Saturday, December 15, 2007

Buckner Traded for Callaspo

So what are your thoughts regarding the trade that sent Billy Buckner to Arizona for Alberto Callaspo?

Buckner, a second round draft pick by the Royals in 2004, has decent minor league numbers: He's 32-28 with a 4.27 ERA who strikes out more than two hitters for every guy he walks (433 K / 185 BB in 474.0 IP). He was probably a long shot to make the back end of the Royals rotation coming out of Spring Training, but at 23 years of age, he wouldn't have been harmed at all by pitching a full season in Omaha.

Callaspo (pronounced Ky-AWS-po), a 24 year-old middle infielder, has put up impressive minor league numbers. He has a career minor league batting average of .317 with a .369 OBP in 651 games. He has 34 HR, 353 RBI, and 68 SB in 2,641 AB, which isn't anything to cheer about, but couple his ability to get on base with his incredible patience at the plate (he's drawn 228 BB while striking out just 141 times), and you have the makings of a good number two hitter. He's a switch-hitter who was Arizona's minor-league player of the year in 2006 and according to Dayton Moore, "He's a guy that fits into our long-term plan."

So, where does this leave Esteban German and Jason Smith--especially given the fact that Callaspo is out of options and therefore has to remain in the major leagues for the entire 2008 season? Smith just signed a one-year deal, but surely the Royals can't keep three utility infielders, so if I had to guess, Smith may be the odd man out. We'll have to see how things shake out during Spring Training.

I'm not crazy about giving up a talented young arm and it seems to go against the trend Moore has set since coming to the Royals, but in this instance, it probably makes sense. Plate discipline and the ability to get on base are two areas in which the Royals have been pathetic for far too long. Presumably, Callaspo could push Pena at shortstop, especially if Pena continues to swing at everything in sight, or he could be the long term answer at second base after Mark Grudzielanek moves on.

But I don't think the Royals traded for Pena only to sit him or move him to another team and Grudzielanek isn't showing any signs of declining yet. In fact, Grud won a Gold Glove in 2006 and he only made 6 errors in 2007. German was thought to be Grud's successor, and second base is German's best position, but maybe his .264 batting average in 121 games last season made Moore think that German isn't an everyday second baseman. He did have a .351 OBP and he was third on the team in walks with 43 though.

A little competition never hurt anything and maybe that's what Moore is thinking. I guess the rest will take care of itself.


Anonymous said...

I think it's a great move. Everything you wrote above I agree with. I'm willing to take a pass on Buckner to get another young every-day player who has a lot of accolades already under his belt.

I'm sure this move came up well after they signed Smith but it does make trading Grudzy for something decent easier to swallow. My guess is they'll see how they all do in Spring Training. If this kid comes on like he could you may see Grudzy moved early. If not I don't expect to see him with the team after the July deadline.

Photogbrett said...

I'm not sure I'm pleased with this trade. The Royals are so short on pitching and pitching prospects(above High-A,) its hard to swallow trading a top pitching prospect for a utility man. Although I do know of Callaspo and think he could become a fine player eventually, I'm not sure its worth a top pitching prospect.

Only time will tell...

Sportsnik said...

Trading a young pitching prospect for a utility man isn't exactly wise when Dayton wants to Stockpile arms. Callaspo has put up some decent numbers, but you'd think the royals would've tried to find someone who could provide better defense than Callaspo.

Lee Warren said...

sportsnik, I understand what you are saying, but Moore doesn't intend for Callaspo to just be a utility man. He says that he fits into the teams long term plans. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

KMartin said...

I'm really concerned that we traded away a good, young pitching prospect for a player with alleged domestic violence (dv) issues. It doesn't matter who's right in that matter (he said, she said), what matters is that the dv issue surfaced to the public after the trade. There has to be a concern to Royals execs. Trey Hillman, from what I have read about him, seems like he's a Dick Vermeil type of guy. If Trey can keep Alberto's head together, I think the trade was worth the cost. But that's a big IF. Even Vermeil couldn't tame Lawrence Phillips.

Lee Warren said...

kmartin, Dayton Moore did talk about the importance of getting character guys and with the addition Jose Guillen and Callaspo (both of whom have had recent issues to deal with), you have to wonder if he isn't feeling the pressure to win. And the reality is, this wasn't a banner year for free agents, so maybe Moore lowered his standards a bit. Who knows? But I'm with you, in that, I don't want to see the Royals end up with a bunch of head cases or guys who are full of themselves. Let's hope Callaspo's issues, as well as Guillen's issues, are in the past.

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