“Yuni is somebody that we had targeted...” - Dayton Moore
Touché Mr, Moore, tou-freaking-ché. Had I known that DM would take it as a challenge I never would have suggested on Monday that the signing of a utility infielder would neither shock the world or trend on twitter. I was wrong on both counts. This move is so nonsensical I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop up on twitter telling Royals fans they'd been punk'd. But it didn't happen and Yuniesky Betancourt will in fact be on the team next season.
A few fans and members of the media are defending the signing because they believe Yuni won't play that much. I mean if that's how you defend a dubious move then I'd suggest it's not a move worth defending. Besides weren't we told the same thing when Willie Bloomquist was signed? Except Spork in his first year in KC amassed a career high 468 plate appearances, despite a 77 OPS+. So forgive me if I refuse to believe that Yuni won't play that much. An injury to Escobar or Moustakas and he's playing everyday. You can't honestly predict that won't happen. I'll predict right now he comes to the plate at least 300 times.
I assumed that in the search for a utility infielder that Moore would've focused on those players who have played multiple infield positions. A false assumption on my part, it appears, because Yuni has spent 99% of his career big league innings at shortstop. He has never played third base (not even in the minors) and last played second base his rookie year (2005). Now if he was a plus defender at short then I'd suppose he'd be okay but he's not, he's a statue and I can't really believe they think he can handle second base. For that reason it wouldn't surprise me to see Chris Getz make the team next year and then we'll get to hear Yost and Moore go on and on about the infield's sudden versatility. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if a more versatile infielder wasn't signed because it'd make Getz redundant. We couldn't have that happening now, could we?
I'm also confused on how Yuni received anything other than a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If he was brought in partly as insurance in case anything happened to Escobar then why not let him play shortstop for Omaha? Oh yeah, I forgot, there were four or five other teams (allegedly) looking for a utility infielder who is well below average defensively and offensively. Ha, sucks to be them right now.
Moore has always had a strange affinity for Yuni, I mean he did once try to trade Billy Butler for him so I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that he was the guy targeted when the search for a utility infielder began. Those of us who thought Moore learned his lesson and had seen the light were sadly mistaken.
This has been a strange offseason for the Royals. When the season ended fans couldn't wait for 2012 to get here because it appeared (and still does despite this move) that the team was on the cusp of contention. A few right moves and next year could be special. The amount of goodwill flowing between the fans and the organization hadn't been seen in such large quantities since the late 80's/early 90's. Fast forward to December and the mood is decidedly different. Coming on the heels of canceling fanfest and the petty Frank White episode this is the third middle finger the front office has pointed in the fans direction since the season ended. Sure that may be harsh but Yuni was not well liked his first go around here and offers nothing on offense or defense. So yeah, this signing doesn't make a lick of sense.
Now that he's here, though, what can we expect? More of the same most likely. Since 2009 only eight players in all of baseball have come to the plate a 1000 times and posted a lower OPS+. If you want to see something that will give you nightmares then check out his company on that list.