Friday, May 8, 2009

The Alberto Callaspo Trade

Yesterday, Executive Editor Chuck Richter posted his thoughts on Royals 2B Alberto Callaspo: "Despite his [Callaspo] off the field issue, the dude can hit. He has a 94 percent contact rate and a great batters eye. He's hitting .358 and that's after an 0-5 game last night. His 10 walks to 5 strikeouts is pretty solid too. His minor league track record was solid before being jerked around by the D-Backs. In 2005 he hit .304 with 29 doubles, 2 triples, 11 homers and 80 RBI in 139 games. In 2006 he hit .337 with 24 doubles, 12 triples, 7 home runs and 68 RBI in 114 games. Along the way, Callaspo walked 229 times while only striking out 145. Just for fun, is Callaspo > Bulger and Aybar?...perhaps we [Angels] traded the wrong MI a couple years ago?"

Alberto Callaspo is an interesting topic to discuss because the Royals and Angels open a three game series tonight in Anaheim and Alberto Callaspo is a key player for the first place Royals. Callaspo is also a former member of the Salt Lake Bees and I have closely followed his career. I don't believe Chuck was being critical of the Angels for trading Callaspo but the trade is a timely topic for discussion.

Chuck's question is in regard to the February 2006 trade where the Angels sent Alberto Callaspo to the Arizona Diamondbacks for relief pitcher Jason Bulger.
In evaluating the Angels' decision to trade Callaspo, fans should keep in mind the state of the Angels organization when the trade was made. At the Major League level the Angels were set with Orlando Cabrera, Chone Figgins, Macier Izturis, and Adam Kennedy ready to man the middle infield positions. Eric Aybar and Howie Kendrick were coming off great years in Double A and were ready to take over SS and 2b for the Bees. One level behind Aybar and Kendrick was Minor League Player of the Year Brandon Wood who had a monster season in 2005. Callaspo had a good year at Salt Lake in 2005 but he was blocked from moving up and the Angels had what appeared to be better players behind him. It is unfortunate that Jason Bulger has yet to work out for the Angels but moving Callaspo for pitching depth made perfect sense in the winter of 2006.

From the Royals perspective, GM Dayton Moore deserves credit for acquiring Callaspo. Callaspo is exactly the type of pickup the Royals will have to make if they are going compete for the playoffs. Callaspo is a solid contact hitter with excellent strike zone judgment and plate discipline. He is currently hitting .359/.417/.565 and is second in the American League in doubles. I don't believe anyone expects him to keep up this pace for the entire season, but Alberto Callaspo should remain a productive part of the Royals lineup.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

John Lackey Update

Help is on the way for the Angels pitching staff! John Lackey looked very good last night pitching for the Salt Lake Bees and it appears he is close to rejoining the Angels. Limited to 60 pitches, Lackey pitched into the 5th inning for the Bees. Putting up a line of 0 runs, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts, and 1 walk, Lackey did an effective job of mixing his pitches and keeping the Tacoma hitters off balance the entire night. Responding to the ovation from the Salt Lake crowd as he left the game, Lackey smiled and tipped his cap. Lackey is scheduled to pitch for the Bees again this weekend in Portland. If that start goes well he will join the Angels. Based on what I observed last night, he is almost ready to resume his role as the Angels #1 starter.

Having a Major League All Star like John Lackey in Utah was not the only highlight of the evening. The Salt Lake Bees became only the third team in the history of the Pacific Coast League to hit two grand slam homeruns in one inning. Outfielder Brad Coon and catcher Bobby Wilson both hit bases loaded bombs in the 4th inning off of former Bees pitcher Steve Shell. I felt bad for Shell because he is one of the truly nice guys in baseball but it was an impressive performance by the Bees hitters.