Royals Off-Season Needs: Second Base

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So far we have taken a look at right field and starting pitchers, the two main areas of concern this off-season for the Kansas City Royals. Now we take a look at the other need, which is second base. The only thing is I’m not so sure it’s of huge concern to this team. Sure, the Royals would prefer to use Emilio Bonifacio in a super utility role, which I also think is the best spot for him. But there’s also been word going around they would be okay if Bonifacio started the year playing second. Since there is a good chance at least that the Royals will browse the second base market, let’s take a look at some of the options and the likelihood any of them will be acquired by Kansas City.

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Robinson Cano

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

No. Won’t happen. Period. But man, would that confuse some Royals fans. Do you boo or do you cheer?

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Mark Ellis

This would be interesting, just for the reasoning that Ellis was originally drafted by the Royals. Ellis has put together a pretty successful major league career since his days in the Royals farm system, and would at least be a solid player at second base. He won’t hit a lot of home runs, or knock in a ton of runs. He won’t play flashy defense or wow you with his speed. But he is solid. At 36 his best years are probably behind him, but if he hits .270, plays solid defense and is a clutch bat in the lineup, he would be an improvement and good for a one or two year deal. Ellis isn’t a long term solution at the position, but it could happen.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers

Omar Infante

Infante is a lot like Ellis. Solid bat, solid defense and is even a bit younger. I’m not so sure Infante will want to leave Detroit, but for the right price I think Dayton could swing this. Infante would be a good bat to put in the second spot of the batting order and is a good contact bat. Like Ellis, not much power, but he is nothing to sneeze at and would actually make the lineup a bit more credible. He can also play around the infield and outfield, so if someone came down with an injury, Infante could bounce around. Definitely one worth consideration.

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Brian Roberts

Roberts is an interesting player, just because it’s been so long since he has been healthy. Last year was the most games Roberts had played in since 2009 and he only played in 77 games. Roberts has been the walking wounded for so long you wonder just how much of his skills are still intact. If healthy, Roberts can provide some pop and a bit of speed, even though that has eroded a bit thanks to the injuries. Roberts can probably be had pretty cheap, but there is no guarantee he will stay healthy. If Dayton would go this route, he will have to have a backup plan, as Roberts just isn’t reliable. That last sentence alone will probably be why the Royals stay clear of him.

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Rafael Furcal

Furcal is a real possibility at this point, at least in that the Royals have at least shown interest in him. Furcal is coming off of Tommy John surgery, which is a bit different for positional players compared to pitchers. Carl Crawford came back from it and seems as good as new. Furcal probably will as well, and I would assume his gun of an arm will still be a weapon. Furcal is still a risk, but a risk worth taking. The injury should make it to where he could be had at a bargain, and he would be a nice addition to the top of the Royals lineup. Even if he isn’t what he was during his prime, he still has moderate speed and a bit of pop in his lineup. He would need some time figuring out second base, as he has only played 36 games at second in the majors, and most of those were early in his career. For the right price, Furcal could be a steal for Kansas City.

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Yuniesky Betancourt

Seriously, I would like to think this is a joke. Really, I wish I was just being a smart ass here. But…Dayton has acquired him twice. Yes, once wasn’t enough. You wouldn’t think they wouldn’t want to acquire him, let along play him regularly at second base. Anyone who has seen him play on a regular basis blatantly sees his flaws. But there is something about him that Dayton Moore likes. What? I don’t know. So he is an option…until he isn’t an option.

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Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Sure, Hairston isn’t a permanent solution. In fact, he is probably a lot like Miguel Tejada last year for Kansas City-on his last legs. But I like Hairston, as he is incredibly versatile and is able to do about anything that a manager asks of him. Actually, the more I think about this, I would prefer the Royals sign Hairston for their bench. A signing like this would give Bonifacio the second base job and give a solid backup for about anywhere on the diamond. Hairston’s best days are behind him, but every good team needs a solid bench if they expect to go anywhere. Hairston would give the Royals just that.

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Michael Young

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Michael Young will probably be a Kansas City Royal in 2014. In what role, I don’t know, but I can see this happening. It could be at second base. It could be as a DH, if the Royals trade Billy Butler this off-season. Either way, I easily can see this happening. Do I agree with it? No. I would have loved having Michael Young 5 years ago. Today? He is a backup at best, and I’m not even for sure he is good at that. I hope they avoid Young like the plague. But I have a feeling…

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips

I thought I would throw Phillips in, since Cincy is shopping him, but let’s be straight up right now; I don’t think this is going to happen, and I really hope it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Phillips is a fun player to watch. But…his offense is not as great as some think. In fact, I would almost say he is regressing. He can’t take a walk, and let’s be honest-we have enough of those players already on the Royals. His defense? Not as good as you think it is. Sure, he’s flashy and can pull off plays a lot of guys can’t. But his range is slipping and sometimes messes up the routine plays. Add in how he can be a headache at times and his huge contract, and it is safe to say Phillips is a no-go. Let’s hope the Royals look at him the same way.

Kansas City Royals second baseman Chris Getz (17)

Looking at this list, and I almost think the Royals will start the year with Bonifacio at second. I think Furcal or Young have a decent chance of being there, but outside of that I don’t think there is much more than a slight chance for the others I listed. If it’s Bonifacio, I’m okay with that. He did a great job taking over the spot late in the year and that doesn’t mean the Royals won’t try to find someone during the season. Above all else, Bonifacio starting probably means one more thing; Chris Getz will be gone. Just throwing that out there puts a smile on my face. Whichever way the Royals go in 2014, second base will be a Getz-free zone. That within itself is an improvement.

Buying High, Selling Low: The Boston/LA Story

This past weekend, a trade of Herschel Walker proportions took place in major league baseball. In one fell swoop, the Boston Red Sox unloaded their excess baggage, and the Los Angeles Dodgers picked it up at the baggage claim, showing baseball that they are serious about buying a World Series…I mean, trying to make the playoffs. So I thought I would take a look at this monumental trade and just what it means for the parties involved.

“I hated Boston too, Adrian…”

Adrian Gonzalez is the key to this trade for the Dodgers. They have coveted him for quite awhile, and finally they were able to bring him back to the California sun and drop him into the middle of their batting order. The pluses of having Gonzalez are many and widespread. For one, he is a California boy, born and raised. Bringing him back to Cali can only be a positive, as he loved his time in San Diego and the attitude there fits him better than the one in Boston. In Boston, the media is constantly scrutinizing everything that is done and everyone lives and die by what the Red Sox are doing. California is more laid back, with the joke always being that Dodgers fans wait until the third inning before they show up. Gonzalez’s attitude is more LA than Boston, so just in this regard it should be a plus. Add in stellar defense, and a potent bat in the middle of the order, and you have a guy who can help a team like the Dodgers go the distance. There really only seems two negatives to getting Gonzalez. One, a few scouts have mentioned that Gonzo’s bat speed seems to be slipping. Now, he is still a guy I would want in the middle of the batting order. But normally if bat speed starts to slip, it will never come back. The other negative is the contract he has. It is massive, and still has 5 years left on it. If he continues to slip offensively, those last few years of the contract could feel like an albatross around their neck. All in all, if Gonzalez is what they wanted, they could have done a hell of a lot worse.

“Beer and Chicken on me if we win.”

Josh Beckett might just seem like an addition to the trade, a contract to heave off for Boston. But in reality, it might be a shroud move by LA. Beckett was never going to get the Boston faithful back in his good graces, as he is now perceived by them as a guy who just wants to pitch every fifth day and not care about the team the rest of the time. Chicken, beer, and video games will do that to a guy. But I also feel Beckett is the type who could be angry about the move, and proceed to pitch like a guy with a chip on his shoulder. Add in his postseason experience, and this could be a coup for LA if they make the playoffs. Beckett still has it in him to be a pitcher who can carry a team on his back in the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.

“He found out what Pesky’s Pole really means…”

When it comes to players who this trade benefits the most, Carl Crawford has my pick for ‘best in trade'( by the way, I see him as a labradoodle). Crawford, when healthy, is a game changer, as his speed disrupts pitchers and defenses alike. He also is a solid bat in the lineup, despite what his time in Boston has shown. If ever there was a guy who needed a change of scenario, it would be Crawford. He felt uncomfortable from the time he entered Yawkey Way, and add in a struggling bat and injuries, and you have a recipe for disaster. Even if he would have stayed, Crawford would have had a hard time showing the Boston fans what he can really do. Crawford just had the Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be back till early next season. But once he does come back, he will be part of a loaded outfield in LA. How does this sound: Left Field, Crawford. Center Field, Matt Kemp. Right Field, Andre Ethier. If healthy, very few balls would drop in that outfield, and offensively they could be a juggernaut. Crawford gets a new lease on life with this trade, and I can only imagine he will like the view at Chavez Ravine.

“I would take that same picture if I was a fan…Punto is a fan, right?”

Nick Punto. Well, I like him as a backup infielder. But lets be honest, he’s just along for the ride. He will always be referred to as ‘the other guy in that big trade’. I guess that is better than nothing. He is a good replacement for Jerry Hairston while he is out. But Punto is what Punto is; an afterthought. Have fun in Los Angeles, Nick!

“James Loney, making it look easy.”

Now, time to look at the Boston side of this trade. James Loney has been with the Dodgers the last seven years as their First Baseman. Loney is a good, solid hitter with a great glove, but has never shown the power that most teams want from their first basemen. He is a free agent at the end of the year, so there is a good chance his time in Boston will be short. Still, not a horrible job by Boston on replacing Gonzalez, at least for the rest of the year.

The major part of the trade for Boston was to give them flexibility. Having Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford on their payroll, (along with Ortiz, etc.) would have made it hard for the Red Sox to rebuild this upcoming offseason, which they drastically need to do. Boston was able to unload $260 Million in contracts, while giving Los Angeles about $12 Million. Not only does this give the Red Sox room to operate this offseason, it also gets rid of three players that the BoSox fans were tired of. It only made sense to restructure and dump what they could, and Boston did that, along with picking up some prospects as well.

The other four players in the trade are either major league ready or very close. Rubby De La Rosa is the gem of the trade, but won’t be ‘officially’ announce until after the season. He is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but was just up in the bigs for the Dodgers and has electric stuff. Jerry Sands is the other ‘player to be named later’ in the deal, and once he is officially acquired he’ll add some depth to their outfield corps and could even compete for a starting job in spring training next year. Ivan DeJesus, Jr. is an infielder that probably won’t start in Boston, but it does give them more depth and has been up and down between AAA and the majors part of the season. Allen Webster is the last player involved and had a less than stellar start the other day for Boston’s AA team, but he still could be in the pitching discussion for next year in Boston. Overall, not a bad haul of players for Boston in this trade.

This trade is a once in a lifetime trade, and one of the likes we won’t see for a very long time. At the end of the day, this trade did what both teams wanted it to do. For the Dodgers, they get veteran players to help their push for a World Series and to help them win now and for years to come. Boston, meanwhile, needed payroll flexibility and to rid them of players that didn’t fit into the Beantown atmosphere. Payroll was shed and younger, cheaper talent was added. This was a win-win trade for these two teams, and a trade that will be scrutinized for years to come. Time will tell just who gained the most from this monster of a deal. Until then, fire up your gaming system and see if you can do what the Dodgers and Red Sox did; make a trade that my ten year old tries to make with his video games.

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