Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Stove Gets Hot Quickly.

As I wrote last time, “If the Royals make some significant moves over the winter…I might show up here with some brief commentary.” Well, they made a significant move, so here’s some brief commentary. Okay, maybe not brief. If it was brief, you ought to be concerned that an imposter hacked into my blog. It may be while before I post again, so I figured I'd get all my thoughts down at one time.

Dayton Moore likes to get started early. For the second year in a row, Moore made a trade on the first day of the off-season – or at least the trade leaked the day after the World Series. You can’t talk about the particulars of the deal without discussing the rather bizarre way that the trade unfolded.

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News broke the story just hours after the World Series ended. On Thursday morning, Buster Olney reported that trade talks were “not that far along”. An hour later, the Chicago Sun-Times confirmed the deal, even though both Chris Getz and Mark Teahen had denied that they had heard anything about a deal.

Thursday afternoon, Dick Kaegel reported that neither team had confirmed anything, and Teahen tweeted that night that After a long day of rumors & questions, I haven't heard anything official. Heading 2 bed comfortable in knowing I'm a Royal 4 another day.”

Just past noon on Friday, the Royals finally issued a press release confirming the trade as initially reported; the only difference being that the Royals were including “cash considerations” (reported to be around $1 million) in the deal. (Many thanks to mlbtraderumors.com for helping with the timeline.)

Now in the grand scheme of things, the fact that a trade that wasn’t confirmed until Friday afternoon leaked Thursday morning isn’t a big deal. What is a big deal is that this continues a very troubling trend for the Royals, which is that despite – or perhaps because – they have instituted an almost-paranoid level of secrecy on all the team’s dealings, their trade talks continue to leak out before all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Remember, it was just over a year ago when multiple newspapers reported that the Royals and Indians were close to a deal that would send Teahen to Cleveland in exchange for an outfielder, one of Trevor Crowe, Ben Francisco, or Franklin Gutierrez*. Publicly, Dayton Moore denied the rumors vociferously; privately, he went ballistic, going so far as to threaten to obtain cell phone records from employees to discover (and fire) the person responsible for the leak.

*: I don’t like to play what-if scenarios too often…but what if the Royals had traded Teahen for Gutierrez? The Indians wound up trading Gutierrez to Seattle in a 3-team, 11-player deal with the Mets, and Gutierrez hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 16 steals for the Mariners – and also had the most impressive defensive statistics of any outfielder in baseball. It’s not clear that the Royals were ever close to getting Gutierrez specifically, but if they had, they probably never trade for Coco Crisp, meaning they would have kept Ramon Ramirez, they might not have needed to sign Kyle Farnsworth and/or Juan Cruz…the debacle of last winter might well have been avoided. On the other hand, without Teahen, the Royals would have been caught flat-footed when Alex Gordon went down with his hip injury.

This time, there was fire to go along with the smoke, which led to yet another embarrassing situation for the Royals, as once again one of their players learned he had been traded away from a reporter instead of from the front office.

A few years back I formulated Jazayerli’s Law of Fundamentals, which states that “A team's ability to execute the “fundamentals” is inversely correlated to the time spent discussing the importance of executing them.” In the same vein, here’s a new rule I’ve made – call it Jazayerli’s Law of Public Relations: “The less forthcoming an organization is regarding personnel decisions that are made, the more likely it is that those personnel decisions will come to light in a messy and embarrassing way.”

Information yearns to be free, and it’s madness to think that in today’s 24-hour-news-cycle, mobile-internet, Twitter-and-Facebook world, that you can expect trade negotations to be kept secret indefinitely. The Royals’ attempts to do so of late have been laughably pathetic, but what’s more pathetic is that the Royals actually waste time looking for scapegoats when their private dealings inevitably become public. Moore’s tantrum last winter when the Teahen trade talks leaked is well known. More recently, the Royals berated members of the local media this September for telling prospect Danny Gutierrez that he had been traded to Texas before they had the chance to do so. This was ridiculous on so many levels: 1) it’s not the media’s fault when the Royals drop the ball and let their players hear from someone else that they’ve been traded; 2) Gutierrez had already been tipped off – he had already announced on his Facebook account that he was traded; 3) IT’S THE MEDIA’S JOB TO TALK TO PEOPLE.

The Royals aren’t wasting as much effort try to run down the leak this time, probably because even they can figure out that Bill Madden probably got his information from sources with the White Sox. Regardless, once again they’ve allowed what should be a quick, cut-and-dried trade announcement to turn into a drawn-out, confusing, will-they-or-won’t-they drama. It’s a small thing, but it’s a revealing thing.

Enough about the presentation – let’s talk about the substance of the deal. My initial reaction to the news that the Royals were trading Teahen for Chris Getz and Josh Fields was positive. In blunt terms, the Royals were trading two years of a league-average (and highly-paid) hitter for two players who could be league-average players as soon as 2010, and who are both under contract for five more years. My seven-second reaction was very favorable.

The consensus of the sabermetric community is…well, there is no consensus, really. Keith Law, oftentimes the Royals’ harshest critic, wrote “Love the trade for Kansas City. They will have traded a 45/50, who is close to free agency for two 45's with several more years of control.” (50 being scout-speak for a league-average player.) Over at fangraphs.com, Dave Cameron called this “a fantastic deal” for the Royals. On the other hand, Christina Kahrl’s transaction analysis was not nearly as sanguine, as she wrote, It might be more appropriate to wonder what the point was, since this doesn't advance the Royals in any particular direction beyond ‘staffed’”. (If you read Kahrl’s analysis regularly, you know how inadequate any single sentence of hers is in conveying her complete thoughts.) Joe Sheehan’s analysis was even more negative, and much more terse, conveyed in a five-word text message Thursday morning: “Your GM is an idiot.”

I love it when a trade is evaluated objectively by two of the most capable analysts I know and they reach completely different opinions. If nothing else, this means that no matter what conclusion we reach about this trade, it’s important to hold that conclusion with all due humility, realizing that smart people are holding the other end of our position.

In Mark Teahen, the Royals gave up a player with a great attitude, who started at six different positions with the team without complaint – even when moving from third base to right field and back on a daily basis – and who was arguably the funniest Royal of his generation. (Teahen might have been the most consistently funny Royal since Dan Quisenberry.) What they didn’t give up was a great hitter. Teahen hit .271/.325/.408 last year, and his career numbers are an almost identical .269/.331/.419. The memory of his 2006 power surge is a distant one now. He’s a league-average hitter, one who just turned 28, and is more likely to stagnate than to take a big step forward.

While he has tremendous versatility, he’s never shown much proficiency at any specific position. According to UZR, he’s about 10 runs below average per season and third base, and while he’s been an average outfielder over his career, his numbers last year were terrible – he was 5 runs below average in right field despite playing just 32 games out there.

Teahen has value, particularly at third base, where the White Sox have wisely indicated will be his full-time position (with phenom Gordon Beckham moving over to second base). It’s quite possible, even likely, that his glove will improve with an off-season to prepare – remember, Teahen spent most of last spring training working at second base. It’s possible that a new organization and a much more favorable home park will be a tonic to Teahen’s homer numbers. But it’s very clear to me that none of that improvement was likely had the Royals kept him. Last Monday I was on radio with Soren Petro, and when Petro asked me what I thought was the most likely move of the Royals’ off-season, my answer was a Mark Teahen trade. As much as I like Mark, he had considerably less value on the Royals’ roster than he did on the trade market. Credit Moore for realizing that the obvious move is usually the right move – otherwise it wouldn’t be so obvious.

The key player the Royals received in return is supposed to be Chris Getz, who as a rookie second baseman last season hit .261/.324/.347. Those numbers are pretty lousy, but they’re mitigated somewhat by his 25 steals in 27 attempts. Most defensive metrics rated his defense as below-average, but he has a good reputation and no metric is ultra-reliable over a sample size of just one season – let’s call his defense average. In 2008, he hit .302/.366/.448 with 11 homers in Triple-A (he’s hit just eight homers in his other four pro seasons combined), and in 2007 he had a .382 in an injury-marred Double-A campaign. So there is some upside here, but by “upside” I mean he could into, I don’t know, Mickey Morandini or someone like that. A second baseman who makes up for a lack of power by being a tough out, stealing the occasional base, and playing a workman-like second base. The kind of guy who makes the opposing starter work hard out of the #8 spot in the lineup.

Even after giving Getz bonus points for coming out of the University of Michigan (I believe he’s the first Wolverine to suit up for the Royals since Hal Morris in 1998), it’s hard to credit him with being more than a utility player at this point. That has value, but not typically enough value to actually trade for. Which is why I think that Josh Fields is the key to the deal, or at least that the Royals hope he’s the key to the deal.

Fields has a lot of the traits of the perfect buy-low trade candidate. He has an excellent pedigree – he was a first-round pick in 2004 out of Oklahoma State, where he was also the starting quarterback (and still holds the university record for touchdowns thrown). By 2006 he was in Triple-A and hit .305/.379/.515; the following year he hit 23 homers as a rookie for the White Sox in just 100 games, slugging .480. No one would have thought that he’d be reduced to being a throw-in in a relatively minor trade two years later.

Even as a rookie Fields had a .308 OBP, and his career mark is just .302, which makes it easy to label this as just another low-OBP grab by clueless Royals management. I think the reality is a little more complicated. Fields’ problem isn’t that he doesn’t draw walks – he actually has 68 career walks in 664 at-bats, and a ratio of more than one walk per 10 at-bats is pretty good. The reason his OBP is so low is pretty obvious – it’s because his lifetime batting average is .229. And the reason his batting average is just .229 is also pretty obvious – it’s because he’s struck out 226 times in those 664 at-bats.

Fields, basically, is a poor man’s Mark Reynolds. Only one guy in the majors can succeed while striking out 200 times a season, and Fields isn’t him. But if Fields can cut his strikeout rate by 20-25% - which still works out to 150 strikeouts a season – he’s a breakout candidate. That’s a tall order for Kevin Seitzer, but after sticking Seitzer with the likes of Mike Jacobs, Miguel Olivo, and Yuniesky Betancourt over the past year, a project like Fields must feel like a remedial assignment. It’s a lot easier to teach a major league hitter to cut his strikeouts than it is to get him to raise his walks. Fields is a project, but one worth taking on. He’s already shown he can hit lefties – he has a career .285/.356/.580 line against southpaws – so the Royals have a base of success with which to build. I’ll predict right now that Fields, not Getz, proves to be the more successful of the pair with Kansas City. (Even though Getz was a rookie last year, he’s already 26 – he’s just eight months younger than Fields.)

You can’t talk about this deal without touching on the finances of it, and certainly that played a big part in the trade. Even with the $1 million the Royals sent to Chicago, they saved millions, given that Teahen will likely command close to $5 million in arbitration this winter, and that both Getz and Fields are pre-arbitration players who will make just over the league minimum of $400,000. Counting the extra roster spot, the Royals save roughly $3.5 million on the deal.

But I think the financial implications of the deal are less important than the service time implications. Teahen will be a free agent after the 2011 season. Both Getz and Fields have between one and two years of service time – neither would be a free agent until after the 2014 season. Getz won’t even be arbitration-eligible next year. The Royals acquired two players who are ready to contribute right away, but whose free agent horizons are well into the future. As Moore said, Our motivation behind this deal – and any deal that we make this winter – is to acquire as many zero-to-three service-time players as we can. That was certainly what we did here.”

If for no other reason than that quote, this trade makes sense, because in making this trade Moore finally acknowledged something he should have last season: that while the Royals might be ready to contend in the near future, “the near future” does not mean “next year”. The Royals, barring divine intervention, are not going to win anything in 2010. Teams just don’t go from 97 losses one season to the playoffs the next. (Although I’m sure Moore knows all about the 1991 Braves.)

But the Royals can realistically think about contention in 2011, so long as they use 2010 wisely. That means jettisoning league-average guys like Teahen for lottery tickets like Fields, and using 2010 to see which of the new guys can play and which can’t. It might mean a few more losses next year while the Royals sort through their options – but I’d gladly sacrifice a few wins in 2010, when the Royals won’t need them, for a few wins in 2011, when they just might.

Or to put it another way, as Moore said, “The bottom line is it hasn’t worked here. It hasn’t worked. We have to do what we have to do to shake up our team and generate as much competition as we can. We have to put the pressure on (players) to go out and perform.”

It. Hasn’t. Worked. Here.

It. Hasn’t. Worked.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Moore almost sounds contrite. That he’s almost admitting that he’s made mistakes.

So if that’s what this trade is about – admitting that The ProcessTM is in need of refinement, and that the Royals need to rethink how they put together a team – then I’m all in favor of it.

I’m just not sure it’s that simple. Taken in isolation, trading Teahen for Getz and Fields makes sense. But this trade can’t be fully evaluated until we see the other moves it triggers, because as it stands Getz and Fields are both without positions to play. Getz’s primary position is second base, where the Royals have Alberto Callaspo. Fields’s primary position is third base, where they have Alex Gordon. Taking playing time away from Callaspo and/or Gordon for the sake of Getz and/or Fields is so dumb that not even the Royals would consider it. Which means more moves are afoot.

The dilemma with Fields is, to my mind, an easy one to fix. Fields’s defensive reputation at third base is pretty lousy, and he has a fair amount of experience in the corner outfield. I could see him moving directly into the Teahen role, rotating between third base and the corner outfield, but my hope is that the Royals see him, in a best-case scenario, as their future right fielder.

Getz is a trickier problem to solve, because like most second basemen, he doesn’t have the skills to be a utility player – he played a little third base and left field in the minors, but he really should only be moved off the keystone in an emergency situation.

Now, I’ve been advocating for months now that the Royals should seriously explore the possibilities of an Alberto Callaspo trade. His bat ought to make him a highly-prized commodity on the trade market, while his glove is likely to be better-tolerated on a team that doesn’t have defensive liabilities at multiple other positions like the Royals have.

But it’s one thing to trade Callaspo if the right offer comes along, and it’s quite another to trade him simply because you can’t stomach his defense and you’ve finally found a decent replacement in Getz. Getz allows the Royals to trade Callaspo. He does not force the Royals to trade Callaspo, particularly since Getz (unlike Fields) actually has an option left, so he can be sent to Omaha to start the year if a suitor for Callaspo has not materialized.

Ultimately, this trade is going to be judged by the moves that it emboldens the Royals to make. I honestly think that Moore didn’t have any grand plan in mind for how to resolve the logjam of talent at third base and second base when he made this move. I think he made this move precisely because he doesn’t know where this off-season will lead, and so by bringing Fields and Getz into the fold, he puts the Royals in a position where they can pull the trigger if the right deal for someone like Callaspo comes along, but they don’t feel obligated to make a deal just for the sake of making one. At least I hope that’s true. When the Royals have made a deal just for the sake of making one, the casualties have been hard to bear.

If Moore decides to give away Gordon for whatever he can get and install Fields at third base, and then makes room for Getz by moving Callaspo to DH (which would be a waste of his talents), we’ll rue the day that Kenny Williams picked up the phone. But if Fields winds up taking playing time away from Jose Guillen in right field, and if the Royals get a bushel of prospects for Callaspo, this trade may be looked back at as the day the Royals started to rebuild the right way. The trade looks good in isolation. But I want to see the next few dominoes before I pronounce judgment.

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We may have gotten a glimpse of the next domino the other day, when Bob Dutton reported ahead of the GM Meetings that “One rumor to watch: A deal sending second baseman Alberto Callaspo to the Los Angeles Dodgers for catcher A.J. Ellis, a 28-year-old rookie who currently projects as a backup to Russell Martin following the anticipated free-agent departure of veteran Brad Ausmus.”

If I were to draw up a list of teams that Moore should be talking to regarding Callaspo, the Dodgers would be very, very high up. The Dodgers are the perfect storm for a potentially lopsided trade:

- Thanks to their scouting director, Logan White, the Dodgers perennially have one of the most bountiful farm systems in baseball. It’s not as strong as it used to be, but there’s still plenty of talent there.

- Thanks to their highly overrated GM, Ned Colletti, the Dodgers have no problem with overpaying in prospects for a player who can help them today.

- As you may have heard, the owners of the Dodgers (Frank and Jamie McCourt) are in the opening stages of a messy, nasty, tabloid-filling divorce. The financial pressures on the team are likely to be as strong as the financial pressures were on the Padres when their owner was getting divorced a few years ago. Given those pressures, an everyday player like Callaspo who makes close to the league minimum (Callaspo figures to miss arbitration by just a few days of service time) ought to be particularly enticing.

Add it all up, and Moore should be putting the full-court press on the Dodgers. Look at some of the talent that LA has given up recently:

- Traded Tony Abreu for one month of Jon Garland

- Traded Josh Bell and Steve Johnson for 2+ years of George Sherrill

- Traded Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan for 2 months of Casey Blake (!)

- Traded Willy Aybar and Danys Baez for Wilson Betemit

- Traded Dioner Navarro and other prospects for Toby Hall and Mark Hendrickson

The Santana trade kills me. The Indians turned a mediocre free agent-to-be into Santana, who’s now one of the best catching prospects in baseball. (Say what you want about the Indians, but no team does a better job of trading for prospects. They also turned Eduardo Perez into Asdrubal Cabrera, and Ben Broussard into Shin-Soo Choo. And let’s not even recount the Bartolo Colon trade, or how they turned Einar Diaz into Travis Hafner.)

So absolutely, the Dodgers are a perfect destination for Callaspo. But…A.J. Ellis?

The same A.J. Ellis who slugged .375 last season – in Albuquerque, one of the best hitters’ parks in the game?

The same Ellis who is 28 years old – more than two years older than Callaspo?

I’m sorry, but I can’t take this trade rumor seriously. Maybe Ellis is a throw-in to a larger package of prospects that the Dodgers and Royals are talking about. But there’s no way that even Dayton Moore would consider trading a 26-year-old second baseman who hit .300 with 60 extra-base hits last season, who’s under contract for four more seasons, for a 28-year-old slow, singles-hitting backup catcher wannabe.

There’s no way.

No way.

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If the Royals are interested in Ellis at all, it’s because they’ve decided to overhaul their catching corps. The Royals spent 100 grand on a buyout to Miguel Olivo, despite his 23 homers and .490 slugging average, just to keep him from activating the $3.3 million option on his contract. You could make a persuasive case that the Royals should have kept him at that price – and it will be interesting to see if they can work out a deal to offer him arbitration (and for him to decline)* in order to grab a compensation pick, as Olivo qualified as a Type B free agent – but ultimately it was the right move for two reasons. One, he had a .292 OBP in his career season, and two, he’s probably the worst everyday defensive catcher in baseball.

*: It just occurred to me: is it possible the Royals and Olivo have already worked out a handshake agreement for him to decline arbitration? Olivo was widely expected to forgo his player option, because he’s likely to earn more than $3.3 million on the open market. So why would the Royals pay him $100,000 to go away when they didn’t have to? Is it possible that they gave him a free 100 grand with the understanding that when they offer him arbitration, he’ll decline, netting the Royals a compensation pick? Stay tuned. It’s just a conspiracy theory, but everyone loves a good conspiracy theory.

But I don’t think Ellis is the answer, even if he’s just a throw-in in a Callaspo deal. Ellis is the exact opposite of Olivo offensively, in that he has no power but is an on-base machine, with a .438 OBP this season and a .436 OBP last season. On the surface, that sounds great. But I worry that Ellis’ on-base skills won’t translate to the majors for a couple of reasons.

First, he has no power to speak of – he didn’t hit a home run in all of 2009, and just four in 2008. The ability to draw walks at the major league level depends at least in part on the threat of power – one difference between major and minor league pitchers is that major leaguers can throw strikes when they have to, and without the threat of power, Ellis won’t be able to keep pitchers from just pounding him in the zone. Secondly, his high batting averages the past two years (.321 and .314) are almost certainly a ballpark illusion. Right-handed hitters without power are not going to hit .300 in the majors unless they have speed. Ellis doesn’t. It’s almost impossible to maintain a high OBP in the majors as a right-handed hitter with neither speed nor power.

Ellis’ OBP numbers in the minors look like those of a young Jason Kendall. But the young Kendall had a lot of speed and a fair amount of power, and he had a .402 OBP his first five years in the majors. The old Jason Kendall has neither speed nor power, and also has a .336 OBP the last five years. I fear that Ellis’ numbers in the majors will look a lot like Old Jason Kendall, and that’s not worth playing, let alone trading for.

I worry that the Royals, having finally seen up-close what ignoring OBP can do to your offense, have swung the pendulum clear the other way, and are suddenly interested in players whose OBP represents their only true skill. Ellis’ .438 OBP looks beautiful on paper. I just think he won’t come close to replicating that in the majors.

I particularly don’t see the appeal of Ellis since the Royals still have a better option in-house. I speak of John Buck, whose fan club has dwindled down to...(looks around)...just me, I guess. Take a look at these two lines from 2009:

Player A: .249/.292/.490, 103 OPS+

Player B: .247/.299/.484, 103 OPS+

Player A is the aforementioned Olivo. Player B is Buck. At-bat for at-bat, you could not construct two more similar hitters than these two. But because Olivo got more than twice as many at-bats last season, he has the counting numbers (23 homers, 65 RBIs) that impress people, while Buck doesn’t. But frankly, I’d rather have Buck. He’s two years younger, has a better idea of the strike zone, and while he has a much weaker arm, he’s much more sure-handed at blocking pitches in the dirt than Olivo. He makes a perfect complement to Brayan Pena, given that Pena is a switch-hitter and a contact guy, and he’s already on the roster. There may be better catchers than Buck on the market, but why the Royals would want to replace him with Ellis – who, again, is already 28 years old and has all of 10 at-bats in the majors – is beyond me.

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Finally, I can’t write about the Royals for the first time in two months without mentioning the fact that they completely turned over their training staff.

I take no particular joy in the fact that three men are out of a job. But as you know, I think this was absolutely the right move to make. I confess to being quite surprised at the news; if anything, I was concerned that the snit I had with the Royals this summer would have discouraged the Royals from making a move even if they wanted to, if only to avoid accusations that they were letting the inmates (i.e. the media) run the asylum. I felt like Professor Zarkov in Flash Gordon, in that by speaking out I had insured that the very thing I warned against would come to pass from Dayton Moore/Emperor Ming. (And you guys thought my “V” references were geeky.)

But the Royals made the right move anyway, and they deserve credit for that. Yes, officially Swartz retired, and for his sake I hope the move was voluntary. At the same time, you know the old adage about issuing bad news on a Friday afternoon? The press release announcing Swartz’ retirement entered my mailbox on a Friday at 5:59 PM.

To replace Swartz, the Royals hired Nick Kenney, who was the assistant head trainer for the Indians. (The Royals then cleaned house by letting assistant trainers Frank Kyte and Jeff Stevenson go, and replacing them with Kyle Turner, who was previously the Royals’ Minor League Medical Coordinator.) The Indians’ training staff has an excellent reputation, and in fact two years ago they won Baseball Prospectus’ Dick Martin Award that is given out to the best training staff in the majors. I have nothing but praise for this decision.

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At over 4900 words, this might be my longest column ever. So now that the Royals have a training staff that might be able to keep injury-prone players healthy, I’ll leave you with two final words as the free-agent season gets underway.

Rich Harden.

75 comments:

Justin said...

Welcome back Rany... you've been away too long.

Dave said...

Nice column. Good to have you back. Agreed this offseason is just getting started and there are more moves coming. Curious as to why DH'ing Callaspo is such a bad idea? The man gets on base, hits extra base hits and drives in runs. Why is that not a feasible option for a DH?

fire dayton said...

wow, welcome back

ericm said...

Rany--

Rich Harden? With the way Hillman/McLure use their pitching staff there is no way he would make it to the regular season. A new training staff may be able to better handle injuries but they can't fix stupid---sorry---Rich Harden's career would end in Kansas City. Just ask Gil Meche!

Sean DeCoursey said...

You mentioned Flash Gordon the movie. You sir, are my hero.

Shelby said...

Rany,

First, thanks for coming out of your cave.

Second, what kind of value do you think Alex Gordon could have on the trade market? How far has his stock dwindled?

gbewing said...

I think you have grossly overvalued Fields and slightly undervalued Getz but as you said this one is worthy of debate- Fields in RF should not be a goal.

You are on spot with proposed Ellis trade, I fear DM becomes singuarly obsessed with things, last winter it was power-power at all cost with no thought to how a team fit together, this year clearly it's defense (especially up the middle) and I fear again to the exclusion of any other skill.

Jeff said...

Rany, your take on Ellis' OBP is somewhat variable to that of Callaspo. Callaspo was a low power high OBP in the minors and he continues to maintain that at the major league level. Don't get me wrong, I don't wwant Eillis either, for many other reasons.

You also noted in your "I'm Done" article about your displeasure in the Royals for not bringing up Ka'aihue and you also mention his high OBP. Where I disagree with your assessmentis where you believe Ka'aihue's OBP would play in the ML, I believe that that is a product of hitting 20+HR's in the minors thus he will not see that same respect from opposing teams at the ML level.

Other than that, I truly enjoy reading your blog.

Andy said...

Rany,

Here's hoping for an exciting AND positive offseason filled with many more posts. I'm hoping the next one is celebrating a cy young award winner!

Anonymous said...

Like a fool, when you said you were done, I removed the "Rany on the Royals" bookmark on my iPhone. I knew you'd be back. Thank you. Hopefully, over the last 2 months you have realized how Royals fans truly enjoy your commentary.

Chris said...

Glad to see you back, Rany. With the spring-like weather and reading your blog it almost feels like the season is upon us. Thanks for your support of John Buck, I just never understood the pure hate directed towards the man. Probably cause he's tied to the Beltran trade. A platoon of him and Pena I think could work until someone like Wil Myers gets to the big leagues. I actually like the thought of Callaspo as DH. I am curious, like Dave, why you think it won't work. He could concentrate on what he does best, hit. I'd love to see Guillen be traded or just released and get on with the remaking of ball club. Maybe a platoon of Fields and Gordon is in the cards also since Fields kills lefties and Gordon righties. A lot needs to play out over the next few months and then and only then can we decide if the moves Moore makes are right or not. Can't wait to read your next blog!!

kevin said...

Rany, welcome back. But, one warning. I know, a bit of advice that you already well know. Don't put any money on your statement: "There’s no way."

Anonymous said...

Its great to have you back Rany. You just made the last 20 minutes my favorite of the day.


- Jeff

Andrew said...

Good to have you back. Don't take such a long hiatus this time!

Casper said...

I agree with Gbewing about Dayton Moore's seeming penchant for becoming obsessed with a singular trait with no regard to how to fit the team itself together.

But Rany, 3 things: 1) Good to have you back, 2) The Ellis trade will happen, bro, if only because we don't want it to and it's our lot in life as Royals fans to have these things blow up in our faces, and 3) Rich Harden would be wonderful in Royal blue...but unless you trade for him on one of your X-Box games, it will never happen (see reason 2 for the reasons why).

Ryan said...

I'm concerned Fields was acquired just to platoon with Jacobs at DH.

Anonymous said...

I have not read the post yet, but thank you for coming back into the light.

Steve said...

Welcome back, Rany! These commenters are pretty good aren't they? I mean, they've already noted some of the things I wanted to point out.

Having said that, I do wonder about two things regarding the Royals - - where is the power is coming from next year on this team AND wouldn't it be GREAT to have a DEFENSIVE catcher that can help out the pitchers?

Soooo... is Guillen going to be healthy enough to at least DH and will he be motivated in a "contract year" so that he can actually be productive?

Do you look for Butler to further emerge as a stud with the bat?

Who is playing CF? A name I would consider would be Gary Matthews Jr but with the Angels either eating MOST of his contract or picking up Guillen. But I KNOW that won't happen given their history with Jose. lol

Are we going to trade one or more of Bannister, Davies, or Tejada and get a lefthanded starter?

And we all know the bullpen needs reconstruction (again). Do we really want to rely on Lerew, Rosa, Nichols, or Hayes?

Anyway... those thoughts (and MORE) keep me interested this HotStove Season!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

BTW... shoule we be at all concerned about Crow's WOEFUL AFL experience?

Steve said...

Just realized the length of my last post. Sorry. Guess I can't put an end to my rambling ways.

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Anonymous said...

I love Flash Gordon. My dog's name is Ming.

steak said...

140 characters isn't enough. I need more from this relationship. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Rich Harden? Do the Royals need more injury prone pitchers?

Otherwise, great article. Thanks for the read.

Benjamin said...

I somehow envision Rany typing in a Howard Hughes-esque fashion: in pajamas with kleenex boxes on his feet and disgustingly long finger nails...working away at the typewriter while using one hand to block the first rays of sunshine to hit his skin in 10 years.

Nice to have you back.

gsmith601 said...

Welcome back!

Royalpug said...

I don't know about anyone else, but to me it seems that Moore has inherited one of Baird's more undesireable traits, namely his obsession with a single position.
For Baird it seemed to be SS, and now for Moore it seems to be, well 2 positions I guess, CF and Catcher, and his desire to find one at all costs.

Oh and at Jeff from earlier saying that Kila's OBP was a product of his Power, take a look at these numbers
2002: 3 HR/.381OBP (.260Avg)
2003: 11/.355 (.240)
2004: 15/.361 (.245)
2005: 20/.428! (.305)
2006: 6/.305 (.205)
2007: 21/.360 (.250)-Note switched leagues and posted nearly identical numbers.
2008: 37/.450 (.315) -again switched leagues, no drop in numbers
2009: 17/.392 (.252)

Kila has ALWAYS been on on-base machine, even the year he posted a horrible .600 OPS(2006) he still managed an OBP 100 points higher than his average.

There is no reason, at all to assume that he couldn't maintain that at the major league level.

In fact, I would be willing to bet he could put up better numbers in the majors. A big part of why his numbers dropped off, was that he had no one in that lineup to protect him. I'd be willing to bet that a part of cory aldridges performance spike was because he hit being Kila.

Bill said...

Rany,

Thanks for the blog. Just wondering what indications we'll see that Arbuckle was a good hire. Thoughts? Will they come this off-season, in 3 years, ever?

Thanks.

Mike said...

I have seriously been going through Rany withdrawal symptoms, so welcome back, and please, please, PLEASE don't make us wait another two months for something more from you.

We understand your frustrations, Rany, as we experience many of the same feelings of disbelief at some of the moves (or non-moves) by the Royals. But your writing NEEDS to be part of my week, and I hope you'll return to making somewhat regular contributions.

Thanks for giving us these 4900 or so words, Rany. It's great to know you're still out there paying attention. I can't wait until the day comes when you have a contending Royals team to write about.

Antonio said...

It's great to have another post from you. Welcome back.

Kansas City said...

Good analysis. Welcome back.

Fields and Gretz trade is a hard one to assess, but I think we are better off with two 26 year old players who might develop into above average guys. Fields being enough of a stud to be a Big 12 quarterback means he must have great athletic ability. They also each made the big leagues very fast and started for a Sox team that was significantly better than the Royals.

Seems like it is the time to trade Callapso. He should have as much or greater value than Teahan, so same type of trade - get a couple of young guys who might become above average players. I think Callapso kills them at second base.

Mark said...

Glad to have you back, Rany.

Agree that Callaspo will be traded, and that the results of that trade will (I hope) add to the Teahen trade.

Hate to say this, but what will we get for DDJ? Fields, I believe, will be our left fielder next year, unless Fields is traded also. Pitching, I predict, or a prospect CF will be the target.

That said, it's clear that GMDM gets it, and that we ALL need to understand, that next season will be a prelude to hopefully better things in 2011. Just keep Zack happy.

brucewd3 said...

It's great to hear from you again. I agree it would be a waste to use Callaspo as a DH. His value is 60 extra base hits at second base. He would need a lot more homers, which he isn't capable of, to be an effective DH. Ka'aihue would be much better, certainly better than Jacobs. Butler is fine at first base, and he seemed to improve as the season went on. He'll never be Mark Texeira but there are worst first basemen in the HOF (think Jim Bottomley). I also agree with you on a Buck/Pena platoon. In addition to being a poor catcher with terrible strike zone judgement, Olivo had to be have the worst judgment running bases of anyone in the league.

Again, it was great to hear from you.

Jason said...

Welcome back, Rany. Love your analysis.

I'm not a fan, per se, of Buck, but I have often noted and argued to others what you saw in Buck's numbers being so similar to Olivo's. People get hysterical over Buck, and Olivo seems to get a pass. Don't understand how someone could love one and hate the other.

I posted this on the Star site but check out these numbers:

Royals Catchers Last year:
.270 BA 32 2B 31 HR 99 RBI .814 OPS
Johnny Bench 162 game average:
.267 BA 29 2B 29 HR 103 RBI.817 OPS

Just saying it's going to be hard to find someone to replace Olivo and Buck's production, maligned as it was.

Jeff said...

Royalplug -
Yes Kila has had some decent OBP, but not "ALWAYS" as you seem to think. Plus - IT'S IN THE MINOR LEAGUES. Jacobs .344 career minor league OBP surely didn't transfer to the ML, did it?

RC said...

Welcome back Rany. It's been too long.

Thoughts on the low base salary, incentive-laden contract for CoCo? I was happy with his performance when he was "healthy" (if he truly ever was). I think he could be worth a small gamble again this year.

Thanks for taking the time to post and I look forward to the next one.

Mark said...

Just another thought. If DM is talking to the Dodgers--who seem to have financial problems too--why not Callaspo for Chad Billingsley? Surely his name will come up . . . .

Doug P said...

Sooo glad you are back if even for a moment. Definitely missed reading what you have...

pjbronco said...

The trade had me scratching my head and your analysis doesn't necessarily make me feel better. I believe trading Teahen was a virtual necessity. I don't understand how this trade was the best they could do. Why not Boston? Lowell is shot and they wouldn't need Teahen to be an anchor in their lineup, just play good third base and put up the same numbers he had in KC. Surely they could have come up with something better.

I'm also not a huge fan of trading Callaspo. I would much prefer cutting Guillen and Jacobs loose and making Callaspo the everyday DH and emergency second/third baseman. The guy can hit and his plate presence seemed to get better as the year went on. He is certainly a better DH option than either one of those other two albatrosses (albatrossi?).

I hope Fields is not considered a replacement for Gordon. We need one more full season to see if Gordon is going to work out and moving him out of position probably isn't going to help figure that out.

I like the Rich Harden suggestion and LOVE that you are back writing, even if just once. You have been missed.

Anonymous said...

No way the Dodgers give up Billingsley for Callaspo. No way they trade him at all.

Dan said...

Thanks Rany, don't stay away too long.

Anonymous said...

I think Moore & Hillman are willing take a "little" less back in trades as long as next years roster is rid of all the guys who have become accustomed to losing! They're purging the loser mentality!

As long as they keep the meaningful core of Butler, Greinke & Soria and the truly young prospects everyone else should be replaced with "fresh" players. By fresh I mean free from the rotten losing atmosphere that permeates the Royals organization.

aerobica said...

Wilson Betemit.

gbewing said...

Whoever posted the Royals catchers are = to Johnny Bench needs to self inflict a 30 day mute button for further posts- it's ludicrous and shows a poor understanding of looking at statistical measures, era a player played in, how about OPS and don't forget defense- if you really think John Buck and M Olivio are Johnny Bench - you are too lost to be found- in fact the numbers you did cite were not even accurate how does Buck and Olvio both below .250 = .267 of Bench and using a single season versus a catcher's 17 year career average is also extremly misleading-understand the numbers you throw around

Anonymous said...

Once, just once, I wish somone who cried and had a hissy fit and said they were done would really actually mean it

Can we start a betting pool about how soon it will be before you cry and "give up" again? Think you can make it to spring training?

Bubba said...

Anonymous,
I think I speak for everyone when I say that you sire, are what the kids call "a douche". Welcome back Rany. Instead of continuing to tackle Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"(which although one of the great novel's of the modern era, at certain points can be quite laborious), I read this and it just made my lunch break!

Hope to see another post soon.

Anonymous said...

Dayton Moore should drink hemlock!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of douche....

Anonymous said...

No, Anonymous on November 14 at 5:09 PM is the one who needs to imbibe the hemlock.

Rany never said he was going away for good, just that he was stepping away for a while.

Dave said...

This is either going to be a great day or suck sh*t. I'll tell you at 1:00.

gsmith601 said...

Will we get a special Cy Young post?

ChaimMKeller said...

"The best season ever by a Royals pitcher has been justly recognized"

...yes it was...20 years ago, when Sabes pitched it.

But Zack was fantastic this year, and was justly awarded as well. Congrats, Zack!

Anonymous said...

Today is a good day, Dave.

Anonymous said...

Dayton Moore and the three idiots who didn't vote Greinke for Cy Young should all drink hemlock!

Chris said...

You are a turd, Hemlock guy.

Hemlock Guy said...

So are you, Chris. :-P

Rany Sheikh Mohammed said...

Grienke won! Allahu Akbar!

Jim said...

While I think the Royals made a good trade here, it is ultimately pointless. MLB is broken. The big-market teams can always spend 2-3 times as much as the also-rans. That means that teams like the Royals have no chance to win anything on a regular basis.

Therefore, I have decided to take the logical step of becoming a Yankee fan. I will only buy Yankee merchandise. I will make sure I attend the Yankee games this year at the "K". I get the benefit of rooting for a team that has a very solid chance of winning the WS every year.

I am also tilting the balance of power more in favor of the Yankees. Why? So the system can be fixed. If everyone only buys Yankee merchandise and only attends Yankee games, all the other teams will be facing bankruptcy very soon.

Will MLB allow all the other teams to go bankrupt? NO! They will fix the system!

So join me as a true fan of baseball and root for the Yankees. Let's go Yankees!

Chirs said...

Really, Hemlock guy? Is that the equivalent comeback of "I know you are but what am I?" Quit posting the same retarded line over and over again. It wasn't funny the first time and it still isn't funny the 100th time.

And why am I not suprised the bigot is posting at 3 AM?

sw said...

So Rany, how geeked out are you that "the future of pitching" is now the first guy to discuss FIP at his Cy Young award winner's press conference?

Unknown Royals Fan said...

Two thoughts:

1. John Buck sucks. Still does, and will likely suck more as time goes on.

2. Late last year, the Royals broadcasters made the point that, in the 21st century, only Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye had hit .300 with 60 extra base hits. The point, at the time, was that Billy Butler would join them. Well, he did. And nobody noticed that Alberto Callaspo hit .300 with 59 extra base hits - missing that group by one. He is a guy who is clearly still on the ascension, talent wise, and was never projected to hit with any kind of power - and who had an .800 OPS. He's also cheap as dirt. Trading him would be the kind of moronic move that only Dayton Moore of Allard Baird would execute. And of course, Moore is almost assured of getting anti-value for him. Take Callaspo and DH him.

Hemlock Guy said...

It's a matter of opinion as to whether or not it's funny. I disagree.

Dayton Moore, Chris and the three meatheads who voted against Zack Greinke for Cy Young should...


ALL DRINK HEMLOCK!

;-)

And now, since it bothers you so much, I will refrain from suggesting that Mr. Moore drink hemlock in the future.

Frank said...

This blog was a much better read when there were no posts.

Grain of Salt said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure I would classify this trade as "significant?" On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 5?... 6 at the highest? Rich Harden? Yeesh. Too much buck for the bang. He's the pitching version of Mike Sweeney.

Anonymous said...

Dayton will never trade for Ellis. He's never played for the Braves.

Anonymous said...

Not trying to solicit here, but if anyone is interested in viewing another blog on the Royals I have started one at royalrevival.blogspot.com I'd love the comments so that I can know what you think. Criticism is more than welcome.

Casper said...

Good article about an article about Zack Greinke (mind-bender of a sentence, huh?):

http://fackyouk.blogspot.com/2009/11/does-zack-greinke-really-understand-fip.html

Casper said...

Here's the 2010 ZiPS projections for the Royals, courtesy of Baseballthinkfactory.org. The stat that jumped out at me was that Derrick Robinson was 98% likely to steal more than 30 bases. Wonder how far away the Royals think he is (versus how far he ACTUALLY is):

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/oracle/discussion/2010_zips_projections_kansas_city_royals/

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad I have a new place to go in order to find junk mail....get a real job, losers.

Ryan said...

I think the Royals should take a look at free agent, Rich Hill, most recently of the Orioles and Cubs. He's super cheap and a southpaw. He's been injured and struggled, but I saw him pitch a couple of years ago, and he has good stuff. Bob McClure is supposed to be good, let him see if he can work some magic with Hill.

Casper said...

Wait - we didn't offer Olivo arb? Um...and why didn't we do that...??? He's going to get a raise, and I'm sure he wants to play somewhere else, it seems to me we had a strong chance at getting that supplemental pick when he signed somewhere else. Dayton, you baffling bastard...

Anonymous said...

The reason they didn't offer it is because there's always the possibility he accepts it. They didn't feel 100% confident that he'd reject it, so they declined to offer it. If they'd offered and he'd accepted, he'd most certainly get a substantial raise, and then we'd be pretty much forced to start him again this year behind the plate, and they are wanting a better option defensively behind the plate.

Casper said...

I realize that, but - and maybe I came to this conclusion and should not have - I thought it was a given that Olivo wanted a long-term deal, and arb would only bring him a one-year deal, so he'd have to turn it down for him to shop for the multi-year package, which ultimately would net us that pick. It just seems more logical to me - and again, maybe I'm wrong for this line of thought - to have offered it to Olivo than offering it to Grud when he was approaching 40 yrs old when there were many more cheaper options available over Grud (hence him not signing til after the draft). Oh well, I've defended DM fairly earnestly thus far, and I guess we'll just wait and see what happens, but I think it was a mistake not offering it to Olivo.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Casper, but what if he finds the market isn't giving him what he expects? He will accept a one year deal that gives him a nice raise as opposed to taking a crappy 2 year deal from another team. Arbitration is for guys you want to keep. No way the Royals gamble on him declining, with our luck he'd accept and we'd be screwed.

Casper said...

"...with our luck he'd accept and we'd be screwed."

Look, if you're going to be all logical about this then you and I just aren't going to be able to communicate. ; )

Yeah, that's a valid point, I guess. I have been smited.

Anonymous said...

I still fruitlessly check here every day hoping there will be a new entry in this blog. Starving for Royals news.

Dave said...

Pudge Rodriguez? That might have made me excited 10 years ago....