Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

]]>

The story broke late Thursday from Yahoo s Tim Brown that the Royals signed Rick Ankiel to a one-year deal valued at $3.25 million.http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2594/3790240811_0cbf136160_m.jpg

Ankiel? Really?

My first thought, where does he fit given that Dayton has already splashed the cash on Brian Anderson and Scott Podsednik? Of course, this has always been Dayton s off season M.O.: An accumulation of talent at one position with no rhyme or reason. This just fits everything he s done in the past.

Then there s always the possibility Dayton signed Ankiel to pitch. How sad is it that I say this as a joke, but wouldn t be surprised if it somehow came up that Bob McClure thinks he can fix a flaw in his delievery.

My second thought: There has to be another move forthcoming. Podsednik didn t come here to pinch run. David DeJesus is a fixture. Jose Guillen still harbors the illusion he can play the outfield. And don t forget about Anderson. And Josh Fields who somehow figures into this mix. Oh, Alberto Callaspo is here if we re talking about designated hitter types.

(Doesn t that previous paragraph neatly summarize the last 20 years of Royals baseball? Plenty of players competing for spots creates the illusion there s quality or the potential for a breakout. Look at those names again. Role players, fourth outfielders and an oft-injured malcontent. Only DeJesus is any kind of quality. More on him in a moment. Callaspo is too, but he s on the periphery here since he s not an outfielder and he would clearly be the number one choice to be the DH if the Royals are serious about using him there.)

At $3.25 million, that s a lot of jack, so we can safely assume Ankiel plays every day.

Is Guillen on his way out? Greg Schaum tweeted that Guillen isn t healthy. That runs counter to Dayton Moore s statement last week that Guillen is in good shape. (Did anyone see Guillen at FanFest? Was he there?) The Royals could just decide to part ways and give him his unconditional release. At this point, that s the only way to unload him.

Or maybe the Royals are close to trading DeJesus? At $4.6 million this year and a club option for $6 million in 2011, he s extremely affordable given his production. The flip side is that makes him the Royals best trading chip (not named Greinke.) I realize he s not a star, but I m a huge DeJesus fan. He s a steady, quality player. Besides, dealing DeJesus goes against Moore s stated off season goal of improving the defense. If you re looking to do that, do you trade your best defender?

Or maybe the Royals are close to shifting Callaspo. That would solve the defense issue and clear the way for newcomer Chris Getz. But Callaspo is still under club control for one more year. Remember Moore talking about all those 0-3 year guys the Royals need to be stockpiling?

So if the Royals are going to make a move to clear room for Ankiel, the release of Guillen makes the most sense. The Royals are in a better position than anyone to assess his health and fitness heading into the year. If he s fat and out of shape (again) then it s time to just let him go. Normally, I scoff at those who justify a deal by saying, “This has to be the first of a two-part move.” But this time, I really believe that this has to be the case.

Now we have to ask the question, does Ankiel improve the Royals? I think he does. Not by much, but he does. The consensus projection for Ankiel seems to be .250/.310/.445 with 18 home runs and average defense. That beats the offensive production the Royals got out of center field or right field last year. And it’s far better than they got out of their DH. Don’t forget the tricky thing about comparing projections to past performance. But even though the Royals have added plenty of outfielders, to this point they haven’t gotten anyone appreciably better than what they had last year. They finally found one in Ankiel.

I d prefer Ankiel to Podsednik. I d prefer Mitch Maier to Podsednik. That s where my frustration comes from. Why the hell would you sign Podsednik if you are going to go after Ankiel. I understand they re different players, but you re throwing more logs into a logjam. Identify a player you like – a player you think will improve the team – and go for it. I don t understand this method of stockpiling mediocrity. This does nothing to allay my fears that Moore can’t assemble a 25 man roster.

(And of course this blows my theory I floated yesterday that the Royals were done. They were supposed to be between $66 and $67 million in total payroll. With this contract, they’ll be close to $70 million.)

So in this group Ankiel is probably the second best outfielder to DeJesus. It s not great. It s not ideal. But it s better than what we had yesterday.

]]>

Bringing Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda under contract for 2010, the Royals clear the deck of all their arbitration-eligible cases while Dayton Moore retains a perfect record in these situations He s never had a player who was eligible for arbitration go all the way to a hearing.

Granted, he s only been the general manager for four years, but that s still a good bullet point to have on your resume. Nothing positive comes from arbitration, where players try to inflate their value and teams turn the tables and claim the player wasn t really all that good. It s a process that can only harbor ill will. Everyone says it s just business, but it can certainly get personal from time to time. Why take that risk?

The Royals entered this winter with 10 players eligible for arbitration. Moore summarily cleared the decks at a cost of only $6.865 million. He dealt with 10 players for under $7 million. That s amazing. We knew heading into this winter that the Royals were in for some financial belt-tightening, but for Moore to do so well He should get some Wal-Mart stock at a discount. Or at the very least, a stake in Danny s next business venture.

Moore released John Bale, Mike Jacobs and John Buck. (I m still not pleased at the decision to jettison Buck.) Doug Waechter was outrighted to Triple-A and is off the 40-man roster. Lenny DiNardo elected to take free agency. That left five players who settled: Brian Bannister, Roman Colon, Kyle Davies and Gordon and Tejeda.

Frankly, I m surprised at the Gordon contract. Check out the stats for the following mystery players entering their first year of arbitration eligibility, including their salaries for the following season. All four players were with the Royals with Dayton Moore in charge when they first became eligible. See if you can make sense of the numbers.

Arbitration

Player A is Mike Jacobs. Player B is Mark Teahen. Player C is John Buck. And Player D we know is Alex Gordon.

I had estimated that Colon and Gordon would earn $3.5 million between them. I didn t break it down further, but I remember my thinking was Colon would earn close to Tejeda money ($750k or so) with Gordon picking up about $2.5 million. (The discrepancy between the numbers in this paragraph is my way of covering my ass.)

So let s just say I was surprised Gordon ended up with his contract for $1.15 million.

He s been worth more wins during his brief career than any of the other guys, but his batting average and slugging percentage aren t the greatest. Obviously, he missed all that time last summer with his hip injury, so I guess that had to have been a huge factor. Well, and the fact he had his worst season as a professional that included an unexpected Nebraska homecoming. I guess they don t look at the overall body of work for a first year eligible player. Timing is everything.

Let s see how the salary picture shapes up now that the Royals have 20 players under contract for 2010:

2010Salary2

Some notes on the above table.

– Yuniesky Betancourt s actual salary will be $3.375 million, but as part of the trade that brought him to Kansas City, the Royals will owe him $2 million.

– The Royals owe $1.1 million in contract buyouts to Coco Crisp, Miguel Olivo and Yashuhiko Yabuta.

– The Royals are kicking $1.5 million to the White Sox to cover part of Mark Teahen s 2010 salary.

– Noel Arguelles and Aaron Crow both have major league deals, but since both will likely begin the season in the minors, their numbers won t ultimately be figured in the final Opening Day payroll count.

By removing Arguelles and Crow, the Royals are currently around $63 million. And that means they will have 7 roster spots to fill. Assuming these go to Billy Butler, Chris Getz, Josh Fields, Alberto Callaspo, Brayan Pena and a couple of relievers of your choosing, we can figure the Royals will pay this group of seven around $3.5 million collectively.

That will put the Royals Opening Day payroll at $66.5 million. That s down $4 million from last year.

Here s Bob Dutton from last December:

The Royals are now projecting a payroll of about $66-67 million on their opening day 25-man roster.

Nailed it.

The Royals will operate with the same budget as last year, but Moore will bank the surplus and save it for some flexibility for player acquisitions in the middle of the season. Since he used some flexibility last summer to acquire Betancourt, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Stay healthy, Royals.

]]>

Over the past couple of weeks, I have postulated an ‘everything goes right’ scenario for the everyday positions in the Kansas City lineup. I did my best to keep ‘everything going right’ from becoming ‘a walk through utopia’ and also ignored potential future free agent signings and possible trades. As we summarize this series, I will dabble ever so slightly into the trade market, but otherwise try to remain quasi-realistic.

Let’s get started with the upcoming season, which has already been altered from our original scenario by the signing of Scott Podsednik. I have injected totally unscientific projections for each player, based somewhat on past performance, somewhat on comparable players and a whole lot on ‘everything going right.’

2010 Lineup

C – Jason Kendall (250/340/350)

1B – Billy Butler (315/385/540 – his 2nd half split of last year)

2B – Chris Getz (270/344/376)

SS – Yuniesky Betancourt (275/310/390), replaced by a healthy Mike Aviles (300/350/450) by mid-season

3B – Alex Gordon (280/380/500 – hey, it HAS to be his breakout year, right?)

DH/Utility – Alberto Callaspo (300/360/420), traded at mid-season for a outfield prospect with good numbers in AA or AAA, but maybe a touch old for the level (think Casper Wells of the Tigers or Brian Bogusevic of the Astros) and a hard throwing mid to low minors pitcher with potential but no supporting production.

LF – David DeJesus (286/358/425 – same ole David)

CF – Scott Podsednik (277/340/381 – I can’t be optimistic here, call me bitter)

RF – Jose Guillen to start out, hopefully replaced sooner rather than later by a platoon of Jordan Parraz (280/350/440) and David Lough (300/340/470)

Sure, I have not mentioned Josh Fields in here, who likely gets in as the DH and in the outfield situation somewhere and maybe, just maybe, Kila Ka’aihue gets a look at designated hitter after Callaspo is traded and Guillen sold (i.e. traded for anything) or simply let go.

2011 Lineup

C – Jason Kendall (230/325/330) and Manny Pina (230/325/330) – I know, what about Brayan Pena? Defensively he may not be able to hack it and I don’t see the current regime giving him a chance to prove it. Pina, by all accounts, is a good defender – that’s something, I guess.

1B – Billy Butler (325/410/550 – best hitter in the organization since Brett?)

2B – Chris Getz (286/377/410)

SS – Jeff Bianchi (290/340/440 – not bad for a rookie)

3B – Alex Gordon (290/400/520)

Utility – Mike Aviles (300/340/480 – playing everywhere like Willie Bloomquist…….only good)

DH – Kila Ka’aihue (250/380/490 – not great, but better than any other DH the past five years)

LF – David DeJesus (290/360/430) – this one hurts, but after picking up his option the Royals trade him for two prospects (not top 10 types, but top 30 types)

CF – David Lough (310/355/490) – he may not quite have the skills to play centerfield at anything but average, but he is better and cheaper than Podsednik

RF – Jordan Parraz (294/381/445)

The hope would be that the outfield prospect acquired via the 2010 trade of Callaspo could take over after the DeJesus trade. Heck, it is possible that Podsednik is brought back and the trade of David simply opens up full-time duty for both Parraz and Lough. Of course, Josh Fields might figure in too.

2012 Lineup

C – Manny Pina (240/330/370) and Sean McCauley (280/350/385)

1B – Billy Butler (320/410/550)

2B – Chris Getz (280/380/420) – possibly pushed by Johnny Giavotella by mid-season

SS – Jeff Bianchi (300/360/470)

3B – Alex Gordon (290/405/550)

Utility – Mike Aviles (280/340/460)

LF – David Lough (320/360/505)

CF – Derrick Robinson (280/340/350 with 60 steals)

RF – Jordan Parraz (290/380/460)

DH – Mike Moustakas (260/340/540)

Waiting in the wings would be Eric Hosmer, possibly transitioning to rightfield and Wil Myers, who is hopefully hitting so well that he is vaulting through the minors and making the Royals wonder how much inexperience they can tolerate behind the plate to get his bat in the lineup.

While we all know that not all of the above is going to happen. Free agent acquisitions and trades (even the ones we have proposed are not truly factored into the lineups above) will change the landscape we have laid out for the future. Injuries occur and finances will continue to effect the lineups.

Still, for fun, which of the above lineups compete? I think the 2012 group, performing as indicated, is good enough offensively to put the team in the mix and maybe the 2011 lineup has enough, too. Keep in mind, both of these squads is going to be augmented by the organization’s one perceived strength: starting pitching.

Trust me, if you don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling from our ‘everything goes right’ scenario for the everyday lineup, I almost can guarantee that you will get one when we move onto the pitching staff.

]]>

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, here comes another ‘What If Everything Goes Right’ column.

While it has been a week since our last installment, I am going to wait to summarize where the Royals might be by 2012 until we start on the pitching staff. Today, we will visit the one remaining position on the diamond: catcher.

My guess is that the first name that popped into your head when you think of ‘catcher’ and ‘future’ was Wil Myers. Frankly, why wouldn’t it be? After all, Myers hit .369/.427/.679 in 22 rookie league games as an eighteen year old: that’s a pretty nice start to a professional career.

The question with Myers, who did not even catch full-time in high school, is can he develop the defensive part of his game and how long will it take? Let’s put it another way: would you rather have Wil Myers as a solid defensive everyday catcher starting in 2014 or as a possible rookie of the year candidate at a corner outfield position in 2012?

Now, before you answer that question, let’s examine some other ‘what if’ and ‘everyting goes right’ scenarios.

The Royals have pretty much committed themselves to a Jason Kendall/Brayan Pena with some Manny Pina sprinkled in situation behind the plate for the next two seasons. We can ‘what if’ our way to Jason Kendall resurrecting his younger on-base machine persona (unlikely) or Brayan Pena mastering the mental and defensive aspects of the position (also unlikely, but more plausible than Kendall getting on base thirty-seven percent of the time), but I have to wonder what the point is. The Royals will stick and are frankly stuck with those two guys behind the plate through the better part of 2011 or at least until the defensively skilled Pina shows he can hit enough to displace them.

While the above paragraph, assuming you managed to stick with it through the run-on sentences, might well have made your stomach hurt, it is worth noting that there are some real live prospects in the minors between Pina and Myers. While Sean McCauley and Jose Bonilla both struggled mightily in A-ball last year, both have been viewed as realistic options to eventually become major league regulars. Behind them is Salvador Perez, who also has the potential to ‘be somebody’ someday.

Despite poor offensive years, at least one of those three almost has to be up in Wilmington in 2010 (McCauley?) and the other two in Burlington. It would not suprise me to see Bonilla, who posted an OPS above 1.000 in 34 rookie ball games in 2008, to break through offensively and finish a strong 2010 in Wilmington.

Let’s assume that McCauley is able to stop the offensive decline he has experienced with each change in level and show enough to start 2011 in AA along with Bonilla, with Perez and perhaps young Maurcio Matos manning the position in Wilmington. Would it be totally out of the realm of possibility for either McCauley or Bonilla to get a sniff of the majors in 2011 and possibly start 2012 as the backup to Manny Pina or another veteran stop-gap (one year contract please, not two!).

Okay, now back to Wil Myers. What if he demolishes A-ball pitching (I’m assuming he will start in Burlington, Iowa in 2010) and AA pitching the next two years? It seems unlikely that Myers can learn the nuances of catching at the professional level in basically two seasons, but it seems very possible that he might emerge as the organization’s best hitting prospect by the end of 2011. If McCauley or Bonilla or Pina or Perez is threatening the big league level in 2012 with the idea of being a full-time catcher in 2013 (if not sooner) do you move Myers to less demanding defensive position to get his bat into the majors?

While we have projected David Lough and Jordan Parraz as above average everyday outfielders by then, Wil Myers might well have star quality. Considering we have projected Billy Butler and Alex Gordon to be impact bats and Mike Moustakas to be a power hitting DH in 2012, what it be worth it to plug another bat into the lineup? I think it might.

At this point, you might be asking how this column fits into the series. I have not really projected the end result of the catching situation as I did with the other seven positions, but that is because there is a big unknown in how you develop Myers. From an organizational perspective, that decision does not need to be made in 2010. In fact, you almost have to give Myers at least that long to see what he can do behind the plate on an everyday basis.

By next winter, however, assuming Myers hits like we believe he can, the Royals are going to have to decide what is more important: catching in 2014 and beyond or offense in 2012. That will be an interesting decision indeed.

FanFest

No comments

]]>

The annual gathering kicks off this afternoon at 1 PM. Since I have a job (mild mannered employee by day, blogger by night… I’m like Batman.) I won’t be attending today. Possibly Saturday… I haven’t decided. (I always do stuff like this on the spur of the moment. Keeps everyone on their toes.)

From what I hear, there will be more activities and events than last year, so it should be a good time. If you’re looking to interact with current players, old-timers, broadcasters, etc. this is certainly your event. Heck, even Dayton Moore himself wanders the exhibition hall, stopping to talk to fans and answering questions.

So if you’re going, feel free to use the comments section here to give us your impressions and experiences. I always like to get as many impressions as possible from events like this to get the “big picture” if you will. And if you have some cool photos that you’d like to share, send them to brown3829 at gmail dot com. (Get it?) Bonus points if you can snag a pic with Greinke, Saberhagen and Cone together.

Pitchers and Jason Kendall are just around the corner.

]]>
The Royals hired Ned Yost as a special advisor to baseball operations. What exactly does this mean? According to Dayton Moore:

He’ll be a resource for our Major League staff and our Minor League Department. He’ll do some scouting for us as well.

I still don t know what he s going to do (outside of the scouting part) but I m of the opinion the Royals need as many people they can get on their staff who know about playing baseball at the major league level. That alone makes this a decent hire.

Of course, any time a team hires a former manager, the rumblings start about so-and-so being a potential replacement for the current guy. I suppose that s inevitable. After all, didn t we say the exact same thing when John Gibbons was hired to be Trey Hillman s bench coach?

If Hillman gets the axe, I don t think it matters one bit that guys like Gibbons and Yost are already in the organization. The general manager will interview and hire whomever he thinks is the best option available.

Besides, are you sure you want Yost as a manager? He picked up a reputation as a guy who couldn t seal the deal in Milwaukee back in 07, earning the nickname of Nervous Ned. His handling of his team over the final eight games of the year – games where he was ejected three times – called into question his temperament and whether he could handle the pressures of a pennant race. Included in that run was a crucial game against the Cardinals where the Brewers were throwing at Albert Pujols. And don t forget, he was fired in mid September of 2008 – with his team in the pennant race.

Wow. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for future employment.

So let s not be so quick to jump on our next manager bandwagon. Although he was on Bobby Cox’s staff in Atlanta. Of course.

—————————————————————————————

FanFest continues to take shape. On Wednesday the Royals announced David Cone would be making an appearance and would be signing at an autograph session with Zack Greinke and Bret Saberhagen on Friday from 3:30 to 4:30. Uhhh, do you recognize a common theme here?

Remember what I said about me not being interested in waiting in line for autographs? Now I’m rethinking my philosophy. This is probably the coolest collection of signatures you could have on a baseball if you re a Royals fan.

Cone is an awesome guy as well. Just one of my absolute all time favorites. Of course he s more of a New Yorker now, so it s a huge get for the Royals that he s coming out for this.

——————————————————————————————–

Proof that it s a slow news day I m about to comment on Royals uniform numbers. As noted at the Scout bulletin board, the Royals roster on their home page has been updated to include current numbers on the backs of the unis.

Personally, I don t get caught up in the whole, So and so switched his number from last year, discussion. (Although according to a poster, Jose Guillen is now wearing #6. His old #11 went to Josh Fields. Honestly, if someone hadn t pointed this out, I wouldn t have noticed.)

But now here s the fun part: Trey Hillman s number next year? If the Royals own website it to be believed, it s 88. Yes, 88. Or four times his number from last year.

Here is the comprehensive list of ballplayers who have worn the number 88:

The New York Mets batboy in 1988.

Albert Belle with the Baltimore Orioles.

I m sure there is a reason for the switch. Maybe it s his wife s lucky number. Or one of his kids was born on August 8. Perhaps he always wanted to be a NFL wide receiver. It could have something to do with astrology. Is it possible he drives an Oldsmobile 88? Maybe he thought Al Pacino was great in the movie 88 Minutes.

Or maybe Hillman is just one strange dude.

]]>
OK, so I m a little late getting this up, but the Scott Podsednik contract is surprisingly a one year deal. Surprising because I had convinced myself that Dayton Moore was in the business of doubling whatever the going rate was for a player he was interested in signing. Maybe it was just my way to explain how the general manager of my team awarded two years to a 36 year old catcher. But when you get right down to it, how do you explain insanity?

Anyway, on to the Royals new leadoff man…

– The contract contains a club option for 2011 that vests into a mutual option if Podsednik reaches 525 plate appearances. I know I m making a giant assumption here, but I have to think the guy is a one and done. If he has a good year (I m on the record as saying that s highly unlikely) he s gone because he ll find some other huckleberry to overpay. (Hello, Brian Sabean!) And if he doesn t have a good year, the Royals won t bring him back. Hey, they did it with Mike Jacobs, so it can happen here.

Since he s going to bat leadoff, I think the only way he doesn t hit this mark is if he s injured. Let s just assume he has a mutual option. (Technically, I should add it s not a true mutual option. Podsednik has the opportunity to void the 2011 option. Apparently, there s a difference.)

– Podsednik is set to earn $1.65 million next year with the opportunity to earn another $250k in incentives. Those haven t been made public as of yet, but given the Royals track record, you have to believe it s based on games played or plate appearances or some wacky combination of both. And I would hazard a guess that whatever the incentives are, they will be easily attainable.

– His buyout is $100k, which is a fair rate for the amount of cash he ll take home next summer.

So we re left with a one year deal where he ll likely clear around $2 million. It s not an obscene amount of money and it s a short term deal. Hmmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, when the Royals signed Kendall. Or when they traded for Betancourt. Or when they signed Willie Bloomquist.

Taken individually, any one of these deals can be seen as harmless. Misguided, yes. But not enough to harm the franchise. (Except Betancourt. He s beyond awful.) However, taken together – and we have to take them together – it s contributing to the stagnation that is the Kansas City Royals.

Dayton Moore is nickel and diming the Royals to 95 losses and last place in the Central.

And do you see the pattern here? Lacking depth in the organization, the Royals needed a shortstop last summer when Aviles had the Tommy John. Moore somehow settled on Betancourt. Lacking depth in the organization, the Royals needed to get a catcher this winter after choosing to part with Miguel Olivo and John Buck. Moore somehow settled on Kendall. And now, the Royals who feel they lack depth in the organization in center field (more on this in a moment) decide they need a center fielder. They settle on Podsednik.

Here s a couple of things I don t get about the Podsednik signing, then I ll move on:

– First, why sign Brian Anderson to a major league deal if you re going to bring in Podsednik a few weeks later? Anderson is a poor man s Podsednik. You don t need both.

– Second, why not play Mitch Maier out there and see what happens? He s better defensively than Podsednik. Podsednik is probably faster, he s going to steal more bases although his stolen base success rate hasn t been impressive. (I said on Friday that I thought he was probably an OK baserunner, but a 69% success rate on steals isn t going to help a team.) And I d bet that if you gave both players 500+ at bats, they would have roughly the same OBP and slugging percentage. Podsednik would likely have the overall edge in the slash stats, but I m thinking it would be extremely close.

Statistically, the gap is narrow. However, Podsednik is going to make roughly $1.5 million more than Maier. Now if you re the general manager, you have to ask yourself, Would Podsednik s production be worth the extra $1.5 million? Somehow, Dayton Moore decided the answer was, Yes.

Sigh.

A couple other Royals notes:

FanFest is approaching. It s this weekend at the Overland Park Convention Center. Any readers going?

I went last year and thought it was well done. Lots of activities, stuff for the kids, some cool things to see. However, it seems to me that it s one of those things where you go once every three or four years and you re all set. (I should add that autographs hold zero appeal for me and standing in lines holds less than zero appeal. Autograph lines are my personal perfect storm to avoid.)

They re rolling out the 85 team, which is always good to see, but that was 25 years ago. It s gone from, Hey, let s celebrate the title, that was awesome, to just being kind of depressing. At this point, only one other team has gone longer without making the postseason. Do you think they ll ever do the same thing for the 93 team or the 03 team? Nah, me neither.

– The Royals signed 39 year old Matt Herges to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. He s pitched in the majors for part of 11 seasons that can be broken down like this: Three really good years, five OK years and three not so good years.

In other words, how he does is anyone s guess. But it can t hurt to give him a minor league contract and a shot. He can t be worse than Yasuhiko Yabuta or Victor Marte.

– Baseball America unveiled the Top 10 Royals prospects highlighted by Mike Montgomery at number one. I m sure Clark will have more on this later in the week. A question to ponder: Should we be concerned that of the 10 players named, only one of them (David Lough at #10) appeared in a game above High A Ball?

And if they had ranked Noel Arguelles – he would have come in at #3 – Lough would have been knocked down to #11.

BA gives the Royals and Dayton Moore high marks for improving the depth of the minors, with the pitching prospects collectively taking the greatest step forward.

– And finally, Sean at 124 Monkeys tries to understand Dayton Moore. Believe me, life is easier once you stop doing that. And Royals Primacy finds something positive in the Podsednik signing.

]]>

Maybe I need to actually listen to those Hot Stove shows on 610. I mean, come on… Who would have thought anything meaningful would have come from a conversation between Dayton Moore and Ryan Lefebvre? Thankfully, Will at Royals Review listened, and he posted last night that Dayton revealed the Royals were close to signing a “speedy outfielder” and speculated it was Scott Podsednik.

Kudos to Will for nailing this one, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported the Royals will announce the signing of Podsednik following a physical on Friday.

Podsednik will be 34 next March has based his time in the majors entirely on his legs. That’s why I’m betting that Moore signed him to a two year deal. Of course, that would be insane. That’s why I think it will be for two years. Yes, this is all speculation on my part. I’m sure details will trickle out soon.

Podsednik’s best offensive year of his career came in 2003 – his rookie season. That year in Milwaukee, he hit .314/.379/.443 with an OPS+ of 116. Those numbers all remain career highs. Defensively, he’s not very good. Yes, he’s fast, but he has a weak arm and doesn’t cover as much ground as you might think. His UZR/150 over the last three seasons was: 6.5, -17.0, -2.3. The Royals will obviously use him in center, but he was primarily a left fielder for the Sox. So it all fits together…

Best year of his career more than five years ago? Check.

Bounce back year the previous season? Check.

Not a regular at the position where the Royals will use him? Check.

Speed? Check.

Steve Rosenbloom, a beat writer for the Chicago Tribune had this to say about Pods in his end of the year blog:

“What does it say when a guy who s bad on defense and worse as a baserunner considering his speed is the best this team can do at leadoff?”

Wow. I wonder what he’s talking about when he mentions baserunning. According to Bill James, Pods took home from second base on a single 12 out of 16 opportunities. That’s really good. He made only three outs on the bases all year. (That figure obviously doesn’t count caught stealing. Sometimes, Billy Butler can make three outs on the bases in a single game.) He was rated as a +12 on the bases last summer and has consistently posted positive figures on base running net gain. There are a ton of reasons not to like this signing, but I think we’ll be fine with his baserunning. If he can get on base.

Last year, Pods had a 1.7 WAR. CHONE has him projected at .271/.333/.367 next year with a 0.7 WAR in over 400 at bats.

More details as they become available…

]]>
It s been quiet at the K, but that s to be expected. With little room left in the budget – and little affordable quality on the market – there s really nothing to do but wait.

This seems to be the Dayton Moore way. He likes to strike early, make a free agent signing or two at the Winter Meetings and then sit back and make a move or two close to spring training. Personally, I wish he wouldn t act so fast right out of the gate (i.e. the Jacobs trade last year and the Fields/Getz deal this year) but that s just the way he is. I kind of like the boldness of jumping right out of the gate, but it obviously didn t work last year. We ll see how it goes this summer, but I have my doubts.

As Moore points out, there will still be plenty of talent available when camps open in February. The basic economic laws of supply and demand tell us that the longer a free agent remains on the market, the lower his price will drop. At least it s supposed to work that way. I m currently working on an article for The Hardball Times examining what the lower payroll teams are doing to their teams this off season and a majority are hanging back, waiting for the prices to drop. However, with a number of teams playing the waiting game, I wonder if those prices will drop as much as some GMs expect. It s conceivable we could see bidding wars for those second and third tier free agents in mid February as teams scramble to fill the final holes in the roster.

It s certainly a drag to have to wait when your team s top moves have been a no-hit catcher, a potential power hitter with no position and a weak hitting second baseman. It would be a hell of a lot more fun if the Royals had been able to splash the cash on a real free agent once again. Even a bust like Jose Guillen. He s much more interesting than Jason Kendall.

A couple of links to tide you over through the weekend

Kevin Appier garnered one Hall of Fame vote. I suspect Kaegel. Daniel Moroz on how Appier was a better pitcher than Jack Morris.

A lot of teams are stockpiling pitchers by signing assorted arms to minor league contracts with spring training invites. As Matt Klaassen points out, the Indians are grabbing some bats on similar minor league deals.

Former Royals catcher Brent Mayne on the Cardinals signing Matt Holliday. Key line: I m pretty sure the Cards outbid the Cards by about 30 mill. Love it.

]]>

We are back for part three of our series with the focus today being on the middle infield.

In preparing to write this column, I made an honest effort to see the ‘everything goes right’ upside to Yuniesky Betanacourt. Despite an honest effort, the best I can come up with is that Betancourt at least does not suck the next couple of years. Yuniesky’s highest on-base percentage of his career is just .310 and his best OPS just .725: heck, even Angel Berroa had one good year to hang his hat on. Further, is it truly logical to believe that, six years into his major league career, that Betancourt will actually become the defensive master that Dayton Moore so wants us to believe he already is?

Now, Betancourt’s place in our ‘everything goes right’ scenario is that Dayton Moore ‘gets right’ and Mike Aviles gets healthy. The best case for 2010 is that Aviles comes back from arm surgery, plays as he did in 2008 and forces his way back into the everyday shortstop job. Aviles may not hold up defensively as well as he did in his rookie year, but would certainly seem to be adequate to man shortstop for the remainder of 2010 and part of 2011.

On the other side of the bag, the Royals went out and got Chris Getz from the White Sox despite having their second best hitter, Alberto Callaspo occupying this position. I have been working on the game by game season summary for the upcoming 2010 Royals Authority Annual and it is amazing how often the recap of a game mentions a defensive miscue by Callaspo. I certainly remember Alberto being downright awful in the field, but I had forgotten how much and how often his defensive shortcomings came into play during the 2009 season.

That single fact has reinforced my feeling that the Royals have to put Getz at second base, hope his defense improves over his rookie season and see if he can develop into an above average offensive player at second (as have seven other current regular second basemen with similarly unimpressive minor league resumes).

I am not sure exactly what you do with Callaspo. Given that the outfield heavy Orioles rejected a Callaspo for Felix Pie deal, you can see that Alberto’s current trade value does not match up with what you, me and Dayton Moore might have expected for a plus .800 OPS middle infielder. The Royals could go unconventional and DH Alberto, take a gamble and try him in left field (pushing DeJesus to right) or, knowing 2010 is probably a lost cause anyway, play him at second for a few months in hopes of getting better trade return as the season unfolds. At any rate, by the second half of the season, the best case scenario is a middle infield of Mike Aviles (playing competent defense and posting a 2008-esque line) and Chris Getz (playing above average defense, stealing bases and smacking doubles).

Do you contend with a middle infield of Aviles and Getz? I am not exactly sure, but remember, everything is going right for the Royals. That means Jeff Bianchi (who will just be 23 years old in 2010 by the way) will have parlayed his .307/.356/.435 line of 2009 into big numbers to start the year in AA and continued them upon a mid-season promotion to Omaha. Along the way, the hope has to be that Bianchi can stick defensively at shortstop and be in a position to push Aviles into a super utility role as early as the beginning of 2011.

At the same time, second baseman Johnny Giavotella, will have torn up AA pitching in 2010. Remember, even though his second professional campaign was not as impressive as his rookie year, Giavotella still walked more than he struck out in High A, had 38 extra base hits and 26 steals, not to mention a .351 on-base percentage despite hitting just .258. Since he will be 22 in 2010, Johnny may get some time in Omaha late next year and certainly start off the 2011 season just a phone call from the majors.

Behind this group of players, the Royals have 20 year old Fernando Garcia, who posted a .392 on-base percentage playing second base the Burlington Bees last year and talented 18 year old shortstop Yowill Espinal who began to show power and speed in his second season of rookie ball. Both could conceivably advance quickly through the system if they continue to show improvement and provide the Royals something of a ‘Milwaukee scenario’ where the Brewers enjoyed the flexibility to deal J.J. Hardy as he was pushed out of his job by young Alcides Escobar.

The reemergence of Bianchi has given the Royals some hope for real improvement either at second or short over the next couple of years. Frankly, the panic to acquire Betancourt seems more foolhardy with every line I write. Did the Royals really need to make such a daring move with a finally healthy Bianchi hitting and Mike Aviles simply an injury removed from hitting .325? Whether Dan Cortes or Derrick Saito ever develop into major leaguers is irrelevant: the Royals did not need to waste the time or the money on Betancourt.

That said, in our ‘everyting goes right’ scenario, Yuniesky Betancourt becomes nothing more than an expensive footnote as Aviles comes back healthy and effective, and some combination of Bianchi, Getz and Giavotella develop into a well above average middle infield combination.