Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Moves Small and Great

You forgot about me, didn't you? It's okay. I haven't posted anything anywhere since last July and I don't spend that much time on twitter anymore. You probably assumed I was selfishly keeping my opinions on the Royals offseason to myself. Your long personal nightmare is finally over, my friends. The Royals made some moves, and I have some thoughts, so let's get this party started.

Chris Getz

I'm sure more than a few tears were shed at The K, and at the Kansas City Star, when Getz was non-tendered but it was the right decision, even if it came a year too late. He was always a topic of lively debate on message boards and twitter. His skillset especially appealed to fans of a certain sensibility. I'm of course referring to those who grow infatuated with a mediocre player and build him up to be something he's not. I think it's called the Ross Gload Effect (if it's not, it should be). Getz's biggest weakness was his inability to play multiple positions. It would have been easier to forgive his offensive ineptitude if he was a utility infielder. As a starting second baseman, however, his weaknesses shown through. He had zero power and got on base as often as Jeff Francoeur. He was also more than a bit overrated defensively. It didn't help that his defenders always seemed to pull out the "he's better than Gio" card. I'm no expert but that might be the very definition of damning with faint praise.

As far as his legacy goes, well, here you go:
Rk Player SLG PA From To
1 Onix Concepcion .293 1130 1980 1985
2 Chris Getz .295 1124 2010 2013
3 David Howard .302 1586 1991 1997
Those are the three lowest slugging percentages in franchise history among players with 1000+ plate appearances. Awesome company.

Norichika Aoki

In acquiring Aoki, Dayton Moore did what good general managers do, he filled a hole by trading from a position of strength. More specifically, he traded a relief pitcher for a starting right fielder. What was shocking was that he traded for a player who can get on base. Aoki posted on-base percentages of .355 and .356 in his two seasons for Milwaukee. Those aren't as impressive as his .402 OBP in Japan but anything over .350 will fit nicely at the top of the order. Will Smith was fantastic in his 33.1 innings last year, and should do well in the National League, but middle relievers are replaceable.

Jason Vargas

I'd like the Vargas signing more if it was just for one or two years. But a four year deal for a 31 year old pitcher with a career 91 ERA+? Meh. Four years is long time for a player in his 30's. Throw in the fact said player is below average at his position and legitimate concerns start popping up. Moore is hoping that Vargas can be a league average innings eater, which is fine, there's value in that, but I think you have to want more from your #2 starter.

Omar Infante

Remember what I just said about four year deals for players in their 30's? That. It's a long time. Infante has hit .296/.331/.412 the last five seasons so he's not a total getz at the plate. He'll bring stability to a position that's been a cause of turmoil the last few years. This could potentially be a five year deal but I refuse to believe the next GM will pay a 36 year Infante ten million dollars in 2018. Like the Vargas signing, I'd like this better if it was for two years but that wouldn't have got the deal done. If Infante ages like Mark Grudzielanek then this could end up being one of Moore's better moves.

Danny Valencia

Repeat after me: Valencia is not Moose insurance. Except he totally is. Valencia has crushed left-handed pitching (.329/.367/.513) and he's only played third base in his major league career. If he's really not a potential platoon partner for Mike Moustakas then I doubt we'll see him on the opening day roster. This wasn't a throwaway for a throwaway deal though because the Royals gave up a useful player, David Lough, for Valencia. The numbers suggest they aren't going to carry Valencia and Justin Maxwell, two players with essentially the same skillset (right-handed, crushes lefties, play one position), so if Valencia ends up being the odd man out then I really don't understand the point of this trade.

Bruce Chen

Chen is back and appears to have already locked up a spot in the rotation. I really don't know why either. Last year we heard over and over about how Chen started the season in the bullpen so he'd be fresh during the second half. It was a great story and apparently completely untrue. I mean, if it Yost's gambit worked so well why wouldn't he try it again? Chen had a 0.93 ERA in his first six starts but a 5.73 over his last nine, so the whole keeping him fresh line was just that, a line.

The Lineup
  1. Norichika Aoki, RF
  2. Omar Infante, 2B
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  4. Billy Butler, DH
  5. Alex Gordon, LF
  6. Salvador Perez, C
  7. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  8. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS
This is the batting order Yost tossed out last month. When Infante was signed I was concerned that Gordon would get removed from the top of the lineup. I suspect Infante has an iron grip on the second spot even if he hits like it's 2012 (.300 OBP). Love it or hate it, but even with Gordon at the five spot, it does look a lot more dangerous than last year's lineup (removing Getz will do that to just about any batting order though).

Friday, July 5, 2013

Double Digit Runs, Single Digit Hits

Yesterday the Royals scored 10 runs despite only registering 6 hits. This was due in large part to a very unRoyals-like 3 home runs and 8 walks. It was the fewest hits they have ever recorded when scoring 10+ runs. Overall it was the twelfth time in team history they've scored in double digits while dabbling in single digits in hits. Here are all twelve:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt R H HR BB
1 2013-07-04 KCR CLE W 10-7 10 6 3 8
2 2006-06-20 KCR PIT W 10-6 10 9 0 11
3 2005-05-08 KCR BAL W 10-8 10 9 3 4
4 2004-08-13 KCR OAK W 10-3 10 9 3 4
5 1999-06-26 KCR CLE W 11-7 11 8 1 6
6 1999-06-11 KCR PIT W 10-3 10 9 3 5
7 1994-06-13 KCR CAL W 12-7 12 9 1 5
8 1994-04-16 KCR CLE W 12-9 12 9 2 6
9 1993-09-12 KCR NYY W 10-2 10 9 1 1
10 1988-08-23 KCR TEX W 11-7 11 9 1 6
11 1987-06-18 KCR CAL W 10-4 10 9 2 4
12 1983-05-14 KCR DET L 10-11 10 9 4 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/5/2013.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Your Yearly Reminder That Freddie Patek Was An Opening Day Beast

Freddie Patek may have only posted a 78 OPS+ in his time with the Royals, but on Opening Day, he came to play.

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
1 1971-04-06 KCR CAL W 4-1 5 5 0 2 2 0 0 0 0
2 1973-04-06 KCR CAL L 2-3 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 0 0
3 1974-04-05 KCR MIN L 4-6 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 1
4 1975-04-07 KCR CAL L 2-3 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
5 1976-04-09 KCR CHW L 0-4 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
6 1977-04-07 KCR DET W 7-4 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
7 1978-04-08 KCR CLE L 5-8 4 3 1 2 1 0 1 3 0
8 1979-04-05 KCR TOR W 11-2 4 4 1 4 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

Patek hit .367/.424/.600 overall on Opening Day in 33 plate appearances. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Luke Hochevar's Place In Royals History

I was previously convinced that Luke Hochevar was coming back for the 2013 but now I'm not so sure. He finished the season with a 9.56 ERA in 6 September starts (32 innings) and much of that was done after the team famously gave him a vote of confidence. He ended the year with a 72 ERA+ and if you're wondering where that ranks in team history, let me show you. Of the 119 times a Royals pitcher has thrown 162+ innings our Luke is sitting at #2.

Rk Player ERA+ IP Year Age
1 Jose Lima 63 168.2 2005 32
2 Luke Hochevar 72 185.1 2012 28
3 Brian Bannister 75 182.2 2008 27
4 Rich Gale 76 181.2 1979 25
5 Zack Greinke 76 183.0 2005 21
If you're an rWAR kind of guy it's more of the same:

Rk Player WAR IP Year
1 Jose Lima -1.8 168.2 2005
2 Rich Gale -1.7 181.2 1979
3 Luke Hochevar -1.6 185.1 2012
4 Larry Gura -1.0 168.2 1984
5 Brian Anderson -0.6 166.0 2004
Depending on what floats your boat he had the second or third worst season by a pitcher who lasted the entire season in the rotation. It gets worse. Did you know that in Royals history 18 pitchers have tossed 750 career innings? You probably already know that Hochevar has the lowest ERA+ in that group but did you also know that he's the only one below 100? It's true. There have been worse pitchers to suit up in Royals blue but they weren't allowed to pitch that many innings. Because they were terrible.

Rk Player ERA+ IP
1 Luke Hochevar 79 771.0
2 Paul Splittorff 101 2554.2
3 Dick Drago 101 1134.0
4 Steve Busby 105 1060.2
5 Jeff Suppan 105 864.2
6 Al Fitzmorris 106 1098.0
7 Dennis Leonard 107 2187.0
8 Larry Gura 107 1701.1
9 Tom Gordon 108 1149.2
10 Mark Gubicza 110 2218.2
11 Buddy Black 111 977.2
12 Marty Pattin 112 825.2
13 Charlie Leibrandt 116 1257.0
14 Zack Greinke 116 1108.0
15 Bret Saberhagen 128 1660.1
16 Kevin Appier 130 1843.2
17 Jeff Montgomery 138 849.1
18 Dan Quisenberry 160 920.1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

I get that they've stuck with him this long because they are still trying to justify his draft status. But that's hilarious to me because they've not attempted to do the same with Aaron Crow. Hochevar is who he is at this point and it would be the height of silliness to not only bring him back but to give him a raise in the process. The 5 million dollars he may make next year could and should be used elsewhere in a rotation upgrade. I hope Dayton Moore is on board with this thinking. It was easy to spin the "new Luke" last winter after he finished 2011 on a positive note but this time such a claim would be a tougher sell.

I'm probably the last Royals blogger to weigh in on David Glass' comments about spending money to fix the rotation. That's great, if he means it, but I wonder if Moore is willing to spend, because I have my doubts. His earlier comments to first look internally didn't inspire me with confidence. Bringing back Jeremy Guthrie is only a rotation upgrade if you ignore the fact that he's in the current rotation. Sure a whole season would be nice but there are still four big question marks that must be addressed. If more than one of Hochevar/Chen/Smith/Mendoza open 2013 as a starting pitcher then I think you can kiss contention goodbye. Don't even waste your breath saying hello.

Here's how I'd like the 2013 rotation to look:
1. Newcomer via trade or free agency
2. Newcomer via trade or free agency
3. Guthrie
4. Jake Odorizzi
5. Chen/Mendoza/Smith/Crow

There's also the significant difference between spending and spending wisely. If Moore does decide to dabble in the free agent market let's not forget that he once gave Brett Tomko 3 million dollars. I hated that signing immediately and it's one that I feel hasn't drawn enough criticism. Tomko was coming off a 2007 season in which he put a 77 ERA+, and was about to turn 35 years old. He was predictably terrible and was released in June after posting a 62 ERA+ in 60.2 innings. A year later Moore gave Horacio Ramirez 1.8 million to compete for a rotation spot. Luckily he only made 1 start but was so bad overall (75 ERA+, 1.67 WHIP) that he too was released in June (He only made 1 start because Moore later brought in Sidney '60 ERA+' Ponson. Yeah, that actually happened). And of course there's the 2 year, 9 million deal he gave Chen last winter that has worked out so wonderfully.

It's great that Glass is willing to spend but if Moore plans on perusing the clearance rack again then I fail to see the point. It's not an upgrade if the pitchers you bring are just as terrible as the ones they're replacing. If Moore interpreted Glass' comments as a warning shot that his time is short then he may go hard after an Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez or Dan Haren (if he is indeed available). I think it's more likely, though, that we suffer through another winter of Jair Jurrjens and John Lannan rumors before Moore overpays for a pitcher that is statistically underwhelming.