Royals part ways with decade's worst hitter

Leave a comment

New acquisition Yuniesky Betancourt came off the disabled list
yesterday and the Royals cleared room on the 25-man roster for their
new starting shortstop by designating Tony Pena Jr. for assignment.

After years in the Braves’ front office Dayton Moore became the
Royals’ general manager in mid-2006 and brought Pena over from Atlanta
the next spring. Pena was the team’s shortstop as a 26-year-old rookie,
starting 145 games while hitting .267/.284/.356 for the third-worst OPS
in the league. Last season his starts dropped to 61 and his hitting
line fell to .169/.189/.209, and this year he went 5-for-51 (.098) in a
part-time role.

Add it all up an you get a career line of .228/.248/.300 in 870
plate appearances. Baseball-Reference.com has a great stat called
adjusted OPS+ that measures offensive production relative to the
league, ballpark, and era someone played in. An adjusted OPS+ of 100 is
considered average and Albert Pujols leads MLB at 209 this season.
Pena’s adjusted OPS+ is 44, which ranks as the seventh-worst mark of the past 50 years:

                    OPS+
Angel Salazar 36
Donnie Sadler 39
Luis Gomez 40
Mario Mendoza 41
Mick Kelleher 42
Jerry Zimmerman 42
TONY PENA 44
Luis Pujols 44
Rafael Belliard 46
Luis Alvarado 46

Any time you can get on a futility list with the man behind “The
Mendoza Line” you’re really doing something. It’s also worth noting
that the next-worst adjusted OPS+ this decade belongs to John McDonald
at 56, which makes him look like Babe Ruth compared to the above list,
so Pena stands alone as the worst hitter of the 2000s. And the beauty
of the whole thing is that he batted .252/.285/.332 in 2,748 plate
appearances as a minor leaguer, so realistically he probably hit better
than should have been expected. Seriously.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.

Daniel Szew: “Landa was a leader, happy-go-lucky guy”

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 1:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins poses for a photo during the Twins' photo day on March 1, 2016 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.

Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”

Per Berardino:

He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.

If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.

“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”

Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.