Royals Trade for Yuniesky Betancourt

The Royals desperately needed a shortstop. Their collective group was batting a cool .208/.234/.281 with awful defense and little in the way of upside.

Today, they pulled the trigger, acquiring Yuniesky Betancourt.

Betancourt doesn’t hit for power, walk, take coaching well, field, or keep himself in shape. His contract calls for 3 million next year, 4 million in 2011, and 6 million in 2012 (although the Royals can always pay him the 2 million buyout instead), so he’s not cheap either. Over the last three seasons Betancourt has hit .278/.299/.392 while playing most of his games in Safeco. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power, but even if you assume Safeco suppressed him a bit, he’s still not a very good hitter. He’s a below average fielder at shortstop, and the whispers – which have became a bit more than that in the Seattle press – suggest he lacks work ethic.

The Royals give up Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes. Saito is a low-level reliever striking out a ton of batters, meanwhile Baseball America ranked Cortes as the third best prospect in the Royals system. I’m not a GM, I don’t know what Jack Zduriencik wanted for Betancourt, but Cortes seems like a lot for a perpetually below average shortstop.

If adding playing time threats, benching, closed door meetings, and a team in contention didn’t snap Betancourt into focus, then what will? Even if the Mariners are picking up most of the tab, which we don’t know at this point, it’s still a questionable gamble for Dayton Moore.

The Royals still desperately need a shortstop.




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83 Responses to “Royals Trade for Yuniesky Betancourt”

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  1. The A Team says:

    Looks like an excellent trade for the Mariners. It’s amazing what a franchise can do without Bill Bavasi.

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  2. Josh says:

    Great last sentence there, hilarious in fact.

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  3. mymrbig says:

    Betancourt has been worth -0.8 WAR this yeatr and was woth 0.3 in 2008. So over the last 1.5 years, he has been below replacement level.

    My only question for Drayton Moore and Jack Z is this – why didn’t the Royals throw in Kila Ka’aihue as well? Because the M’s have use for the Hawaiin Russ Branyan starting in 2010 and the Royals don’t seem to have any faith in him.

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  4. Brad says:

    Thank you for posting this, so I can give voice to how dreadful this trade is. I’ve wanted so badly over the last few years to root for the Royals. I like the kids (Greinke, Gordon, Butler, Soria) but can’t stand the moves for overpaid, underperforming, no-upside veterans. Maybe they don’t have to pay him much, but they’ll have to pick up a big enough chunk to have made it worthwhile for Seattle. I just can’t imagine they couldn’t have acquired a serviceable triple A talent somewhere for less.

    First they make unthinkable moves in the offseason, then they ban Raney, now they trade a potentially serviceable pitching prospect for a no glove, little bat, no walk Betancourt. I think this could be worse than what they have now. At least there was some defense there with Pena, Jr. (presumably).

    It’s like, you think that something would turn on inside Moore’s head eventually, then he goes out and acquires Yuniesky Betancourt. Sigh…

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  5. Michael says:

    I laughed when I saw this, not in malice towards the Royals fans and their plight but towards the organization and the sheer irony. Is there a player more perfect for Dayton Moore’s “vision” of the franchise than Betancourt?

    It’s beyond a questionable move. It’s an impossibly terrible move. Seattle fans for months now have been down on Betancourt. He can’t do anything particularly well and two very important things (plate patience/walks/OBP and defense) he can’t do at all. Add the character issues, the age (as in not young anymore), and the contract, and the Royals were ridiculous to trade anything for him.

    In addition, this further adds to the Royals impressive resume of position players who can’t field or walk. It’s actually a Royals staple. It’s as if Dayton Moore is out there looking for guys with a .300 OBP and stone hands to acquire. I don’t get the vision of this franchise, but the direction, aside for a few shrewd moves regarding Greinke and Meche, has been downward all the way. I feel for Royals fans.

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    • alskor says:

      Haha… yeah, its really perfect. Its like Dayton Moore climbed to the top of Kauffman Stadium and yelled: “Just in case anyone wasnt 100% sure, I have absolutely no understanding of the concept of replacement value!”

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    • Joe R says:

      I told some girl who’s a Royals fan that I just feel badly for her at this point. A quick browse of fangraphs and Joe Posnanski’s blog shows anyone what an embarrassment this organization has become.

      Worst yet, they can still use the crutch of “Well we don’t have a lot of money.” True, but I assure you the money they have can be spent way better than this.

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  6. Brad says:

    … and then it hit me, Dayton Moore is the MLB version of Al Davis! At least Moore can potentially be fired…

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  7. Judy says:

    They could have had Lugo for nothing at all if they’d just waited a few more days.

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  8. Mike says:

    Any remaining Royals fans will be hitting the bottle over this one. Maybe DMGM really IS interested in Francouer. He’d be a great pairing with Yuni. Kind of like how scotch goes well with tears of sorrow.

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  9. Ed Nelson says:

    All Royals’ pitchers just felt a chill up their spines. Amazingly bad move. Maybe they are starting an all bad fielding infield? With Mike Jacobs/Billy Butler at 1st, Betancourt at SS, Callaspo at 2nd (-9.8 UZR), and Teahen at 3rd (-9.2 UZR) it may be the worst fielding infield in a generation!

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    • BillG says:

      I’d have to check, but I’m betting that some of the Yankees infields at the beginning of this decade were that bad with Jeter and Soriano up the middle.

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  10. Basil Ganglia says:

    This is the kind of deal that results in the Royals receiving a #27 ranking in Dave Cameron’s Organizational Rankings series from earlier this year. What team, facing a black hole at a key position, goes out and acquires the starting player at that position from a team for which that position is just as big a black hole??

    The Royals should have been the team receiving additional prospects, for doing the Mariners the favor of taking Betancourt off of their hands. Instead the Royals are giving up talent to get him.

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  11. Brad says:

    … or maybe the Royals are trying to catch the Nationals so they can pick Harper at #1…

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    • Base says:

      as a royals fan that was teh only silver lining I could find in this deal.

      Says alot when “Hope” for an organization comes in teh form of 16 year old.

      So sad and frustrating.

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  12. ThundaPC says:

    Let me see if I can guess why Dayton Moore made this deal:

    – Yuniesky Betancourt has been an “outstanding shortstop.”
    – He can be a “terrific bat.”
    – He just needs a change of scenery.
    – Jose Guillen could light a fire under Yuni to return him to his former glory.

    About the only reasons I can think of for taking over one of the biggest disasters in baseball. A baseball player who doesn’t understand the sport in which he plays in.

    Good luck, Kansas City.

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    • alskor says:

      Hey, I dont mind taking a flier on a guy like that… as long as you dont give up legitimate assets.

      So this deal was godawful.

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  13. Alex says:

    It’s almost as though the Royals are trying to become so irrelevant that they reach the point where they just blink out of existence.

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  14. Andy S says:

    This year’s Rays! This year’s Rays!

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  15. Andy S says:

    I fail to see how they need a shortstop though. I mean, eventually they will, in like two years, when they have a semi-passable chance at contention.

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    • Brad says:

      Exactly. Even if Betancourt is a slight upgrade at short, why in the name of all thing good are the Royals buying right now???

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      • cpebbles says:

        They clearly think they’re buying low. Maybe he works out and becomes one of the Royals’ scouting success stories. Cortes may be a solid prospect, but he’s not a future star and you have to think his recent arrest for public intoxication played a role in the Royals shipping him.

        Not to defend the move. I don’t like the move any more than anyone else here does, but there is a possibility that another of Moore’s audacious gambles works out.

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      • R M says:

        Pebbles, how could he “work out and become one of the royals success stories” when he was never a good player in the first place?

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      • cpebbles says:

        Uh, that’s why he’d be a scouting success story. I don’t think Dayton Moore has been much of a GM in general, but I also don’t think there’s much doubt he’s picked up a few guys who developed into better players than anyone else was expecting. This trade is probably Moore’s second-biggest gamble behind Gil Meche. Every team makes moves that defy objective analysis, but Moore is willing to make bigger ones.

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      • Hejuk says:

        Betancourt has talent, and he showed some signs of tapping into it before he got injured – walking more and fielding better. If he loses weight and works on his plate discipline through the rest of this year and the offseason, he could turn into a very nice acquisition. But that’s a big if given his track record; hope for it must be pinned largely on a change of scenery and management, as Seattle gave up on him for a reason; and in any event it won’t happen all at once, which is why this move is more for the future than the present. I doubt he justifies the cost to the organization, but he is an upgrade for KC both in what he is and in what he could be, and that is something the recent frustration of Seattle fans shouldn’t cloud. Still, what is a happy occurrence for the M’s can only be an ambivalent one for the Royals, and for that I am glad to be in Zduriencik’s and not Moore’s camp.

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      • Andy S says:

        Betancourt is 27.

        There can’t be much upside left at this point. And whatever upside there is, it doesn’t match the upside of your third best prospect.

        This is a complete loss. There is no way to mask it.

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      • Hejuk says:

        His upside is still considerable. He was a league average player in 06 and 07, even after he had eaten his way out of being an incredible defender. If he can find some patience and hit a few more balls into the gaps (entering what should be his peak power years) while recovering at least some of the defensive form he flashed at the beginning, he’s a +2 to +3 win player getting paid 1 win money. The trouble is not his upside but his chance of reaching it: on the one hand, he’s never really tried to do these things and so can’t be seen as constitutionally incapable of achieving them; on the other, he’s never tried for a reason, and Moore has to be pinning his hopes on his staff (or this trade) doing what two administrations in Seattle couldn’t: getting through to the guy.

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  16. Slick says:

    The Royals desperately need a whole team. Why do you think Hal MacRae blew his stack way back when. They still blow and will always blow.

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  17. mymrbig says:

    Yuniesky has Adam Everett’s bat, Michael Young’s glove, and Lastings Milledge’s attitude. A winning combo, to be sure!

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  18. Michael says:

    Maybe Moore is thinking along the lines of Billy Beane, but in the completely opposite fashion. Maybe he thinks OBP and defense are overrated and is finding players with low OBP’s and terrible gloves and snatching them up on the cheap. Good luck with that sir.

    The sad part is that they’re blowing good pitching seasons from Meche and Greinke (not really comparable to each other, but Meche has been above average and everyone knows about Greinke) and not just fielding a poor team, but actively BUILDING a poor team. It isn’t like they’re fielding AAA scrubs from their farm system and seeing if any of them stick. They’re actually acquiring other team’s AAA scrubs, signing AAA scrubs for Major League money, and playing them over their own guys, some of whom might be better than them. It’s an amazing piece of bad personnel management.

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  19. Greg says:

    All I needed to see was the headline “Royals Acquire Yuniesky Betancourt” and I knew it was a bad trade. What was going the other way could have been a bag of chips and I still wouldn’t like it. Then I saw that there were 2 minor leaguers going back to Seattle. I imagined that they were just low level, bullpen type arms. Then you told me that Cortes is the Royals’ #3 prospect and my head exploded.

    I am convinced that Dayton Moore is trying to acquire all the below-replacement-level talent that is still hanging around on MLB rosters. Jeff Francouer already has his bags packed. Vernon Wells is shopping for houses in the KC suburbs.

    There’s nothing quite like subtraction by addition.

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  20. Kevin S. says:

    Looks like Moore missed his chance to add Franceour. Frenchy’s headed to Flushing.

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  21. Shizane says:

    Francouer actually has his bags packed for NYC and the Metropolitans:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/07/10/braves.mets.trade.ap/index.html

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  22. Steven says:

    The thing is, nobody should be surprised by this move. The Royals have basically built their team out of unwanted Mariners castoffs – Meche (who has actually made something of himself), Olivo, HoRam, Bloomquist, and Guillen. Yuni is the most unwanted Mariner castoff of all. That fact must have made him irresistable to Dayton Moore.

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    • Steven says:

      As a matter of fact, Jack Z should probably try to see what the Royals would be willing to give up for two and a half years of Carlos Silva.

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      • Jim says:

        Is it just me, or does Dayton Moore have a serious disconnect between his valuation of pitchers and his valuation of position players?

        The Meche acquisition wasn’t terrible(not great, either, I suppose, but FG has calucated his WAR as 2.0 for 2009–not bad). Greinke is…well, we all know what he is. The Davies acquisition was great at the time(even if Davies isn’t doing quite so great this year). Although Horacio Ramirez is a clear exception here, I realize.

        On the other hand, you have the FA signings of Jose Guillen and Willie Bloomquist, the trade for Mike Jacobs, and now trading for Yuniesky Betancourt. The exception here is the acquisition of Coco Crisp.

        What gives?

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  23. WY says:

    I’m not nearly the expert that many people on here are (in fact, I’m not an expert at all), and I knew this was a bad trade without even seeing who the prospects were. I have nothing invested in the Royals, but it really does seem shocking how many horrible moves Moore has made over the last couple of years.

    You don’t even have to worship at the so-called “altar of OBP” to realize that a team full of players with below-average OBPs is going to have a very hard time scoring runs. I have no experience watching Betancourt play defense, but based on the stats, he stinks there as well. You figure they could at least target a Cesar Izturis type — someone who is below average with the bat (yet not as far below average as Tony Pena, Jr.,) but excellent with the glove, at least. I wonder if Moore will refer to YB as an “on-base guy” like he did with Bloomquist?

    In short, this is bad.

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  24. gnome says:

    People forget about Mike Aviles quickly. He’ll be back next year just fine, not at the same numbers as last year, but maybe .270ish, which I’d take in an instant. Even as a fan of Royals rivals Cardinals and Tigers, I think Aviles has big potential.

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    • Michael says:

      There can’t be a whole lot of “potential” (i.e. projection) for a 28-year old career minor-leaguer who got his break last season. He is what he is. What that is is more questionable. He isn’t as bad he was this year, and he isn’t as good as he was last year. He must be somewhere in between. The problem is that he doesn’t have a good skill set. He’s not a power hitter, and he can’t draw walks. They haven’t seen enough of him at the big-league level to say how good he is.

      Unfortunately, they’d seen enough of Betancourt in the bigs and liked him. That can’t be good for them.

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  25. Kyle Boddy says:

    HAHAHAHAHA.

    OH WOW.

    This is horrible. I wonder if this is worse than the trade for Frenchy?

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    • Nick says:

      Way worse. At least when Frenchy plays the field without costing the team runs. YB costs the team runs when he’s standing in the dugout.

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  26. Eric says:

    It’s better only in the sense that the Mets only made themselves worse for this year, whereas the Royals both didn’t improve (and probably weakened) SS this year AND gave up future prospects to do it

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  27. tom s. says:

    between the trade for betancourt and the trade for francouer, these moves are making the reds look like geniuses for giving kip wells a minor league contract rather than trading homer bailey for him.

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  28. Brett C. says:

    I really wish the obnoxious posters from Dave’s royals organizational review would come back and defend some of moore’s decisions from the last year and a half..

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  29. will says:

    i have seen yuni play alot of times against the angels and 4rm what i have seen he is pretty good.. hes not that great of a hitter but his defense is really good. and it could be better if he played harder every game so just imagaine if he played harder every game he would be a beast!! yeah hes made a couple bad plays but ive seen him make way more great plays than bad plays! and defensively 4 his career the last 5 seasons he has 78 errors 2 more than derek jeter who has 76..and alot of people consider jeter one of the best ss in baseball. in the last 3 seasons yuni has turned 246 double plays to jeters 210.. and 4 his career jeter has a .975 fielding percentage to yuni’s .970… so in my opinion yuni is pretty good idk y everyone is talking so much shit before he has even played a game for kc… kc is horrible and they should be happy to get anyone!!!

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  30. Brian Recca says:

    Will, buddy old pal. If I were you I would never post on this site again. Or at least go under a different alias. Get ready for a massive shitload of criticism.

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  31. will says:

    hahaha i could care less im entitled to my own opinion just like you and everyone else on here.. most people talking shit havent even seen this guy play there just basing their thoughts on someone else’s opinion… i have actually seen yuni play many times and he is no where near as bad as you ppl are making him seem!! yeah he is having a bad year but it happens to everyone they might be in the majors but they are still human and are capable of having slumps… and despite what others might say his defense isnt terrible he can be a playmaker. all of the guys on kc who were teammates with him back in seattle are happy he is going to kc that should account 4 something.. but i do agree that sometimes he does try to do to much. its ok though im going to laugh when he does well and all you people talking bad about him start to praise him!

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    • Tim says:

      Will…I’m sorry but Yuni isnt good…hes just not…look if the stats showed that a guy was middle of the pack and someone said that those stats undervalued him and he was actually much better…I would agree that there was a possibility.

      But Yuni is almost historically bad ( I say almost because he has the unfortunate luck to play alongside TPJ, who IS historically bad) and no matter how much you want to bend the stats…even at his best Yuni would still be below average…barely breaking replacement level.

      And even then, its not as much about Yuni, as the trade.
      The Royals gave up 12 years of control over 2 pitchers, one of whom could be a #2 in years to come (I mean hes “struggling” with a sub 4.0 ERA) for a below replacement shortstop, whose being payed like a 2 Win player…this is such a lopsided deal that its not even funny.

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    • BIP says:

      Um, a lot of us have seen him play, actually–and he’s utterly pathetic. Sure, you’re entitled to your dissenting opinion, but that doesn’t actually make your opinion intelligent.

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    • Benne says:

      Yuni is terrible. This is not opinion, it is not up for debate. He’s unquestionably one of the worst SS in the league. It’s not “talking shit”, it’s stating facts.

      And yes, I am a Mariners fan who’s been forced to watch Yuni over the past 4+ years. He’s gotten progressively worse every year. I’m glad to be rid of him.

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    • mjmetro says:

      it’s understandable given that this site is largely made up of serious posters, but stop responding to him. you’re all getting trolled. hard.

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    • Teej says:

      I’ve watched 80-90% of the game Yuniesky Betancourt has ever played in the majors. He is terrible.

      Also, if you expect people to give your opinion any credit, I’d advise you not to pretend you know more than everyone else because you’ve seen him play a few times against your favorite team.

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  32. Tim says:

    The sad thing is you can tell how good a player will be by Dayton’s remarks in the press release…
    If its alongs the lines of “We think he has a flaw that we can work on and fix” ala: Meche, Callaspo, Crisp, first HoRam…then its in all likelyhood a decent signing/trade and the player will perform at least fairly well.

    On the other hand if its “We think he (brings good skills/OBP/speed/power) to the table” ala Jacobs, bloomquist, olivo, Guillen, horam the second, ponson, Farnsworth, heck even Cruz….then its a bust pure and simple.

    Or as Royals fans have begun to recognize:
    1. Dayton is amazing at finding players that havn’t reached their potential and signing them
    2. Dayton could not evaluate the current value of a player to save his life.

    Unfortuneatly the majority of Dayton’s moves have been of the second variety.

    end result is that he would be a great scouting director and an increasingly lousy GM.

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    • Benne says:

      From an outside perspective, this is pretty much the impression I get of Moore–he’s done a pretty decent job rebuilding KC’s farm system, but doesn’t have a clue how to evaluate major league talent. It’s too bad, I was kinda rooting for him to finally make the Royals relevant again.

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  33. Mike I says:

    I like the trade… if only to read JoePoz’s next hilarious Royals post.

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  34. Rob says:

    Sigh.

    Yes, I am a Royals fan and no, I don’t know what GMDM was thinking on this trade. It’s mind-boggling to me that such a supposed smart GM can think that this trade is anything but a bad move for KC.

    I will say that Yuni is worlds better than what the Royals have been throwing out there since Aviles got hurt (TPJ, Hernandez, Hulett, Bloomquist) but that still doesn’t mean he’s an average ML SS. If people in Seattle think they’ve seen bad play by Yuni, then I need to remind them that KC has seen Angel Berroa and Tony Pena Jr as our starting shortstops, so they haven’t had it bad at all, believe me. :)

    As far as GMDM goes, I hope this move ends up the way the Meche acquisition did, but I have my doubts that it will.

    And that’s without even getting into the guys we gave up (Cortes and Saito). Yeesh!

    Signed,
    Quickly becoming apathetic in KC

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  35. mironos says:

    To give Royals’ fans some measure of hope, I think most people in Seattle would agree that Yuni DOES have talent — his TALENT level is probably above what his number indicate. If he lived up to his talent level, he would probably be a pretty good shortstop. He will show flashes of defensive brilliance now and then. Perhaps that’s what your GM sees in him.

    But there are (and have been) too many If-Buts w/ Yuni.
    – IF he would stay focused in the field, he could be a decent defender…BUT he doesn’t

    – IF he would work on his weaknesses, he could improve each year…BUT he doesn’t

    – IF he would keep himself in shape, he could regain the range he showed in his early years…BUT he doesn’t

    – IF he would learn discipline at the plate, his average and OBP would rise, as he’s not a bad hitter outside of that…BUT he continues to swing away wildly.

    So IF the Royals organization finds a way to get through to him, this could turn out to be a decent pickup…BUT I don’t see it happening.

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    • mjmetro says:

      what range? he’s been below average every year in the big leagues. maybe you’re talking abou the minors?

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      • Benne says:

        I’m willing to write off his ’05 UZR as small sample size; my eyes and the eyes of other M’s fans agreed that he was as good as advertised that year. His throwing arm has always been a bit erratic, and he was (and still is) somewhat careless with handling the ball, but the range was a beauty to watch. He glided smoothly into the gaps with almost no effort, and made hard plays look easy. The Omar Vizquel comparisons back then were legit.

        After that year? Well, you know the rest. If the Royals think they can salvage him, then more power to them, but the burden now lies on Yuni to prove he still belongs in the major leagues. If he can get his ass in gear and start playing up to his talent, great. If he doesn’t, I hope he has fun stocking shelves at Walmart in 2-3 years.

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  36. Cold Beer says:

    Will: Yes, Yuni is as bad as everyone says. If you have seen him play it must of been a long time ago. He didn’t start out bad, but it’s been nothing but downhill from there. He can’t hit, can’t field, can’t run, has taken out other fielders on his own team, is brain dead at the plate, is lazy, doesn’t work hard, can’t take instruction and really has no clue what it takes to be a Major League baseball player.

    Other than that, he’s Albert Pujols.

    And I’ve had to watch him every game. My condolences to the Royals fans.

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  37. Joe Twinsfan says:

    A few months ago, Dave wrote a piece on USS Mariner about how the Twins were more likely than any other team to overvalue Betancourt and that the Mariners should try and dump him on Minnesota. Crisis averted.

    In other news, I’m sure the Twins would be willing to trade Casilla and Tolbert to KC for a guy like Danny Duffy…

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  38. Ethan says:

    I have been a Seattle fan for 30+ years. Yuniesky is just OK, trust me. We have had worse, but I’m glad he’s gone. Cedeno is just as good and a better fundementals player. I say good luck to KC. As a Seattle fan, I love this trade.

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  39. Joe R says:

    My sole, sole complaint for the M’s on this is:

    Who plays SS now? Cedeno? Sure, he can field, but he’s a terrible hitter. God awful. Carlos Triunfel is still 1-2 seasons away. Morse was part of the deal for Langerhans.

    Just weird to make an even bigger black hole in your lineup when you’re in contention.

    Other than that, this is a super trade for the Mariners. This is anti-Bavasism.

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    • Kampfer says:

      It is not like we must win this year. I would rather sink to the bottom in 08, and since Harper went to college I feel the same for 09.

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    • Jeff Nye says:

      While presumably the front office is still working on a more permanent solution at shortstop, neither of the players you mention are solutions to that problem either.

      Triunfel isn’t likely to stick at shortstop, and Mike Morse is a terrible defender without enough bat to justify his defense, no matter where you put him. He’d be a disaster at shortstop.

      Cedeno is the best in-system option they have right now, but it’s unlikely the team plans on standing pat at this point.

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    • Joe R says:

      Oh I know neither are the solution, I just think it’s odd to not make a run now.

      Unless the M’s have more plans. Maybe they do, they’ve done some great front office work since Bavasi got canned.

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      • Colm says:

        Getting rid of Betancourt, ignoring the fact that Jack Z is probably looking to replace him, does not make it much less likely for the M’s to be able to make a run at it now. Very slightly less likey, given how lost Ronnie Cedeno is with the bat, but not enough of a drop off (over the 2-3 weeks that Cedeno is likely to be the starting shortstop) for me to assume this means they’re not making a run at the AL West.

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      • Joe R says:

        You guys are right, just my insomniatic weekend ramblings.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. Michael says:

    Will, is your last name Betancourt by any chance?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. cckiske says:

    If Yung-Chi Chen stayed with the M’s, I would be excited about his 26th birthday tomorrow.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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