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Friday, July 10, 2009
Royals add Betancourt, save season

Wow. Just ... wow: 1. Any trade in which Yuniesky Betancourt is the centerpiece is, by definition, not "major."

2. Betancourt's career batting average is irrelevant. What's relevant is his .302 career on-base percentage.

3. Betancourt does not reach base with any frequency, nor does he reach ground balls with any frequency; according to Ultimate Zone Rating, Betancourt's been the worst shortstop in the majors this season. By a lot.

As bad as the Royals' shortstops have been, hitting-wise, Betancourt will give most of those runs back with his lousy range. Still, you could almost justify a deal like this if the Royals were trying to make a short-term improvement in the chase for a short-term reward. But that's not what is happening here. The Royals are already finished this year, and Betancourt is signed through 2012. It's apparent that the Royals -- and more specifically, Dayton Moore -- see Betancourt playing a significant role in the franchise's future.

Which should be enough to scare the socks off any living Royals fan.

This franchise's single biggest problem has, for many years, been lousy on-base percentages. Last winter, one of Dayton Moore's big moves was the acquisition of Mike Jacobs, who entered this season with a .318 career on-base percentage and has somehow managed to lower that by a few points. Now they've committed to who-knows-how-many years of a shortstop with a .302 on-base percentage who can't play defense.

The Royals' last two general managers have talked a great deal about on-base percentage. What they actually do, though, is things like give up a couple of prospects for Yuniesky Betancourt.

Lately, the Royals seem close to losing Rany Jazayerli and Joe Posnanski. They lost me a long time ago, and it's because of brain-dead moves exactly like this one.

Update: As R.J. Anderson notes, even after this deal the Royals still desperately need a shortstop.