Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Good Day.

Sometimes, the Royals’ emphasis on keeping a tight lid on rumors can be annoying.

This was not one of those times.

As the minutes ticked off towards 3 o’clock, there was not a hint that the Royals had anything brewing. Twitter was buzzing with what turned out to be the busiest trade deadline in recent memory, but the news about the Royals was so light that I implored people in the know to make up a rumor just to make me feel better.

A little before 3, the clubhouse opened up, and we wandered in there as much to see whether we could get a sign of an impending trade – maybe someone was getting a hug – as to talk to the players themselves. Nothing doing. Three o’clock came and past. I wandered over to introduce myself to Brian Bannister, who waved me to have a seat, and was as gracious and engaging as you’d expect. We spoke about sabermetrics and Pitch F/X and the adjustments he was trying to make this season (fewer cutters, trying to change speeds more often) for about 15 minutes.

And then he stopped suddenly and looked up at the screen showing the MLB Network. I turned around and read along the bottom crawl, “KANSAS CITY ROYALS TRADE OF RICK ANKIEL AND RHP KYLE FARNSWORTH TO ATLANTA BRAVES.” We looked around. In opposite corners of the room, Ankiel and Farnsworth were both getting a hug.

Yeah, that was a little surreal.

At that point, knowing nothing of the return, I was psyched about the trade. When I wrote about the Royals’ trade options a few weeks ago, I said I would have been happy if the Royals moved three guys off their major-league roster; with this trade, they moved four. Dayton Moore had backed up his words with actions; he had made moves to clear a little payroll and a lot of roster space. The talent he got in return was almost beside the point.

And then I found out who the Royals got in return.

Jesse Chavez is just an arm, and not a particularly good arm. In 119 career innings he’s got a 4.92 ERA, and I suspect that’s going to go up pitching in the American League. He has 92 strikeouts and just 35 unintentional walks, which isn’t the problem; it’s the 19 homers he’s given up that are the problem.

The Braves acquired him this off-season after Rafael Soriano surprised them by accepting their offer of arbitration. Without the budget to pay him, they immediately pawned him off on whatever team was willing to take his contract, which turned out to be the Rays. That Chavez was the token player the Rays gave up to acquire Soriano gives you an idea of where he fits in the pecking order of relievers.

The Royals think they can tweak a few things with him, and there’s no harm in giving him two months to see if he can improve upon Victor Marte’s legendary performance. He turns 27 in a couple of weeks; I’m not expecting much here.

Gregor Blanco, like Chavez, was a rookie two years ago, and was a nifty little player. He only hit .251 with a single homer in 144 games – he slugged .309, which is positively Kendallesque. But he drew 74 walks and had a .366 OBP, and ran well and played all three outfield positions – he certainly had some value. He’s spent more time in the minors than in the majors since; he has just 101 at-bats in the majors the last two years. In the minors he’s been exactly the same sort of player – despite absolutely no power, he’s been able to coax enough walks for a lifetime .368 OBP.

Just looking at his statistical record, I thought he was very reminiscent of Mitch Maier – a really good fourth outfielder, a guy who can play all three positions and work a walk, but not hit for a lot of power. So I was pleased when Moore made the exact same comparison during his press conference. There are subtle differences; Maier at least has some power, whereas Blanco’s is almost non-existent – but Blanco is a faster runner and possibly a better outfielder. I expect we’ll see him play center field with Maier shunted off to a corner when he does play.

Blanco’s 26, so he is what he is. But what he is is a useful fourth outfielder that’s under contract through 2014. If the Royals didn’t already have Maier, Blanco would be a nice addition. Instead, he’s sort of superfluous. The danger is that the Royals will spend money on a “true” centerfielder this winter, forcing them to throw Blanco or Maier overboard. If the Royals are smart, they’ll save their pennies and give Maier the starting job, with Blanco backing up all three positions, until someone like Derrick Robinson or Paulo Orlando is ready.

Chavez and Blanco alone would have made this a tolerable trade. The addition of Tim Collins makes it an exciting one. All you need to know about Collins is that my friend Kevin Goldstein has, for a while now, referred to Collins as “my favorite prospect in baseball. Not the best, but my favorite.”

Why would a lefty reliever be his favorite prospect in baseball? Maybe because Collins is listed at 5’7” – which is only true if he’s standing on a phone book – and 15 pounds – which is only true if he’s wearing ankle weights. (I’ve been told he’s closer to 5’5”, 140.) And yet he throws a legitimate 92-93, with a hammer curveball and the natural deception that comes from launching pitches from such an unusual angle.

Collins’ story is one of the best in the minors. He went undrafted out of high school – probably because he was, you know, 5’5” and 140 – but had the good fortune to hail from the same New Hampshire town as Blue Jays’ GM J.P. Ricciardi. If I remember the story correctly, Ricciardi only heard about Collins because his own father told him about the local kid who looked like the batboy but threw bullets. Ricciardi saw Collins dominate for his American Legion team that summer when he came home for a visit, and signed Collins, then just 17, to a pro contract.

Three years later, Collins has thrown 203 innings as a pro, and has struck out 308 batters. That is not a misprint. His control isn’t quite there yet – he’s walked 88 batters – but he’s allowed just 132 hits and 11 homers.

Now, the minor leagues are filled with guys who put up pretty numbers, even ridiculous numbers, but who scouts feel have no real shot at the majors because they rely on slop and changing speeds. And most of the time the scouts are right. (No Disco jokes, please.) But Tim Collins isn’t one of those guys. The scouts love him almost as much as the numbers do. As Goldstein told us on our Trade Deadline show today, one scout told him that “if Collins were 6’3”, we’d be comparing him to Norm Charlton.”

The jump from A-ball to Double-A is the biggest jump in the minors, and most of the pseudo-prospects who dominate in the low minors get a rude awakening in Double-A. Collins has spent all of this season in Double-A, and he hasn’t pitched as well as he did in A-ball. He’s pitched better. His strikeout rate, which was a ridiculous 13.2 Ks per 9 innings in the low minors, is 15.4 strikeouts per 9 innings this year. Seriously. He has 87 strikeouts in 51 innings. And his command has improved; he had walked 4.0 batters per 9 innings prior to this season, but just 3.4 per 9 this year.

Did I mention he’s just 20?

I don’t want to oversell Collins here; he’s not a future closer. But he’s not simply a lefty specialist either. With his excellent curveball and fringe-average changeup, he has the weapons to get right-handed hitters out as well, and he’s actually been more effective against RHB this season. The Royals have Dusty Hughes in the majors, and guys like Blaine Hardy and Brandon Sisk in the minors, but they simply didn’t have a lefty reliever with Collins’ stuff in their system. Few teams do. If I were to slot him into my Top 25 Prospects list, I’d probably slide him in right behind Noel Arguelles. He’s pretty clearly the best relief prospect – lefty or righty – in the organization.

Once I saw how substantial the Royals’ haul was, I figured that they had to be paying most of the money on Ankiel’s and Farnsworth’s contacts, because there’s no way they would have gotten the players they did otherwise. And they are; the Braves are on the hook for only $1 million between the two, which I believe is the cost of their buyouts for next season.

The Royals deserve all kinds of credit for this, because in essence, they just bought Tim Collins. Dayton Moore convinced David Glass to eat the money, and by doing so he was able to make a deal with the Braves, who are going all-in for the chance to send Bobby Cox into the sunset a winner. The Braves were under a lot of financial pressures and could not take on a lot of money, and the Royals took advantage of that by taking on a good prospect in lieu of cash. In a sense, the Royals did to the Braves what we thought they would do to the Dodgers in the Podsednik deal.

And unlike the Podsednik and Callaspo trades, which I endorsed more for the thought process behind them than for the actual return, I can endorse this deal without reservations. The Royals opened up a pair of roster spots (granted, they will be taken by Blanco and Chavez, at least for now), they saved a little money, they moved a pair of guys that had no future in the organization, and they got a player who could be a key piece of a contender in 2 or 3 years. What’s not to love?

Just one thing – still no Kila. I’m not going to be too hard on Dayton at the moment, because I’m taking at face value his words – repeated emphatically at the press conference today – that he absolutely understands that Ka’aihue needs to be called up, and that he absolutely intends to do so “very soon”. For now, I’m taking “very soon” to be “as soon as we realize we don’t need 8 relievers on the roster”, which is to say Ka’aihue ought to be on the roster when the Royals head out on a road trip on Monday. If he’s not, well, feel free to unleash the hounds then.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy the moment a little. In the last 24 hours, the Royals have won a game on a walk-off homer by Alex Gordon, won another game on an 8th-inning homer by Billy Butler, and made a great trade. Oh, and almost as an afterthought, our manager signed a 2-year contract extension. I don’t want to analyze it too much because I thought it was inevitable, but I also endorse this move, for all the reasons delineated here.

It was a good day. Maybe even a very good day.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

We thought we'd have a lot of weekends like this one back in 2007 with Alex and Billy opening cans of whoop-ass. But we'll take it. Thanks for the rundown on the guys we acquired.

Grain of Salt said...

Just how do you qualify this trade as "great?" As far as I can tell it is a "good" trade at best... especially since Collins has only had success at the AA level. Words matter - and "great" is somewhat of an overstatement. Granted, Farnsworth and Ankiel weren't part of our future, but I don't see how a 5'7" - 140lb lefty is gonna stay healthy through the grind of a MLB season. He may be "Mini Billy Wagner", but even he is 5'11" 200lbs.

Paul said...

Pretty happy that GMDM took this route and unloaded some of these guys. Let's be honest, it would be criminal if he didn't.
Just waiting for Kila not to just get called up but to play all the time when he does. And I don't want 60 AB's in the middle of Sept.
I want 150 starting next week.
If he's as bad as Moore thinks he is, we'll find out and we can release him this winter.
If he's as good as I hope he is, we have our DH for next year for 2011.

Anonymous said...

Can we refer to Tim Collins as Tiny Tim or Too Tall from now on?

Kansas City said...

Yeah, its not a "great" trade, but its a good move to get Ankiel and Farnsworth off the team and open up some space, but the idea is to open space for young guys, not fringe players from Atlanta.

As to prospect Collins, he sounds fascinating. But it is so hard to judge "prospects" because we don't know what other prospects DM could have gotten from other teams.


ps. I just saw Carlos Gonzales hit an upper deck ninth innning walk off to beat the Cubs and complete hitting for the cycle. It was caught by a Cubs fan. The announcers said it was the 6th cycle for the Rockies, include one by NEFI PEREZ!!!

Anonymous said...

Today was a very good day. Great moves all around!

kw said...

A question that is only tangential: Isn't there still a good chance the Royals could move Guillen? I know he now would have to clear waivers, but let's say they make a deal with a team that still needs a bat. They put Guillen on waivers and either he clears, and the deal goes through, or someone claims him and is on the hook for the rest of his salary for this year. Is that how it would work? Seems like that might account for a lack of urgency in moving him if I have the process right.

rey rey said...

Jose is the poster child for waiver deals. His huge contract will allow him to slip thru and thus make a trade ver possible.

steak said...

It's almost like we didn't lose by a margin of 44-18 over the previous 5 games!

Of course everyone knows walk-off, come from behind wins are worth TWO wins....

Ok ok, I'm done. Good stuff, Rany. As always. But I'm still waiting on my post about TPJ.

Speaking of, wouldn't it be great to do a post on the unfortunate former Royals? Everyone loves to harp on the Beltran, Ibanez, Dye, Damon moves. I think it would be great if we could have a post about the Harveys, Browns, Perezs, and Penas.

A where-are-they-now/what-did-they-do-after-they-left our starting line-up review. We don't have to be serious all the time; Dayton clearly isn't.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting that you are leaving Steak waiting. Get to it Rany and make a post as he has commanded of you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's giving Dayton Moore a little too much credit, but if he signed all these vets before the season with the intention of flipping them at the trading deadline, it's worked out well. Some of these guys they got won't pan out, of course, but odds are two or three of them will turn out to be useful players who will help a future Royals team to be good.

Now they need to get Ka'aihue into the lineup, play him every day for the next two months, and see if he can help.

Nathan said...

Actually, playing Kila for two months won't tell us one way or the other whether he can help. Lot's of players have anomalous results from their first couple of months in the bigs. But it will be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Best news from the press conference:

Moore talking about how Dean Taylor has been badgering him for 2 months about Kila.

Here's hoping Moore listens to Taylor more intently!

Anonymous said...

A good day would be Dayton getting fired and Rany getting deported. Then Guillen and Betancourt get released. Now THAT is a good day.

Anonymous said...

"A good day would be Dayton getting fired and Rany getting deported. Then Guillen and Betancourt get released. Now THAT is a good day."

How does it feel to be borderline retarded, and a pathetic person who is an embarassment to the human race?

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something or is/was reason for keeping Callaspo, Pods, Ankiel (I have a 20 buck bet with my brother he is on the IR before Sept.) or Farnsworth?

Thanks Rany, for it has been painful for so long, but see a light at the end of the tunnel. I for one am keeping track of the names as they fly by. At least it will be great fun seeing who pans out.

For those who watched Yanks Louisiana Lighting throw like Bob Gibson for almost a decade me thinks Collins will be a success.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Rany still likes the taste of Daddy Daytons dick. Pathetic. What a sellout. No turning back now Rany.

Rick said...

If I were Rany I'd disable the ability for people to post as "Anonymous".

Then we'd get fewer retards leaving anonymous comments.

AxDxMx said...

This was a GREAT trade. The Royals got rid of Ankiel and Farnsworth, AND got something in return. Anyone that says this wasn't great, underestimates the importance of getting these 2 off the team and opening spots for younger players.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rick! You fucking pussy.

Kansas City said...

Some weird posts here. If someone posts something offensive, I think it is best to ingore the post and not engage in namecalling.

On the trade, I agree it is hard to call the trade great at this point. I would say it is sound judgment to move veterans like Farnsworth and Ankiel (ignore the lack of judgment in signing them for high dollar contracts in the first place). But if Blanco takes at bats that should be going to others, that is a bit of a problem.

By the way, the trade also could be a "great" one for the Braves. They are in the pennant race, and may be in the playoffs, and either Ankiel or Farnsworth [!!] might come up big in a crucial game.

Kyle said...

Ankiel had a great game today. 0-3 with a strikeout. We didn't get good days from the guys we received either, but oh well. Kila is up, and he should get some play at DH and 1B. 3 in a row is pretty good for the Royals, even if it's against the Orioles. GO ROYALS!

Chris said...

even a good team. We lack offense, especially now with Podsednik, and a newly hot Ankiel gone. We also lack bullpen help with Tejeda on the DL and Farnsworth gone.

We need to keep losing games, get a Top 3-5 pick in one of the deepest and best drafts in recent memory, and let Dayton Moore work his magic one more time. Will Myers and Tim Melville were steals.... Danny Duffy too. Even though John Lamb got brought down to earth last night, the farm system is stocked with pitching.

Our goal for next year should be .500 or within 5 games of it. If we can do that, we're on track to make a wildcard push in 2012. Dayton has the recipe right, the most recent trade for the Tim Collins shows that he knows what he's doing and is trying to build another Atlanta Braves type organization. As long as he doesn't sell out too many prospects trying to make the playoffs in 2012 the Royals turn around will come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

DeJesus. This would have added insight into Dayton. The DeJesus trade had to fill holes. Dayton should be on a mission over the next few months to fill two holes. Catcher and Centerfield. When looking at our system, these are the holes that must be filled. I am in favor of a Soria trade in fill one or both of these

Nathan said...

But if Blanco takes at bats that should be going to others, that is a bit of a problem.

I'm trying to figure out who this might be. Someone has to play center, no? Blanco probably has about as much chance of being a productive part of a winning team as Mitch Meier has, which is to say more than zero and less than much.

kcghost said...

Unloading Callaspo, Pods, Ankiel, and Farnsworth is good stuff. Other than Collins the guys we got back are organizational fodder or fringe MLers. And I am okay with that.

GMDM can't bring up Kila until he unloads Guillen and that isn't likely, The guy can barely run so he can't play the OF. So GMDM has to find an American League team desperate for a DH. Or he can cut him. Unless we think we have someone on the line to make a modest trade with for Guiilen we just may as well get on with it and cut him.

Friday night I was at the game with a friend of mine who I have seen hundreds of Royals games with. It was an absolutely dreary ball game to watch. The O's pitchers couldn't throw a strike and ours wouldn't throw the ball period. So with two outs in the 9th, in the rain, I says to him. "this wouldn't be the fist time we saw a walk-off home run". Let me tell you, Gordon absolutely crushed that baseball.

This guy O'Sullivan, who we traded Callaspo to get, is a big hulking guy. And he does a mighty good Kyle Davies impression. The guy just constantly nibbles. And lord is he slow. And despite his size has a mediocre fastball.

Anonymous said...

A Soria trade just opens a new hole to replace the one in center or catcher. Perhaps an easier hole to fill, but still a hole.

Blanco potentially takes ABs away from Kila. Blanco playing in center likely means Maier playing in right instead of Guillen, which means Guillen at DH instead of Kila. I assume that is what Rany was getting at, anyhow.

Rick said...

If Ned Yost starts Blanco and Maier while leaving Ka'aihue on the bench, he will begin to challenge to challenge Trey Hillman for the title of worst Royals manager ever.

And that's saying something.

Anonymous said...

I see rany still likes the taste of daddy daytons dick. Every move Dayton makes is great now, huh sellout? You disgust me. You should be hung like Benedict Arnold. I would be first in line to watch that.

Michael said...

And we see that you are still a hate filled, immature, annoying douchebag of an "Anonymous" commenter. I'd have a little more respect for you if you'd actually put your name to your inane, intelligence lowering drivel, but you won't. You probably jack off every time you post your stupid anonymous posts, dreaming of watching Rany suck on Dayton's dick. Now go get a paper towel and clean your junk off your computer screen.

John said...

Anon,

Benedict Arnold was never hung, although he deserved it. The unfortunate British officer who arranged his defection was caught and hung while Arnold escaped.

If you're going to use historical references in your inane comments, at least get your history right.

Anonymous said...

When Moore traded away Leo Nunez (twice, you you remember-once in the aborted Milton Bradley deal) I assumed it was because Moore thought Leo was too small to play in the big leagues. Leo pitched well enough when he was here so there seemed to be no better reason Moore wanted to be rid of him so badly other than he thought Nunez too fragile to endure.
Now he trades for guy, Collins, who is smaller than Leo.
What does that tell us? Anything?

tony said...

>>Speaking of, wouldn't it be great to do a post on the unfortunate former Royals?>>

Trivia: Chico Lind is the only former Royal (and as far as I know the only former big leaguer) to win a Grammy.

tony said...

I guess this might seem sorta spammy, but I'm not selling anything - I took a bunch of pictures at saturday's game with the old uniforms and ran them throw a photoshop filter thing to make them look old. I think they turned out nice.

If you want see them, or make them into wallpaper or something, they are here:

http://thesedatedapepics.wordpress.com/

If you want larger versions to print out for autographs you can e-mail me at sedatedape@aol.com. (I'm not going to try to charge anything for that either)

Nathan said...

Blanco potentially takes ABs away from Kila. Blanco playing in center likely means Maier playing in right instead of Guillen, which means Guillen at DH instead of Kila. I assume that is what Rany was getting at, anyhow.

I think if you stretch it that far, then basically acquiring any player blocks Kila. Why does Maier have to play every day? It isn't clear there's much difference between him and Blanco, as Blanco is probably a better defender and Meier has a tiny bit of pop.

Anyway, Ka'aihue is up. He probably won't play every day until Moore figures out how to unload Guillen, but he's up.

Jacko said...

Come on now Rany. We just traded a proven bopper and proven flamethrower (which are two things we lack) for a guy that might be a lefty reliever in a few years. Oh yeah. Sounds like a great trade. I know we're out of it this year, but I hate to see guys like Gordon and Maier and Marte and Hughes out there. They aren't nearly the players that Ankiel and Farnsy were. We lost the two biggest bad@$$es in the league the last two years in Olivo and Farnsy. Now teams can openly humiliate us without fear along with beating our now punchless team. God I hope this process works.

http://jackosroyalsblog.blogspot.com/

Nick said...

Jacko, I just went to your blog and it was the worst writing on the Royals I've ever read. Your opinions are terrible. I hate your opinions, I hate how you love veterans, I hate your stupid sayings and I especially hate you. Does anyone read your blog? I don't think so MacGruber.

John said...

Just checked out Tony's "old timey" photos from four posts up above. They are great!

Jacko said...

Hardy har har Nick. You are probably one of those guys who wants to see us constantly rebuilding. I could smash guys like you.

Anonymous said...

My goodness, this is good reading. Seems almost alien that the Royals have somehow inspired such a wellspring of first rate analysis. Bookmarked.

Nathan said...

Jacko, I think you may have baseball confused with Rugby.

In other news, is it too soon to say that Alex Gordon is...hot?

Jacob G. said...

Free Kila. 3 games and only one pinch hitting appearance.

FAst Eddie said...

Royals designate Guillen for assignment....

Anonymous said...

Ding Dong the witch is dead!

Colin said...

JackO is (almost certainly) not serious. He's a caricature of old-timey baseball cliches.

Donald Zackary Greinke said...

Tell Dayton Mooreon to get some players in here, or trade me to the Yankees!