Evaluating Gio Brusa to Kansas City Monarchs for Carlos D. Diaz Trade
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier evaluates the trade that sent outfielder Gio Brusa from the Lake Country DockHounds to the Kansas City Monarchs in exchange for left-handed reliever Carlos D. Diaz.
Monarchs Acquire Gio Brusa from Lake Country DockHounds for Carlos D. Diaz
On Sunday, the Kansas City Monarchs acquired outfielder Gio Brusa from the Lake Country DockHounds in exchange for left-hander Carlos D. Diaz.
How Gio Brusa Impacts the Kansas City Monarchs
This seems like a trade of excesses. Kansas City already has the top hitting team in the league (.296) and is on pace to break the American Association team homerun mark the club set last season. They have already hit 125 this year, so adding Brusa does not seem to fit their immediate needs.
However, with Jan Hernandez out for an extended period of time and the club showing that a good pitching staff can shut them down, this trade makes all the sense in the world. Kansas City dropped five of the six games they played against the Kane County Cougars last week, scoring 26 runs in the six games, including only nine runs in the three games in Geneva. With Gabriel Guerrero retired and Hernandez out, this is not the same club Monarchs fans saw before the All-Star break.
Manager Joe Calfapietra has added some premium talent, signing former Major Leaguer Mallex Smith and adding infielder Jacob Robson, but the Monarchs Skipper is never one to sit on his laurels. Signing Brusa serves notice that this team fully intends to hoist the championship trophy again this season.
Brusa was on fire for this club early on. Through his first 47 games, the outfielder had 13 home runs and was hitting .268 with a .893 OPS. However, after the All-Star break, he has not been the same feared hitter. Brusa has just two homeruns in the 16 games before the trade, and had one hit in his final seven games with the club, going 1-23 with four runs scored and one RBI.
He was definitely in need of a change of scenery, and now will move to the lower part of the Monarchs batting order. Very little pressure is going to be put on him, allowing Brusa to just play ball. Plus, he can count on seeing a lot better pitches now as no club is going to be able to pitch around him with Matt Adams, David Thompson, Casey Gillaspie and, eventually, Hernandez in the lineup.
Plus, this move is preemptive. Four other teams in the West Division clearly could have used Brusa. Now they are left trying to find a hitter to keep up with Kansas City.
How Carlos Diaz Impacts the DockHounds
While no one expects DockHounds Manager Jim Bennett to throw in the towel until, and if, the team is eliminated, this move makes sense for Lake Country on many levels. It starts with the fact that Brusa was struggling. Following a six-game hitting streak (July 23-29), the outfielder went hitless in six of his next seven games and has just two homeruns since the All-Star break. The club clearly needed better production and moving Brusa to reduce his impact on the salary cap was a smart move.
If there is one thing that Lake Country needs, it is pitching. Entering Monday’s action, the DockHounds were last in the American Association in ERA (6.85) and have just two pitchers on their active roster with ERAs under 4.50. Only one reliever, Nick Herold, has an ERA under 5.40 (0.93). This team needed some help, especially in their bullpen, and Diaz is a proven commodity.
The lefty has been used in Kansas City in a variety of roles, including closing, as the primary set of guy, even working long relief. He posted 13 saves in 2019 for the then T-Bones, and added 11 during the 2021 championship season. He posted a 1.09 ERA last year. He has not pitched in the American Association this season, but comes out of winter ball on fire after recording a 1.29 ERA in 10 appearances for Gigantes.
It is likely that he takes over the closer’s role. While there may not be a lot of saves for the DockHounds, (Lake Country is last in the league with just five saves), he helps to improve this bullpen by changing the depth chart. This move allows the club to take Cyrillo Watson out of the closer’s job and move him to the primary set up role. That gives this club a better chance of preserving leads.
With four weeks left in the season, Lake Country is eight games out for the final playoff spot in the East Division. They are on a 10-game losing streak entering Monday’s action. However, eight games are not a lot, especially considering that both Cleburne and Gary have been struggling recently as well. If this club is able to gain two games in the standings per week, they could still grab that fourth and final playoff spot.
Who Wins This Trade?
The Monarchs come out as winners in this trade because of the impact on the other teams in their division. Calfapietra could very well have found someone else on the open market to put up homerun numbers, but acquiring Brusa ensures that no other team in the division is able to acquire his services for the home stretch. He hurt their clubs by taking away arguably the best bat available.
Plus, Brusa is an outstanding talent. While he is not hitting for power lately, one must also consider that very few opposing pitching staffs have given him much to hit. That is going to change in Kansas City, so do not be surprised if he hits six or seven home runs over these final four weeks.
However, there is no denying that the acquisition of Diaz should have the biggest impact on Lake Country. This team is in desperate need of pitching, and Diaz comes with an impressive resume. He has pitched well in the American Association and has proven that he can get outs no matter when he is called upon in games. The DockHounds pitching staff improved two notches with this acquisition.
By Robert Pannier