Saturday, June 7, 2008

Angel Berroa to the Dodgers

Yesterday the Royals gave Angel Berroa away to the Dodgers. The official line is the Royals traded Berroa and cash to the Dodgers for 21 year old minor leaguer Juan Rivera. But when the details of the trade are examined it becomes clear the Royals are paying the Dodgers to take Berroa off their hands. The player Kansas City is receiving in return is a low level minor leaguer that doesn't project to be a Major League player. Berroa had long ago fallen out of favor with Royals fans and most Royals fans are glad to see Berroa gone.

It is understandable why Royals fans feel that way. After winning the A.L. Rookie of the Year award in 2003, Berroa signed a long term multi-million dollar contract with the Royals. At the time many Royals viewed this as a sign the Royals were no longer going to allow their young talent to move on to other teams. But Berroa performance declined to the point that in 2007 he was removed from the 40 man roster and sent to AAA Omaha. Berroa had become another entry on the long list of Allard Baird's misjudgments and failures. Even though Berroa had been playing well at Omaha this season it was never a consideration he would be called up to replace the struggling and over matched Tony Pena Jr. as the Royals shortstop. Angel Berroa was finished as far as the Royals were concerned.

But while most Royals fans are greeting the news of Berroa's departure as good news I am sad he was not given a chance to recapture his old job. Last season when the Omaha Royals visited Salt Lake I had the opportunity to watch Angel Berroa hours before game time. Each night he would take extra batting practice and hundreds of extra ground balls at shortstop and second base. I can't remember a harder working ball player than Berroa. I also had the chance to visit with him and I found him to be one of the nicest professional athletes I have met. In his situation many players would have hung their head and given up or stopped working at the game and just collect their paycheck. Berroa didn't do either of these. He was a professional all the way. Even during the games that he was not playing he kept himself ready and was constantly encouraging his teammates. By the time the Omaha Royals left town I was a huge Angel Berroa fan.

Several sources are reporting that Berroa is going to get a chance to play for the Dodgers. Injury problems have created a hole at shortstop for LA and Joe Torre is going to give him an opportunity to play on a regular basis. I hope he makes the most of it and has success for the Dodgers. My favorite type of sports story is when an athlete overcomes adversity through hard work and dedication. It is all the better if the athlete is a good guy. Best of luck to Angel Berroa. I will now be watching Dodgers games and rooting for him.

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