The Royals recently traded for Jamey Carroll (from the Twins) and Emilio Bonifacio (from the Blue Jays) in an apparent effort to cover however long third baseman Mike Moustakas will be out and to “solve” the problem of second base. This follows their signing Justin Maxwell (from the Astros) to help cover the outfield while Lorenzo Cain spends some time on the ranch, tending to his calf.
These deals, coupled with the franchise’s lack of activity before the trade deadline, have been seen as evidence that the team is committed to success this season, the first year in decades when they have a mathematical shot at making the playoffs in mid-August.
But to me, the trades look desperate and short-sighted. I think the team should be conserving resources and looking long term. If they were in first place, I’d be all for a current year push. But they aren’t. Not even close. Making these moves even more head-scratching is that the players obtained are way too similar to the ones already on the roster. The Royals don’t get on base or score runs. So who do they trade for?
Let’s take a look.
Jamey Carroll, 39, no power, rusty wheels. He has had great plate discipline in the past so his career OBP is very good (.350) but his OPS+ of 85 indicates that he’s a singles hitter. The rub is that his ’13 OBP is a horrid .274 which I suppose isn’t that bad a thing since he can’t run very well in his dotage, so what good is having him on base? Carroll has been a good infielder but, like I mentioned, he’s 39.
Emilio Bonifacio is 28 and plays all infield positions, can steal bases but has no power. His career slash line is .261/.319/.340 with an OPS+ of 78. This is way better than Elliot Johnson, which is good, but is almost identical to Chris Getz, which is not.
Justin Maxwell. 28-year-old free swinger with some power. He hit 18 homers for Houston last year, which is more than half the total he has produced over parts of five seasons in the bigs. Career slash line is .228/.316/.434 with a career OPS+ of 102. So he’s okay at the plate. His defense is not stellar.
The biggest problem with these deals is that the team has two players at Omaha that they should have promoted instead of dragging the bottom of the trade pool. I’m talking about Irving Falu and my man, Anthony Seratelli. Neither will win a Gold Glove. Or a silver. Or a bronze. But they can make the plays needed. And they produce on offense. Which is what the Royals sorely need.
In 2012, when the 29-year-old Falu was in the Royals lineup, he had a slash of .341/.371/.435 (OPS+ 120) in 91 PA while playing 2B, 3B and SS. Since KC found this unimpressive and so invested in 39-year-old Miguel Tejada (2013: .288/.317/.378; OPS+ 91), Falu has spent 2013 in Omaha where he’s put up an OBP of .326.
Seratelli, as I’ve pointed out before, has never been given a chance in the major leagues. He’s 30, a switch hitter, has played every infield position although had mostly been an outfielder and has lumber stats that an offense-starved team like the Royals should drool over. This year, in 419 PA up in Omaha, he’s put up a slash of .292/.414/.452. Gesundheit. Oh and he’s got some power—he hit his eleventh homer yesterday, giving the Storm Chasers the only run in their victory. And then it should be noted that he is rather speedy. He has 22 stolen bases. With one CS.
The Royals need offense, now and for the future. They need guys to get on base so that the young boomers they already have (Hosmer, Gordon, Butler and hopefully Perez and Moose) can knock them in. Investing in old players like Jamey Carroll or Miguel Tejada is a waste of money. Investing in guys who can’t get on base very well but can field is also foolish. Especially when you have talent down on the farm.