It’s that time of the year, when the only news coming from the Royals is when their Twitter feed decides to do this:
As a virtual high five for getting us to 500,000 followers… we’ll be following some of you back tonight! pic.twitter.com/Q8H7OSQfw4
— Royals (@Royals) December 14, 2015
Other than that… crickets.
So I’m sitting here wondering what to write. I have an hour to write. You have a few minutes to read. Let’s do this.
— The Royals are in the market for another starting pitcher. Rank the following:
I have to get over my 2008 fan crush on Kazmir (which is, for some reason, incredibly difficult) if I’m going to give you a subjective ranking. Let’s go over a couple of broad pros and cons. Chen and Leake are the top remaining starting pitching options on the free agent market. That means they will each grab five years. As third-tier options, Gallardo and Kazmir would probably cost four. Kazmir is an injury risk. Gallardo and Chen both turned down qualifying offers and will cost the Royals their first round draft pick.
I’m not intending to do a deep dive into their profiles here, but I’ll just throw a couple of graphs onto the fire.
Kazmir is the only guy of the bunch who generates a SO/9 that is close to league average on a fairly consistent basis. Gallardo is the only guy who struggles to keep his BB/9 below league average. Put strikeouts and walks together in a graph like above and you can see how those impact this group.
I removed Kazmir from this graph because Fangraphs goes all wonky on his missed time when applied to rate stats such as FIP. This merely shows that most things equal, the remaining three (and Kazmir for that matter) are generally going to get you the same kind of production over the course of 32 starts. Generally.
So – and remember this is just a broad look – I’d probably go for Chen at the top of the group. He’s been fairly consistent his four years in the league and his fly ball tendencies would play better in KC. But he’s going to cost the most. I’d stay away from Gallardo who has seen his strikeout rate decline, along with his fastball velocity, over the last couple of seasons. Now, having said all that, if you could get Kazmir on a three year deal, that’s where I’d go. Aaaarghhh. Decisions, decisions.
— Yes, I’m with you. Surprised the outfield free agent market hasn’t done a damn thing since Jason Hayward signed with the Cubs last week. He was supposed to be the domino. Instead, he’s the tree that fell in the woods with no one around.
Dayton Moore vocalized something I’ve long wondered. He made reference to the free agent market as a game of musical chairs. The music was going to stop and some guys were going to be left on the sidelines, so that’s when it flips to a buyers market. The Royals are waiting. I’m starting to think that’s the case with other teams.
Who has the most cash in baseball? It’s pretty easy to go down the list. The Dodgers. They need offense, but have a stuffed outfield. The Red Sox. They made the early splash again and are likely done making major moves. The Yankees. Apparently, they are on some sort of budget. Which is hilarious. The Giants. They just dropped over $200 million on starting pitching. The Tigers. They are the new Phillies where they hit their 2016 budget when they signed all their aging players to extensions a couple years ago. The Cubs. They made their free agent mark. The Angels. OK, they’re actually kind of scary in this scenario, but they desperately want to stay flexible for Trout and they already gave too much for Pujols and are paying another guy (Hamilton) to play baseball in Texas.
This is by no means gospel, but the monied teams – the teams most likely to move the free agent needle – seem to be tied up for one reason or another. Is there enough money to take care of both the starting pitcher and the outfielders? The lack of movement in the outfield market would suggest there isn’t.
Although there’s always one or two teams that will surprise. The Rangers are a team that will reach into the well. We just saw the Diamondbacks take five hours to decide to sign Zack Greinke. The Cardinals have put money out there for starting pitching, only to be rebuffed, so you know they can spend for an outfielder if they decide one fits their needs.
Back to Dayton’s musical chairs analogy, you have to wonder if the silence for the bats is a result of the early splash on starting pitching from the big money. And maybe that impacts the second and third tier of starting pitchers. This year was simply too stocked with decent free agents. The next couple of weeks figure to be slow, but interesting as the market continues to evolve.
— I’ve seen (and heard) chatter from both Kansas City sports talk radio stations that they wouldn’t give Alex Gordon a five year contract because “he hits eighth.” I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how asinine a comment like that is. Let’s just say there are some sports talkers in this market who are smarter than that.
To characterize Gordon as an “eighth-place hitter” is asinine. There are argument for bringing him back and yes, there are arguments to stay away. But to talk about where Ned Yost hit him in the batting order in the postseason is irrelevant to the conversation.
Time’s up. Thanks for reading today. Hopefully, something interesting will happen for tomorrow.