So There’s Good News, and Bad News…

Full disclosure: I wasn’t able to catch any of the game tonight, as it was a Friday night and with a 10:40 start here on the East Coast, I was well into weekend plans by then. But now, arriving home at 3am, clearly it seems I missed an absolutely fantastic outing by Hiroki Kuroda. A complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts, just 4 hits, and best of all – only one runner allowed past first base? Plus, against what is currently the best team in the National League? Talk about pure, outright domination. Especially coming after his dreadful last start, I’m pretty sorry I missed this one. Kudos to Kuroda – and to Torre for letting him take it the whole way himself.

Of course, with the good must come the bad, and that would be that the Dodgers acquired someone who might just be my least favorite player in all of baseball (Bonds aside), Angel Berroa. I don’t know even know where to start with this one. Okay, it’s pretty clear Chin-Lung Hu is just not ready for the major leagues. I accept that, and even though he’s already one of the best defensive shortstops in the bigs, a .172 batting average simply isn’t going to cut it. Luis Maza can hit just fine (.357 BA), but he’s not much of a defensive shortstop. Something has to be done at shortstop, and soon. Fine.

But even though the Dodgers gave up practically nothing in this deal (shortstop Juan Rivera, who is somehow in his 5th pro season and has yet to progress above A-ball – think that .606 career OPS might have something to do with it?) and got the Royals to pay all of the $4.75 million remaining on his deal (less a $500,000 buyout for 2009 that I assume the Dodgers are stuck with), I have two very big issues with this.

1) So, does this mean Rafael Furcal isn’t really close to returning? Most sources I’ve read say that Furcal may be ready to return in another week or so, with Rotoworld even suggesting that he’s taking ground balls at shortstop again. But, what does it say when the Dodgers choose to acquire another shortstop now? Furcal’s been out for over a month now. Hu and Maza have been inadequate for just about all of that time. It just seems like odd timing to acquire another shortstop when Furcal is finally so close to coming back (apparently). The obvious retort is, “well, Hu needs to go to AAA and in case Furcal’s back acts up again, we’ll need a safety net,” which is fine, except that leads me directly to point #2:

2) Angel Berroa is incredibly bad at the game of baseball. There’s about forty different ways I could go about this, but this one stands out for me the most. This morning, I was reading Baseball Prospectus’ daily game previews, and in the Royals discussion, they pointed out just how historically horrible current SS Tony Pena Jr. has been. I won’t copy and paste their entire statistical argument here, but this is the take-home point:

There have been a mere handful of hitters over the last 30-plus seasons who performed as poorly as Tony Pena Jr. has this year. Since 1970, Pena has the third lowest EqA among players with a minimum of 164 plate appearances,

Remember that – current Royals SS Tony Pena Jr. is on pace to set records for horribleness. Just keep that in mind, read this, and try not to jam your thumbs into your eyes:

The defense for Pena last year, when he hit .267/.284/.356, was that his defense made up for his bat to the degree that he was a better option than the recently ousted Angel Berroa, who could neither hit (.248/.271/.356 with a .209 EqA) nor field (-6 FRAA) in 2006. Pena was able to field, with +13 FRAA last year, which helped make up for his -25 BRAA to a degree—sadly 12 runs below average was an improvement over Berroa’s -23 from the year before—but this year he’s having difficulty fielding as well.

“Sadly, 12 runs below average was an improvement over Berroa’s -23 from the year before.”  He’s clearly a brutal fielder. In 2006, his last full season as the Royals’ starter, he put up an almost unbelievable line of .234/.259/.333, for a 52 OPS+. That made him just about half as effective at the plate as your completely average player – and he was a butcher at the most important defensive position. So right now we’ve got a SS who’s a great fielder and can’t hit, and a SS who’s a good hitter but not much of a fielder. Replacing them with a guy who can’t hit or field (and will cost that $500,000 buyout) is a better option how?

But hey, I clearly haven’t watched a ton of Royals games over the years. Who would know him better than the poor suffering KC fans? Let’s just take a sampling of some reactions of Royals fans online about this deal. Remember: the Royals are currently playing a guy who’s on pace to be one of the alltime worst at his position and they got back a non-prospect and agreed to pick up the entire money left on the deal.

 MLBtraderumors.com:

if you hear any loud music out of the middle of the continental united states, think nothing of it…it’s just the worlds LARGEST party in kansas city now!

 

Why this makes sense for the Royals: I’d rather have a crappy 21 yo minor league SS than a crappy 30 yo minor league SS. And I’m sure the Dodgers are on the hook for his 500K buyout.

Any talk about Berroa “finding his stroke” is a joke. Scouts have said that his skills have deteriorated every year since his ROY season and that was a long time ago. His speed, range and bat speed have all gotten worse and worse. He’s an embarrassment in the field and at the plate. If the Dodgers call him up, it is going to be both funny and sad. He’s one of the worst SS’s in all of professional baseball.

 

As a Royals fan who is normally (except in this case) very reasonable, I could not be happier. Berroa represents one of the Royals many “promising” young players who delivered for one season and turned into an absolutely horrible , well below replacement, players.

Royalsreview.com:

I bet we play .500+ ball with the curse of Berroa lifted.

 

Seriously, though – how in need are the Dodgers if they are wanting to take Berroa on?

 

 royals.com:

It would have been a good trade if all we got was a pair of jock straps.

Oh yeah. This is going to turn out great.

Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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  1. [...] look, I hate to say “I told you so,” but: I told you so. Angel Berroa is all the way up to .167, and committed a costly throwing error today. Chin-Lung Hu [...]

  2. [...] as you may remember, I was strongly against the Berroa deal when it first happened, and his .194/.286/.226 (in an admittedly small sample size of 31 at-bats) [...]

  3. [...] be useful if he beat Furcal back and took shortstop away from Angel “Playing even worse than MSTI predicted he would” Berroa. Now? Maybe he’ll just take Mark Sweeney’s spot on the roster at best, [...]

  4. [...] a bunch of guys that could get the axe for Nomar. Angel Berroa’s got an OPS+ of 27, to the surprise of absolutely no one except Ned Colletti. With Nomar around, Berroa and Luis Maza seem a little redundant – and [...]

  5. [...] Except that neither of them can field, either. Ozuna is 4 runs below average for his career as a second baseman, according to Baseball Prospectus, and Berroa is an almost unfathomable 45 runs below average as a shortstop over his career. It’s not like we didn’t all know this going in – just read some of the quotes included in our original report on Berroa. [...]

  6. [...] Angel Berroa. Look, I know the team was in a bad situation at shortstop, but come on. Angel Berroa? We were aghast at the move from the second it came down, and Berroa – despite the inane protestations of the local media – was predictably awful. I [...]

  7. [...] June 7, 2008: Angel Berroa is incredibly bad at the game of baseball. There’s about forty different ways I could go about this, but this one stands out for me the most. This morning, I was reading Baseball Prospectus’ daily game previews, and in the Royals discussion, they pointed out just how historically horrible current SS Tony Pena Jr. has been. I won’t copy and paste their entire statistical argument here, but this is the take-home point: [...]

  8. [...] signed this winter, much less when he played every day in 2008.  If you’re a real masochist, I’d start from the day he was acquired. Even better, he wasn’t just sent to minor-league camp, he was flat-out released. [...]

  9. [...] – tied for second-most in his career, behind only a 2008 shutout in which he whiffed twelve on the day the Dodgers acquired Angel Berroa – without walking any, and settled down to retire 14 of 16 between Werth’s homer in the [...]

  10. [...] the other hand, you’ve got me, who thought acquiring him was a terrible idea in the first place, laughed when he went his first 21 games [...]