Monday, December 14, 2009

Kendall, Dayton, and Common Sense.

It looks like I owe all of you an apology.

In my last column, I argued that “I’m okay with” the Royals downgrading from John Buck to Jason Kendall. My argument was predicated on the notion that the Royals wanted Kendall for financial reasons more than performance reasons – that signing Kendall would save money, money that could be spent on signing young talent like Noel Arguelles.

Once again, my naïveté has shown through. Once again, I have given Dayton Moore and the Royals entirely too much credit by assuming they have mastered simple mathematics.

If Kendall had signed a 1-year, $2 million contract, I would have, if not praised the move, at least been indifferent towards it. Kendall is a barely replacement-level catcher and has been for years, but he’s a reasonable one-year stopgap as the Royals continue to evaluate Brayan Pena and look for more permanent options behind the plate.

The Royals gave Kendall a two-year deal, and after being led to believe that the contract was for $2 million a year, we learned that Kendall was actually guaranteed $3 million a year (with incentives!), essentially the same contract Ivan Rodriguez received from the Washington Nationals a few days before.

This is just so wrong, on so many levels, that I don’t know how to sum up my thoughts. I can’t keep writing five-thousand-word screeds every time Moore makes the Royals the laughingstock of baseball, and besides, I’m at the point where I’m repeating myself every time I write about a player acquisition. It’s hard not to repeat myself when the Royals keep repeating themselves.

Still, as a general rule of thumb, any time the Royals make a move that inspires friends to send emails of condolences and #royalsfail to become a trending topic on Twitter, I have to write something.

“The bottom line for me in my career is I want to win.” – Jason Kendall.

Let’s start with the basics. Jason Kendall hit .241/.331/.305 this season. This was not an aberration. He hit .246/.327/.324 last year, .242/.301/.309 the year before that. You have to go back to 2006 to find something remotely approaching a decent season, when Kendall hit .295/.367/.342 for the A’s.

Look at those numbers again. Kendall has not been able to slug .330 for three straight years. Joey Gathright has slugged .330 more recently than Kendall. Kendall has not slugged .350 since 2004, his final year with the Pirates.

The last player to qualify for the batting title while slugging under .330 for three straight seasons is Walt Weiss, who did so between 1993 and 1995. During those three seasons, Weiss’ OBP was .370. Kendall’s OBP the last three years is .320.

Granted, Kendall was an OBP fiend in his younger days. In his nine years with the Pirates he had a .387 OBP, and even now he’s good for a walk every 10 at-bats or so, plus he sweetens his OBP each year with 10 or 15 hit-by-pitches. (He’s just 40 HBPs away from the all-time record.) Kendall drew more walks (46) last season than Miguel Olivo drew (40) in the last three seasons combined.

I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of walks and plate discipline, and with good reason, given that the Royals have been the most impatient team in baseball by a wide margin over the past quarter-century. But as important as walks are, they are not the most important offensive skill, not even close. Power is. And Kendall is as powerless as any everyday player in the majors. As Joe Posnanski tweeted, Olivo hit more homers last year (23) than Kendall has hit in the last EIGHT seasons (20).

Also keep in mind that Kendall’s walk rate is larded with walks of the intentional-unintentional variety. Last year he started 94 games in the 8th spot in the lineup, batting directly ahead of the pitcher, and undoubtedly some of his walks came in situations where the opposing pitcher was willing to nibble and take his chances with his counterpart at the plate if Kendall didn’t bite. In the American League, pitchers are going to go right after him. (I don’t want to overstate this effect. Kendall’s unintentional walk rate when batting eighth the last three seasons is 7.8 BB/100 AB – the same as his overall rate.)

Look, Kendall was a great player once upon a time. Ten years ago he was one of the best catchers, and one of my favorite players, in all of baseball. As a catcher with ideal leadoff skills – a .400 OBP and good speed – he was one of the game’s most unique players. But that player is long, long gone. Kendall doesn’t have a fork sticking out of him – he has an entire cutlery set.

Yuniesky Betancourt had the lowest OBP (.274) of any qualifying major leaguer last season. Jason Kendall had the lowest SLG (.305) of any qualifying major leaguer. The Royals are planning to use both players in everyday roles in 2010. And they’re paying each of them millions for the privilege.

On top of everything else, as the quote above proves, Kendall is clearly delusional.

“He’s still going very strong. He caught 134 games last year.” – Dayton Moore.

If Kendall’s playing time had diminished with his skills, his performance record wouldn’t look all that unusual – formerly great catcher worn down in his early 30s and reduced to backup status. Really, the most interesting thing about Kendall may be the fact that even as he’s been reduced to the worst-hitting regular in baseball, he hasn’t lost a bit of playing time. On the contrary – he’s caught at least 132 games for 10 straight seasons. Last year, he ranked 5th in the majors in games caught. In 2008, he caught 149 games, and started every one. No catcher has started more games in a season since Gary Carter started behind the plate 151 times in 1982.

You can't spell durability without ability, but apparently you can have durability without ability. Kendall is an exceedingly durable catcher – but his performance is so bad that his durability is more a liability than an asset. And not only does his performance discount his durability, but his durability is probably hindering his performance. In 2007, Kendall hit .183/.279/.233 from September 1st on. In 2008, he hit .202/.295/.298; last year, he hit .214/.298/.321.

Catching 130+ games is hard enough on a young catcher – witness Russell Martin’s second-half fades the last few years – but it seems like madness to expect, or even want, a catcher in his mid-30s to play so often. Particularly when he’s not exactly Mike Piazza with the stick.

If there’s one reason to think Kendall could bounce back and hit roughly as well as he did earlier in his career, it would be based on the idea that if Kendall’s workload were cut back to 100-110 games caught, he might be fresher and hit better. Unfortunately, the Royals seem as eager to run Kendall into the ground as his last two teams were. God forbid the Royals should give Brayan Pena an extended chance to show if he can be more than just a backup catcher in the majors.

“There were other offers, but one thing about Dayton and the Royals is they called me the first day I became a free agent. That’s something that kind of speaks for itself.” – Jason Kendall.

Everything I wrote above I could have written a few days ago, when I was ambivalent about signing Kendall. What’s changed are the economics, which are driving me up a wall.

Jason Kendall is going to make $6 million over the next two years. In baseball terms, this isn’t a lot of money. That’s the same amount of money the Royals paid Yasuhiko Yabuta the last two seasons, and as bad as that contract was, it merited hardly a footnote in the disaster that was the 2009 season.

But in terms of what it says about the Royals front office, it speaks volumes. Jason Kendall is the very definition of a replacement-level talent. According to Baseball Prospectus, he was worth 0.5 wins more than the mythical emergency Triple-A player in 2009. For an everyday player, that’s atrocious, and a sign that he really shouldn’t be an everyday player anymore.

That didn’t stop the Royals from contacting Kendall as soon as they were allowed to, pursuing him throughout the winter meetings, and upping their offer from $2 million to $3 million a year once Ivan Rodriguez had signed with the Nationals. (Because you should always allow your contract offers to be influenced by peer pressure. Especially peers who don’t know what they’re doing either.)

Let’s consider the options the Royals had at the catching position in 2010:

1) Pick up Miguel Olivo’s $3.3 million option for 2010. Yes, Olivo might have declined his end of it, but at least you can try.

2) Go to arbitration with John Buck, at an estimated cost of $3.5 million for 2010.

3) Release Buck, then try to re-sign him for less than he would have earned in arbitration.

4) Trade for a stopgap-solution catcher, whether it be someone with upside like Dioner Navarro or a failed prospect like J.R. Towles or a catch-and-throw type like Jeff Mathis.

5) Sign a low-end free-agent catcher (Mike Redmond? Ramon Castro?) to a one-year deal for peanuts.

6) Guarantee $6 million to Jason Kendall.

The Royals, with their usual deadly accuracy, honed in on the worst option of the six.

Over the last three years, here’s the breakdown of Olivo, Buck, and Kendall:

Olivo: .246/.276/.444

Buck: .228/.305/.414

Kendall: .243/.320/.313

Kendall defenders will point out that he has the highest OBP of the trio, and OBP is the most important offensive stat. These are both technically true. But there is a big difference between “most important” and “only”. OBP is more important than slugging average on a point-for-point basis. The general consensus is that one point of OBP is worth about 1.8 points of SLG. On that basis, even though Olivo has a higher OPS than Buck (720 to 719), Buck’s 29-point edge in OBP is worth more than Olivo’s 30-point edge in SLG.

But is Kendall’s 15-point edge in OBP enough to make up for Buck’s 101-point edge in SLG? Not even close. I’ve been preaching the gospel of OBP to the Royals for 20 years, and even I don’t think that Kendall’s going to put as many runs on the scoreboard as Buck.

Defense? Yeah, Buck only threw out 16% of attempted basestealers last season. Kendall threw out 20%. He was much better in 2008, nailing 43% of wannabe thieves, but in 2007 Kendall was down at 15%.

Think Kendall does a better job at preventing wild pitches and blocking the plate? Our own Matt Klaassen compiled the definitive rankings on overall catcher defense for 2009. Using his methods, Olivo was the second-worst catcher (out of 114) in all of baseball last season. Buck was ninth-worst.

Kendall was tenth-worst. He was exactly 0.3 runs – not wins, runs – better than Buck.

Think Kendall is better at calling a game? We’ve been through this before. As Keith Woolner – you know, the guy the Indians hired to be their Manager of Baseball Research and Analysis – proved 10 years ago, “if there is a true game-calling ability, it lies below the threshold of detection.” There’s no evidence that any catcher – let alone Jason Kendall – has the ability to get a better performance from his pitchers than another.

Kendall is 35 years old. Olivo is 31. Buck is 29.

The only reason to prefer Kendall would have been for financial reasons. By signing Kendall for $3 million a year, the Royals either didn’t understand the finances involved, or honestly thought Kendall was the best player of the three.

Now, there’s a line of reasoning I’ve heard expressed – by Sam Mellinger on Twitter, but I heard this from other people at the Winter Meetings – that teams can’t non-tender a player and then expect to re-sign him for less money. Once you release a player, the conventional wisdom states, you’ve made it clear what you think of that player, and he’s likely to sign elsewhere even if the money is the same, in order to get a fresh start. Historically, players that were non-tendered almost never re-signed with their old team.

My reply when I heard this at the Winter Meetings is this: the conventional wisdom also states that Type A free agents don’t accept arbitration – except that Rafael Soriano did, forcing the Braves to trade him to Tampa Bay. The economics of baseball are changing and changing rapidly, and to expect that the rules that applied five years ago will apply today is naïve. Players understand the economics of the game as well the owners do – if the Royals told Buck that “we can’t afford you at $3.5 million, but we can afford you at $2.5 million”, he would understand it’s business, not personal, and evaluate the merits of the offer in that light.

My reply today is much more succinct. Just read this.

What bothers me most is that the Royals didn’t even try to re-sign Buck for less. They kept him on their active roster right up until the deadline to tender contracts, even though they knew they were going to release him. I am utterly baffled why, knowing they were unwilling to pay his arbitration, they didn’t release him before or during the winter meetings. If they had, they would have 1) found out what Buck’s market value was, and if – as I suspected – it was less than the $3.5 million figure, they could have reconsidered signing him; 2) by putting Buck in the talent pool, they would have increased the supply of catchers, possibly lowering the price of all the other catchers on the market.

Instead, the Royals signed Kendall, then released Buck.

Remember Dioner Navarro, who the Rays were rumored to consider non-tendering because he would cost too much in arbitration? Navarro made $2.1 million last year, and this article implies that he was expected to get $2.5 to $3 million in arbitration this year. Before the deadline, using the non-tender threat as leverage, the Rays re-signed Navarro for $2.15 million – less than he would have gotten in arbitration, but more than he might have gotten as a free agent. There is no evidence that the Royals even tried this gambit.

When I started writing this piece, I intended to say that Buck wasn’t going to last long on the market, because a catcher who just slugged .484 is a valuable commodity. As you know, before I could even post this column the Blue Jays swooped in and signed Buck – less than 24 hours after he was released. Buck signed for one year, and $2 millon. (Late add: Toronto just inked Ramon Castro to a one-year deal for $1 million. The Blue Jays just put together a job-sharing arrangement much like the Royals had last year - Castro is sort of like Olivo without the hype - for the same money that the Royals will be paying Kendall alone. Remember, Royals catchers hit 31 homers last season. Next year...not so many.)

Would Buck have signed with Toronto if the Royals offered $2 million? Probably, if he wanted a fresh start with a team that doesn’t lose 95 games every year. Would he have signed with Toronto if the Royals offered $2.5 million? Unless there’s some serious bad blood between him and the team, I doubt it. Money talks; wins just sort of whisper.

So in the end, the Royals guaranteed a 35-year-old catcher who can’t hit three times more money than their 29-year-old incumbent, who is demonstrably a better player, signed for just days later.

It’s the second year on this contract that kills me. I love how the Royals have backloaded it – Kendall gets paid $2.25 million in 2010, $3.75 million in 2011 – in order to fit their budget for next season. It’s reminiscent of the blue-collar worker taking out a payday loan at 140% interest to tide him through until his next paycheck. Sure, Kendall fits into the Royals’ payroll for now. But next year, when $20 million comes off the budget in the form of Guillen, Farnsworth, Cruz, and Bloomquist – well, Moore’s already blown 20% of that flexibility on a replacement-level catcher.

Next year’s free agent market looks much stronger than this year’s, and some teams are already getting ready. Between Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson, the Tigers have about $55 million in payroll relief they can look to use next off-season. The Tigers are still looking to further pare down payroll – they traded Curtis Granderson for financial reasons, without significantly hurting their team’s long-term future. The Tigers are like the neighbor that uses its tax rebate to pay down credit-card debt. The Royals are like the neighbor that spends their rebate check in one afternoon of watching QVC.

I’ve learned that if I’m going to continue this blog going forward, I’m going to have to detach myself emotionally from the Royals. I have to think like an analyst first and a fan second. As fan, I hate this move, but as an analyst…well, I still hate this move. Kevin Goldstein hates this move. Keith Law hates this move. Joe Posnanski ha…okay, dislikes this move, because Poz doesn’t hate. Any baseball analyst worth his salt hates this move, because we hate it when teams make dumb moves. This is a dumb move. More than that, it is a move that defies logic.

I write this with as little emotion as possible: Dayton Moore, you’re in over your head. You’d make a fine Scouting Director; your ability to acquire minor league talent is admirable. Whether it’s signing Arguelles or drafting Edgar Osuna in the Rule 5 draft, you continue to do well on that front. (Osuna is a worthwhile gamble – he’s just 22 years old, and as long as the Royals don’t slot him as a LOOGY – his best pitches are a changeup and a curveball, so not surprisingly he actually gets RHB out better than LHB – he’ll be useful in relief, with the upside to start one day.)

But you simply aren’t hacking it as a GM, and you won’t until you stop needlessly provoking the most powerful force in all of sports: Common Sense. (I capitalize it out of respect for its power.) You insist on battling Common Sense every few months, and each time you get plastered like Glass Joe taking on Manny Pacquiao. It doesn’t matter how good you are at player development, or at building the framework of a farm system – if you continue to take shots at Common Sense, it will destroy you. It isn’t something to trifle with.

Common Sense is so powerful that, with little more than it on his side, a Chicago dermatologist with no access to the inside workings of your front office has taken you on half-a-dozen times, and hasn’t been wrong yet. I (and everyone else) was right about Kyle Farnsworth. I (and everyone else) was right about Mike Jacobs. I (and everyone else) was right about Yuniesky Betancourt. (Okay, it’s still early. We can revisit that one later if you want.) I was right about Horacio Ramirez. I was right about Jose Guillen, although I can’t link to anything because you signed him before I started this blog.

Yes, you were right about Gil Meche, at least at first – evidently it emboldened you to take on Common Sense on a regular basis ever since. But I (and everyone else) was right about the insanity of letting Gil Meche throw 121 pitches coming off a tired arm.

I think that’s what so disappointing about this move. It’s not the money. It’s not the fact that nearly four years after Moore took over this team, the Royals have a projected starting lineup for next season which includes Jason Kendall, Yuniesky Betancourt, Mitch Maier, and Jose Guillen, and we’re still told to trust The Process. It’s not the fact that we’re supposed to cut the Royals slack for signing Kendall because after all these years, the Royals still haven’t developed a catcher in their farm system, and we’re also not supposed to notice that the Royals passed on two of the greatest collegiate catchers of all time in Matt Wieters and Buster Posey, either of whom would be starting for the Royals on Opening Day.

It’s the fact that after getting his head handed to him by Common Sense last winter, after every head-scratching move turned out as bad, if not worse, than Moore’s fiercest critics predicted they would – Moore is determined to pick another fight. I’m sure the Royals have all their internal reasons for preferring Kendall over Buck, and I’m sure they’re all valid reasons. They’re just not that important, not nearly as important as Buck’s 100-plus point edge in slugging average.

The Royals always have valid reasons for the ridiculous moves they make – they’re just not important reasons. Yes, Farnsworth was a strikeout pitcher and throws really, really hard – but those facts couldn’t overcome his history of 4-plus ERAs. Yes, Mike Jacobs has light-tower power when he hits the ball just right – but that fact couldn’t overcome his .299 OBP. Yes, Yuniesky Betancourt looks great in a uniform – but that fact couldn’t overcome the fact that he sucks.

And yes, Jason Kendall might be a gamer and gritty and hard-nosed and never begs out of the lineup and gives 110%. But those facts won’t overcome the fact that he’s cooked.

If Moore wants to challenge Common Sense one more time, well, it’s not my job on the line. And maybe after Kendall hits so poorly in 2010 that the Royals have to eat the $3.75 million he’s due in 2011, and after Buck has the best season of his career in 2010 (call it a hunch), Moore will learn his lesson.

Or maybe next winter he’ll just replace Kendall with Jason Varitek. Now there’s a guy who knows how to win.

XXX

Barring any more major moves from the Royals this month – we can all hope – this is likely my last post of the year. Please allow me to wish all of you a safe, happy, and altogether wonderful holiday season.

125 comments:

Bob McWilliams said...

Rany, Thanks for another tightly reasoned, well argued, well written analysis of the latest Royals blunder. EVen though I grew up a Cardinals fan and still have that loyalty, I've been going to Royals games since their fiest year, and they have always been my AL team--and the team that I watch or listen to on a daily basis. It's hard to believe that an organization that was so well run in its first 15 years could be so consistently awful for the last two decades plus.

But you express our collective frustration so well that it somehow eases the pain. Well, not much, but some!

Blessings for you and your family!

Andrew said...

I wish Dayton would read your blog. Happy Holidays Rany.

Anonymous said...

The KC Star article listed 5-6 catchers in the Royals system that Dayton Moore expects Jason Kendall to mentor and heavily influence their development. All but one are minor-league players. How in the world is Kendall going to do that if he's catching 135 games a year in Kansas City?

Also, why is it that almost all of the Royals' minor leaguers are never ready for the majors until they're 27 years old? Everything you read about Royals' prospects is that they will be ready in 2-3 years. Why do other teams' draft picks come up almost immediately, but the Royals' draft picks languish in the minor leagues seemingly forever?

Jim said...

Baseball is broken. Fix it by rooting for a winner (one with money and smart management). Go Yankees!

Anonymous said...

Meh. Choosing Buck v. Kendall v. Olivo v. 'the field' is kind of like choosing the best pig to kiss. I really don't care who is starting for the Royals at C next year because I am confident that whomever it is will suck. Hard to find a good option this off-season.

Anonymous said...

Meh. Choosing Buck v. Kendall v. Olivo v. 'the field' is kind of like choosing the best pig to kiss. I really don't care who is starting for the Royals at C next year because I am confident that whomever it is will suck. Hard to find a good option this off-season.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there was something that happened when Dayton told Buck and his agent that the Royals weren't going to offer arbitration that made Buck say, "You can suck it and I'm never going to play for the royals again"

So when people think that the Royals could of automatically non-tendered Buck and then signed him for cheaper I think that is incorrect and nieve.

The Royals are certainly wasting their money on Kendall. But it's kind of like having a POS car. Either you drop the $1,000 or so to fix the radiator even though that's worth more than your car. Or you do nothing, have your car overheat and spend even more trying to fix those problems.

Kendall is the radiator to help keep the car running long enough to save up money and buy a new car.

Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the late 50's as a Phillies fan. This was better than being a Royals fan because they were only beaten by 7 teams every year. I never stopped being a fan because they were my team. Of course, I didn't know enough then to know how bad some of their moves were. I actually, at the time, liked Sparky Anderson at 2nd.

jonfmorse said...

Mitch? Rany, you're lumping Mitch in with those other three stiffs?

That's just wrong, man.

Anonymous said...

I got confused how you say Power is the most important stat at the top of the article, then say OBP is the most important in the middle.

Other than that, can't agree more with this article. Thanks again for the read.

Anonymous said...

Andrew said "I wish Dayton would read your blog"

See, Andrew, that's the problem. EVEN IF Moore read this blog, he wouldn't agree with Rany (or with any other sabermetric analysis).

Moore and his staff simply believe in scouting 100% over any statistical analysis.

Poznanski explained this best. It's like we are rooting for an organization that fundamentally sees the game differently than we do, and that will not change, so we are doomed to being perpetually frustrated by what appears to us to be one head scratching decision after another.

Anonymous said...

So, summing up Moore as a GM:

1)Doesn't believe in any available defensive metrics

2)Fails to understand the age decline curve for players

3)Consistently jumps the gun and overvalues free agents

4)Fails to understand the defensive spectrum

5)Believes scouting is nearly 100% of player analysis, and puts close to zero value on any statistical projection systems

6)Stubbornly clings to his beliefs, evidence to the contrary be damned


Other than that, he has this GM shit down pat...

Anonymous said...

This team (as currently constructed or as likely to be constructed) may not hit 100 home runs in 2010 unless Gorden finally breaks through.

Anonymous said...

I feel like I'm a fan in the movie Major League and they are going to sign a dead guy next. We need to start over and hire a general manager with experience, preferably somewhat successful experience. Nothing crazy like a pennant, but at least a .500 record and not being the laughing stock of the league.

GordonB said...

This isn't Rany-- I think Rob Neyer has taken the blog over!!

Casper said...

Anonymous @ 10:15 - I agree with you. I would love if the Royals would hire GM's and managers with proven SUCCESSFUL experience. Bring in an Andy MacPhail (sp?) or Buck Showalter, guys who have been in the trenches and shown they can win the battle. We keep bringing in guys who have either never done it before or have never had success at it before (Hillman-no ML exp as manager; Bell - no SUCCESS as ML manager; Pena - no ML exp as manager; Muser - no exp as ML manager...Moore - no exp as GM; Baird - no exp as GM; want to say Herk Robinson hadn't been GM before but I am not sure that's correct)

Dan Holden said...

Free Brayan Pena! Pay me 3 mil to be a fan. I'll even share it with a few other people.

Casper said...

More about the Kendall signing from The Hardball Times:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/k.cs-logic-in-signing-kendall-falls-apart/

Casper said...

I really think Brayan Pena deserves an extended look. He's 27 yrs old and never been given a shot but at worst he appears to be league-average (I stress the "at worst" part). His '09 OBP with KC was .318 but that was certainly influenced by a .277 BABIP, otherwise it would be most likely closer to what Bill James projects for him in '10: .331 - not sterling, but definitely closer to league average than what Olivo or Buck were bringing to the table, and not far off at all from what Kendall produced last year. Finally, since SLG% has been brought into the discussion now, he slugged .442 for KC last year (way better than Kendall) and Bill James projects him to be at .423 again this year. Mind you, these numbers from '09 are a small sample size (only 165 AB's last year for KC) but that's exactly my point - give him a larger role to see if these numbers carry out over a full season. Our "scouting-only" model at Kauffman seems to have already - quite literally - simply looked at him (they call it scouting) and decided he's nothing more than a AAA starter and/or ML back-up. I disagree.

Anonymous said...

And B. Pena actually looks like he is having fun and enjoys being on the field. He's about the only Royal to do that.

Bryan said...

Why does Dayton have such an aversion to having a starter who is paid 400K?

He seems that he is afraid he will be considered weak or incompetent if we don't try and go out and get something or someone and pay 2 to 4 to 6 million for them, when moving someone up from AAA is the much better short term solution, and may even work out as Aviles did.

That seems so simple.

Casper said...

Bryan - maybe it's the classic "spend the budget scenario". In an office environment if the budget isn't used up completely then when it comes time to form the budget for the next fiscal year the bean counters look at the previous year's results, see that not all the money allotted for the budget was spent and so they drop the number on the budget to what was actually spent the year before. I'm only guessing here, and I sincerely doubt this is the case within the organization...but then again, Glass has a more extensive business background than a baseball background, maybe that's how he operates.

Bryan said...

Casper-

I see your point and it is possible, but my counterpoint would be to take the money you don't spend on the Farnsworth's, Cruz's, Kendall's, Betancourt's, and others of the world and spend it on a 10-12 million dollar player who will have an impact. (Jose Guillen aside)

With the team that we have right now, as bad as it looks, if we added Matt Holliday we are in contention. If you take out all of those little contracts we could at least bid on Holliday. Let Pena catch. Use AAA relievers, and add Holliday.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Bryan - Exactly! These mid-range-salary players (2-4-6 million) are budget/team killers. The only way you make that amount of money is:

(1) you are a decent aribitration player -- so, one year contract.

(2) you are an old/journeyman veteran who is either declining or injured, and so likely to sign 1-2 years at a time.

I don't see why the Royals, and some other teams are scared to death of (1), but fall over themselves to sign (2).

Give me one year of Buck/Olivo, or a big-time free agent over Jason Kendall or Kyle Farnsworth about 92% of the time.

Casper said...

I don't completely disagree, Bryan. (shrugs) The joys of being a Royals fan...

Here's something more from fangraphs.com on the Kendall signing (kind of just piling on at this point but I don't have anything else to do, unfortunately):
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/and-the-jason-kendall-era-begins-in-kc

Anonymous said...

The Royals need a center fielder and are looking to trade. Any chance of working a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury?

Kansas City said...

I don't think the other options were much better, but it is sad to see Moore bring in yet another of the worst hitters in baseball. [Remember Kendall is going to the tougher American league as well, so his numbers will go down.] The biggest indictment of Moore is to look at the collective effect of his mistakes - a line up with Kendal, Betancourt, Guillen and probably the centerfielder.

The thing about Buck is that the Royals saw him for years and concluded he was not any good, which has to count for something. Same on Olivo.

But on the assessment of Kendall, I guess it may be that Moore is not sophisticated enough to look at and understand the stats that Rany and others provide.

Dave said...

Ellsbury is gone in a trade for Adrian Gonzalez. Even if he's not, the prospect price is too steep for KC to pay.

Casper said...

Dave - I agree. Unfortunately, Dayton will have to pay someone's price to get someone's player, though. Hopefully it won't be too far off into the future before Dayton has rebuilt the farm system to the point where we can move a couple prospects for an Ellsbury here and there, without coming at the expense of draining the farm system in the process.

paperboyz said...

Well argued throughout, and bang on, as usual. What makes it even tougher for Royals' fans (I am not one, but I'm a Reds fan, so I empathize deeply) is that while the smart GMs around baseball demonstrate a greater and more sophisticated understanding of how to acquire and pay for value, poor Dayton just DOESN'T GET IT.

Someone here pointed out that they could make a bid on Matt Holliday and pick up some ground right away, and that's exactly right. Especially in the AL Central. ussmariner.com has made a compelling case about how Jack Zdurianek in Seattle has been brilliant in recognizing the importance of "marginal wins" in a tight division -- that adding five or six wins is super important when that might push you up into the top spot.

I don't know if Rany actually reads these comments, but the correct term is "homes in," like a pigeon or a aircfat navigating to a beacon, not "hones in," which is nonsense ("honing" is what you do to sharpen a knife, so "honing in" is not really possible). I actually heard Al Michaels say "honing in" for the 100th time the other night on SNF and he immediately corrected himself! I do believe in miracles!

Paul J. Merriweather said...

I love it how some "wanna be" in his ivory tower knows all the moves that can or cannot--should or should not be made.

Face it, without the Internet, you'd only be a dermatologist who likes baseball. But with it, you are some faux journalist who has turned into a losers Woody Paige minus the humor.

Now, I am off to read someone who is a real journalist.

Bryan said...

Paul-

I don't know you or know what is the cause of you being so critical, but at least Rany is out there and putting his name on what he does.

It would be much more appropriate for you to put out your opinion instead of just being critical.

Rany has one of the more reasoned and thought out blogs around and for you to criticize is equivalent to putting a cold blanket on the ideas presented.

Paul J. Merriweather. said...

Bryan--

I purposely put my entire name on my entry so my name is out there.

Rany himself said he needs to separate his fandom from his analysis.

It's laughable to think Rany knows more than any GM, and if you have bought into Rany knowing more than a major league GM, you are the sheep he is looking for to for to pump his ego.

Rusty said...

Funny you should mention Varitek -- I actually think he would have been a good option instead of Kendall.

Varitek hit for some power and drew walks last year -- 24 doubles, 14 homers, 54 walks in 364 at bats.

He was arguably just unlucky with singles -- he had a .238 BABIP, far below his career rate of .304.

He has a heck of a lot more upside than Kendall.

Bryan said...

Paul, noone said that Rany knows more than a GM. Rany never said that. He has very well reasoned and thought out criticisms of the current GM.

What are you adding? If you have a critique or another idea, or additional info please add that.

To just say, oh Rany you are terrible, is an insult that has no place here.

This is an exchange of ideas. Bring something to add, but don't just be critical for critical's sake.

Paul J. Merriweather said...

Bryan--

If you are unable to understand the implications of Rany's blogs, I am not sure we can have any type of discussion.

He most certainly is implying that he knows more than Dayton Moore and says what he would do. This isn't Strat-O-Matic baseball. If it was that easy, we'd be two-deep at every position with big-time talent and Rany wouldn't be a dermatologist, and I wouldn't be in my profession.

It certainly is human nature to criticize, but when one criticizes to the point of "knowing better" it becomes predictable and tedious.

Of course, I am within my right to stop reading this blog, just as Rany is to "stop" blogging about the Royals, but I won't because when he stays on topic, he is an interesting read. When he says things like, "I quit" and "I need to separate my fandom from my analysis" without actually doing it, I am going to point it out.

And if Rany can't handle it, I am sure he will "quit" once again.

Chuck U. Farley said...

Paul J. Merriweather - You’re correct, you’re well within your right to criticize or stop reading the blog. But there’s no need to act like – I’m sorry, but there’s no other way to put it - a prick when you post on here, which is exactly what you acted like in your first post (““I love it how some ‘wanna be’ in his ivory tower knows all the moves that can or cannot--should or should not be made…Face it, without the Internet, you'd only be a dermatologist who likes baseball. But with it, you are some faux journalist who has turned into a losers Woody Paige minus the humor.”) Then, to top it off, you then insulted a fan who was merely trying to reason with you (Bryan) by telling him “If you are unable to understand the implications of Rany's blogs, I am not sure we can have any type of discussion.” Very condescending. You might as well have told him to go color in his coloring book.

Look, I’m cool with you (and anyone else) if you want to discuss baseball, moves the Royals made (this is, after all, a blog about both), etc, but next time, please actually bring something to the table, Paul J. Merriweather. Because so far all you’ve done is expose yourself as a hypocrite: You write in to complain about someone complaining, to criticize someone for criticizing, to act like you know better toward someone for acting like they know better. And yes, again – that’s within your right. But just because it’s within your right doesn’t mean you are right for doing it.

Ernest P. Worrell said...

Who cares about the Kendall signing. It's meaningless in the grand scheme of things and he is obviously a bridge to better players (I hope) in the minors. I'm just ready for some baseball to start, know what I mean?

Rany said...

First off, I have no problems with Paul's comments, and I always appreciate anyone who posts under their real name. Some people require anonymity for work or other personal reasons, but using our real identities is always going to contribute to a healthier and more civil debate.

While Paul is entitled to his opinions, I'm entitled to disagree. Regarding the notion that I think I know more than a major league GM - I've said on many occasions that there are many absolutely vital aspects of a GM's job that neither I nor any analyst would have the slightest bit of competence for. Scouting players...negotiating with agents...managing people in my own organization...dealing with the media...these and a hundred other tasks are all things which I have neither the talent nor the inclination to do.

A better question is whether I'm better qualified at certain, specific tasks than a major league GM. My honest answer is, I don't know, and I'm not just ducking the question. I agree that it takes an astonishing amount of hubris on my part to think that I can evaluate personnel moves better, in the aggregate, than the Royals' GM.

On the other hand, I have a track record of roughly 18 years which says exactly that. Going back to the day the Royals protected David Howard over Jeff Conine, through the Gregg Jefferies for Felix Jose trade, through the Damon and Dye trade disasters, the criminal misuse of Jose Rosado, free agent deals given to Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Elarton, and others, the decision to put Matt Diaz on waivers, all the way up through last winter's acquisitions of Jacobs, Farnsworth, et al - I've been right a lot more than the Royals have.

My track record is hardly perfect - just off the top of my head, I hated the Tucker-Dye deal, thought the Gil Meche signing was an overly risky gamble, and didn't think Raul Ibanez would amount to anything.

But I've never claimed to know enough to be a GM. All I've claimed is that the knowledge that I, and many other analysts have, is USEFUL INFORMATION, and that having an analyst's perspective in the war room benefits a major league team. The Royals disagree.

Is it hubris to think baseball analysis can help the Kansas City Royals? Have you WATCHED the Royals play for the last 15 years? Maybe it's hubris, but it's also absolutely true.

And finally, regarding your comment that "without the Internet, you'd only be a dermatologist who likes baseball." Yes. Of course. Without the internet, Baseball Prospectus never exists. I'm not sure what your point is. Without the internet, Bill Simmons is still a bartender somewhere. Without television, ESPN is just a random jumble of letters. Without radio, Bob Costas is just some short guy who likes to argue baseball with his barber. Without newspapers, Joe Posnanski gets his accounting degree.

If you disagree with my commentary, you're entitled to your opinion. But to criticize my commentary on the basis that I could not do what I do without the help of the most important technological advance of the last 50 years, one that has impacted virtually every occupation in America - well, that doesn't strike me as much of an argument.

My friend Joe Sheehan likes to say that "life is not a meritocracy." The beauty of the internet is that it makes life just a bit more meritocratic. It allows anyone to have their voice heard, not through connections or serendipity but because other people deem that voice worthy of being heard. I was very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time when the web exploded. But I don't think the fact that I became a writer through the power of the internet demeans my work at all. On the contrary, it validates it.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Rany. It should also be pointed out that some of the the most respected baseball writers frequently post links to this blog.

Aaron said...

That stuff was fun to read. It was more entertaining than the original post, which was good, too.

Ed said...

Rany, where is your journalism degree from?

I see the three guys you referenced in your rebuttal to to Paul M. referenced these three:

Joe Sheehan--USC
Bill Simmons--Boston University
Bob Costas--Syracuse.

Didn't know if you have one like these guys or not. Just curious.

Rany said...

I do not have a journalism degree, for reasons that should be self-evident. If that makes me less of a journalist, so be it. Frankly, I'm a little uncomfortable with the title "journalist" to begin with, largely for that reason, and for the fact that I rarely do things typically associated with "classic" journalism, like interviewing multiple people for each article and the like. I'm a writer. I leave the determination as to whether I qualify as a journalist to the reader.

While it happens that the three names you listed all have journalism degrees, that's hardly the rule. Rob Neyer never finished college. Kevin Goldstein never *started* college. Keith Law has an MBA. Alan Schwarz, one of the most underrated sportswriters in the country, was a math major at Penn.

Looking at the original Baseball Prospectus cast: Gary Huckabay was getting his MBA, Clay Davenport was a meteorologist, Chris Kahrl had a pair of history degrees. Joe Sheehan was the only one of us five who had a journalism background. When I told this to Gary while trying to sell him on the merits of adding Joe to the project, his classically Gary reply was, "well, let's not hold that against him."

Carl Willingham said...

As I have hammered home on this blog any time I can, until the Royals get someone "like" Rany in a front office position, or at least someone like Zrednzik in Sea, they are doomed to failure. Trying to win thinking and scouting like the other teams in baseball will not work in this market, and if it does the glory will be very brief. You have to be willing to go against the ingrained belief system in baseball, from hiring a non traditional manager to having a non traditional GM. This is extremely hard to do because baseball players and organization's are very regimented. To a baseball player the known mediocrity is much better than the unknown possible upgrade. Second, it's almost impossible to seperate the personal relationships and "makeup" of players and their managers and organization with actually improving the ballclub. Of course Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman want to win, but they want to win with their types of players. So signing an Adam Dunn or having a team with 5 high paid players surrounded by some talented kids does not compute with them. Bill James once told me two things that I think will always be true: 1) The manager and GM should almost always be at odds in regards to the roster makeup 2) The best GM's look at players in context of value vs salary (because almost every team has a "salary cap" which is the budget mandated by ownership) while bad GM's look at a players value vs the immediate oraganizational competition. So remember the next time a DePodesta is getting fried while laying the foundation for a good organization, or Bellichick is going for it on 4th down instead of punting like they always do, or even when Matt Millen fails and the press has such a field day with it, that it only sets back the cause of teams like the Royals who need to do something out of the ordinary but are paralyzed to do so for fear of doing something different.

Carl Willingham said...

PS, Paul, I do think Rany is smarter than Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman put together.

Casper said...

I have a journalism degree. And an MBA. And trust me when I say it - neither mean very much. Neither give me any more credibility in my profession than the guy down the aisle at work who started working here right out of high school and worked his way into management for the last 20 years.

The body of work you craft is where the real value of the individual is measured - not from degrees or certificates. Given that statement, Rany (and others) have earned their credibility the old-school way: by working relentlessly and passionately. If you only give credibility to people with plaque's then you're missing out on a lot of talented people who have probably more applied experience than those with degree's (who only have theorhetical experience).

Anonymous said...

I have a journalism degree from the University of Missouri, have worked in newspapers for 21 years, first as a sportswriter and editor and now as an opinion editor, and believe that journalism degrees are VASTLY overrated.

Rany has an informed opinion and writes with clarity and logic. That's all I need to take him seriously. He writes and thinks better than many folks with J-degrees.

Anonymous said...

Rany,

Recently I averaged going to 10+ Royals games a year.I can definitely say I am ready for Buck and Olivo to have new opportunities. I am also not sure that Pena is ready to catch a whole lot and I don't want to give the full-time duty to someone like Redmond, as I have seen him play. With that being said, I don't see a lot of options presented in your article as better than the Kendall signing.

Anonymous said...

Rany,

We are in a sad state when spend time and effort discussing Olivo, Buck and Kendall. The bottom line is that we have a hole in our upper minor league levels and we don't have any trade chips to fill the hole. The end result is a band-aid. We need to spend out time focusing on how well, (nor not well), Dayton Moore and his staff restocking the Royals farm system. Because at the end of the day, Dayton should not have to choose between Jason Kendall, John Buck or Miguel Olivo, because there should not be room for them on our team- much less as starters.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I feel better already.......Thanks for coming back Rany!

I can not even comprehend stating this, but odder things have happened. Maybe a quick start and who knows in 2010?

Jim said...

OK, I don't know a polite way to say this - stop wasting your time on the Royals!

Kendall, Pena, Buck, Olivo...it doesn't matter.

Here are some fun financial facts:

1) The New York Yankees will pay a $25.69M luxury tax for 2009. That amount is equal to what the Royals will pay their top two players (Meche and Guillen).

2) The GAP between what the Yankees spent on payroll last year and the 2nd closest team is $77.8M. $77.8 MILLION. The Yankees outspent every other team in baseball by an amount larger than KC's entire ML payroll!

Do you seriously believe that KC (or any small-market team) can compete with NYY? Really?

Dayton Moore may not be the smartest GM, but even Albert Einstein could not come up with a formula to correct the payroll discrepancy the Royals have.

If Gil Meche, KC's highest-paid player, were on the Yankees roster, he would rank 10th on their payroll.

Baseball is broken. Until MLB fixes it, I am rooting for the team that has the best chances of winning it all - the New York Yankees.

Casper said...

A new article from Sports Illustrated (actually not from The Poz this time) about the Kendall signing...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jeff_pearlman/12/22/pirates/index.html?eref=sircrc

Casper said...

Correction - maybe it's not so much an article as much as it is a colum. And maybe it's not so much about Kendall as it is about the behavior of bad sports teams. But Kendall IS mentioned!! Promise!!

Casper said...

And now something from The Onion about the Royals...

http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/royals_gm_didnt_know_he_was

Anonymous said...

http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/kansas_city_fails_to_pick

Anonymous said...

Are the Royals trying to improve?

I know they are watching their dollars, but I see all of these other FA signings for reasonable $$ (by MLB standards, obscene $$ by mine), and I just wonder if they are even trying.

Jason Marquis to the Nats for $15MM/2yrs? He's a better option than any of our possible 3,4, or 5 starters. The Nats aren't any better than KC, so he's obviously in it for the $$; give him a 3rd year and actually do something to help the team.

Brian Anderson in center...we already have Mitch Meier, how does this move improve the team?

I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

The Brian Anderson deal has to have Rany's head ready to explode. I can't wait for the next post.

Anonymous said...

'62 Mets, baybee. '62 Mets.

Dayton won't stop until the Royals lose 120 games. With Anderson, Yuniesky and Kendall all in the fold, we're getting closer.

Is there a 42-year-old backup shortstop that we can trade Butler for?

Casper said...

Personally, I almost think the Brian Anderson deal is worse than the Kendall signing. He has a career OPS+ of what - 65? And we gave him a major league contract, so he's eating a spot on the 40-man roster? Didn't we already have Josh Anderson? Wasn't he under team control and made league minimum and has basically the same exact set of tools that Brian Anderson has? And all because we
"need" a CFer? What is wrong with moving DeJesus back to his natural position in CF, and then putting Callaspo out in LF (where you don't need the strongest defender)? It makes more sense than trading off a player entering his prime years (he's 27, right?) and who is a proven offensive commodity that makes close to league minimum and is under team control still. Ridiculous, ridiculous signing, this Brian Anderson deal.

Anonymous said...

Meche, DDJ and Guillen to the Mets for Pagan, Niese, and maybe a minor leaguer, no money to the Mets. Use the extra $25 mill or so to sign Holliday for three years with an option.

Anonymous said...

If the Mets would do that, that should be done in a heartbeat.
I don't think we will know because I don't think Moore is even attempting.
Either that or he is doing some amazing media control, because there is nothing anywhere about him even contemplating a move.
Obviously Guillen is grossly overpaid. I hope they don't try to put him in the outfield. Just tell him he is the DH and he will be starting five days a week. He could possibly be marginally acceptable that way.
I thought the Royals were going hard after Bedard. I would like to see this, but haven't heard anything on this. Are the Royals in on Chapman? His price seems to not be as high as first thought, but I haven't heard the Royals and him mentioned in the same breath.
The A's may sign Beltre. Why aren't the Royals ahead of the curve on the variations in the market? There seems to be a few free agents who will have to sign for less. Why don't you get them now, instead of having to settle for the scrap heap?
I am the first to complain when they make a move just to make a move, but the lack of movement this offseason just sucks.
Holliday is from Oklahoma I believe. (I am actually not sure of that, but I know that he had signed a LOI to play football at OU so I have assumed he was from that area) but I would imagine he would like to come towards home. He obviously liked it in St. Louis. Glass, this division is there for the taking. Open up your damn purse strings and sign him. You can't take your money with you. Have some fun. Spend a little.
Rany, how about a post about what a Holliday signing would do for the organization from top to bottom.
Dreaming a little is fun, too.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shelby said...

The Royals should have bought a nice bed instead of a Jason Kendall.

Shelby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

HELP!

Is the 2nd picture at the following link of Billy Butler? I can't deny that it looks identical to him. In fact, this HAS to be him:

http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/2009/12/21/awkward-engagement-photo-contest/

Anonymous said...

Rany,
Even if you don't give us a column, do you think you could weigh in here on the Anderson signing? Is it as bad as I think (that is to say, really, really bad).

Casper said...

Oh, wow...yeah, that really does look like him.

Terry Jones said...

Rany,

Criticisms from a very few aside, you are a voice of reason in this cesspool known as the Royal's fandom. Many of us grew up with the Royals in their heyday, and long for a winner to grace this city once again.

While your insight gives us little hope to believe we will ever see a winning team here again, I believe it to be very reasoned and logical. You are saying a lot of the things we hopeless fans are thinking, and therefore you provide much needed therapy for our angst. I, and I'm sure most who frequent your blog, wish you would post more often. Please consider it. We are starving for truth and reason.

BTW, you do write better than most journalists I've read. Keep up the good work!

kcemigre said...

Terry Jones, you underestimate Royals fans when you talk about "this cesspool known as the Royal's fandom."

In addition to Rany, people like Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski and Bill James call themselves Royals fans. That's hardly a cesspool. In fact, the Royals just might have some of the most intelligent fans in the game.

That, of course, just makes it all the more frustrating that our Front Office has no interest in any of that intelligence.

Terry Jones said...

kcemigre,

You misunderstood the context in which I used the word cesspool. The fans are not the cesspool....the Royals organization is, and since we are loyal followers, we are swimming in the pool.

Oh no, my brother, I'd say KC has some of the most devoted, and heartbroken fans in the world of sports, given the state of both major league franchises. These teams should have lost their fan bases long ago, and I'm not sure what is says about us that we continue to back go to the well, year in and year out. I know my wife and kids think I'm crazy for not giving up on them.

Hope that clears it up.

Anonymous said...

The Royals dont need to compete with the Yankees, only need to compete with the Twins, Tigers, Sox, and Indians. Then the playoffs are 5 and 7 game series where the anyone has a chance. If the playoffs were a 50 game series, I would agree with your point that KC has no chance to compete with the Yankees.

If there are any DM defenders left....simply look at the losses at the ML level. That is how he needs to be judged by. Hillman, Guillen, Farnsworth, Horam, Betancourt, Kendall, Bloomquist, etc....these types of signings will always hold KC down because Dayton Moore just doesn' get it.

KC absolutely CAN compete in the AL Central with the, albeit limited budget that Glass provides. However, they will never compete with Dayton Moore as GM and Trey Hillman as manager.

As for the minor leaguers we are "loading up" on, please wake me when one of them actually is on the ML roster and producing. Until then, Dayton Moore is a 100% failure as a general manager, and it is a travesty that he got a contract extension. I cant wait for Rany's blog when Trey Hillman gets a new contract.....

Anonymous said...

Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman:

There is no worse GM/Manager combination in Major League Baseball, and arguably all of professional sports.

Anonymous said...

Rany please keep blogging. As John Connor said in Terminator:

You are the resistance.

We can not stop until this incompetent regime is overthrown and Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman stop ruing our joy of being Royals fans.

Its fricking hard being a Royals fan when Betancourt, Kendall, and Guillen are on the team. I will always root for the name on the front, not the name on the back but damn.....its hard with players like that.

Anonymous said...

Oh , and Dayton Moore, if you are reading this:

QUIT YOUR FREAKING JOB.

Anonymous said...

Good ML level signings(or trades) by Dayton Moore:

Meche
Bannister
Callaspo

Bad signings(trades):

Guillen
Horam
Betancourt
Kendall
Josh Anderson
Freel
Farnsworth
Mike Jacobs
Crisp for Ramirez
TPJ
Trey Hillman
Ross Gload
Gathright
Cruz
Jamey Wright
Bale
Ponson
Chen

Im sure there are tons more, I just get all the former ex Braves and Mariners confused. And the minors? He has not had ONE single minor leaguer drafted by DM had any impact whatsoever for the KC Royals.

Ive said it before, Ill say it again...DM is a CRAP CRAP CRAP of a General Manager. Worst in baseball.

Anonymous said...

Funny, even his "good" signings are average at best, especially given shortcomings like Callaspos defense or Bannisters numbers. They just look good because they arent disasters.

Steve said...

Regarding the so-called "good signings (or trades)"...

...why not include Soria?

...is the jury still out on Willie Ballgame?

...how about Davies is he a total waste or a possible "good" guy?

...does the RE-signing of Zack count for something?

And on the bad side... I think you forgot what might have been the BIGGEST WASTE of $$$ of them all... Yabuta (followed closely by Trey Hillman himself).

Having said that... THIS Royals fan will continue to hold out hope for improvement from the guys we have on the 25-man roster as well as the kids on the farm. After all, HOPE is all we seem to have!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Anonymous said...

Geez, Royals fans are a stupid, fickle bunch sometimes. Mad because in only 3 years his minor leaguers haven't made the bigs yet? Geez people, it takes time for these kids to develop. Or would you rather go back to the Allard Baird days of rushing kids to the majors and ruining them?

Fact is, since Dayton took over, the minors have been getting richer and richer for KC. He's gotten Glass to open up the purse strings a little bit to sign some of these guys (giving a 4th round pick 1st round money, the money to sign Arguelles, etc), so that we don't have to make signability picks (see: Jeff Austin, Colt Griffin, etc)

His major league signings, for the most part, are just stop gaps to some of these kids. Kendall, for example, his contract will run out right about the time one could expect to see Wil Myers at the major league level.

Do we all want a winner now? Of course we do. But unless we were able to sign ALL the top free agents (Lackey, Holliday, Bay, etc) and increase our payroll to Yankee levels, it wasn't going to happen.

Rusty said...

Well now Buck and Olivo have *both* signed one year deals for under $3M.

Meanwhile the Royals are on the hook for $6M for Kendall.

Amazing.

Charles said...

Did someone in this stream actually say we should "bid on Matt Holliday!" Wow!!!

Finally I get to see another GM make a terrible move. That contract has a chance to be a Vernon Wells type disaster, doesn't it? Holliday is 30 years old and he is entering his decline phase. The Cardinals really better win right now - this year, because after this they are in big trouble.

If Holliday is worth 17.1MM per year that would make Pujols worth at least 30MM. If the Cards don't win this year they are going to find themselves increasingly hamstrung by a bad deal.

Ah well, at least with Holliday they are getting a good 2-3 years of top-notch production....

Anonymous said...

Good news. Arguelles signs with the Royals.

Charles said...

OK- yesterday's glee at the Cardinals grossly overpaying is turning to gloom at hearing all the internet rumors about Scott Podsednik.

If they sign Podsednik, I'm praying it's 1 year and 4MM or less. ANY OTHER DEAL IS AWFUL.

Jimmy Jack said...

We got Podsednik...about 3 or 4 years too late. Let's hope he can maintain that OBP over the life of the contract...*crosses fingers for a 1 year deal*

Casper said...

Jimmy, Pod's career OBP is .340, which is only league avg. It was above .350 last year, however as you've pointed out already, he's on the wrong side of 30 to be too optimistic. I'm not "thrilled" about the signing, but I like the idea of him over B. Anderson (although in my mind it makes giving B. Anderson a major league contract even dumber than it already did). I would like to see them actually sign someone with an OPS+ that's actually in the realm of 100...is that so much to ask? Pod's career OPS+ is 87, and his OPS+ of 98 last year (meaning he was still 2% worse than the avg player) is his 2nd best in his career, right after his 116 OPS+ in '03, which is a while ago. Fangraphs projects Pod's value this year to be about 3.4M; for me to be "happy" I need the Royals to "offset" that Kendall signing a bit and come in under that figure.

Casper? said...

Anyone heard contract terms yet?

Charles said...

I'm hearing 1 year, 1.8MM. I'm hoping that this is all.... I don't have connections that just seems to be a consensus guess....

I'm expecting Dayton to have a second year with a vesting option if Pods plays say 120 games... so that we can be stuck with him for a second year.... I said earlier that anything more than 1 year was a disaster and I hold to that.


Other folks are saying that any signing of Pods is stupid. I don't necessarily agree. We could be signing him so that he can mentor Derrick Robinson .

PLEASE, 1 year... PLEASE.

Casper said...

If it's 1.8M, then I think I'll actually be fine with it (addendum: as long as it's just one year with a possible option that vests on performance - and that 2nd year better not top 2.5M!).

I've been of the opinion that the Kendall contract was an abortion, but I've considered the B. Anderson contract to be nothing short of a display of stupidity and laziness on the part of the front office. And now that we have added another former White Sux CFer to a major league deal, it just makes me hate the B. Anderson deal even more.

I'll open myself up to criticism: Anyone think Shawn Hill would make a good bullpen/spot starter option? Has a career FIP of 4.11. Not a lot of strike out's but sinkerballer's rarely get a lot of K's. Could probably get him on a two-year deal for less than 1M per. I open the floor to thoughts, suggestions, and "That's stupid!"'s...

Charles said...

The deal slowly gets worse:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/baseball/mlb/wires/01/08/2010.ap.bba.royals.podsednik.1st.ld.0221/

It appears it has an option for 2011.... Hopefully it is a club option or a mutual option with NO BUY OUT.

Charles said...

Ken Rosenthal says 1.75MM + club option for 2011 of 2MM. (voidable by Pods if he gets 525PA).

If Pods gets 525PA I will eat a hat. He doesn't stay that healthy. And besides he would be taking PA's from The True Grit.

So, hypothetically we could be out up to 4.3MM over 2 years for this guy if you read this the way I do...

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/scott-podsednik-kansas-city-royals-010710

Dave said...

You guys are ridiculous. What do you expect for 2 mil? I hear all this talk about how he is below average. Yeah, and the above average guys like Holliday go for 17 mil. This is less than 2. The guy can run and get on base, isn't that what we need? I would much rather have Podsednik start than see Maier everyday. 2010 is a busted year already, they aren't going to win anything. It's a bridge. I also like the mutual option. If he duplicates last year, wouldn't you re-up him for 2011 for just 2 mil more? At the very least as a 4th outfielder? Some times posters on this site just crack me up. What do you really expect the Royals to do this year?

Charles said...

Well, Dave, since you asked I'll try to respond:
If 2010 is a lost season (as you suggest, and as I agree) then that frees you up to try a few innovative things like:
1) Try to see if Maier can actually play the position. It's a free move (ok, 400K, but FREE marginal dollars).
2) Try to see if Brayan Pena can play catcher (same reason).
3) Try to see if we can make Hochevar or Davies work out.
4) Try Carlos Rosa out.
5) Try Kila Ka'aihue out.

The beauty of these moves is that they are all free. And if any of them work out they save money for the seasons of 2011, 2012, 2013 that may not be lost seasons. Every dollar he spends now on talent that brings him no help in those years is a pointless move and may actually be counterproductive.... Suppose Maier turns out to be a decent CF player (even 1 WAR is likely to be better than Scotty), then in 2-3 years he will be a decent player when Scotty is completely unplayable. But we won't find out if he only gets 200-300 PA's will we?

The problem with Dayton and the Royals, Dave, is that THEY DON'T TRUST THE PROCESS. That's right - the very process that we fans are accused of not trusting is the one that THEY WON'T STICK TO.

IN a lost season you try to learn what will work so that you have fewer holes in non-lost seasons.

Casper said...

I think they've already concluded that they've seen enough from Maier. This is where the Royals front office and the SABR world run into disagreement - they use a scouting model for player evaluation only, which doesn't require a "large sample size" to reach a conclusion on a player. It's a model that's more prominently practiced in the NL, which is obviously the background Moore comes from.

Personally, I think Maier would be serviceable, but no more than a 1-2 WAR level player (just my opinion), which is basically what Podsednik already is (1.7 WAR last year; CHONE projects .7 WAR this year...conversely, Maier was .3 WAR last year and projects to 1.4 WAR in '10, so there's not a large discrepancy, frankly, since 1-2 WAR basically gives you the same contribution level from a player).
I think what we're looking at here is that the Royals went looking for speed, and that's it. In the "scouting only" model they run at Kauffman, speed translates (to them) to good defense, so in their mind they've got a good CF on the cheap. The WAR value is basically same, but they put a premium on how that WAR is determined, and that premium was placed in the speed department.

I hate the Brian Anderson signing, but not this one. It doesn't "wow" me, either, but I think it's probably a decent signing, overall (surprisingly). I think the only thing we lose out on is the opportunity cost on Maier, but we won't know the real loss there until he becomes a free-agent and goes somewhere else to prove himself (assuming he lands somewhere else later...which he probably will). Until that happens, the opportunity cost doesn't appear to be much at all (just my opinion though).

John said...

A little positive attempt here. Sure there have been bad decisions, but I for one am happy about lots of the guys gone. I'm hoping to not have to look at record passed balls, logjams at positions with guys I don't like to watch, and a bunch of guys who won't bust their butts trying. The future has high hopes, but next year is not a year to expect to win big, what with constraints of money from past mistakes. I love the Arguelles signing, and feel great about only having to look at Guillen one more year. Once we get through this coming year with that burden (I'd love to see the Royals just dump him, but since we have to pay him, we might as well see if his own greed motivates him in a contract year---THEN dump him), with our futures a year closer, I prefer to see some signs of hope. There are positives if you look for them: these guys will hopefully bust their butts, even if some have less talent. (They are a bridge!) There are tons of negatives, but I enjoy the game and at least hope to watch some more entertaining games than last year!

Dave said...

Charles,

Why can all of your points not happen with this signing?

"1) Try to see if Maier can actually play the position. It's a free move (ok, 400K, but FREE marginal dollars)."
This is the only one affected by the Podsednik signing and I think everyone in the organization and the fans saw what Maier could do in his extended audition last year when Crisp went down. He is not the solution and should probably have been non-tendered.

"2) Try to see if Brayan Pena can play catcher (same reason)." Pena is on the team and will log a lot of time even as a back-up. More than last year anyways. Would I like to see him start? Absolutely, but there is a reason no one claimed him last year when they passed him through waivers and picked him up again....and it wasn't because of his bat.

"3) Try to see if we can make Hochevar or Davies work out.
4) Try Carlos Rosa out.
5) Try Kila Ka'aihue out."
I agree with all of these, but what about this signing makes you think points 3-5 still won't happen?

Shelby said...

I think Charles is right.

We have to ask ourselves, WHY are they spending precious money on these guys who will NOT give the team even a remote chance to win while there are semi-viable and potentially similar options that we already have on payroll?

Is it an attempt to win a whopping 4 more games than we would had we left our wallets in our pockets? We're definitely not going to compete even in our weak division, so what gives? I just don't understand it. Does Dayton think he HAS to do something with the money he's been given or it's going to look bad on him?

It comes down to this: bad payroll management, bad team management, and bad management management.

Anonymous said...

Somebody had to play centerfield this year. I would have liked to have seen Marlon Byrd out there, but we got Podsednik pretty darn cheaply. And we get to see his wife in the stands. I think it's a pretty good deal for now. He's not a long term solution to anything, but I didn't see anything in Mitch Maier that makes me think he can do the job. I still feel like there must be a trade on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the roster we take to Spring Training, actually. We've covered both the centerfield and catching positions (at least Dayton thinks he has). Unless they sign a reliever or two, I think that's it.

But as far as why we are paying guys like Kendall and Anderson, there are varying reasons.

Kendall was because they didn't feel they had a viable alternative better than him on the roster. Buck would have been to expensive in arbitration, and Pena is horrid behind the plate.

Anderson, I believe, is just there for depth, a fifth outfielder type. I think we'll go into the year with Dejesus, Podsednik, and Fields as our starting outfield, with Maier and Anderson as backups. I do question why we gave him a major league contract though...

Anonymous said...

Podsednik, Kendall, and Anderson.....as if we needed more reasons to think Dayton Moore was the worst GM in baseball.

Dayton Moore has no clue. So, this year is predictable. On pace for 100 losses but a late September rally will be enough to save Hillmans job and for DM to point out "progress".

Nevermind that the progress he speaks of will have nothing to do with bringing up promising minor leaguers....DM is too dense to realize even his regulars can beat the AAA squads most teams field in September. So, no prospects will be called up, or if they are, then NO WAY Hillman actually, you know, plays them.

Then with all the money off the books for 2011 DM will be able to sign all the Bloomquists, Guillens, Farnsworths, Horams, Betancourts, Kendalls, etc that he desires. No doubt another franchise killing Guillen style contract is given next offseason. Probably Gary Matthews Jr for 3/$36 or something mind numbingly bad.

Dayton Moore is without any doubt the worst GM in baseball. Every body knows it but him, Trey, and Glass. It is really too bad because Roayls fans truly deserve better than being laughingstocks again, but here we are.

Thanks Dayton.

Anonymous said...

Save the Royals!

Send Dayton Moore to the firing squad!

Anonymous said...

Wow. At least this blog gives people a place to vent. It's probably keeping the rate of domestic violence cases down. Let's hope.

I said it in Christmas eve, but it's still true: the Mets are in the market for starting pitching, a left fielder, and "a big bat." Even with Pods, KC should send the Mets Meche, DDJ, and Guillen for Pagan, Niese, and a top prospect. No cash changes hands. The Mets still have work to do, and so do we, but they're closer to contending (at least we aren't in the Phillies' division) and KC gets younger, faster, and more in line for the future. The Royals great teams had a couple of center fielders (Wilson and Otis, for instance). Callaspo is either traded or a potential DH, with Fields or Kila. Okay, so Balboni's embarrassing team homer record stands for another decade.

I think this trade would help both teams, and fans on both sides could heap abuse on their GMs. Mets fans call theirs "Slomar," by the way. Isn't it great to be geniuses here together?

Charles said...

Took a weekend off from even thinking about the Royals.... If they can't think, why should I?

Anyway - Dave, they had all September to give Ka'aihue, Rosa, Corey Aldridge, Maier, etc an extended look and in the middle of 97 loss season didn't even do any of it. That's what makes me think points 4 and 5 won't happen.

As to the others - do the folks here know about the term sample size? Why is it that 200-300 PA's is good enough to "know" Maier isn't an answer? After 200 PA's last season I think Bloomquist had a .380 OBP, that held up well, didn't it? So, how is it that Maier isn't better than his 200-300 PA showing? We don't know one way or the other... Maybe we should trust Dayton? OK, maybe YOU should - I refuse at this point.

Pena will be given a chance to prove himself you think? I don't see it - we got the only catcher who has no durability concerns whatever. The guy catches 130+ games EVERY year. Even now, when he really is no more than a backup he still catches 130+ games.

The only way Pena gets 200 PA's is if Hillman uses him as DH (he might).

At this point - again - I see NO reasons to trust Dayton. He will - in nearly every circumstance - make the wrong move.

Same seems to go for Hillman who played Bloomquist in the outfield something like 90 times last year. I can't imagine why you wouldn't ask Dayton about that. Bloomquist was awful out there - it's hard to believe that Aldridge would have been worse. But then these are the folks who spent 2.5 years playing TPJ when it was obvious much sooner that he wasn't a major league player.... THEN when the numbers were overwhelming panicked and got Yuni Betanloser....

Anonymous said...

so the mets should take $30m in payroll off the royals hands and give up prospects to boot? not bloody likely.

Casper said...

"As to the others - do the folks here know about the term sample size? Why is it that 200-300 PA's is good enough to "know" Maier isn't an answer?"

Not sure if you were directing that at me so if it wasn't then nevermind, but if it was then my response is to please reread my last post because you'll see that I wasn't claiming it was a large enough sample size; I was stating that the Royals use a player evaluation system that allows for it to be a large enough sample size (to them). And since it's them making the meaningful decisions, I thought it might be worth mentioning so that we may at least understand their mindset (I said "understand" - not "agree with").

Anonymous said...

This blog sucks now, or at least the comments section does. It's not about being a fan of the Royals anymore. It's just people bitching about everything. We could have signed Holliday and people would have bitched about the contract or that we overpayed. We could trade for Pujols and people would complain that we did it on the downside of his career. Nobody is happy about anything and nobody has any faith. You guys all suck. You want to hear something interesting? I read a Dick Kaegal article and he was asked who he was expecting a big season from. You know who he chose? Yuni Betancourt. Why? Because he thinks having a full year in a new environment with Eddie Rodriguez will tap some unfound potential and love of the game. I would prefer reading something like that than everybody pissing and moaning in these comments. Will Betancourt actually have that breakout year? Doubtful.....but at this time of year I'd like to think and hope so.

PJM said...

Whoever voted for Kevin Appier for the Hall of Fame should have his vote taken away along with the person voting for Segui and Karros.

Ape was a fine pitcher, but to get a vote for the Hall is disgraceful to all that it represents!

Rick said...

Agreed, Anonymous, it's almost like bagging on the Royals is the cool thing to do now. Like that makes you a real fan or something.

Steve said...

In point of fact, it seems that most people here (and on MOST Royals-related blogs/sites) feel they must bash everything related to the team. And on top of that, most of the guys that follow sabre-related stats think they are so much smarter than us dummies that don't.

Well, my point is that I think good ol' fashioned scouting, believing what your eyes tell you, getting lucky, plyaing hunches, listening for the more powerful sound of bat against ball, or usiing a radar gun still matter. I am not saying BABIP, ball movement, UZR, going from 1st to 3rd and all that don't matter... they do. But I want an organization to use ALL that is available to them. And I don't think occasionally relying on OLD methods is a bad thing.

Don't call us dummies (or worse) just because we don't religiously follow all-things sabremetric. Old school worked for a long time so it should NOT be discounted as antiquated.

Lastly, these grumbling guys remind me of gamblers who go to a Casino with a pessimistic attitude expecting the worse with all their whining. I mean, if you are going to gamble shouldn't you be an optimist - otherwise why bother?

BE POSITIVE at least sometimes!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Charles said...

For the record I have been positive about moves in the last few years:
I generally agreed with the move to replace Teahen with Getz and Fields. I'm not sure how it works out, but it has a chance and for the money Teahen no longer made sense for this team.
I agreed enthusiastically with the Greinke extension.
I agreed with the move to get Coco Crisp (proves I can be wrong, see!). I thought improving our defense made sense and that with Coco in CF and DeJesus in LF we had a chance to cover some of RF with a shift.

It seems that when anyone bitches here the pro-Dayton types will just come back and say - "you saber guys are always negative."

That just isn't true. But it does seem that there is no strategy in Dayton's moves. I have never said that scouting can't be a valuable basis for learning, but I think it is a set of tools. There are other sets of tools as well... but seriously, when looking at HS player in Minnesota or something it's pretty likely there won't be any valid sabermetric knowledge....

On the flip side, scouting that tells me that Betancourt doesn't suck because he has the tools makes no sense to me.

It reminds me of the difference between potential and performance. As anyone would agree when evaluating youth we always evaluate potential since there is almost no performance to evaluate. When evaluating the still young we use both potential and performance (such as we have access to). When evaluating someone in their prime or post-prime (prime 25-29, post-prime = post 29) we should primarily use performance....

So, what tells us about potential, what tells us about performance....

Potential is still best measured by scouting. I don't think I'd trust a lot of measurements of Big XII uzr. On the flip side, performance - particularly at the Big League Level is much more better analyzed in the numbers....

Unfortunately, our GM doesn't understand the numbers (and no that's not made-up - the man said so himself on the radio).

Anonymous said...

Maybe people wouldnt bag if EVERY move Dayton made wasnt universally summed up as awful. He has put together a team that is, lets face it- hard to like. I dont want to see Betancourt in my beloved blue and white. Or Kendall or Gload or Farnsworth.....

If they start winning people wont bash the Royals. But baseball is one of the few (only) sports where numbers can truly predict the future. And the future 2010 Royals season is 90-100 losses.

That sucks, knowing your favorite team will lose over 90 games BEFORE THE SEASON EVEN STARTS.

Anonymous said...

People thought that in 2003 too, but they were in contention until September.

Also, Kila Ka'ahuie wasn't even named one of the Royals top 10 prospects by Baseball America. Time for people to start jumping off that bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

Trey Hillman didnt manage the 2003 team.

Dave said...

Yeah, but Tony Pena did.

Casper said...

He also managed the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2004. Six as one, half a dozen the other.

Anonymous said...

I think this says it all for us Royals fans.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-hsdroyals011010&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Casper said...

A guess at what "the process" is supposed to look like (no snark attached): Fill the minors with prospects through the draft, rule 5, and international markets...since these players are likely all low-minor league level Moore fills the barren upper-ranks of the minor's with retreads to create depth/position competition (as well as hope to find a diamond in the rough)...spend more money than necessary to try and counter the layperson's viewpoint that the Royals aren't competitive because they don't spend enough.

I'm trying to see this from the FO's viewpoint, not ours. We're a minority within the fanbase - let's all be honest about that. The state of the team has been so bad that there are, frankly, a handful of us still this passionate. The bulk of the revenue dollars the Royals are thinking about are from the casual fan (and there's just way more of them than there are us).

I'm merely guessing, and yes, I know it's full of holes. Just trying to objectively see it from the team's eye's rather than only from my own. Maybe if I can at least see understand how they think then I maybe I can accept some of their decisions and have a little more peace with them.

Casper said...

"spend more money than necessary to try and counter the layperson's viewpoint that the Royals aren't competitive because they don't spend enough."

Meant to state that was the approach with the ML roster, sorry didn't clearly say that the first time.

Anonymous said...

For all of the Dayton Moore sucks" contingent

http://royalrevival.blogspot.com/2010/01/next-international-splash.html


So far this offseason the Royals have signed three international free agents of note: Noel Arguelles, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Jin Ho Shin. But according to Dayton Moore there is another one on the way. Here is a quote from GM Dayton Moore's hot stove interview that was broadcast on 610 Sports Kansas City this past Thursday.

"The five best players internationally, regarded by most everybody you talk to. We've signed two of them and we're close to signing another one. Noel Arguelles obviously was made official today. Cheslor Cuthbert, the kid out of Nicaragua and then we're close to getting another one of these players within the next month or so."

Obviously when I heard this quote on Thursday night, I immediately fixated my thoughts on Aroldis Chapman. However, as we all know now Chapman signed the next day with the Cincinnati Reds for a deal in excess of 30 million dollars. Given that Chapman signed the next day it is fairly obvious that he was not the player that Moore was referring to. So I have conducted a little research and have found a list of the best available remaining international prospects. Here they are in order of their ranking according to one publication:

2. Wagner Mateo CF Dominican Republic
9. Daniel Sanchez RHP Venezuela
12. Jochi Ogando RHP Dominican Republic
13. Jacob Beltre C Dominican Republic
16. Luis Jolly CF Dominican Republic
17. Johendi Jiminian RHP Dominican Republic
19. Leonardo Perdomo RHP Dominican Republic
20. Rosel Herrera SS Dominican Republic
22. Santiago Nesi C Venezuela
24. Jairo Kelly SS Dominican Republic

Anonymous said...

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/01/royals-near-agreement-with-paul-carlixte.html

I think we have your answer about the other top international free agent.

Anonymous said...

In about five years, all of these international players will lead the Royals to a first-round loss in the playoffs to the Red Sox.

In the meantime, Dayton is going to keep the media focus on the Royals by doing two things:

1) Seeing how many games Zack Greinke can win every year with a Double-A caliber team; and

2) Seeing if the Royals can give the '62 Mets a run for their money even with Zack.

Next year...Zack challenges Bob Gibson's ERA record, goes 18-12...and the Royals go 51-111! You read it here first!

Anonymous said...

Keep spending on the international free agents and on the draft DM. Who cares if the "experts" hammer you for the stopgap players you continue to sign?

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Anonymous said...

Seems like Tony Pena, jr., and was it Bob Hamelin??? had LASIK eye surgery, and that was going to cure all their hitting ills also.

Andy G. said...

Rany, you make the same mistake virtually all baseball writers make, talking about the thin air in Arizona. I can't speak for the stadia themselves, but the altitude listed for Phoenix is 1090ft., barely above Kansas City's listed 750.