Kansas City’s move to sell high on Melky a good one

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It’s not all that often I have nice things to say about a Dayton Moore transaction. This one, though, looks pretty good to me.

The Royals picked up Jonathan Sanchez from the Giants for Melky Cabrera on Monday and even got San Francisco to throw in a somewhat intriging minor leaguer in Ryan Verdugo to complete the trade.

In doing so, Kansas City cashed in Cabrera after what could go down as his career year. The 27-year-old hit .305/.339/.470 with 18 homers and 87 RBI in 658 at-bats last season. That .470 slugging percentage topped his previous high-water mark by 54 points. It was so out of character that even with the .470 included, his career mark stands at .398 after six seasons.

Sanchez, on the other hand, was a big disappointment for the Giants. Failing to build on a 2010 season in which he ended up with a 3.07 ERA and 205 strikeouts, he went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts. Always among the game’s most walk-happy pitchers, he set a new standard there last season, issuing 66 free passes in 101 1/3 innings before being shut down in August with a sprained ankle. It was easily the worst walk rate in baseball for anyone throwing 100 innings.

Needless to say, Cabrera was the far more valuable player in 2010. Cabrera, though, is a below average defensive center fielder on a team that already had the corners spoken for. The Royals also have a potentially solid regular ready to step in for him in Lorenzo Cain, whose name was coming up in the Braves trade talks regarding Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado last week. Cain hit .312/.380/.497 in Triple-A last season, and while he doesn’t figure to show that kind of power in the majors, he’ll probably be decent offensively and an upgrade on Cabrera with the glove.

Now, the trade is no slam dunk for the Royals. Both Cabrera and Sanchez are a year away from free agency, and if Sanchez happens to pitch up to his ability next year, he’s going to be very expensive to retain. That limits Kansas City’s upside.

The Royals, though, need to take chances, and today’s gamble not only has the potential to make them significantly better in 2012, but it came without causing any damage to the team’s strong farm system. Actually, the system is now slightly stronger with the addition of Verdugo, a 24-year-old left-hander who went 8-6 with a 4.35 ERA and a 133/63 K/BB ratio in 130 1/3 innings in Double-A last season. He was a reliever prior to 2011 and he’ll probably make his way back to the bullpen because of his poor command, but he could prove to be a useful short reliever come 2013.

As for the Giants’ side of the deal, I think they would have been better off going in another direction. Even if Cabrera holds on to the gains he made in the power department last year, his defense will cut into his value some. Also, the Giants need a leadoff man that’s not where Cabrera fits best. Certainly, Cabrera seems poised to give the team better numbers than Andres Torres and Aaron Rowand did last season. Plus, it was already a lock that Sanchez was a goner. Still, given the Giants’ needs, I think it would have made more sense to sign Coco Crisp to play center and trade Sanchez for a couple of prospects.

U.S Defeats World in a power-packed Futures Game

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They played the Futures Game yesterday, pitting the top prospects from the United States against the top prospects from the rest of the world. You most likely missed it because, for reasons that have still yet to be adequately explained to me, the game takes place on Sunday afternoon, when literally all 30 major league teams are in action. Oh well.

If you did happen to see it, however, you saw a lot of bombast, as the two teams combined for eight home runs, with Team USA prevailing, 10-6. It was the United States’ eighth win in the past nine Futures Games.

Yusniel Diaz of the Dodgers system hit two homers — he was the first one to do that in a Futures Game since Alfonso Soriano did it back in 1999 — but Taylor Trammell of the Reds system was the game MVP following his 2-for-2 (HR, 3B) performance. Other highlights involved Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, who threw 19 fastballs among his 27 pitches, each and every one of them hitting triple digits, with one registering at 103.1 m.p.h. Not that velocity is everything: a 102.3 m.p.h. pitch he threw ended up being deposited over the fence for a two-run homer by Luis Alexander Basabe of the White Sox system.

Also of note was a homer from Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pirates system. Notable for it breaking a tie and putting the U.S. up by two, but also notable because Ke’Bryan is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes. Feel old yet?

There was a lot of back and forth, and certainly a lot of bombast, but the U.S. took its final lead on a wild pitch. Here are some highlights:

Here’s hoping, in the future, the Futures Game is moved to Sunday evening or even Monday where people will have a better chance of seeing it.