Friday, December 9, 2011

Thoughts On Navarro, Shields And Gonzalez

The winter meetings have ended, and outside of some rumors, it was a rather uneventful few days for the Royals. I was wrong on two counts in my last post as DM failed to land a utility infielder and then traded Yamaico Navarro, showing they weren't as high on him as I previously thought. Of course I only thought that because of this Bob Dutton article on August 5th:
The decision by the Royals to clear space Friday for second baseman Johnny Giavotella by optioning just-acquired Yamaico Navarro to Class AAA Omaha stems from a belief that Navarro can be more than a utility player.
“He needs to play,” manager Ned Yost said. “It’s hard to evaluate where we are with him. We like what we see, but unless he plays every day, you don’t know what he needs to continue to work on – what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are."
I'm not sure what a month in Omaha told the Royals about Navarro but if you follow the right people on twitter you are no doubt aware that questions exist about his makeup and clubhouse presence. These concerns were apparently legitimate enough that they trumped Navarro's potential usefulness as a utility infielder. That role will now likely go to a veteran in his mid-30's, which given how young the infield is, may actually be a good idea. I'll qualify that opinion with this, as long as they don't overpay. Of course in hindsight the Royals could've kept Mike Aviles and avoided all of this.

The Navarro trade was allegedly prompted by Moore's desire to clear a spot on the Royals 40 man roster so they could take a player in the Rule 5 draft. And they did, Cesar Cabral, who was then sold to the Yankees minutes later. The Royals netted $50,000 in the deal, which was probably enough to cover the bills the winter meetings accumulated. So at least they have that going for them, which is nice.

While not much happened a few rumors did float around. The Royals were linked to both James Shields and Gio Gonzalez, starting pitchers who would fill a definite need at the top of the rotation. Also in the rumors was Wil Myers, which is almost certainly why neither pitcher is apartment hunting in Kansas City. While I'm sure a sizable segment of the fanbase would've welcomed the trade (win now, win now!!!) I'm not sure either of those deals were necessary at that cost - especially because the Royals may actually have a Shields and a Gonzalez on the roster.

Player A 2.03.96 224 100 1.261 9.1 1.2 2.2 7.8 3.45
Player B 1.9 4.11 124.2 100 1.372 8.9 0.7 3.5 8.6 2.48

Player C5.0 3.12 202 130 1.317 7.8 0.8 4.1 8.8 2.16
Player D 3.6 3.07 193.1 127 1.231 6.6 1.0 4.5 9.5 2.14

Player B you no doubt recognize as Felipe Paulino and Player A is in fact Shields, along with his average numbers the last three seasons. It'd be nice to think that Shields would repeat his 2011 season (132 ERA+) but it's also unlikely. In 2009 and 2010 he had ERA+'s of 105 and 75, so he's not exactly Mr. Consistency. And if you're gonna trade Myers, it'd better be for someone who you know for a fact will perform at a high level. Shields was one of the guys I liked when the season ended but I don't like him enough to give up the rumored asking price of Myers, Soria and Colon. Paulino is still a question mark but undoubtedly one worth finding out the answer to, as in can he replicate or improve upon his 2011 numbers over the course of a full season?

Player C is the aforementioned Gonzalez and his 2011 campaign while Player D is Jonathan Sanchez and the season he put up in 2010 when he was last healthy. Sanchez is a free agent after 2012 while Gonzalez would be on the team until 2015, that's not insignificant, but if you're aiming to sacrifice an important piece of the future to win in 2012 then Sanchez may help achieve that goal just as well as Gonzalez. After Sanchez leaves after the season (or during?) Mike Montgomery is in place to claim that spot in the rotation.

Gonzalez and Shields are fine pitchers but neither are a #1, and if you're dangling Myers, that's what you better receive.

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