Trade rumors involving Alberto Callaspo came to a head about a month ago, but I just now realized how bad these rumors were.
Callaspo's line was .300/.356/.457 last year, with an OPS+ of 114.
To Illustrate, I have compiled a list of Royal regulars last year that had an OPS+ of over 114.
1. Billy Butler, 124
Some were shocked or at the very least surprised at his production this year, yet in 2008 he hit .300 and his OBP was roughly the same as this year. His real improvement was hitting doubles and home runs, unsurprising considering his age.
Callaspo is 26, turning 27 in April. Over the course of his career, he has played 205 games at second base, thirty some at both shortstop and third base, and then 13 at the corner outfield positions.
Alberto's WAR was 2.8 last year, worth 12 million and change yet he was paid league minimum. For small market teams, there can be nothing more important that getting the maximum value out of players. Last year, Callaspo was the most efficient batter on the Royals roster.
Enter Chris Getz, Dayton Moore's "solution" for second base. He hit .261/.324/.347 last year with an OPS+ of 74. Getz is a few months younger and is generally considered better than Callaspo at second base. However, his fielding WAR last year was also negative. In fact, Getz only had a WAR of .3 last year.
On top of all this, Getz has a career UZR/150 at 2B of -6, less than Callaspo's, which is -2.4. Last year, Getz had an UZR/150 of -6.8, while Callaspo's was -7.5, but is 1.5 UZR/150 worth 2.5 WAR?
Full disclosure: I live in Iowa, where watching the MLB on TV is strictly prohibited. I haven't seen just how bad Callaspo is at second. However, the prevailing opinion on this board seems to be that he is a capable third baseman at the very least. With Gordon and Fields there, however, it makes little sense to move him to third base.
A while ago royalsreview did a wonderful article on how Billy Butler is actually a bad defensive first baseman. Alberto Callaspo could move to first base, allowing Butler to DH full time. Going into last year, Butler was the the best (read: better than Mike Jacobs) option at first base because Mike Jacobs is one of the worst defensive first baseman active in the MLB. In addition, many of us thought it would up his trade value down the line.
This year, Jacobs is gone, and Billy Butler is coming off a season in which he slugged .492. In my mind, that cements his value on this team. Consider the options beyond Billy Butler for the other every day 1B/DH Spot:
Josh Fields- .227/.301/.347, 68 OPS+ last year
Kila Ka'aihue .240/.353/.388 (CHONE for next year)
Jose Guillen- .242/.314/.367
Josh Fields is a few months older than Callaspo. Ka'aihue is less than a year younger than him. Guillen is going on 34 this season.
Alberto Callaspo could start at 1B, allowing Butler to DH every day. This combination is better than any other that is made up of players currently on the royals at hitting and Callaspo would almost assuredly be a defensive improvement over Butler.
Another place he could be useful is in right field. Again, I don't know exactly how up for it he is, but he has a bit of experience in the corner outfield positions and his bat will be the same in pretty much any position besides catcher.
Ultimately, his bat is most valuable at second base. Chris Getz is not much better by the numbers defensively, and Callaspo still has a year or two of improvement ahead of him. They are the same age, and it's easier to imagine Callaspo fielding like Getz than it is to imagine Getz hitting like Callaspo.
Alberto Callaspo is not a trading chip. He is a cheap, young player who gets on base and hits doubles and the Royals can certainly find a place to put him on defense. Personally, I would welcome seeing him every day at 2B, 3B, 1B, RF, or DH. He should not be traded for prospects; he is what we hope prospects will turn out being.