Monday, October 4, 2010

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The GM.

Every year my motivation to write about the Royals dwindles with the remaining games on the schedule, and this year is no different. No matter how optimistic I might be about the future, there’s only so much I can write about the present club before I lose my will to go on.

I’ve got a number of half-finished articles waiting to be finished in Word, and hopefully I’ll get them out to you over the next few days. But yesterday, something happened that made me passionate enough to bang out an article, so here it is.

Last year, you may recall that I snapped at the end of the season, and walked away from writing for a couple of months. The straw that broke my back was the Royals’ decision to leave Kila Ka’aihue down on the farm in September. Ka’aihue spent all of this September in the Royals’ starting lineup, so that’s something.

But my first step on the path that brought me back to the Royals, and brought me back to the belief that Dayton Moore was salvageable, actually had nothing to do with the Royals. My road back began watching, with some manner of disbelief, the way the Giants handled Buster Posey last September.

Posey, after nearly going #1 overall in the 2008 draft, was taken by the Giants with the #5 pick, and signed too late to get into more than 10 minor leagues that summer (though he did hit .351/.467/.622). He started 2009 in the California League and was probably the best hitter in the circuit, with a .326/.428/.540 line in 80 games before he was promoted all the way to Triple-A. There, he hit .321/.391/.511 in 47 games. Despite a reputation as a raw defensive player, he threw out 46% of potential basestealers between the two stops. He was clearly one of the best prospects in baseball – ranked #7 overall before this season by Baseball America.

The Giants’ starting catcher in 2009 was Bengie Molina, who actually had a decent season, at least by his standards. Molina hit .265/.285/.442, with solid defense and his usual glacial speed. Their backup catcher was Eli Whiteside, a 29-year-old rookie who hit .228/.268/.339 on the season. With perhaps the best catching prospect in baseball ripping through Triple-A, you would think the Giants would have given Posey some playing time in September.

You would think so particularly because the Giants entered September in the thick of the wild-card race. When the sun came up on September 1st, the Giants were 72-59, six games behind the Dodgers in the NL West – but tied with the Colorado Rockies for the wild-card lead. I don’t know about you, but if my backup catcher is struggling to keep his OPS above .600, and I’ve got the best catcher in the minors destroying Triple-A, I’d find a way to get my catching prospect some playing time.

The Giants, on the other hand, did everything in their power to block Posey’s path. He didn’t make his major league debut until the 11th, at which point the Giants had already fallen 4.5 games behind the Rockies. He entered the game in the eighth inning of a 10-3 loss and struck out. He didn’t play again until eight days later, on September 19th, by which point the Giants had closed the gap on Colorado to 2.5 games. Posey came into the game in the seventh inning, with the Dodgers leading 9-1; he would go 1-for-2 at the plate. Three days later, with the Giants down 10-5, Posey would enter as a defensive replacement in the eighth after both Molina and Whiteside were removed.

Only on September 25th, with the Giants four games back with 10 to play, did Posey make his first major-league start. He would start two games in a row, then two games in the final weekend of the season after the Giants were eliminated. From September 1st to the 24th, as the Giants slid out of contention with Posey on the bench, Whiteside started behind the plate six times, going 2-for-24 at the plate.

I’m trying to think of a comparable situation for the Royals. Imagine if, next season, Christian Colon came out of the gate batting like Honus Wagner, crushing everything in sight, moving to Triple-A at mid-season and not missing a beat, becoming generally accepted as the best shortstop in the minors. Imagine if Yuniesky Betancourt was playing sub-par defense and struggling to get his OBP to .300. (Granted, one of these things is easier to imagine than the other.) And imagine if once a week the Royals were starting, I dunno, Tony Pena Jr. at shortstop for his defense.

Then imagine that the Royals entered September tied for the wild-card race. Omaha’s season ended, Colon was promoted to the majors, and…and…he sat on the bench for the next three weeks while Betancourt continued his display of mediocrity. Imagine if, down the stretch, Tony Pena Jr. started six times at shortstop while the best shortstop prospect in baseball watched from the dugout.

How would you respond? What vile, unprintable things would you have to say about Dayton Moore? They would likely be the same vile, unprintable things Giants fans were saying about Brian Sabean.

Watching this unfold last September was the first step I needed to rehabilitate my impression of Dayton Moore. It reminded me that, while it’s okay to criticize Moore for every mistake he makes, it’s unrealistic of me to compare his actions in a vacuum. I have to compare him to his peers, and some of his peers make decisions that are a lot dumber than anything Dayton Moore has done. And some of those peers win anyway.

Like Brian Sabean.

Brian Sabean has been the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants since 1997. He is – I’m writing these words and don’t believe them myself – the longest-tenured GM in baseball. In that time the Giants have had a good deal of success – they’ve now been to the playoffs five times in those 14 years, including a World Series berth. But I remain reluctant to apportion much of the credit for that to the man running the front office.

For one thing, this is the first time in Sabean’s tenure that the Giants have qualified for the postseason without Barry Bonds. Say whatever you want about the methods Bonds may or may not have used, but he was a force of nature unlike anything you or I have ever seen in baseball. He broke the game. With Bonds at his peak, the Giants never finished lower than second from 1997 through 2004. Bonds missed most of 2005, and the Giants finished under .500 for the first time in nine years. Without Bonds’ reflected glory, Dusty Baker isn’t a genius in San Francisco, and Sabean doesn’t survive 14 years.

A quick look at Sabean’s track record explains why most analysts have trouble taking him seriously as a GM. This is the man who traded Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser, and Francisco Liriano to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski – almost certainly the worst trade of the last decade. This is the man who didn’t want his first-round picks – he didn’t think they were worth the money spent on them – and so deliberately signed Michael Tucker before the arbitration deadline. This allowed the Royals to offer Tucker arbitration after he had already signed – they had no intention of doing so because they thought he might accept – and get a pair of first-round picks in the following draft. (One of those picks was used on J.P. Howell.)

Both the Pierzynski trade and the decision to give up their first-round pick for Michael Tucker happened within three weeks of each other in the winter of 2003-04. And you thought Dayton Moore had a bad off-season last year.

Sabean has struggled to put together a winning team in the post-Bonds era, a task made more difficult by the 7-year, $126 million contract he gave to Barry Zito, a signing deemed one of the worst in baseball history before the ink dried.

Even after having Buster Posey fall into his lap, Sabean still refused to accept his good fortune. After refusing to see whether Posey could help the team last September, Sabean decided that Posey couldn’t help the Giants this April. Even after Posey hit .338/.426/.450 for Fresno in April, and even after enough service time had passed to guarantee Posey wouldn’t be a free agent a year early, Sabean left Posey for another month. After Posey hit .359/.456/.641 in May, and threw out 44% of attempted basestealers, he was granted parole.

But he still wasn’t allowed to catch. Posey was promoted on May 29th – he had three hits in his first game, another three hits in his second – but from that date through the end of June, he only started two games behind the plate. Instead, the Giants put him at first base, a position he played 12 times in Triple-A in anticipation of his call-up. Sabean simply couldn’t bring himself to bench Molina, even as the eldest Molina’s offense completely cratered. Only on July 1st, when Molina was traded to the Rangers, did Posey assume the full-time catching job.

Posey then spent the next three months reminding folks of how stupid it was that he had to wait so long for his opportunity in the first place. Posey was hitting .289/.314/.381 at the end of June; after becoming the full-time catcher he hit .311/.370/.544. He threw out 37% of attempted basestealers, and allowed just one passed ball in 76 games behind the plate. If Posey doesn’t win the Rookie of the Year award, it’s only because Jason Heyward had one of the all-time great seasons from a 20-year-old.

If the Giants had missed the playoffs – something they came perilously close to doing – Sabean’s refusal to give Posey a job sooner would have been the undeniable culprit. The fact is that the Giants made the playoffs despite, not because of, Sabean’s handling of his organization’s best prospect.

But the fact remains that the Giants, sans Barry Bonds, nevertheless won the NL West and are in the playoffs. Sabean and the Giants must have done something right.

They have. They’ve drafted well.

Take a look at the Giants’ roster, and what you’ll see is a team that’s succeeded mostly on the backs of homegrown players. Sabean did make a few savvy moves to bring in talent, most prominently the decision to give a one-year deal to Aubrey Huff, who was the team’s best hitter and will get some down-ballot MVP votes. He signed Pat Burrell off the scrap heap and Burrell rebounded better than anyone could have expected. Andres Torres, brought in last year as a 31-year-old outfielder with less than 300 career at-bats in the majors, had an out-of-body campaign. And Juan Uribe, signed to a modest two-year contract before the 2009 season, hit well while playing all over the infield.

I’m reluctant to give Sabean much credit for these moves, and not just because aside from Torres, every one of those players benefitted dramatically by moving from the AL to the inferior league. Sabean may have hit on those moves, but it doesn’t come close to making up for Barry Zito’s contract; for the ridiculous 5-year deal he gave Aaron Rowand after Rowand had a career year in the bandbox in Philadelphia; or the two-year deal he gave to Edgar Renteria’s corpse. Or the fact that the Giants traded Fred Lewis to the Blue Jays for future considerations in April, then spent the rest of the year so desperate for outfield help that they actually traded for Jose Guillen.

The reason the Giants are in the playoffs isn’t because their GM spent money wisely. It’s because, simply, they’ve done a pretty good job of drafting and developing talent.

Posey, we’ve already covered, although it’s worth noting how close the Giants came to not getting him. The Rays, with the #1 overall pick, narrowed their decision to between Posey and high school shortstop Tim Beckham. In one of the Rays’ few draft misfires, they went with Beckham, who is currently struggling to get out of A-ball. Sometimes you need a little luck in the draft, which is a nice segue to the fact that the Giants grabbed Tim Lincecum with the #10 pick in 2006.

There is simply nothing more important for the long-term health of a franchise than to hit it big with their first-round picks. A team that comes up with a Lincecum or a Posey in the first round every three years is going to be competitive no matter how bad they screw up everything else. And those two aren’t the only first-round picks that propelled the Giants to the playoffs this year. Matt Cain was selected with the #25 overall pick in 2002, and Madison Bumgarner was taken with the #10 pick in 2007.

The starting catcher and three-fifths of their rotation was drafted in the first round – and Sabean still deliberately surrendered his first-round pick for no reason at all. Look at the success the Giants had with their first-round picks in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008, and you can only wonder who the Giants might have drafted in 2004 or 2005 – if they hadn’t surrendered their first-round picks in both years.

Virtually every other significant contributor to the Giants was developed internally. Pablo Sandoval was signed as an teenager out of Venezuela in 2003, when Kung Fu Panda – the player and the movie – was still a distant dream. Jonathan Sanchez was a 27th-round find in 2004. The Giants had an astonishing run of finding quality pitchers deep in the draft; in addition to Sanchez, they drafted closer Brian Wilson in the 24th round in 2003, and set-up man Sergio Romo in the 28th round in 2005.

This all works its way back to the Royals, and Dayton Moore, and it’s the reason why I jumped back on the bandwagon this year. The Giants are proof that to build a playoff team, you don’t need to trade well, and you don’t need to spend money well. You simply have to draft well. The fact is that Brian Sabean, despite his many, many blunders over the years, cannot be considered a failure as a GM, because the Giants have done such a good job of drafting over the past decade that it covers over his mistakes.

I’m not close enough to the Giants’ situation to know whether it’s Sabean who deserves credit for that, or his scouting director, or someone else. But from my perspective, who gets that credit is irrelevant. The point is that the Giants, as an organization, have drafted well. And the Giants are in the playoffs. The point isn’t that Dayton Moore has done a terrific job of making trades or signing free agents. The point is that if the Royals draft well, then he can afford to make the occasional mistake in those other areas. Brian Sabean is proof positive that a GM doesn’t have to be perfect to be successful.

Some of you will point out that the Royals are handicapped by their payroll limitations, and have to do a better job with their money than the Giants do. That’s true, but that’s an overstated limitation. The Giants’ opening day payroll was a little north of $96 million. Simply take out Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand – as I’m sure most Giants fans would like to do – and you’re down to a little under $66 million. The Royals’ Opening Day payroll this year was about $75 million. Moore may have less margin for error than Sabean does – but Sabean has made some huge effing errors. With Guillen coming off the books this year, and Meche next year, Moore once again has payroll flexibility so long as he can avoid repeating his instant-gratification free agent contracts.

If Brian Sabean can lead his team to the postseason simply by drafting well, you can’t convince me that Dayton Moore can’t do the same thing. Particularly since nothing Moore has done can compare with the Pierzynski trade, or the Zito signing.

Going through this exercise just hit the point home even harder for me: if you want to know the single biggest reason why the Royals have sucked so bad, for so long, it’s not the financial limitations. It’s not the stupid trades for Neifi Perez and Roberto Hernandez. It’s this list:

Jeff Granger

Matt Smith

Juan LeBron

Dee Brown

Dan Reichert

Jeff Austin

Matt Burch

Chris George

Kyle Snyder

Mike MacDougal

Jay Gehrke

Jimmy Gobble

Mike Stodolka

Colt Griffin

From 1993 to 2001, the Royals drafted 14 players in the first or supplemental first round, including six guys in the Top 10. Every single player was a disappointment. Every. Single. Player.

From 2002 to 2005, the situation improves some:

Zack Greinke

Chris Lubanski

Mitch Maier

Billy Butler

Matt Campbell

J.P. Howell

Alex Gordon

Some big busts in there – and I’m this close to including Alex Gordon among them – but also some undeniable successes.

And then, starting in 2006 (sort of), the Dayton Moore era.

Luke Hochevar

Mike Moustakas

Mike Montgomery

Eric Hosmer

Aaron Crow

Christian Colon

It’s too soon to know whether this group will turn out to be a complete disaster like the first group, or a mixed bag like the second group. But there’s every reason to think that this group of players is different. It helps, of course, that most of these guys were taken at the very top of the draft. (Remarkably, the Royals drafted #1 overall in 2006 (Hochevar), #2 in 2007 (Moustakas), #3 in 2008 (Hosmer), #4 in 2010 (Colon)…and will be drafting #5 in 2011. At this rate, they should be drafting among the playoff teams in 2029 or so.)

But the presence of Montgomery, who was a supplemental first-rounder, on that list is a reminder that the Royals are finding talent everywhere, whether it’s in the second round (Johnny Giavotella), or the third (Danny Duffy and Wil Myers), or the fourth (Chris Dwyer) or the fifth (John Lamb), or the 11th (David Lough), or the 20th (Patrick Keating), or hell, the 50th round (Jarrod Dyson). Or even in Latin America, where they’ve signed Salvador Perez and Cheslor Cuthbert, among others.

This was – again – a trying season, and I’m as tired of looking to the future as everyone else. But as the chill rains come, and baseball stops and leaves you to face the fall alone, it’s important that one more time we stop and remember what this season was all about. It wasn’t about wins and losses. It was about prospects succeeding and failing. On that score, this season was a spectacular success.

A few months ago, I asked this rhetorical question: “Can you really call Dayton Moore the worst GM in baseball, or even one of the worst GMs in baseball, when he’s built the #1 farm system in the game in three years?” Some of you had a lot of fun with this question. Some of you answered, in all seriousness, that yes, you can still call Dayton Moore one of the worst GMs in baseball.

I think that’s wrong. I think that Dayton Moore has done the most important part of his job as well as we could have hoped. I think that we will start to taste the fruits of that success next year. Most of all, I think the lesson I’ve learned from Brian Sabean is that if Moore gets player development right, the Royals will be successful even if he makes the occasional mistake in the other parts of his job.

I’m not excusing the Guillen signing, or the Meche arm-shredding, or even the Yuni trade. What I’m saying is that when Moore blunders, as Royals fans we forget that all GMs make blunders. GMs can make mistakes – even horrendous mistakes – and still lead their team to the playoffs. As Royals fans, it’s been so long since we’ve seen a playoff team that we’ve lost all perspective of what it takes to build one. We’ve grown into this mindset that if our GM isn’t perfect, if he ever gets the short end of a trade, or if he ever spends millions of dollars on a free-agent flop, then we’re doomed.

As Brian Sabean has shown this year, we’re not doomed. So long as the system churns out talent.

Next year, the excuses end. Next year, the bill of goods comes due, and we have every right to expect to see the tangible results of this youth movement. If the Royals have a 2011 in which everything goes wrong – much like the Mariners’ 2010 – then you have my permission to jump off the bandwagon, because I’ll be jumping off with you.

But right now, I’m feeling pretty good about the future. The chill rains may have come – and for the 25th straight season, they’ve come early – but I’m not facing the fall alone. I’ve got the promise of the game’s #1 farm system to keep me company.


Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance about Gil Meche but why does Moore take the brunt of the blame for shredding his arm? Shouldn't the manager who allowed Meche to throw 120+ pitches be the one crucified for his decline?

Joe said...

Excellent article to send us out on. Last year at this time the prospect list was not as long as it is now. John Lamb will be our Matt Cain.

Subrata Sircar said...

I would rate Brian Sabean as a solid-to-good GM. The Twins trade[1] will always haunt the Giants, but he has picked up pieces cheaply and almost none of the prospects he's surrendered (Liriano and Nathan being the prime counterexamples, which is the biggest reason that trade looks awful[2]) have turned into something. And as you note, he's done very well at the most important aspect of his job - cheap talent acquisition, and with Posey has finally added a position player to that amazing stable of moundsmen.

It may not be his ability to scout and draft those players, but if it's not he's letting someone who does have the talent do their job, and has kept them firing on all cylinders. That's an important skill for a GM to have as well, and certainly one of the most important for management in any field. Have an eye for talent, get your people to play to their strengths, and remove obstacles from their path, and you'll be more successful than not.

If Dayton Moore has those skills *and* can avoid the Zito/Liriano sized blunders, the Royals will have an above-average GM at the least.

1. There has been speculation that ownership put pressure on him to win now, which doesn't excuse the trade but does provide context for why someone who appears to be good at acquiring prospects and relatively shrewd about which ones will make it would yield prime talent for mediocrity like that.

2. Lots of trade are ill-advised and justifiably derided at the time, and "saved" by prospects not panning out, or untimely injuries or ... The worst trades have to both be panned at the time and turn out worse yet five years down the road.

Marmot said...

Glad I stayed with you Rany after last year's silliness...this was a good read and a great way to end the season.

Like you I'm tired of waiting for the promise of next year. Mission 2012 leaves me a bit cynical to be certain (haven't we seen this all before?) but it also seems kind of silly to stick with the Royals for 25 years only to give up on them just before the dawn.

Keep the positive vibe going, brother! Nice job!

kcghost said...

Well, I guess you had better start jumping because 2011 could well be worse than 2010. All that talent on the farm, with the exception of Moustakis, won't be arriving until 2012. And the odds are Moose will start out in Omaha to begin the year.

What GMDM could use is a year where things go right for him at the major league level. Greinke returns to form rather than giving up. Aviles hits likes it 2008. Gordon actually becomes moderately productive at the plate. Kila gives us one good season as a 1B/DH. Billy Butler discovers that elevating the ball is a good thing. Hochevar becomes a real #3. Maybe he finds a couple of serviceable bullpen arms. DDJ stays healthy all year.

And down on the farm if all the guys who took major steps forward continue to progress and Colon, Crow, and Melville step up.

NYRoyal said...

Rany, can a major league team succeed by having a GM who drafts very well, but doesn’t do anything else well? That GM also has to be able to evaluate major league talent to augment the handful prospects who will end up succeeding in the majors. And don’t the failures of Guillen, Betancourt, Meche and many others tell us something important about the Royals future under Dayton Moore?

It seems like you're really saying that drafting and developing is all that is important. That's just not so. Even if a higher than average percentage of these prospects succeed, the GM will have to put a decent team around them in order to build a contender. Is there any reason to believe that DM can evaluate MLB talent well enough to put a decent team around anyone?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what makes you think the bill of goods comes due next year. If you're already willing to give GMDM credit for the players while they're in the minors, what incentive does he have to promote them and risk bursting the bubble?

I think you'll see this talent wave be very slow to arrive -- maybe Collins is with the team out of Spring Training, and Moose comes up in July, and then a couple of the pitchers and maybe Hosmer in September.

Mission 2012 will be come Mission 2013/14 because DM is in a pretty good spot right now (and just wait until the farm system rankings come out). The happier you (and everyone else) are with how he's doing, the less urgency there is to improve the major league team.

Dave said...

I agree. 2011 isn't going to be the year the tide turns. 2012 is more realistic. Those guys aren't going to be ready yet.

Unknown said...

What is this nonsense about Gordon being a bust when he gets on base at a "better than average" rate? He even has power to go along with it. When you look at the offensive of the Tampa Bay Rays, you'd think they sucked. When, in fact, their terrible batting averages conceal their solid OBP, power, and defense. Alex Gordon would look right in place in their offense. Of course, I'd rather have Crawford, but Gordon would improve their offense if he was in right field. Furthermore, you have to think GMDM has made some pretty good trades this year. I wouldn't give up on Next year, either. I do hope GMDM will hand out some 1 year contracts to pitchers so that he can either trade them at deadline if we're not good. Or perhaps make us a competitive. We need some good starting pitching to go along with our league average offense. It seems like every year one part of the Royals becomes ok, and everything else falls apart. First year we had a good bullpen. Then a good rotation. Now a good offense. And by good I mean league average.

Kevin said...

The Royals 2011 season isn't going be a lot different than 2010. None of the so-call "can't miss" prospects are going to be ready for the Major Leagues until 2012. My fear is that Moore, in an attempt to be competitive, will sign several players in the Willie Bloomquist mold this off season.

Nathan said...

I agree with the comments saying 2011 isn't when the bill of goods comes due. Development from Gordon, Butler, Kila, Greinke, Hochevar would sure be nice, but it would take a lot of stars aligning to actually compete. And, truth told, I don't expect the current prospects to contribute much in 2012 either. Few prospects hit the ground running in MLB. I think .500 in 2012 and contention in 2013 is a reasonable contention.

That said, there's some random variance from year to year, and even if we don't expect to contend in the next two years, I do think the talent is theoretically there. The five guys above, plus Soria, DDJ, Aviles, and Moose, are theoretically enough to compete if everything breaks right. I hope for that, but am far from expecting it.

Ben F said...

Careful with validating Moore's ineptitude by comparing him with the other bad GMs; this can quickly lead to the Yuni/TPJ fallacy: "Even though Yuni is the 2nd worst position player in MLB, he's an upgrade over the 1st worst (TPJ), so acquiring him is a good idea".
I'm not saying that Moore can't succeed, just that we should be asking our GM to act like the best (the Rays FO) not simply to be better than the worst.

Danny said...

I'm just happy to see a Rany post. These are like crack for me. I am willing to read "DM isn't the worst GM in baseball because this guy is worse," every time. I am certainly never sick of prospect talk. If somebody took the Obama "Hope" posters and stuck in the faces of Moustakas, Hosmer, and Myers, they would have something.

Then again, I think I am really looking forward to off-season talk. With the loaded system, less moves seems like it would be more, but more moves would be Moore.

Chance said...

I always appreciate a good Dr. Strangelove reference.

Fast Eddie said...

It looks like Chris Ianetta may be available if M. Olivo opts to stay in Colorado. Olivo said he would like to stay. Ianetta is due $2.55 M in 2011 & $3.55 M in 2012. What if DMGM traded B. Pena and one of the pitching prospects for him? By the way, Ianetta will turn 28 before the 2011 season.

Then Kendall can mentor him if and when he comes back.

Remember, it's uncertain whether Myers will be a catcher in the majors.

Anonymous said...

See below. Rany you are a flip flopping spineless bastard.

Friday, September 11, 2009
I'm Done.
So the Royals have improbably swept the Tigers, as the trio of Bruce Chen, Robinson Tejeda, and Lenny DiNardo led the Royals to victory over Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander, and Jarrod Washburn. After eking out a win tonight in Cleveland, the Royals have won five games in a row for the first time since they were, yes, 18-11. Seems like a good time for some positivity.

If that’s what you’re thinking, I’m afraid I have to disappoint you.

I’ve let this column stew in my head for a few days now, in the hope that time would dull the sharp edges a little bit. As harsh as this column might read, trust me, if I had written it two days ago it would have been much, much worse.

On Tuesday the Royals announced their final September callups of the year. Two days after the Royals rushed reinforcements to Kansas City in the arms of Dusty Hughes, Victor Marte, and Carlos Rosa (and the glove – certainly not the bat – of Luis Hernandez), the team brought back Alex Gordon after he had served penance for his sins at the plate, and brought up Lenny DiNardo in order to fill out a rotation that is suddenly down Gil Meche and Brian Bannister.

But it was the player the Royals didn’t call up that has exposed this organization once again as having blinders on to any kind of objective analysis of what the issues are with this team. Much as the acquisition of Yuniesky Betancourt spoke volumes about how clueless the Royals are when it comes to a rational evaluation of a player’s worth, the decision not to promote this player from Triple-A is damning evidence of the same thing.

Unknown said...

I would be willing to say that the only arena Dayton has been below average in has been signing Free Agents.

Even in his trades he's above .500. Let's not forget the Bannister Trade, the haul he got for Ainkel, the fact he even managed to unload some of Guillen's contract, and even getting Davies for Dotel is a pretty good one. (And keeping it in perspective, the Yuni trade isn't as bad as it could have been).

all in all the trade weren't homeruns, but they aren't anything to get upset about either (other than Jacobs).

It's really the kendall, bloomquist guillen trifecta that is tainting his work right now (and rightfully so).

2011, meh. Beyond that, we're looking good. But as the the Royals get closer contention, how DM does in the Free Agent pool is going to become more and more crucial.

BobK said...

Thanks, Rany. This was very informative and gives me even more hope about the future. About all I have right now is hope for the future.

Anonymous said...

Why do people think all of these prospects will pan out? At best, we are looking at a 30% success rate. If that is the case, GMDM will have to do a good job of signing FAs.

And why would anyone assume the bulk of the prospects will hit the bigs next year? It seems really unlikely. I think we are at least two years out. Even GMDM says his goal is to have 2-3 prospects challenge for a job every year.

Also, the Giants have three really good/great SPs. Why would anyone assume we will be able to have three all star caliber starting pitchers at the same time? That is a really tall order. Not impossible, but really unlikely.

Finally, the vast majority of the Giants offense this year has come from FA signings. I think Rany is over looking this point. In other words, a GM has to do more than develop prospects. Even Rany's example bears that out. And that is why I am skeptical of this regime. We can all agree that GMDM's FA signings are horrendous, right?

Don't get me wrong, I really want the Royals to succeed but I am not drinking the Kool-Aid just yet. Tons of unproven prospects and a GM who struggles with FA signings does not inspire a lot of confidence.

Anonymous said...

Why is it impossible to imagine a breakout year for the Spoils?

Geeez, the Rangers picked up Josh Hamilton for nothing. No...not us, we have to age KEELIEAHKYYAHOOYEE. Perhaps he should go back to Omaha, buy a bar and settle in for retirement.

Do rooks in KC have to go through a bad year? Every year we see rooks and older star minor league players stepping up and doing the job.

I'm going to projectile vomit the next time I see some stud rook outfielder aged 21 smashing a car winshield on I-70.

How the frick old is Mitch Meyer anywho? DeJesus is 30. Is it time he carried a team for a few days? Or, is David too young.

Same field dimensions, and do not tell me major league pitching is 1960s again, hells bells.

I think it's absolute nonsense for us as fans and others to accept predicting failure.

Who picked the Rangers this year?

Why can't Moose come up and rip? Good Gravy Bruce Chen led our pitchers is it too much to ask of a couple of young rooks to do the same. Why not pick up some talent free agent style. huh? Are the Royals too talent heavy?

See...catching Royals Minor League...*Will will be a first baseman.

Bruce Chen? Leads the team in wins, but we can't expect something in 2011.

Bruce Chen.

This whole thing sucks. Who are the folks predicting we are going to lose again next year? Is it Mz Yost, in hopes of a couple of million buck years of hubby money?

I smell a ratus ratus in Yost.

Screw all the fancy dancy stats and figures. Alex Gordon should have had his ass up here 2 years before the Spoils put him in a bases loaded situation opening day game.

The time to bounce a thoroughbred like Gordon to the minors was 3 years ago.

I just popped a vein in my neck.........bye till next year.

Anonymous said...

Rany before ragging on the Chiefs for having an easy schedule, check your history. The Chiefs always have a ridiculous schedule- they deserve an easy year- easy schedules seem like the Broncos schedule every freaking year.

Unknown said...

What I'm hearing is that we have an idiot savant for a GM. I think it's generally agreed upon that our idiot savant has done very well in the draft & in Latin America, I just don't know if those things alone will take us to the promised land simply because it did that for the Giants.

I am not asking him to be the best in both aspects and I realize that all GMs make plenty of mistakes, I would just like to see him stop making moves at the major league level that rank as one of the top 3-5 worst moves of a year. Look at the time from the 2008 off-season until now. We acquired by trade or FA signing Guillen, Jacobs, Yuni, & Kendall. When the entire baseball community screams no and our idiot savant does it anyways, I can't help but criticize that. Like I said, I'm not asking for perfection, just refrain from the brain dead bad moves.

Dave Farquhar said...

Before we go saying we'll be lucky if 30 percent of the prospects pan out, let's look back at those lists:

Of the 1993-2001 draft, arguably Mike MacDougal and Jimmy Gobble went on to have the most productive careers. It's a long list of, at best, fringe big-leaguers.

Look at 2002-2005, which Rany calls "slightly" better.

Zack Greinke - no comment necessary
Chris Lubanski - bust
Mitch Maier - dare I say he's better than Jimmy Gobble?
Billy Butler - no comment necessary
Matt Campbell - who?
J.P. Howell - Too bad we have nothing to show for him, but that's not his fault
Alex Gordon - disappointing, but is he any worse than Mike MacDougal?

OK, so of the latter 7, 5 made the big leagues. Any team would be glad to have Greinke, Butler, and Howell. Maier's a useful fourth outfielder and probably could be a superutilityman. We know now that Gordon isn't George Brett, but many of his age 26-comparables still had productive careers--Larry Hisle, Graig Nettles, Mike Cameron, and Eric Soderholm are among them.

The Royals' top 7 prospects today won't all turn out to be franchise players like Greinke. But a 30% success rate sounds awfully pessimistic in light of how the '02-'05 picks panned out.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be touting Sabean as good at drafting. He LUCKED into the only RHP to lead the league in strikeouts three straight years since Dizzy Dean. The guy already has 2 Cy Youngs. He got incredibly lucky. Drafting future HOF players ain't a skill, else you would see the same scouts/FO repeat their success regularly.

Anonymous said...

To those who wish to make the (admittedly valid) argument that X percent of prospects bust, I submit the following list of names:

Sam Runion
Mitch Hodge
Adrian Ortiz
Fernando Cruz
Tyler Sample
Tim Melville
Alex Llanos
Aaron Crow
Louis Coleman
Mathiew White

Who are these guys? They were all drafted in the sixth round or higher in 2007, 2008, or 2009. (I didn't include 2010 because at this point it's too early to make any calls.) Everybody should know Melville and Crow, neither of whom should be written off just yet, and Coleman looks like he'll be a useful reliever, but do you have a clue what the rest of these guys are up to these days?

My point is that the Royals are very far from hitting 100% on their draft picks. Just like every other club. Maybe my glasses are, like Rany's, a tad rose-colored, but why shouldn't the Royals X percent of hits over those years consist of Moustakas, Hosmer, Myers, Giavotella, Duffy, Montgomery, Lamb, and Dwyer? There is likely to be a bit of attrition there still, particularly amongst volatile pitchers (and I'm not totally sold on Giavotella), but I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation to think this is a solid group. Or that it would constitute an unusually high success rate.

Chance said...

I want to state my admiration for those of you who comment on Rany's posts that back up your arguments with solid research. In addition to the fine analysis offered by Rany, the (mostly) intelligent banter and back and forth between the commentators keeps me coming back.

And for those of you who instead choose to fling racist insults instead of adding anything valuable to the discussion, well, I am glad I live in a country where you can freely flaunt your ignorance.

Rany, thanks again for leading me through a Royals season with your quality writing and excellent knowledge. Thank-you.

smh said...

Congratulations on your Best of Kansas City win in the Pitch!

Jacob G. said...

Fun times seeing Hosmer beat up on fat Bartolo:

Anonymous said...

How exactly has Dayton done well in Latin America?

Good Lord, Dayton loses 95 games in year FOUR. NO IMPROVEMENT AT THE MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL in HALF A DECADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I hate the anti-anti Dayton Moore movement.

What is Daytons record at the MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL?

This is pro sports people. I dont give a damn about the farm system. Where are the results in KC?

Kendall, Bloomquist, Mendoza, TPJ, Elarton, Anderson(s), Freel, Cruz, Bale, Davies, Guillen, Yuni, Getz, etc etc etc...

Yeah, this guy really knows talent!

What a freakin joke.

Kyle said...

I have been a fan of a few of the FA signings. I liked the pick up of Podsednik and Ankiel when it happened. Podsednik performed well enough to net a couple of players. Ankiel did play much, but was still able to land some prospects. I did not like the Kendall or Farnsworth signings, but Farnsworth brought back something. Meche gave 2.5 GREAT years, until he was hurt.

Moore's trades have been pretty good for the most part. I like the Coco/Ramirez trade, it didn't end up working out. But he was trying. Callaspo, Davies, Bannister were all decent trades. Betancourt has not been bad.

Everyone always rings him for the bad ones, but you have to look at the good and the bad to get the real picture. He has done Ridiculously good job of building the farm system. #1 in the league, and the top 6 are playing GREAT for the Pan Am games.

Why can't these kids start contributing next year? Moustakas could win a starting job. The bullpen could see Collins, Coleman, Hardy, and Duffy. Heck even the rotation could see Duffy or Montgomery by mid season.

Kyle said...

A rotation of Montgomery, Greinke, Duffy, Hochevar, Lamb/Dwyer sometime in the 2012 season could look pretty nice. The bullpen is going to be very young, and very inexpensive for the next few years. A lineup with Butler, Hosmer, Moustakas, Myers, Colon, D. Robinson, Giavatella will be very young and inexpensive. There will be plenty of room in the budget for Moore to go out and spend in FA after the 2011 season.

Not Jennifer Gibbs said...

I'm not sure it's fair to lump MacDougal in with the disappointments. He's been injury prone, but he's been generally servicable and effective when healthy. He's been an All Star, put up a positive WAR, had a couple of OK years as a reliever, and he was still pitching in the majors this year, 11 years after he was drafted. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems about average for someone picked towards the end of the first round (he was 25th). Of the guys drafted between selections 20 and 30 within a few years of MacDougal's selection, only Wainright and Sabathia became stars, and the vast majority accomplished far less than MacDougal (most didn't make the majors).

I didn't do a full study of it, but he seems average to ever-so-slightly above average for someone picked towards the end of the first round. If that's a disappointment, then expectations were probably too high.

Michael said...

4 years is half a decade?? I think your calculator is broken.

And most complete rebuilds take a minimum of 6 years anyway.

And for those of you who try to knock Sabean for "getting lucky" when he took Posey and Lincecum, remember, he got Posey 5th, and Lincecum 10th. That's not luck, 4 and 9 other teams, respectively, had the chance to take either of them, and they all passed. Sabean recognized the talent and took them when his turn came around.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the Dayton lovers excuses will be next year- year FIVE- when Daytins team loses 95 games again...5 years still not enough time, fellas?

What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Michael- Bloomquist, Gload, Guillen,Yuni,Mendoza, Bale, Ponson, Getz, Ankiel, Jacobs, TPJ, Hillman, Farnsworth, Anderson, Kendall, etc etc....

Explain why you think Dayton has the ability to evaluate major league talent.

Michael said...

Anonymous, as Rany pointed out in this post, HE DOESN'T HAVE TO. As long as he drafts and develops well, the only free agents he'll need are fill ins. If guys like Guillen and Meche were only fill ins, we'd be lauding those pickups. But no, Meche was expected to be the ace (and he was, until his arm blew up) and Guillen was expected to be the main offensive force. So, therefore, those pickups were considered busts (not as much on Meche though).

Name one significant free agent pickup the Minnesota Twins have made that have gotten them to the postseason practically every year this last decade or so.

Anonymous said...

Jim Thome

Anonymous said...

Michael- Its not that Dayton doesnt need to pick up free agents or not...its that the free agents Dayton does pick up ACTIVELY HURT THE TEAM (See Kendall, Jason).

Anonymous said...

Royals fans! Found you. Was wondering who you were. So was this guy: