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Jason Kendall is coming back, and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

Actually, that a thirty-six year old, fifteen year veteran busts his rear end to get back from major shoulder surgery is admirable.  Jason Kendall will get paid $3,750,000 whether he is ready to play March 31st or August 31st.  That he is pushing himself this hard to return early is truly commendable.

Jason Kendall takes a lot of heat, much of it deserved, on this site and others, but the truth is that much of it is not his fault.   It’s not his fault Dayton Moore offered two years and six million dollars.   It is also not Kendall’s fault that Ned Yost and Trey Hillman insisted on batting him second even though he had not posted an even average OPS+ since 2004.   As major league managers, it is also their fault, not Kendall’s, that they played him every day.

Sure, Jason doesn’t have to be such a jerk on the days when he is not in the lineup and he can be a bit of a condescending assclown when it comes to dealing with the press and fans.   Still, we cannot fault a guy for wanting to play baseball and busting his ass to do so.

Playing baseball, however, is the key phrase in all the above and Jason Kendall is not what he used to be when it comes to that skill.   Last season, Jason hit a very skinny .256/.318/.297 for an OPS+ of just 71.   His traditional OPS of .615 was the worst mark among all catchers with more than 300 plate appearances, as was his slugging percentage.  

It is not that the Royals had a ton of options to amp up the offense from behind the plate, however.   While almost all of us think Brayan Pena brings more offense to the position, his 2010 line of .253/.306/.335 (OPS+ of 76) was decidedly Kendall-esque.   Lucas May, in admittedly small sample size of just 39 at-bats, was an anemic .189/.205/.216.

Defensively, we all know that judging catchers is tremendously difficult..  You don’t really need to be a ‘baseball man’ to watch a shortstop play and see if he is a great defender or a poor one.   Discerning a great catcher is much harder, however.   How many times have you given a catcher credit for a pitcher’s good outing?   How do you tell if he even deserves the credit?   We don’t see how many hours a catcher spends studying opposing batters or if he manages to translate those hours of study into an effective game plan.

What we are left with is an inexact science of stolen base percentages, passed balls, wild pitches and the almost absurd ‘catcher’s earned run average.’   As inaccurate as those are, here’s a quick look at the three Royals’ catchers last year:

  • Passed Balls per 9 innings:   Kendall (.053), Pena (.027), May (.444)
  • Wild Pitches per 9 innings:  Kendall (.309), Pena (.401), May (.556)
  • Stolen Bases per 9 innings:  Kendall (.89), Pena (.77), May (.78)

Pena actually was tagged for a passed ball half as often as Kendall (and no, I did not forget a zero in front of May’s number), but I am not sure 337 innings of work on Pena’s part is enough to make much a case.  

Although wild pitches are technically the fault of the pitcher, I do put some stock in the fact that a good defensive catcher does have some role in his hurlers getting tagged with wild pitches.   Using that logic, Kendall was better than Pena who was better than May.

While Pena and Kendall both threw out 29% of potential base stealers, runners took liberty with Kendall more than they did with Pena.   Again, I am not sure this, like any of the above really tells us who is the better defensive catcher.    Frankly, the best defender in the organization is probably Manny Pina, who NO ONE will ever bat second.

The funny thing about this whole situation is that it is very possible that none of these three is a legitimate everyday catcher and yet, the Royals might well break camp with all three of them on the twenty-five man roster.   Here is something even funnier:  I might actually advocate doing so.

Now, as Craig mentioned yesterday, there is really no use for a third catcher, particularly in the American League.  A third catcher who cannot hit and field who plays behind two guys who can’t either is bordering on the insane.    Even more insane is that I think it is unlikely that either Bryan Pena or Lucas May, both out of options, make it through waivers if the Royals try to send them down to the minors.   Baseball is funny that way.

   With no need for a fifth starting pitcher until April 16th and carrying an eighth reliever being even more ridiculous than a third catcher, it opens up a temporary twenty-five man roster spot.    With essentially a free spot to burn, we are faced with these undeniable truths:

  • If healthy, Jason Kendall will play most days.   We can rail against it all we want, but you know it and I know it.
  • We don’t know if Jason Kendall is healthy.
  • Manny Pina has played 17 games above AA ball.
  • The Royals’ catcher of the future, Salvador Perez, has played no games above A ball.
  • Brayan Pena and Lucas May are out of options.

While the possibility remains that Jason Kendall opens the season on the disabled list, my guess is he won’t.   Assuming that Kendall is active, the Royals will be faced with the gnawing uncertainty that he may or may not be truly healthy and, given the pace at which he returned, could be susceptible to re-injury.

As Nick suggested on the most recent podcast, it might make the most sense to go with the veteran Kendall backed by the defensive minded Pina, IF Kendall is healthy.   (Again, by ‘most sense’, keep in mind that we are operating in reality here – the one where you know that Jason Kendall will play virtually everyday.)  Not knowing if Kendall is healthy and will stay healthy dictates that someone with major league experience join him on the roster.   

Enter Brayan Pena, who has hit one year and not hit the next and is, by most accounts, becoming a tolerable catcher.   He is a likable guy, good clubhouse guy considering he almost never gets to play and almost certainly will break camp with the team for the simple reason that he is better than Lucas May and more experienced than Manny Pina.

What about Lucas May then?    He came to the Royals along with pitcher Elisaul Pimentel in exchange for Scott Podsednik.    May did not show a lot in a brief stint with Kansas City last season, but is still a work in progress.   There is some sentiment that he might have some offensive upside…..for a catcher.     Having been in the organization for less than a year, one would think the Royals might like to take a longer look at him.

Now, the world will not end if the Royals try to pass May through waivers and get him a minor league assignment.   Heck, I just spent the better part of this column telling you that none of the Royals’ catchers are very good.    Still, they really don’t know what they have in May and almost certainly would prefer to have Manny Pina catch everyday in Omaha and Salvador Perez do the same everyday in Northwest Arkansas this year.

Keeping May in some fashion protects younger more viable catchers in the system from being rushed to the majors to be a backup should an injury strike down Kendall or Pena.     If the Royals had a roster squeeze, this would not be worth the effort, but they don’t.

The decision to play Lorenzo Cain in Omaha has apparently been made:  an unfortunate side effect of promising Melky Cabrera playing time this winter.   With that the five outfielders are set and the Royals can maintain their hold on the out of options Gregor Blanco and Mitch Maier. 

The infield is down to a) is Wilson Betemit healthy and b) can Chris Getz hit?   Lance Zawadzki and Pedro Feliz await those answers and probably, if the Royals really wanted to, one of them could stake claim to this temporary spot in place of the third catcher.   Keep in mind, however, keeping Feliz comes with an $800,000 price tag and the caveat that we will actually have to watch him hit.

In my mind, it will probably be easier to sneak an out of options player through waivers in mid-April than right before breaking camp.   By then, organizations will have their minor league rosters set and be a little less likely to jump on a marginal player from somewhere else.  

So, three catchers?  Really?   It doesn’t make any long term sense at all, but for a brief couple of weeks this spring, it might be the prudent thing to do.

Getting past the off day means we’re all downhill from here as we approach the start of the regular season. (YES!!!)  As Dutton outlined, this is where the competition for spots really begins to gather steam.  Any stats you saw in the early part of the spring, you can safely discard.  While you can probably discard the spring stats that will unfold the rest of the month, from now on those numbers will play a role in setting the 25 man roster the Royals take north for the opener on March 31.

While the Royals maintain there’s still some competition, I maintain most of the roster has been set since camp opened a month ago.  Excepting the bullpen.

The one monkey wrench in all of this could be the recovery of Jason Kendall.  This doesn’t surprise me as much as disappoint me, but he is ahead of schedule.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he opened with the team… Even if he had something like 10 spring training at bats.  That’s just something the Royals always seem to do where they stumble over themselves to give a veteran some sort of role on the team.  Remember “It wouldn’t be fair to Dougie?” I suggest we all get mentally prepared, because Kendall will be with the team sooner rather than later.  Honestly, I was holding out hope that it would be July at the earliest, but this dude is some sort of cyborg or something.  At his age, recovery should take time.  Lots and lots of time.

Rewind yourself, indeed.

Clark speculated the other day that if Kendall is on the roster, the Royals would keep three catchers as both Brayan Pena and Lucas May are out of options.  I suppose that’s possible, and we all know how tone deaf Dayton Moore is when it comes to assembling the 25-man roster.  Still, a three man catching monster is as useless as a 13 man bullpen.  But it doesn’t prevent teams like the Royals from doing something like this.

Otherwise, the position players appear to be set.  The upset of the camp would be if Lance Zawadzki pushes Chris Getz to the sideline.  The Z Man has been productive and Getz has been…Getz.  I still think Getz has the inside track… How crazy would it be if stolen bases were the deciding factor.  We all know how the Royals want to run this year.  Getz has four spring steals while Zawadzki has none.

Of course, the Royals could go with both if they decide Wilson Betemit isn’t ready for regular duty.

— As for the outfield, that’s set.  Nothing has changed there.

— Same for the rotation as it’s down to Vin Mazarro and Sean O’Sullivan as for who can suck less.  I’m really not invested in this battle, especially since the Royals won’t need a fifth starter until mid April.

That quirk of the schedule could permit the Royals to carry three catchers and five outfielders.  Crazy.

Meanwhile, Alex Gordon is on a tear and through 30 spring at bats is hitting .367/.558/.733 with three home runs, including a bomb he launched on Tuesday. Of course, he was hitless or something in his first 10 at bats of the spring. (I don’t recall, and it’s not necessary to look it up.) The point is, he was ice cold for the first week or so and he’s poured it on ever since.  And ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  What Alex Gordon does in Arizona shouldn’t impact your opinion of him in the least.

— Nate Adcock looked strong in three innings of work, but color me skeptical when discussing a Rule 5 pick who has never pitched above high A ball and strikes out just 6.6 batters per nine while walking 3.8.  Sure, it helps his cause that he has yet to allow a run in eight innings of spring work, but I’m going to place a wager that his first eight innings of the regular season won’t go as smoothly.

He will remain in the mix for the bullpen since the Royals have to keep him on the 25 man roster or offer him back to Pittsburgh.  Meanwhile, they acquired another Rule 5 guy in Robert Fish.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before… He’s a lefty power arm who has trouble with command. In other words, he’ll always have teams knocking on his door.  It’s difficult to imagine a scenario, even in KC, where a team keeps two Rule 5 guys in the bullpen.  Still, this is GMDM and the Royals… Anything is possible when it comes to constructing a roster.

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.

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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In AL Central news, Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was arrested late Wednesday night on drunken driving charges.
  • 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.

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.

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.

Verdict: Win

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.

Verdict: Win.

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.

Verdict:  Loss

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.

Verdict: Win

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.

Verdict: Loss

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.

Verdict: Loss

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.


The 2010 Kansas City Royals season was one that we would all likely want to forget.  It was another in a long string of losing seasons and there were pretty much no young prospects to see at the Major League Level.  Still, I think that it’s instructive to look back at the season and see exactly what worked and what didn’t.  I did this same exercise last off-season and I learned a lot during the process.  So here is quick primer on how I do this and what the statistics mean.  Each week, I’ll post an article looking at a single position almost exclusively through the offensive lens.  Quantifying defense is still pretty difficult, and even though there are great strides being made, how exactly to weight that compared to the offensive side of the ball is even more difficult.  So with that, I’ll almost completely ignore the defensive contributions at each position, so it’d be more accurate to say that the analysis more a position-by-position offensive breakdown.

When I look at each position, I’ll do it individually and then combine the players into a single unit.  So primarily I’ll be looking at the offensive output of the Royals at a position.  The point is to see what spots on the field the Royals need to improve offense and where they can stand pat.  I would think that Dayton Moore is doing something similar and then comparing this information to the available free agents and the in house prospects.  It’s useful to look at it position by position because obviously the offensive output of a first basemen is different and not comparable to that of a shortstop.

I will be using some so-called “advanced statistics”, however in reality they are pretty simple so if you aren’t well versed or even very interested in advanced statistics, don’t let them scare you off.  Most of the numbers should be recognizable by any baseball fan, batting average, on-base percentage, hits, home runs etc.  However there will be two stats that I’ll lean on heavily that might be new to you. If you want an explanation of the stats, then keep reading but if not, all you need to really know is that I’ll be using wOBA and sOPS+ and the higher the number, the better the hitter is.

Stats Introduction (feel free to skip this part)

Quite simply, wOBA is an attempt to tell you how often a player gets on base and how far he got himself around those bases.  Many of you are probably familiar with OPS, well wOBA is like OPS but better.  If you are interested in a more detailed explanation, you can find one here or here.  The other statistic I’ll be using is sOPS+.    I know, it just looks confusing, but again it’s pretty simple.  In the most simple terms, sOPS+ just takes  OPS (on-base plus slugging) and then compares it to the rest of the OPS in the league and then normalizes them.  Yeah, I guess that wasn’t so simple, but the bottom line is that an OPS+ of 100 is essentially league average and every digit above or below is roughly a percent better or worse.  So a 120 ops+ is roughly 20% better than league average and 80% is roughly 20% worse.  The little s on the front means that instead of comparing it to the league, we’re comparing it to the split, in this case the positional split.  So in the first article, I’ll talk about the catchers and I’ll give their sOPS+.  That ONLY compares numbers when players were catching.  So a 100 would be a league average batter when he is catching.  I really thought I could make this simple, I guess I probably failed.  In the end, you don’t really need to understand the stats to get the gist of the articles, if you pick up one thing, its that the higher an sOPS+ or wOBA the better the hitter is.

The Catchers

To begin, let’s take a look at the players who caught this year for the Royals and how they hit when they were catching.

Click to Enlarge

Jason Kendal obviously got the lion’s share of innings at catcher, but his season-ending injury close near the end of the year gave Brayan Pena and Lucas May a chance to get some work in.  Jason Kendall actually got on-base at a clip higher than that of Pena, but Pena’s value really comes from his extra-base hits.  He had 10 doubles and 1 homerun compared to 18 doubles for Kendall in 330 more plate appearances.  Pena had an average wOBA and was pretty much a league average catcher at the plate in the games he played in.

How did the unit perform as a group compared to the rest of the AL?

Red = Highest in the category, Green = Lowest. Click to Enlarge

The Royals catchers as an offensive group were pretty poor in 2010.  They weren’t the worst in the American League, and in fact weren’t the worst in the AL Central.  The one thing that really held them back was their inability to hit for any power, only the Mariners had a worse slugging catching group.  The significant amount of playing time given to Jason Kendall drug down the offense, however the contributions from Brayan Pena single-handedly lifted the Royals catchers above the Tigers.

Last year, the Royals catching core of John Buck and Miguel Olivo was the second-best hitting group in the American League behind the Twins and Joe Mauer.  In fact, they hit eight more home runs than the Twins did from the position.  That’s was why it was baffling, from an offensive perspective that the Royals acquired Jason Kendall rather than keeping one or both of their catchers from 2009.  Predictably, the offense from the position suffered, and I’d find it pretty hard to believe that whatever defensive or clubhouse benefit Jason Kendall brought to the team, it was enough to overcome a fall of nine spots on the above chart.

The Royals need to be at least close to average at each position and then well-above average at a few positions in order to score enough runs to be a contending team.  They seem reluctant to believe that Brayan Pena can be the answer at catcher, but unless there is a major off-season move, he will get a shot to convince the Royals otherwise.  Based on his career numbers, I’d imagine that Pena could move the Royals catching unit up into the middle of the pack offensively, but his suspect defense may be his eventual downfall.  If I were the General Manager, I’d probably stand pat with Pena and May, hoping that one of them steps up to become a solid everyday catcher.

Nick Scott writes about the Royals for Royals Authority, podcasts about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and writes about the Chiefs for Chiefs Command. You can follow him on Twitter @brokenbatsingle, on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

So Jason Kendall has been playing the last month and a half with a shredded rotator cuff.  Didn’t notice.

It’s not like his power disappeared.  He didn’t have power to start.  It’s not like he stopped hitting line drives.  He wasn’t doing that before.

So he’s off to have surgery and the normal recovery time is 8 to 10 months.  Except Kendall is super human.  From Ned Yost:

“We hope to have him back by the spring… And have him ready for Opening Day.”

Uh… Are we on the Mayan calendar?  Because by my calendar, spring training opens in  five and a half months.  The 2011 season starts in seven months.  Recovery is 8 to 10 months, right?

Kendall is 36 years old.  He’s caught a ton of games in his career.  He is having major surgery to repair his shoulder.  There’s something to be said for optimism, but in Kendall’s case perhaps we should err on the side of a longer recovery.  The flip side is Kendall is the toughest ballplayer ever whose tolerance for pain is off the charts.


“It shows you the mentality and mental makeup of Jason Kendall.  He would have played the rest of the year if the training staff hadn’t hog tied him and made him have an MRI.”

This “gamer” mentality can be nice.  It can also be insane.

Kendall isn’t a good player under the best of circumstances.  There’s no way he should be starting half the games for the Royals, even when he’s at 100%, health-wise.  Still, his last 33 games (since suffering the injury) have been abysmal – even by our low standards.  Since July 18, Kendall has come to the plate 141 times and posted a line of .224/.281/.248 with just three extra base hits.  (All doubles… But you already knew that.)

When you have a player who is below average to start, who then suffers an injury that hampers his performance to the extent he becomes worse…  Yet continues to play…  That’s not being a “gamer.”  That’s being selfish.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Kendall caught his 2,000 career game after his injury.  It’s not a stretch to arrive at the conclusion that he hid his injury so he could become the fifth catcher in history to mark this milestone.  Players tend to hang on for these kind of “achievements,” you know.

(Quick aside: I imagine it would be extremely difficult to spend your entire life playing baseball, being so close to a milestone such as this and walking away.  Human nature.  As much as I’d like to blame Kendall for sticking around too long, there’s always an enabler in a situation like this.  GMDM bears much of the blame for signing Kendall and putting his team in a situation that is detrimental to their performance.  Plus, two years?  Thud.   Yost, too for playing him every single day.)

Fun Kendall fact:  The opposition attempted 142 steals against him this year.  The second place catcher has had 104 attempted steals against this year.  Part of that is due to the fact Kendall apparently is the only catcher on the Royals roster.  And part of that is due to the fact teams believe they can run on Kendall.  What surprises me is that Kendall has a 29% success rate.  That’s pretty good, actually.  It’s a little better than league average.  And it’s exactly the same as John Buck – who if you remember allegedly has a weak throwing arm.

You know how Yost likes to go on about how Kendall does the “little things” on offense?  Little things meaning situational hitting?  Chew on this:  Jason Kendall has 490 plate appearances this year for the Royals.  He’s come up with a total of 298 runners on base.  The average major leaguer with 490 plate appearances has come up with 304 runners on this year.  (Stick with me… The Royals team OBP is .329 this year – mostly due to their inflated batting average.  That’s eighth in the AL.  And exactly league average.)

So Kendall has hit with roughly the league average of base runners on ahead of him.  Now for the “little things.”  In this situation the average major leaguer has driven in 54 of those runners.  That’s 17.8%.  Kendall has brought home only 37 of those runners.  That’s 12.4%.  The difference between the two rates is significant.

Although – and I imagine this is what excites Yost – Kendall has driven home 16 of the 22 runners when he has hit with a runner on third and less than two outs.  Remember how Mike Jacobs was hopeless last year in that situation?  He scored just nine of 32 runners from third with less than two outs for the Royals in 2009.  That was a 28% success rate.  Kendall is at 72% for 2010.  It’s nice.  And it’s a huge difference.  But for some reason, I always think the Royals tend to fixate on things like this and lose sight of the big picture. They plug one leak, and then are oblivious to the other five leaks that suddenly spring from their “fix.”

Certainly the “little things” isn’t just about bringing home runners.  It’s about moving those runners, too.  Kendall has seven sac flies – second most on the team. (OK, that’s about bringing runners home.) He also has six sacrifice bunts – again, second most on the team.  Yost loves the “little things.”

So now what?  According to Yost, “We get to see Brayan Pena.”

Six words.  Yet, I’m so annoyed.  Hey, Yost!  You had the last three and a half months to “see” Pena.  He’s that guy who’s picking splinters out of his butt because all he does is sit on the bench.

I don’t want to celebrate an injury, but this is a good thing for the Royals because it forces the team to evaluate their in house catching options.  Pena will get some reps, as will Lucas May in the season’s final month.  They will probably get the first look next year, as the Royals don’t really have the budget to find another catcher in free agency.  I think the Royals hands are kind of tied in this situation where they have to play Pena and May.  This is time they would not have received if Kendall was available.

May projects to be a platoon candidate.  He hit .379/.406/.828 against lefties while playing for Omaha and has a career line of of .292/.347/.535 versus the southpaws.  Meanwhile he posted a line of .226/.342/.371 this year in Omaha and has a career line of .249/.311/.409 against right-handers.  It’s a good platoon situation for the Royals as Pena – although he’s a switch hitter – bats better against right-handed pitching.

If Yost figures this out, the catcher position just got better.

All-Star Break time… The artificial midpoint in the baseball season.  We’re fairly close, I guess – the Royals have played 88 games this season – just seven past the midpoint.  That means it’s time for my annual exercise where I grade the team.  Hitters today, pitchers and management on Friday.

We’ll travel around the horn…

Jason Kendall
WAR: 0.8

Despite my persistent Kendall bashing, our backstop (is there anyone else on this team who catches?) has gone on a mini hot streak of late.  Since June 23, he’s raised his OBP 18 points and even had a game where he hit two doubles.  Two!  That’s help raise his slugging almost level with his on base percentage.

Look, we knew Kendall would get most of the reps behind the plate, but this is insane.  The old man has been behind the plate for 92% of all Royal defensive innings.  Poor Brayan Pena has to be wondering what he has to do to get some time… Steal Kendall’s cup?

I guess my problem isn’t with Kendall per se, but with an organization that seems to think he has some value.

Fun fact:  Since Ned Yost took over as manager, Kendall is 2-8 in stolen base attempts.  Hmmm… A 25% success rate is… Not good.

Billy Butler
WAR: 2.8

Butler leads this team in OPS (.873), OPS+ (137)

The downside of Butler’s season is his continued insistence on hitting balls on the ground.  Over 46% of all of Butler’s batted balls have been grounders.  That wouldn’t be so bad, but the guy isn’t exactly a speed merchant. When he puts the ball on the ground, he’s batting just .219.  When he hits a fly ball, his average is .295.  On line drives?  Try .857.

We’ve said it time and again – for Butler to become the dominant hitter we think (and hope) he can become, he’s going to have to alter his approach and try to drive more balls in the air.  He’s obviously mastered the art of hitting the double, now he needs to turn a few of those doubles into home runs.  The scary thing is, he’s improved his contact rate from last season and has bumped it to above 90%.  He’s a hitting machine with room for improvement.  Excellent.

It’s going to only get more difficult for Butler.  The dude has zero protection in the Royals lineup.  He already has nine walks this month (one intentional) after walking just eight times all of June.  That’s what happens when you have a singles hitter batting fifth.

Defensively, it seems like he’s better.  His UZR is a fat, round 0.  That may not sound like much, but given his negative rates the last two seasons, I’ll take it.  According to the Fielding Bible’s Plus/Minus rating, Butler is a 0 here as well.  Again, improved on his negative numbers from the last two seasons.  The Fielding Bible data says he’s a +3 at ground balls to his right, which in the past has been one of the weaker links of his fielding.

Mike Aviles
WAR: 0.7

Aviles has done well in his return from Tommy John surgery.  The Royals were being cautious in sending him to Omaha early in the season, although many of us thought they were looking to bury him.  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.  The Royals are a better offensive team with Aviles in the lineup.

One thing still missing – his power.  He hit 10 home runs and 27 doubles as a rookie in 441 plate appearances.  In 220 plate appearances this year (almost exactly half… Yay!) he’s down to just two home runs and nine doubles.  As you would expect, his ISO is roughly half his final total of 2008.  He currently has a .081 ISO compared to his .155 ISO in 2008.    As a result, his slugging percentage is a full 100 points lower from ’08.

Defensively, he’s shown some decent range at second and looks comfortable turning the double play from that side of the bag.  I look forward to the day he can shift back to shortstop, though… For obvious reasons.

Yuniesky Betancourt
WAR: 0.2

Don’t buy into the school of thought rolling around the Royals that Yuni “isn’t really that bad.”  Admit it.  You’ve probably said those exact words at least once this year.  That’s probably because Yuni has gotten a timely hit or two, something he absolutely never did last summer.  Then ask yourself this:  Why do you remember the timely Betancourt hits?  It’s because you have such low expectations, you expect him to fail and you’re surprised on those rare occasions where he manages to come through.

Stop it.  He still sucks.
Offensively, he’s fifth from the bottom in on base percentage and jsut outside the bottom ten in OPS+ (his OPS+ of 81 has him tied for 11th) The good news:  He’s no longer the worst everyday player in baseball.  In fact, he’s not even the worst everyday player on the Royals. (We’re mailing Jason Kendall his “prize.”)  Defensively, the guy is still a train wreck.  For every difficult ball he catches, he let’s three under his glove.

Alberto Callaspo
WAR: 0.9

Callaspo is not having a good year.  In trying to figure out where it’s going wrong for him, I found three things:

1- He’s striking out more than he’s walking for the first time since arriving in Kansas City.  His SO/BB ratio from the previous two seasons was 0.92.  This year, he has a 1.6 SO/BB ratio.

2- Part of his on base struggles are poor luck.  He has a .276 BABIP, down from a .316 BABIP the previous two seasons.

That’s really about it.  He’s swinging the same number of times and making the same rate of contact.  He’s hitting slightly fewer line drives, but it’s not enough of a difference to explain his lower batting average or on base percentage.

Defensively, he’s doing fine at third.  Callaspo has converted 88% of all fielded balls into at least one out as a third baseman.  League average is 87%.  I can live with that – especially if he can get his bat going.

I think Callaspo will have a much better second half.

Scott Podsednik
WAR: 1.2

I wrote a piece at Baseball Prospectus last week, where Pods was mentioned as a fantasy asset.  I know.  It sounds just as weird to write that as it is to say it.

Still, the guy is hitting for a fine average, getting on base and stealing bases almost like it’s the mid-1980’s all over again.  Color me shocked that he’s coming extremely close to duplicating his 2009 season where he finished at .304/.353/.412 with 30 steals.  Hell, he’s just five steals away from last year’s total, so you know he’s going to fly right by that.

Having sung his praises, there are still a few issues.  Namely his base running.  While he’s  stolen 25 bases, he’s been caught a league high 11 times.  That’s a 69% success rate, which means in the big picture, his running is hurting the team.  He’s been picked off three times and made a couple of other outs on the bases.

His .341 BABIP is extremely high, so don’t be thinking he’s going to finish the season above .300.  This means his OBP will drop as well, especially because he still won’t take a walk.

This grade may seem low, but I just can’t overlook the number of outs he gives away on the bases.

Mitch Maier
WAR: 0.8

To those media types who call David DeJesus a fourth outfielder… This is your fourth outfielder.

I’m glad Maier is getting another chance.  He doesn’t do anything really well, but he doesn’t seem to hurt the team, either.  He’s shown improvement from last year, but it’s not a huge – or even really noticeable – improvement.

He leads the team with a 10% walk rate, so that gets a thumbs up from me.

David DeJesus
WAR: 3.1

He should have been the Royals All-Star.  And that he wasn’t on that “Fan Choice” ballot of trickery would be an outrage if I could only muster the requisite emotion to care.

Hands down, the MVP of this team in 2010.

Jose Guillen
WAR: 1.5

Since June 1, Guillen has a grand total of seven extra base hits and eight walks.  That may be the craziest stat I’ll find all season.

Even with the power outage, Guillen is the third best hitter on the team this year.

On to the bench, in order of number of plate appearances:

Chris Getz
WAR: -0.2

I know some have hopes for Getz to turn into a serviceable bat to go along with a decent glove, but I just don’t see it.  He makes enough contact, but he’s just not good enough to make solid contact.

Willie Bloomquist
WAR: 0.1

My least favorite moment of 2010 was probably when I learned Bloomquist was DHing against the White Sox last weekend.  The justification (Wee Willie was 13-33 against starter Mark Buehrle in his career) was borderline insane.  Although it is just like the Royals to determine their lineup against a sample size so minute to call it “small” would be overstating it.

To be fair, Bloomquist’s .239 BABIP suggests he’s been the victim of some really bad luck.  And I’m extremely pleased one year after giving Wee Willie 468 plate appearances the Royals seem to figured out how to use him.  He’s on pace for around 175 plate appearances this year.  Much better.

Rick Ankiel
WAR: -0.1

So Guillen had blood clots, almost died, and the Royals decided they needed to sign Ankiel.  Ugh.

You know all the Lebron bashing happening right now… How Jordan would never have joined another team and played second fiddle to another established star… How Lebron will never be an alpha dog because he made this decision?  That’s kind of how I feel about Ankiel turning down an opportunity to play for the Yankees when the Royals promised him center field. It told me everything I needed to know about Ankiel.

Yeah, I’m still sore about that.

Ankiel is another dud in the Royals attempts to sign a veteran with the intent of dealing him at the trade deadline.  Not to wish continued injury on someone, but I don’t think he needs to come back.  The Royals are a better team with him not in the lineup.

Wilson Betemit
WAR: 0.9

Those are some impressive numbers, but he’s done that in what is basically two and a half weeks of regular work.

The hope is the Royals realize Betemit can handle the DH duties and finally jettison Guillen.  (Yes, I know Guillen has no value, but I’m just ready for his time in KC to end.  Sometimes, it’s just better to move on… Quickly.)

Still, it’s nice to see the Braves pipeline actually you know… work.  Even for a little bit.

Grade: A-

Alex Gordon
WAR: -0.3

2009 was supposed to be the key year.  Then it was 2010.

Now it’s 2011.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it’s for another team.

Although I will hold out hope the Royals can trade Podsednik and make room for Gordon on the roster before August.  I’d like to see at least two months of Gordon everyday.  Please.

Brayan Pena
WAR: -0.2

Who?  This grade is more a reflection of Hillman and Yost.


As always, thanks for reading all the way through.  Now it’s your turn to weigh in on the comments.  Too harsh? Not harsh enough?  Or just right?   Fire away…

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