Royals Lose: David DeJesus
David DeJesus has frequently been called one of the most underrated player to ever don the home whites for the Kansas City Royals. This of course begs the question if you are consistently called underrated can you really be underrated? Nonetheless, DeJesus was the focal point of plenty of trade deadline chatter after he got off to a career year with the bat posting a .318/.384/.443 line in 91 games for the Royals. However, as we all know DeJesus suffered a season ending thumb injury just before the deadline and was not able to be moved. Royals fans can't for sure know any specifics of near deals, but it was reported by some that the Royals and Rays had all but finalized a deal that would have sent LHP prospect Jake McGee to Kansas City.
McGee entered the season rated as the number eight prospect in the top farm system in baseball. However, this season McGee only improved his stock when he posted a 3.57 era as a starter in double A, then a 0.52 era from the pen in triple, before a 5 inning cup of coffee in Tampa. With a mid 90s fastball that is dialed up to upper 90s from the bullpen, McGee is a prime setup man candidate for the 2011 Rays.
After the injury the Royals believed that DeJesus would still manage to be a type A free agent, but in the last week of the season Denard Span slipped past him and knocked DeJesus into type B status. This made the decision to pick up DeJesus's 6 million dollar option a fairly easy one and just a couple weeks into the offseason DeJesus is now the newest member of the Oakland A's. In doing so he follows in the footsteps of fellow ex-Royal outfielders Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye. (Hopefully times have changed for the Royals.)
The loss of DeJesus obviously makes the 2011 Royals outfield that much more of a question mark. At this point you have to figure that Gordon should get regular at bats as the everyday leftfielder, plus I feel it would be a safe bet to pencil Dyson in as the everyday guy in center (the front office seems to be enamored with this guy). The other guys on the 40-man roster are Gregor Blanco, Mitch Maier, and Jordan Parraz. Blanco and Maier will probably battle for the fourth outfielder spot and after a subpar season in Omaha I don't expect to see Parraz anytime soon. This means that either a guy like David Lough or Paulo Orlando (who both need to be added to the 40 man to not be rule 5 eligible) could get looks in Spring Training, or more like the Royals will go bargain shopping for a right handed right fielder. I'd much rather the Royals acquire an interesting major league ready guy, then a guy that is coming off of a non-tender, but we will have to wait and see.
Royals Acquire: Vin Mazzaro & Justin Marks
Judging by the comments section of the mlbtraderumors post regarding the trade, it appears that most feel that the Royals have made out fairly well in this trade, but I can't be so sure. Pitching is the currency in baseball and at this point in time the A's are a wealthy organization that was boasting five quality young pitchers that would be under team control for several more seasons. Not to mention that the A's just won the bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
So obviously the A's wanted to deal from a position of strength and acquire a bat. Interestingly enough they also acquired a top notch defensive outfielder which appears to be one of the current market inefficiencies that the A's are trying to take advantage of. So the Royals acquire Vin Mazzaro whose numbers appear to be pretty good for such a young American League starting pitcher. However, it is apparent that of the five young starter the A's have that Mazzaro is the worst or at least the less advanced of the bunch at this point in time. However, Mazzaro's 4.27 Era would have been the third best for the Royals rotation in 2010.
Unfortunately pitchers have a tendency to outperform their FIPs while pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Colliseum. This used to be a result of the vast expanse of foul territory but can now also be attributed to the top notch defense that Oakland plays. Last season Mazzaro outperformed his FIP of 5.13 with a 4.27 ERA, this is a significant jump and it is highly unlikely that this number can be maintained unless Mazzaro progresses as a pitcher which should happen considering his age.
Also, Mazzaro's peripherals of 5.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and 1.40 HR/9 remind me quite a bit of the 2010 version of Kyle Davies in which he posted a 6.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 1 HR per 9 innings. Not too mention that in 2010, Mazzaro posted a 42% groundball rate compared to the 40% that Kyle Davies posted. Granted Davies is three years older than Mazzaro, but the problem with Davies is that he has not been able to improve upon his control and make the jump into quality middle of the rotation starter status. The hope here is that where the Royals coaching staff and Davies failed with his career potential they can succeed with Mazzaro.
By the way Davies Fip for 2010 was 4.46, so I am going to go out on a limb and say that at this point I expect a better 2011 season from Davies then from the newly acquired Vin Mazzaro. The A's are an extremely well ran organization and they traded Mazzaro at the perfect time: when his era was high enough that an old fashioned team like the Royals could think they were acquiring a middle of the rotation starter as opposed to a back end guy with middle rotation potential.
Unlike Davies, Mazzaro has never been billed as a top notch prospect. Entering the 2009 season Baseball America listed him as the number eight prospect in the league's third strongest farm system. At the time Baseball America said that Mazzaro possessed low 90s heat that had a strong sinking action that could induce plenty of groundball outs (haven't seen this yet), an average slider, and a questionable changeup. Obviously this scouting report is over two years old and Mazzaro has had to improve in order to have the Major League success that he has displayed, but nonetheless this scouting report is far from exciting to me.
Mazzaro is just twenty-four years old which makes him several years away from his prime as a baseball player. He also has four more season in which he will be under team control and he is undoubtedly a better and cheaper option then the just released Brian Bannister. Nonetheless I can't envision him as much more than a bridge to the better pitching prospects that are on the horizon.
The other pitcher acquired in the deal from Oakland was a twenty-two year old lefty by the name of Justin Marks. I have to say that I am extremely thrilled that the Royals were able to acquire a lefthanded starter given the lack of quality lefties that they currently have in the farm. Wait. Nevermind.
Marks entered the 2010 season regarded as the number twenty-seven prospect in Oakland's system. He has a low 90s fastball and a slider, curveball and changeup that like his fastball all grade out as average pitches. Baseball America believes that he could move very quickly and have back end potential. So he does add depth to the farm system which I am never opposed to.
This deal feels a lot like the Callaspo deal in that the Royals are basically acquiring a Major League ready right arm and a six foot three lefty that has back end potential. I was hoping to see a little more intriguing return and I agree with a fellow Royals fan in saying that "this trade bores me." There is nothing exciting about it. I would have been thrilled had the Royals acquired an upside major league ready hitter and it just so happened that the A's have one such player that could have stepped right in for Kansas City as the opening day rightfielder: Michael Taylor. Sure the Royals acquire two nice arms but neither figure to add much to the crop of promising arms approaching Kansas City as Jake McGee would have. Instead they will provide the Royals with depth and a bridge to the future.
You can never have enough pitching though and with the high end prospects that the Royals have you can't blame them for adding guys that could back them up in case of the situation arises. Plus, the 2011 rotation is virtually non existent should the Royals trade Zack Greinke this winter so it probably is wise to add a dependable piece to that group and Mazzaro should make the 2011 season a bit more barable for Royals fans as they await for the prospects to arrive.