Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Baird versus Moore

Okay so while the bullpen was blowing a 7th inning lead, a thought crossed my mind and that was that the most critical players on the 2010 roster are "Allard Baird guys." So I decided to take this thought a step farther and construct a roster built solely on Allard Baird players that could still be under team control for 2010 had they not been either traded or released by the current regime. So let's compare the two rosters and you can be the judge on which would win more baseball games. Keep in mind that Allard Baird hasn't been the Gm for almost four years now, which means that this wouldn't be our roster had David Glass not decided to go with "The Process" as opposed to "The Plan." Just to stay consistent I'm going to reference CHONE's 2010 projections throughout this piece. I am selecting this projector because it is the only system on fangraphs that projects WAR.

Catchers: Moore's bunch has Jason Kendall starting behind the plate with Brayan Pena as the backup. Kendall comes in with a .245/.316/.305 triple slash line with 2 home runs and 5 steals. His WAR is 0.7. Pena projects to hit .282/.326/.415 with 7 home runs and a Wins Above Replacement of 1.4. So according to Chone this year's catcher tandem projects to notch 2.1 wins above replacement.

Baird's bunch features starter John Buck. Buck was released this offseason both to save money and improve the team's defense and game calling. Ironically Buck will now make less than Kendall in 2010 and the Blue Jays have emphasized his defense and game calling as reasons for his signing. Buck projects to hit .224/.294/.395 with 14 home runs, 49 rbis and a WAR of 0.9. The backup catcher for Buck was a little more difficult to find and the best I can do is Omaha catcher Cody Clark. Although I would wager my 2010 Kansas City Royals World Series tickets that Allard Baird would have continued his rotation of a veteran journeyman backup. Surprisingly CHONE does have a projection for Clark and he comes in with a triple slash of .238/.287/.360 with a WAR of 0.2. Virtually Cody Clark is the mythical replacement player. So in total Buck and Clark come in with a WAR of 1.1.

First Base: This position features the same player for both rosters: Billy Butler. Butler is projected to .307/.372/.478 with 17 home runs, 83 Rbis, and a WAR of 2.3. While Moore hasn't had time to develop and reap the benefits of his own top picks, he has been able to do so with Butler and a couple of other guys that will be discussed later.

Second Base: Starting for the Moore bunch is sophomore Chris Getz. Getz was acquired via trade this offseason for Mark Teahen. Chone projects Getz at .275/.338/.370 with 4 homers, 34 rbis, 14 steals and a WAR of 1.5.

Starting for the Baird squad is Ruben Gotay. Gotay signed a minor league deal this offseason with the Cardinals after posting some good numbers last year in triple A Oklahoma City. Chone projects Gotay at .248/.358/.374 with 6 homers, 34 rbis, 3 steals, and 1.1 WAR.

Third Base: Moore's bunch is led by another Baird first round pick that he never got to enjoy, but then again neither has Dayton Moore really. Anyway at third base is perennial breakout player Alex Gordon. Gordon's projected to hit .265/.353/.435 with 14 home runs, 54 rbis, 9 steals and a WAR of 2.6. How many of you just noticed that Gordon's WAR is higher than Billy Butler? Yet to the point Gordon is a bust and Butler is an emerging superstar in the eyes of Royals fans, but I digress.

Short Stop: Moore's squad features the blogosphere's favorite whipping boy Yuni Betancourt. While I'm sure that scouts would strongly disagree, Betancourt is projected to hit a mean .272/.303/.387 with 7 homers, 50 rbis, 4 steals, and a WAR of 0.3.

Baird's 6 hole would feature Mike Aviles, who was almost famously snagged for $1,000 during the Royals penny pinching days. CHONE projects Mike to hit .270/.305/.403 with 9 homers, 47 rbis, 5 steals and a WAR of 1.4.

Left Field: In left field for Moore is offseason acquisition Scott Podsednik. Podsednik's coming off a career year with Chicago and is projected to hit .275/.336/.368 with 4 homers, 34 rbis, 20 steals and a WAR of 1.0.

In Baird's outfield David DeJesus would line up in center and wouldn't shift after such a stellar defensive season. DeJesus projects to hit .278/.351/.410 with 11 homers, 64 rbis and a WAR of 2.7.

Center Field: After fans thought the outfield picture was complete for 2010, but then Dayton Moore signed Rick Ankiel to a 3+ million dollar deal. For that money CHONE projects the Royals to get back a line of .241/.296/.415 with 17 homers and 57 rbis and a WAR of 1.0.

Always forced to be more cost effective than his counterpart Allard Baird would be paying over 2.5 million dollars less for Mitch Maier to start in center. Not only do many scouts see Maier as a superior option for the Royals, but so does the CHONE projection system. CHONE projects Maier at .262/.326/.368 with 6 homers, 44 rbis, 7 steals and a WAR of 1.6.

Right Field: Moore has elected to push DeJesus and his average but accurate arm to right for 2010. DeJesus projects at a WAR of 2.7.

Baird's lineup features another player no longer with the organization in right: Mark Teahen. Teahen projects at .263/.324/.424 with 16 homers, 65 rbis, 7 steals and a WAR of 1.5 in 2010.

Designated Hitter: About 28 months ago Dayton Moore signed Jose Guillen to a $36 mill contract that has since become an albatross to the organization. Guillen is forced to play DH and gets the nod here over Callaspo because he is making so much more money. Guillen is projected to hit .254/.309/.398 with 13 homers, 62 rbis and a WAR of -0.3. Is he the least cost effective player in the majors? Yes.

At DH for Baird's bunch is blocked prospect Kila Ka'aihue. Royals scouts have been quoted as saying that he has slider bat speed, but if that makes him more selective at the plate then maybe that isn't such a bad thing. If he can hit 90 mph heat in the minors then so what if he can't catch up to mid 90's heat in the majors because most of the time he won't need to anyway. Ka'aihue projects to hit .240/.353/.388 with a WAR of 0.5.

Bench: We've already mentioned Brayan Pena but also for Moore's squad there is Willie Bloomquist (0.6 WAR), Alberto Callaspo (1.7 WAR), and Mitch Maier (1.6). I didn't include Mike Aviles because someone wasn't going to make the cut so I pushed him down since he has options. Also, Josh Fields didn't make the cut.

Cody Clark has already been discussed, but Baird's bench would also feature Esteban German (0.9 WAR), Andres Blanco (0.7 WAR), and Shane Costa (no WAR available so we will go with 0.0).

Rotation: Since CHONE fails to predict WAR for pitcher, I'm going to take the fans projections here. Moore's rotation features Zack Greinke (6.8 WAR), Gil Meche (2.5 WAR), Luke Hochevar (2.5 WAR), Brian Bannister (2.8 WAR), and Kyle Davies (0.9 WAR).

Now for Baird's rotation. I had a hard time even finding starting pitchers that would qualify and so there are a few guys here that are more bullpen guys, but we are going to stick them in the rotation just for this post. Baird probably would have signed an over the hill veteran or two to fill these spots anyway. Zack Greinke (6.8 WAR), Billy Buckner (1.5 WAR), Dusty Hughes (0.0 WAR, none available), Bobby Keppel (0.0 WAR), and Denny Bautista (0.0 WAR).

There is no position where improvement is more obvious than the starting pitching. Baird's teams always were terrible in this regard and while Moore's aren't stellar there are definite strides that have been made. Moore promised to build a team around pitching and defense and so far it seems that in at least half of that there is work being done.

Bullpen: Moore's pen includes Joakim Soria (2.0 WAR) which automatically is going to make it stronger than anything that Baird can assemble. The rest of the parts are Kyle Farnsworth (0.2 WAR), Juan Cruz (0.3 WAR), Roman Colon (0.0 WAR), Robinson Tejeda (1.6 WAR), John Parrish (0.0 WAR), and Luis Mendoza (0.0 WAR). I edged Dusty Hughes off the roster because he had options.

Baird's pen has Leo Nunez (0.0), J.P Howell (1.2 WAR), Joe Nelson (0.0 WAR), Carlos Rosa (0.0 WAR), Chris Hayes (0.0 WAR), Blake Wood (0.0 WAR), Chris Nicoll (0.0 WAR). Obviously several of these parts could provide negative WARs due to lack of major league experience, but also I'm not convinced that they couldn't produce higher WAR than several of the guys on the big league pen this season.

So the final tally is:
Moore's Squad= 36.7
Baird's Bunch= 25.9

When I started this project I had no idea what sort of results I would come up with. I liked the sound of the Baird line up primarily because Aviles, Ka'aihue and Maier were all in the starting line up. But I knew that the Baird group would struggle mightily with pitching. The optimist in me says that if Betancourt and/or Guillen struggle enough they could be permanently replaced by Aviles and/or Ka'aihue and if Ankiel becomes Mike Jacobs part two then Mitch Maier can step into his spot, because all three of these guys are still under team control. By the way, I like the Ankiel deal when it happened, but if he does become Mike Jacobs part two I will be the first calling for Maier to take over the starting centerfield job.

I think that this post could be taken the wrong way and as a diss against the current administration, because the top performers are guys that Baird originally acquired. However, if Moore was fired after next season the same could be said four years after that about the new administration. The fact is that Moore isn't going to be able to go out and sign top caliber talent, and for this organization to have top caliber talent it has to be homegrown. Time will tell if Moore's work on the farm will pay the dividends that the fans hope for and the front office expects.

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