Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deadline Decisions.

As most of you have noticed, this season has been rather therapeutic for me as a fan of the Kansas City Royals. By the end of the 2009 season, my relationship with the team had become, frankly, toxic. I’m in a much better place now, to the point where I think that many of my fellow Royals bloggers are needlessly pessimistic about the future of the franchise. I like a good Dayton Moore joke as much as anyone, but I almost wonder if there’s some sort of time warp going on here, where people continue to judge Moore as if the last six months never happened.

Moore gets hammered, and deservedly so, for moves like the Betancourt trade and the Kendall signing – but is only grudgingly given his due, if at all, for the fact that the farm system overfloweth. As Kevin Goldstein rhetorically asked after Chris Dwyer’s last start for Wilmington – 6 innings, no runs, 9 strikeouts, and a promotion to Double-A after the game: “Seriously, is any system having as good a year as the Royals? Is there anyone even close?”

So I’ve climbed back on the Moore train, and plan to stay on board until we see what happens with the most impressive collection of minor league talent the organization has had in at least 15 years. That doesn’t mean that my criticisms of Moore will suddenly abate. In a way, the evaluation of Moore only really starts now.

This month, in fact, may be the most important month of Moore’s tenure to date. This is the month when we’ll find out whether Moore is truly serious about trusting the future of the Royals to the kids, or whether he’s going to continue to follow the safe, CYA route of employing proven veterans until they’re pried from his cold, dead hands.

In Moore’s first July as a GM, he was a trading dervish. He got the proceedings off to an early start, moving J.P. Howell to Tampa Bay for Joey Gathright on June 20th. He then moved Ruben Gotay for Jeff Keppinger (July 19th), Mike MacDougal for Daniel Cortes and Tyler Lumsden (July 24th), Elmer Dessens for Odalis Perez, Blake Johnson, and Julio Pimental (July 25th), Tony Graffanino for Jorge de la Rosa (July 25th), and on deadline day he traded Matt Stairs for Joselo Diaz, and Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista for Ryan Shealy.

Not all these trades worked out – actually, in aggregate the Royals probably lost more talent than they acquired – but the point was that Moore saw an opportunity to overhaul his roster, and took it. We can only hope he’ll be similarly active this season.

Moore hasn’t been active at the deadline since. In 2007, his only July trades were to acquire the infamous Roman Colon for a minor leaguer, and to trade Octavio Dotel (a no-brainer) for Kyle Davies. In 2008, the Royals did not make a single July trade, although they did pass Horacio Ramirez through waivers in August and then traded him to the White Sox for Paulo Orlando. (And they plucked Robinson Tejeda off waivers from the Rangers in June.) And last year, the only trade Moore made in July was…the acquisition of Betancourt. But hey, he also paid cash to acquire Ryan Freel and Josh Anderson, so it’s all good.

The Royals can’t afford that kind of passivity this season. Not when their window of opportunity looks like it might open a crack next season, and then be thrown completely open in 2012. Not when they’ve got at least a half-dozen players who will attract some kind of interest on the trade market. And not when they’ve got replacements ready to step in, all of whom figure to be better than the guy they’re replacing in a year or two, and some of whom are better than the guy they’ll be replacing right now.

This last point is crucial, because the unfortunate by-product of the Royals’ current 8-3 stretch is that some people are actually suggesting that the Royals are still in contention this season. Me, I prefer for my team to be playing better than .452 baseball before I think about contending. I’m a purist like that.

It’s one thing for Ned Yost to argue that the Royals aren’t out of it. He’s the manager; if he can’t make the case that his team isn’t out of it, he’s not doing his job. It’s another thing when our old friend Jeff Flanagan argues that the Royals can’t afford to trade Jose Guillen because they’re in the race. Come on, Jeff. You’re better than this.

“Try and visualize the lineup right now without Guillen – replace him with Mitch Maier or Willie Bloomquist. Seriously, how does that look?”

As a courtesy to Flanagan, I won’t make a list of the six different reasons why this is a ridiculous argument.

As I write this, the argument for what to do with Guillen may have become a moot point, as in his last at-bat against the Mariners last night he pulled up lame while running to first base. We’ve been told that it was a quadriceps injury, and that he’s “day-to-day” – which, given Guillen’s history, seems incredibly optimistic.

This significantly impacts the Royals’ ability to trade him, obviously. But even if Guillen is out for an extended period of time, it’s unlikely to have a huge impact on the Royals in the long term. The Royals were never going to get more than a marginal prospect for him. The main value of trading Guillen was always to open up the lineup spot to a younger, more deserving player – if he’s on the DL for a while, that spot will open up anyway.

(Okay, the main value of trading him was simply to unload his salary – he’s owed nearly $6 million the rest of the season, which is to say, more than the Royals are likely to shell out for all of their draft picks this year. But I’m not sure the Royals would have been able to get another team to pick up a large fraction of his salary.)

The injury to Guillen, though, only hammers home the point that it’s better to move these guys a few weeks early than one day late. So let’s look at all the players the Royals might be tempted to trade this month – which is over half the roster – and see what they can get.

Player: Kyle Farnsworth

Outstanding salary: $2.25 million* + $500,000 buyout.

*: The season is at roughly the halfway point, so I’m simply dividing each player’s salary by two.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 80%.

Quick – who leads the Royals in ERA? Here’s a clue – it’s the same guy who leads the team in WHIP. Here’s another clue: it’s the last guy you would have guessed before the season began.

Farnsworth’s 2.04 ERA and 1.047 WHIP in 35 innings don’t justify his two-year, $9 million contract, but they do explain why the Royals thought he’d be worth the money. The dude still throws in the upper 90s, after all. There are always teams looking for bullpen help at the trading deadline, and Farnsworth’s contract situation is very favorable.

Farnsworth has allowed just three runs in his last 26 innings, and just as impressive as his performance is the fact that he’s maintained it even as the Royals have slowly ramped up his responsibilities. He started the season pitching the same garbage relief that he was relegated to last season. He then started pitching in games where the Royals had a large lead, then games where the Royals only trailed by a run, and now he’s pitching in tie games in the ninth inning, as he did Monday night. The old Farnsworth would have given up the walk-off homer on his second pitch – as he did last year. The new Farnsworth pitched a tidy one-two-three inning and got the win. Evidently Farnsworth is relying more on a two-seamer and a changeup this year. This makes some sense - as hard as he throws, his four-seamer never had much movement, and his two-seamer is still plenty fast.

It’s hard to believe that the Royals would keep Farnsworth, given that he’s gone after the season, and that he’s likely to have multiple suitors. Stranger things have happened, but the odds are pretty good that he’ll be moved soon.

Possible suitors: The Angels are still in the race, and have a pretty dreadful bullpen, a rarity under Mike Scioscia. The Red Sox are also pretty thin behind Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard. And the Reds are clinging to first place despite a bullpen without a single reliable right-handed reliever.

What the Royals should expect in return: Let’s not lose our heads here: he’s still Kyle Farnsworth. A single B-grade prospect would be a steal. More likely, the Royals are likely to get a guy who grades out as a future utility-player/good fourth-outfielder/bullpen arm.

Who replaces him: The Royals have a ton of relief prospects, but they could all still benefit from a little more development. If and when Hochevar or Meche returns, they’ll slip into the rotation and either Bruce Chen or Anthony Lerew will take Farnsworth’s role. Otherwise we might see another audition for Brian Bullington or Philip Humber.

Player: Scott Podsednik

Outstanding salary: $825,000

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 65%

If you want to be charitable towards the Royals, you can make the case that they signed Podsednik with the intention of dealing him at the deadline all along. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished: Podsednik is having a classic Podsednik season, batting .301/.348/.370. It’s a completely singles-driven profile; Pods has hit FIVE doubles all season, which is ridiculous for someone who has the speed to make a double out of a single once a month. Still, he’s hitting for average, and stealing bases (24 of 34 so far), and his defense in left field hasn’t been a complete disaster.

Best of all, he’s doing this in a season in which offense is suddenly down all around baseball, making otherwise-rational teams think that they now need an infusion of speed and little ball to win in this brave new world. I see no need to disabuse these teams of this notion. Podsednik’s low salary might make him particularly appealing to teams with financial constraints.

Possible suitors: Left fielders for the San Diego Padres are hitting a combined .193/.289/.279. Throw in the fact that Podsednik is a perfect fit for that ballpark, and I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t seen a trade already. Melky Cabrera has been so disappointing in Atlanta that they’ve been forced to play Eric Hinske out there.

What the Royals should expect in return: Again, we (and the Royals) need to keep our expectations in check. As an everyday player, Pods is likely to fetch more than Farnsworth, but only a little more. I’d be happy with someone who would rank as the 15th-best prospect in the organization – which, given the state of the farm system, would actually be a half-decent prospect.

Who replaces him: Alex Gordon, assuming he’s eligible for parole.

Player: David DeJesus

Outstanding salary: $2.3 million this year, $6 million next year or $500,000 buyout.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 55%

The big fish in the Royals’ pond, DeJesus is having the best season of his underrated career. He’s hitting .329/.397/.466, adapted to his third outfield position in the last three years flawlessly, is under a very reasonable contract, and has a very enticing option for next season. He’s also almost a certainty to be a Type B free agent, and possibly a Type A free agent, either this year or next.

The draft pick compensation is a huge part of his trade value. Twenty years ago, teams would give up impending free agents without any recognition of the value those players would have in terms of draft picks. Things are different today. Three years ago, the Red Sox gave up three players for a half-season of Eric Gagne, in large part because they valued the draft pick that Gagne was expected to give them. (Gagne then pitched so badly for the Sox that he dropped out of the Type B rankings completely.)

DeJesus’ situation is interesting because there’s a good chance he’ll be a Type A free agent this winter – but if his option is picked up, he’ll probably be a Type A free agent next winter as well. The Elias rankings are based on a player’s performance over the past two seasons, so DeJesus’ numbers this year will count towards his free agent status both times. Basically, as long as DeJesus hits as well in 2011 as he did in 2009, he’ll have the same Free Agent status both times.

The Royals have three options with DeJesus:

1) Trade him.

2) Decline his option, offer arbitration, then collect two draft picks when he signs elsewhere this winter.

3) Exercise his option, then decide between 1) and 2) against next year.

From where I sit, declining DeJesus’ option would be foolish – a player of his caliber is a bargain on a one-year, $6 million deal. The only downside is the risk that he gets hurt or somehow plays so poorly in 2011 that the draft picks you would have gotten this winter dry up.

The Royals might justifiably say that they’d rather have the draft picks in hand, given that they’re odds of contending in 2011 aren’t that great even with DeJesus. But for a team that’s in a win-now mode, DeJesus’ option is awfully enticing. Which is to say, DeJesus probably has more valuable to another team than he does with the Royals.

So the incentive is there for a deal to be made. The question is whether a contender is willing to give up the talent it will take to get DeJesus and the two draft picks.

Possible suitors: Since DeJesus can play all three outfield positions competently, any team with an outfield need is a potential destination. The same teams that would want Podsednik would want DeJesus even more; the Braves, in particular, have the farm system talent to get a deal done. The Red Sox don’t know what they can expect from Jacoby Ellsbury or Mike Cameron, and J.D. Drew hasn’t even had his annual injury yet. If the Rays are as fed up with B.J. Upton as they appear, then Tampa becomes an option. A sleeper team might be the Giants, if they decide to go all-in for this season.

What the Royals should expect in return: A lot. A lot, or they shouldn’t do the deal. Let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t trade DeJesus for the package that the Phillies got for Cliff Lee (J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont, and Tyson Gillies). Granted, that’s more a reflection of Ruben Amaro’s incompetence than anything else. But DeJesus should be able to command the standard three-prospect package of a Grade B+, a Grade B-, and a Grade C prospect. Think of this as a do-over on the Carlos Beltran trade.

(Going on a tangent for a moment, but I think we can add Ruben Amaro to that list of General Managers who I’d rank behind Dayton Moore. Amaro gave Raul Ibanez that three-year deal that looked like a steal for one month, and an albatross ever since. He was given a huge gift when Roy Halladay agreed to a contract extension before trading for him, and then screwed everything up by giving away Lee for pennies. He gave Ryan Howard a ridiculous contract extension at the exact moment before his value went south. And the Phillies are barely over .500, in third place, and in danger of squandering the final peak years of some Hall of Fame-caliber players.)

Who replaces him: Gordon, but if the Royals manage to trade DeJesus and Podsednik, they have some decisions to make in at least one corner outfield spot. They could audition Jordan Parraz or David Lough out there. There’s also a good chance that DeJesus’ replacement in right field will be one of the players coming back in a trade.

Player: Willie Bloomquist

Outstanding salary: $850,000.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 40%

A year after Bloomquist had a career-high 434 at-bats, the Royals have found a way to minimize his contributions – he has only 74 at-bats in half a season. The prescription for Bloomquist always said that for best results, take him in small doses. For as much flak as his signing received, our issue was was always more about what he represented than Bloomquist himself.

Since joining the Royals, Bloomquist has 508 at-bats and 167 games, basically a full season’s worth, and has hit .262/.305/.360, along with 30 steals in 39 attempts. That’s not a starting player, but as a utility player those numbers are perfectly acceptable. His salary of $1.4 million last year, $1.7 million this year is not ridiculous. What was ridiculous was that he was practically a full-time player last year. This year, his opportunities to hurt the ballclub have been limited.

One of the reasons why Bloomquist’s playing time has been curtailed of late has been the surprise performance from Wilson Betemit, who is hitting a frankly ridiculous .386/.438/.773 since he was called up. In 44 at-bats, he has hit four homers, which 1) ranks sixth on the team, and 2) is as many homers as Jason Kendall has hit since the start of the 2008 season.

Betemit isn’t anywhere near this kind of hitter, but there’s every reason to think that he can be a significant contributor to the Royals going forward. Betemit, like another ex-Braves retread in Bruce Chen, was a top prospect once upon a time. Betemit was signed by the Braves when he was 14 years old – no, seriously, 14. When his real age came to light years later, the Braves were disciplined – I believe they were banned from signing international players for six months – and they got off easy. Betemit is one of the few guys in baseball today who debuted in the majors as a teenager, in 2001. That off-season, Betemit was ranked the #9 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. As a 19-year-old, he had just hit .355/.394/.514 in a six-week stint in Double-A.

He didn’t stick in the majors until 2005, when he was 23, but hit a very respectable .305/.359/.435 as a rookie. He never developed after that point, and was traded in 2006, 2007, and 2008. He signed as a minor-league free agent with the Royals this winter.

The thing is, while he never developed into a star, Betemit really hasn’t played all that badly either. His career line in the majors is .263/.328/.445, and aside from a 45 at-bat audition with the White Sox last year, he’s always been at least adequate in the majors. He’s only 28 years old, and much like the player who essentially replaced him in Atlanta, Omar Infante (that would be All-Star Omar Infante to you, buddy), while Betemit’s dream of being an everyday player may be over, he should have a long and successful career as a super-utility player ahead.

Betemit can do most of the things Bloomquist does, but Bloomquist can do only some of things Betemit does. Both of them can play multiple positions, but Betemit also has the advantage of being a switch-hitter. Bloomquist’s biggest advantage in the field is that he can play all three outfield positions, whereas Betemit has never started a game in the outfield. On the other hand, given his bat, Bloomquist’s ability to play the outfield may actually be a detriment, because it tempts teams into playing him out there.

Betemit has made at least 16 starts at all four infield positions, and started at both shortstop and second base for the Yankees in 2008. He’s not the most graceful defender in the middle infielder, but then he more than makes up for it with the bat. Offensively, it’s no comparison. Bloomquist has a massive edge in speed; Betemit has a massive edge in plate discipline and power.

The problem with Betemit is that he doesn’t have the look of a utility infielder. Utility infielders are supposed to be scrappy, scrawny, speedy guys who don’t hit much – they’re supposed to look like Willie Bloomquist. Betemit doesn’t. But given our manager and general manager’s background with Atlanta, the fact that the Braves are thriving with Infante in that utility role lends hope that the Royals may feel comfortable doing the same with Betemit. Which makes Bloomquist, whose Swiss Army Knife package is appealing to some contenders, expendable.

Possible Suitors: The Red Sox, who are missing something like a third of their roster – including Dustin Pedroia – are rumored to have interest. You would expect almost every National League contender to at least kick the tires on Bloomquist.

What the Royals should expect in return: A lottery ticket. Some 19-year-old kid who throws strikes and has maybe a 10% chance of seeing his velocity suddenly bump into the low 90s.

Who replaces him: Betemit takes over his role; the Royals have a half-dozen options for who takes over his roster spot. If they want a backup outfielder, they could go with Jordan Parraz. If they want Willie Bloomquist Lite, they can go with Irving Falu or Ed Lucas.

Player: Brian Bannister

Outstanding salary: $1.15 million. Bannister is also under club control for 2 more seasons.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 30%.

You know I love Bannister, and I can’t say that I want to see him go. If nothing else, keeping him around is worth it to have a perpetual foil to Dayton Moore in the clubhouse.

But if the Royals decide it’s time to move on, well, I can’t blame them. Bannister has a career 4.88 ERA, and over the last three years that number goes 5.76, 4.73, and 5.44. I think he’s a better pitcher than that, and for significant periods of time he has been a better pitcher than that. But twice in his career he’s run out of steam in August, and this year his numbers are destroyed by the 11 runs he gave up in Cincinnati when he became dehydrated.

Let’s face it: with his upper-80s fastball, there’s simply a limit to how good Bannister can be in the superior league. He’s the quintessential National League pitcher; against inferior hitters, without having to face the DH, and in a big ballpark – hello, NL West! – he could be a revelation. Plus, he’s an excellent hitter for a pitcher. At least, this is the pitch the Royals should be making.

The Royals don’t have to trade him, and they shouldn’t trade him just get rid of him. But in the long run, the Royals are looking at a situation where they should have five starting pitchers better than Bannister as soon as next summer. There’s nothing wrong with making a proactive trade now, rather than trading him for whatever you can get next season.

A month ago Bannister had a 4.50 ERA and his trade value was presumably a lot higher. Then came the disaster in Cincinnati, a bad start in Atlanta where he admitted to being gun-shy, six shutout innings to beat Stephen Strasburg, and then two consecutive outings where he’s allowed four runs. Basically, the Royals need Bannister to show some consistency over the next three weeks to convince suitors that his struggles were just a speed bump and not something to be alarmed by.

It’s no surprise, then, that with the All-Star Break coming up, the Royals are bumping Anthony Lerew from his start on Saturday in favor of Bannister. The Royals say they’re doing this because Bannister’s the better pitcher, and he probably is, but don’t be fooled: they’re showcasing him. If Bannister aces his next few auditions, we may have to find someone new to carry the torch of sabermetrics in the Royals’ clubhouse.

Possible suitors: The Padres would be an ideal location for him, and while San Diego has four starters with an ERA of 3.24 or less (!), their fifth starter, Kevin Correia, has a 5.05 ERA. The Dodgers have been struggling to find a fifth starter all season. The nasty divorce between the McCourts has basically frozen the Dodgers’ payroll, but if the Royals are willing to pick up Bannister’s modest salary the rest of the season, they could steal something here. Remember, the Indians’ willingness to pay the remainder of Casey Blake’s salary netted them Carlos Freaking Santana for a two-month rental.

But given that all three divisional races in the NL are close, there are a lot of teams that could use him. Maybe Omar Minaya wants to erase his mistake and bring Bannister back? The Reds? The Cardinals? There are a lot of landing places for Bannister if the Royals are serious about moving him.

What the Royals should expect in return: If the Royals trade him, it has to be with the knowledge that they’re giving up 2.5 seasons of a league-average pitcher. That’s not beanbag. It’s not worth trading him if they don’t get at least a Top-15 prospect in return.

Who replaces him: Meche or Hochevar in the short term. Michael Montgomery or Aaron Crow or Chris Dwyer or John Lamb by this time next year.

Player: Mike Aviles

Outstanding salary: Aviles is not arbitration-eligible yet, so his salary is basically the league minimum. Also, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2014 season.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 25%.

Aviles is the most surprising player whose name has come up in trade rumors. On some level, it makes sense. Second base is an easy position to fill, because you’re basically drawing on the pool of second baseman and the pool of failed shortstops. The Royals want to see what Chris Getz can do, and if Getz fails, then they have Johnny Giavotella getting ready off-stage.

And let’s face it: the Royals have never been entirely comfortable with Aviles. He never had a good defensive reputation, even in the minors, then shocked everyone by playing the hell out of shortstop as a rookie. This year, he’s played mostly second base, and frankly hasn’t looked all that sharp. The ideal solution would be to admit that Betancourt was a mistake and move Aviles back across the keystone, but the Royals probably look at how Aviles has played at second base and figure that it would only look uglier at shortstop.

If the Royals do trade him, this won’t be your standard deadline deal. Aviles is under contract for 4.5 more seasons. His career batting average is .300 on the nose, and that includes the .183 disaster last season when he played hurt. This would be a substantial trade of a cheap everyday player under contract for the long term, and the return would have to be in kind.

Possible suitors: Aviles’ name has come up in trade rumors because the Red Sox are reportedly interested in him; with Pedroia out in the short-term, and Adrian Beltre a free agent after the season, the Red Sox might see Aviles as a guy who can fill a lot of holes in different spots both now and in the future. But “a guy who can fill a lot of holes” is a lot different than “an everyday middle infielder”, which is why I’m skeptical that the Royals will be able to trade him for what he’s worth. What worries me is that they might be able to trade him for what they think he’s worth.

What the Royals should expect in return: Aviles isn’t the player that DeJesus is. On the other hand, he’s millions of dollars cheaper, and he’s under contract for three additional seasons. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a DeJesus-caliber haul for him.

Others of note:

Player: Rick Ankiel

Outstanding salary: $1.625 million, plus $500,000 buyout.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 15%.

First he has to get healthy. Then he needs to hit. And even then, some team has to be suitably confident that Ankiel will stay healthy, and keep hitting. It’s a tall order. As with Guillen, the Royals can be reasonably confident that Ankiel will pass through waivers, effectively moving his trade deadline to August 31st.

Player: Kyle Davies

Outstanding salary: $900,000, plus he’s under club control in 2011.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 10%.

Like Bannister, Davies has shown stretches of effectiveness, but whereas Bannister has been a league-average starter for months at a time, Davies has problems going more than a few starts at a time. Davies is cheap, but in the last five seasons he has just one year with an ERA lower than 5.27. In his last six starts, he’s walked 20 batters and struck out 13. I still think the Royals should try him in the bullpen for the next three months and see if they catch lightning. Otherwise, he’s a non-tender candidate this winter.

Player: Alberto Callaspo

Outstanding salary: Basically league minimum, and under club control through 2013.

Odds that the Royals will trade him: 10%.

There isn’t even a whisper of a Callaspo trade rumor, but you have to think the Royals are trying to figure out his future with Mike Moustakas on his way. Callaspo isn’t hitting nearly as well as he did last season; he hit .300/.356/.457 last year, and just .277/.310/.417 at the moment. But I actually think his trade value may be higher. For one, most of his dip at the plate can be explained by a drop in his batting average, which is somewhat fluky – the power he showed for the first time in his career last season has stayed. But more importantly, whereas last season he was a second baseman with terrible defense, he’s now a third baseman with at least adequate defense. Remember, the Royals were actively trying to trade him this winter, and the only substantial rumor we heard was from the Dodgers for Triple-A catcher A.J. Ellis.

I don’t think the Royals will trade him now, and I don’t think they should trade him now, because Callaspo’s value is not as a one-year rental, but as a long-term solution at the hot corner. Teams are more amenable to making major roster changes in the off-season. The Royals will likely hold on to Callaspo for now, hope that his batting average rebounds in the second half, and try their luck on the market again this winter.

Conclusion: Without even knowing what the Royals get in return, we can almost tell whether this will be a successful month for Moore simply by how many players get traded. With the exception of DeJesus and Aviles, it’s hard to imagine the Royals making a trade that doesn’t improve the team in the long term.

If you add up the percentages that each player gets traded, you wind up with an average of 3.3 players traded, and that doesn’t include Guillen, whose trade status is up in the air at the moment. That may be giving Moore too much credit, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that at least three guys get moved off the roster this month.

Basically, as along as Farnsworth and Podsednik find new homes, and as long as the Royals don’t give DeJesus or Aviles away, this will be a successful month. Anything less than that, and Moore’s ability to understand his team’s position on the success cycle – and his ability to avoid thinking that two good weeks from his team suddenly means they should be a buyer instead of a seller – will be called into question.

51 comments:

Boots said...

Once again, great article. Glad to see someone else out there isn't completely pessimistic with the Royals playing fairly well and the farm system doing very well.

Big Donkeys said...

Great stuff. Bloomquist isn't a switch-hitter, though. Right now, Betemit is more like Callaspo.

Rany said...

Fixed. I have no idea how I got it in my head that Bloomquist could switch-hit.

Will said...

The Alex Gordon fiasco happened two months ago. It's almost like we've forgotten this has happened, but it did, and it is completely insane. Still a really big red flag.

Anonymous said...

an interesting angle i would have liked to see in the article would have been, what type of prospects does the royals system need?

Bookfest said...

When you say the Royals should look for a top-15 prospect in return for Bannister, do you mean a top-15 overall prospect, or one who would be top-15 for the Royals? The former seems way too high, and the latter too low to me

bankmeister said...

Great read. Really liked the way you broke down each potential trade. I'm surprised there was no mention of Meche, though. Will he simply retire at season's end? Your thoughts on next year's opening-day rotation?

Anonymous said...

Great again as usual. How long until the Anonymous posters come to complain that you're a Pro-DM turncoat? I always get a giggle out of those.

Gaines said...

Very informative. I look forward to seeing what actually happens. I have to admit I will be happy as long as the answer isn't "nothing". I do hope, along with you, that a couple of good weeks has not added a rose colored glass perpective for DM as far as the current team goes.

Ben F said...

If Moore buys instead of sells at the deadline, will you leave your seat on the Moore Train?

kw said...

Allow me a sappy, sentimental moment.

Now I'm not saying it doesn't make sense to trade DeJesus or that the Royals shouldn't do it. On the other hand, he appears to be a good guy who is talented, plays hard and has a good time out there. In short, he's just fun to root for.

It's just too bad baseball discussions now are all about the wheeling and dealing, with experts critiquing every move. The game was more fun when it was about rooting for the good guys.

OK, I got that out of my system. Nice post, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Glad that you didn't mention Soria like some sources have. That would be ludicrous. Dayton needs to make trades and Yost needs to get Kendell out of the 2 hole and line up twice a week. Forget Ankiel as I think he is not coming back for us.

steak said...

I like this arbitrary odds breakdown you created, Rany. Now lets do one that would truly help the team.

Odds that Jason Kendall acquires the ebola virus and is placed on the 730 day DL: ??%

Michael said...

I'm worried that Dayton will start dealing from our plethora of young talent to add pieces to attempt to contend. Unless he adds Cliff Lee, who would get us draft pick compensation, that would be a very bad idea, in my opinion.

1982 Topps blog - My 1st Cards said...

I like your breakdown here Rany. That, plus the AL Central since day 1 of Yost, gives me hope...

May 14 - July 6

30-18 (.625) White Sox
26-23 (.531) Royals
25-22 (.532) Tigers
24-26 (.480) Twins
20-31 (.392) Indians

...Royals have 2nd most wins, & 3rd best winning percentage. I did NOT think this team was capable of playing such a good 49 game stretch. This is almost 1/3 of the season, not just 1 month good stretch or something.

Jim said...

@ToppsBlog - I hope GMDM doesn't read your post. KC will not win the division this year, and needs to be sellers, not buyers. Even if the trend you showed continues, KC will only make 3rd place in the division.

I do think it is time to start talking to Ned Yost about taking off the "interim" from his manager title, though. He clearly provides something that KC was missing under Hillman.

Chris M said...

Rany, what could we net if Boston was interested in trading for BOTH DeJesus and Aviles? The Red Sox injury problems at basically all positions and us trading both players would allow the Royals to take probably anything that Boston has. They get two players that can fill in at multiple positions for when their injured players return. I'm not an expert but who do you think we could get back from Boston if that trade was made? Great, great article, as usual!!

Anonymous said...

DeJesus may not be in the top 10 outfielders, but boy howdy Dave is not chopped liver.

It might serve the Royals well to look at resigning him simply due to building better fan loyalty. Those 15 year olds wearing his replica jerseys are the future of baseball in KC.

Charles said...

@bookfest: I think he means top 15 in organization not top 15 in baseball in this article.

This was really good, but I am still naggingly worried that Dayton does not know we are sellers... I don't know why he wouldn't know - he should.

Charles said...

@toppsblog

Isn't 26-23 about the same likelihood for a bad team as 18-11?

Joe(l) the Pastor said...

Love your posts, Rany. First time commenting on the blog. Are you concerned about the high number of errors by Moustakas? Do you think this is coachable or is he going to be a liability at 3rd base defensively?

Kansas City said...

Great work as usual. Should have included Soria, Butler and Grienke for article to be complete. There are obvious reasons not to trade them, but a GM has to be considering all options and Greinke and Soria would produce very high return.

At the risk of stating the obvious, for any of the good players (ones who we would want to have on our team next year), it is a matter of what you get in return. It would take a confident GM to deal DeJesus or any other good player for a prospect, but it is certainly logical to deal DeJesus now. He is probably at peak value and, even though he would be valuable in 2011, we probably will not be in a position to contend.

Anonymous said...

Rany- Reading your fluff pieces on Daddy Dayton....sickening. You are getting stalkerish now. Do you choke yourself thinking about Daytons next big FA whiff? Unreal.

Dayton sucks. Rany sucks. This blog sucks. You turncoats deserve each other.

Anonymous said...

I still can't believe you wrote the words, "as a courtesy to Flanagan".

Come on, man... the guy has been atrocious long before it became public he and Brian Murphy were going steady.

tookee said...

Love the insights - you've been prolific lately and it's our benefit. I agree with your conclusion and expect Farnsworth, et al. to be moved. I hope they keep DeJesus as he is a good OF'er and not expensive - he could be a plus for next year (and loyal fans love him). It would be nice to see him on a team that contends next year - a reward for all the hard years.

Colonel Kustard said...

@Anonymous seems to be two-faced. I wish I could direct comment toward him/her, but his/her inconsistency baffles me. Keep up the great work, Rany.

Nathan said...

I think re-singing DeJesus at least deserves to be listed as option number 4. He's not old yet, and it remains possible that this year represents an upward trajectory, not just a career year. Also, one thing the Royals don't seem to have in the farm system is any sort of centerfielder with a bat.

AFKCFan said...

The farm system certainly does "overfloweth"...and at all levels. I know the minors are more about the individual prospects, but team success is a plus. Today finds Idaho Falls in 1st place; Burlinton Royal's tied for 1st; AZL Royals in 1st; Burlington one game out of 1st; Wiliminton and NW Ark in 1st place; Omaha is one game out of first. That, my friends, is SICK!

kcghost said...

Not only does GMDM need to be in sell mode, he has to 1) get reasonable value for his chips, and 2) not trade away any of the hot young talent in the minors to sweeten a deal.

Right now the farm system is just exploding with guys who are really stepping up. The amazing thing is that Crow and Melville haven't done squat. Colon hasn't either but he just signed. The only problem with all this good news is most of the breakout guys are in High A ball. Montgomery and Moustakis are dominating AA ball, but you have to believe GMDM is going to make them show something at AAA before giving them a chance.

Meanwhile in Omaha, Gordon is really coming back to earth. Hopefully, that is just a blip on the radar.

Anonymous said...

Great read. Only thing I disagree about is the return they'll get for DeJesus/Aviles. From an objective standpoint, you may be right about their value. But trying to get a Cliff Lee-like haul seems like tough demand.

J.C. Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies were legit prospects (although Aumont might've been riding on too much false hype) and I don't think any team would shell out that much for Aviles or DeJesus.

Ted said...

Here are the latest Elias rankings for FA compensation in the draft.

DeJesus - A
Podsednik - B
Guillen - B

Farnsworth is on the cusp of becoming a B.

DeJesus is probably the only one of the above who would be worth offering.

For our players who won't be free agents, Jason Kendall (B), Billy Butler (B), Alberto Callaspo (B), Zack Greinke (A), and Joakim Soria (A) all made the list. Usually we're lucky to get 2-3 players on the list at all. Yet another sign that we've improved from being a bad team to a very mediocre one.

Nathan said...

"I don't think any team would shell out that much for Aviles or DeJesus."

Then don't trade them.

1) The possibility of contending in 2011, while remote, is nonzero.

2) Either or both can still be traded over the winter or during the season next year.

3) Re-signing either player, or just taking the draft picks when they leave, would not be disastrous.

So why accept less than they're objectively worth?

I think the Royals would be foolish to get in a must-trade mindset with either of these guys. Guillen and Podsednick are another story.

Jason Dixon said...

If Moore gets into any sort of trading frenzy I will be interested to see if he trades one of his own acquisition, as opposed to his continuing cleaning of the House of Baird. If Farny, Pods, and Guillen are still all in KC and DeJesus and Aviles are gone I will be disappointed, but not shocked.

Nick Cola said...

Good Article Rany. I'd like to see the Royals target a young, natural OF they could build around. I liked the thought of getting Fowler in Colorado on the cheap until he went crazy a week ago.

Need to be looking at getting some guys who are more natural out there than it being just a graveyard for guys in the system who can't field ground balls. Take a look at some young guys who have a good pedigree and trade a few of these young pitchers before they flame out.

Anonymous said...

Rany- you are a pompous ass. I would kick you square in the balls if I could. You're "on the Dayton train now"? After everything you said? How can anyone believe a word you write now, snake?

Stick with popping zits, clown.

Anonymous said...

As a Rockies fan that called for the head of O'Dowd on more than one occasion I can understand the Moore backlash, that said Dealin Dan learned the value of building from within and I certainly hope that is the road Moore takes as well

Anonymous said...

Rany- Back when men were men, traitors and turncoats were hung. So, not everything about evolution is good. In a word, turncoat, you SUCK.

Rany- your blog is the epitome of self serving. Fair weather doesn't even begin to describe you. I don't know how anyone can take you seriously anymore. You're a piece of garbage, Pimpleman.

Anonymous said...

An excellent analysis as always. There is one twist that I would like to highlight that several others have mentioned. Although the farm system is as deep as it perhaps has every been, there are a few areas that could benefit from the addition of prospects at the upper levels - middle infield and catcher. So I could see the Royals perhaps adding a 10-20 prospect to any deal to get a better prospect at these positions.

Again, there is more depth at SS and C than there has been in generations. However, I think the Royals (as well as just about any other team) could benefit from a solid AA-AAA prospect at those positions. This is the one area where I could see and support the Royals including a solid minor league prospect in a deal.

Anonymous said...

Rany- what will your tune be when Daytin trades Moose or Monty for some 35 yr old veteran, in Daytons push for a 2010 Pennant? No going back now- you hitched you wagon to Dayton- worst GM in baseball. Now ride it to the bitter end.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you rany. I want to punch you and Dayton in the face. This team will never win with Dayton as GM and this blog will always suck with you as the writer. Go OD on Accutane you fucking fraud.

Bill said...

Don't you love comments from our "anonymous" writer that are crude/rude/profane?? At least make up some ridiculous name you moron!

Michael said...

Here's an idea "Anonymous". If you don't like this blog, create one of your own and bash the living hell out of Rany and Dayton and your neighbors puppy, for all I care. Or better yet, just don't read Rany's blog.

I also like how you say the same crap over and over and over and over and over and over and over...but you never really say anything of substance. You have absolutely nothing intelligent to say. So maybe starting your own blog wouldn't be such a good idea after all....

Bryan said...

Great stuff Rany.

Two questions.

One, I would really like to see the Royals add either the Twins or Yankees catching prospect. (Atlhough it seems that maybe Montero is going to Seattle in a Lee deal.) Maybe I am being shortsighted, but that seems to be an area of need. Couldn't we get either of those in a trade including DeJesus. Would that be a good idea? How much should we give up to get either of those catching prospects?

Two, maybe I am reading too much into this, but it seems to me that the brass went to Gordon and said you can hit .400 in AAA, but we are not bringing you up until you work on the deficiencies in your swing. As he is now working on those, this is why we see him coming back to earth a bit. Is that likely?

My last comment is that everyone talks about being buyers or sellers. The Royals should definitely be sellers, but the interesting part of this is that I think the Royals improve by selling. Maybe I am crazy, but Kila and Gordon in the lineup instead of Pods and Guillen is an improvement every way I look at it. I don't think there is any reason to quit attempting to win the division just because you sell.

Anonymous said...

Rany sucks.

Anonymous said...

Rany sucks.

Piece of Zit said...

Anonymous seriously needs medication. Aside from the monomaniacal hatred of GMDM, the unhealthy lack of anger control and propensity towards violent hallucinations, the man's got a very strange fascination with acne.

Anonymous said...

Rany is the one who needs medication for cowardice.

Nathan said...

Bryan, I think you raise an interesting point about Gordon. It's impossible to know, but that does fit the facts.

I don't know how much I trust the Royals hitting coaches. If Gordon can hit .400 in the minors with deficiencies in his swing, maybe they should let him keep them. But it could also be that this will actually make him a better hitter. Would love to hear from a good scout about this.

Also, it seems likely that trading Guillen, Podsednick, or Ankiel would improve the team. Trading Farnsworth would hurt it in 2010 (but we should still do it). Trading Callaspo or especially DeJesus would hurt the team for 2010 and 2011.

I'm of the opinion that a middle of the order with DeJesus-Butler-Gordon-Kila-Callaspo, with Moustakas arriving sometime during the year, could give us enough offense not to give up on 2011 in July 2010. So I'd personally be disappointed in a DeJesus trade that doesn't bring back a load of talent. Such a trade would be a white flag when we still have a fighting chance next season.

The decisions whether or not to trade DeJesus and, to a lesser extent, Callaspo, are the ones that might make Dayton Moore lose sleep. Trading Guillen, Pods and Farnsworth are obvious moves, assuming they're possible.

Gary Beebe said...

Good comment on the Mariners. I am stuck in Seattle watching that train wreck on a daily basis and actually started a blog about them. (I analyze corporate financials for a living, and your column inspried me). I recenly wrote about both how the Mariners were WAY over rated going into the season and a review of their bullpen problems.

I've been reading your blog for years and it is one of the most thoroughly thought out baseball columns I read.

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