Jeffress didn’t show much (other than wildness) in his first cup of coffee last year. And he didn’t show much in the AFL this fall other than the same wildness – walking more than one an inning. That said, he’s gotten a ton of strikeouts and had a fair amount of success over his minor league career with 10.6 K/9 and an ERA just under four. That’s the positive side. Still, the wildness is a real issue – and he his numbers have declined dramatically with each promotion. Kansas City has known bullpen issues, but I’m skeptical thaT Jeffress is going to be ready to make a contribution. If he ever will. Control problems make any pitcher unusually risky, if they work them out they could be the next Randy Johnson but if they don’t they simply can’t hack it in the bigs. Think of Jeffress as the Franklyn German of this trade. Remember him? I didn’t think so.
Lorenzo Cain is risky for a different reason. If you look at his 2010 numbers from the high-minors and Milwaukee, he looks like the next David DeJesus. He’s got speed, he hits for average and takes walks – plus he’s got a little (just a little) pop which could conceivably grow. But I don’t think I need to warn anyone of the dangers of just looking at a player’s breakthrough season. He had a great 2010, but his 2009 was horrible. He was solid in 2008 – but his 2007 was horrible. Put it all together, and you get a question mark the size of Brennan Boesch. If 2010 represents Cain’s new plateau, the Royals are going to be very pleased. If not… it’s anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, at this point it does look as though Cain will be the heir apparent to the center field job in KC.
Alcides Escobar was the Brewers top prospect going into 2010, and he spent the whole year with the big-league team. Not only was he the Brewers top prospect, Baseball America had him ranked #12 in the nation. Escobar will undoubtedly be starting at short for the Royals in 2011, now that Betancourt has been moved to make room. Now to touch on Betancourt again: he hit a few dingers in 2010 and managed to drag his WAR total positive, but he is fundamentally a replacement level player. He does not field his position well, he does not get on base and he does not run. Dayton Moore has caught a lot of flak for seeking out, and what is worse giving playing time to, guys like Betancourt, Mike Jacobs and now Jeff Francoeur. Now Betancourt is gone. By both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference measures, he’s been worth negative WAR in the aggregate over the past two years. KC can only get better by getting rid of one of the worst regulars in the game, right? This part of the deal I like, and it’s unexpected coming from a GM like Moore: the biggest hole for the Royals was Betancourt – the top prospect in the deal should be a shortstop! And lo, it was.