Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Meetings Wrapup & Rule V

To start the day off the Royals released two extremely disappointing players from the past year: Mike Jacobs and John Bale. Let me say that I am extremely relieved that GM Dayton Moore was able to cut ties with Jacobs and not attempt to save face by sticking with him. In my opinion by cutting ties it shows that Moore is admitted that the move was a mistake and it is a sunk cost and it is time to move on. Hopefully Moore's tenure will not be defined by the trade that sent Leo Nunez to Florida for Mike Jacobs, trading for Yunieskey Betancourt, and overpaying for Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Guillen. But so far these moves have not panned out as Royals fans had hoped and many were against the moves right from the start. Thus making the moves seem in worse in retrospect. The trade that sent Nunez to Florida was an attempt to add some pop in the middle of an order that lacked home run power, but I think that what we are learning is that in Kauffman Stadium home run power should not be valued as highly as it is in other parks.

At the time of the deal I was extremely skeptical and as Spring Training and April unfolded I admit to doing a 180 and becoming a supporter of Jacobs and if Jacobs could have posted a .500+ slug even with a .300 obp I would not mind him so much. But when a guy's only supposed tool is his power and he posts a .410 slug, then it is time to let that player go and I am extremely relieved that he was released today. Fairly or not, as the season progressed he quickly became my least favorite Royal.

I was thinking about the Rule V draft today and I came to the conclusion that for small market teams such as the Royals it is an extremely undervalued method of obtaining talent. When one considers that the league minimum is now over $400,000 then the fee of $50,000 for drafting a player in the Rule V seems like nothing. Every single season there are multiple players that are left unprotected from the draft that going into the season were highly ranked prospects. Some are a few years away and some had rough seasons the year before. However, it seems worth the rest to grab a player for that price and give them an opportunity in spring training to earn a spot on the big league roster. If the player does fail to earn a spot then you return him to his old team for $25,000 or get to keep him in your system. Either way the risk is minimal compared to other methods of acquiring talent.

Yesterday I was begging that the Royals draft a centerfielder named John Raynor from the Marlins organization. However, the Royals were not presented with this opportunity at the number 4 overall pick. Instead Raynor was selected in the second spot by the Pittsburgh Pirates. I would really like to take this moment to be satisfied that I not only predicted a player that would be chosen, but a player that actually went second overall. The player the Royals did choose was a Mexican born pitcher by the name of Edgar Osuna.

Osuna is your classic crafty lefty. He possesses a fastball that sits in the mid to upper 80s, a plus curveball and what Baseball America called the best changeup in the Atlanta Braves system coming into the season. He profiles as a starter, however assuming he produces decent Spring numbers I would wager that he will spend 2010 almost entirely in the Royals bullpen. This is not a bad thing. IF he can't stick with the Royals, then maybe a trade could be worked out in order to keep him in the organization. If not then he probably won't matter anyway. Hopefully though being a Rule V selection will not hinder his development like it has so many players in the past.

The way the bullpen performed last season no one should have guaranteed spots and given that Osuna and Hughes are the only lefties on the 40 man roster they should both be given all the opportunities to make the big league club. Osuna could one day be a solid member of a big league rotation, however, given that he only has a handful of inning at the double a level we will probably see him in the bullpen for now. The search for a lefty continues.

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