Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Burdened with payroll, underperforming on offense and in danger of falling out of the Central Division race, the St. Francis Friars today boldly (some say desperately) "rolled the dice" with their biggest asset (a deep farm system) and packaged four prospects and a player-to-be-named to acquire Brownsville Cutters 1B/DH Chris Davis.
Davis (.276, 18 HR, 49 RBI) joins Jose Bautista, Pedro Alvarez, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Quentin to form a powerful middle of the order for the Friars, who will make a big play to get back into the Central race. But the cost was high: a slugging SS prospect in Javier Baez, two promising pitchers at AAA (Danny Hulten, Casey Kelly) and former first-rounder Bubba Starling (along with $4.8 million in salary) are the property of the Cutters. A player to be named from St. Francis's farm system will be added to the mix following the conclusion of the 2013 post-season.
"This trade is pretty simple," said owner Scott Hatfield. "If we catch Casselton and win the division outright, it will be considered a success. If we miss the playoffs, even if we end up with an improved record, it will probably be seen as the straw that broke the camel's back, and trigger an organizational shakeup. None of this might've been necessary if management had not stupidly spent much of their cap on now-sidelined 1B Mark Teixeira. I signed off on that decision, so what can you do? You can't fire the owner."
The powerhouse move also frees up salary for the Friars, which may or may not play a role in other moves. The privately-owned property of a renegade Tridentine monastic order may have finally left a sour taste in the mouths in the brotherhood's Abbot, Brother Gregor. "Scripture tells us," the Head Friar intoned ominously, "that for everything there is a season. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones for casting. And, in this baseball season, it seems that it is time for the brotherhood's investment in this secular business to yield some performance, so that our order might derive some profitability from sales of merchandise. If we can't increase the club's profits, we may have no choice but to cut payroll and place the club on the open market this off-season."