Elmer, Esteban, Fabio, and Paul...What's up with these names?
The Royals finished up the Winter Meetings today having accomplished most of what they had intended. They added a veteran starter to their rotation yesterday, and today they traded their first overall Rule 5 selection -- Fabio Castro -- to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Esteban German (more on him in a moment). They also signed the much anticipated two-year contract with relief pitcher Elmer Dessens, and they secured their new backup catcher -- Paul Bako -- after Todd Pratt fell through.
Among today's events, RC is most excited about the acquisition of German. Honestly, before today, we had never even heard of him, and we briefly scoffed when we heard the news this morning that he would be the frontrunner to fill our hole at 2B.
And then we checked out his statistics. We're pleased to report that RC is now going to bed tonight convinced that Allard Baird may have found his latest diamond in the rough -- his new Raul Ibanez, so to speak. Throughout his minor league career, German has done nothing but hit, steal bases, and get on base at a ridiculously good rate. And if there's anything that transfers well from the minor leagues to the Majors, it's plate discipline and speed.
Take a look at German's AAA stats over the last four seasons:
So, in light of these great stats at AAA for the last four seasons, why hasn't German received more than 103 at bats in the Majors? Because when he was in Oakland's system, he was stuck behind Mark Ellis, and when he wound up in the Rangers' organization, he was behind Alfonso Soriano. German has never received regular duty in the Majors, and that very well may be all he needs to bust out into a productive Major League player. The only legitimate concern we've heard about German is that his glovework is somewhat suspect. We have no idea what his problems might be, but we're confident that at the very least, his range is probably pretty good. We have considerably less concern about his bat, and we understand that he is presently among the Dominican Winter League league leaders in BA, OBP, and walks, and he's leading the league in stolen bases and CARRERAS ANOTADAS, whatever the hell that is (Any Spanish-speaking RC readers feel free to chime in on that one -- we think it's probably runs).
Anyway, the point of all this is that RC believes the Royals may have found their second baseman, and he just may turn out to be a very good player. We are already as impressed with this trade -- turning a Rule 5 pick they didn't want into a fast on-base machine -- as almost any other Baird has made during his tenure. Good show!
The day's other news was considerably less exciting. Dessens isn't exactly someone you can get too pumped about, but he'll take some pressure off of the young guys like Leo Nunez, who need more time in the minors, so that does have value. Bako will never be confused with anybody who's worth getting excited about, but he's a veteran catcher, and we imagine there are at the very least a few things he can help teach John Buck about calling a game.
Also today, the "Player To Be Named Later" in the Redman trade was announced, and as we reported late last night, it was indeed Chad Blackwell. As you know, Royals Corner was the FIRST media outlet to break the news, and we're proud that RC continues to be the NUMBER ONE source for Royals news you won't hear anywhere else. As for the inclusion of Blackwell in the trade, we're absolutely fine with it. Blackwell has put up some good numbers in the minors, but he has a funky sidearm delivery that has already caused him some arm problems (remember, RC also broke the news of Blackwell's MRI in our Top 25 prospect feature -- although the MRI was ultimately negative), and it's hard to imagine him ever becoming the type of pitcher the Royals might someday miss. It's a small price to pay for a quality veteran starter at $3.5 million per year.
All told, the Winter Meetings probably couldn't have gone much better for the Royals. There's still work to be done filling a couple holes, but there's plenty of time for that.
Provided we don't get snowed in tomorrow morning, RC will be off for a couple days tending to some family business in Chicago. We'll be back on Sunday evening, and we'll be sure to continue providing the best Royals coverage you'll find anywhere on the Web.