Thanks to some mild struggles (or non-awesomeness really) from Ramon Ramirez in Boston and a typical Leo Nunez implosion in Florida, Dayton Moore's two major off-season trades don't look quite as terrible as they did around the All-Star Break.
Alright, actually, 90% of this is just ole Leo's struggles, but hey, you wanted more positive analysis.
Let's not be mistaken here: both trades are still failures. They may have been justified gambles, but each failed to pan out. The trades added $9 million to the team payroll, along with directly encouraging additional spending on Kyle Farnsworth, Horacio Ramirez, and Jamey Wright. The bullpen got more expensive and worse, and for their troubles, the Royals got 49 games of Coco Crisp and a player with negative value in Mike Jacobs.
However, we can now consider these trades as only a seven or an eight on the failure scale, instead of a ten.
|2009 - Mike Jacobs||115||388||38||91||16||1||17||55||35||114||0||0||.235||.301||.412|
|2009 - Leo Nunez||4-5||68||0||0||0||21||6||62.1||52||28||28||12||23||56||4.04||1.20|
October 31, 2008: Leo Nunez traded to Florida for Mike Jacobs
Team leadership has not shied away from voicing their disappointment regarding Jacobs's performance in 2009, which is a little strange because it has been little different than what he's done throughout his career. He's lost some singles, but his ISO and HR/FB numbers are mostly in line with his career numbers. Mostly, he's just had a non-career year, which has caused him to lose playing time, which has made his counting stats look even worse.
So how has this trade started to look better?
First, the Royals have done an admirable job keeping Jacobs off the field. He's only played 112 innings with a glove this season, which has mitigated some of the damage he does to a baseball team. As such, his WAR total is "only" a terrible -0.3. Yes, that's awful for a guy you voluntarily added to your team. Yes, that's awful awful for a guy you are paying $3.25 million for. Sure. Still, it could have been worse. Imagine if Jacobs was playing first full-time and not posting his highest walk rate since 2006.
Secondly, Leo Nunez, after a nice start, has fallen apart in Florida. In his last 49 games, Nunez has posted a 5.10 ERA, in the National League, in a pitcher's park. As such, Nunez's WAR total for 2009 is -0.7. He's been worse than Jacobs. Of course, Leo's also making the league minimum. Although he's set to be arb-eligible for 2010 (I think) he's still likely to be cheaper than Jacobs will be.
Trade Verdict: Trash in, trash out. After the trade, I speculated that Nunez might have been on the precipice of "getting it" or turning a corner or whatever. That didn't really happen. Nevertheless, Jacobs has been just as lame as we predicted. We're bummed out by the low OBP, the team brass sees lower RBIs and strikeouts (or whatever they look at) but the result has been the same. When a guy's value actually goes up when he plays less, because he's a net negative, well, that's literally the definition of a sub-replacement level player. The trade could have been worse, had Nunez panned out in Florida, but at the moment, it's only a two out of three failure: Jacobs is bad and Jacobs took the roster spot and the salary of a potential player who could have easily been better. Maybe the most horrifying thing remains unchanged, as the Jacobs acquisition continues to reveal how the team's Major League talent evaluation is broken.
|2009 - Coco Crisp||49||180||30||41||8||5||3||14||29||23||13||2||.228||.336||.378|
|2009 - Ramon Ramirez||7-4||61||0||0||0||0||3||61.0||51||20||19||6||27||48||2.80||1.28|
November 19: Ramon Ramirez traded to Boston for Coco Crisp.
Thanks to good defensive numbers and the fact that his season ended shortly after a hot streak, Coco's WAR for the season stands at 1.3. Coco was walking like crazy during his two months as a Royal and there's a reasonable case to be made for the fact that Coco's defensive numbers would have likely declined a touch as the year, that he didn't play, dragged on. Coco's salary for 2009, one of the highest on the team at $5.75 million, wasn't a complete waste, at least from a strict WAR perspective. Nonetheless, the Royals traded for a player with injury history, and that player with injury history got injured. Bad luck!
Meanwhile, Ramon Ramirez, has not quite flourished in Boston. He's been good, and would still be the best non-Soria reliever on the Royals. He's slumped mildly after a hot start, and has posted a 0.5 WAR in a deep Boston bullpen. He's been good, but he hasn't been quite as awesome as he had been in 2008.
Trade Verdict: Considering that Ramirez is making the league minimum in 2009 and arb-eligible for the first time in 2010, he figures to be a cheap bullpen option for a team that doesn't need cheap players for a few more years. Crisp, meanwhile, faces an unclear future with the Royals, who continue to look for other options in centerfield. Instead of solidifying a position of need, Crisp was just another player who was briefly slotted in. For 49 games of Coco Crisp, the Royals gave up four salary-controlled seasons of Ramon Ramirez. The odds are extremely small that the Royals will win this trade, but hey, at least they didn't lose it immediately!
The Royals would do well to swallow their pride and part ways with Coco Crisp and Mike Jacobs in 2010, effectively turning the page on these two fall of 2008 trades. If it is any consolation, we can now be pretty sure that the Royals only traded away one cheap & effective reliever, not two. Leo Nunez, we now nominate you for Dayton Moore's 2009 off-season MVP.