Wilson Betemit

Thoughts on the Wilson Betemit-to-Detroit deal

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– Whatever trade value Wilson Betemit might have had was destroyed when the Royals opted to call up Mike Moustakas to play third base.

Moustakas was promoted even though he wasn’t exactly tearing up PCL pitching: he had a .287/.347/.498 line in 250 at-bats.  That wasn’t even close to Eric Hosmer’s early performance, and it doesn’t match second baseman Johnny Giavotella’s .337/.392/.483 line, either.  Giavotella, though, has been passed over time and time again even though second base has been a bigger problem than third base for the Royals since day one.

Moustakas, by the way, has been a disaster in six weeks with the Royals.  He is currently hitting just .198/.262/.252 with four RBI in 111 at-bats.  Betemit was hitting .289/.348/.411 with 23 RBI in 180 at-bats on the day the move was made.  He’s had just 25 at-bats since.

– As a result, the Royals received only a couple of long shots in return in LHP Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez.

Cruz, 19, is 2-6 with a 3.11 ERA in 10 starts and 12 relief appearances with Single-A Lakeland.  He has the fastball-curveball combination to potentially succeed as a reliever, but he’s a project at this point.

Rodriguez, 20, was hitting .283/.325/.354 with one homers in 226 at-bats for Lakeland.  It’d be a big upset if he grows up to become a legitimate backup.

– The Tigers can now set up a straight platoon at third base.

Brandon Inge has had a disastrous season, but his OPS is 100 points higher against left-handers.  In his career, he’s 140 points better against southpaws.  And while Betemit is nominally a switch-hitter, he’s always been far better against right-handers.  This year, he has an .826 OPS against righties, compared to a .553 mark versus lefties.  In his career, his OPS is 125 points better against righties.

The Tigers will probably play Inge against some righties, but they should go with a strict platoon and then use Inge off the bench as a defensive replacement when he’s not starting.

– The Brewers really should have trumped this.

Milwaukee’s minor league system is pretty much empty after the Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Francisco Rodriguez deals, but the Brewers still could have beat this offer and they had just as much need for a platoon partner for Casey McGehee as the Tigers did for Inge.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.