Rumors, news and notes from the Winter Meetings in Dallas…

– Ned Yost says the Royals will, “Play much better than .500.

And I’d like to be an astronaut.

What Yost just said is, he thinks the Royals are going to be contenders. Because “much better than .500” in the Central, means you’re in the hunt. As much as I like the idea of Project 2012, I think the smart money is on using this year (again) as a developmental year and targeting 2013. I’d be more optimistic if the starting rotation wasn’t so unsettled.

Yes, I think the 2012 team is going to be better than the 2011 version, but 10 games better? I don’t think so. Not yet anyway. I’m good with Hochevar and Chen is fine. I’m not a fan of Sanchez and I’m a little surprised at the talk that Paulino has to “earn” his spot. Right now I see three middle of the road starters, a back of the rotation guy in Sanchez and a wild card for the last spot.

Besides, it’s a little early to be placing markers on win totals. Talk to me in March when there is some clarity to the pitching situation. Right now, I’d peg the 2012 Royals at 76-80 wins.

– Jayson Stark says the Royals are listening on Joakim Soria, but want a young, controllable, front line starter.

Given how the market for closers has unfolded, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. It would be better if Soria hadn’t struggled with his mechanics (according to Yost) for a good part of the season. Teams will use that to try to drive down the Royals asking price, but the Royals are so infatuated with their closer (and his team-friendly contract, that is about to become a little less friendly) that they will hold on.

I’ll bet that Soria opens the year with the Royals.

– Within the same Tweet, Stark said the Royals were balking at the idea of moving Wil Myers.

Good.

If you trade Myers now, you would be selling at near his low value as a prospect. His performance in the Arizona Fall League helps a little, but like with Soria, his last season was a disappointment. Yes, a number of factors worked against him, but the numbers are what teams will point to when trying to drive down the price.

– Billy Beane reportedly shot down the Gio Gonzalez to Royals rumors.

Good. Earlier in the day we saw the A’s were asking for either Myers, Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer. Uh… What? Sorry, but I see Gonzalez as overrated. The walk rate is too high, and he trends to the fly ball. He’s benefitted from playing in a home park where foul territory is so expansive, it comes with mile markers. I just don’t see more than a number three starter.

Yeah, I know there’s upside. He’s 26 and has 89 career starts under his belt. He’s also gained velocity each season he’s appeared in the big leagues. There’s a lot to like, but that’s why he’s overvalued, in my opinion. He’s shown no indication he can tame the control issues and that’s going to hold him back. Too many base runners, plus a HR/FB rate that will regress to the mean… That doesn’t hold my interest.

I’m more interested in his teammate, who was mentioned in rumors, Trevor Cahill. Huge ground ball rate and he can throw in the strike zone. Plus, he’s signed for four years with two club options. If the options are picked up, the deal totals around $55 million. And at the end of the contract, he’ll be 30.

Now does that warrant a “top” prospect. Given the contract, yes it does. I’d try like hell to avoid trading Myers, but this one is tempting.

If we’ve learned anything from all this there are two things teams overvalue: Prospects and pitching. That makes a deal awfully difficult.

– The Royals were linked to Carlos Guillen.

Once upon a time, I was a huge Guillen fan. Each year from 2000 to 2006 he improved his batting average. I thought that was kind of cool. (Kind of big if you’re playing fantasy baseball.) Reportedly, five teams are in the hunt and view him as a utility-type of player. He will come on the cheap because his performance has been declining since 2006 and because he hasn’t played in more than 81 games at any point over the last three seasons. But he is a switch hitter who has played all the infield positions at some point in his career. Those pesky injuries though have really cut down on his range.

I’m not against this signing (for only a year and for minimal salary) but I’d rather the Royals stay in house (i.e. cheap) on this. The infield is set and hopefully the only reason you’d need a utility guy is to have the bat off the bench and to give the infield guys an occasional day off.

I definitely wouldn’t get pulled into a bidding war for Guillen.