This morning the Royals stole the spotlight away from the Chiefs offensive coordinator signing with a signing of their own when they signed thirty-five year old veteran Pedro Feliz to a minor league deal. (Just kidding). Feliz has a reputation as a premium defender at the hot corner. However, after his uzr regressed in each of the las four straight seasons it finally came in at a below average mark for the first time in 2010 at -4.9.
Hopefully, Feliz's defensive woes last season were just an abberation and not reflective of his current fielding abilities. Quite honestly if that isn't the case I can't imagine Feliz having any value at all. Even if his defensive abilties have returned the most I could handle out of Feliz on the roster would be as a late inning defensive replacement at third and first.
As far as Feliz's bat is concerned, well he did hit for 20+ homers from 2004-2007. But of course in that same time period he broke the .300 obp plateau just once. In fact his career on base percentage comes in at paltry .288. But it wouldn't shock me if at some point this season we see Francouer and Feliz hitting 5th and 6th in the lineup.
...and I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
By channeling my inner optimism and by giving the signing the benefit of the doubt I can rationalize that the signing was made as an insurance policy to Wilson Betemit and Mike Aviles. As I see it one of the two will be starting at third and the other will be serving as a utility man. With the Feliz signing should one of the two of them go down to injury the Royals can have a back up plan to fill that reserve role.
There is a small value to this just ask Mark Teahen. As some of you may recall the Royals signed Chris Truby in the offseason prior to the 2005 season and planned to use him to fill in the third base spot until Mark Teahen was ready for his big league debut. Heading into the season Teahen had played in 86 games at the triple A level, but it was apparent that the organization did not feel he was ready and would have been wise to manipulate his service just a bit by having him begin the season in Omaha.
Then disaster struck and Chris Truby went down to injury in Spring, leaving Mark Teahen as the only option at third base to begin the year. Teahen began the year in Kansas City and went on to post an OPS of .685. One is only left to imagine the kind of damage that Chris Truby would have done had he stayed healthy for the Royals in 2005. What could have been...
The other thing that the Feliz signing could mean is that the Royals could be active in the trade market come Spring, or that they could want to have the flexibility to be active in the trade market in Spring. With the addition of Feliz, should a team lose their second or thirdbaseman to injury in Spring the Royals could matchup as a trading partner by offering either Aviles or Betemit. Both of whom would be considered very appealing commodities to a team in desperate need of a viable option heading into the season.
I am not a fan of Feliz. The only way I would be able to put up with him being on the roster and earning his 800K would be if it is only as a late inning defensive replacement. But I can also see the rationale by acquiring a bit of depth and securing some insurance to Betemit and Aviles. I do believe it is important that the Royals give Moustakas more triple A at bats, and even if he is ready service time is of the utmost importance. So I guess if Feliz can help the Royals in that regard I will have to put up with the signing.
It is important to remember that it is just a minor league deal with a non roster invite. So even though I am not a fan of Feliz, any positives that can be found make the deal worthwhile. Also, with next to no other options available on the free agent market for third base it would seem that it would be better to be ahead of the game then to be left scrambling should an injury occur.
*On a side note if the Royals could have signed Wily Aybar (the only other real option in my mind) to the same deal I would have without a doubt preferred that option.