It appears that the re-signing yesterday of one Yuniesky Betancourt to the Royals by Dayton Moore is going to be this offseason's lightning rod. Reactions to this transaction range from delight that the team's 2010 home run co-leader is now on the roster as a backup, to those in the middle who think an emotive response to this signing is overreacting since Yuni won't see much playing time, to those who view this as another red flag that Dayton Moore is inept at evaluating major league talent.
A criticism of a statistical or sabermetric approach to judging team acquisitions, which I feel is fair sometimes, is that those who ascribe to such view are quick to ridicule a player and/or his contract, but do not offer any realistic, preferable options. Come to think of it, this is a common criticism of any skeptic assessment that isn't dovetailed with better options.
Personally, I had my fill of Betancourt in a Royals uniform in 2010, and after summing my rudimentary understanding of his statistical track record with my amateur perception of his play based on watching 20 years of baseball on television, am upset that he is back on the roster. Especially so given his $2M contract ($2.5M with playing time incentives reached). I'm disgusted at the thought of reading that a lineup for a game later in the day is going to include Betancourt, petrified to discover where Yost is going to bat him, and will undoubtedly vomit in my mouth when he is brought in as a defensive replacement late in any tight game.
Accordingly, I hereby institute the 2012 Yuni Watch. I will attempt to monitor Yuniesky's playing time and performance against our collective expectations, and against those of his free agent peers available on the market this offseason (as well as certain in-house or recently in-house arbitration-eligible options). I think this will be a useful exercise to examine whether the strong initial negative reaction, ambivalent stance, or positive support of this transaction were vindicated.
I personally believe he will amass substantial plate appearances, will be a severe liability in the field, and will hit within the confines of his historical performance, which is to say badly. But we shall see, we shall see. I'll update monthly. Below are comparable free agents that have signed with a team. As deals are signed and certain arbitration-eligible players sign their deals, I will add their "Yuni Watch Cards."