Saturday, January 9, 2010

THE "Speedy Centerfielder"

Yesterday the Royals announced the signing of centerfield speedster Scott Podsednik. I am italicizing centerfield there because the closest that he has ever come to being league average at the position came in 2004 when he played 153 games there with the Brewers. This zone rating probably comes as a surprise to people unfamiliar with the statistic, because they see that Podsednik has blazing speed. I would guess that GM Dayton Moore is probably a member of this crowd except that he probably still doesn't know of the uzr statistic. (After acquiring Betancourt he was very defensive of his scouts and even stated that he didn't understand advanced defensive metrics.)

One thing his speed does allow him to do is be very successful on the bases. He has 266 career steals with a success rate of around 75%. But last season he came in at a 69% success rate which is just a tad too low to be considered an attribute on the bases. Hopefully this is not an indication of the declining abilities that tend to come when a player hits his mid-30s.

The terms of the deal are bearable and won't hurt the team moving forward as past free agent deals have done. The frustration on the part of most Royals fans and bloggers comes from the fact that the move will in all likelihood doom Mitch Maier's chances at a starting job. Many fans complain that if 2010 is a wash we should be giving players like Maier all the opportunity possible to excel and reach his potential. I am of the belief that Maier's potential is of a quality fourth outfielder and that he will never be a starting outfielder for a playoff contender, so I am not as frustrated with this signing as others. I will say though that this signing is going to improve the current team much and we could have Maier starting in center for the league average and we could get a similar wins above replacement figure. My point here is simply that I don't think the signing of Podsednik is going to prevent Maier from developing into an everyday centerfielder, because I don't think Maier will ever become that guy.

As for Podsednik taking away time from Brian Anderson and his potential. Give me a break. This complaint is coming from the same people that complained about the Anderson signing when it occured. Anderson's role will be as a backup outfielder that is going to be overpaid in 2010(it is amazing to me that you can overpay on a guy that is only going to make 700K in 2010) .

Finally, let's look out how the signing could affect the DeJesus situation, but first let me protect myself by saying that DeJesus is a fine player and might even be the most complete everyday player in the entire organization. I think the Podsednik signing could also make it easier to trade DeJesus. It has been rumored this winter that the Royals are expecting to draw considerable interest in DeJesus as the winter unfolds and so by signing Podsednik the Royals could potentially trade DDJ and still have an adequate number of big league ready outfielders. Just put Podsednik in Left, Anderson and Maier in Center, with well... Guillen in Right. If DeJesus is on the roster on opening day I just pray that he is allowed to stay in the leadoff spot with Podsednik hitting either behind him or at the bottom of the order. Surely the Royals learned from last season that DeJesus is most comfortable at the top spot of the lineup.

Overall this a move that doesn't accomplish much, and could even be considered a waste of 1.4 million dollars. However, if the Royals wind up trading DeJesus before opening day, then the move becomes okay because the Royals would severely need a leftfielder. My biggest concern going forward is that Podsednik is coming off a career year as far as his triple slash is concerned and given that he will be 34 on opening day a drop off is to be expected. For once I don't think the Royals overpaid for the player, but at this point in time Scott Podsednik doesn't appear to be a necessary investment.
At least we can look forward to seeing this at the New K. Scott Podsednik's wife playmate Lisa Dergen.


  1. I couldn't be happier that Lisa is coming to Kansas City! and Scott too!

  2. I agree with your post Landon, I think bloggers would post a negative story about the Royals even if they signed a stud free agent. They are what they are this year and I'd rather see Podsednik patrolling CF than Maier.

    The Royals need to stay away from albatross contracts so that in 2012 when hopefully Moustakas is playing in RF and Montgomery is the #2 behind Greinke the Royals have some money to play with.

    Have enjoyed reading your posts thus far.

  3. Yep, there is nothing worse that a small market team can do than to create an albatross. Not only has Guillen's deal limited us financially, but now the Royals have a murky situation in RF and DH because of it. If we didn't have Guillen I would love to give a deal to a guy like Jonny Gomes to DH some, however, I know that Guillen is going to require DH at bats and I don't know if there would be enough to go around.