Is Jonathan Sanchez Just One Symptom Of What Ails Royals?

Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the Kansas City Royals leaves the first game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Looking at just three months, it's hard to dream up a more lopsided trade.

On one side, an All-Star who's leading Major League Baseball in hits.

On the other, a starting pitcher with a 6.80 ERA and the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio since Al Gore invented prestigious Internet baseball statistics.

That is, Melky Cabrera and Jonathan Sanchez.

In the Grand Scheme of Things, this will come nowhere close to cracking the List of 100 Worst Trades. Because the long-term ramifications are relatively small (unless Dayton Moore gets fired soon, which he won't). For the simple reason that the ramifications are relatively short-term, because both Cabrera and Sanchez are eligible for free agency after this season. When the Phillies gave Ryne Sandberg away, they gave him away for six years. When the Cubs gave Lou Brock away, they gave him away for almost forever.

I watch a lot of Royals games, and so I've seen a few of Sanchez's starts. Also, I was fortunate enough to witness, last Saturday afternoon, his meltdown from just a few hundred feet away. I watch a lot of Giants games, too. But an outfielder's performance, whether positive or negative, is hard to appreciate over a handful of games. While a lost starting pitcher's performance is ...

Well, here's what I saw on Saturday, during Sanchez's four-and-one-third innings:

  • six walks
  • five stolen bases, usually without a throw from the hopeless catcher
  • failure to cover the home plate, allowing a runner to score from second base on a swinging bunt

It was worse than that sounds.

That was undoubtedly the worst Sanchez has looked this season, but then again he's started only 10 games and there's plenty of baseball left. Oh, and here's the really fun part: He's getting $5.6 million this season to literally be the worst pitcher in the major leagues. I mean, I know I'm terribly overpaid but Sanchez is taking the concept to a whole new level.

As with most insanely lopsided-after-the-fact trades, nobody saw this coming. Sure, one might have guessed that Melky Cabrera would play well, considering that he played well in 2011 and was moving to the easier league. One might have guessed that Sanchez would struggle, considering that he struggled in 2011 and was moving the harder league. But this level of lopsidedness, this level of embarrassment, no one could have predicted.

Still, it made me wonder (once more) about Royals general manager Dayton Moore.

It's hard to find anyone in my little nerd-circle who thinks a great deal of Dayton Moore. The general consensus, I think, is that Moore's pretty good at evaluating minor-league talent -- or, perhaps, hiring scouts &c. -- but not so good at evaluating major-league talent, which (as it turns out) is a big part of the job.

If you thought that about Dayton Moore before this season, you might really think that about Dayton Moore now.

But trading arbitration-eligible Melky Cabrera for arbitration-eligible Jonathan Sanchez wasn't the only move Dayton Moore made before this season. What about the others?

November 29: Signed Jonathan Broxton (1 Year, $4 million)
Broxton hasn't been nearly as effective as his 2.05 ERA might suggest, but he's got 20 saves and he's given up just one home run in 31 innings, so this one's a big win for Dayton Moore.

December 20: Signed Yuniesky Betancourt (1 Year, $2 million)
He's the same old Yuni, swinging at everything and playing defense like Ahab. But for $2 million? He's actually been pretty good. The problem isn't that Betancourt's not been worth $2 million; the problem is that signing him made it way too easy for Ned Yost to give up on Johnny Giavotella, who's spent way too much time this season in the Pacific Coast League doing exactly what he did in the Pacific Coast League last season. Management!

March 20: Traded two minor leaguers for Humberto Quintero and Jason Bourgeois
This one's not looking so good. Moore was desperate for a catcher when Salvador Perez went down with a spring-training injury, and wound up grabbing Houston's Quintero ... who was exactly as terrible in 2012 as he'd been before 2012; when Perez was ready to come off the Disabled List, the Royals dumped Quintero.

In fairness to Moore, neither of the two prospects they traded for Quintero have done anything this season and both are highly unlikely to reach the majors, let alone be any good. Still (it's been asked), why give up anything for a player with career numbers like Quintero's? It's a valid question.

On balance, this has not been a good season for Dayton Moore. His phenoms haven't phenominated, and his trades haven't tradinated. He's not been blessed with great luck, either. But I think the consensus is close enough. If I were running the Royals, I would fire Dayton Moore. If I were running another team, I would consider him as my next Scouting Director. And in the interview, I wouldn't mention the Peter Principle even once. Because I'm sensitive like that.

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