The Royals made their opening salvo this off season by acquiring infielder Joaquin Arias off waivers from the New York Mets.
I’ll give you a moment to collect yourselves.
Meanwhile, the plucking of Arias off the waiver wire reminded me of one of my all time favorite quotes…
“Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”
Judge Smails to Danny Noonan, Caddyshack.
Let’s amend the classic Judge Smails quote…
“Well, the Royals need worthless middle infielders, too.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Arias has speed to burn. He has stolen 138 bases in his minor league career. Of course, he’s been caught 51 times – a 73% success rate. He also is a contact hitter with zero pop. Arias owns a career .376 slugging percentage in the minors. And he doesn’t take a walk. In 3,383 plate appearances covering all levels in the minors, Arias has drawn a grand total of 147 walks. That works out to a 4.3% walk rate. Abysmal for someone with his skill set.
Here we go again…
Somehow Dayton Moore figures out a way to acquire the exact same player almost every time he hits the waiver wire. It’s quite stunning.
What exactly will Joaquin Arias bring to this team? Other than no power, no ability to get on base and speed?
(Seriously, why is the Royals brain trust so taken with speed? If you can’t get on base, speed isn’t exactly helpful. And once you’re on base, if you’re a bad baserunner, again speed isn’t doing too much – except to occasionally bail you out of mistakes. Still, just once I would like GMDM to find a guy who knows how to get on base. Once. Please.)
Defensively, the consensus seems Arias has problems moving to his right. He’s probably in the middle of the pack with the glove, but his numbers (limited as they are) indicate he’s not that great at the pivot in turning the double play as a second baseman. It could be a different matter at short, but he’s played there so little at the major league level, I don’t have any data to base any kind of conclusion. Of course, he’s blocked by the Yunigma. I feel sick to my stomach…
Of course, describing this move as boneheaded is relative. If Arias is cut in a roster purge when the Royals need to make decisions on the upcoming Rule 5 draft, or if he spends his summer in Omaha, then no harm, no foul. But if this becomes the Bloomquist Situation – then we have a colossal problem.
Perhaps you will recall, at the time of the Bloomquist free agent signing, I expressed similar reservations… If the Royals used him properly, then it was simply a bad signing. “Properly” meant exposing him to under 200 plate appearances. Of course, he notched a career high 468 plate appearances in 2009. Thus, the “Bloomquist Situation.” Where a manager simply can’t help himself but play a gritty utility man as much as humanly possible. A bad signing became a major screw-up.
And I can’t help but see a bit of Bloomquist in Arias. Arias is a shortstop by trade, but has spent most of his time in the majors at second base. He’s played a bit of third base and (heaven forbid) the Rangers even played him at first base this season. It’s not a stretch given the track record of the Royals to see Arias filling in in the outfield at some point, should he make the team. Managers like Trey Hillman are suckers for players with versatility with the glove. Ned Yost seemed less so enthralled, so there’s a bit of hope. Still, it’s in my nature as a Royals fan to fear the worst.
Arias is a better pickup than Bloomquist because he’s less expensive. How’s that for digging through a pile of crap and finding a positive? So this could be a meh waiver claim if Arias hacks his way to 150 outs. If he gets any more than 200 plate appearances, then we’ve got some problems.
Right now, I’m not all that bothered by the Arias pick up. A waiver claim on a player without enough service time to be eligible for arbitration… It don’t cost nuthin’.
However, I will reserve my right to change my opinion from “nonplussed” to “outrage.”