Friday, October 7, 2011

For Want Of A Pitcher, Part 2.

Kevin Goldstein, as many of you know, is the prospect expert for Baseball Prospectus and is as well-connected as anyone in the industry, despite living in the mighty metropolis of DeKalb, Illinois. As it happens, I have an office in Sycamore, Illinois, about 10 minutes from Kevin’s house, so every month or two we get together for lunch and to talk politics and the Middle East – and, yes, baseball.

We had lunch on Thursday, and we actually got into a spirited discussion about whether the Royals can upgrade their rotation in time for next season. Kevin is skeptical – he thinks that people are underrating just how difficult it is to acquire starting pitching, given that almost every team in baseball is trying to do the same thing. If the Royals are going to trade for a starter, in his opinion, it’s more likely to be for someone like Derek Lowe than for someone like James Shields.

I’m willing to bet that the Royals acquire an established, league-average or better starting pitcher this off-season anyway, and told Kevin that. But he’s certainly right that if the Royals want to trade for a starter of that caliber, they’ll have to pay through the nose in terms of prospects and cash. Fortunately, the Royals have plenty of both. But if they can sign a free-agent pitcher and keep the prospects, so much the better.

The problem is, well, take a look for yourself.

There’s a lot of names on that list. Hardly any are elite names, and most of the ones that are elite have a club option tied to them. Some have already been picked up; Chris Carpenter is no longer on that list after the Cardinals turned his option into a two-year, $21 million contract. (I don’t know if the Cardinals have the best fans in baseball, but what’s important is that the Cardinals players must think they have the best fans in baseball. How else do you explain so many of their stars being willing to give up millions to stay in town?)

So to make this analysis easier, I’m going to assume that none of the players with club options will actually make it to free agency. That means no Ryan Dempster or Adam Wainwright or Paul Maholm or Aaron Harang or  – as much as I’d love him – Roy Oswalt to consider. I’m also assuming that if C.C. Sabathia opts out of his contract, it’s only to get the Yankees to cough up even more money to keep him.

The Dodgers have already turned down Jon Garland’s option, but given that Garland hurt his shoulder in June and wasn’t exactly a power pitcher before the injury, we’ll ignore him as well.

To save time and space, I’m also going to ignore every pitcher below what I’ll call the “Francis Line”. Jeff Francis was a much better pitcher for the Royals than most people realize, certainly better than his 6-16 record and 4.82 ERA. He only walked 34 batters unintentionally all season, barely one per start. He gave up 19 homers in 183 innings, a perfectly acceptable rate. But he didn’t strike people out and the Royals’ defense didn’t do him any favors. Even so, he was worth 1.4 bWAR for the season. He was worth his modest contract.

And, of course, the Royals have shown no interest in bringing him back. Which is not surprising, given that the whole point of this exercise is to improve the rotation. This means that any free-agent starter who isn’t clearly better than Francis can be eliminated from the discussion right now. So say goodbye to Kyle Davies (please!), Justin Duchscherer, Zach Duke, ageless wonder Livan Hernandez, Kenshin Kawakami, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, John Maine, Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny, Tim Wakefield (cool as that might be), Chien-Ming Wang, and Chris Young, among others.

Before we get to the free agents on this side of the Pacific, I should at least discuss the possibility of signing one of the two premier Japanese League starters whom might – might – be coming to America next season.

The first is Hisashi Iwakuma, a 30-year-old right-hander who from 2008 to 2010 threw 572 innings for the Rakuten Eagles and had a 2.61 ERA, along with 433 Ks against 115 walks. This season Iwakuma has only made 16 starts and thrown 114 innings – I’m guessing he was hurt for part of the season – but has a 2.13 ERA and allowed just 98 hits and 17 walks. Those numbers have to be taken with enough salt to kill a small animal, of course; the competition is weaker in Japan, and offensive levels – particularly home runs – are lower to begin with. Still, Iwakuma is widely seen as a probable #3 starter in the majors.

Iwakuma almost came to the states last year; the Eagles posted him, using the system which allows a Japanese team to be paid by a major league team for the right to negotiate with their player. The A’s won the bidding at $19 million, and then didn’t come anywhere close to signing Iwakuma. Since the posting fee is only paid if the player signs, there are some who think the A’s deliberately over-bid simply to keep the Rangers or another AL West team from getting him. There’s no way to know if that’s true, but there’s no question that the system, as it is currently set up, can be gamed.

This is Iwakuma’s 10th season in Japan, which means he will be a free agent this winter – meaning he is free to negotiate and sign with any major league team and the Eagles don’t get a dime. I think the Royals should certainly give consideration to bidding on him, but given 1) the risk inherent with all Japanese players; 2) the fact that Japanese players almost always prefer to play on one of the coasts; and 3) the fact that Iwakuma can negotiate with any team, I highly doubt he would sign with the Royals even if the team were so inclined.

Besides, if the Royals were inclined to sign a Japanese pitcher, they ought to be balls-to-the-wall for Yu Darvish, who is quite possibly the greatest Japanese pitcher of all time. (He is most certainly the best half-Iranian, half-Japanese pitcher ever.) Darvish’s numbers aren’t Cy Young-caliber, they look like Cy Young’s actual stats from the dead-ball era:

2007: 1.82 ERA, 208 IP, 123 H, 49 BB, 210 K
2008: 1.88 ERA, 201 IP, 136 H, 44 BB, 208 K
2009: 1.73 ERA, 182 IP, 118 H, 45 BB, 167 K
2010: 1.78 ERA, 202 IP, 158 H, 47 BB, 222 K

They’re finishing up the regular season in Japan, but it looks like this will be Darvish’s best season yet: 1.49 ERA, 223 IP, 153 H, 35 BB, 261 K.

Oh, and he just turned 25 years old.

I know what you’re thinking: Daisuke Matsuzaka was the best pitcher in Japanese history, and look what happened to him. It’s a fair criticism. But Matsuzaka’s best ERA in Japan was 2.13. Matsuzaka also famously threw close to 500 pitchers in a four-day span during Japan’s annual high school tournament, which is sort of like March Madness and the Super Bowl all wrapped into one. Darvish has better stuff, better stats, and hasn’t been abused as much as Matsuzaka was.

Darvish is subject to the posting system, which means that if the Royals outbid the other 29 teams, he’ll have no choice but to sign with Kansas City unless he decides to stay in Japan. The Red Sox paid $51 million for the posting rights to Matsuzaka, and roughly the same amount to sign him. His performance in Boston has soured enough people on the value of high-end Japanese pitching that Darvish may go for less.

Look, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that the Royals get him. But IF they believe he’s a true ace or at least a true #2 starter in the majors, and IF they think he’ll stay healthy, I think they should make a good-faith effort to get him. Offer up to $40 million for the posting fee, offer about the same for a six-year deal, and hold your breath that even if he breaks down by the end of the contract, he’ll give you enough value up front to make it worth your while.

Now that I’m done chasing rainbows across the Pacific, let’s look at the stateside free agents.

That leaves 11 starting pitchers of various quality and availability. In roughly increasing order of intrigue, they are:

Mark Buehrle. Listed more as a courtesy than anything else – there’s about a 95% chance that Buehrle either re-signs with the White Sox, or signs with his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. I can’t knock Buehrle’s work in the majors – he’s won 161 games and is just 32 years old – but his consistent success is as baffling as that of anyone in the majors. The last three seasons, Buehrle has struck out less than a batter every other inning – just 313 Ks in 629 innings – but still has a 3.91 ERA.

He’s as close as this generation gets to Tommy John, the classic crafty left-hander who didn’t strike anyone out but succeeded by controlling the running game and not walking anyone and getting tons of groundballs. The problem is that Buehrle isn’t a groundball pitcher; he actually gives up a good number of homers, granted that he plays in a very good home-run park. It’s possible that Buehrle will hang around like John did into his 40s. But for a pitcher with his credentials, his margin for error is slim, and some team is going to pay him eight figures a year.

Hiroki Kuroda. He’s already making his case for the title of the best Japanese pitcher in major-league history, and even at 37, he ought to be one of the most highly-sought after free agents on the market. That is, if he were willing to entertain the thought of playing elsewhere. Kuroda seems very comfortable playing in Los Angeles, and refused to consider a trade this summer that would have allowed him to escape the Dodgers for a team in contention – the Red Sox for certain, and possibly other teams. I think it’s safe to say that Kuroda won’t be willing to consider moving to Kansas City. Even if the situation with the Dodgers becomes unbearable, he’s almost certain to stay on the west coast.

Jason Marquis. If you look at the list of free agent starters for long enough, pretty soon you’re wearing beer goggles and the likes of Jason Marquis start to become appealing. The goggles make Marquis look like a perfectly acceptable innings-sponge for the last seven years. Once you sober up, you realize that Marquis hasn’t had an ERA below four since 2004, but twice has had an ERA over six in that time. He struck out 76 batters in 132 innings this season before a line drive ended his season with a broken leg. That comes out to a strikeout rate of 5.2 per nine innings, which is bad enough, but even worse is that it’s his highest strikeout rate since 2004. Furthermore, his entire 12-year career has been spent in the National (read: inferior) League. Stay away.

Freddy Garcia. After three lost seasons from 2007 to 2009, Garcia has had similar back-to-back seasons, throwing about 150 innings each in 2010 and 2011, giving up a little over a hit an inning, striking out about twice as many batters as he walked. But in 2011, his ERA was a run lower than in 2010 (3.62 to 4.64), and he was a well-publicized part of the Yankees building a rotation out of unheralded rookies (Ivan Nova) and retreads (Bartolo Colon).

I expect Garcia will re-sign with the Yankees, as will Colon, who I elected not to list here because he’s almost 39 years old and apparently owes his revival this season to a steady diet of unicorn blood. Even if Garcia doesn’t, I’m not sure he is someone the Royals should spend their money on. His ability to miss bats disappeared years ago, and he now survives as a very different pitcher, a guy who gets outs with guile and command more than anything else. If the price is right and he only wants a one- or two-year deal, sure. But if that’s what the Royals are in the market for, they might as well re-sign Bruce Chen.

Joel Pineiro. Once upon a time, Pineiro was a young starter with promise. That time ended after the 2004 season. Pineiro has not struck out more than 110 batters in a season since then. He had a bit of a career resurrection with the Cardinals under the tutelage of Dave Duncan, who helped him master his sinker, and in 2009 he was about as effective as you can be without striking out even a batter every other inning: in 214 innings, he walked just 27 batters and allowed just 11 homers.

Pineiro signed with the Angels after that season, and while he still has good control and keeps the ball down, he couldn’t maintain walk and home run rates that low. Few pitchers can. He’s basically a right-handed version of Jeff Francis at this point, maybe 10% better. If he’s the best starting pitcher the Royals bring in this winter, it will have been a bad winter.

Chris Capuano. If you want to understand just how high the success rates are for Tommy John surgery, consider this: Capuano blew out his elbow in 2007, had Tommy John surgery, the ligament failed, had the same surgery again, finally made it back to the majors three years later…and he’s basically the same pitcher that he was before the surgery. His strikeout rate has actually ticked up since coming back, and this season he was healthy enough to make 31 starts and throw 186 innings, and struck out 168 batters.

Even so, I’m not sure he’s worth taking a flier on. He also gave up 27 home runs, leading to a 4.55 ERA, and homers have always been an issue for him. Capuano is 33 years old, and he’s spent his entire career in the NL. If the Royals didn’t have prospects to trade and absolutely had to use the free agent market to find their starters, Capuano would be an option worth considering. But I think Capuano’s upside is to be a good #4 starter, a Randy Wolf-type pitcher. There’s nothing wrong with that – Randy Wolf is the #4 starter on a playoff team at the moment – but I think the Royals can do better.

C.J. Wilson. Three years ago, Wilson was a reliever with a 6.02 ERA. In 2009, he cut his ERA by more than half; in 2010, he moved to the rotation after four years in relief and was shockingly effective, with a 3.35 ERA in 204 innings and just 10 homers allowed. He was even better this season, cutting his ERA to 2.94 and striking out 206 batters in 223 innings.

He’s probably the best pitcher on the market – and he’s going to be paid like one. The bidding will start around $16 million, and a 5-year, $100 million contract wouldn’t be out of the question. The betting money is on Texas to do whatever it takes to avoid a repeat of last season, when Cliff Lee signed elsewhere. But whatever team signs him, I can pretty much guarantee you it won’t be the Royals. It’s not clear whether the Royals can afford to pay for an ace; they certainly can’t afford to pay for an ace while actually getting a good #2 starter for their money.

Erik Bedard. When he’s healthy, Bedard is a terrific pitcher. Going back to 2007, Bedard has a 3.31 ERA in 82 starts, and in 475 innings has struck out 508 batters. He has the highest strikeout rate (9.6 per 9 innings) of any left-hander in baseball with 400+ innings over the last five years.

“When healthy” is a big qualifier with Bedard, though. He missed the last half of 2008 to have surgery on his labrum, then tore it halfway through 2009 and missed the last half of that season and all of 2010. It was frankly stunning that he returned in 2011 at close to 100% - in 129 innings he had a 3.62 ERA and struck out 125 batters against 48 walks. But he seemed to wore down as the season went on; after being traded to Boston at the trading deadline he only threw 38 innings in eight starts. He also doesn’t have a reputation as the friendliest guy in the world, and believe it or not, on a team this young and inexperienced, I actually think that means something. Not a lot, but something.

If you can sign him to a Bruce Chen/Jeff Francis deal, one year for $2.5 million and incentives or something, then do it. When he’s been healthy enough to pitch, he’s been healthy enough to pitch well. But I expect him to get a lot more money than that. If the Royals want to take a chance on an oft-injured pitcher with upside, they’re likely to get a much better price on…

Rich Harden. I list him here partly out of transparency – two years ago I hinted that I thought the Royals should pursue him as a free agent. At that time he was coming off a season in which he struck out 171 batters in 141 innings and had a 4.09 ERA. And the year before that – 2008 – he was probably the best pitcher in baseball inning-for-inning, with a remarkable 2.07 ERA in 148 innings.

You’ve probably noticed one of the problems with Harden – even at his best, he can’t stay healthy. He hasn’t thrown 150 innings in a season since 2004, when he was 22 years old.

The Royals didn’t sign Harden in 2009, which was for the best; over the last two seasons Harden has thrown 175 innings combined, with a 5.36 ERA, 35 homers and 93 walks allowed.

But you know what? He still struck out 166 batters in those 175 innings. When healthy, and when his control doesn’t desert him, he still has the ability to dominate. Those are two mighty large conditions, granted. But precisely because of them, Harden is not going to get anywhere close to as much money as he did two years ago, when he got $7.5 million guaranteed from the Rangers, or even last year, when he signed with Oakland for $1.5 million. Given his track record, he probably won’t get a seven-figure offer this winter; he might not even get a guaranteed deal.

So while I don’t think Harden is the established starter the Royals are looking for, I think he would make for a fine lottery ticket. Bring him into spring training, and if you get lucky, maybe you can coax 20 above-average starts out of his right arm. If not, maybe he finds new life (and better health) in the bullpen. And if not, then you cut your losses. They won’t be much.

Every pitcher I’ve listed so far is either a bad fit for the Royals or is unlikely to sign with them for what they’re willing to pay. The pitchers below, on the other hand, are pitchers who I think fit the Royals very well, and yet might fit into the team’s payroll restrictions. There are only two of them, unfortunately.

Javier Vazquez. Vazquez has been, for his career, as underrated as any starting pitcher in the majors. (Want to win a bet? Javier Vazquez leads all active pitchers in career strikeouts. And it’s not even close.)

It helps that he’s always been healthy; he made 32 or more starts ten straight years from 2000 to 2009, and when his streak ended in 2010, it was because of ineffectiveness. As recently as 2009, Vazquez was one of the best starters in baseball; Keith Law famously got some flak (from Cardinals fans – we got your back, Keith!) for giving Vazquez a second-place vote on his Cy Young ballot. That year Vazquez threw 219 innings, walked 44 batters, and struck out 238. He was fantastic.

The Braves traded him to the Yankees – one of the pieces they got in return was Melky Cabrera – and Vazquez was, for the second time in his career, a flop in New York. In 2004 the Yankees had traded Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera to Montreal for Vazquez, and he responded with a 4.91 ERA. In 2010 he was even worse, but whereas everyone thought his problem was mental the first time around, this time the rise in his ERA corresponded with a decline in the speed on his fastball.

The Marlins signed him to a one-year deal last winter, and he started 2011 worse than ever; his ERA through 14 starts was 6.85, and he had allowed 86 hits and 33 walks in 71 innings. But from June 21st through the end of the season, here are his numbers:

122 innings
92 hits
9 homers
17 walks
112 strikeouts
1.85 ERA

Yeah.

According to Fangraphs, the average velocity on Vazquez’s fastball ranged between 91.1 and 91.8 mph from 2005 through 2009. In 2010, it dropped all the way to 88.7, but last year it rebounded to 90.4 mph. I don’t have a start-by-start breakdown, but it seems reasonable to assume that, based on his astonishing second-half turnaround, he started the season at 88-89 – roughly the same velocity he had in 2010 – and finished the season around 91-92 – roughly the velocity he had at his peak.

There’s a story here, and I don’t know what it is. And I don’t think the Royals should gamble on Vazquez without having some sort of explanation as to what happened, and some reasonable assurance that the Vazquez they’d be signing is not the one who stunk up the joint in 2010 and the first half of 2011.

But for that very reason, and because he turns 36 next July, Vazquez is not likely to get a three-year deal from anyone this winter. Vazquez is, as far as I can tell, the only starting pitcher with high-end upside that the Royals can acquire without trading tons of prospects or spending tons of cash. There is a risk here, no doubt. Even at his peak, Vazquez was rarely dominant – 2009 is really the only great season of his career. Vazquez routinely struck out three or four batters for every walk in his prime, but he always surrendered home runs – he’s allowed at least 20 homers in every season of his career. From 2004 to 2006 his ERAs read 4.91, 4.42, and 4.84.

Precisely because he’s such a fly-ball pitcher, though, Vazquez ought to be suited for Kauffman Stadium. (In six career starts at Kauffman – granted, he was facing the Royals’ offense – he has allowed just two homers in 40 innings.) The risk of serious injury with him is about as low as it can be for any 35-year-old pitcher, so the worst-case scenario is that he gives you 190 slightly below-average innings. The best-case scenario is that he gets some downballot Cy Young votes.

My guess is that Vazquez will get some very attractive one-year deals, and at least a few two-year offers. I doubt anyone will offer him three years. If I’m the Royals – assuming that I have a satisfactory explanation for his struggles the last two years - I strike early with a two-year deal, maybe for $24 million. If Vazquez wants the security of a three-year deal and is willing to accept a lower annual salary, I’d consider 3/$27 or even 3 for $30 million. The Royals can easily fit that salary into their payroll, and they don’t have to touch their farm system (Vazquez isn’t even a Type B free agent.)

There’s a risk here, no doubt; there always is when signing a 35-year-old starting pitcher. But the price reflects that risk. The Royals can sign Vazquez knowing that even if he blows out his arm in March and never throws a pitch for the team, they’ll have the money and prospects to pursue their other needs, both this winter and in the off-seasons to come.

And finally…

Edwin Jackson.

Five years ago, the Royals shocked the industry by outbidding everyone for Gil Meche, signing Meche to a five-year, $55 million deal. The Royals then mismanaged his arm as badly as a team can do so without actually plunging a machete into his shoulder. The horrible malpractice committed in the summer of 2009 obscures the fact that the decision to sign Meche was actually pretty brilliant.

When he signed, Meche was coming off a season with a 4.48 ERA – in Safeco, one of the AL’s best pitchers’ parks – and had walked 84 batters in 187 innings. His performance obscured the fact that there were some legitimate reasons to like Meche going forward:

- He was very young for a free agent; he had just turned 28 that September.
- He had struck out 7.5 batters per 9 innings, an above-average rate.
- He had good stuff, as attested by the fact that he was a former first-round pick.

The Royals thought Meche could be fixed with a few mechanical changes, and they were right – straight out of the chute in 2007, he was a better pitcher than ever. He led the AL in starts in 2007 and 2008, posted ERAs of 3.67 and 3.98, and he had a 3.31 ERA in 14 starts after throwing a shutout on June 16, 2009, the start which began Meche’s descent into mismanagement hell.

A Gil Meche-level starting pitcher is exactly what the Royals need this winter. As much as they’d like to acquire a true ace, there are very few of those around, and literally none in this year’s free-agent market. The best they can do in free agency is to sign the next Gil Meche, a guy who takes the ball every fifth day and pitches at the level of a #2 starter.

More than anyone on the market, Edwin Jackson could be that guy. The similarities between him and Meche are impressive:


- Like Meche, Jackson is very young for a free agent. Like Meche had in his free agent year, Jackson just turned 28 this September.

- Jackson wasn’t a first-round pick like Meche – he was taken in the 6th round – but he was an elite prospect in the minor leagues. He made his major-league debut on his 20th birthday – and beat Randy Johnson. That winter, I ranked him among the top ten prospects in all of baseball, one slot behind Zack Greinke, and I wrestled with the decision of which of the two should rank higher for a very long time.

- Like Meche, he has been a disappointment for much of his career. In Meche’s case, a shoulder injury cost him two full years, and it took him years after he returned to get his stuff back. In Jackson’s case, he’s been healthy – another point in his favor – but he struggled with his command for several years.

While Jackson made his major-league debut in 2003, he didn’t stick in the majors until 2007, on a Devil Rays team that had no better options. He has made at least 31 starts in each of the five years since. His walk rate has steadily improved over that time; in 2007 he walked 85 (unintentional) batters in 161 innings, a rate of 4.75 walks per 9. This year his rate was down to 2.61 per 9. He’s improved his control without surrendering his ability to miss bats; he’s whiffed a shade under 7 batters per 9 innings over the last five years.

Unlike Meche, Jackson is already a pretty good starting pitcher – take out his first full season as a starter, and over the last four years he has a 4.06 ERA and a 106 ERA+. But like Meche, I think there’s potential for him to get better. His stuff is better than his numbers; he’s still plagued by inconsistency. Unlike almost every pitcher above, he has spent most of his career in the American League, and has handled the stronger league just fine.

In an off-season that features such a weak crop of free agent starters, to me, Edwin Jackson should clearly be the Royals’ #1 target. Much like they made a pre-emptive offer to Meche that looked like an overpay at first, I think the Royals should make a very attractive offer to Jackson as soon as they can. I’m thinking 4 years, $52 million, or possibly 5 years, $60 million if they have faith that his delivery will hold up. Once Wilson and Sabathia sign, Jackson will move to the head of the class, so money that might appear to be an overpay in mid-November might look like a bargain by Christmas.

Presumably, Edwin Jackson and his agent know this. And I would not be at all surprised if the Jackson sweepstakes get truly wacky, and some team offers him John Lackey money. If that’s the case, I certainly won’t fault the Royals for not being that team, just as I didn’t fault them for not taking my advice on a certain free agent outfielder last season once his price tag had crossed the threshold. (Please don’t click that link. Much appreciated.)

But I think it would behoove the Royals to make an aggressive offer as soon as the free-agent window opens. Signing Edwin Jackson would improve the Royals’ rotation significantly, without surrendering a prospect. (Jackson is a Type B free agent – the Cardinals would get a supplemental pick, but the Royals would not lose one.)

So to sum up, here’s my suggestion for the Royals: go hard after Edwin Jackson. If he can’t be corralled, go hard after Javier Vazquez. (And if you can sign both of them, even better.) If Rich Harden is willing to sign for cheap, roll the dice. Kick the tires on Erik Bedard. Place a serious bid on Yu Darvish.

Otherwise, you’re better off saving your money and turning to the trade market instead. Next time, I’ll look at the many options that the Royals ought to consider in that regard.

66 comments:

Dooblay said...

Rany, Rany, Rany....oi vay. Your willing to give 5 yrs, 60 mil to Jackson and 3 yrs 30 mil to 36 yr old Vasquez but you arrogantly scoff at any more than 2 yrs, 5 mil for Chen? You are a very entertaining writer, but your talent lies in anecdotal observation, NOT talent evaluation. Otherwise, Tim Beckham would be a perrenial All Star SS, Justin Smoak would be hitting 40 hrs a season, Pedro Alverez would be an MVP candidate, and Eric Hosmer would be flaming out in the minors (for somebody else).

The Last 2 Seasons:

Vasquez: 350 IP, 4.42 era, 92 era+
Jackson: 409 IP, 4.14 era, 100 era+
Chen: 296 IP, 3.96 era, 105 era+

Dont quit popping pimples at your day job just yet.

jeff said...

@Dooblay

You used the word "your" incorrectly.

Also, do you have to be so condescending with your last line?

J35J said...

@Dooblay

You need to look at the numbers again...and not use ERA when trying to predict future performance...because that is what we are looking for...what will these players do for us going forward.

The only thing you can point to for Chen is his ERA, which is a terrible way to try to predict future performance.

Take a look at the K/BB rates, their WHIPs, their FIP and xFIP or even more recently SIERA. Take a look at how many innings they throw in a season.

There is a reason why Chen won't command a big salary...none of his numbers, or his stuff, points to many positive things about how he's going to perform in the future.

Brent said...

Chen has been fine, which is why the Royals should look to bring him back (within reason) AND find another pitcher. I'm with you on this one: Jackson is the only starter on the market that has the mix of extreme upside and mediocre current results that could make the cost of a FA worth it. But I still don't know that I would go as high as 5/60.

jjmac said...

Here's an interesting exercise - search for pitchers with K/9 > 8, BB/9 < 2.5 and IP > 2000. Hint: there are only three and one is on that list...

Michael said...

jjmac-I believe you are referring to Javier Vazquez. He is one that Rany recommends we go after, but there are strong indications that he is going to retire. But he does seem to thrive more in lower pressure situations, so he could come in here and be very good for us. I would be happy with someone of his caliber.

Michael said...

Dooblay-On the other thread you talked about the Felix Hernandez dream, saying there was no way that the M's would trade him for any of our prospects. You'd be flat out wrong. We still have plenty of high end prospects that haven't hit the majors yet. If we called them up, and they were even willing to entertain the idea of trading Felix, and started the package off with Mike Montgomery and Wil Myers, they'd listen. Of course, we'd have to give up more than just those two, but that would be a good starting point.

If you don't believe me, then look at the package that Philadelphia gave to Toronto for Roy Halladay. I think that is the fairest comp out there, since Felix has 3 years left on his deal, and Halladay signed a 3 year contract as part of the trade at the time. Age doesn't really factor because both will be and are dominant for all those years (presumably, unless injuries happen). Here's what Toronto got...

Kyle Drabek-comps pretty well with Monty as a high end starting pitching prospect. Most see each of them as a #2 with potential to develop into an ace.

Michael Taylor-Good outfield prospect. Probably with more power than Myers, but Myers is a better hitter.

Travis D'Arnaud-Catching prospect with decent power. John Buck looks like a good comp here.

That's three good prospects. So, like I said, if we offer Monty and Myers to start, they'd sit down and listen. Of course, this comes with the caveat that they would listen to offers for Felix in the first place. You can't trade for someone if they aren't on the trade block.

Eric said...

Considering these recent results:

2008: Bannister, Hochevar, Tomko: 71 starts, 5.87 ERA

2009: Gil Meche, Dusty Hughes, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen, Horacio Ramirez, Luke Hochevar, Sidney Ponson, Lenny DiNardo: 95 starts, 6.02 ERA

2010: Kyle Davies, Gil Meche, Sean O'Sullivan, Bryan Bullington, Brian Bannister, Anthony Lerew: 88 starts, 6.00 ERA

2011: Danny Duffy, Kyle Davies, Sean O'Sullivan, Luke Hochevar (before All Star Break): 64 starts, 6.07 ERA

I don't think the problem is that we don't have a guy on staff with an ERA for 2011 projected to be below 3.75. The problem is we've had 50-70 games a year where the offense needs 6-8 runs or more to have a chance. If we can get the guys we have to stop walking hitters and keep their ERAs below 4.5, with the help of the new pitching coach, that probably gets us a chance at winning up to 30 more games.

I don't see a need to break the bank here. We've got options, and we already know Hochevar, Paulino, and Duffy are going to get three spots. With the other two spots, you have the opportunity to try Teaford, Mendoza, Mazzaro (4.5 ERA in 4 starts), Crow, Adcock, O'Sullivan (he's trying to change something right?) Holland or bring back Chen, we can bide time until Montgomery and Odorizzi are ready to come in. If you find a great deal by trading some of the following (Cabrera (OF), Cain (OF), Smith (OF), Lough (OF), Myers (OF), Eibner (OF), Robinson (1B/DH), Pena (C), Pina (C), Theriot (C), Colon (IF), Woods, Tejeda, Adcock, Collins, Teaford, Herrera, Crow or Coleman), and the guy is clearly better than any of the pitchers I mentioned with at least 3-5 years of club control, consider it, or if you can sign somebody for less than 5 million, they can be in the mix as well, but I don't see the need to break the bank financially on a pitcher that has a good chance of being just like the guys we already have.

Michael said...

See Eric, the guys that Rany actually advocates us going for ARE better than anything we currently have. I'm tired of sitting around, wasting starts on guys that we "hope" turn in good performances. In order to contend, we need guys like Edwin Jackson, who we can EXPECT to turn in good performances. At this point, even a slightly above league average pitcher like Jackson would be our "Ace".

But I do agree that 5/60 is just too much to invest in him. I could see 4/50 or so, but that's the furthest I would go.

Eric said...

Maybe, but I could easily see any guys mentioned here being no better than the lot we already have.

Jackson might be more consistent, but he's been for the last 4 years what Chen has been for the last 2, and I think we've reached the point where the guys we have will do what he's done at 1/5th the cost. Vazquez with the option to come in cheap, and put up numbers like he did the last 3 months is the one who interests me, with the qualification the Rany had.

Committing to a barely above league average pitcher at 10 million 4 years down the road is when we'll be wanting that money to sign Hosmer, Moustakas, Perez, and Escobar, resign Gordon and Butler and figuring out which pitchers to keep long term.

Dooblay said...

Erics observations are the most astute IMO. He's right, Hochy, Pauly and Duffy are locks, and there is a fairly good chance that at least one in house candidate from the choices of Teaford, Mendoza, Mazz and Crow will be as good or better than any of the lame FAs. (Holland will not get a chance, Yost has said as much, and SOS is not ML caliber).

That leaves Chen. He clearly is a perfect fit for our park, and has mastered how to squeeze the best out of his talent. He is a guy that advanced stats dont stand up well with. Thats why he has a career .282 opp BAbip. The fact that the FA market is so pathetic, is the exact reason that you go with him for 2 yrs over ANY of the above mentioned. Im perfectly happy with offering him Arb, he declining, and picking up the coveted Supp pick but if you choose that route, then there is no reason to sign either Jackon (whose stats got a whole lot better when he went to the NL) or Vasquez who has NEVER been a good AL pitcher and is old as desert sand.

The solution isnt in the FA market. The solution is to find an ideal trade partner -one who is the opposite of us, heavy on pitching prospect talent and light on offense- and guess right on potential. In essence, trade some of our offensive prospect surplus for an equal pitching prospect.

Seattle, Atl and TB comes to mind. The first mentioned have a ton of top, close to ready SP prospects but no hitters. Also, as I have mentioned before, that I would try to get Atl's Mike Minor. They wouldnt miss him as much as they could use a prospect like Myers.

In conclusion, forget the FA market completely, resign Chen for 2 yrs or pick up the Supp pick, and trust the aformentioned in house candidates to produce one tolerable starter. This isnt a make or break year. 2013 imo is the real deal. A LOT more of our own SP prospects will be on the radar by then including our potential '12 first rnd pick.

Dooblay said...

...with respect to Jeffs comment, I apologize to you Rany for my derogatory reference to your profession. I was teasing, but it came out mean. I remember Seinfeld calling his Dermatologist girlfriend "Pimple popper MD" and then she was like, "Well, I do deal with skin cancer patients" and he was like, "...oh yeah, forgot about that"...and then she dumped him.

et tu fruite said...

dooblay, that was standup of you to apologize...not enough of this going on the anonymous web

dkoehn said...

The options aren't the best, but the Royals need starting pitching help now. I think it is also important to have money in the future to sign our young players to long contracts that buy out some free agent years. I'd argue that the Royals should act a little unconventionally and sign at least one pitcher, Jackson is my preference, to a contract that is front loaded with money. This is a better deal for the player because money + time = more money, and it works for the team because they get a pitcher who can help them be competitive now, is more tradeable later because of his lower salary, and the Royals will have money available to sign thier young talent to contract extensions in the future.

Ryan said...

Didn't you also advocate signing Carl Crawford... :-)

Michael said...

dkoehn-That's a great idea. Give him a 4 year contract, $50 million. Years 1-2 at 15 mill per, years 3-4 at 10 mill per.

Not doing anything and "hoping" that a couple of pitcher step up and perform is the worst route we could take. I'm tired of "waiting till next year". I've done that every year for the past 25+ years. We have the offense to contend RIGHT NOW. We have the bullpen to contend RIGHT NOW. All we need is the starting pitching. There is no need to wait to acquire it. We had the lowest payroll in baseball last year, so the money is there. I want us to go out and get at least one, preferably two, quality pitchers who are at worst #3 starters on a contending club.

Luckily for me, from his comments it sounds like Dayton Moore agrees with me.

Jeremy McNeal said...

If that's the FA pickings, I'm not sure we have much hope. Hopefully better Trade opportunities.

I think we'd be best served to try a new approach. Over-use the bullpen.

I think we can expect a better season from Duffy and an average starter in Teaford. We need someone else to "graduate" to the rotation. If that means we trade Myers and get a AAA pitching prospect, that's what we do.

In hind sight, I rather think signing Francis was a bad idea this year because it limited opportunities to get other guys in the starting rotation. Teaford and Mazzaro might have improved, and we weren't winning in 2011 anyways.

Tampa Mike said...

I am all for signing Jackson as long as the money doesn't get silly. He has mostly been disappointing, but has had some great performances.

A lot of people are saying why bother because 2013 is projected to be the breakout year. The team still needs to make positive winning steps in 2012 to bolster the winning attitude at the club and to be more enticing to players for 2013. Players are more will to go to an 80 win team than a 60 win team.

Unknown said...

I think Edwin Jackson makes a ton of sense, and if the Royals could trade Melky to the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez, it could set up to be a good rotation.

benfunke said...

Rany you *do* have the game-by-game pitch velocity:

http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=801&position=P&pitch=FA

As for the FA market, the NOW NOW NOW strategy is a bit short-sighted. If you can convince me that signing Jackson/Vazquez now doesn't hurt the team's chances in 2013, 2014, 2015 (signing the same or better talent in the next season's market--much more of a buyer's market--at more reasonable rate), then we can talk.

DaveR said...

Another good reason to go after Jackson is that he pitches well against Detroit. I'm on my iPhone so I don't have the stats handy but I recall several good games against us (I'm a Tiger fan) with Chicago.

dkoehn said...

Don't we need to sign a pitcher now to bridge the gap between now and when we realistically get help from our minor league system? It doesn't do the Royals any good to wait for the market to be favorable for signing a starting pitcher if they already have that commodity. I like signing a FA this year, offer Chen arbitration (because that makes sense no matter what other moves you make), and keep your touted prospects another year to let them progress, or regress. That gives the Royals the best chance to compete over the long haul because you can backfill your roster with talent from the minors when injuries happen or players contracts expire. Or, in fantasy land, you could trade Eric Hosmer for King Felix and then sign Albert Pujols to play 1b.

dkoehn said...

I'm not sure that I made it clear that I think we just need to bridge the gap between now and when Monty, Lamb, Odorizzi, Arguelles ect. make an impact in the bigs. And no, I don't expect them all to make it as effective big league starters, but I expect a couple will.

Unknown said...

Nothing like Rany to post both side of an argument, then claim he's right either way.

His *entire* post about the Royals picking up Felipe Paulino was about what a mistake they were making by letting Robinson Tejeda go. Yet, all he'll tell you is he was ALL ABOUT the Paulino pick up, and he's such a smart guy for advocating it (well after the fact)..

http://www.ranyontheroyals.com/2011/05/royals-today-52811.html

Nothing like a front-runner to tell you everything you already know, then gloat about the fact that he told you something you already knew..

Michael said...

Nothing like someone calling themselves "Unknown" to make a stupid statement not backed up by any fact whatsoever. I re-read the article you linked to, and guess what, even then Rany was very happy with the pickup! He has backed it from the beginning, so I have no idea what you are trying to say with your post??

David Sliker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Really? Because I see a post that:

1) Calls the Royals idiots for releasing Tejeda (he eventually accepted an assignment to AAA)

1a) Calls Holland completely expendable to bott

2) Says the Royals traded DeJesus at his peak (they didn't, and he wasn't very good the last year of his contract, which is kind of what everybody knew, which is why there wasn't much of a trade market for him)

3) Basically likes Paulino because he has the physical skills to succeed. Wow, what an analysis. Based on that criteria, we should sign Carl Crawford to a big deal! And make sure we have Kyle Davies in our rotation!

It's that kind of astute analysis that brings us all back..

Michael said...

So many things wrong with your rants...

First, you complained that Rany was only for the Paulino pickup after it succeeded, and you were wrong.

Second, Dejesus was traded after the best season of his career. He would have been traded the July before if he hadn't gotten hurt, so yeah, I'd have to say it was about as high as his value was going to get.

Third, I'm sorry, but its way too early to judge the Crawford contract. The guy has been in the big leagues for seven years now, and for the majority of that time has been one of the best outfielders in the game. He'll bounce back and be a difference maker again very soon.

Fourth, Tejeda never made it back to the big leagues either, so his criticism of the Royals decision to flush 1.55 mill down the toilet was also justified.

Fifth, if you think you can do better, where's the link to your own Royals blog?

Alex Remington said...

Vazquez had a remarkable second half. But he's likely retiring, and made comments to that effect fairly consistently throughout the last month of the season.

Unknown said...

I guess there's always the fact that:

1) Rany was only for the Paulino pickup because it had a small possibility of succeeding (this is one of those things where all you have to do is mention that a player has the physical talent to succeed, so maybe they'll succeed, and then you can mention later that you totally said they *might* succeed, and they did, so how smart are you?!)

2) Trading DeJesus at "as high as his value was going to get" value still wasn't very much -- statements like this: "And when DeJesus’ contract ends this winter, the A’s have a good shot at a supplemental pick of their own. Billy Beane wins again." don't hold much stock when you have to offer arbitration to a player who just put up a 240/343/376 for $6 million dollars. Even if Mazzaro and Marks do nothing, Billy Beane loses.

3) Crawford contract -- how would you feel if the Royals were on the hook for that deal?

4) No matter how long and drawn out a point Rany tries to make, what did the Royals actually do wrong with Tejeda?

5) Where's your blog?

Michael said...

1. So your upset with Rany because he actually articulated WHY he was happy with the pickup? This argument makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I mean, it's not like the guy had a track record of success when we picked him up. We took a chance, and Rany gave them credit for it, and he articulated why he thought it was a good move. Now that it's turned out to be a good move, you're upset with Rany over it??? You're a lunatic my friend.

2. Billy Beane still wins. Whether or not Dejesus was that good last year or not, he still got something of value for Vin freaking Mazzaro. Even if that ends up only being a supplemental pick, its still worth something.

3. The Royals were never in the bidding for Crawford, so I don't see your point. The Royals will never be on the hook for that kind of contract. If I were a Boston fan, I'd look at it as a disappointing season. But it's a 7 year deal. If he is Carl Crawford for the next 6 seasons, then the contract was a success. I'm not panicking just yet.

4. What did the Royals do wrong with Tejeda?? They failed to maximize his value, then paid him 1.55 mill to pitch in AAA. They should have traded him while he still had value. Instead, now he's going to walk away, probably only sign a minor league contract with someone else, and they get nothing.

5. I'm not the one on here trying to trash the guy with the blog. You are. It's one thing to disagree with someone's opinion, it's another to trash him personally.

Kyle said...

The Royals payroll will only be about 35-40 mil next year. That should leave about 35-40 mil to spend on FA, or the money brought in on a trade. Jackson has the numbers to back up a 10-12 mil/year contract. Vazquez is old, but also has the numbers for an 8-10 mil contract. They could reasonably pick up both of those pitchers, and not break the bank. It would allow for Monty, Odorizzi, and Dwyer another half-full season of minor league play, and would give them the rotation to compete in the Central. Jackson, Vazquez, Hoch, Paulino, Duffy would probably win the AL Central.

They could also trade a prospect or 2, to pick up Derek Lowe and Mike Minor from the Braves. Take on all 15 mil of Lowe's contract to get the Braves to throw in Minor. Would/Could that happen? Minor, Hoch, Lowe, Paulino, Duffy would probably win the AL Central.

dkoehn said...

Kyle - I agree that the Royals should approach either one of those scenarios, but I won't say that it will probably win the central. I do think that it will make the Royals very competitive, which would be a very welcome change. It would be nice to care about August baseball games because that means that you are in the playoff hunt. September is always a little interesting because you get to see some of the farm hands play at the MLB level.

Kyle said...

According to Pythag, the Royals were a .500 team. According to WAR, the Royals were a .500 team. I little less bad luck, and this team is a .500 team. If they added any two FA SP or any two traded SP, they would be an over .500 team. I don't understand why people don't think they will be competive next year.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

@ Kyle:
You want to know why I don't think the Royals will be competitive next year? Their offense is popgun in a division with some powerhouses. Better than they have had in a long time, but not enough to contend unless they have some quality pitching. And, for the offense to remain at its current level, you need:
1. Gordon to prove that this year was for real, and that his 4 prior years were not.
2. Cabrera and Francoeur to stay juvenated and not backslide.
3. No sophmore slumps at catcher, second base, and third base.
4. Moose to improve. A lot.
5. Where is the power going to come from? Doubles are *meh* and I don't care what stats or metrics you have to the contrary, they still only count for 2 bases and home runs still count for 4.

Sorry, but I think the offense is going to take a step backward. That means the pitching must improve just to have another crappy season.

And, if we don't trade Soria (Something I have advocated for since last off-season...when he had a market, just sayin') then I say we move him to the rotation.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Oh, and I sat through a season of Edwin Jackson when he was with Detroit. Detroit was quite pitching needy, and they parted ways after one season. Things that make you go, "Hmmmmmm....." He did have a decent year, but from what I remember, you sabermatricians chalked it up to luck?

Kyle said...

Hosmer, Moustakas, Butler, Francoeur, and Gordon are all capable of hitting 30 HRs. Francoeur and Cabrera may takes steps backward, but Moustakas, Giavotella, and Hosmer might take another step forward. You have some valid points, but Seitzer has really shown the ability to get the most out of his hitters. They led the league in hitting in 2010, they had a little more power in 2011. Whose to say they won't take another step forward in 2012.

They are bringing in a new pitching coach, let's hope he doesn't blowup any arms. The Royals are always a bunch of "ifs" away from competing.

1) If Hochevar's 2nd half was for real.
2) If Duffy gets strikes like he did in the minors and walks less.
3) If Paulino is for real.
4) If Chen comes back and continues to pitch better than his numbers say he should.
5) If they make a trade and sign a couple of front of the rotation starter.

Gordon has had injury history and the organization screwing with him for 4 years now. Finally he settled into the leadoff spot in LF, and "dominated". It is repeatable.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Kyle:

The reason that I left Butler out of my discussion is because he is actually a proven hitter. I totally beleive that his statistics are sustainable and repeatable, because he has a track record, unlike the rest of that list. But I beleive that he is what he is at this point, a doubles hitter capable showing flashes of power.

I just don't think we should ignore the offense this off-season. One glaring obvious postion we can upgrade is 3rd base. Good-bye Moose, hello...? I don't know. But third base is typically a position manned by a power hitter. As, of course, are the corner outfield spots. If somebody in a Royals uniform (not named Hosmer)is EVER gonna hit more than 40 home runs, it will probably be one of those three positions.

Michael said...

KC Tiger fan-Where you see the offense taking a step back, I see it taking a step forward.

C-Salvador Perez-had a pretty darn good debut for a month and a half. No matter how much he regresses, it will be tough for him to be worse offensively than Matt Treanor and Brayan Pena were.

1B-Eric Hosmer-a full year and a year more of maturity, and he could have a monster season. Between AAA and the majors, he hit .316 with 22 homers.

2B-Johnny G.-Again, like catcher, even if he takes a step back personally, it's tough for him to be worse than Chris Getz was the first 2/3 of the season.

3B-I don't know what rock you were living under, but after a historically rough start, Moose was actually pretty good the last few weeks of the season. He has even more power than Hosmer does when he's on, so he's actually more of a threat to hit 40 homers than Hoz is.

SS-Alcides Escobar-Lets be honest, he's not on this team for his offense. As long as he's not TPJ bad, his defense makes him valuable by itself.

OF-All 3 of our outfielders had career years. They could regress, but I do think Gordon's is the most sustainable of the three. And even if Melky or Frenchy regress, we have Lorenzo Cain ready to take their place. Deeper down, we also have David Lough, and possibly Wil Myers by seasons end. The depth we have in the outfield is a strength of our system.

dkoehn said...

I think it is more likely that the Royals play .500 ball next year than not. Every team, even a good team, is trying to fill an offensive sink hole. A good manager can assemble a lineup with the Royals hitters into a good offensive lineup even if one or two guys regress. And hopefully we switch from "development mode" to "win mode" next year so we pinch hit for Alcides Escobar when it makes sense. I'm excited to see the Royals play next year.

Kyle said...

I agree with Michael. There is no way Mousatakas is going anywhere. From August 1st on, he hit over .300. The power was a little slow to come, but he has been a slow starter at ever level. I suppose you were ready to give up on Greg Holland after the way he finished 2010? Good thing they didn't, b/c he has future closer written all over him. This team is very young, but the older players are all entering/in their primes. This is going to be a fun offense/defense.

As for the SP, that might be another story. They could bring back Chen and get a #1, and I think the rotation will be "okay". Or they could go after a top FA and make a GOOD trade, and be very good.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

@ Michael:

What rock were you living under while Moose hit around .200? How many late season surges do we have to sit through, and then watch the next year as our projections are dashed. Not saying it will happen, or that I want it to happen, but it always seems to, huh? Didn't Kyle Davies look good last September?

And while I was under my rock, I was watching the Detroit Tigers put a chokehold on the AL Central with two homegrown pitchers plus one more acquired at the deadline. With thumpers acquired via trade for "can't miss" prospects, some of whom are thriving in their new locales, while Tigers fans shed not one tear for their leaving. I'm glad Matt Joyce, as an example, is doing well in Tampa. I'm glad Curtis Granderson did so great in New York this year. But I really enjoyed making it to the second round of the playoffs while those two teams went home.

I want GMDM to take the position that no one is untradeable. Don't worry if the guy you trade has a great career elsewhere. Why are you so afraid of that possibility? Everyone laughs about the Doyle Alexander/John Smoltz trade, but without Alexander in 1987, Detroit doesn't make it to the playoffs.

Do you want to root for a decade for Mike Montgomery as the Royals win 75 games each year, or let him go to, oh I don't know, the Mariners? and watch the Royals make the playoffs once or twice in a decade with King Felix leading the way?

Sorry, just getting frustrated with the no risk, no reward types who are convinced that we can contend with a couple of new faces stinking up the mound. I mean, really, would any of the guys mentioned make a difference? Really?

So Glass will have to open up his checkbook, or GMDM will have to trade away a prospect. You keep filling up your right hand with those wishes, while I fill up your left with my fully digested PF Chang's General Tso's chicken. See which one fills up first.

Michael said...

Tiger Fan-I never once said anyone was untradeable. In fact, I'm the one advocating that we offer Seattle a killer package for King Felix. He'd be worth it, in my opinion. I'd even be willing to trade Hosmer as part of the package.

What I've advocated for this offseason is simple. I want 2 pitchers who are better than anyone we currently have. I'd prefer that one of them be an "Ace" type pitcher to lead the rotation. For me, the free agent market doesn't offer that caliber of pitcher, unless we somehow win the bidding on CC Sabathia if he opts out of his deal. Now, I'm not delusional enough to think that actually might happen, so anyone we sign on the FA market will have to be the second best pitcher we acquire this offseason. So, lets say we trade for Felix or James Shields or someone like that, AND we sign Edwin Jackson or Javier Vazquez or someone similar. And while they are pitching in the bigs, Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Chris Dwyer, et al are still developing in the minors (assuming they weren't traded in the Felix deal, that is). THAT is what I'm hoping for this offseason.

Kyle said...

Verlander is homegrown, but who else was? Sherzer was brought over in that Curtis Granderson trade, which was pretty darn good for all parties. Since the Dbacks, Yankees, and Tigers were all in the playoffs. Procello has had a pretty rough go at it over the last couple of years. Fister was a pretty good move, and no one saw it coming. Everyone talked about the Ubaldo move the Indians pulled off.

I could see the Royals possibly moving Butler or Cabrera as part of a package to the Rays for Shields. Maybe? Or how bout Hosmer and others for Smoak and Felix? What about Moustakas and others for Minor/Beachy/Teheran? I'm just throwing things out there, b/c none of them would happen.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Michael and Kyle:

I was referring to Porcello. He pitched good enough to compile a decent record for a playoff team, and he was homegrown, is my point. Anyway, I think we all agree, sorry if I misunderstood. We are going to have to trade for an ace, anbd it will take some prospects which will make most fans queasy. I am down for that, though. As for free agents, I say we re-sign Chen...he has as much potential as anybody on that list.

But my main point was that we don't just need pitching, we need offense. And I would like to discuss that, with Rany's input, but he and everyone else seems to think that KC's offense is good enough. I don't.

I love the new guys, but just because Johnny G is better than Chris Getz doesn't mean he is good enough. Just because our outfield all hit x amount of doubles, doesn't make anyone of them an All-Star. Power reigns and we don't have enough.

Michael said...

I disagree, because we already had the 6th best offense in the AL, and I honestly do see us making even more progress next season.

Remember, coming into this year, our bottom third was almost like pitching against a weak NL team, with Getz, Treanor, and Escobar down there. Two of those easy outs have been replaced by young promising rookies, and Escobar seemed to get a lot better as well in the second half. I'm not going to say he's an above average or even an average offensive shortstop, but he doesn't have to be as long as his defense is as stellar as it was.

Add in progression by Hosmer, Moustakas, etc. and I see us moving up. I think all that progress will more than outweigh any possible regressions by Melky, Frenchy, and Gord-o.

Hushpook said...

Harang has mutual option with Padres. If the money available as a free agent is better than a 1/5, he'll pass on the option.

pjbronco said...

Living in Colorado, I hear nothing and the KC Star is of very little help. Any speculation about who the pitching coach will be?

Antonio. said...

I wouldn't say trading DDJ after he'd been shelved for two months is trading him when his peak is at his highest. If he'd been traded in the summer, yes. But since he was hurt, I think the Royals would have been better served keeping him to prove he had recovered and then traded him. It's not like we couldn't have received the same basic package by waiting...

Antonio. said...

Crawford has been approximately a 3.5 WAR player annually in his career. He had one really good seasons, one good season and several okay/slightly above average seasons...

Antonio. said...

Johnny Giavotella: .247/.273/.376 .649 77 OPS+ -.5 WAR

Chris Getz: .255/.313/.287 .600 68 OPS+ .5 WAR

No love for Getz, plenty for Johnny G, but due to better defense and stealing, Getz had a better season.

Antonio. said...

With Smoltz, Detroit has a much better chance of making numerous play offs...remember when they had the powerhouse hitting ...and no pitching?

Michael said...

So, Antonio, you base all worth on a player with one stat? WAR is an indicator of value, but it's not the end all be all testament to a players worth.

Just answer this question honestly, who would you rather have playing second base for us next year, Johnny Giavotella or Chris Getz?

K.C.Tigerfan said...

@ Antonio

Sure Smoltz turned out to be the better long term player. But nobody knew that for sure at the time. PROSPECTS ARE NOT A SURE THING. Do I really need to point that out to a Royals fan?????

"The worst mistake an organization can make is falling in love with its own prosects." Not sure who said that, but I have seen it quoted by Rany himself.

@ Kyle:

On almost every Tigers blog, while us fans were debating deadline acquisitions (what a fun thing to do! Decide who you want your team to acquire for a run to the playoffs, instead of wondering who your GM is gonna unload for a sack of crap in a salary dump)Fister's name kept coming up. We all knew that he was pitching well for Seattle despite his horrible record. And, most importantly, Dave Dombrowski knew it, too. Imagine a GM who understands pitching statistics beyond won-loss and ERA?

We had the prospects and cash to acquire Jimenez, but we got a MUCH better deal with Fister.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

@ pjbronco:

Rick Knapp, who was fired by Detroit mid-season, was hired by KC as the "organizational" pitching coach. That's my guess to fill the role with the major league club. For what its worth, he was seen as a scapegoat for the struggles the Tigers had after the All-Star break, before they went on their run to clinch. They wanted a shake-up, so he was axed.

Kyle said...

From the things that I have read about Knapp, he seems like a pretty decent pitching coach. The Tigers had very talented pitchers, but I am sure Knapp helped a little along the way. Bringing in Knapp "may" be the shake up the Royals needed. McClure was not getting it done, but who knows how much of it was his fault.

As for Fister, that was a very good signing. I didn't mean for it to sound like a lesser move than Ubaldo. But at the time, no one was talking about it. The Royals brought in Paulino in a "free" move that helped their rotation too.

Kyle said...

I think the lineup and defense will be fine. They could go out and bring in Kelly Johnson to play 2B. Or trade Cabrera to get more playing time for Cain. But with everything Hosmer/Moustakas/Giavotella have done in the minors, they should be acceptable options for 2012. Any regression by the outfield "should" be made up by improvements with the rookies.

Michael said...

Here's another thought. Everyone has talked about the possibility of regression by the outfield, but what if they are even better next year?? It's not totally out of the realm of possibility. I don't expect it, in fact, I honestly do expect regression, but that's simply because we had an AWESOME outfield last year. If Melky had any range in center, it would have been one of the best offensive AND defensive outfields of all time, IMO.

As far as Knapp being the scapegoat, that just tells me it was someone else's fault who was higher up the ladder than he was! McClure is being made the scapegoat here, too. Some of it was his fault, but I wouldn't have considered him the main problem. Lack of major league talent is the main problem.

Antonio. said...

No, Michael, I do not. But I give a hell of a lot more weight to WAR than I do most other stats. I think Win Shares is the only thing I'd put above WAR, but WAR is more easily understood by people that are beyond basic stats or basic sabr stats. And I'm not saying I prefer Getz...I specifically said no love for Getz and plenty for Giavotella...but Johnny G wasn't the clear upgrade he's being made out to be.

Antonio. said...

And to be fair, Tigerfan, you used hindsight by pointing out that Alexander helped the Tigers to the playoffs...something which was most certainly not known at the time of the deadline. They didn't know they were trading away an eventual Hall of Famer, but they didn't know they were trading for a guy that would go 9-0 with a 3-something WAR for the remainder of the season.

Antonio. said...

The Tigers basically won despite Porcello. League average offensive or worse and Porcello easily has a losing record. The Tigers scored 5.76 for Porcello. The best offense in the league scored 5.40.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

Nevermind my rants, I just saw on Bleacher Report that the Royals are targeting Vlad Guerrero. What an upgrade in either the outfield or DH! Now thats some offense!

Excuse me while I go shoot myself.

Not exactly the improvement I wanted.

K.C.Tigerfan said...

@ Antonio:

Kinda my point on Procello - good offense can make up for SOME pitching deficencies, huh?

As for the Smoltz trade, I admit I would have preferred to watch him pitch for 10 years. But he wasn't gonna help out those pathetic Tigers teams of the 1990s anyway.

Royals said...

If what you say is true about Vlad, that can only mean they are looking to move Butler for pitching. He can't do anything but DH at this point in his career.

Let's get on to the trade targets, Rany!

Eric said...

From the KC Star: “We’re going to take the same course we’ve been taking,” Moore said. “I don’t think we’ll do much with free agents unless it makes really good sense. We explore trade possibilities and keep growing our own kids.” Link.

Eric said...

Link didn't work. Previous quote was from the 15th paragraph of this article: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/10/16/3211763/royals-still-rich-down-on-the.html