Dayton Moore's Defining Moment
To the national media, the Royals' trade for Yuniesky Betancourt was a somewhat minor transaction: partly because of the two cities involved and partly because of the players involved.
To those of us who doggedly follow the Royals, however, this trade was a big, big deal, and one that was almost universally disparaged.
Craig did an excellent job of summing up what Betancourt has accomplished, or rather not accomplished, in his four seasons in the majors (look at it this way, Craig, you already have your Betancourt entry for the 2010 Annual written).
The rest of the unjournalistic bloggers and the highly-regarded journalistic columnists (and those who reside somewhere in between) supplied as many columns on the subject as any event in recent memory.
Now, lately, we are getting some 'settle down and let this trade play out' kind of talk.
The Border Patrol on 810 Radio ran down a list of minor league prospects that did NOT make it in an effort to calm the savages.
In some ways, however, the logic that is in support of trade is more damning than that used by those who are outraged by this deal.
Listen, when the main arguments supporting the trade are that "Betancourt is not horrible" and "Cortes probably was not that good," that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
At any rate, this trade (be it good, bad, major or minor) will define the tenure of Dayton Moore as general manager of the Royals.
Allard Baird traded an All-Star in Jermaine Dye for shortstop Nefii Perez and pretty much forever set the floor for bad trades (although David Cone for Ed Hearn gives it a serious run for the money) and he rightfully never got out from under the shadow of that disaster.
Given that Yuniesky Betancourt is likely going to be the Royals shortstop for the next two seasons at least, Dayton Moore is going to be judged every day by this trade.
Quite frankly, if Cortes is in the Mariner rotation in 2011 while Betancourt is getting on base at a .290 clip with 25 errors, Moore will no longer be the general manager of this team.
You can trade relievers for injury risks (Crisp), windmills (Jacobs) and iron hands (Callaspo) for years and get away with it. Trade a future starter for a bad fielding, swing at all costs, attitude-laden shortstop and people (namely owners) will eventually say that's enough.
Now, it is possible that the Royals are right and everyone else is wrong on this (the law of averages dictate that this will eventually happen sometime).
Betancourt might wake up and realize the supposed potential that the organization claims is there. Maybe Willie Bloomquist is right in that Yuniesky just needs a wakeup call and either a gentle prod or full-blown kick in the you-know-what.
Betancourt could, maybe, just possibly, emerge as something of a poor man's Miguel Tejeda.
Dan Cortes might never make it to the majors or, if he does, never be a regular in anyone's rotation.
Derrick Saito is as likely to disappear into the morass of minor league middle relievers as he is to ever throw a pitch in Safeco Field.
If those two guys are non-factors from now until 2013, then this trade will fade out as not that big a deal.
After all, Betancourt is blocking no one—other than to steal some at-bats from Willie Bloomquist, which we can all live with.
Mike Aviles is likely out until early summer of next season and probably will reemerge (IF he reemerges) as a second baseman and not a shortstop.
Jeff Bianchi has been in AA for less than a month, and the next shortstop after that with any potential is still in rookie ball (Yowill Espinal or Deivy Batista, take your pick).
Still, if Cortes is a rotation regular and Betancourt is who the stats say he is, then Dayton Moore will never get out from under the shadow of this deal.
This is a deal frought with risk for the Royals and one, as Rany points out, that probably did not need to be made with such urgency.
Closer to the deadline, Betancourt might have come cheaper and in the interim, the Royals could have shopped Cortes as part of a package for something (anything?!) bigger and better.
Pitching, as we all know, is "the currency of baseball" and Dayton Moore spent some of his at the first shop he went into (kind of like my wife at The Plaza).
It was, without question, a bold move.
The problem is, bold moves are not always smart moves.
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