The Royals are turning over a new leaf along with the calendar. Last night was the sort of game that makes you wonder why this team has won 70 games exactly once this century. I mean, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Zack Greinke throws 7 terrific innings, Ramon Ramirez and the Mexicutioner throw two scoreless. Bam Bam gets three hits, including a three-run bomb that essentially ices the game in the first inning, and finally gets his slugging average over .400. The Royals start someone other than Ross Gload at first base, and are rewarded for their ingenuity with a homer. Trey Hillman brings in two defensive subs in the late innings and manages to improve the defense at five separate positions: Pena at SS,
So as Dayton Moore prepares to blow up this roster in the off-season – and it’s about time he admits that it needs to be done – it’s worth noting that not every roster spot is a problem, and some are even solutions. Let’s not throw Jose Guillen’s babies out with the bathwater. (Throwing Jose Guillen out, on the other hand…)
With a month to go, let’s evaluate who needs to go and who needs to stay.
- Let’s start with the easy decisions, the guys that should be safe for next year. Alex Gordon will start somewhere. Mike Aviles will start somewhere. Billy Butler, who is hitting .329/.360/.526 since the All-Star Break, will start somewhere. It’s a testament to just how unsettled this roster is that of the three definite keepers for next year, none has a firm lock on a position. Third base is still the most likely destination for Gordon, but it’s set in a sandbox, not in stone.
Also sure to come back is Jose Guillen, unless there’s a GM out there dumb enough to trade for a guy making $12 million a year with bad defense, an abrasive personality, and a .284 OBP.
Kaaihue has to be added to the 40-man roster after the season, so there is no roster benefit to keeping him on the farm. Kaaihue only has a month of Triple-A experience, but nearly three seasons’ worth in Double-A, so it’s not like he’s being rushed to the majors. And he was simply so dominating in the minors all season that it would be stupid not to give him a look. He had a 1087 OPS in Double-A, and in Triple-A his OPS dropped all the way to 1079. The fact that he didn’t miss a beat after his promotion bodes very well for him. His strikeout-to-walk ratio declined, but on the other hand he hit for more power, and pounded southpaws for
Shealy started against the lefty and went deep, but hopefully they will platoon this month, giving Kaaihue the bulk of the at-bats. Shealy just doesn’t profile as an everyday first baseman in the majors anymore. He hit .283/.376/.503 for
It’s hard to stick in the majors as a right-handed first baseman with mid-range power – just ask Justin Huber. But left-handed first basemen with tremendous power backed up by great plate discipline? That describes some of the best first basemen of the last decade. Kaaihue may not have the power of a Ryan Howard or the patience of a Travis Hafner or the all-around excellence of a Carlos Delgado. But the mere fact that he’s in the discussion means that he deserves every opportunity for us to find out just how good he can be.
- Hey, remember when David DeJesus was having a career year? Yeah, not so much. He’s down to .288/.348/.426 on the year, which is actually a touch below his performance in 2005 (.293/.359/.445) and 2006 (.295/.364/.446). If you ignore 2007, when he lost 40 points of batting average for no reason, he’s been a remarkably consistent player, a guy who flirts with .300 every year with some walks and a little power. Consistency is nice, but consistently mediocre is not. DeJesus remains the same tweener he’s always been – his bat plays well in center but his glove is a little short out there; his range is well-suited for left but his bat is a little weak.
He’s not old (he’s four months younger than Shealy, for crying out loud), and he’s signed to a favorable contract, and he remains a tempting trade target for a team that’s in a win-now mode but has a hole to fill in its outfield. When Moore talks about blowing this roster up, I hope he means trading someone like DeJesus, who’s good enough to help a team in contention but not good enough to pull a team into contention. I suspect this is his final month in a Royals uniform. It’s been a good run, if not quite as good as we had all hoped.
- The whispers that the Royals will be looking at Rafael Furcal this winter won’t go away, and the whisperers have been pretty good at predicting the Royals’ intentions in the past. The risk with Furcal is more medical than anything else; he’s had an above-average OPS three of the last four years, and he’ll be 31 this winter, so as long as his back is healthy he should be an above-average shortstop for a few more years. But if the Royals don’t like his medical reports or his price tag, they could do worse than to give Alberto Callaspo the everyday role at second base.
A second baseman who can hit .300 with more walks than strikeouts is valuable even if he doesn’t hit for much power. The question is whether Callaspo can hit for any power, or if he really is a Gathright-class singles hitter. In 318 major-league at-bats, Callaspo has just 14 extra-base hits and has yet to hit a home run. He’s been good for about 5 homers and 40 extra-base hits a year in the minors, but he’s had the benefit of some good hitters’ parks. Given his plate discipline, his lack of power, and his propensity to hit into double plays (given his average speed and groundball tendencies), I think he’s currently the Royals’ best option in the leadoff role. After all, you can’t hit into a double play when you’re leading off an inning.
- At third base, we’ll know more if and when Gordon returns, which fortunately appears soon. Teahen has played competently enough that I think the Royals are confident he can play the position going forward, though not necessarily that he will. I know a lot of Royals fans’ ire has been directed towards Teahen as the symbol of the Royals: the personable, nice guy who can’t hit. I don’t disagree with any of that, but I do disagree with those people who think the Royals will or should release Teahen this winter.
He’s likely to get around $3 million in arbitration, which is a lot of money for a fourth outfielder, but not a lot of money for a guy who can play all four corners adequately. More precisely, it’s not a lot of money for a guy who can play all four corners adequately and still has some offensive upside. Teahen is on his way to becoming the left-handed Casey Blake; like DeJesus, he’s a valuable player for a contending team that needs some depth, but not nearly valuable enough to help a bad team rise from the ashes. The difference between the two is that I think there’s a much stronger market for DeJesus than for Teahen. If
- You know, just a month ago John Buck was having arguably his best season, with numbers of .247/.323/.407, and looked like he had finally graduated into being a league-average catcher, the sort of guy the Royals could live with for another two years. He’s 7-for-65 since, and now we’re resorting to hoping that Hillman and Miguel Olivo can kiss and make up. Don’t count on it. I expect Moore to be very active in looking for a long-term solution behind the plate this winter. Catchers are always a seller’s market; any catcher worth acquiring is going to be very expensive. (This problem could have been avoided if the Royals had drafted Matt Wieters instead of Moustakas last summer.) Dark-horse option: Brayan Pena hit .303/.376/.462 in Omaha this year, and will be just 27 next year. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn’t get a callup – he’s almost certain to be the backup catcher next year, and wouldn’t be completely stretched as the starter in a Johnny Estrada sort of way.
Many, many years ago, Joe Sheehan and I dubbed Gregg Zaun “The Practically Perfect Backup Catcher.” Zaun plays passable defense, draws walks, and hits from both sides of the plate – and eventually the Blue Jays realized that such a perfect backup catcher wouldn’t be an embarrassment as an everyday catcher. Pena is also a switch-hitter, he’s batted over
So looking to 2009, here’s how the offense lines up in a best-case scenario:
C: Buck/Pena or Imported C
2B: Callaspo or
3B: Gordon or Teahen
CF: Imported CF (or DeJesus)
RF: Gordon or Teahen or Imported RF
You know, all the talk about the Royals is that they should focus on bringing in a shortstop, but I think they need another outfielder more than anything else. There aren’t that many stud free agents in the outfield, but there are probably more options for the outfield than at shortstop.
But honestly: that’s a pretty sad state of affairs. If
LF L Dunn/Abreu
3B L Gordon
RF R Guillen
1B L Kaaihue
CF L Teahen
C ? TBA
Yeah, that’s a dumb idea – that might be the worst defense in major league history. But I’m hard-pressed to come up with any smart ideas that will significantly upgrade the lineup for 2009, and I imagine
Nice, Rany. Your thoughts on a lot of these guys echo what we're saying on Royals Review.
I would only give Abreu a one-year deal, though. Give Gordon one more year at 3B, at least.
You're dead right on Wieters.
Rany, any thoughts to share with us on the Hosmer situation???
Also, on a related note (and a slightly crabby note), is there anyone at Baseball Prospectus that is NOT a member of the Scott Boras fan club? Without being too negative, it seems like most of the commentary over there comes across as more and more arrogant as time goes by... Maybe it's just me.
1. Aviles (2nd)
2. FA (Frucal or Cabrera) (SS)
3. FA (Dunn or Milton Bradley??) (LF)
4. Butler (DH)
5. Guillen (RF)
6. Gordon (3B)
7. Teahen or Dejesus (CF) (see below)
8. Kaaihue (1B)
9. Teagarden, Salty, or Max Ramirez (C) (for Teahen or Dejesus and Blake Wood or Daniel Gutierrez)
I worry that Furcal will be too injury prone and we should stay away.
We can't have Milton Bradley. He'll either beat up Levebre or he and Guillen will try to outdo each other as bench poisons! Or both.
Hey anonymous, why did you put Kila down at 8? Probably safe to swap him and Guillen.
good thing we didn't trade Mahay at the deadline so we could remain competitive next year.
Good stuff, Rany. Matter of fact, it nearly echoes what I wrote earlier today at the Unknown Royals Fan - unknownroyalsfan.wordpress.com. If I'm writing similar stuff to you, I can't be too far off target. Although I'm probably a little tougher on Buck than you are.
I've never actually seen Ka'aihue play, so this might be a stupid question, but is there any possibility that he could handle a corner OF spot? If so, then maybe going after Dunn/Abreu doesn't make as much sense, and you could rotate Shealy and Butler at 1B/DH.
After living through the Sweeney years I'm REALLY unexcited about signing Furcal. Especially when we'd be relying upon his defense more than we ever did with Sweeney. I've never had a chance to watch Orlando Hudson on a consistent basis, but is there a chance he could handle SS? His defense at 2B is supposed to be pretty good.
These would be unknown/risky moves from a defensive standpoint, but I just don't see any way that Moore can greatly improve the lineup in one offseason without also sacrificing some defense.
That's our magic number.
Next year is what this year was supposed to be: the year the young players actually develop into the nucleus of a contending team.
I wouldn't sign a bunch of expensive free agents. I would sign stopgaps. Guys who have something to prove, and, if they prove it, you flip them at the trade deadlines for prospects.
Spending eight figures a year for a player who is entering his decline phase makes no sense if you're topping out between 75 and 80 wins.
Let Shealy and Kila battle it out for the 1B position. If Shealy wins, there are worse things than Kila spending a year at AAA and being ready to be recalled if Shealy falters or gets injured- which has been the case the last two years.
Develop the organization from within. Manage the fans' expectations by telling them that's what you're doing. That'll bring you a lot more credibility and a lot fewer disgruntled fans that signing another Jose Guillen this off-season.
The only free agent mentioned that I'm remotely interested in is Dunn, who is this decade's Jim Thome. However, Dunn walks a lot, would easily break the Royals pathetic single season home run record, and is only 28. Therefore, I'm sure the Royals will have no interest.
Thanks God we paid Jose Guillen $12 million a year, along with $3 million per year on a 35 year old Japanese reliever. It would be terrible to have $15 million free to throw at Adam Dunn this offseason.
Adam Dunn is not GMDM's kind of player. If he keeps walking and hitting home runs like this, he'll never be a stud like Jeff Francouer.
Since he never calls out his teammates publicly while busting out a sub-90 OPS+, he won't bring enough "fire" and leadership to the Royals.
He doesn't have enough of an arm to cover up a lack of range.
he doesn't get hurt enough to make excuses.
Since he would clearly start for the Royals, he wouldn't be able to complain about thinking he had been guaranteed a starting job.
No, he doesn't sound like a DMGM signing at all.
In response to some of the posters above:
Anonymous #1: Abreu would never sign for one year.
Anonymous #2: I'd like the Royals to avoid O-Cab and Bradley like the plague. I'd also hope Kaaihue's bat warrants a spot in the order a little higher than 8th. His insane AVG/OBP/SLG splits would hopefully indicate a middle of the order bat.
Kevin: Agreed on Furcal. The injuries scare me. So do the errors, although that arm is something.
Anonymous #4: Kila is supposed to be a pretty good defensive first baseman from what I've read. I'd rather have his bat there and acquire a corner outfielder than convert him and settle for Butler/Shealy (who I think is ending his time as a Royal this month).
Konza: There are not enough options from within to be able to survive on stopgaps. If Dunn is out there, I want the Royals going after him, and I was advocating it in April over at the Star message board (Helmet Hair's the screenname over there). He has legit power in any ballpark, has great OBP, and is young enough for the power not to drop off precipitously. Even if his power did drop of precipitously, it still puts his power above the likes of Guillen.
Also I'd like them to cut bait with Shealy, but maybe that's just me. Kila is the new hope.
Adam: The thing is I think there is the $15 million to throw at Dunn this offseason. You forget that from all accounts Glass was willing to sign both Guillen and Hunter/Andruw last season. I don't see that changing.
Rany: I know there are the rumblings of the Royals having their eyes set on Furcal, but I really hope they focus, as you said on a legit corner outfield bat. The talent is there from within to make due at middle infield. The legit bat in left would serve the Royals much better, and a hopefully healthier Guillen could move to his rightful place in the order, the sixth or seventh spot.
I'll give you one word as to why the win on Tuesday looked so nice. A's.
They have been hitting like a team of tony penas with power.
I am disturbed with our bringing up Shealy and Kila. Shealy is pretty much done at the age of 29. I think that is obvious. If the Royals just want to be sure about it, then why didn't they bring him up earlier in the season? His power may have even been an upgrade on Gload God forbid.
Bringing him up at this point is a waste. Kila is the one who should be getting the time at the plate and he will now probably suffer because of it.
I thought DeJesus would be stupid to get rid of. 3 months ago. Now I don't know. Buck is having a year remarkably similar to last year except he didn't do really well to start the year off.
Brayan Pena is the other guy that I think should have been brought up and wasn't. With the performance of our catchers at this point, why would you not bring him up. The argument that we don't have the space on our roster is bothersome. We have at least a couple of guys who could flat out be released and not claimed.
One thing I hope we don't do is start signing old guys who are an off season away from starting their decline. The star mentioned Ibanez. While he has performed quite well and would not be that expensive, he is also 35. Dunn worries me a ton. (hey, that rhymes) I can see him losing some power and then some walks by signing with us and thus becoming one huge disappointment. The three possible outcome guy is not someone I want to sign and Dunn the is the perfect example of one.
You really would have thought that we could have been a little farther a long at this point. This year may be the most disappointing season for me ever and I've seen them since 76. Only 90 and 94 probably rank with it.
The philosophy has to change and that has not. We can continue to move in different players and release others but if we are teaching the same kind of baseball and playing the same kind of baseball nothing will change. I think that goes without saying but the people who need to know that the most don't.
Until Kila actually proves he can hit, there is no reason to plan on him hitting higher that 8. I agree with anan #2. If he proves he can hit at this level, then obviously he would move up. That has been the problem with the Royals; they immediately stick a "prospect" in the 3/4/5 hole and expect them to produce. Let them get their feet wet lower in the order where there is no pressure.
As for Frucal, he is a stud, though he does have an injury history, though it is not as extensive as people seem to think. Here is his game totals since 2000: 131/79/154/156/143/154/159/138/32 (this year). He is no Cal Ripken, but he has played a decent amount each season except for 2001 and this year.
On Bradley: He has been a good teammate in Texas by all accounts. He is also injury prone, but if you look at his numbers, he is one of the most producing outfielders in baseball.
Alright! The Royals haven't lost in 3 days!
Rany...what are your opinions of the pitching staff in 2009? Who stays and who goes and their any big name free agent that would sign with us?
Rain-Man, I LOVE your lineup. If the Flyin' Hawaiian isn't at 1b next year, barring an awful spring and/or injury, then I'm cancelling my season tickets.
I don't think they need to move Aviles off of shortstop.
His defense has been more than adequate there, and having a bat like that at short is a HUGE advantage over the rest of the league (Aviles has the highest OPS by an AL shortstop with at least 300 PAs).
I don't think this franchise can afford to forfeit any advantages in player personnel that they may have.
Personally, I would be comfortable going into next season with a MI of Aviles & Callaspo. Only caveat is if we are sure Callaspo has taken care of his drinking problem for good.
Sorry, but I have to disagree with all of your Free Agents you'd like to see in a Royals uniform other than Adam Dunn.
Furcal and (gasp) Abreu are not what this team needs next year. All that does is put us right back in the hole we were in before. That's with stopgap players who bring no benefit when their time in KC is done. They aren't young, they are out of their prime, they are all declining and the worst part...after their contracts in KC are over, their careers probably are, too. So we can't trade them or get anything for them.
Dunn, on the other hand, at least hits for major power. That alone is something this team desperately needs. I don't want to sacrifice defense for a few extra home runs, but we aren't talking about a 15 HR guy. We are talking about 40+ HR guy. Big difference.
Either way you slice it, I think Teahen has to go. He has proven nothing and has had more than ample opportunity. Why are we not giving Shealy any time at the MLB level saying he's done, when Teahen has been here for years and proven nothing??? That seems backwards to me.
Get us a starting OF with power and another GOOD SP and lets go from there with young guys we already have.
Oh, and lets not forget Mitch Maier in the mix for a starting OF spot as well.
I'd be happy with this lineup entering next season:
CF L DeJesus
SS R Aviles
3B L Gordon
DH R Butler
LF L Dunn
RF R Guillen
1B L Ka'aihue
C R Buck/S Pena
2B S Callaspo
Teahen (1B, 3B, OF)
German (utility IF)
Gathright (4th OF, pinch runner/def. replacment)
I think blowing up this lineup will involve more changes than you are implying. I would not be surprised if the Royals end up with 2 new outfielders, 1 new middle infielder and a new catcher next year (With either Shealy or Kaaihui taking over at first). I order to do this he made need to trade one of his keepers (Greinke, Butler, Gordon or Aviles).
The Royals need to sign one corner outfielder at most. This team is terrible and won't compete next year. What is wrong with giving Ryan Shealy a chance to become the next Ryan Ludwig. We could platoon him and Kila at first, or make Shealy a corner outfielder.
Abreu would be a waste of money and Dunn will be lazy and bad by the end of the high/long contract he demands.
If we do anything we should trade Grienke to Texas (who I beleive loves him) for some of their prospects. That way we have an even better group to come up with Moose, Hosmer, Duffy, etc.
I live in Dallas so I'm pretty well versed on the rumblings in Arlington, and Benjamin you're right...Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan have a huge man crush on Grienke and in the offseason, he will be an important target for the Rangers (in addition to throwing millions at Sabathia and Sheets) and I believe that the Royals could, if DM plays his cards right, take in a huge haul of top notch prospects!
Why would the Royals trade Greinke to the Rangers? he's young, has a couple years until FA (read cheap), and appears to be close to being the ace he was drafted to be. That wouldn't make any sense unless we got an entire farm team.
I agree that trading Greinke makes no sense. Dayton said it himself when he first came to KC when he said "Pitching is the currency of baseball, and we are going to get rich off of it."
Pitching is the one thing we need to KEEP. Greinke is young, cheap and on the verge of being an ace. You keep him and Meche and work down from there.
You keep Grienke if we had a shot at being good in the next two years; however we don't and have big holes. We have Duffy, Cortes, Rosa (I think he is hurt), Melville, Sample, Pimental, and Montgomery in the minors. What we don't have is any decent hitting prospects beyond Moose and Hosmer. So if we can get a catcher, Andrus (SS prospect), and a pitcher from Texas, we would HAVE to do it. Grienke is good, but have too many positions and weaknesses to address, i.e. Moore saying he has to blow the team up. You have to give up assets in order to get them back. Grienke is solid but also has some history to him. We should sell high on him.
Trade Greinke if and only if:
1) He won't sign a long term contract, and
2) You get at least what you think he's worth.
It seems like Greinke has been around forever, but he doesn't turn 25 until October 21. He's only five months older than Ka'aihue and 3.5 months older than Gordon. A 5 year contract lets you keep him until he's 30 and, at lease in theory, right at his peak.
While I agree the Royals take a huge step back trading Greinke, long term it's the best move to make. We aren't going to win anything the next couple years. Plus, Dayton isn't married to Greinke like Allard was. If he can get 3 top notch prospects, Zach is gone. I see Texas was brought up, how about Saltalamacchia, Andrus, and a pitching prospect? Pretty much the haul they got for Texeira. Also, Milwaukee has shown interest in the past and they have a ton of position prospects like Alcides Escobar, Gamel, etc. By the way, what makes you guys think Dunn is going to want to come here? Guillen followed the money partly because nobody else wanted him. Dunn will be coveted and have his pick of teams. I love the Royals, but I'm pretty sure he's not as high on them as I am.
Don't most people use currency to purchase things?
I think that Greinke is fair game as long as the Royals get A LOT for him, but I wouldn't trade him for anything short of that. If the Rangers are willing to give up the farm for him, Dayton Moore would be CRAZY to not take them up on their offer. The Royals have a ton of holes to fill throughout their organization, and if one player can help fill several of those holes, the Royals need to go for it.
As far as Shealy goes, why do some people keep holding on to the hope that he can be a good MLB player? He's 29 years old, and he's pretty much proven that he's a AAAA guy at best. That being said, I don't have a huge problem with the Royals giving him one last look to be sure, although I would like for them to give Kila at least a couple of starts at 1B before the end of the season.
I also don't understand why some people want to get rid of Teahen outright. He'll make a pretty good utility player because he can play all 4 corners. Now I'm not opposed to DM trading him if he can get something of value for him, but outright releasing Teahen would be stupid.
The one thing that disturbs me about Dm this season is the fact that he didn't move Grudzie or Mayhay before the trading deadline. Sure, the market for Grudzie was pretty thin, but something would have been better than nothing. Mayhay is the one that he really missed the boat on. There WAS interest, and let's face it, this season was a lost cause before we even got to the deadline. DM need to continue to sign guys like Dotel and Mayhay, and FLIP THEM at the trading deadline.
Rany, I know you're a stat guy and after I went to a AAA game tonight a question came to mind. I know that age 27 is the big year for most ball players but does that magical 27th year correlate at all to height (especially for hitters). I ask because I know how hard it was to put on weight until i hit 30. So would help explain the Ibanezs' (I have no idea how tall or what frame he has)of MLB. Just curious is all.
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