Dissatisfied with the declining play of former American League rookie of the year Angel Berroa, the Royals have sought another option at shortstop. They found one on Friday, with general manager Dayton Moore turning to his former club. Kansas City picked up Tony Pena Jr. from the Braves in exchange for minor league righthander Erik Cordier.
The Big Leaguers
The son of former all-star Tony Pena and the brother of Mets catching prospect Francisco Pena, Tony Jr. signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1999. He turned 26 today. Pena made his major league debut in 2006, hitting .227/.261/.341 with one homer and three RBIs in 40 games and 44 at-bats. Pena’s strong suit is his defense, as his range and arm are both plus tools. He offers little offensively, as he has hit .252/.285/.332 in the minors. He doesn’t hit for power or get on base proficiently, and he’s erratic as a basestealer.
Cordier, 21, signed as a second-round pick out of a Wisconsin high school in 2004. He was the highest player drafted out of the state since the Angels took Jarrod Washburn 31st overall in 1995. Cordier has a terrific arm, working at 92-95 mph with his fastball and touching 98’"when he’s healthy. But he missed all of 2005 following a knee operation and pitched just 53 innings last year before hurting his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery. His changeup is his second pitch, while his curveball is still a work in progress. Cordier has a 6-5, 3.81 record and a 64-38 K-BB ratio in 87 pro innings, none above low Class A. He isn’t expected to pitch in a game again until 2008.
As frustrating as Berroa has been, it’s not likely that Pena is the answer for the Royals either. If Cordier can get healthy, this trade could be a steal for the Braves, but that’s a big “if.”