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.

Alex Cobb exits game with blister issue

Alex Cobb
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Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb made the shortest start of his seven-year career after reopening a cut on his pitching hand during Sunday’s game against the Yankees. In the first inning, he worked a 2-2 count on four pitches to Andrew McCutchen, then made a prompt exit from the field after taking a closer look at his right index finger.

This isn’t the first time Cobb has dealt with blisters on his pitching hand; in fact, it marks the second consecutive outing in which he’s been prematurely pulled from the mound after reaggravating the injury. By Sunday’s start, the 30-year-old righty had already lost three weeks of the season to the same issue, though the Orioles appeared confident in his ability to make another appearance after watching him successfully complete two bullpens last week. He entered the game with a 5-15 record in 27 starts and a career-worst 4.90 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, and 6.0 SO/9 across 152 1/3 innings. At this point, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll get another opportunity to pitch in the majors before the end of the year.

Following Cobb’s departure in the first inning, reliever Mike Wright Jr. was tabbed to fill in for the righty. His performance yielded disappointing results as well: After kicking off the inning with three back-to-back walks, he allowed three runs on a Gleyber Torres sac fly and a pair of RBI singles from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. The Orioles currently trail the Yankees 3-1 in the fourth as they look to avoid a franchise-worst 111th loss.