Billy Butler, DH for the Royals
Following the trade of "Baby Jesus," the rumor mill regarding the Yankees DH has been running rampant. Industry speculation tells us that the Yankees are just playing the "due diligence" game but as a fan base constantly starving for more, it's always fun to imagine the possibilities. Names have been floated already (Posada, Damon, Pena, Vlad, Jorge Vazquez, etc.) ranging from sheer lunacy to moderately intriguing. One name I came across, which admittedly I didn't think much of at first, is Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals. Naturally, KC would have to be willing to trade him and as of now, there is no indication they are. This is more of a "what if" scenario but let's have some fun with it. More after the jump...
By now, we all know the "financial restrictions" the Yankees are operating under and Butler is slated to earn $8 million per year through 2014. With that, a precursory move would have to be made for him to be a viable option to accommodate the targeted payroll. If Brian Cashman can find some sucker to take AJ Burnett off of our hands, Billy Butler would be a nice fit in the Yankee lineup. If only trading AJ were that easy. We know from the Derek Lowe and Carlos Zambrano trades that the Yankees would have to eat a lot of the money owed in any deal. It has been reported the Yankees are willing to pay $8 million of his remaining contract. That will not get it done. For arguments sake and using the other trades as a precedent, let's say they eat $20 million. That would open up quite a few more doors. (maybe even KC themselves.. I'm not suggesting straight up) That would leave the Yankees with savings of $6.5 million this season and next. Using that $6.5 million plus the one or two million that they reportedly have to sign a DH and you have Billy Butler's salary covered... without payroll escalation.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get inside the numbers. There isn't really a whole lot to dislike. Billy Butler is a 25 year old doubles machine. Over the past 3 seasons, he has hit 140 of them. That's the most in the majors during that span. He smashes lefties .318/.395/.526 w/ .921 OPS and he also hits righties .290/.346/.433 w/ .779 OPS. He also has a career slash of .312/.397/.478 w/ .875 OPS with RISP. His strikeout numbers aren't ridiculous, recording two more than Brett Gardner did last year and a handful less than Robinson Cano. He has some patience at the plate as well, ranking 34th in the league with a .361 OBP last year. (Curtis Granderson was at .364 to give you somewhat of a gauge) That patience leads to him excelling at the plate while ahead of the count. In his career, he has a .336/.491/.533 w/ 1.024 OPS line while ahead on the count. To break it down a bit further, his BA during a 1-0 count (197 AB) is .325, 2-0 (101 AB) count is .386, 3-0 count (20 AB, 100+PA) is .450 and on 3-1 counts (70 AB, 150+ PA) it is .529. He's got tremendous power through the box, clubbing 61% of his career HRs to CF.. (and FYI, the CF wall at Kauffman Stadium and Yankee Stadium are both 408 ft) That's not to say that he can't hit the other way. 21% of his hits have been sprayed to the opposite field while 24% were pulled, leaving a vast majority (55%) of the hits going to up the middle which is how you are taught to do it since Little League. He also has the 11th most RBIs among AL hitters during the past three seasons... on the Royals, no less.
Billy Butler is a young player who, at a very reasonable salary, can help the Yankees while just entering his prime. He is a pure hitter who can be another right handed power bat that can drive in runs. It has been speculated that a deal circled around Phil Hughes was possible and I'm not against that but I'll be the greedy guy who wants to keep the 25 year old.. I would rather do the whole AJ thing and deal from the system with guys whose last names don't start with a B. How realistic is it? Who knows.. I'm just a guy on his couch who can't wait for the season to start.
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