Friday, January 23, 2009

Introducing...

…Amira Rayanne Jazayerli, who was born on Sunday, January 18th, at 6:50 am. Despite being born a few weeks early, she weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and she and her mother are doing very well, thank God – they left the hospital yesterday. Grandmothers are in town to help with the baby and – equally importantly – with her older sisters, allowing me to go back to my usual routine of goofing off on the internet all evening.

Things are slowly returning to normal, although I fear that my standards for what constitute “normal” will once again slip a little bit. But between the baby, my first experience with sciatica (mild, thankfully – I can’t imagine how bad a severe case would be) courtesy of an 11-year-old snowboarder who plowed into my back while I was sitting on the snow adjusting my board, and a computer crash which necessitated a complete reformatting of my hard drive – there’s been a lot of distractions going on around here. I appreciate your patience.

I’ll try to return to my Time Capsule on the 1995-96 Royals shortly, and I’m excited about the first RotR player interview, which hopefully will be ready soon. The interview has gone so well that we might run it over at Baseball Prospectus; if it does, it should be a non-premium article so that everyone can read it.

In the meantime, I owe you guys some Royals stuff to chew on…let’s talk about the arbitration cases, some that have settled, some that haven’t. Among the ones that did, there’s Jimmy Gobble, who will make almost exactly what he made last year ($1.35 million) in the hopes that he won’t pitch like he did in 2008 (8.81 ERA). Even in his worst season, Gobble held lefties to a line of .200/.246/.323; his one disastrous ten-run outing raised his ERA about two-and-a-half points. Between Ron Mahay, John Bale, and possibly Horacio Ramirez, the Royals have neither reason nor temptation to use Gobble except in the strictest of LOOGY roles. I’d argue that such a role isn’t a valuable use of a roster spot, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that Gobble can be effective enough in that role to justify his salary.

Joel Peralta got $640,000. As a general rule, if you’re eligible for arbitration and settle for a six-figure salary, it’s tantamount to admitting that you’re lucky you’re still on the roster in the first place. Peralta’s salary is barely over the league minimum; a greater concern for the Royals is that he’s a good bet to be left off the roster completely, and I believe he’s out of options. Arbitration salaries are only one-sixth guaranteed, so while I’d advocate the Royals do the merciful thing and put Peralta out of his misery now, it’s hard to get worked up over 100 grand.

John Buck got $2.9 million, which just makes him and Miguel Olivo ($2.7 million) that much more indistinguishable. Every day I wait for Dayton Moore to realize how superfluous it is to have two low-OBP, moderate-power right-handed catchers in their late 20s on the roster, let alone to pay each of them close to $3 million, especially when you have a switch-hitting contact-oriented catcher in Brayan Pena who’s ready for a backup role (and out of options) and will get paid around the league minimum. So far, a trade is not forthcoming. I’m sure there is a plan here, but like a lot of Moore’s decisions this winter, I haven’t been able to pierce the shroud that covers it.

Four players have exchanged figures with the Royals. Three of them – Mark Teahen ($3.85/$3.05), Mike Jacobs ($3.8/$2.75), and Brian Bannister ($2.025/$1.45) are relatively inconsequential. The disparities in dollars are not enormous, none of the numbers appear out of whack, and there’s no reason for the Royals to sign any of the three to a long-term deal at this point. The Royals have not gone to an arbitration hearing with any player in the Moore era, and I don’t see that changing with these three guys – expect all three to settle near the midpoint.

The fourth player is Zack Greinke, who is asking for $4.4 million, and whom the Royals offered $3.4 million. Granted that I’m not any kind of expert in the arbitration process, but I must say that I found both of these numbers kind of low. I mean, Prince Fielder just signed a two-year deal with Milwaukee, but before signing he had submitted an arbitration figure of $8 million and the Brewers had countered with $6 million. Yes, Fielder has certainly had a better 2007-08 than Greinke did, but then, he’s just a three-year player, whereas Grienke is a four-year player.

I don’t mean to suggest that either side made a mistake. I’m just saying that the arbitration process does not assess the future value of a player so much as his past value, and in Greinke’s case – largely because he was not a full-time starter until 2008 – this has the effect of depressing his earning potential. Which, of course, helps the Royals.

But that help is likely to be fleeting if Moore doesn’t use this as an opening to get a long-term deal done. Greinke is going to make $4 million in 2009, more or less; if he has another season in 2009 as he did in 2008, I imagine his arbitration award in 2010 would be in the 8-10 million range. So let’s say $13 million over the next two years. I have previously advocated that the Royals offer Greinke a 4-year, $44 million deal – if anything, that might be generous, as it would be pegging his value in 2011-2012 at $31 million over two years. If Greinke continues to pitch like an ace, $15.5 million a year might well prove to be a bargain; on the other hand, in this economy that might prove to be his upside. More importantly, the cost certainty of having that contract in hand today instead of two years from now is worth a discount.

Cole Hamels just signed a 3-year, $20.5 million deal. Hamels, like Greinke and Scott Kazmir, is a product of the 2002 draft (nice first round for high school pitchers there), but is a super-two player who’s eligible for arbitration for the first time, so his salary is not exactly comparable. But keep in mind that his track record is significantly better than Greinke’s as well.

When you look at all the contract precedents out there, you can’t help but conclude that the Royals should be able to get a deal done for 4/44, or maybe even 4/40. (Or, better still, 4/40 with an option year or two in the $12-16 million range.) The Royals can absolutely afford such a contract, particularly since the contract can easily be backloaded – just transfer the money that Jose Guillen is stealing from the team to Greinke once JoGui’s contract is up.

I know I can’t go more than a few weeks without bringing up Greinke’s contract status and suggesting some new contract permutation that will work for both sides. But this is important, dammit. Everything else this winter is just window dressing. If Moore wants my support back, there’s no quicker way to get it.

Call me the incorrigible optimist that I am, but I think this could still happen. Greinke’s recent comments to Sam Mellinger left the door open to a long-term deal. There’s nothing in these arbitration numbers that send up a red flag. And while all the motion this winter hasn’t produced a lot of movement, it has at least produced the perception of movement in the minds of a lot of people – and people who happen to play for the Kansas City Royals are likely to perceive the acquisitions of established major league players a lot more positively than you or I. I’m not sure the Royals are any better than they were at the end of last season, but if they look better to Zack Greinke, and that factors into his decision to sign a long-term deal, then suddenly you have to look at the acquisitions of Jacobs, Farnsworth, Bloomquist et al in a much different light.

There’s a good chance that on Opening Day, for the second straight year, the Royals will not have any rookies on their roster. (Technically, Yasuhiko Yabuta was last year, but you get the idea.) That’s not ordinarily the sign of a young and improving team, but of course the Royals have tons of second- and third-year players. The difference is that jobs are not simply being handed to minor leaguers; they have to earn them. It’s very easy to take that philosophy too far and deprive deserving minor leaguers of a chance to perform in the majors – but the alternative, as we saw in the Allard Baird years, is that a team promotes every Tom, Ambiorix, and Leo who has a few hot weeks in Double-A. That philosophy didn’t simply stunt the development of some talented players – it also fed the perception that the Royals were a Mickey Mouse operation, that they weren’t a creditable major league organization. It’s no wonder that Greinke said, in his imitable way:

“The main way I look at it,” he says, “four years ago, when they asked me to accept the pitcher’s award, I was like, ‘Do I really have to? Do I have to go and say a bunch of stuff I don’t really mean? Whatever.’

“But now, when you look at how the team’s run, the team’s looking better, everything’s going in the right direction instead of at a standstill, you’re proud to do it. I don’t mind doing it. If it helps the team, I’ll be more than happy to do it.”

I don’t agree that everything is going in the right direction. But I can’t deny that if Greinke thinks that, well, perception drives reality. If Moore gets Greinke signed to a long-term deal between now and Opening Day, we’ll have to give him credit for being craftier than we thought.

That’s a big if. And the clock is ticking.

47 comments:

David said...

Congratulations, Rany! I'm right there with you -- my wife gave birth to a boy (our first child) on Dec. 26. Needless to say, we're exhausted, but excited.

AxDxMx said...

Congrats, Rany! I had my first one at the end of 2007. She's 14 months old now and growing like a weed. It goes by quick.

Mike Roth said...

Congrats, Rany!

Jimmy Jack said...

Congrats Rany! My first was born on 12-14 and it's been an amazing experience! I can't agree with you more on Greinke. Sign him long term...immediately. I'm still very curious about Moore's moves this year & maybe we're going to be pleasantly surprised come mid-season. However, signing Greinke long term would go a long way to pushing this offseason into the positive for Moore in my eyes.

philevans3154 said...

Congratulations, Rany!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new addition!

Cookierojas73 said...

Rany, congratulations and best wishes to you and your family. And thank you for your always insightful and entertaining posts.

jonfmorse said...

Rany! I didn't even know you were pregnant!

Seriously, warm congratulations to you and the family. :)

jjf3 said...

Congratulations, Rany!! Wishing your family the best!

Joe

Dan Holden said...

Congratulations

rey rey said...

Way to go Rany!!! I have 3 kids 4 and under and I couldnt be happier. Well maybe if Moore can actually build a contender.

I love the passion (of course love the team). You---love that baby!

Shelby said...

Happy for you Rany.

Is there any indication that Greinke would rather pitch for Florida or Tampa Bay so he can mow lawns in the offseason and live life at his own pace?

JPM said...

Congratulations, Rany. I have three children myself, and it is awesome and exhausting all at once.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Rany!!

I've still got echos of your last blog in my head, and the thought I keep coming back to is this: I, myself, work for a rather large, confused and at times seemingly lost corporation. The Glass family's business experience comes from running a rather large corporation. Maybe the Royals' first family runs their hardball team like a large corporation... if we don't spend all of our budget for THIS year, we won't get the same amount or more cash alloted to our department NEXT year to spend. Maybe Farnsworth, WeeWillie and Jacobs represent that corporate philosophy. Not that the philosophy makes any sense, but that is the reality that I and many of our fellow Americans have to deal with when we get to work.

While I cannot disagree with or argue against your replacement cost logic, but GMDM might be simply playing the office game with those ultimately in charge (David and Dan, of course) of the KC franchise to continue to acquire more budget for the 2010-? Royals.

The honeymoon is truly over at this point, and some of Moore's moves up to today are questionable at best. I keep telling myself Guillen and the others like him (who's contracts look like a burden to teams like the R's) are stopgaps for the 3-5 year wait on the farm system. We've seen steady improvement with the MLB and farm teams since DM's arrival home. Maybe there's a plan to flip some of the newly signed and most expensive parts of the bullpen at the break.

The company I work for (at least the department within) is a perfect example for what happens when you don't dissect newly completed projects: the same mistakes and blatant errors are made from project to project with regularity. I hope the Royals are doing that very thing with each transaction - dissecting what they did with all of the how's and why's that come with what. If not, GMDM will not ever get it. Because, if like my boss, Dayton is all knowing and infallible. I hope Dayton is human, and not only knows it, but understands humans fail and must understand why. That is if there is going to be improvement, whatever the endeavor.

I'm also tired of lip service paid to OBP. It's painfully obvious when you are a punch-and-judy type of player (even in the weekend veterano la ligas I play in), your TOTAL OFFENSIVE VALUE is in your ability handle the bat (got to know how to bunt and hit behind the runners also) and to at least get to first base 35-40% of the time, especially when you are a skinny catcher with little power compared to the sluggers. DISSECT your hitters DM!!!

I'm still on the Dayton Moore Bandwagon, but he needs to DISSECT ALL OF THE ROSTER MOVES he's been in charge of and get better at recognizing successes/failures than he already might be. Otherwise, I might start sounding like ol' Neyer and like you have lately my friend.

David said...

Congrats Rany!

stop the madness said...

Congrats Rany! I agree, let's go get Grienke locked up, even if the money gets silly. I still miss watching Beltran round the bases.

Here's a couple anti-Farnsworth arguments (without considering previous comments about the Royals real-world difficulties with picking and choosing who signs with them):

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/gammons-on-pitc.html

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/brandon-lyon-do.html

But the best part about Farnsworth on the club is this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_J._Farnsworth

Maybe we can shout "Good news, everyone!" when he enters the game (or perhaps when he leaves the game).

Mike said...

Congratulations to you and your wife, Rany! Nothing in this world is more special than the birth of a child.

As for the Royals, I agree with your ideas about getting Greinke signed long-term. If GMDM can work something out in the $8-12M per year range, with an option year or two, AND backload the contract, it would be amazing. I hope GMDM earns a little of your respect back by pulling that off.

It's hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in about three weeks! We have an abundance of snow where I live (Minneapolis), and the temperatures outside are frigid, but Spring Training is just around the corner, and that's always exciting.

Go Royals!

Tubmin said...

Congratulations, Rany. Bless your family.

I'm with you on this Greinke deal. If DM locks him up for 4 years, all other transgressions will be forgiven.

Brendan said...

Yay for Rany! What an exciting time (minus the back pain of course)

Anonymous said...

Teahen to second?!?! Before I go on Rany, congrats on the baby girl. Now, Teahen to second?!?!?!? Please tell me they aren't doing this to this kid again, please tell me a 6ft 3in MLBer has succeeded at second base being that tall. I'm almost sick to my stomach.

-Todd

Dr Thunder said...

I hate your blog, but congratulations on the kid.

Douglas said...

Best to you, your wife, and the family. I'm more in awe that you could post something at all, let alone a thoughtful piece about arbitration/Grienke...and he is the linchpin here, because if ever there was someone to take over the #1 from Meche, it'll be Grienke. And I think DM has to show not only the players and league that the team is stepping up, but the fans as well.

NYRoyal said...

Congrats! I'm having my first in June. And I'm naming her "Rany".

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Rany. Get some sleep whenever you can.

Jeff said...

congrats, Rany

Anonymous said...

Congrats - do they have to wear the burqua right away or can they grow up a little first?

Hey, with any luck she may grow up to be one of some glorious martyrs group of 72 virgins when she grows up!

Tony said...

That is awesome Rany. Be sure to thank that Grandma's for allowing you to entertain all of us.

I would of went with Rayanne Gubicza, but what do i know?

Keep her dressed in Royal Blue.

Anonymous said...

Alexi Ramirez of the Chicago white soxs is 6'3. That's a little deceiving though as he was brought up thought their system as a SS.

Bob McWilliams said...

Congratulations---and best of luck on the back pain--that snowboarding will get you every time--or at least another snowboarder will get you! If Teahan at 2b means to Bloomquist...well, I wouldn't cry too much about that. And yes, PLEASE DM, SIGN ZACH.

konza847 said...

Too tall to play second base. Arm strong enough that as an outfielder he was among the league leaders in assists (baserunner kills).

Have we established beyond a reasonable doubt that Teahen cannot play shortstop?

He wouldn't be the first guy that the organization thought couldn't play there- but could.

Darrel said...

Congratulations Rany! Both our boys were a little early, but it never slowed them down and they're in their 30's now.

And, ignore the bigots, OK?

Chris C said...

Congrats, Rany! I'm interested to read what you think about Teahen at 2b.

Andrew said...

Rany,

While I disagree with your opinion of Moore right now, I heartily congratulate you on your new daughter. Best of luck.

Oh, and ignore the bigots. Sadly, some people are just ignorant like that.

Shelby said...

Yes, ignore the cretins. They simply do not matter.

ChaimMKeller said...

Congratulations! My 7th child is just shy of a year old, and let me tell you, the novelty never wears off. It's just more and more fun. (Hard work fun, but definitely fun.)

Hold your baby up high at Royals games! Last June, that baby and I (and my 2nd child, who's ten) appeared on the big screen at the K.

stop the madness said...

WHB reports a 4 year deal for Grienke!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jimmy Jack said...

I just heard on 810 WHB that the Royals just inked Greinke to a 4 year deal! No terms released yet, but this is great news!! Great job Moore!

Ben F said...

Congrats,
nevertheless i'm still going to nitpick (it wouldn't be a blog without it) that Guillen isn't "stealing" the Royals' money. It's not his fault they decided to overpay him, so it's not fair to lay that at his feet. It's the Royals' fault that the Royals are "throwing money away" on Guillen.
Despite the nitpicking, congrats again and a well-written post among all the distractions.

Anonymous said...

Bob Dutton is now Reporting Greinke and a 4 Year Deal... Sweet!!!!

Kc1fan8569

Hector Savage said...

ESPN reports the same!

Andrew said...

Oh my god we did it.

We have Greinke locked up.

I am seriously about to cry.

JPM said...

"I don’t agree that everything is going in the right direction. But I can’t deny that if Greinke thinks that, well, perception drives reality. If Moore gets Greinke signed to a long-term deal between now and Opening Day, we’ll have to give him credit for being craftier than we thought.


That’s a big if. And the clock is ticking."

The clock just stopped ticking! I can't wait to read the post giving DM credit for being craftier than Rany thought.

Go Royals!

Anonymous said...

When you write it, things get done. So now you need to write a blog about trading Guillen and getting Dunn. How about we go after Sheets too.

Jeff said...

Glad your family's healthy and home. Seriously, ignore the racist "anonymous". Why he's even reading this blog I have no idea.

Ron said...

Congrats, Rany! And now the Royals sign Greinke, can't wait for the post......

Adrian said...

Congratulations on the birth of your girl, Rany!

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