The Winter Meetings just aren’t the same anymore. Nothing happens. The blockbusters occur after all that discussion with two massive deals in three days time.
As we all know, Dayton Moore has been taking a lot of heat for his push to make the Royals a competitive team in 2013. For someone who has been a fantasy baseball analyst for almost 15 years this drama is pretty irrelevant. I just care about the fallout. How do the acquisitions impact the rosters involved and what can we expect from the players acquired. That’s it.
With that in mind, the Royals now feature a rotation of James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Bruce Chen. Wade Davis may move back from the pen, where he was finally effective, to the rotation. If not, the Royals have last year’s rotation mainstay Luke Hochevar, Will Smith, and hopefully pitchers like Danny Duffy returning mid to late season.
Shields commanded a heavy price due to a reasonable contract that has him potentially under the Royal’s control through 2014. The other factor was of course his durability, a key focus of the Royals this off-season. Shields has made no fewer than 31 starts since his first full season in the Majors (2007) and thrown no fewer than 203.1 innings in that time. Over the past four seasons, Shields’ K/9 has hovered or been above the 8.0 mark while consistently thrfowing strikes and owning a career 2.1 BB/9. The one flaw in the 31-year oldl’s game is the long ball. Despite being primarily a groundball pitcher ,Shields’ HR/FB rates have only once been below 10% (9.8%) in his entire career. This may be the result of throwing so many strikes and trying to be too fine that results in occasional trouble. 201ve2 was a regression year from an suppressed batting average on balls in play in 2011 and is actually a good baseline going forward.
Wade Davis had by far the best season of his career in 2011. In 54 games, the righty posted a 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/ while adding 2 mph to his fastball and 3 to his slider and curve. Davis originally came up with the Rays as a potential top end of the rotation starter, but failed to excite and we have two seasons of 29 starts and mediocre numbers to show it. It is quite within the realm of possibilities that Davis has matured as a pitcher and does not matter what role he is given. On the otherhand, like many pitchers, the move to the bullpen may simply be where he should stay – a place where he can just air it out over short stretches.
The Ray’s Haul
Todd and I discussed Wil Myers briefly Monday morning and looking over Baseball America’s player of the year, we both came away somewhat underwhelmed. Why? Yes, Myers has excellent and legitimate 20+, if not 30+ long-term homerun per season power. Yes, Myers is also a fairly patient hitter who walks about 10% of the time. However, Myers is also a former catcher, not a fast runner, subpar on defense, and is a right-handed hitter who strikes out more than 20% of the time. His .304 and .351 batting averages of 2012 were the result of .349 and .425 batting averages on balls on play. When looking more closely, Myers’ line-drive numbers over his career are also below the 20% rate. In other words, Myers does not scream .300 hitter at the MLB level. In fact, .260 to .270 feels a lot more appropriate given these skills, speed, and handedness. A good career comparison for Myers may end up being Josh Willingham. Willingham, like Myers, is a former catcher with 30+ HR power and good patience. The right-hander is career .261 hitter with solid career OBP, but more of a player one takes as their second or third outfielder, not their first. If Myers becomes the next Josh Willingham, I suspect the Rays will be quite happy indeed, but I do not think he is the potential superstar some have in mind. Expect him to be given the RF job as his to lose this spring.
I’ve discussed Jake Odorizzi on multiple other occasions. The righty had been pushed out of the Royal’s 2013 rotation plans already as a result of the Santana and Guthrie acquisitions and is still on the bubble given the Ray’s still deep rotation and may be behind Chris Archer on the pecking order should rotation spots open up. The 22-year old is a good strike thrower with a solid 4-pitcher repertoire that gives him middle of the rotation potential. Mike Montgomery, the Royal’s best farm pitcher headed into 2012 has fallen off the charts, not due to a lack of stuff, but inability to command his plus fastball/changeup combination. A move to a relief role may in the cards and could do for Montgomery what it did for Wade Davis.
Finally, Patrick Leonard will be slotting into A or A+ ball for the Rays in 2013. The righty is a solid defender at third with impressive power and plate discipline for someone who only turned 20 after the season was finished. Leonard has an interesting ceiling, but is a long ways away from the Majors.
Tomorrow, a full breakdown of the Indians/Reds/Diamondbacks deal and a look back at some other recent transactions!