26 March 2008

That was quick....

Roughly five hours after my last post about the Royals' questions left unanswered with spring training waning, several have been checked off the list. Jorge de la Rosa? Designated for assignment today and thus out of the picture (hooray! from my standpoint). Kyle Davies? Optioned to Omaha, thus clearing the fifth rotation spot for Brett Tomko (mixed feelings, as neither had any business, probably, being in the Royals' rotation; I'm betting Tomko's $3 million price tag had as much to do with this as anything.). Justin Huber? Flipped to the Padres for the ever-unknown player to be named later.

While I guess a PTBNL is better than losing Huber on waivers, this brings to an end an odd, likely frustrating career for Huber as a Royal. Let's retrace our steps here. In July 2004 Huber, then a nice catching prospect who hit for a .900 OPS at the Mets AA site in 70 games, comes to KC in a deal for IF Jose Bautista, who has gone on to mediocrity with the Pirates after being dealt the same day from NY to Pittsburgh for Kris Benson and another now-former Royal, Jeff Keppinger. Sounded at the time like a steal for Allard Baird. However, Huber had injured his knee shortly before the trade and wouldn't play for a KC affiliate in 2004, which would be the first of several injuries to plague his Royals' career. He debuted instead at AA Wichita in 2005 and hit .343 with a 1.002 OPS while committing 12 errors with a .981 fielding percentage in 66 games at first. He infamously got a "chance" at KC later that season with ever-injured Mike Sweeney again on the DL and got a whopping 12 ABs from manager Buddy Bell before being sent back to Wichita. Shortly thereafter he earned 2005 Futures Game MVP honors over the all-star break before being moved up to Omaha. He hit for over a .900 OPS at Omaha in 32 games to earn a September call-up when the rosters expanded but didn't hit in 78 ABs in KC. An Achilles tendon injury cost him some development time in the Arizona Fall League that year and he started the '06 season once more in Omaha. Another Sweeney injury earned Huber a call to KC in May '06 but he was Bell's third choice in the mix of Matt Stairs, Doug Mientkiewicz and Huber
(bringing on the "Dougie doesn't deserve that" comment from Bell regarding Mientkiewicz losing time to Huber at 1B), so Huber got 10 ABs in 16 days and went back to Omaha with a position switch to left field. A hamstring injury derailed the remainder of Huber's season and he didn't make it back to the field for Kansas City. Another nagging hammy injury hurt the first half of the 2007 season for Justin (he also had some finger injuries in there somewhere in '05-07) but he managed to hit for an .853 OPS in 77 games at Omaha and got another September call, only to get 10 ABs in 8 games from Bell. This year he was out of options so it was a case of either there's a spot for him or not. Apparently the Royals couldn't justify giving Huber a shot -- defensive liabilities were the biggest detraction in reports -- so today he gets shipped to San Diego. Rotoworld is already reporting he should see time in the Petco outfield with Jim Edmonds being injured. Hopefully he makes the best of it and one-time Royal pitcher, now Pads manager Bud Black gives him an actual shot in San Diego.

In another move today that partially explains de la Rosa's DFA'ing, the Royals picked up RP Ramon Ramirez from the Rockies for a player to be named. I guess I'm more enthused about this pickup than the Brad Salmon one, but it's still nothing spectacular. We'll see how Ramirez does out of the pen for KC. Being out of Coors Field should help him return to some decent minor league form. He also had a nice '06 season with the Rocks. Also, pitchers Chin-Hui Tsao and Roman Colon as well as C Ken Huckaby were also sent to the minors today to further trim down the roster.


Paul J. said...

I believe Bell's actual comment about Huber playing over Mientkewicz was "that wouldn't be fair to Dougie", but your point still stands. That comment is still as idiotic today as it was back then.

Ken said...

The comment is Buddy Bell's managing mind in four words. Here's a link where Rotoworld directly quotes it, although we both acknowledge it's a dumb comment no matter how Buddy said it.


The Star article, of course, it came from will cost you money to look at, so this is as close as we're gonna get to the actual quote, probably.