Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts published on March 25, 2011

I spent yesterday in Royals Minor League camp and here are my notes:

Jason Adam – As I reached the field, Jason Adam was pitching against some of his fellow Royals teammates. The scouts were all clustered up and keeping a close eye on him. His name has been circulating amongst the scout circle, so there were plenty who wanted to get a firsthand look. I’m no scout, but what I saw was very impressive. He was fastball was in the 94-96 mph range and he was locating his curve ball for strikes.  He seemed to be using the curve as an out pitch and it was working. It had nice break, but he was leaving it up in the zone. Had he been facing a higher level of competition it probably would have been crushed. He’s only 19, so it’s not a concern at all. He seems very advanced for his age and should rocket up Royals prospect lists this year.

Sal Perez – I’ve heard good things about Sal, but I’ve never seen him in person. He’s bigger than I expected. He’s not only tall, but has thick legs. He isn’t fast in the first place, so if he gets much bigger he could really lose speed and possibly mobility. He’s only 20, so it’s highly likely that he will get bigger which is a concern.

At the plate, he was crushing the ball. He hit an absolute no-doubter to left on a Kevin Pucetas hanging curve and later he crushed a line drive opposite field that hit about a foot below the top of the fence. His power seems absolutely legit and I expect him to mash at AA Northwest Arkansas this year. If his defense is as good as some say, he is a good bet to be a good to possibly great Major League catcher. The building hype seems to be legit for the young catcher.

John Lamb – Lamb was throwing his fastball 88-91 mph with a really nice 68-72 mph curve and a 77-78 mph changeup. His fastball velocity wasn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but I heard he might have a muscle strain that had him going a little easy, it’s not a concern though. His control, which is his hallmark was on display. He was extremely efficient and wasted very few pitches. His fastball had really good movement. He could run it in on the hands of a right handed batter, and it seemed that he could also run it in the other direction when he wanted

Wil Myers – Myers was rotating through all three outfield positions. I would imagine it’s so he can get a good look at reading balls from all three fields. Though he’s certainly going to be a corner outfielder, balls in general are easiest to read from CF because there is usually a lot less bend in them. So it’s a good place for him to work on his defensive instincts, and does need work in that area.  He’s still clearly trying to get the hang of the position after shifting from catcher this off-season. He’s pretty athletic, but not athletic enough to make up for poor reads in the outfield.

His defense though, isn’t what he’s known for, that would be his bat which was on display. Watching him next to other minor leaguers you c an see what makes him different. His wrist strength is phenomenal and that’s a skill that nearly every Major League hitter has. He can put his bat on the ball and react at the last possible moment and still hit the ball hard. And hit the ball hard is exactly what he did when I saw him. He smashed three balls right up the middle, including one that hit pitcher Kevin Pucetas in the leg and had all on-lookers saying “oouuuch”. Myers though, didn’t react. He was running full tilt to first base throughout. It’s not a knock on him, in fact it’s to his credit. His mindset was to go all out down the baseline regardless of what was happening on the field. I was impressed. He also took a walk on around six pitches which in these Minor League intra-squad games are very rare, I think it’s a credit to his plate discipline.

Kevin Pucetas – He was acquired in the trade with the Giants for Jose Guillen, so really he doesn’t have to be good at all to make that trade a win for the Royals. Fortunately, he is a decent pitcher. He didn’t have that special stuff that other pitchers have, but his stuff did seem to be able to play in the Majors right now. He could be a contributor to the Royals bullpen today and might get a look at some point in the season. He’s not Lamb or Duffy, but few are.

I’m going to see the Royals again today so look for more notes tomorrow. If there’s anyone you’d like me to try and get a look at post it in the comments. I’ll also be tweeting things as they happen tonight at about 8:30 Central time. You can follow at http://www.twitter.com/brokenbatsingle

Jason Adam – As I reached the field, Jason Adam was pitching against some of his fellow Royals teammates. The scouts were all clustered up and keeping a close eye on him. His name has been circulating amongst the scout circle, so there were plenty who wanted to get a firsthand look. I’m no scout, but what I saw was very impressive. He was fastball was in the 94-96 mph range and he was locating his curve ball for strikes. He seemed to be using the curve as an out pitch and it was working. It had nice break, but he was leaving it up in the zone. Had he been facing a higher level of competition it probably would have been crushed. He’s only 19, so it’s not a concern at all. He seems very advanced for his age and should rocket up Royals prospect lists this year.

Sal Perez – I’ve heard good things about Sal, but I’ve never seen him in person. He’s bigger than I expected. He’s not only tall, but has thick legs. He isn’t fast in the first place, so if he gets much bigger he could really lose speed and possibly mobility. He’s only 20, so it’s highly likely that he will get bigger which is a concern.

At the plate, he was crushing the ball. He hit an absolute no-doubter to left on a Kevin Pucetas hanging curve and later he crushed a line drive opposite field that hit about a foot below the top of the fence. His power seems absolutely legit and I expect him to mash at AA Northwest Arkansas this year. If his defense is as good as some say, he is a good bet to be a good to possibly great Major League catcher. The building hype seems to be legit for the young catcher.

John Lamb – Lamb was throwing his fastball 88-91 mph with a really nice 68-72 mph curve and a 77-78 mph changeup. His fastball velocity wasn’t as high as it’s been in the past, but I heard he might have a muscle strain that had him going a little easy, it’s not a concern though. His control, which is his hallmark was on display. He was extremely efficient and wasted very few pitches. His fastball had really good movement. He could run it in on the hands of a right handed batter, and it seemed that he could also run it in the other direction when he wanted

Wil Myers – Myers was rotating through all three outfield positions. I would imagine it’s so he can get a good look at reading balls from all three fields. Though he’s certainly going to be a corner outfielder, balls in general are easiest to read from CF because there is usually a lot less bend in them. So it’s a good place for him to work on his defensive instincts, and does need work in that area. He’s still clearly trying to get the hang of the position after shifting from catcher this off-season. He’s pretty athletic, but not athletic enough to make up for poor reads in the outfield.

His defense though, isn’t what he’s known for, that would be his bat which was on display. Watching him next to other minor leaguers you c an see what makes him different. His wrist strength is phenomenal and that’s a skill that nearly every Major League hitter has. He can put his bat on the ball and react at the last possible moment and still hit the ball hard. And hit the ball hard is exactly what he did when I saw him. He smashed three balls right up the middle, including one that hit pitcher Kevin Pucetas in the leg and had all on-lookers saying “oouuuch”. Myers though, didn’t react. He was running full tilt to first base throughout. It’s not a knock on him, in fact it’s to his credit. His mindset was to go all out down the baseline regardless of what was happening on the field. I was impressed. He also took a walk on around six pitches which in these Minor League intra-squad games are very rare, I think it’s a credit to his plate discipline.

Kevin Pucetas – He was acquired in the trade with the Giants for Jose Guillen, so really he doesn’t have to be good at all to make that trade a win for the Royals. Fortunately, he is a decent pitcher. He didn’t have that special stuff that other pitchers have, but his stuff did seem to be able to play in the Majors right now. He could be a contributor to the Royals bullpen today and might get a look at some point in the season. He’s not Lamb or Duffy, but few are.

In an annual tradition that excites me almost as having pitchers and catchers report, Forbes released their valuations and rankings of the teams of major league baseball.

Your Kansas City Royals rank 25th.

Money (pun intended) quote:

Early last season the Royals became the first MLB team to lose 600 games since the start of the 2004 season. The team averaged 97 losses a year from 2004 through 2010. Even though the Royals averaged just 20,191 fans (53% of capacity) per game at Kauffman Stadium in 2010 the team was profitable because it is among the biggest recipients of welfare from the league’s richer teams and fielded a modest player payroll ($72 million).

Let me bottom line this for you:  The Royals are bad.  They’ve been bad for a long time.  Nobody goes to the games.  And David Glass and his brood are still flush with cash.  There.

None of this should surprise you.  We’re fans.  We know the team has been awful and we know that attendance is sparse – with the exception of dollar hot dog night and Cardinal games.

We’ve all suspected that Glass is making serious coin.  Obviously, that’s something that doesn’t show up in the papers (like the standings) or it’s not something you can actually witness (like poor attendance.)  Long time readers know, I’m all about the market and capitalism and people making as much money as they possibly can.

David Glass purchased the team for $96 million in 2000.  Forbes currently values the team at a whopping $351 million.  We should all be so lucky to have a 265% return on investment.

Here’s the Royals payroll from the last five seasons, compared with operating income from those years:

Now we begin to understand.  While we’ve applauded Glass for green lighting payroll increases, he’s obviously doing so with the understanding that income remains consistent from year to year.  The Royals have posted an operating income between $8 and $10 million each of the last five years.

Obviously, the Royals player expenses will shrink dramatically in 2011.  After about $90 million in expenses (including bonuses and benefits) team payroll will open at roughly $35 million.  Given that the Opening Day payroll last year was $70 million, that means around $20 million went to additional expenditures.  Since the Royals don’t figure to be sending money in trades (since they don’t have any bad contracts – except for Kendall, naturally) and the potential bonuses are few and moderate, let’s just estimate an additional $10 million in expenditures.  That would bump the Royals to a total of $45 million – or roughly half of their 2010 total.

That would put them in the neighborhood of the San Diego Padres – baseball’s most profitable team in 2010, with an operating income of $37 million.  Of course, the Padres are in a larger market, but the similarities between the teams are notable.  After maxing out at $90 million in player expenses for the 2006 season, San Diego held steady a couple of years before really slashing in 2009.  Last year, their player expenses were at $51 million and revenues were at $159 million.  Those numbers are extremely close to what the Royals will post in 2011.

According to Forbes, last season the Padres were gifted more than $30 million… And Moorad and Moores pocketed $37 million last year.  It’s not difficult to understand why revenue sharing is so controversial. (Yes, I brought it up. No, I don’t want to get into that debate here and now.) Reduce that number just a bit because of market size, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Glass family is set to realize a profit of nearly $35 million this year.

There are a couple of reasons to own a professional sports team.  One is ego.  Chicks like a guy who owns the team.  Not surprisingly, Glass seems devoid of ego.  Another reason is money.  Clearly, you make some cash in this line of work.  As I said before, I don’t begrudge the man his profit.  But when you make too much money and your product isn’t very good, things can get kind of dicey.

Glass is a walking PR disaster, but someone should convince him to explain what he’s doing with the windfall he will realize this year.  Spending more on the draft? Perfect.  Expanding scouting operations in Latin America? Excellent.  A simple promise to add payroll as The Process begins to show significant strides?  Yes, please.

Right now, Glass is set to take a beating from the East Coast media and plenty of folks from Kansas City (I’m thinking talk radio bloviators) for slicing the payroll.  I’m on record as supporting what Dayton Moore is doing, and as I said earlier, I’m all for someone making a profit.  However, a baseball team and it’s fans have an emotional relationship – not a business one.  The Royals need to get out in front of this and explain that despite what should be huge profits, Glass and Moore continue to position this team for the future.  It’s a tough sell given the history of this team and regime.  Still, they at least have to try.  Stuff this crap about competing this year… Nobody with half a brain buys that.  Continue to talk about the future.  And tell us where the money will be spent.

Otherwise, it’s going to get rough.

Still, it’s a good time to be the owner of the Royals.  A very good time.

The lesson from all of this?  If you had $100 million rattling around your pocket in 2000 and didn’t try to buy the Royals (or just about any other similarly valued baseball team) you are a sucker.