My insta-reaction on the Danny Valencia acquisition: They don't believe in Mike Moustakas anymore.
That's not exactly a newsflash. Not that it matters, but I don't believe in Moustakas anymore.
Valencia mashes left-handed pitching. He's dreadful against righties.
|vs RHP as RHB||833||780||179||35||2||21||93||45||162||.229||.269||.360||.629||281||29||8||6||.261||76|
|vs LHP as RHB||428||398||131||31||3||12||63||26||57||.329||.367||.513||.879||204||8||4||5||.357||146|
Valencia is under team control for this season and is eligible for arbitration for the first time at the end of 2014. So his addition (at the expense of the ab-tacular David Lough) is a wash when coming from a pure payroll standpoint.
Lough was relief-pitcher expendable. Our fifth outfielder tree has really blossomed. Time to send someone out. I suppose the candidates besides Lough were Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell. Dyson doesn't hurt you coming off the bench and with his speed, is an obvious option to keep around. Besides, a few years ago I wrote about how I didn't understand why the Royals chose to go with basically a pinch runner on the bench because that was a luxury usually reserved for contending teams. I'm not going to call the Royals a contender. Let's go with much improved. And I realize there is indeed a place for a player with Dyson's skill set.
Maxwell is a right-handed bat with some thunder. Again, a valuable commodity. Especially on a team like the Royals where power isn't readily available.
Lough is a nice player, above average defensively but not very good offensively. He's just kind of some guy, as they say. I really couldn't name any one thing offensively that stands out. This game was probably his finest moment as a Royal. That was Johnny Giavotella's 2013 debut where he went 3-4, so that was kind of the story. As was the Francoeur DFA which happened just prior. I guess that's my point. Lough seems destined to live out some kind of Zelig-like existence.
So if those were your three trade candidates, my belief is the Royals traded the right guy.
The big question: How does the Valencia acquisition affect Moustakas? Let's start by looking at some Moose Splits:
|vs RHP as LHB||1098||1008||254||58||1||31||115||67||179||.252||.304||.404||.707||407||20||10||4||.276||108|
|vs LHP as LHB||395||365||81||20||1||6||30||26||79||.222||.275||.332||.606||121||2||1||3||.267||79|
It would be fun to be able to say a Valencia/Moustakas platoon would be good, but it wouldn't. Because Mike Moustakas isn't very good. Yet I have to believe the Royals fired up the old 386 over the weekend, dialed into AOL, stumbled upon Baseball Reference and saw the gory splits. Moustakas is dreadful against left-handed pitching. Now if you're a fringe major leaguer - like Valencia - poor performance in a split like that isn't a deal-breaker. Hit your weight against the other half of the split and you eke out a decent career as part of a platoon. If you're a former first-round selection and top prospect... Well, let's just say we're veering dangerously close to "bust" category.
The Royals won't come out and say it, but it feels like Moustakas is on the short leash. The Royals stuck with him last year, because their other option was a senior citizen about to be popped for PEDs. Then Moose lost playing time to Jamey Carroll. Seriously.
While Valencia could spell Moustakas against lefties, the Royals would be giving back some defensively. In 2011, his lone season with more than 1,000 innings at third base, Valencia was worth -15 runs according to The Fielding Bible. Last year, he only played 29 innings in the field in Baltimore, where he was used mostly as a designated hitter. Not enough to get a read.
The interesting part of this trade is how the bench shapes up going forward. Right now you have Dyson, Maxwell, Valencia and Emilio Bonifacio along with a backup catcher. That makes an 11-man bullpen, which makes sense. So you know there's no way that's going to happen. It's possible one of the four isn't on the Opening Day roster. Bonifacio is much more versatile with the glove, but he's going to cost more than the other three. While I said yesterday I thought the Royals were done, I need to revise that. It feels they they will make another move so they can keep their 12-man bullpen.
Overall, a fair trade. Lough was blocked in KC and Valencia wasn't going to have much to do in Baltimore. The Royals needed a backup/platoon partner for their former top prospect and the Orioles needed some backup help for their outfield. Now it's up to Ned Yost to realize how Valencia's platoon splits play so he can use him properly. That's always a little scary.