Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

For various reasons, I have been pretty much out of the Royals’ loop for the better part of the past two weeks.   Here’s what I apparently missed:

  • Ned Yost views Jarrod Dyson as the best lead-off option on the team and that no one else really fits the role.  Of course, even Ned intimates that Dyson has little chance to make the roster.   I pointed out the void of a true lead-off hitter within the organization earlier this month.  Is it good or bad to have an opinion much the same as the Royals’ manager?
  • Chris Getz’s head is okay now.   Although I kind of have a weird fascination with Getz, that feeling will last exactly as long as it takes the Royals to call up Mike Moustakas.   At that point, Getz will either stop playing or start taking time away from a far superior hitting Mike Aviles.  When that happens, fascination will no longer describe my feelings towards this player.
  • Everett Teaford’s truck was stolen.   That’s a shame.
  • Joakim Soria wants a new nickname.   I can see his logic, given what is going on in his native Mexico, but color be completely bored with this topic.   Nicknames, at least non-sarcastic ones, have never really been all that interesting to me and maybe, just maybe, when you are as good as Joakim Soria we could just refer to him as, well, Joakim Soria.
  • A number of pitchers had ‘the ball come out of their hands real good’ and a similar number of position players reported to camp ‘in the best shape of their lives’.
  • Of course, as Craig detailed yesterday, Jason Kendall confirmed my feeling that he is pretty much of a clown (not the funny type, mind you).   Listen, I don’t have any fond feelings for Nick Wright, but there was nothing in his questioning of Mike Moustakas that warranted intervention from anyone.   I guess we can thank Kendall for making just another ‘softball question-cliche answer’ standard baseball interview something interesting.   Certainly, what Kendall did is no worse than what George Brett did to a young television reporter on the golf course last year (or was it two?).   The difference is that George Brett is in the Hall of Fame and Jason Kendall never will be:  nobody said life was fair.

I guess all this column really does is remind all of us how non-eventful this time of year can be.    All that changes on Sunday as the games start.   You can make the argument that spring training stats do not matter, but spring training games certainly do.  

Count me as ready for some actual baseball.

And finally, the Ned Yost over/under stolen base contest.   In Tuesday’s Kansas City Star, Yost talked about the Royals renewed emphasis on baserunning (the team has been a woeful unit on the base paths the past few years) and in that article offered up the following thoughts on stolen base abilities:

  • Mike Aviles: 25 to 30
  • Lorenzo Cain: 25
  • Alcides Escobar: 40
  • Jeff Francouer: 15
  • Chris Getz: 40

“You just have to know how to do it.   You just have to work at it.” (Ned Yost via Kansas City Star)

Alright, which of the above (if any) reach those numbers?   And how many caught stealing do they incur getting there?

As you have heard by now, the other day 610 Sports was interviewing Mike Moustakas about his time in camp.  It was, I assume, the standard boilerplate interview.  Until the issue of Moustakas beginning the season in the minor leagues came up…

As transcribed by Royals Review:

Wright: (To Moustakas) “There’s a decent chance that no matter how well you do this Spring Training, you might still start the year off in the minors just because of Baseball’s rules and wanting to hold on to eligibility, all that stuff. Do you think about that?”

Kendall: (Jumping in) “No, he wants to stay in the minor leagues all f—ing year. Are you s—ing me right now?”

NW: “Well, you heard the question, Jason?”
JK: “Yes.”
NW: “The Question wasn’t-“
JK: “Do you wanna start in the big leagues this year?”
NW: “Well hold on, is it not a legitimate question? I know he wants to start in the major leagues.”
JK: “He wants to start in the big leagues in this year.”
NW: “That wasn’t the question, Jason.”
JK: “Rewind yourself.”

I’m just going to stop at Rewind Yourself because that’s the quote of the year.  Just a few days into camp, this one is going to be difficult to top.  Especially with Jose Guillen riding off into the twilight. (Quick aside: Was anyone else surprised to hear that Guillen was retiring.  I honestly thought he retired three years ago.)

A couple of things are going on here… Allow me to play clubhouse shrink for a moment.

Issue one – the veteran versus the rookie.

Yes, the tired but true clubhouse cliche rears it’s ugly head.  Veterans – especially those on the fringe of their career – (and Kendall has been on the fringe for the better part of a decade.) are a notoriously crabby bunch.  Especially when they see the replacements arriving.  Of course, Moustakas isn’t a replacement for Kendall (I wish), rather he’s a symbol.  New versus old.  The gritty, wily veteran has had his day and the future – while it isn’t here right now – it’s certainly close.

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to what’s happening in Surprise, you know that the entire focus of this camp has been about the minor leaguers.  The tweets, the stories, the features… All about the young guys.  Sure, there’s been mentions of Jeff Francis keeping the ball down in his bullpen sessions, or how Jeff Francoeur is a nice guy… But ultimately Royals fans don’t care.  They don’t care about the guys on the “one and done” contracts.  Nor do they give a damn about Kendall and his rehab.  And all the attention on the young guys – players who haven’t done anything at the major league level – will undoubtedly play on the insecurities of the veterans.

Kendall is grasping at relevancy but his age, past performance and injury have him well on his way to the land of retirement.

The message here:  Go talk to Kendall about the art of a .300 OBP instead of Moustakas, because Moose hasn’t spent a day in the majors.

Issue two – Clubhouse leadership and professionalism

Is it possible Kendall thinks he’s exhibiting his “leadership” qualities?  If that’s the case, it’s misguided.  The question was harmless, perhaps a bit weak, although a little complex for a baseball player.  That service time stuff is for their agents.  Although in Moustakas’ case, this has been discussed for the better part of a year.  I’m sure he knows the situation and I’m sure he has an opinion.  And I’m sure he’s savvy enough, if his opinion runs contrary to the Royals, to keep his mouth shut and toe the company line.

What’s hilarious is we all know how the Royals are with members of the media when they dare step out of line (I know, it rarely happens, but still…)  Ask a difficult question and the ban hammer is swung with impunity.  I wonder if the Royals PR was present when this went down.  And I wonder if there will be any kind of rebuke for Kendall for his unprofessional behavior.  The interviewer from 610 had the right to be in the clubhouse and had the right to ask his questions.  He also had the reasonable expectation to perform his job without interruption.  It’s not up to Kendall, who wasn’t involved in the interview to be judge and jury concerning the questions.  It’s not his business.

Bottom line, Kendall interfered with someone doing their job.  If the roles had been reversed you can be sure the Royals would have gone ballistic.  Will Kendall be punished for his unprofessional behavior?  Ha.  The Royals will probably lay the blame at the feet of the interviewer for his line of questioning and give Kendall a plaque or something.

Issue three – Rewind Yourself

As I said, the early candidate for quote of the year.  This will be used frequently this year at this site (and many others.)

— Billy Butler is leading the league in grounding into double plays?  Rewind yourself!

— Bruce Chen isn’t as good as you thought… Rewind yourself!

— I thought the Royals had that game in hand after jumping out to that massive lead… Rewind yourself!

— I miss Trey Hillman… Rewind yourself!

— Jason Kendall needs to rewind himself and ride off into the sunset.


In my last podcast, I answered a question from a listener regarding why he can’t watch the Kansas City Royals even if he pays for the MLB.tv  package. He expressed frustration and dismay that is probably familiar to many of you.. I know that this question comes up each off-season and so I’m going to try and shed some light on why the Royals will let someone from Florida see their games, but not someone who is a couple of hours away from the stadium.

The whole issue begins with the territory map which is shown below.

Click to enlarge. Created by Dan Werr of Baseball Think Factory.

If you enlarge the above picture you can see that each color represents an area that is controlled by one or more Major League Baseball teams. The Royals control all of Missouri (except the part in yellow), Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

What that means is that the only way someone can watch a game featuring a team in the controlled area is if the game is broadcast by a local rights holder. In other words, if you live in the Royals prescribed area and don’t get Fox Sports Kansas City, it’s not possible for you to watch the Royals.

So, why do the Royals and the rest of Major League Baseball want to keep people who actually want to pay for their content from accessing it? The answer, unsurprisingly is money.

Fox Sports pays the Royals and every other team which they broadcast a certain amount of money annually for the exclusive broadcast rights. To make a profit they then sell advertising and extract fees from local cable operators to have access to their channel. The fees are paid on a per subscriber basis. So for every Time-Warner Cable customer in Kansas City who pays for cable a certain amount of money is sent from Time Warner to Fox. According to some 2009 research the  cost for Fox Sports was $2.37 per subscriber.

If people were allowed to just buy MLB.tv wherever they wanted, then Fox Sports would not have the leverage to be able to force local cable providers to pay them that $2.37 for every household they have. Sports in general and baseball in particular are premium content. Having exclusive rights to broadcast that content is as good as it gets. The bottom line is that it’s much more lucrative to get $2.37 from every single person whether they watch baseball or not than to get $119.99 from people who only want to watch baseball.

It’s pretty clear why baseball as a whole would want to have these territories. However, in the Royals case, I believe they’d be best served to blow the whole thing up.

In 1990, the Royals had the highest payroll in baseball. They paid $14m more for their roster than the team at the bottom of the list. In 2011, the Yankees have the highest payroll and the difference between them and the Royals will be around $200m. In the past three decades, there has been a growing disparity between the large-market and small-market teams. That’s not news. The reason behind it has to do with the change in revenue streams over those decades.

In the 80’s and early 90’s the primary revenue stream for a baseball team was ticket sales. So while it was easier for a team in New York to sell out games and charge a higher ticket price, they weren’t at much of an advantage over a team like the Royals. Then came cable television. Local games began to be broadcast and draw high ratings. Suddenly a Yankee game could be seen by millions of New Yorkers on any given night. Advertising revenue and rights fees exploded.

The size of the market suddenly became exponentially more valuable than it ever was in the past and due in no small part to the exclusive territory map. The money which is distributed from the local rights holders to the teams as we’ve already pointed out is artificially inflated due to forcing every single subscriber to pay for the content whether they want it or not.

If suddenly there was a way to watch only the things you want without cable, then the playing field would suddenly become a whole lot more level. That exists, it’s called the internet. The MLB has created a company called Major League Baseball Advanced Media that runs the MLB websites, MLB Channel and MLB.tv. The important caveat is that the money from that venture is split evenly to all 30 teams. If a Yankees fan in Wyoming pays MLB to watch his teams games on the internet, the Royals get 1/30th of that.

If somehow the territory maps were to destroyed, then the leverage that the local rights holders have diminishes overnight. Fans who spent $50 or $100 a month on cable would suddenly consider getting rid of their subscriptions because they can watch their team on the internet or an internet-enabled device. Overnight, there would be fewer people paying the $2.37 but more paying the $119. More importantly there would be less money flowing into large market teams and more into the smaller ones.

These territory protection schemes also artificially prop up larger markets more than is reasonable. It’s one of many reasons that it’s comical when the owner of the Yankees Hank Steinbrenner calls the baseball system socialism or communism. It’s a plutocracy if it’s anything. The few teams with the vast amounts of money set up the system to benefit them the most and convince the smaller market teams that they’re also benefiting.

In the end, there are people who want to watch a baseball game, but due to archaic and backwards thinking rules, they are prevented. The Royals should be fighting to open up territories and then the poor fans in Iowa would get to watch a baseball game, a Royals fan in Arkansas would get to see his team and a nation of fans would suddenly be overjoyed at the ability to pay for something that they actually want to pay for.

You can follow Nick Scott on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or reach him via email brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

If you’ve been reading this space consistently for the last five or six years, you know I am ultra skeptical about anything we hear coming from Surprise.  Everyone is in either the best shape of their life, or they’re ready to dominate.  Or something like that…

This spring, catcher position is an area of interest, for obvious reasons.  Hopefully, there will be some combination of Luke May and Brayan Pena this season.

Looking down the road, Salvador Perez is now the Royals catcher of the future.  He’s not the catcher of the future because the Royals moved Wil Myers to the outfield.  He’s the catcher of the future because his performance last year convinced the Royals they could shift Myers to the outfield.  That’s known as a “win-win” situation.

Perez has been thought of as the Royals best defensive catching prospect for a couple of seasons.   If you saw the latest dispatch from Dutton, you know that Ned Yost raved about his arm.  The Royals have him at 1.8 seconds on the throw to second.  That’s exceptional.  Independent scouts rate his arm as above average.  Last year, Perez gunned down an astounding 37 base runners in 88 steal attempts.  That’s 42%.  Nice.

Perez has been exhibiting his quality arm ever since he joined the organization.  For his career, he’s thrown out 39% of all would be base stealers.  And if you can glean anything from Dutton’s article, it’s that the kid knows his way behind the plate.  According to Baseball America, Perez already knows how to call a good game and does a solid job of framing pitches and working with a pitching staff.  With Yost (a former catcher) as his manager and with Dayton Moore’s track record of what he looks for in a catcher, we know these defensive intangibles – particularly the leadership role in relation to the pitchers and pitching staff – carry a great deal of weight.

While Perez is solidly defensively, it’s the offensive side of his game that have always drawn questions.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before… Perez refuses to take a walk.  Last year, he drew a grand total of 18 walks in 396 plate appearances.  That’s a 4.5% walk rate.  That’s Olivo-esque.  Over his four year minor league career, he’s been issued 55 walks in just under 1,000 plate appearances.

While the lack of walks is (as usual) a cause for concern, the other side of the coin is Perez makes some kind of consistent contact.  He’s struck out just 98 times in his minor league career… Just 38 times last summer.  While the lack of walks can be viewed as a problem, I’m a big fan of contact.  As long as he doesn’t go fishing for sliders outside the zone (hello, Olivo) and puts the ball in play, I could be convinced to (somewhat) ignore the missing base on balls.  His progress will be worth monitoring as he faces improved pitching as he progresses through the system.

The primary concern for Perez according to Baseball America is his lack of speed.  They grade him at a 25 on the scouts scale of 20-80 and note he already possesses a thick lower half of his body.  The concern is, if he continues to pack on the weight, a lack of mobility could result.  Obviously, that wouldn’t be a good thing.

Perez isn’t going to be a factor in 2011 for the big league team, but he’s certainly one to watch.  There’s been a ton of talk over the last couple of season that the Royals are thin at the catcher position throughout the organization.  That may be the case, but it’s possible Perez is the solution.  As long as the Royals and GMDM resist the temptation to continually go fishing outside the organization for a catcher loaded with intangibles, Perez just may be the Royals catcher of the future.

Episode #043 – In this episode, Nick discusses the reason that some people are blacked out from watching Royals games and why Pujols won’t be coming to Kansas City. Justin Bopp of Beyond the Box Score also joins in to discuss Billy Butler.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs043.mp3|titles=BBS

Follow Nick on Twitter @brokenbatsingle or on Facebook

Check out Beyond The Box Score and Justin’s article on Billy Butler, also follow him on Twitter @justinbopp

Music used in this podcast:

Akron/Family – Island

The Killers – On Top

Eric Dolphy – Hat And Beard

How to Get the Podcast:

Click here to be taken to the site to download directly.

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I’m covering for Clark today here at Royals Authority and so it’s probably a good time to do a set of bullets in honor of Pitchers and Catchers reporting.

Let’s start out with a little mood music: Akron/Family – So It Goes

  • I know that it’s fun to think of what it’d be like if Albert Pujols became a member of the Royals.  It’s pretty much like buying a Powerball ticket. The fun part of buying the ticket is talking about what you would do with the money and thinking about the possibility, although remote that it could happen. Getting Pujols is also just like the lottery in that it’s not going to happen. There is no way that Pujols would come to the Royals. There is no way that the Royals will spend the money to sign him. Most importantly, signing him makes absolutely no sense. Let’s move on.
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  • Lately on Twitter, I’ve been noting things that have happened on this date in Royals history or a notable Royals birthday. The other day was one that I found really interesting. On February 15th, 1988 the Royals traded Van Snider to the Reds for Jeff Montgomery. Snider ended up getting 7 Major League hits while Monty got 304 saves. That’s one heck of a trade. The story behind the trade is actually even more interesting. As Jeffrey Flanagan wrote at the time, Montgomery idolized then Reds manager Pete Rose but when he got to the Big League club, Rose didn’t really like Monty.

“..Rose submitted a list of about six or seven players to new Reds general manager Murray Cook in February 1988. They were the names of players Rose had concluded could not play for him. Montgomery was on the list.”

Cook goes on to admit he’d never seen Montgomery pitch and that he coveted Van Snider because he “had all the tools. He seemed nearly a sure thing.” That’s astonishingly bad organizational management. I can’t imagine such a deal happening today, but I bet it does.
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  • Justin Bopp over at Beyond the Boxscore put together a beautiful graphic showing where Billy Butler got all of his hits. I’ve interviewed him for the upcoming podcast, so look for that probably tomorrow.
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  • The Kansas City Baseball Historical Society is having it’s monthly meeting tonight at the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill. It’s $5 if you’re not a member. I hear it’s a good time. I’ll be attending tonight and I look forward to talking baseball. Come on out and join us.
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  • Apparently Jason Kendall is planning on being ready for Opening Day. I’ve never been a big fan of Kendall, but he does have a couple of things that I admire about him. One: the guy really, really, really wants to play baseball. Two: he can really, really, really annoy Craig here at Royals Authority.
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  • Adam Foster at Project Prospect has an extremely detailed scouting report on Royals pitching prospect John Lamb. I’m very high on Lamb and can’t wait for the kid to get his first taste of Major League action.
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  • So far the media member who gets the most credit for their Spring Training coverage is Bob Fescoe of 610 Sports. I’m not a big fan of his show in general, but his Royals coverage has been damn good this week. He’s had interviews every day along with  lots of tweets, videos and pictures.
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  • Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star Tweeted that the Royals have been showing interest in a Minor League deal for pitcher John Maine. I don’t see any reason not to give it a shot.
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  • There is still room if you want to come to the Royals Authority live event at The Well in Waldo. Drop me an email if you want me to reserve you a spot. Send it to brokenbatsingle [at] gmail [dot] com.
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  • In AL Central news, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was arrested late Wednesday night on drunken driving charges.
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  • I’m going to end this post with another video. Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to parachute into Kauffman Stadium? Wonder no more.
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    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/montgje01.shtml

You can follow Nick Scott on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or reach him via email brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

The news was enough to send a shiver through any Royals fan…

“Jason Kendall, 36, underwent surgery September 3 to repair major tearing (of his right rotator cuff.) The typical recovery period is eight to 10 months. Though Kendall contends he is ahead of schedule.”

Funny how all this works, isn’t it?  Kendall began his career when dinosaurs (or Carl Everett, I don’t remember which) roamed the Earth.  Then the guy disappears at the end of the season and it’s out of sight, out of mind.  This whole winter when Clark has been putting together his 25 man rosters or in any kind of conversations I’ve had with Royals fans, Kendall never seems to come up as having a role on the 2011 team.

You know what… That’s fine.

Except there he was on the first day of camp, checking in before jetting off to LA to have his shoulder examined.  The threat (and it is a threat) is very real that Kendall will finish his rehab ahead of schedule and will start to take time behind the plate and at bats away from Brayan Pena, Luke May and whomever else the Royals will use at catcher this summer.  Yes, I know that these guys probably aren’t part of the future.  Neither is Kendall.

I get what Dayton Moore and the Royals braintrust are trying to do when assembling a roster.  At this point of The Process, it’s all about the youth but on the occasion they are looking at veterans, they are looking for solid baseball citizens first and talented baseball players second.  How else do you explain Jeff Francoeur?  And while those of us who are sabermetrically inclined scoff at the idea of clubhouse chemistry – We know how to measure a good hitter, but how do you measure a good teammate? – there is certainly something to the point that you need veteran players to show the youngsters how things are done at the major league level.  How far would Nuke Laloosh have gone without Crash Davis telling him his cliches and schooling him on the art of keeping moldy shower shoes?

And doesn’t this feel like another failure of The Process at this point?  All this focus on having good baseball citizens and we learn that some players called meetings to specifically mock Billy Butler.  Yeah, I would think that could poison the clubhouse chemistry.  More importantly, how does that happen?  Every clubhouse will have it’s bad seeds or it’s malcontents.  Kansas City has had their fair share perhaps because the team is a consistent loser.  But still, the fact that the situation was allowed to deteriorate to that level is disturbing and disgusting.  Especially after the lip service given to having quality veterans.

But I digress…  There is something to having veterans on a young team.  The right veterans.
And since we now have Frenchy – who, by all accounts is a great guy –  there’s no reason for Kendall to stick around.

Oh, there will be all this talk about how Kendall can help the pitching staff, but in baseball you really can’t make lemonade out of lemons.  Besides, Jeff Francis has seen his share of battles and Bruce Chen is back.  Kyle Davies is Captain Awesome, having parlayed unbelievably poor season after unbelievably poor season into some kind of longevity.  It’s not a good staff, but it’s not one short of experience.  Last season, the team ERA was 4.97.  I wouldn’t blame Kendall for that number any more than I would give him credit if their collective ERA was league average.

And if Brayan Pena spent all last summer learning from Kendall, is there really more wisdom Kendall can impart?  If Pena didn’t pick up a few pointers from watching Kendall catch practically every freaking inning last summer, there’s no hope.

At this point of The Process, it would do both parties good to move on to the next stage.   Kendall can’t contribute anything with the bat.  He hasn’t been able to do that for years.  His receiving skills have eroded as well.  It happens.  The dude is 36 years old for crying out loud.  Adding a surgically repaired shoulder to the equation isn’t going to make things better.  It’s time for Kendall to pull a page from the Gil Meche handbook, do the right thing, and walk away.  It won’t be the ending he wanted, but it will be a damn sight better than struggling through yet another summer.  Plus, his continual rehab will draw energy and resources away from players who will inevitably pick up the bump or bruise during camp that could use the help.  That’s not saying the Royals would ignore or mistreat an injury.  I’m just saying that not having to deal with getting Kendall ready for game action would free up the training staff to work on something else.

And it’s not like Kendall would be a productive player if he returns.  That ship sailed a long time ago.  All he would do is steal at bats and time from the other catchers on the club.  As I said earlier, they’re not that great to start but they’re younger and less expensive.  They deserve their shot.  They don’t deserve another summer of hoping the Royals get blown out so they can catch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Still, the Royals can let Kendall hang around – You don’t stick with the game as long as he has unless you live and breathe baseball – but do it as a coach.  Channel that passion into something that can truly help the team.  Have him hang out in Surprise and work with the catchers who are healthy and can play the game.  Then let him spend the summer on the road in places like Omaha, Northwest Arkansas and Wilmington.  If he’s such a valuable mentor, turn him loose on the youth of the franchise.  I admire his grit and his desire to return to play. Sometimes it’s better to admit the game has passed you by.

He doesn’t even have to do the Full Meche… Go ahead and pay him his money and have him do something else… Anything other than catch for the Royals.

Of course this could all be a moot point.  Kendall could run out of grit and will find it impossible to heal enough to ever play baseball again.  Either way, he should have played his last game for the Royals.

I keep forgetting that David Dejesus isn’t a Royal anymore. It’s partly because the departure of Zack Greinke was much more publicized. It’s also probably because David Dejesus was  the kind of player who was always under-rated and under-appreciated.

When he was with the Royals I tried to sing his praises to anyone who  would listen. Telling me that he was a “fifth outfielder on a good team” was tantamount to fightin’ words. I always felt like I appreciated his effort and the way he was good at almost every aspect of the game. Sorry David, I can’t gloss over your base-running. He was very good at a lot of things and great at nothing. Those kinds of players don’t ever seem to get the recognition they deserve.

You have to watch him play day in and day out to really have an appreciation for Dejesus. I did that, and I still find myself forgetting that he won’t be a part of the team in 2011. It doesn’t mean that he won’t be missed though.

The last time the Royals played a season without any David Dejesus was in 2002. The last time he played less than 91 games was in 2003 when he got  in just 12 contests. Those 12 games were all in September of that year, long after the Royals had blown their division lead and the excitement had died. The one season in the last decade when the Royals had success and he was late to the party. He was a part of one Royals team that lost fewer than 90 games–in 2008 they went 75-87.

Through all of that losing, Dejesus never seemed to lose his composure or his desire to play the game. To be honest, I have no idea if that is true. I was never around him, but it sure seemed that way. Some fans didn’t approve of the way he always had a smile on his face when his team was consistently losing. I found it endearing and comforting. To me, it was a subtle reminder that it’s still just a game. I’m probably just as sick and tired of watching teams lose as David Dejesus is of playing on them, but a quick grin from him always reminded me that it’s still baseball. If I didn’t love the game, I wouldn’t watch a team lose 90+ games 10 out of the last 14 years.

It’s not just the demeanor of Dejesus that the Royals will miss this year. Nobody cares who won the comforting grin title anyway. What will hurt the most is that he was a damn good baseball player. According to Baseball-Reference, he either led or was tied for highest WAR on the team by a positional player in 2005,2006,2007,2008 and 2009. Basically, he was the best position player for every season he was with the team other than his rookie year and the last one in which he lost time to an injury.

The Royals haven’t been good in the past six years, so the bar for being the best player on the team was set pretty low. The point remains, the best player on the team for the past six years is now gone. It’s also bordering on criminal that he wasn’t selected to an All-Star Game even once during his time as a Royal.

As the 2011 baseball season begins gearing up, I thought it would be nice to just take one more look back at Dejesus and how much he really helped the team during his tenure. If the Royals have any hope of fielding a competitive team, someone is going to have to pick up where he left off. I’ll finish with a table showing where Dejesus ranks in some categories in Royals history.

Category No. All-Time Rank
Games Played 876 12
brWAR 21.7 8
Batting Avg .289 12
On Base % .360 10
Plate Appearances 3799 9
Runs 501 10
Hits 971 9
Total Bases 1431 9
Doubles 187 8
Triples 45 7(tie)

Basically, Dejesus is one of the top ten players in Royals history. That’s not a player who is easily replaced. Good luck in Oakland David. I’ll be rooting for you.

You can follow Nick Scott on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or reach him via email brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

Finally

8 comments

This winter has felt especially long.  But finally, after four and a half months without Royals baseball, the team is set to check into Surprise this afternoon as the first wave – the pitchers and catchers – report for duty.

While there are always a number of positional battles in every camp, I think the attention will be mostly on the pitchers – specifically the relief corps.  There are a ton of young arms on the roster, and a number of those young arms will be expected to contribute meaningful (for the Royals) innings this summer.

Of course, it is spring training, so any feelings of enthusiasm or optimism you may have should be tempered by the reality that March stats and performance should be taken ever so lightly.  Remember Aaron Crow and his spring from a year ago.  Then counter that with his regular season.  Ying and yang.  It happens.

Still, this is one of the best days of the year, if only because we are one step closer to meaningful baseball.

With that in mind, what positional battles are you looking forward to this spring?  What young arms will you be watching?

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Just in case you missed it, yesterday Nick and I took over the main Sweet Spot blog on the baseball page at ESPN.

Nick led off with a look at the Jackie Robinson Award.

Then I followed with my take on the possibility Albert Pujols crosses the state to play for the Royals.  I also wrote about the late Chuck Tanner and how he arrived in Pittsburgh.

If you’re hungry for more baseball coverage, check those out.

I know, the title seems a little silly given that the team has not even reported for 2011 Spring Training.    If you have been visiting this site for any period of time, however, you will know that one of my major complaints (probably THE major complaint) with the Royals organization is that they seemingly spend a lot of baseball games ‘marking time’.

At time, it almost appears that Dayton Moore and the Royals are actually afraid to ‘find out’ if a player can be useful or not.    My angst at this actually pre-dates Moore and goes back to the likes of Matt Diaz and Justin Huber.   While Diaz has proved useful, having him would not have greatly changed the organization’s destiny, and while Huber has never stuck anywhere, wouldn’t it been nice to at least see them get 300 at-bats with Kansas City?   Just so we knew?

The situation has rather famously continued with Mike Aviles, who after proving himself once (much to the organization’s chagrin) and getting injured, then had to prove himself all over again.   It certainly has been a sticking point for many when it comes to Kila Ka’aihue, who should have been given a chance to hit or not hit major league pitching in 2009, but instead has marked time for two full seasons while the Royals let Mike Jacobs and Jose Guillen hack away at air.    You can add catcher Brayan Pena to mix as well as he has rode the bench for two losing seasons and no one really, really knows if the guy can hit and field on an everyday basis.

Whether you agree with my assessment that the Royals have done more than their share of wasting major league time or not – which basically assumes that the organization is filled with enough baseball geniuses that they ‘just know’ who can play or not – I think most of us can agree that 2011 is a year the Royals absolutely, positively have to use to ‘find things out’.

By October of this year, I believe it is imperative for Dayton Moore to be in a position to sit down at this desk and answer the following questions based not on what he thinks or what the scouts believe, but on what he say on the major league field in 2011:

  • Luke Hochevar is either a fringe number two/solid number three starter on a contender or more innings filler for the back of the rotation.  – Barring another injury, he will get this chance, but the Royals need to realize Hochevar for whatever he is by the end of the season, slot him in at that spot and move on.
  • Alex Gordon is an integral part of the organization’s future.The organization should be willing to give Gordon 145 games against all types of pitching to prove he can be an offensive asset.   If he hits .212 through May, let’s not panic and start platooning him with Melky Cabrera.
  • Kila Ka’aihue really can hit major league pitching.Seriously, the entire baseball world may believe that Kila only has slider bat speed, but the entire baseball world is also wondering (should the wonder anything about the Royals) why the heck Kansas City has not given him 500 at-bats just to make sure.
  • Alcides Escobar is on his way to turning prospect potential into major league production. – You know the spiel:  prior to 2010, Escobar was the number 12 prospect in all of baseball and then had a pretty awful rookie season in the majors.   Great defense, an on-base percentage above .330 and some good baserunning is all the Royals are asking for here.   Escobar will get the better part of 2012 to continue to prove himself, but a solid 2011 campaign will allow the organization to start moving Christian Colon to over to second base and focus their free agent dollars/trade energy on a position other than short.
  • Mike Moustakas has four months of major league experience. – I don’t expect Moustakas to light the majors on fire once he gets the call (sometime between May 1 and July 1), and part of one season does not a star or bust make.   Still, the Royals need to get his career started if only to get Mike’s experience curve a step ahead of that of Eric Hosmer.    Call him up, put him in the lineup and leave him alone.   We will spend 2012 deciding if Moustakas is great or not, he just needs to bang out those first 350 rookie at-bats this summer.
  • Lorenzo Cain will be the Royals starting centerfielder on Opening Day of 2012. – If it was up to me, Lorenzo would be the starting centerfielder THIS Opening Day.   The world will not end, I don’t think anyway, if Cain begins 2011 in Omaha, but it very well could be Armageddon if Cain has not accumulated 100+ games of everyday duty in center by the end of the season.   Like Moustakas, that amount of experience will not tell us Cain’s long-term future, but it will give the Royals enough data to say ‘yes, he’s our guy in 2012′.  
  • These three young arms will set-up Joakim Soria in 2012. – I have no problem with Robinson Tejeda spending 2011 being Soria’s primary set-up man:  nothing decimates a team’s psyche more than having the bullpen blow leads late.   However, picking up a random veteran or wasting our time with other organization’s rejects in front of Tejeda/Soria would be a crime.   By the end of 2011, Dayton Moore should have seen plenty of Blake Wood to know if he can be a solid major league reliever.   He should also have seen enough of Tim Collins, Blaine Hardy, Louis Coleman and Greg Holland to be ready to hand them serious late inning responsibilities in 2012.   You can throw Everett Teaford, Brandon Sisk, Patrick Keating and Nathan Adcock in the mix as well.   Bottom line, there should be a large number of young, basically homegrown arms that get at least thirty innings of work (there should be plenty of bullpen innings available with this year’s rotation!) in 2011.
  • I do or do not need to sign or trade for a catcher in the winter of 2011. – Seriously, with Jason Kendall being a) hurt and b) being Jason Kendall, there is no excuse to not see a lot of Brayan Pena, Lucas May and maybe even Manny Pina in 2011.  It might not be pretty, but it is a necessary evil in assessing where Dayton Moore needs to focus his off-season energy.   Salvador Perez will have a full year at AA under his belt be then, but certainly will not be ready for the majors in early 2012, so the Royals will absolutely need to know if they have anyone between in front of the hopefully blossoming Perez to hold down the position in 2012.
  • Two of the organization’s prized young starters are ready for the 2012 rotation. - Be it Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, John Lamb, Aaron Crow or Chris Dwyer (Teaford as well), you have to hope that two of them get between eight and fifteen starts in the second half of 2011 and prove themselves ready for full-time duty in 2012.   They don’t have to prove anything, just get some innings in so they are ready to prove something in 2012.

Certainly, you could make this list much, much longer, but in I think these are the critical issues that simply have to be resolved prior to the next off-season.  Sure, you could say ‘find out about Chris Getz’, but frankly if spring training 2012 is a battle at second between Getz, Aviles, Giavotella and maybe even Colon that does not really hurt the progression of The Process.   

Not all the questions have to be answered at once, but you do need to stop theorizing and start actually answering questions.    Catching and Kila Ka’aihue should have been asked and anwered last year, maybe even the year before.   Be it ego or fear or stubborness, all that needs to be set aside in 2011 and the answers need to be found.

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