Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Problems and (Potential) Solutions in Center Field.

I fully expected to hate the Scott Podsednik deal.

For one thing, any time your fan base can predict, months ahead of time, which player you will pursue in free agency – not based on the fact that said player fits the team’s needs, but simply because he’s exactly the type of player that you vastly overvalue – that may be a sign that you’ve become a parody of a GM. Here are a couple of links from early October, where perceptive, if cynical (is that a redundancy?) Royals fans predicted that Dayton Moore would sign Podsednik.

The moment word filtered in early December that the Royals were talking with him, there wasn’t a doubt in the collective mind of the Royals blogosphere that this deal would get done. And it did. The current front office, which has long been terrible at working the free-agent market, is now predictably terrible. That’s some feat.

It’s not that Scott Podsednik is a bad player. Let me rephrase that: it’s not that Scott Podsednik was a bad player last year. He hit .304/.353/.412, a perfectly respectable performance, and also stole 30 bases. He was very durable, playing in 132 games even though he wasn’t called up to the majors until May 1st. If Podsednik has the same performance in 2010 that he had in 2009, he will prove to have been an excellent signing.

You know where I’m going with this. In 2009, Podsednik was a quality everyday outfielder, because he hit .304, and if you can hit .300 and take the occasional walk you have value even if you don’t hit for any power. The problem is that Podsednik’s lack of power is a chronic condition, but hitting for average has proven to be an intermittent ability. In 2008, Podsednik hit .253, playing in the game’s best hitters’ park in Colorado. (This is why he started last season in the minors in the first place.) In 2007, he hit .243/.299/.369 for the White Sox, and lost his everyday job. In 2006, he hit .261/.330/.353 for the Sox.

Yes, in 2005 he hit .290/.351/.349, he stole 59 bases, and after not hitting a single home run during the regular season, he popped two of them in the playoffs while hitting .286/.397/.551, helping the Sox to a world championship. (While several players have hit homers in the playoffs after not hitting one during the regular season, I believe Podsednik is the only player in history to hit two.)

In 2004, Podsednik hit .244/.313/.364 for the Brewers, though to be fair he did lead the league with 70 steals. In 2003, he hit .314/.379/.443 and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting.

Podsednik’s value is almost entirely driven by his batting average: he doesn’t hit for any power, and he doesn’t walk a lot. Three times in his career – 2003, 2005, and 2009 – Podsednik has hit .290 or better. He was a reasonably valuable player in each season. Four times in his career – 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008 – he hit .261 or less, and he was essentially worthless in each of those seasons. Such are the vagaries of batting average, which is highly dependent on good luck. Cue Crash Davis’ drunken soliloquy about groundballs with eyes and dying quails.

The Royals are betting that 2010 will be a good year, even though Podsednik turns 34 before Opening Day, even though three of his last four seasons were terrible, and even though a year ago his stock had fallen so low that he signed with the White Sox on a minor-league contract.

That optimism is not shared by any projection system on the market. Bill James projects Podsednik at .275/.340/.367; his ZIPS projection comes in at .279/.336/.384. Those aren’t terrible numbers, mind you – it’s just that they don’t represent any kind of improvement over what we could have expected from the guy he replaces in centerfield, Mitch Maier. Bill James projects Maier at .266/.328/.389; ZIPS has him at .268/.323/.378.

“Wait”, the Royals say, “you’re neglecting Podsednik’s best skill, his speed.” True, Pods has speed to burn, something Maier – and, for that matter, the rest of the roster – lacks. And I would be more than happy to give him credit for his speed, if there was any evidence that Podsednik’s speed actually translated into more runs on the scoreboard.

Podsednik stole 30 bases last year. This would have led the Royals last year – and every year going back to 2003, when Carlos Beltran swiped 41 bags. The flip side is that Podsednik was caught stealing 13 times last year – no Royal has 13 CS in one season since Tom Goodwin was nailed 22 times way back in 1996.

This is nothing new for Podsednik, who throughout his career has been known more for the quantity than for the efficiency of his stolen bases. Yes, he led his league in steals once. He’s also led his league in caught stealings. Twice.

The sabermetric conventional wisdom states that the break-even point for stolen bases is around 70% - if you’re not successful more than 70% of the time, you’re better off not stealing at all, because you’re costing your team more runs by getting thrown out than you’re adding with your steals. Podsednik’s success rate last year was…69.8%. For his career, his success rate is a more impressive 75.3%, but over the last five seasons he’s been just over the break-even point at 70.5%. His ability to steal bases isn’t a detriment to his team, but neither is it a significant help.

But actually, it’s worse than that. One of the great unrecognized flaws in conventional statistics is that while baserunners are penalized when they are out trying to steal a base, no record is made of the instances when a baserunner is picked off. The end result is the same – a baserunner is lost, and an out is recorded – but one event is a permanent red mark on their stat profile, while the other is whited out.

Thankfully, in today’s world no baseball event goes truly unrecorded. On Podsednik’s baseball-reference page, the number of times he’s picked off is listed in his baserunning profile. And the numbers are disturbing.

Last season, Podsednik was caught stealing 13 times. He was also picked off 11 more times. That seems like an incredibly high total for me – although we have no point of reference, as I don’t know of any way to bring up the league leaders in this category – but it’s just the third-highest season total of his career. Podsednik was picked off 12 times in 2006, and 14 times in 2005. For his career, he’s been picked off 53 times.

Now, if a player is picked off while trying to get back to the bag, no caught stealing is recorded. But if a player, knowing he’s dead meat, lights out for second base instead and gets thrown out – this is recorded as a caught stealing. Yes, it’s a dumb distinction. In theory, a player who is working on a long consecutive stolen-base streak would have that streak preserved if he dives back into first, but if he heads the other way and gets thrown out, that streak is over. It offers the perverse incentive for a player to not head for second and hope the opposition screws up the rundown, even though it may be his only shot at staying alive.

Anyway, of Podsednik’s 53 pickoffs, 17 were “pickoff caught stealings”, leaving 36 additional pickoffs – nine of those came last year. Add those 36 pickoffs to his 87 official caught stealings, and he’s actually made an out 123 times on the basepaths before the ball has even been put in play. If you count his pickoffs, his career 75.3% success rate on the bases drops to 68.4%; his 69.8% mark last season drops to 57.7%. That’s almost Buddy Bell territory.

By comparison, Carlos Beltran, in a career twice as long as Podsednik’s, has been picked off (not counting the pickoff caught stealings) just 17 times in his career. Pods got picked off more times last year (9) than Beltran has in the last seven seasons (8). (And just for fun, I looked up Chase Utley. Utley has been picked off twice in his entire career.)

My former colleague Dan Fox – now Director of Baseball Systems Development for the Pittsburgh Pirates – created a series of statistics to measure a player’s overall baserunning value. His statistic for basestealing, called (helpfully enough) Equivalent Stolen Base Runs, estimates that Podsednik cost the White Sox 2.1 runs relative to what would have happened if he had just kept his foot on the base on each pitch.

Granted, his speed helps in other ways, by allowing him to advance an extra base on singles and doubles, or to tag up and move up a base on medium-depth fly outs. Fox’s statistic to measure a player’s overall baserunning value – what we call Equivalent Baserunning Runs – credits Podsednik with 3.6 runs above the average baserunner in non-stolen base situations. So overall, he was worth 1.5 runs above average on the basepaths, ranking Podsednik 90th in the majors, right behind speedsters like Matt Tolbert and Omar Infante.

As a baserunner, Podsednik has more speed than wisdom, which limits the value of his legs. This is equally true on defense, where despite his speed, Podsednik ranks as an average outfielder at best. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) pegs Podsednik as being a slightly below-average outfielder last season, a well-below average outfielder in 2008, and an above-average outfielder in 2007; over the last three years he’s a total of 2.6 runs below average. For his career, not surprisingly, he’s more effective in left field (career UZR of +2.1) than in center field (UZR of -12.7).

Does Podsednik bring intangibles to the ballpark? I have no doubt that he does; it’s just that you have to sit near the players’ wives section to appreciate them. At least this time, unlike when the Royals signed Willie Bloomquist, Moore wasn’t kidding when he called Podsednik a proven winner.

Essentially, what the Royals have done is replace their incumbent centerfielder, who is comfortably below-average with the bat and slightly below-average with the glove, with a guy who is…comfortably below-average with the bat and slightly below-average with the glove. This isn’t progress; this is a hamster wheel.

So, to sum up: the Royals signed a free agent whose impact on the team’s win total is roughly the equivalent of a rounding error. Dayton Moore once again satisfies his fetish for players who are more one-dimensional than a character in a Dan Brown novel. Having already obtained the all-or-nothing slugger (Mike Jacobs), the firethrowing reliever (Kyle Farnsworth), and the gritty play-anywhere utility guy (Willie Bloomquist), he finally quenches his need for the speedy centerfielder. Cut the man some slack – it’s been over three years since he traded for Joey Gathright.

So yeah, I thought I’d really hate this deal. But in the end, I find it hard to get too worked up about this move, for the simple reason of cost. Maybe Moore is more devious than we give him credit for, but by giving out contracts like the ones he has for Jose Guillen, or Farnsworth, or Jason Kendall, he has raised the bar of expectations for Royals fans so high that when he guarantees Scott Podsednik 1.75 million dollars, my immediate reaction was, “That’s it? That’s less than I thought. Party!”

Counting his 2011 buyout, Podsednik will make $1.75 million in 2010, plus $250,000 in incentives. His 2011 club option calls for a base salary of $1.9 million with $300,000 in incentives. The option becomes a mutual one if Podsednik gets 525 plate appearances this year. This “mutual option” thing seems to be an idiosyncrasy of the Moore administration; I don’t mind them, but it does make the contracts a little confusing to the outsider. Based on what we know about Miguel Olivo’s contract, a mutual option means that either side can walk away from it, and given that by definition, any contract is likely to be unfavorable to one side or another, a mutual option is basically the same as no contract at all.

The key point, though, is that under no circumstances are the Royals obligated to bring Podsednik back in 2011 if they don’t want to. If he plays as I expect him to play in 2010, they won’t want to – but in that case, they’re out $2 million, tops. That’s one-third the guaranteed money given to Jason Kendall. Podsednik is guaranteed less money than Moore gave to HORACIO RAMIREZ last winter.

I agree with the consensus that the Royals should not have signed Podsednik, that they would be better off with Maier in center field and the money spent elsewhere. But the degree of vitriol over this move is surprising to me. There wasn’t a fraction of this much anger over the Ramirez signing. And while Podsednik is not significantly better than what the Royals already have, he does have value to a major league roster; if the Royals didn’t sign him, some other team would have given him a seven-figure contract. Ramirez was staring at a minor-league contract before the Royals rode to his rescue.

I understand that, particularly after the Kendall contract, we’ve all had enough of Moore’s free agent forays. I just think that we need to keep some perspective here. This wasn’t a good signing, but it’s not worth getting worked up over either.

The best case against the signing, I think, was made by Will McDonald, who makes the persuasive case that the signing of Podsednik represents a failure of imagination by the Royals’ front office, and ultimately is an indictment of the whole notion that the team excels at scouting.

When Moore was first hired, his first big free agent signing was Gil Meche, who the moment he donned a Royals’ uniform transformed from underachieving #3/#4 starter to solid #2 starter. A few days later the Royals plucked Joakim Soria out of the Rule 5 draft. The standard was set then: that the Royals were going to build a winning roster by finding players whose talent had yet to be unearthed.

But since that first winter, Moore and the Royals have completely abandoned this philosophy of grabbing players before their talent emerges, and instead paying for players after they’ve proven themselves, and hoping that their performance doesn’t decline. They threw $36 million at Jose Guillen at the very moment his bat started to slow down – Guillen’s the bizarro version of Meche. They’ve signed or traded for players on the wrong side of 27, like Jacobs and Coco Crisp and Farnsworth and Bloomquist, rather than trying to find younger, cheaper versions of those same players. They just gave $6 million to a player who was washed up three years ago. And now they’ve signed Podsednik.

I completely agree with Will that the Royals have become increasingly unimaginative and risk-averse during the Moore administration. But I don’t think the specific detail of signing Scott Podsednik to play center field fits this narrative. That’s because I think the Royals already have tried to use their scouting acumen to find an out-of-the-box solution to their center field issue. His name is Brian Anderson.

I’m probably even more surprised at the negativity surrounding the Anderson signing than the Podsednik one. Anderson signed a major-league contract for $700,000, or about 10 days’ worth of Jose Guillen, but a lot of Royals fans are furious about this. True, Anderson hasn’t hit a lick in the majors – his career line is .227/.290/.370. His defensive numbers suggest he’s an average centerfielder at best. And he turns 28 in March. Nevertheless, there’s a case to be made that there’s still a decent player trapped inside Anderson’s body, if only because so many teams seem interested in giving him another shot.

He has tools – he was first-round pick out of college by the White Sox – and he has a history of performance in the minors. In 2005, at age 23, Anderson hit .295/.360/.469 in Triple-A, numbers that projected him to become at least an average major league centerfielder in the years to come. For whatever reason, that hasn’t happened, and maybe it never will. But a player with present tools and past performance is a player worth taking a flyer on.

It’s a cliché to say that if the Red Sox trade for a player, then he must be worth acquiring – but, well, the Red Sox did trade for Anderson last summer. He played well for them in a very small sample size (21 plate appearances). They let him go this winter, but that’s because they’re the Red Sox – they can afford to pay for real solutions in the free agent market, and sure enough they signed Mike Cameron to play center field and moved Jacoby Ellsbury to left.

In a fair world, Anderson would have gotten an NRI instead of a major-league contract. But Royals fans, more than anyone else, should know this ain’t a fair world. If the Royals had to give him a guaranteed roster spot to avoid losing him to a more appealing team, so be it. He’s making $300,000 above the league minimum. We’ll get through it somehow.

This offseason started with the Royals trading Mark Teahen for Josh Fields and Chris Getz, and while I liked the deal at the time, I wanted to see how all the pieces fit together first. It’s January now, and the pieces are more jumbled than ever. Podsednik might play center field, or they might play him in left and move David DeJesus back to center field. Brian Anderson probably makes the roster, but what of Mitch Maier, who is out of options? Jose Guillen might play right field, or he might DH. If he plays DH, the defense improves dramatically, but Kila Ka’aihue won’t get a chance to play. On the other hand, we all know that Ka’aihue won’t play for the Royals if he’s the last hitter on Earth.

Does Callaspo play second base? Does Getz go back to Triple-A? Are the Royals really hinting that Alex Gordon might not play third base every day? Right now, only three position players have guaranteed jobs at a specific position – and two of them are named Jason Kendall and Yuniesky Betancourt.

The Royals have a bunch of questions to settle between now and Opening Day. Podsednik might be the answer to one of them, but he might also might raise more questions than he answers. But focusing on Podsednik distracts from what should be the real focus of Royals fans as much as the Royals’ front office – making the farm system the envy of baseball. Ultimately the only reason to be livid about his signing is if the money spent on Podsednik limits the money the Royals are spending on the farm system.

In the middle of writing this, I learned that the Royals are expected to sign Paul Carlixte, a Dominican shortstop with a questionable birth certificate but unquestioned tools, for about $1 million. For all of my many, many beefs with Dayton Moore, so long as he continues to make moves like this, I continue to have faith in the long-term direction of the Royals. No matter how muddled their short-term situation may be.

67 comments:

Hit on It said...

Bravo, sir.

Anonymous said...

Your getting soft, Rany.

Anonymous said...

Good to see some optimism again.

Mitch said...

The more I watch the Royals and what they are doing, I can almost see what Dayton Moore is doing. It seems the Royals' GM is stocking the team with career backup players, or platoon players.

With the smattering of signings and the one trade, several positions have had an influx of players and now sit at three deep, and some positions might even be four players deep. But, in a strange way, at least to me, it does make some sense. Unfortunately, it's not the "I believe in what you're doing" way, but a "I see what you're doing" kind of way.

The main focus of Loco-Dayton-Motion is to get the minor leagues built up and a major strength of the team. There's no need to go through the moves he's made here. We know them. But if you look at the free agent signings this past year or two for the major club, fans start getting the little angry twitch in the eye and start to growl.

But seriously, what options did the Royals have? Who was the best catcher on the market (including Buck and Olivo)? And after they lost out on Pudge, who could the Royals get? After Buck and Olivo were gone (which Royals fans wanted to happen for a long while), they have Brayan Pena and no one else until someone comes up from the minors... or they sign Jason Kendall.

Now about the stocking of platoon/backup players. It is clear Loco-Dayton-Motion isn't going to make 2010 competitive. It's still 2011 and beyond. The Royals look to be building a huge team for the future, and the signings of Brian Anderson, Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik and others give the Royals a lot of wiggle room in making trades further along and even into the season to acquire more prospects that are close. Trades probably won't land us A+ prospects, but could land us a few B+ ones that would fill the gaps the drafts and minor league free agent signings have left behind.

Imagine the Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox, Rangers, or Dodgers come calling for a player (Insert: Bloomquist, Callaspo, Anderson, Podsednik, Kendall, Guillen, Farnsworth, Tejeda, etc) who can fill in a spot on a team pushing for the playoffs but need that one extra piece. The Royals are becoming very flush with players that make minor news when they are traded, but can still demand a prospect in return. These prospects can be added to the team of Wil Myers, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery.. to go along with Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, Billy Butler... and it starts to really look like it could be a heavy, heavy team in the future.

I can see what he's doing, but doesn't mean I think it's the right thing to do.

Casper said...

Good post, Rany. However, if you're going to be all logical about things then I don't see how we can have a conversation. = )

Anonymous said...

I agree. The fervor over the Pods signing seems a overdone. It seems pretty clear Moore is taking a heavy risk, perhaps an irrational one, but if he puts up numbers close to last year, then it will have some value.

The understated move of the offseason seems to be his willingness to stockpile a dozen or so minor league arms with various degree of upside for the bullpen. Rather than overpaying for a live arm, Dayton has come full circle and decided to find guys that can pitch, not just throw. Out of the vast numbers of cheap pitchers, a few ought to put up decent seasons.

Our relief staff was atrocious last year, and improvement in that area, with everything else being the same, might net you ten wins (since a lot of those losses are really close games).

Anonymous said...

A couple things...

1. I don't think Betancourt has a guaranteed starting position if Mike Aviles is healthy at the start of the year. I don't currently know his status though.

2. GET OFF THE KILA BANDWAGON! You talk at length about one dimensional players, but then advocate that we give playing time to a one dimensional player! Other than one fluke season, Kila has no discernable value other than the ability to take a walk. That's all he's been able to do on a consistent basis.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a wait and see mode on Moore's moves this offseason. The negative outlook is easy to take, but there may be a positive way to look at some of these. Take the Pods signing for instance. If it means he is the starting CF and leadoff hitter and that DeJesus stays on the team and bats lower in the lineup, then it is bad. Pods can't play a decent CF and DeJesus has been an unmitigated disaster batting outside of the leadoff spot. However, if it means that DeJesus gets traded for a piece (or pieces) that fit into the 2011 contention plan, then this is actuall a very good move. Pods can play an average to above average LF, is a more traditional, if not better, leadoff hitter than DeJesus and saves us 2.5M+ this year in salary over DeJesus. This would leave us with a platoon of Maier/Anderson in CF which should be above average offensively and defensively for the position. That is the outcome that I am hoping for. Same story with the Getz trade. If it simply pushes Callaspo out of a starting job and reduces his at-bats then it is a disaster. However, if it means that Moore trades Callaspo for a piece (or pieces) that fit into the 2011 contention plan (as Getz will hopefully do) then it is a positive move. This one doesn't have the potential short-term cost savings of the Pods/DeJesus move, but it could still be a long-term positive (plus I'm not at all sold on Callaspo maintaining the power output he had last year, which would leave us with a slap-hitting, slow, poor-defense player with little trade value). So, I think we have to acknowledge, until proven otherwise, that Moore may have a grander plan that we aren't seeing yet and give him some benefit of the doubt. He's on his own with the Kendall signing though, even with my rose colored glasses on I can't figure out how to make that one look good.....

Anonymous said...

I like DDJ, and hate the Yankees, but wouldn't mind seeing him in LF in the Bronx if the return was good.

Casper said...

DDJ is from the Bronx, right? And his salary is about what they have left in the budget, if I remember correctly. And they need a LFer. Hmm...DDJ to the Bronx makes too much sense to ignore (if I'm the Yankee's).

It's times like these where I hope the next collective bargaining agreement allows for teams to trade draft picks like in the NFL. Maybe we don't get much for DDJ straight up in a deal this year, but maybe we get a 2nd rounder thrown into the mix (if it were allowable).

Eric said...

Is is possible that behind the scenes the low-revenue teams are all getting the business from the Commissioner's office regarding the use of luxury tax money? Florida was just publicly chided but perhaps there's been an ongoing dialogue. That might explain some things. Stay with me here...

1. Like any club, the Royals have to field a full team every day with all positions represented

2. The organizational focus is building a young core via the draft etc, which is relatively inexpensive in the short term and won't yield major-league ready players for a few years yet.

3. Getting players to come to KC to play after so many years of losing is difficult.

4. For perception reasons, a certain amount needs to be spent on major league payroll.

These things could potentially lead to signing a bunch of "proven veteran" types at over-market prices to fill out the roster for a couple of years while the focus is really on building a young core. That is admittedly a LONG way to go in explaining these moves and perhaps gives Dayton Moore WAY too much credit. But there does seem to be some internal consistency to the line of reasoning, especially in light of the item re: the Marlins from yesterday.

Just a thought...carry on...

steak said...

"Does Podsednik bring intangibles to the ballpark? I have no doubt that he does; it’s just that you have to sit near the players’ wives section to appreciate them."

Rany has jokes.

Anonymous said...

Eric is 100% correct.
These people are not idiots, despite what you guys want to believe. I would rather see us go after college hitters instead of high school hitters (Smoak instead of Hosmer), but other than that, The Process is crystal clear. Field a team until the young guys are ready to play. This is when we can truly judge how effective DM is. If these guys come up and arent very good, then we can complain, but until then its pointless.

Anonymous said...

Or if they flame out in the minors, we can complain then too.

Fast Eddie said...

Ned Yost, next Royals manager.

Anonymous said...

Rany: Where were you when I was getting ripped to shreds in the comments at Royals Review for defending Moore on a few points, particularly this Podsednik signing? Like you, it's not that I see this as a GREAT move, but rather just not worthy of the vitriol. Yes, I'm an optimistic fan, but I'm not completely blind to Moore's failings. Anyway, the negativity at RR recently has been killing me. The problem is that there aren't a lot of active fan forums for our lousy team. - timlacy

Anonymous said...

And I agree wholeheartedly with Eric's 11:35 AM comment. - timlacy

Bannister19 said...

Finally, someone who more understands the point of this signing (compared to Passan or Posnaski?). Like you said, his value is driven by his Batting Avg (and I may add, his OBP). However, this was a very inexpensive signing from a player in which, for 3 of his 5 full seasons, has hit for a 350 OBP or higher. It would have been easy to predict him to be a choice due to the fact that he's inexpensive and has a good upside, and always has the speed.

It a cheap hitter who does not have horrible defense (AVG or just Below AVG), who can produce at stages the Royals haven't had in a LONG time. (His 350 OBP would've placed him 3rd, just behind Callapso and Butler)

If you look at his overall, he's no different than Alberto Callapso. Both don't have good defense. Both can hit similarly. Both have little power (to Alberto's credit, he did hit 11 last year, though if you remember before he hit his first one, he led the majors at the time for most ABs without a HR in a career).

The best upside for Callapso is that he does have some gap power (he would've hit more out of Kauffman), and he's younger. But Callapo's negatives (His HORRIBLE defense, and his Speed, which turns him from a solid hitter into a slow Double Play machine when he's on base or when he's hitting) are just as bad as Podsednick.

Anonymous said...

A few things from a White Sox fan:
Pods was picked off 3rd once, yes third.

His defense is worse: Carl Crawford this season hit what should have been an out and Pods jumped up on the fence while the ball hit him below the knee, leading to an inside the park job. There are plenty of plays where he gets the worst jump possible and either gets there because of his speed or it drops in on what should be routine plays. he also has the distinciton of helping the Pale Hose lose a game when he misjudged a flyball and had it hit him in the head for a game winner that was graciously scored a double instead of a homer, iirc.

Ben F (sagehenMcG47) said...

Agreed that it's money wasted on Podsednik, but I think you're understating the negative effect of his taking a lineup spot from a younger, developing player (not necessarily Maier). We all know one of the keys to succeeding in a small market is discovering hidden gems, and with Podsednik on-board we don't even get to LOOK for hidden gems.

Anonymous said...

You have a really lousy attitude Rany. I don't read your garbage usually and won't again any time soon...but had to stop by and tell you you're not as good as you think.

Ryan said...

Why is Mitch Maier worth a roster spot? I don't see why he doesn't get DFA in March.

Anonymous said...

If I was a national league team (that would be weird) I'd be glad to have Maier as a 4th OF. But then again, I feel like we collect players that would thrive in the other league (Teahen comes to mind).

Anonymous said...

yawwwwwwwwn. i thought you were taking a break from all this rany? maybe you should go back to that break. i love your analysis, but the stat geek part is VERY boring. who the hell knows or cares what a ZIPS is? your article was laced with stats that are pretty much mind-boggling, and that gets old. i doubt hank aaron, willie mays, pete rose, catfish hunter, jim palmer, george brett, don mattingly or nolan ryan really care anything about a ZIPS or any of these other stats.

they were great, and that's all that matters. your over-analysis is just yet another thing that is turning many fans away from baseball, and other sports as well.

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn ....

konza847 said...

This signing was not the end of the world, but:

Moore stated when he made the Teahen trade that all of his moves this winter would be with the goal of stockpiling 0-3 service time players, and then he signs Kendall and Podsednik to over market deals

If Mitch Maier were to get 500 ABs and produce like his projections, he might have some value- either to the Royals or to someone else in a trade. Now we probably won't find out.

If the point is simply to put a team on the field while the organization is restocked from the bottom, I have no problem with that, but paying way too much for mediocrities like Guillen, Betancourt, Farnsworth, Kendall, and now Podsednik is giving the fan base very little to be optimistic (and loyal) about.

rebmoti said...

The reason people didn't freak out about HoRam last year is that it happened before the Dayton-only-signs-bad-free-agents trend became clear. Benefits of the doubt once were given, but no longer.

jonfmorse said...

Rany, I'm surprised to see you so dismissive of Mitch here. Not that I'm expecting him to burst into stardom or anything, but he seemed to be developing in the second half.

And I'm not just talking about looking at his splits, because as we know that's not particularly predictive (although it is somewhat moreso for a player with his experience). I'm saying he looked better. His swing seemed to be stabilizing, he seemed to be getting fooled less... you know, the sort of things you look for a guy who's not already a can't miss prospect to be doing after he's accumulated about a full season's worth of MLB at-bats.

And that's why the Podsednik signing infuriates me so much. You've got a former first-round pick who's serviceable as is and is cheap, and who might be on the cusp of actually being useful... and you go get a guy who's no better and pay him four times as much.

I also think it's funny that you reference RR here, then talk about how it seems like there's more uproar about the Anderson signing than the Podsednik one. Our collective opinion over at RR was exactly the opposite; Podsednik bad, Anderson meh.

tookee said...

Really appreciate your thoughts here, Rany. I couldn't agree with you more regarding direction and strategy. They're doing the right things with the draft and int'l signings. The team has realize correctly that it's wiser and cheaper to lock up young talent. But they are blind when it comes to the major league roster -- and I wonder if this continued ineptitude has concretized the franchise as a pit that no player would want to sign with. I send this with encouragement that you will continue to post (I'd read you even if it weren't the Royals), but understand that there are more important things than the cobwebs in DM's skull.

Dan said...

I still hate the fact that we have Yuniesky as our SS. I never understood that trade!!

MGabe said...

Well-written. You're presenting well-supported opinions with oodles of facts, and you have a great way of contrasting things ("That's about 10 days worth of Jose Guillen"). Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Until Dayton Moore doesnt piss on himself with every free agent move, then maybe, people will stop freaking out about every signing. But since signing Meche, Dayton Moore has been the worst surveyor of free agent talent since the first baseball was thrown, hundereds of years ago.

As for the Betancourt trade....worst Non Baird trade in the history of baseball. Absolutely franchise killing trade. Not for what was given up, but for the fact that for the next 3-4 years the Royals will have the worst SS in the game. Berroa, TPJ, now Betancourt. What Baseball God did the Royals piss off?

Anonymous said...

Wow. The anger at this deal makes me laugh. All because it takes playing time away from Mitch freaking Maier?? If anyone thinks that guy is even serviceable as an every day centerfielder, you are much dumber than DM!

Don't get me wrong, unless Podsednik does something relatively close to what he did last year with the bat, he's not serviceable either. I just agree that it's nothing to get worked up over.

Anonymous said...

>> I don't think Betancourt has a guaranteed starting position if Mike Aviles is healthy at the start of the year. I don't currently know his status though.>>

Aviles probably won't be back for the start of the season, June-ish is what I hear. But, yeah, I don't think anyone expects Yuni to have an everyday starting position all season.

Maier= Costa with maybe a little less power. Over the course of the season some outfielder will go on the DL and it's good to have guys like either of those two in the system. That's sorta the purpose behind a AAA team. But it's not like Pod. is holding any prospect back.

Do the Royals overpay fee agents? Probably, but so for they haven’t' tried to have their salaries deducted from my paycheck, so I find it hard to be bothered very much by what they earn.

>>GET OFF THE KILA BANDWAGON!>>

Agreed n- The same people who keep calling for Kila to be the savior for the team are the same guys who had a hard on for Calvin Pickering a few years back.

>>"Does Podsednik bring intangibles to the ballpark? I have no doubt that he does;>>

You’re able to judge the intangibles someone bring to a ballpark when you were only at one game last season? Wow!

>>As for the Betancourt trade....worst Non Baird trade in the history of baseball.>>


Try googling the name Ernie Broglio someday.

And since the trade for Yuni. Cortez went 1-5 with an ERA hovering right around 5 in AA.

Anonymous said...

I think a DeJesus trade is coming now.....maybe in a package with Callaspo.

Dave said...

I can see Maier getting DFA'd and the Royals picking up Brandon Jones from Atlanta who was recently DFA'd himself.

Casper said...

Anonymous @ 4:13am:

">>"Does Podsednik bring intangibles to the ballpark? I have no doubt that he does;>>
You’re able to judge the intangibles someone bring to a ballpark when you were only at one game last season? Wow!"

Lot's of games are on TV. Rany also lives in Chicago (little factoid for ya: The White Sox PLAY in Chicago!! I know, right??!! It's crazy!)

Casper said...

Also - Podsednik wasn't on the Royals roster last year. Rany - or anyone else - only going to one game doesn't make a bit of difference in the context you present.

kckid said...

OK, so we have three guys who are penciled in the lineup: Butler, Yunieski, and Kendall. That's a start. I'd like to see a very serious discussion about putting Callaspo in the 7-8 hole as the DH. He hits for average, he walks (52), doesn't K much (51), hits a lot of doubles in our big ball park (41), and switch hits which is avery undervalued asset late in the game when into the other team's BP.
He's cheap and still pretty young. He can also back-up at 3-4 positions. Seems like the most valueable guy we have.

Anonymous said...

previous Anon - You seem to have missed the fact the Rany was talking about Pods' smokin hot wife.

Anonymous said...

Pods-LF
DeJesus-CF
Butler-1B
Guillen-RF
Gordon-3B
Callaspo-DH
Kendall/Pena-C
Yuni-SS
Getz-2B

or

DeJesus
Aviles
Callaspo
Butler
Gordon
Guillen
Kendall
Getz
Podsednik

Ben F (sagehenMcG47) said...

"Mitch Maier" is a concept representing three things in this scenario.
First, he's at worst a cheap stand-in who's probably decent, which is preferable to a more expensive stand-in who's probably decent.
Second, he may have not realized his full potential, and the only way to find out his ceiling is to play him more, and if Pods is in CF, Maier won't get to play (statement retracted if Pods ends up playing LF or Maier is in RF). All else equal, it's preferable to play a player with upside than a player without upside.
Third, in this argument Maier also represents the IDEA of a younger player with upside who should be playing instead of an older, more expensive player with no upside. The player may not specifically be Maier; there are other non-Podsenik options out there that don't involve paying over-the-hill stand-ins while adding nothing to the team's future.
So at least when I say "Maier is a better option", in this case I'm talking about the concept, not just a specific player and a specific position.

Casper said...

"Does Podsednik bring intangibles to the ballpark? I have no doubt that he does; it’s just that you have to sit near the players’ wives section to appreciate them."

So I didn't get this line until just now. Anyone else that didn't get it at first, there's a pic of Mrs. Pod's over at www.firedayton.com. Lord have mercy, her and Mrs. Greinke sitting together in the players wives section?? Holy. Crap.

Casper said...

Sorry, it's firedayton.blogspot.com... my bad...

Still waiting for next year said...

A couple of thoughts:
1. Totally agree with Rany's thoughts on the Podsednik. It isn't an improvement, but it isn't a ton of money and it doesn't hamper the team beyond this year, so who cares.
2. I believe that GMDM made the Teahan trade with the intention of making additional trades. I suspect that he found out that he couldn't get fair trade value in return, in which case I'm glad he didn't trade them. The hope is that in 2011 and beyond we will be in a situation where a good trade could get us to the playoffs, which means it is imperative that the Royals front office maintains a reputation as a team you can't take advantage of in trade negotiations.
3. Am I the only one concerned about the fact that Olivo caught most of Greike's games last year. Those two had some serious chemistry working. If we had upgraded the position or saved money I would at least understand GMDM's reasoning (even if I didn't agree with it).

Anonymous said...

The problem is all things are not equal. Maier is nowhere as good a player as Podsednik.

And I would watch any video with Mrs. Podsednik and Mrs. Greinke. Someone needs to make this happen...

Anonymous said...

Maier's career batting line-.249/.328/.324

Podsednik's career line-.277/.340/.381

Podsednik is not great, but he's still clearly an improvement over Maier.

Anonymous said...

but: podsednik is likely well into his decline phase and should not be expected to duplicate his career averages nor be as fleet-of-foot as his reputation, which was built in younger days. maier on the other hand, should continue to improve some degree for a few more years, and at a lower salary. not going to keep us from winning the pennant, though.

Anonymous said...

If Podsednik was declining, why did he have one of his best years last year? His style of play is one that doesn't decline as quickly. He doesn't rely on power, but rather slap hitting and speed.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure pick-offs are scored as CS...at least they are in a MLB video game I play. Pods' baserunning isn't very good, but I don't think he got caught at 2nd AND picked off that many times.

Dave said...

It's a caught stealing if the pitcher throws to first and the runner breaks for 2nd. It's a pickoff if the runner dives back into first.

PJM said...

It just wouldn't be a Rany column if he wasn't whining. Rany is predictable.

Chris said...

PJM-

Can you tell me just what things Rany should be trumpeting? As a major league team we've been a laughingstock for quite a long time. Rany is just telling it as it is. I want truth, not sunshine pumpers.

Anonymous said...

maybe between now and spring training DM will focus on IMPROVING the roster. oh wait, never mind, maybe we will try in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Lets take a look at the Royals two biggest major league roster additions (Arguelles and Carlixte are probably the two biggest additions overall by the organization), and see if they improved over what they had.

First, lets look at Kendall vs. Olivo.

Offensively, I would say that we downgraded here, but not by much. Olivo's OPS last year (a career year, mind you) was .781 (first time his OPS+ was over 100 in his career, too, at 103) Kendall's was .636. Kendall gives you more OBP, but doesn't come close to replacing Olivo's power.

Defensively, last year Kendall had 4 passed balls and caught 20% of would be basestealers. Olivo had 10 passed balls and caught 28%. Defensively, I'd almost say it's a wash. So we've definitely downgraded at the catching position.

Centerfield is next. Podsednik vs. Maier.

Offensively, there is no doubt Podsednik is the better player. Even in his worst season, his batting average was the .243 that Maier put up in his first extended playing time last year. If we get his career average batting line of .277/.340/.381 from Podsednik, that's better than anything Maier could do. Add on the speed factor, and that makes him that much better.

Defensively, Podsednik graded out to an average centerfielder last year (RF of 2.68 compared to league average of 2.73). Maier was slightly better, at 2.90. Niether will win a Gold Glove anytime soon though.

So, basically, we've upgraded slightly at one position, downgraded at another. The Teahen trade, I believe, was a good one for us though, so I think, all in all, we'll be about the same next year as we were this year.....which kinda sucks.

keith jersey said...

Following on anonymous' evaluations, none of this teams offseason moves have significantly made them better or worse than last year. The Betancourt signing may not have helped but we otherwise would be starting the year with Bloomquist at short so its hard to tell.

The big difference this year will be Alex Gordon. The guy is just turning 26 and he can play. Outside of the horrible start his rookie year and the injury last year, he has shown flashes. I think this is the year he puts it together and then we have 2 legitimate middle of the order hitters for the first time since sweeney and beltran manned the spots a decade ago.

If Meche stays healthy and Hochevar improves at all, starting pitching will be improved. And there cant be any way the bullpen is as bad as last year right? Ok so I am not as confident about that last point but I am hopeful they find some solutions in triple A to get a few outs in the 7th and 8th inning.

Chuck said...

Ehh. True enough that the Podsednik deal probably doesn't merit the general level of vitriol it has gotten, but it's nothing to get happy about either. Ben F. addressed the reasons Maier/Anderson was probably a better idea (spend that money elsewhere and probably not lose enough production to cry over). But I am intrigued by the notion of trading DDJ. I don't like it, mind you (he is one of few reasonably solid assets in the lineup), but I am intrigued. You have to wonder if he will ever have more trade value than he does now.
As horrifying as it sounds from a Royals-follower perspective, DDJ in the Yankees lineup isn't so farfetched. Trouble is, the Yankees don't really need to do that trade; they can actually afford to trot Brett Gardner out there daily and still crush most pitching staffs they'll face. So I'm not sure that's the best place to get a decent return if trading DDJ is really on the table.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no way the Royals can be worse than last year.

Also, I like how people say we should have spent the Pods money somewhere else. You know he signed for less than 2 mil, right? What exactly would you have rather spent that huge chunk of money on?

Anonymous said...

Ankiel??? Hopefully wheeling and dealing still to come.

Anonymous said...

There has got to be something brewing. Callaspo or DeJesus or both. There is a serious logjam at multiple positions.

Anonymous said...

It's Mike Jacobs in the OF! Same money, same side of the plate, similar skill set (low average, big swing)... different position. Jacobs for Ankiel = good swap.

Shelby said...

Rany, please sort this Ankiel business out for us.

ESPN is saying that our OF projects to be Podsednik in left, Ankiel in center, and DeJesus in right. To me, that sounds 100% ludicrous.

I think it must be true that Callaspo or DeJesus or Guillen are going to be traded....there really isn't any other explanation.

Jason Dixon said...

I think Ankiel is going to end up in RF. Great analysis of the Podsednik signing, though. It's not a killer, but it doesn't really improve the team, either. Given his age and his recent history, the odds of him having a similar year to last year's excellent season are iffy at best. Rany makes very interesting points about Podsedniks propensity for getting picked off. Eyebrow raising. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Dayton Moore should hang himself!

Anonymous said...

We must have set some sort of record in the offseason by signing 3 free agent centerfielders. At least we have improved our outfield defense.

Anonymous said...

so, no one would sign barry bonds for the minimum (allegedly), but we are glad to pay $40 for 4 combined seasons of ankiel and guillen? wow. oh, and juan gonzalez and benito santiago.

Wabbitkiller said...

Umm, Barroid is 43 years old and has a bad knee. He's DONE. Nevermind the fact that he's a CANCER, and his baggage isn't worth the trouble. Why idiots continue to bring up his name is beyond me.

Readirty said...

Barry Bonds would be a hilarious signing. Let's see if Sammy Sosa wants to come on board as well, and maybe Clemens. Instead of "believe", the Royals could have shirts and billboards that say, "2010 Roid Reunion"