Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Meetings.

Every year, we look forward to a winter meetings event filled with big trades and surprising free agent signings – and every year, it turns out to be a dud. This year has been no exception so far, although things usually start moving a little in the last 24 hours.

One player we hope will not be moving is Zack Greinke. Here’s how things have changed under Dayton Moore: when I first heard the rumor that Moore was talking to the Braves about a Greinke-Francoeur swap, I didn’t even bat an eye. I had no doubt that this rumor was grossly mischaracterized at best, and more likely just an outright fabrication. I do not always agree with Moore, but he and I agree on one thing: he is not an idiot.

The best part of the rumor was the fact that Moore actively sought out more than one reporter to debunk the rumor. Moore likes to run a tight ship when it comes to rumors, but he also can’t help himself when it comes to shooting down rumors that are false (or rumors that he wants everyone to believe are false.) The downside to that is that when he doesn’t deny a rumor, you know there’s some fire with that smoke. (You’ll notice the lack of denials regarding the Royals’ interest in Rafael Furcal, for instance.)

But in this case, I think Moore was justified to speak out, and speak out forcefully, that there was nothing to the notion of trading Greinke for Francoeur. It was as if Moore wanted to send a message to all Royals fans that can be translated as, “I just wanted to reassure all of you that not only am I not stupid enough to trade Zack Greinke for Jeff Francoeur, I’m not stupid enough to even think about trading Zack Greinke for Jeff Francoeur. Thank you for your support.”

But at some point the Royals are going to do something, so let me try to run down the likely possibilities as I battle through this nagging cold. There are two types of moves the Royals are looking at: they almost certainly will add a reliever or two to their bullpen, and they might open the vault for a big addition either in the lineup or in the rotation.

We know they’re looking at relievers right and left – well, mostly right, as I think Moore is satisfied for now with Ron Mahay, John Bale, and Jimmy Gobble from the left side. (Assuming that Gobble fixes whatever ailed him last season, that’s a reasonable complement of left-handed relievers.) Some quick thoughts on the guys who have been publicly linked to the Royals:

Kyle Farnsworth: His name has come up several times as someone the Royals are strongly pursuing. I don’t see it. Farnsworth throws really hard, and as a 25-year-old setup man for the Cubs, he struck out 107 batters in 82 innings, with a 2.74 ERA. The problem is, now he’s 32 years old. He signed a three-year deal with the Yankees before the 2006 season, and over the last three years his ERAs are 4.36, 4.80, and 4.48. As much as I appreciate his service on behalf of Yankee-haters everywhere, I’m not sure his mediocrity was intentional, especially since he had a 6.75 ERA last season after the Yankees foisted him on Detroit.

Farnsworth still strikes out about a man an inning, and walks about a man every third inning – that’s something to build on. But he’s way too prone to the long ball. Kauffman Stadium will help some, and maybe Bob McClure will help some, although Farnsworth isn’t exactly famous for his coachability. If the Royals are looking at a 1-year, $2 million deal or something, he’s a nice flyer to take. But he’s coming off a 3-year, $17 million contract, and is probably looking for something comparable. The danger is that the Royals pay a 32-year-old pitcher based on his potential, not on his reality.

Brandon Lyon: Lyon’s coming off a disappointing year with the Diamondbacks, but I like his overall track record more than Farnsworth. Lyon isn’t the power pitcher that Farnsworth is, but he has better command and is stinger with the long ball, especially when you factor in Arizona’s ballpark. He’s coming off a 26-save season and may want closer money even though he gave nothing like closer performance last year. Farnsworth has more upside, Lyon’s the safer bet, and I wouldn’t sign either for Mahay money.

Russ Springer: Two years ago, Springer was a 38-year-old pitcher who had never had an ERA lower than 3.42 in a season with 15 innings or more. Over the last two years, he has ERAs of 2.18 and 2.32, and merely adds to the argument that Dave Duncan, not Leo Mazzone, is the best pitching coach of the last generation. I love McClure, but even I’m skeptical he can keep the magic going as Springer enters his 40s. Avoid.

Juan Cruz: Now here’s a guy I can get behind. Cruz has power (158 Ks in 113 IP the last two years) and effectiveness (2.61 ERA in 2008; 3.10 ERA in 2007.) He has one save in his major league career, so you don’t have to pay a premium for a service you don’t need. I can’t imagine that he’ll be any cheaper than the three guys listed above, but it’s better to spend good money on a good reliever than any money on a mediocre one. I’m confident that Moore can scrounge up a reliever from the ranks of free talent out there that can duplicate what Springer will do over the next year or two. Cruz, on the other hand, is not an easily duplicated talent.

I’ll try to be back soon with my thoughts elsewhere on the diamond.

26 comments:

Brett said...

What if we don't sign any of these guys? Our bullpen seemingly wouldn't be as good as last year, but how would you feel if, say, Carlos Rosa were the primary right-handed set-up guy, along with Mahay who is more than a lefty specialist?

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea for the bullpen that's possible but unlikely. The Mariners are gonna lose Ibanez and may trade Beltre so Teahen might be a good fit for them. What about Teahen and Calos Rosa for JJ Putz??? Putz in the 8th Soria in the 9th OR Putz as closer and Soria gets a shot in the rotation. Again, unlikely but an interesting possibility.

keith said...

Rany...you'd be OK with giving up a 2nd round pick if we sign Cruz? That's something to consider.

Anonymous said...

Rany:

I like your stuff, but even using ERA rather than FIP, and multiplying by his pLI (as should be done for relievers), Ron Mahay didn't earn his money last year (assuming $4.4M oer WAR. 1 WAR = 10.5 RAR). When you use FIP, he was barely worth $1M. tRA-RAR is harder to figure, but I have him below replacement level...

I signing might have been OK at the time, don't get me wrong. But it hasn't worked out for the Royals so far.

By way of contrast, Ramon Ramirez was about a 2 WAR player in all the stats -- you know, what CoCo Crisp has a chance of being (although Ramirez will probably regress some).

Soria was almost 4 WAR using ERA, and more like 2 using FIP and tRA.

Nunez was better than Mahay.

P.S. Mike Jacobs still sucks.

Ryan said...

If they sign Farnsworth, Butler might not be in the dimmest bulb in the clubhouse anymore. So, maybe Butler's confidence would improve his play.

I've never been a Farnsworth fan. If I remember correctly, he's the got the straightest 97mph fastball in the league.

Jeff said...

Keith -- I thought Cruz was a Type A FA (and was offered arbitration), meaning we'd have to give up a 1st round pick.

keith said...

Yea, he's a type A, but we have a top 15 pick (#12) so it is protected. Teams with top 15 picks give their 2nd round pick instead.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2:34,

Stats are great and usually tell the story of a player if you dig deep enough, but sometimes you just have to open your eyes and see what's going on. To say Mahay was a below replacement player is ridiculous. In your stat searching, did it classify righties and lefties? How many lefty relievers had a better year than Mahay? Not many, especially the first four months before he got hurt, and I definitely know that we couldn't plug in some average joe and get the same production (see Gobble).

Anonymous said...

If we can sign Rafael Furcal, are we legitimate playoff contenders?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I'd say no even with Furcal. We still don't have the team power. Give us Furcal and Teixeira/Manny and I'd say we're legitimate playoff contenders. Obviously that's not going to happen, but I think that's the magnitude of player we'd need to be immediately competitive. I guess the hope is that Gordon or Butler will soon develop into that caliber of player.

Nathan said...

My guess is that with Furcal we'd be 2008-Twins class competitors--not a team that can do it on paper, but we might slide in if things break right. I might add that's a lot closer than we've been in the last decade or so, and it's well worth pursuing. As previously noted, a break out campaign from Butler, Gordon, Davies, Hochevar, etc could be exactly the break it would take.

The 2010 Royals would also benefit from a Furcal signing. So, bring him on.

Ryan said...

We signed Farnsworth. 2 years, 9million? Give or take.

Anonymous said...

I now demand a reality show about the Royals dugout.

Farnsworth and Guillen is just too good.

Anonymous said...

farnsworth is in the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

And Guillen's in right field. That's close proximity at Kauffman.

Maybe Farnsworth can be the guy to come out and warm him up occasionally and do the team a favor by trying to bean Guillen with one of those 97 mph heaters. I hear the hip is rather fragile.

Anonymous said...

Actually, with this signing this SCREAMS to me that the Royals are either close, or seriously trying to trade Guillen

Anonymous said...

Worst case there is now someone in the clubhouse who won't take Guillen's crap. I don't mind having guys like this on the team. Don't you all remember the "milk and cookies" era?

Anonymous said...

I like the Farnsworth signing. The guy is still in his low-30's, throws gas, has some swagger and will be a nice bridge to Soria. He is a local guy and is the proven righty we were looking for. When you consider the market for relievers this year, 2/$9 isn't all that bad. I think Awfuldt got more cash than that.

Back to Furcal, I hear we could sign him even if we don't trade Guillen. However, that would mean letting go of Buck, Teahen and German. I can't say I'd miss any of those guys.

Dave said...

There will be no market for Buck and German. However, I'll puke if they just CUT Teahen. Surely they can get SOMETHING for him. I hope Bradley/Ibanez/Abreu sign anywhere besides Chicago so the Cubs will come back with Marshall for Teahen.

1. Furcal
2. Aviles
3. Dejesus
4. Guillen
5. Jacobs
6. Butler
7. Gordon
8. Olivo
9. Crisp

Greinke
Meche
Bannister
Marshall
Davies

2009 AL Central Champs

Redbird Royal said...

Well KC finally digned a guy that can tackle. Too bad for the Chiefs Farnsworth plays for the Royals.

kcghost said...

Well, GMDM signed Farnsworth and spent $9M doing it. Just another guy who gives up an HR every 6 IP's. Once again he has wasted the Glass's money.

And he signed Horacio Ramirez for some odd reason.

Ryan said...

I'm sure Farnsworth will be great in the band box they call U.S. Cellular.

We got a Rule 5 pick. A left pitcher from the Twins named Jose Lugo who was in High A last year. He looks like he can strink some people out. 73k in 77 innings.

Ryan said...

Wait, no, we traded him to the Mariners.

These are our minor league picks:
* Right-handed pitcher Luis Ortega, 21, pitched in the Dominican Summer League for the Washington Nationals two squads in 2008.
* Catcher John Suomi, 28, split his 2008 season in the Phillies organization between Class AA Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
* Right-handed pitcher Carlos Arias, 23, spent 2008 at Class A Mahoning Valley in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Anonymous said...

From the NY Daily News:

"The Royals also picked up outfielder Jordan Parraz from the Astros as the player to be named in their earlier trade for lefthander Tyler Lumsden. Parraz hit .289 with six homers and 42 RBI for high-A Salem this year, and was rated by Baseball America as having the best outfield arm in the Houston organization. He stole 21 bases this year and has an impressive .370 on-base percentage over five minor league seasons, including .399 this year."

Seriously, I just have this feeling that Teahen, Guillen, Buck and German better not be buying any houses here.

Antonio. said...

We'll be the 2009 AL Central Champions because, led by Kyle Freakin' Farnsworth, we're going to outswagger them all.

Anonymous said...

I'm really trying hard to understand GMDM off season trades and FA signings from a statistic standpoint, and I don't see a significant upgrade that warrant the extra dollars. Instead of trading cheap relievers, he should have saved his wad for Adam Dunn. The only possible reason I can conceive why he is turning over the roster is for better morale, leadership and attitude in the clubhouse. Apparently, the 32 year old has matured some according to Buster (ESPN). Crisp is a fighter too. Don't know Jacob's rep well enough to comment.