Thursday, November 11, 2010

Somebody Messed With DeJesus.


What should I do?

Should I admit that the Royals have made mistakes?

Should I remind you that they’ve done this before?

Should I give you a history lesson?

What should I do?

…sorry. I feel like I’ve written this article – analyzing an underwhelming trade – so many times that I’ve run out of ledes.

The Royals traded David DeJesus to Oakland yesterday for Vinny Mazzaro and Justin Marks, and the reaction has been decidedly mixed. Fans hate it; some sabermetric types don’t like it, although others – notably Kevin Goldstein and Christina Kahrl – feel like it’s a good deal for both sides, as do most non-sabermetric journalists. Notably, almost no one thinks that the A’s got hosed here.

There’s a lot that people can disagree on about this trade, so let’s start by focusing on the undeniable facts of the deal:

- The trade almost certainly makes the Royals a worse team in 2011. Mazzaro could have a breakout season, or DeJesus could get hurt or suddenly lose effectiveness, but if those outcomes were likely, this trade wouldn’t have been made.

- The trade almost certainly makes the Royals a better – maybe only slightly better – team in 2012 and 2013. DeJesus will be a free agent after next season, and was unlikely to be re-signed. The Royals control Mazzaro’s contract through the end of 2015, and Marks might be ready for the majors in some role by mid-2012 as well. If DeJesus had walked, the Royals might have received one or two draft picks in return, but even if they hit on those picks, those players would be unlikely to surface in the majors before 2014.

- The trade saves the Royals about $5.5 million in 2011, the difference between DeJesus’ $6 million option and the roughly $500,000 that Mazzaro can expect to get. (Mazzaro is unlikely to be arbitration-eligible until 2013.) Saving money is a good thing – unless that money isn’t re-deployed elsewhere, in which case it’s a good thing for David Glass’s bank account only. Still, the money saved in this deal can’t be simply ignored.

- The trade denies the Royals the opportunity to get a draft pick or two when DeJesus walks next winter. For a team that has done a good job of using those high draft picks of late, this is hardly inconsequential. Remember, the Royals drafted Mike Montgomery with the pick they got as compensation when David Riske left as a free agent. Unfortunately, the pick the Royals used to draft Montgomery is the only supplemental pick they’ve had since 2004. It’s not for lack of trying – remember, Dayton Moore offered Mark Grudzielanek arbitration two years ago with the sole purpose of getting a draft pick, which failed when no one wanted to sign Mark.

- The trade relieves the pressure for the Royals to either 1) overspend on a free-agent pitcher to fill up the rotation this winter or 2) rush one of their young pitchers to the majors. Acquiring Mazzaro gives the Royals five major-league caliber starting pitchers – not necessarily good starting pitchers, but pitchers worthy of a roster spot – with three months still to go before spring training. The Opening Day rotation figures to go Greinke-Hochevar-Davies-Mazzaro-O’Sullivan. It’s a mediocre rotation at best, but it’s also a rotation where none of the starters are older than 27.

Of all the ways that Dayton Moore and Allard Baird differ as general managers, probably the most substantial difference is in their timetable for young players to reach the majors. Baird would bring up Leo Nunez or Ambiorix Burgos after two good weeks in Double-A; Moore wouldn’t bring Kila Ka’aihue up after two good years in the high minors. The handling of Ka’aihue was extreme, but in general I like Moore’s approach a lot better. If you keep a player in the minors too long, you might lose out on his performance when he’s ready to help you, but you’re not likely to ruin him. Keep a player in the minors for too short a period of time, and you might ruin him. Delaying his debut also keeps the service time clock from starting.

Given where the Royals are in the development cycle, and given that no one thinks they’ll be competitive until 2012, it makes no sense to bring any of their prospects north with the team on Opening Day next year. (I might make an exception for Tim Collins, who really does have nothing left to prove in the minors.) If trading for Mazzaro keeps the Royals from rushing someone like Danny Duffy into the rotation next spring, that’s a tangible side benefit of the trade.

So without knowing anything about the players involved in the trade, I think it’s important to acknowledge that whether or not we think the Royals made a good trade, we can at least understand why the Royals thought they made a good trade. This is not an awful trade along the lines of some that Dayton Moore has made. This isn’t trading two prospects for the rights to pick up most of Yuniesky Betancourt’s contract, which was a horrible trade from Day One because the Royals didn’t appreciate the desperation the Mariners had to make a trade. This isn’t trading a useful reliever for Mike Jacobs, which was a horrible trade from Day One because the Royals already had player (Ka’aihue) on their roster who could have done the job that they asked Jacobs to do better, and cheaper, and younger.

This was a trade in which the Royals gave up an established major-league player that had one year left on his contract, for an established major-league player that has five years left on his contract, and a minor-leaguer who hasn’t used up a day of service time yet. They traded present value for future value. They traded for two young pitchers, and under Moore the Royals have done a better job evaluating young talent than old, and done a better job evaluating pitchers than hitters. The concept was sound.

Now, about the execution…

We’ll skip over DeJesus for now, as I figure you’re all quite aware of his talents, and since one of his most obvious talents is consistency, we all sort of have an idea of his value.

Let’s talk about Vinny Mazzaro, who’s the key to the deal. Mazzaro was a third-round pick by the A’s in the 2005 draft, the year that they confused everybody who didn’t understand what “Moneyball” was all about by taking a bunch of high school pitchers early in the draft. Mazzaro was the third high-school pitcher the A’s took in the second or third round, and is the only one of the three to pan out so far, although Craig Italiano and Jared Lansford might both make it as middle relievers. (That’s right – the A’s took a guy named Vinny from New Jersey and a guy whose last name was Italiano.)

Mazzaro is a big-bodied right-hander (listed at 6’2”, 210) who throws a four-pitch repertoire, but is primarily known for having a good sinking fastball. He used this sinker to good effect in the minors, particularly in 2008, when – pitching for Midland, a good hitters’ park in the Texas League – he allowed just 3 homers in 137 innings. He reached the majors in June of 2009 – coincidentally, I happened to be in the stands for his major-league debut at U.S. Cellular Park – and has been a slightly-below-average pitcher to date, with a 4.72 ERA in 214 innings.

His biggest weakness to date has been his propensity for the home run, as he’s allowed 31 in those 214 innings. My original feeling when I looked at his stat line was that he had been awfully unlucky – groundball pitchers don’t typically give up a homer every seven innings – and that with normal luck he’s a good candidate for improvement.

But then I dug a little deeper at Fangraphs, and came upon a disturbing figure. Despite being labeled as a sinkerball pitcher from the time he was drafted, he hasn’t remotely been one in the major leagues. As a rookie, his groundball rate was just 39%, which marked him as a distinct flyball pitcher – by comparison, Bruce Chen’s GB% this season was 35%, and he’s one of the most extreme flyball pitchers in baseball. This year, Mazzaro coaxed a few more grounders, but his 43% GB rate was still a little below league average.

This is a problem. Mazzaro isn’t a power pitcher – he’s struck out just 5.8 batters per 9 innings in the majors, which is below-average. He’s not a control pitcher – he’s walked 3.7 batters per 9, also below-average. His entire claim to success rests on his ability to keep the ball on the ground. If his sinker doesn’t sink, then what is he?

The problem isn’t that his fastball literally doesn’t sink – according to Mike Fast, the guru of Pitch F/X data, the trajectory of his sinking fastball is actually quite in line with what a sinking fastball ought to do. The problem is that when the ball comes off the bat, it doesn’t behave like a sinker ought to behave – the groundball rate on Mazzaro’s sinker was 39%, compared to a league average of 52% for sinkers.

Now, with every crisis comes an opportunity, and it’s possible that the disconnect between Mazzaro’s repertoire and his results is an opportunity for the Royals to instantly improve his performance if they’ve identified something in Mazzaro’s delivery that explains the discrepancy. We all thought it was a little ridiculous when the Royals thought they could unlock the potential in Gil Meche, after all these years, simply by having him land on his toes instead of his heel – until it turned out they were right. If the Royals think they’ve pinpointed a similar issue with Mazzaro, well, they’ve earned the right to test that theory.

Unfortunately, my friend Nate Bukaty asked Dayton Moore this exact question on the radio this morning, and Moore’s answer, paraphrased, was that “Mazzaro just needs innings” to improve. If that’s really the Royals’ answer, that’s disappointing. Having said that, if I were the Royals, I wouldn’t admit that I could fix Mazzaro’s delivery until I’ve actually had a chance to work with him in spring training. Making that claim today would be a pretty empty boast, not to mention that Mazzaro might not appreciate hearing the news for the first time from a radio show.

Come spring training, though, that is one of the storylines to look for. And come the regular season, Mazzaro’s groundball/flyball ratio will be one of the most important stats to look at in the early going.

While Mazzaro was the main impetus for making the trade, Justin Marks is not simply a throw-in. Marks was also a third-round pick in the draft, albeit out of college as the ace of the University of Louisville staff last year. He’s a left-hander with a slightly above-average fastball, and throws three secondary pitches (curve/slider/changeup) that are all usable but not particularly distinguished.

I was amused to see so many people describe his first full pro season in 2010 as “disappointing”, because my first thought upon looking at his numbers was that he actually had a pretty good year. Of course, that’s because I was only looking at the right-hand side of his baseball-reference.com page, where I noticed that in 129 innings, he had struck out 136 batters and walked only 49, though he did give up 15 homers.

I guess the disappointment stems from the left-hand side of his page, where you’ll learn that he went 6-13 with a 4.87 ERA. Win-loss records mean less than nothing for minor leaguers, and frankly, ERA is about equally as meaningless. The component stats are all that matter, and Marks’ components show him to be a guy with pretty good stuff for a left-hander. Scouting opinions on him vary, but Baseball America’s Jim Callis tweeted yesterday that at least one scout thought he had a ceiling as a #3 starter in the majors. At worst, a number of people have said that his fastball/slider combination has a future as a lefty specialist in the majors.

With all that said, this makes Marks something like the eighth or ninth-best prospect in the Royals’ system just among left-handed pitchers. I keep saying that the Royals might actually be testing the theory that you can have too much pitching, and with each trade they make, they focus on acquiring more pitching. Going back to the Alberto Callaspo trade, by my count the Royals have traded for 10 players – two low-upside hitters (Lucas May and Gregor Blanco) and eight pitchers. Pitching may be the currency of baseball, but someone needs to tell Moore that by definition, currency is something that it can be used to buy and sell.

I’ve come around to the notion that the Royals received fair value, more or less, for DeJesus, and I think that the people who are calling this deal a disaster are thinking with their spinal cord – it’s an automatic reflex to call any trade between Billy Beane and the Royals’ GM (no matter who he is) a disaster. The best way to illustrate why I think it’s a fair deal is to compare it with the first trade Moore made this summer, when he moved Alberto Callaspo to the Angels in exchange for O’Sullivan and Will Smith.

The trades are eerily similar – in both cases, the Royals traded an everyday hitter in their lineup for a young right-handed starter who had already reached the majors, a starter who has decent but not great stuff, a starter who despite his youth is not projected to improve his stuff over time; and a left-handed starting pitching prospect who has above-average command of average stuff. The trades are thus easily comparable.

There’s no question in my mind that Mazzaro is a better pitcher/pitching prospect than O’Sullivan. Neither pitcher misses a lot of bats, but O’Sullivan’s strikeout rate is particularly bad – just 4.8 Ks per 9 innings. Both pitchers have roughly average control – O’Sullivan’s walk rate of 3.1 per 9 innings is slightly better than Mazzaro’s. And while both pitchers have given up a lot of homers in their career, Mazzaro at least holds the promise of reducing the taters with his sinker – O’Sullivan’s an unabashed flyball pitcher. O’Sullivan strikes me as a #5 starter, maybe #4 if everything breaks right – Mazzaro’s a #4, and a #3 if everything breaks right.

From everything I’ve gathered, I’d also say that Marks is a better prospect than Smith. Marks, I believe, throws a tick harder, and the consensus seems to be that he’ll succeed in the majors in some capacity – at the time the Royals acquired Smith, the consensus was that he was probably nothing more than a Quadruple-A guy.

So the Royals got better players for DeJesus than they did for Callaspo. That stands to reason, since DeJesus is the better player – but at the same time, the Royals had DeJesus under control for one more season at a slightly below-market value salary. Callaspo was under control for three-plus seasons, and was not even arbitration-eligible yet.

If you liked the Callaspo deal – and some of the same people who hate this trade were much more favorable to the Callaspo trade – I think you have to like the DeJesus deal. I was very ambivalent about the Callaspo deal, but at worst, I think that means I have to be deeply ambivalent about the DeJesus deal. Which I am.

And about DeJesus. When the Royals traded Callaspo, I was worried they were selling low, as he was hitting just .275/.308/.410 after his impressive .300/.356/.457 line in 2009. Instead of rebounding, though, Callaspo was awful for the Angels after the trade, batting .249/.291/.315. His power disappeared, and he wasn’t even hitting for average anymore. I have no doubt that the Royals wouldn’t be able to trade him for O’Sullivan and Smith today, or anything close to it.

DeJesus is a better player, but at the same time the Royals traded him at the absolute peak of his abilities. He hit .318/.384/.443 this season, setting career highs in average, OBP, and OPS. Now, by virtue of the fact that DeJesus’ game revolves around batting average – he doesn’t strike out much, but also doesn’t walk much or hit for a lot of power – his performance is heavily dependent on how many groundballs squirt through the infield and how many bloopers drop in no-man’s land.

He got the benefit of a lot of breaks in 2010, which is why he hit .318 instead of his career average of .289. But there’s no reason to think he was doing anything different in 2010 to explain his success, which is why it would be foolish to expect him to hit .318 again next year. He’s a .290 hitter, with some gap power, a few walks, good defense – that’s a good player, but hardly an irreplaceable one. If his luck goes the other way, like it did in 2007, and he hits .260 – well, he’s not even an average outfielder.

And he’s under contract for just one more season.

Frankly, the most valuable thing DeJesus brought to the Royals going forward was that compensatory draft pick. The Royals won’t get that – but they also won’t spend $6 million on DeJesus. People a lot smarter than I have tried to calculate the value of a draft pick, and the general consensus is somewhere around $4 million – double that if he’s a Type A free agent, of course. So between his salary and his draft pick compensation, it’s basically a wash.

So unless you think the Royals can compete in 2011, there’s no question that the Royals are much better off with Mazzaro and Marks than they were DeJesus.

I’m just not convinced that they’re better off than they would have been had they simply waited for a better offer. That’s my main beef with this trade: why now? Why not wait to see where Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth sign, knowing that for the teams that don’t sign either free agent, DeJesus may represent a better option for them than any free agent left on the market?

This again reminds me of the Callaspo deal, in that my main reservation with the trade was less about the talent the Royals received than about the nagging sense that they should have done better. You would think that some team would pony up more for a young, cheap everyday player. But if those offers weren’t there, what were the Royals to do?

In DeJesus’ case, we know that the offers were there. We don’t know what the offers were, but we know they were there – from the Red Sox in particular. It’s not a coincidence that the Red Sox and A’s were most interested, given that DeJesus’ defensive numbers have always been excellent, and those teams take those numbers seriously. But not every team does, and to a team like, say, the Cubs, what do they see when they look at DeJesus? A guy who can hit .300 but doesn’t hit for power, doesn’t have a lot of speed, and has to play a corner outfield spot. And who’s under contract for one year. And getting paid six million dollars.

So it’s quite possible that we, as fans, are overestimating the interest in DeJesus, and overestimating the offers that were made for him. Moore said on the radio today that this was “clearly” the best offer that any team had made for DeJesus, and what sucks is that I have no choice but to believe him. This is the uncertainty that makes my job difficult – without knowing what other offers were made, I can only speculate as to whether the Royals could have done better. All I know for certain is that trading DeJesus makes more sense than letting him go as a free agent next year. I have no way of knowing whether the Royals missed an opportunity to trade him for more.

If the Royals had asked me yesterday whether to take the deal or not, I would have said no. I would have said, wait for a better deal, and if you don’t get it, pencil DeJesus in as your right fielder and re-assess the situation in July. I would have told them that, while everyone seems to think the Royals are going to be awful in 2011, I actually think that the team could play close to .500, because Zack Greinke should be better, and Alex Gordon can’t be any worse, and Ka’aihue could be a stud, and Hochevar might take a step forward, and there aren’t a lot of players on the team (aside from maybe Yuni) who you’d expect to be significantly worse. If Gil Meche stays healthy in the bullpen, and Tim Collins does what we think he can do, the bullpen should be an asset. Mix in some second-half debuts from the Prospect Tsunami, and who knows what might happen?

I would have also told him that if you trade DeJesus, then you’re probably forfeiting your chances of signing Greinke to a contract extension. I might be in the minority here, but I still feel like if the Royals can simply put a .500 team on the field in 2011, that they have a real opportunity to convince Greinke to re-sign with the team. But if they suck in 2011, it won’t matter if they play well in 2012, because they’ll have no choice but to trade him by the trading deadline in 2011 before his trade value starts to evaporate.

The irony is that by trading DeJesus now, by keeping their vision focused on 2012 and beyond, Dayton Moore is being credited for looking at the big picture. But the way I see it, trading DeJesus for Mazzaro and Marks makes sense up close – the Royals will probably get more value for the two guys they traded for than the guy they sent packing – but it fails in the big picture, because it sets up a domino effect which almost forces the Royals to trade Greinke by the end of July.

Maybe that’s for the best. Maybe the Royals can get a Teixeira-like haul for Greinke, and maybe the players they get for him will be the coup de grace on a 2012 or 2013 Royals team which takes baseball by storm. Maybe Greinke will go down in history as the final sacrifice a long-suffering franchise had to make to end a quarter-century of misery.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

What should I do?

Should I throw a fit and say, once again, that Dayton Moore doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing? But if trading DeJesus, and likely Greinke after him, leads us to the promised land in two or three years, how can I complain now?

Should I Trust The Process? But if Moore trades off the two best Royals of the last seven years and doesn’t lead us to the promised land, how can I defer to his judgment now?

Or should I just wait and see?

43 comments:

Rebecca said...

First (ahem), let me echo your ambivalence. Do you think by trading DeJesus Dayton is opening a spot for Frenchy?

Paul P said...

Like Rebecca, I am scared to death of news that the royals will sign francauer.
If they don't do the above, I am ok with the trade.
Just play the young outfield and go with it. Don't sign some crap to a 3 year deal.

Rick said...

I don't think there's any question now that Francoeur is going to sign with the Royals.

This trade doesn't bother me at all. I'll never understand how some fans could gush all over a guy with no power, no ability to steal bases, and a career batting average under .300. DeJesus would be a nice 4th outfielder on a good team. That's it.

The REAL test will come if and when Dayton Moore trades Greinke. That's the trade that will make or break this organization.

Terry said...

Rany, you are absolutelly awseome. I love to read you. I can not set still and read a DR. Suess book with my children but your blogs captivate me. Your passion for the Royals is refreshing. Keep up the great work. Thanks Terry P.

Kansas City said...

Well, it sounds like the Royals have decided to trade Zach. Unfortunately, it also seems like a logical move.

But I would have kept DeJesus until midseason becasue: (1) the Royals might get lucky and get off to a good start; and (2) the market likely would be as good or better for him in July as it is now.

The downside is that it appears were are sentenced to one more bad year in KC.

Michael said...

I think DeJesus will be replaced by a guy who seems to be a lot like him, David Lough. If they sign Francoeur, it'd better be to a minor league deal, with the possiblility of a platoon at best. If he signs and gets 500 AB's, I give up.

Brent said...

I agree with your ambivalence. I think it is a fair trade. I think you identified precisely why we would not get more for him. But I also think Zack might still stay, or at least this trade has little effect on that. The most important questions will be answered at this trade deadline and by the AAA team. If we have 3-4 guys knocking on the door and HAVE to move players, then there is a chance to salvage Zack. I don't think he really wants to go anywhere else unless he has to. The media here is good to him. The fans love him. And the team did the right thing by protecting him from the media. We have an advantage.

Interesting thing: this trade might be even now, but I do not think it will get much worse for us. But there is a chance it could get a lot better if the younger guys pan out. I really do not have much trust in the Royals evaluating anyone over the age of 25, but on the younger side of that line, the track record is pretty OK. Not perfect, but they have proven scouting is what they can do decently. Mazzaro could get better -- the James projections given for him suggest that the upside might be in the low 4s ERA. On our team, that's a pretty good pitcher. As for Marks, the articles that break down his stats by month show a clear progression, and the peripherals are good, so I think he might even be the better piece long term.

But I'm also too optimistic...

John said...

I'm most disturbed that Ryan Lefevbre will get to mildly mock Italian-Americans from New Jersey, as he did both times that Mazzaro pitched against the Royals (13.2 IP and 2 ER - not shabby). What I like is that discounting the start and end of last season, Mazzaro had a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts in the June to August range, so there is some promise.

ScottM said...

And 8 lb. 6 oz. baby Jesus weeps some more @: The Opening Day rotation figures to go Greinke-Hochevar-Davies-Mazzaro-O’Sullivan. Here is how I interpret that rotation.

Greinke will be even more disinterested (read the team will stink). The pedestrian numbers will actually hamper his trade value, but luckily he is so talented that even a really bad year can't kill his value.
Hochevar will resume his role as the classic under-achiever. He will throw just enough tantalizing games to keep us all believing he has a future with the organization.
Davies well he has been well covered the past few posts, but just to reiterate, he just ain't that good. He will string together a few good outings and all his supporters will once again be asking me to eat crow way too soon. By years end, he will be the same old below avg major leaguer.
Mazzaro will most likely be a slightly below league average pitcher. Something doesn't add up about him/his numbers, but I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet. Limited time today, so hopefully something will jump out at me tomorrow.
O'Sullivan will make Ringo Starr feel right at home (read get beat like a drum). You can't walk as many as he does while not striking guys out. To make matters worse, he is a fly ball pitcher so you know that at least a good portion of those will find their way over the wall.

KC NMVSer said...

Don't forget Bruce Chen.

Chris said...

Rany,

On Mazzaro, doesn't it bother you that he was a fly ball pitcher in a pitcher's park with a good defense behind him? If his sinker don't sink he will get ker-rushed here in KC. My bigger worry is that Dayton rushed a deal when he had time, like you said. As for his claim this was the best deal he was offered by far, a blog on WEEI.com in Boston says that the Red Sox were offering MULTIPLE (MULTIPLE!) top ten prospects last summer but Dayton insisted on Felix Doubront and then David got injured. And now, we will get Francouer. (Can't believe you left that out!)

Rick, the World Champion SF Giants employed Jose Guillen in their outfield this year thinking he could help lead them to a title, and you think DeJesus is only a 4th outfielder on a good team? Which would you rather have?

On second thought, don't answer that.

Roman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roman said...

Given where the Royals are in the development cycle, and given that no one thinks they’ll be competitive until 2012..


No one thinks they'll be competitive in 2012. Or 2013. Or 2030.

George said...

Rany, I don't see how an extension for Greinke factors into this--it doesn't make sense either from the point of viw of the Royals or Greinke. His next contract will be market value. We cannot afford that. Heck, we cannot afford 75 percent of his market value.

geoknows said...

It's a wait-and-see, Rany.

I don't buy for a second that the Red Sox were offering "multiple top tens" for DeJesus last summer. Theo Epstein has never operated that way for a DeJesus-type and never will. That's blogosphere BS about a guy the fanbase wanted their team to get but didn't.

Moore was within inches of trading DeJesus in July before he got hurt, so he knows exactly what the market was going to pay for him.

All that said, I still do have to admit to having Frenchy fear...

George said...

The "multiple top tens" is a misread. If you go back to that article what it is saying is that the Sox were willing to talk about "multiple" prospects that were Top 10--as in "you can have one of these four top ten guys." The pitcher the Royals wanted wasn't among them.

Danny said...

To be honest, I am not sure if I understand the rich hatred for the possibility of acquiring Francoeur. Obviously, the OPS+ is, and has been down. But it wasn't long ago Rany suggested TRADING for him. To be honest, a similar vehemence was met with the potential signing of Podsednik--and he performed slightly above average for a LF (slighlty above average OPS+, slightly above average bases, slightly belove defense)--which was AWESOME for a one-year wonder the Royals wanted to sell.

My question is: why object to a 2-year deal if potential exists and NOTHING is blocked in the minors? Myers is still trying out at C, Gordon has had worse numbers than Jeffy Franc, and there is no one else worth mentioning. Meier/Blanco are 4th OFs, the AAAers aren't projecting, and the cupboard is bare.

If they Royals want to pride themselves on development of major leaguers, Franc seems like a SMART sign. I would love to hear a logical objection to a small contract.

John said...

If the Royals did sign Francoeur, what would be the big deal? No one doubts that the guy has ability that he hasn't been able to develop in the majors, he's not that old, and right now his stock is down so much that he'd be cheap.

The Royals have been trying to pick up guys like this for years, and until they're ready to contend, there's no reason not to. Maybe Francoeur is just as bad in K.C. as he was with the Braves the last few years and the Mets. But maybe he figures something out and you get another Wilson Betemit, who was also a failed mega-prospect for many years. At the very least, maybe he turns into Emil Brown and holds down a slot for a couple of years without hurting the team until (hopefully) someone better is available.

As long as the Betemits and Francoeurs of the world aren't blocking anyone, and they're not causing the team not to contend, there's no reason not to try to salvage them.

Dave said...

I'd love to see KC pick up Frenchy as well as Brad Hawpe... play them in some sort of loose platoon, with Hawpe getting a little bit of extra time at DH, etc., as well.... Hawpe mashes righties, Francouer lefties - you've got yourself a cheap, two-headed right fielder + there!

Kyle said...

If Francoeur is signed, it will be for too much money. Something like 3/24M. That is too much to pay for part of a platoon. If it is at all possible to get him for less than that, then maybe. He would be a perfect platoon split with Gordon, but they are going to give him every chance to fail. Maybe he would be a good platoon with Betemit?

I would really like to see Lough and Dyson get their chances, but they are probably just 4th and 5th outfielders at best. Everything I have read shows that Lough is DDj part II. So why not give him a chance?

As for the rotation, it isn't even close to finished. I hope! Greinke, Hoch, and Mazzaro are probably locks now. As for Davies and O'Sullivan, I think that is still up in the air. I like Davies, he just hasn't lived up to expections for 3 years or so.

Jim said...

I have heard it said before that rushing a top prospect from AA to MLB can "ruin" him. That sounds a lot like "clutchiness" to me.

How do you know that the prospect would have succeeded if left in the minors longer?

Has anyone ever done any studies on this?

kcghost said...

To me GMDM traded for another Kyle Davies. Why even bother?? The other guy he got is just organizational cannon fodder.

I don't want to hear another word about Francoeur. The guy has 3400+ major league plate appearances. He is what he is and that isn't very good.

Why does GMDM think he has to do something as soon as he possibly can after the WS. The man has zero patience once the WS ends.

Bryan said...

I really like the Frenchy/Hawpe platoon idea. And I would not give Frenchy more than 2 or 3 per year. Any more than that and he can go somewhere else.

Hawpe has a pretty good arm and is pretty decent defensively too. I think having him to compliment Butler and Kila at DH would work well also.

I would also agree that the rotation is not finished. I think we will see Teaford or Duffy or both in there, and I would like to see Chen signed to add rotation depth. I think you could do a lot worse than Chen. I don't see that much of a problem with giving him two years.

How much money has been freed up and how much money are they going to spend? Is there no chance at all of any big signings? I mean with Guillen and DeJesus alone that adds about 20MM. Couldn't they go after one big name with that kind of money? Is Crawford going to sign for more than 20 per?
If you could get Werth for two years at 12 per wouldn't you do it?

The Yankess are going to overpay for Jeter, but just to stickit to them and to drive his price higher why don't we give his agent a call? Why wouldn't we pay 15 a year for 3 years for him? He is the type of leader this team needs. He would absolutely take the young talent under his wing. I know it is pretty far fetched, but why not try?

Michael said...

If Franceour signs for more than 2 mill a year, it's a bad signing.

Kyle said...

There really isn't much left to spend on FA. Once you take into account Greinke and Soria's raises and the arbitration eligible players, there just isn't much there. Guillen, Farnsworth, DDj, Banny come off the books, that is 24 mil. Greinke gets 5 mil more, Soria gets 2 mil more, probably a total of about 10-12 mil in arbitration money (Butler, Gordon, Hoch, Davies, Betemit). That only leaves about 5-7 mil, right?

succotash said...

Why does Oakland want to pay $6M for one year of DeJesus? That doesn't make sense to me. Is there any reasonable hope that they will contend for anything next year?

I won't be too surprised if Oakland flips DeJesus for something better than they gave for him.

Kansas City said...

It is kind of interesting to look at it as the Royals get 11 years of pitchers for 1 year of DeJesus.

Assuming the pitchers are at leave average major league pitchers, it will be a good deal.

Unfortunatly, it makes the Royals worse next year.

Grain of Salt said...

Much ado about relatively nothing if you ask me. Nothing will change unless Glass starts letting GMDM play with real money instead of Monopoly money.

Kyle said...

Grain of Salt, what do you mean real money? Glass has opened up the pocket book quite a bit since Moore has been around. The have doubled the payroll since Moore has been here. Payroll will be right around 70mil for next year. That is about middle of the pack in spending. They have also spent more money in international FA and the draft than almost any other team. So I don't think that is the problem.

The problem is, high profile FA will not sign with KC, b/c they are not a winner. It's kind of a catch 22. We need FA to be a winner, but none will come to KC until they are a winner. It is key that they start graduating top level prospects in 2011 and 2012. Then by 2013 the payroll should be smaller (a lot of league minimum guys), then they can go out and over spend for a couple of guys to fill holes.

Kyle said...

By 2013, the team should have only a few holes. Moustakas 3B, Hosmer 1B, Myers RF, Butler/Kila DH, Colon/Bianchi SS, Getz/Aviles/Giavotella 2B, Perez/Pina C, Gordon/Lough LF, Robinson/Dyson/Orlando/Eibner CF. They still look fairly weak up the middle, so maybe a big FA CF or SS signing.

Hopefully the rotation is pretty set with Monty, Duffy, Hochevar, Dwyer, Lamb. Maybe Greinke resigns after he sees the great things that are coming.

Olentangy said...

You need to correct your spelling of next years rotation, it should read Greinke, Mediocrechevar,Bumvies, Bumzzaro,and O'Bummivan.

ledzepp28 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ledzepp28 said...

I think this is a great blog, but I do worry about all you KC fans pinning your hopes on AA players. All you have to do is look at the history of baseball to know that you will be extremely lucky if 60% of the players you are counting on even amount to average major league players. If even 30% amount to above average players you will be lucky. There is a big difference between AA and the majors. Not trying to hate, as I know you all have been suffering for a while, but I feel you are all are setting yourselves up for a big fail putting everything on 2012. There are tons of prospects who were amazing in the minors who couldn't hit/pitch in the majors

Nathan said...

ledzepp, I agree with you that we can't count on any one of these guys, even Hosmer and Moose. But the Royals farm system has not only quality, but also quantity. I think that flexibility allows us to project with some confidence that this team will be much improved by 2012-2013. It's not that we know exactly which prospects will perform well, but that we can reasonably expect some of them to.

Neither the rotation nor the lineup are "set." Both will almost certainly be significantly different then we might project at present. But it still stands that, barring an unlikely convergence of catastrophes, they'll be quite a bit better.

Kenneth said...

I think it is a horrible trade for the reason that it looks like you are throwing in the towel on next season. Often understated is the ability of Dejesus to bat leadoff and be effective. While he might not steal 60 bases he can go from 1st the third. Would that not allow Dyson to bat 9th, thereby alleviating some pressure on the young rookie? Lost that possibility now. Now Dyson would have to succeed as a leadoff for the Royals. A much harder, demanding position than say 9th.

You have to keep your good players and trade for more good players to be successful. Always trading for good players doesn't help you if you don't keep any good players. Dejesus would be a nice veteran presence with some years in the organization to help all these young guys coming up.

What's wrong with a 75/15/75/15 .275 player ? That is worth $6mil in today's baseball. Anyone noticed everyone's home run total going down with the steroid crackdown. Yes a draft pick is a 50/50 gamble when he walks at the end of the season. But if you are the Royals aren't you willing to take those odds that the guy you draft for losing Dejesus is good enough to be a Major league player ? I mean you have got to take chances in the draft like that if you are the Royals. Taking chances on mediocre pitchers does nothing but buy you time. And it does not by you any extra fan support

Antonio. said...

1. DDJ has never stolen 15. And even if he did, it would be pretty irrelevant since he'd have to get tossed 9-11 times to get 15.
2. There's no 50/50 gamble with any draft pick.
3. The idea to trading these good players is that you're trading for enough good young prospects that you'll finally someday have a team full of good players.
4. The problem that I have with what Moore has done with the farm system is that they all seem to be the same type of player, left-handed slugger or left-handed starter. Where's the lead off hitter that'll have an 78% or better SB% AND .365 OBP? Where are the defensive wizards that hit enough that you don't lose out offensively when you do business with their glove? Where is the top-notch up the middle prospect? Where's the righty slugger? Where's the righty starter that's currently pitching well? I don't expect the Royals to have 30 guys in BA's Top 100, but it would be nice to have a good mixture of talent.

Antonio. said...

My other point that I forgot to add is this: Is it just me or is it just too easy to assume that had DM gotten just one prospect, his return would have been better? I can't get the thought out of my head that maybe DDJ = Mazzaro/Marks = Grant Green (hypothetical only).

Michael said...

Antonio,

That I would say is a fair criticism of our farm system. It's heavy on lefties. But, not all of these guys are going to make it to the majors, and not all of them will make it to the majors as Royals, either. Once the influx of talent comes in and starts making us respectable, we can bring in better free agents and/or trade some of our young talent for their right handed counterparts.

In the draft, you just take the best player available, regardless of position or whether they are right or left-handed.

Nathan said...

Wanting righty-lefty balance in the linup makes some sense. But I fail to see what's wrong with having all lefties in the rotation. It's not like they're pitching in the same game. Who cares? Sure, once in awhile you'll face a team that crushes southpaws. But, once in awhile, you'll face a team that can't hit them at all. It balances.

Bryan said...

Uggla was traded to the Braves for Omar Infante and a relief pitcher.

Couldn't the Royals have been in on the bidding there?

Uggla would vastly improve the team and I am sure we could have offered better than what the Braves gave up.

Michael said...

Bryan, the only problem with that is the contract that Uggla is looking for. He's asking for 5 years and $70 million. I'm not saying he isn't worth it, but the Royals just won't spend that much on one player, especially one with defensive limitations and really only one true ability, power. I do think if he gets that kind of contract, by the time it is done the team that signed him to it will regret it, like the Royals with Gil Meche. Sure, he was worth the money the first 2 1/2 years, but the last 2 1/2, it's been an albatross.

Eric said...

Rany-
Could you give an analysis of Newberg's thoughts on getting Greinke and what you'd take?

http://www.newbergreport.com/article.asp?articleid=2092

Antonio. said...

Michael, the idea of Dayton trading some of the uber-prospects makes me feel pretty uncomfortable.