Friday, March 23, 2007

Royals Trade for Pena Jr.

How ironic is it that the addition of a guy named Tony Pena to the Royals roster could bring about the end Angel Berroa’s playing days in Kansas City? Could happen. It would make the magical 2003 season seem even further away than it already is. The Royals traded minor league pitcher Erik Cordier, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, to the Atlanta Braves today for shortstop Tony Pena Jr.

Pena, 26, has a good shot at being the Royals opening day shortstop. He’s been stuck behind Edgar Renteria in Atlanta, but he’s had a great spring. He was hitting .342 at the time of the trade. Looking at his career minor league numbers though, they are nothing to jump up and down about. In 642 games (according to the Baseball Cube), he has 25 HR, 183 RBI, 88 SB, and he has a career .253 AVG, .285 OBP, .335 SLG. The Royals’ website is reporting slightly different minor league numbers—they say he has a .252 career average.

On the plus side, his numbers have been steadily getting better. Last year in Richmond, he hit .282 with a .312 OBP. He’s strikes out too much, and he doesn’t walk enough, but at least he does walk—unlike Angel Berroa. And of course, Dayton Moore is familiar with Pena since they both came from Atlanta. Here’s what Moore had to say about him, as taken from the Royals website:

“He is having an exceptional spring. He’s a very instinctive, heady player. He’s very sure-handed and a rangy-type shortstop. He can really play shortstop. He’s very charismatic and humble. The fans in Kansas City are going to love him.”

Neither Moore or Buddy Bell are saying that this is the end for Berroa, but Berroa does have options left and he might just become the most expensive minor league shortstop in Royals history (maybe even major league history). If he refuses the option, he forfeits his contract. Andres Blanco also has options remaining. But Alex Gonzalez, on the other hand, has on out in his clause that says if he doesn’t make the roster, then he becomes a free agent. So, I’m guessing that we’ll see Tony Pena Jr. start the season at short and Gonzalez will back him up.

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