he has a bench--Mitch Maier can corroborate that statement--but the far-from-zero-percent chance remains Betancourt could see significant playing time at the expense of those players.

But really, the most damning aspect of this signing is that Dayton Moore and Company have deemed Yuniesky Betancourt a player that belongs on this team. They saw him play for nearly a season-and-a-half and, even after getting rid of him, decided that he would be a viable option to back up the left three positions on the infield. There is nothing in his last four seasons that suggests this. He has never played an inning at third base in the Majors. He hasn't played an inning at second base since 2005. His bat plays even worse at these other positions. His average arm plays worse at third. His poor work ethic soured Seattle on him, so much so that they were on the verge of non-tendering him when Dayton Moore decided that he had to have The Yunicorn. His mental lapses on the field are well-documented (just click on his name at the bottom of this post). His complete lack of a professional approach at the plate is mind-numbing. There is virtually nothing to like about the package that is Yuniesky Betancourt.

Well, except for plus hands. And plus hands.

Godfuckingdammit.

To put this all much more succinctly, as I tweeted earlier this evening:

The Yuni signing makes me wish that I'd been aborted.