Monday, February 23, 2009

That'll Cost-ya -- My thoughts on Shane, and his Major League potential

Little Royals news today, but I'll hit the main points anyway:

  • Mike Jacobs took a "personal day" and did not participate in any drills
  • Jose Guillen swung a little in the batting cage but did not swing at live pitching, he did participate in drills for the whole day, however.
That is essentially all of the news that there is for the day.  Also, we have detailed information about Orlando Hudson's contract.  That breakdown can be found here.  It's just more proof that the more creative you can be, the better the chance you have of signing a player for a good deal.  On another note Orlando Cabrera is still available, and his asking price is down to 5.5 million supposedly.  DMGM.. Make it happen!

Also, I'd like to point out that an anonymous commenter left an excellent link that I was previously unaware to.  This page has a pretty good breakdown of the play-by-play for the intrasquad game I went over yesterday.  Thanks for this little treat anonymous!

Since today was pretty slow news-wise, I figured I'd start on my breakdown of our 40 man roster, one player at a time.  Today's player will be Shane Costa.  Costa is a pretty good example of a tweener.  He is a tweener for his position (not enough offense for a corner OF position, not enough defense for CF), and he is a tweener for his abilities, (is he a 4th OF, career AAAA player, or can he break into a starting lineup?)  

Shane was a 3 year player at Cal State Fullerton before being drafted in the 2003 draft as the 42nd overall player selected.  A few of the big name players selected closely after him are: Ryan Sweeney, Scott Baker, Andre Ethier, Jamie D'Antona, Tom Gorzelanny, and JoJo Reyes.  After being drafted Shane spent some time in Rookie ball, posting a 1024 OPS in 88 at bats.  Shane even saw 3 games worth of high A ball in his inaugural season.  Shane continued to rocket through the system, similar to many players during the Allard Baird era, reaching AA in his third year with the organization at the age of 23.  In 79 games Costa posted a 797 OPS with 24 walks and only 23 strikeouts.  Costa saw 4 games in AAA at the end of the year.  The very next year Costa would spend 73 games in the major leagues, batting .274 and posting a 709 OPS in 237 at bats.  This would prove to be Costa's best chance of sticking in the majors to date.  Shane also played 55 games in AAA that year, batting .342.

2007 would bring Shane another opportunity to play in the major leagues, this time did not go so well, however.  In 103 at bats with the Royals, Shane hit .223, posting an abysmal 558 OPS.  (Tony Pena, by comparison, posted a 640 OPS in 2007)  Shane still knew how to destroy minor league pitching, however, hitting .326/.402/.502 in 233 at bats.  

Last season saw Shane in AAA for the entirety of the 75 games he played in.  Fighting through injuries he hit .295 with just 39 strikeouts and 10 home runs.  Shane remains an option as a 4th OF for the Major League club this season, however that would probably require Mark Teahen winning the 2nd base job outright.  Most likely, Costa will start out again in AAA, providing depth in case of injury.  Costa has clearly mastered AAA, but may not have the abilities to move on to the next level.

While Costa has been written off by many as a AAAA player, he reminds me a lot of a former Royal who, while doing well in his time with the Royals, was traded for peanuts and went on to put up excellent numbers with his new club.  Like Costa, this player also played LF, and although not great defensively, he hits for a high average and is not prone to striking out.  He does not hit many home runs and does not walk a lot, but he manages to be a productive player.  The player?  Matt Diaz.  While their major league numbers are significantly different, I think their minor league numbers are very indicative of how similar these players are.

In 760 games Matt Diaz has a career minor league line of .313/.360/.488, for an OPS of 848.  Shane Costa has a line of .311/.373/.474, for an OPS of 847, in 416 minor league games.  While Diaz hits for slightly  more power, Costa clearly has the advantage in OBP, which is the more important advantage, in my opinion.  Costa also strikes out less and walks more.  Costa has 160 strikeouts to 131 walks in his minor league career, while Diaz has 471 Ks and 154 BB, in almost twice the games.

The point of this write-up, aside from providing insight and giving me a topic during a non-newsy day, is also to point out that some players just need a chance.  No one would argue that Matt Diaz is an all star or belongs in the hall of fame, or even that he will start a majority of the games in LF for the Braves this year.  But he has had an OPS plus of 114 and 124 in 2006 and 2007, which would have been the best on the Royals for both of those seasons.  I'm not saying Costa will live up to the few good years Diaz has had for the Braves, but I am saying that for the major league minimum, Costa could easily be on the same level as Jose Guillen as far as OPS+ goes.  While this isn't an end-all be-all stat, it certainly shows that the 13 million spent on Jose Guillen could be more wisely spent, perhaps on another above replacement player level middle infielder.

Well, I'll end the rant here, this post wasn't as well organized as I'd have liked, and most likely I will tweak my "player profile" posts in the future to be better organized and have better flow.  As always, leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments.  Thanks for reading.


  1. The Diaz comparison is a very good one and I could see Costa bouncing around and landing in a 4th OF or platoon setup with another team. I really wish the Royals would have given him a chance the last few years, but now there really isn't a spot.

  2. I agree with Justin, let him go to another team and regret it later!