Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trade Billy Butler?

I was reading the online Kansas City Star this morning to find out what the Kansas City media's reaction was to the Coco Crisp trade. At the end of his column Joe Posnanski writes this:

"Now, the trade opens up some interesting possibilities — it’s clear Moore is not finished dealing this offseason...There are continuing rumors that Moore is willing to trade 23-year-old Billy Butler."

Before GM Dayton Moore trades Billy Butler he should reflect on the mistake the Minnesota Twins made in giving up on David Ortiz. Hopefully by looking at the career of Ortiz Moore will decide to not trade Billy Butler.

In 1999 I saw the majority of home games David Oritz played for the AAA Salt Lake Buzz. He had monster power and excellent plate discipline. The 23-year-old Ortiz hit 30 homeruns with 100 RBIs while putting up a .315/.413/.590 line. There was no doubt he had the skills to be a hitting force in the Major Leagues.

The problem for Ortiz in the Twins organization was that manager Tom Kelly didn't want him on the Major League club because he couldn't play a defensive position. Kelly wouldn't accept any DH-only players on the Twins roster. Choosing instead to keep Doug Mientkiewicz, the Twins released Ortiz in 2002. All baseball fans know the rest of the Ortiz story. He has been a league leader in homeruns, RBIs, OBP, total bases, and walks. The four time all star has been one of the key players in both of the Red Sox World Series championships. Trading Billy Butler could be a
repeat of the mistake the Twins made when they gave up on David Ortiz.

In his brief time in AAA Billy Butler put up very similar numbers to David Ortiz.

The similarity is even more striking when Butler's numbers are projected to the same number of at bats that Ortiz had.
Butler (projected)47613930.291.412.542

I am not maintaining that Billy Butler will turn out to be the second-coming of David Ortiz but his AAA numbers are very similar to Ortiz. Scouts and other baseball people still like Butler's potential and believe he can develop into a very good Major League hitter. Like Ortiz, Billy Butler is not very accomplished at any defensive position and it is likely his best position will be DH. But it is important to remember that Butler is still a young player and the biggest problem of his development has been hindered because the Royals rushed him to the Major Leagues before he was ready.

Hopefully Dayton Moore will take a step back from the notion of trading Butler and give him the chance to develop. The Royals potentially have a special hitter and it would be foolish to trade him away now.

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