We’re about at the midway point of the post season, so it’s probably as good a time as any to rehash Dayton Moore’s year. The goal of this exercise is to examine all of his “key” moves and deliver a simple verdict – either a win or a loss. (“Key” being a subjective term. I’m using it to apply to any move that shaped the 25-man roster.) Obviously, some of these verdicts can change. (Like, Chris Getz could become an All-Star. No, I don’t believe that.) Keep in mind the judgement is how the deal should currently be viewed.
Since the GM makes a ton of moves throughout the year, we’ll break this into a few different parts. Part one today covers November and December of 2009. We know GMDM likes to dash right out of the gate, so keep his November moves in mind as the World Series winds down in a couple of weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the first off season deal for the third consecutive year.
Traded cash and 3B Mark Teahen to Chicago White Sox for 2B Chris Getz and 3B Josh Fields.
The Royals needed to shave some cash from the payroll and found a candidate in Teahen, who was eligible for his third year of salary arbitration after earning $3.5 million in 2009. Getz started 59 games at second for the Royals, but his season was bookended by injury. He missed time in April with a strained oblique and then finished the year on the sidelines after suffering a concussion. In between it seemed like both Trey Hillman and Ned Yost didn’t exactly trust Getz to produce. I can’t really say that I blame them. He finally got an extended look in August, but hit just .217/.280/.246.
Fields seemed to be the odd man in this deal, as at the time, it didn’t seem like the Royals had a spot for him. In the end, it didn’t really matter as he lost most of his season as he recovered from hip surgery. With Betemit and Aviles at third and Gordon and DeJesus manning the corners, he still doesn’t seem to have a place on the active roster.
The White Sox compounded their problems by extending Teahen for an additional two years beyond 2010, bringing his total contract to three years, $14 million.
This was basically a deal where the Royals shed one below average bat and glove in exchange for two below average bats, one below average glove, and one average glove – although Getz is definitely a better defender than Teahen, he didn’t do anything this year to make me think he’s anything special. And even though the Royals bundled $1.5 million of their own into this deal, they still saved money.
With Fields eligible for arbitration starting this winter and Getz becoming eligible following 2011, and since Teahen is locked into the South Side, we will definitely revisit this deal a few more times.
Verdict: Neither win or loss.
Declined option on Miguel Olivo.
This needed to happen. Olivo was a horrible fit on this team and Exhibit A that Dayton Moore doesn’t really believe OBP is important. Fans were ticked when Olivo got off to a hot start in Colorado, but his .193/.225/.313 line post All-Star break was all the proof needed the Royals made the correct decision. Plus, his extreme home and road splits (.318/.349/.556 at home vs. .211/.276/.322 on the road) provide proof the Coors Effect still lingers.
Minor league free agent signings: Wilson Betemit, Brad Thompson, Bryan Bullington, Josh Rupe
Bullington’s amazing start against the Yankees on August 15 aside, this group of pitchers had as much success as you would expect random, bottom of the barrel, free agent pitchers… Not much. Thompson lived around the plate and was extremely hittable. He was gone by June. Rupe had a promising debut raising a false level of confidence and was out by mid-May.
Of course, the real prize in the November free agent feeding frenzy was Betemit. His glove was awful, but his bat was something else. We can only imagine how many runs the Royals lost offensively from keeping him in the minors for so long. We can only imagine how many runs the Royals saved defensively from keeping him in the minors for so long. To be fair, no one predicted anything remotely close to this kind of offensive season for Betemit. And there really was no room for him on the big league roster. He finally got his chance because the Royals decided to ship Alberto Callaspo to the Angels.
Verdict: This represents a 25% success rate, so since your basically talking about minor league free agents, this grades out as a win.
Released Mike Jacobs
Along with the Olivo release, this needed to happen. With Billy Butler adequate with the glove at first and exceptional with the bat, Jacobs served zero purpose on this team because he would have been a horrible choice for DH. And since he was eligible for arbitration, the Royals saved some cash by severing ties in December.
Signed Jason Kendall to a two year, $6 million deal.
Dumb, dumb, dumb. Exacerbated by the fact the Royals gave him well over 90% of the innings behind the plate.
The Royals are fond of pointing out in situations like this (and like with the Betancourt deal from the previous season) they don’t have a ton of options. They declined the option on Olivo and they didn’t offer a contract to John Buck, so they needed a catcher. Hey, I’m sympathetic to this… It’s the second year that just turns my stomach. Why basically acquire a stopgap and then tie your hands for the next two seasons. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Signed minor league free agents Bruce Chen and Philip Humber.
Chen finished with the exact same ERA as our beloved Greinke. I don’t know why I bring this up, except to point out his FIP was nearly two runs higher. Ultimately, Chen was a serviceable, back of the rotation starter. That he was the second best starter on the Royals, tells you all you need to know about the wretched condition of our rotation in 2010.
Still, like the previous month’s free agent signings, this was a 50% success rate for GMDM.
Royals non-tendered John Buck
This was the best stop-gap solution to the Royals catching conundrum. Yes, he would have cost more money in 2010 than Jason Kendall, but he wouldn’t have cost that extra year. And for the money, he would have provided much more offensive production.
Royals signed Brian Anderson
We knew the Royals were looking for outfield help and this seemed like a relatively inexpensive option. Then the Royals threw much more cash at Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel. Then Anderson became a pitcher. An off season in the life of a Royals fan.
He threw 17 innings in the minors, allowed 10 hits and five walks while striking out 17. Overall, his minor league ERA was 2.08. Intriguing start to his “new” career. He will be a free agent, so I’m interested to see if he feels any gratitude toward an organization who handed him $700,000 for a handful of minor league innings.
Summing up, the Betemit and Chen signings were positives, while the Olivo move was correct, the rest of the catching situation was a fiasco. The Royals burned too much cash for a outfielder who became a pitcher and they resisted the temptation to cling to Jacobs. And made a deal that had minimal impact on the big league roster. Overall, a fairly pedestrian start to the 2010 season.
Next, we’ll look at the moves through spring training.