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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Royals - Acquired Gathright
Kansas City Royals - Acquired OF Joey Gathright and 2B Fernando Cortez from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for P J.P. Howell.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. After all the hype, it comes down to what Dayton Moore actually does with the Royals and it’s hard to say his first move is anything but uninspiring.
The Royals are a team of very few strengths. One of those very few strengths is David DeJesus. The team does not have enough strengths that it can afford to take one of the better starting centerfielders in baseball and decided to use him as an average-ish leftfielder. The team especially cannot afford to squander DeJesus’ value as a player in order to take advantage of the exceedingly low value that Gathright can bring to a team right now. Gathright’s still incredibly raw - he relies on his legs for everything, isn’t a particularly talented defensive player, and has no arm. He’s not the bunter that other guys of this type are, either. Could Gathright hit 320/370/370 in the majors someday? Maybe. But most players of the type will go the Jason Tyner route instead. Fernando Cortez is a future stathead un-favorite, whose offense exists only to make players like Juan Castro look good by comparison.
What are the Royals other strengths? Well, I can’t think of any, but I’m pretty sure that young pitching prospects is not one of them. Howell’s not the prospect that Justin Verlander or Jeremy Sowell or Francisco Liriano are, but the Royals are not deep in young pitching and he was worth hanging onto. Project starting pitchers (Howell’s more of a Jamie Moyer type who relies on craft rather than stuff) are just more useful to the Royals than project centerfielders - they already have a centerfielder for their core.
C- for Moore’s first move.
From the point of view of the Devil Rays, this is a nice little trade, which accurately deals a surplus for a need, though it’s obviously not grand theft on the level of Kazmir/Zambrano. The Rays are committed to giving Rocco Baldelli every chance to stay healthy and remain in the lineup, they’re rightly committing to Carl Crawford, and they have a number of high-end outfield prospects (Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes) to find jobs for out there, not to mention they might need yet another spot out there depending on the final destination of B.J. Upton’s glove. Gathright is almost certainly the least valuable baseball player of this group and isn’t particularly young - he’s 6 months younger than Gomes and older than all of Crawford, Baldelli, Young, Dukes, and Upton. As said above, Howell is unlikely to have a high-ceiling, but like the Royals, the Rays would be very happy to just have another starting pitcher that can throw 190 innings of 4.75-5.00 ERA pitching a year. The Rays gave away something they don’t need for something they do and if you do that enough, your team’s in good shape at the strategic level.
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