Yesterday was an epic day in Kansas City sports. Both the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs had home games, creating a twelve plus hour marathon of sports and partying. Before the Royals could even begin their 2:10 start, the day got even bigger as it was announced that Willie Bloomquist had been traded to the Cincinnati Reds for cash or a player to be named later.
I was shocked when I heard about the deal. Whether the Royals get cash or the often traded player to be named later, they benefit from the deal. It is the understatement of the year to say that the Royals are no longer playing meaningful games, so getting rid of a guy who is going to be a free agent in the offseason and was taking playing time from younger developing players is an obvious move.
What isn’t so obvious is why the Reds wanted to acquire him. Since he was acquired at such a late point in the season, Bloomquist is unable to play in the postseason. On top of that, Cincinnati has a commanding 7 game lead in the NL Central. If the Reds blow that lead, it wouldn’t be due to a lack of Willie Bloomquist in the lineup. The only reasoning that makes sense to me is that Bloomquist can spell some of the Reds regulars at any number of positions to keep them fresh for a postseason run.
Like many things in sports, the opinions on Willie Bloomquist varied wildly during his tenure with the Royals. Both the devotion to the gritty utility guy and the derision of a mediocre player who got too many plate appearances are right and wrong. The truth, as it usually does, lies somewhere in the middle.
Assuming that Bloomquist doesn’t resign with the Royals this offseason, his final numbers as a Royal are 197 games played over two seasons, while hitting .265/.305/.364 with 7 homeruns. In other words, he was just a guy, the typical replacement player. However, he was a guy who could play lots of positions and was willing to do whatever was needed of him off the bench. I think that fans probably tend to underrate a player like that and managers tend to over-rate them. The bottom line is that most, if not all teams have a player like Willie Bloomquist, especially good teams. For example, Tampa Bay has Reid Brignac, who has played second base, shortstop and right field while hitting .263/.310/.393 for the American East Leading Rays.
The fact that teams all have a Bloomquist-type guy is not only a testament to his value, but how easily he is to replace. The Royals will likely go out and try and replace Bloomquist either internally with a guy like Mike Aviles, Chris Getz or Irving Falu or out in the open market with a more expensive but more proven player. The next incarnation might be younger, but less valuable in the field or even at the plate. There will be many Bloomquists to draw the ire of the fans in the future, but remember, they do provide value. Partly, I think we might just miss old Willie Boom Boom Bloomquist, will you?