Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inaugrual Royal Reflection

…to interpret a change in its own plans and point of view. Some old things with which we had grown familiar, and which had begun to creep into the very habit of our thought and of our lives...

I find that no phrase better suits what it is that we’re looking for going forward. Trying multiple old ways that haven’t worked collectively for us means there must be a change in philosophy, guiding principles and to obtain that change, you must question if Dayton Moore is the man to be able to invoke them. For the most part, he seems to be a stubborn person stuck in his own ways, unwilling to bend in his ideas of what makes up a successful team—even when the idea has proven itself to be inefficient and counter-productive.

…We have been refreshed by a new insight into our life…

There was an outcry this past season when Moore seemed to casually blow off defensive statistics—it was taken as he waved a hand in quick and easy dismissal. Based on how the administration has gone thus far, you wouldn’t be blamed if you were of the opinion that he does that to a lot of “advanced” stats. When you’re trying to learn something or lead people, you’re best off taking in as much data as possible to come up with a composite of what each method brings. It shouldn’t be of the general manager’s interest to find out which method, scouting or stats, is the best or most popular. Individual situations call for varied methods every time. Using 6-8 year old scouting reports to make a move on any player is an exercise of futility.

…Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty and energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope…

We’re probably not alone in the world, but the entity known as Kansas City Royal Fan has shown a lot of patience, though they often talk of throwing in the towel. Talk can be very cheap as we have learned—the devoted plan isn’t going anywhere and Allard Baird’s “Plan” wasn’t ever going to be as great as he’d hoped. In my eyes, the Baird “Plan” has been replaced by the Moore “Process” but the results seem destined to remain the same. In the same way, the Royal Fan isn’t going anywhere and it’s due to the striking forms of beauty of its energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel.

…evil has came with the good, and much fine gold has been corroded. With riches has came inexcusable waste. We have squandered a great part of what we might have used, and have not stopped to conserve the exceeding bounty of nature, without which our genius for enterprise would have been worthless and impotent…

Much fine money has been wasted on the Jose Guillens, Kyle Farnsworths, John Bucks and many others. We have squandered a great part of what we might have used in the possible capabilities of young prospects, cheap players with names like Ka’aihue, Huber, Ramirez, Nunez, Aviles. We often fail at going far enough to give back to our bountiful nature (farm system) that has produced gems like Zack Greinke and Billy Butler. This franchise needs to travel every road possible to find its future…it too often comes up short in glory of the all-mighty worthless millionaire veteran.

…we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost… …of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through.”

We find ourselves in a spot where we can (maybe at best) hope for a championship to cap off the 30th anniversary of our last championship. We find ourselves failing to draw a measley 2 million in attendance—a streak that goes back to the 1991 season. I find myself given quizzical looks from co-workers when I where my Royals pullover windbreaker to work. Hardcore fans are few and far between. We haven’t had the All-Star Game since 1973. It’s sad, it’s depressing, it’s Kansas City. But, really, considering all things, can we really blame them?

…With the great Government we have loved has too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the people…”

I think this needs no explanation whatsoever.

…there has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and to be great. Our thought has been ‘Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself,’…

There have been numerous times in our recent history where we sacrificed tomorrow in order to serve today—and each time the efforts were for naught and the end result was maybe three more wins, if that. The team that we support too often is very singular in thought and dismissal of ideas other than their own. We’ve seen them wait too long on prospects (Huber, Diaz, Ka’aihue, Aviles, Pena) and we’ve seen them rush prospects (Gotay, Burgos). We’ve seen them give too little time to prospects (Diaz, Huber) and give extended time to very mediocre players (Elarton, Pena, Jr. and Buck). We’ve seen unrealistic expectations placed on players (Teahen, Gordon). Other than success, we’ve seen it all here in Kansas City.

In conclusion, I find that I could go on and on using this speech, which will be 97 years old come Spring Training. This organization definitely needs to look inward to find what its intents are...what its aims will be. It doesn't have the money or the prestige to take the shortcuts that it continues to attempt. I look forward with great hope. Where are we in our balance of pride..? It didn't take this organization long to find its footing and to produce the memories that only older fans have. Yet it has taken almost two decades to rediscover its step in history's annals. From 1974-1989, the franchise turned in four seasons below .500 but in the succeeding years, it has had four seasons above .500. The man that wrote the above speech was a visionary, a brilliant man...the Royals could use such a brilliant man.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Voters get it right

I have to admit I thought they were gonna blow it. Not that Felix Hernandez would've been a bad choice but Zack Greinke was the best pitcher in baseball. I think it's kind of funny that everybody is applauding the voters for doing the right thing which should tell us (and them) how awful some of their past choices have been (cough, 1993, cough).

Every time Greinke took the mound in '09 it was an event and facebook, message boards, and twitter were littered with greetings of "happy Greinke day" (somebody should have trademarked that). I can't wait to see how he follows it up in 2010.

Here are some Greinke links from across the Royals blogosphere:
Kings of Kauffman - As it Should Be: Zack and Felix 1 & 2 in AL Cy Young Voting 
Lee Warren - Zack Greinke wins the AL Cy Young Award
Royalscentricity - Cy Greinke
Joe Posnanski - V is for value
Royals on Radio etc. - CY YOUNG
Royals Review - Zack Greinke Wins the 2009 Cy Young Award
Royals Authority - Greinke Win the Cy Young

Monday, November 16, 2009

Player comparison

I like player comparisons so I thought I would do one with two players who will both be 27 years old on opening day (though player A is five months younger). Both players have been blocked in their careers and seem to be the type of guy the Royals should consider acquiring - cheap players who have proven themselves in the minors. Both are right handed batters.
Minors
AVG/OBP/SLG
BB%
SO%
Player A
   .274/.359/.459
10.7%
25.9%
Player B
   .283/.375/.484
10.2%
19.3%

You can see from their minor league stats that they are similar hitters with player B possibly being better. They are both also less than stellar defensively which is why they haven't been given starting jobs on a big league roster. Player B has 1500 more minor league plate appearances but that is do to him starting his career sooner as player A was drafted out of college (in the 1st round which also may explain why he has gotten a longer look in the majors).

Majors
AVG/OBP/SLG
BB%
SO%
Player A
   .229/.302/.416
9.1%
30.3%
Player B
   .224/.276/.304
5.1%
25.7%

Player A has 746 PA's scattered over four seasons while player B has come to the plate just 175 times over the course of five seasons. Neither sample size is adequate enough to judge their ability to hit major league pitching. One will get a long look this season for the Royals while the other will once again toil in the minors. You have no doubt been recently inundated with player A's stats and may recognize him as Josh Fields.

Player B is Justin Huber.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mid week thoughts

The Royals have signed or are close to signing Wilson Betemit to a minor league contract. Ex-Brave joke aside it's probably not a bad move as it adds ML ready depth should Gordon spend time on the DL again. Of course you could also make the argument that with Fields and Callaspo third base would be covered without Betemit and you'd be right.
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I haven't posted on the Callaspo trade rumor as I believe there is no way that Moore is idiotic enough to do that swap. Now should the Dodgers throw in another prospect that evens out the trade then it's a different story. Royalscentricity, Kings of Kauffman, and Royals on Radio do tackle the rumor. Rany mentions this and other moves in his first post-I'm Done entry.
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Something that has been bugging me is all the trade player x now because his value is at a high talk. Continually trading players when they become productive for prospects puts the team in a perpetually rebuilding mode. Sorry but the Royals have mastered that and I can't stomach going through it again. Here's an idea, keep your good players and build around them. Don't trade them for prospects that may or may not pan out.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

So what's next?

Regardless how you feel about the Teahen trade one thing this did do is muddy the infield spots. I think we can all agree on this. Right now there are nine players for seven spots, assuming the DH is filled by one of these guys. I think that's certain to happen as I believe Trey and DM still view Jose Guillen as an everyday rightfielder. Now I could just wait and see where the dominoes fall but I feel like doing some speculatin'.

Here are the aforementioned players:
Player
PA's
AVG/OBP/SLG
OPS+
Butler
672
.301/.362/.492
125
Jacobs
478
.228/.297/.401
84
Bloomquist
468
.265/.308/.355
77
Callaspo
634
.300/.356/.457
115
Betancourt
508
.245/.274/.351
66
Getz
415
.261/.324/.347 
73
Aviles
127
.183/.208/.250
22
Gordon
189
.232/.324/.378
87
Fields
268
.222/.301/.347
67

So looking for a 1B/2B/SS/3B/DH and two reserves and we realize there are a couple certainties, 1) Butler will play first base again (his inability to turn the all too common 3-6-3 notwithstanding) and 2) Betancourt is still the shortstop (unfortunately). Two guys will be on the outside looking in. When I read Moore's quote that things haven't worked here I thought of Jacobs, as if Moore was genuinely surprised that a guy with a .299 OBP in 2008 would have a .297 OBP in 2009.

Sometimes players are what they are and all the coaching in the world isn't going to change it. The key to building a competitive roster is to not bring players in that don't improve the team. In other words players like Jacobs, Betancourt, Farnsworth, Ramirez, Ponson, and Bloomquist have already established their skillset. You especially can't throw valuable resources ($$$) at them either as it hampers your ability to improve once you realize (although refuse to admit) the error of your ways. Now this isn't necessarily to knock Fields and Getz because they are young enough to suddenly get it. They are also cheap and do offer some sort of no risk, high reward potential. But I wondered off track so to get back to my point I believe Jacobs is gone.
Aviles is probably the other odd man out as is a guy I didn't list above, Kila Ka'aihue (he should've been the DH in 09 and definitely should be in 10 but the non-callup spoke volumes about his future in KC). Now barring another trade that will render this post meaningless here is what I see happening:
1B - Butler
2B - Getz
SS - Betancourt (sigh)
3B - Gordon
UT - Bloomquist (2B,SS)
UT - Fields (1B,3B)
DH - Callaspo

Now I can probably live with this as long as Callaspo gets his plate appearances. He's the key to me and the reason why I wasn't enthralled with the trade that brought over his potential replacement. There is also the idea floating around that Gordon could be moved to first base so Fields can play third. I don't care for this much at all because Butler I think is adequate enough defensively and it would move Callaspo to the bench (should Getz win the 2B job, which he absolutely will).

I still think there will be another trade or two so it looks to be an interesting winter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More on the trade with a little help from a friend

So at first glance you would suspect that I didn't care for the trade and you would be right but probably not for the reasons you may think. I am not overrating Teahen, he is what he is. A useful player that you can put just about anywhere who won't hurt you offensively or defensively. He doesn't help you much either though which is why I'm not upset he was traded.

And it's not really Fields or Getz that has me annoyed, no as usual it's Dayton Moore. Again 2B and 3B were not pressing needs like say catcher or centerfield. Fields and Getz have both shown flashes of potential that may or may not come out in KC and they come cheaper than Teahen so maybe Moore is hoping to shed payroll so he can wade into the free agent pool. Whatever the reason it's just an odd trade. I get that a lot of people like it and that's fine. The 2009 Royals were a disaster so roster turnover is to be expected.

To help understand what KC is getting I turned to friend of Royally Speaking and faithful (and somewhat cynical) White Sox blogger Andrew Reilly of the 35th Street Review. (I offered him my thoughts on Teahen which you can read here.)

I suspect, Royals fans, that you want to know exactly what the Chicago White Sox just sent you in the mail. Who are Josh Fields and Chris Getz? What have they done? What will they do for their new team?

First the good news: Chris Getz. Make no mistake, Getz may a terrible player someday and we saw last year what happened when the American League finally compiled the book on him. Witness his fantastic April (.340 average, .396 OBP), followed by a miserable May and June (.200/.263, .247/.301). But Getz also rebounded nicely, finishing the year as the Sox’ second-best rookie and being the least painful bottom-of-the-order bat in recent South Side history. His defense, while not fantastic, will serve you well and won’t (read: can’t) make the Royals any worse. You will not curse him, but at the same time you will probably never revere him, either. Knowing what I know about Kansas City baseball, this will probably be a nice change of pace.

On the other hand, I promise you will very quickly grow to hate Josh Fields. Not because Fields is a bad person (which he isn’t), nor because he’s a bad baseball player (which he is), but because for a long time Fields has had all the trappings of becoming a potentially great baseball player. Savage power at the plate coupled with respectable skills at the hot corner should spell stardom, but in Fields’ case that power has been handcuffed to an alarming number of strikeouts in a very short amount in time. In 2007, he gave us fans 23 homers in 100 games, with 125 whiffs to match; in 2009, he struck out (76) almost as often as he played (79). When he connects, Fields can deliver some awesome feats of hitting, but the only problem with that is that Fields, simply put, never connects. You will want very badly to see this man live up to his promise, and he will never deliver on it.

Ever.

Thanks for the third baseman, though. Between the weak-hitting second baseman the Sox had last year and the terrifying third base prospect waiting in Charlotte for the call back to the bigs, the future was starting to look ugly.





Thanks Andrew and just to warn you; Teahen likes to swing at strike 2 on a pitch out of the zone and then take strike 3 on a pitch right down the middle. Enjoy.

Teahen traded

Well I guess it's official, Mark Teahen is no longer a Royal. DM sent Teahen to the White Sox in exchange for Josh Fields and Chris Getz. At first glance it appears he acquired younger, cheaper versions of Jacobs and Bloomquist - it seems that way at second glance too.

Fields career - .229/.302/.416/84 OPS+
Jacobs 2009 - .228/.297/.401/84 OPS+

Getz career - .262/.323/.346/73 OPS+
Bloomquist - .263/.318/.332/75 OPS+

Pretty freaking eerie, right? Did I mention that both Fields and Getz are below average defensively? They are. So what's this trade about then? Saving money, replacing Callaspo, or replacing Gordon? My opinion (take it for what's worth, I'm wrong a lot) is that this paves the way for a Gordon trade and Callaspo/Fields take over the 3B/DH spots. Which I guess would mean that Jacobs is on his way out too but with Moore you never know.

I think centerfield/rightfield/catcher/bullpen were greater needs than 2B and 3B so this trade screams the word odd. But these two players do appeal to Moore's philosophy of low OBP and sub-par defense. He certainly has a type.

In other words, here we go again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Greinke and the CYA

Royals Review posted some Greinke related links and asked if he was Cy Young imminent. Readers of this blog overwhelmingly believe the writers will do the right thing as evidenced by the poll on the sidebar. Right now 80% believe he will win the Cy Young award. I'm not quite so confident.

He probably will and he should win it unanimously but the writers have been known to do some screwy things. I think that if he had beaten Minnesota his last start to give him 17 wins then he would runaway with the award but the no decision coupled with Hernandez notching win number 19 the next day unfortunately may have swayed some voters.

Stat
Greinke
Hernandez
Halladay
GS
33
      34
32
IP
229.1
   238.2
239
W/L
16-8
   19-5
17-10
ERA
2.16
   2.49
2.79
ERA+
203
   174
157
K's
242
   217
208
BB's
51
    71
35
H/9
7.7
   7.5
8.8
WHIP
1.07
  1.13
1.12