Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Prospect Countdown: 55-51

The countdown continues as planned! Full steam ahead!

55. Gregory Billo RHP

Billo was selected in the 28th round of the 2008 amateur draft, since that time he has posted a 3.97 era with some glistening perhipherals. In 2009, he began to gain some attention when he posted a 1.81 era over 54 innings in rookie league Burlington. However, the next year his era shot up to 5.17 in the Pioneer League.

Interestingly enough Billo was able to maintain his walk rate of 2.6, and actually improve his strikeout rate from 8.6 to 9.1. His falling out came as a result of bad luck and a home run rate that nearly doubled.

Billo possesses three average pitches and at just twenty years old still has room for improvement. He has a 6-4 frame that suggests he could add a few ticks to his fastball. Billo should see Kane County at some point early in the 2011 season and I expect that his numbers (specificially era) will see dramatic improvement.

54. Jose Bonilla C

Bonilla returned to the Midwest League in 2010 and saw his OPS rise nearly 100 points. Unfortunately it still came in at a putrid .687. Bonilla still possesses the tools to be a Major League regular but after struggling in back to back seasons at low-A ball that is beginning to look like more of a pipe dream.

Bonilla hasn't earned a promotion to high-A Wilmington, but perhaps a change in scenery and a little faith from the organization could go a long way for him. After all in 2009, Salvador Perez produced a .466 OPS in Burlington, but in 2010 the Royals pushed him to Wilmington and saw his OPS shoot up to .732 in the pitcher friendly environment.

No matter the route Kansas City takes, 2011 is probably a make or break year for Bonilla.

53. Elisaul Pimentel RHP

The Royals decided that the Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers trade was worth pulling the trigger on because they felt as though Lucas May and Elisaul Pimentel were of greater value than the remaining two months of Podsednik and a second round draft choice. According to Dayton Moore after the trade they said that they felt as though Pimentel was worth the equivalent to a second round selection by himself, so if this holds true then the trade is definitely a win for the Royals.

When the Royals acquired Pimentel, he was a twenty-one year pitching in low-A. He had a 3.49 era and was among the league leaders in strikeouts. However, after pitching 25 innings in Burlington his era had rose to 3.98. In his time in Burlington his strikeout rate dropped from 9.7 to 6.8. His walk rate shot up from 3.5 to 5.8. Overall he didn't handle the transition well.

Nonetheless I expect the Royals to promote Pimentel to Wilmington to begin the 2011 season. I think he will pitch well there and at some point see Texas League competition. Pimentel has the upside of a back end starter and some have suggested that a transition to the pen later in his career could make him a very attractive relief prospect.

It is easy to overlook guys with back end potential like Pimentel when your system has multiple starters with front end potential. But it is important to keep in mind that not all of those starters will pan out (although my fingers are crossed) and when some don't lesser prospects like Pimentel could become crucial to the big league club's success.

52. Adrian Ortiz OF

Last season Adrian Ortiz came in at number 41 on the Royal Revival prospect countdown. One year later he is coming off a strong 2010 campaign as a twenty-three year old in Wilmington, but will see his position on the rankings drop.

Ortiz had a fine season posting a slash of .289/.322/.378 with 32 steals in 47 attempts. Ortiz has top of the notch speed so it is somewhat tantalizing that his stolen base success rate is so low. He has an above average arm for a center or left fielder. His range in center should play out around league average with the potential for improvement as his paths to the ball and instincts improve.

Ortiz is a guy that could very well continue to hit well enough to warrant promotions, but at this point he is being overshadowed by many more appealing prospects. I don't envision him jumping either Derrick Robinson or Jarrod Dyson in the ladder. Not to mention that the Royals have now acquired Lorenzo Cain to hold down the centerfield job for what they hope could be six solid seasons. Also, behind Ortiz is Brett Eibner who has the highest ceiling of the bunch.

Due to these factors and the fact that Ortiz really hasn't shown a ton to be excited about, the best case scenario for him would be to continue to hit and eventually contribute to the Major League club as a fill-in, fifth outfielder type. Ortiz should begin the season in Northwest Arkansas.

51. Bryan Paukovits RHP

Paukovits was drafted in the 44th round of the 2006 draft. Paukovits is interesting prospect primarily because of his 6-7 frame and his strong 2010 campaign. I had the privilege (thanks to MLB Network) to watch one of Paukovits starts live and was impressed by his smooth delivery and his ground ball inducing stuff.

He has heavy pitches and gets a high percentage of groundball outs but he was also able to produce a 9.4 strikeout rate in Burlington before receiving a midseason promotion to Wilmington. Paukovits is already twenty-three years old and has yet to make an appearance in the upper minors. Because of this I hope that the Royals take an aggressive approach with him and see if he can live up to his back end starter potential. If Paukovits can handle this he could be a rotation work horse capable of logging 200+ innings year in and out.

I expect Paukovits to begin the 2011 season in what should be a very strong Blue Rock rotation. He should post very good numbers there and should battle with several other starters for any potential opening on the Naturals' staff. If Paukovits posts mediocre results or doesn't move fast enough to reach his starter potential, I imagine him moving extremely quickly if he transitions to the pen.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Prospect Countdown: 56-60

Christmas Eve and what else could be on my mind but more prospects that are growing on the farm.

60. Keaton Hayenga RHP

Heading into the 2010 season two Kansas City pitching prospects were often discussed in the same breath; these two pitchers were Keaton Hayenga and John Lamb. The two pitchers had similarities, both were regarding as potential high round picks entering their respective drafts and both fell due to injuries before their high school senior year campaigns. The Royals scouting department rolled the dice on both and in 2009 both pitchers rewarded their good faith.

In 2010, Hayenga and Lamb were both assigned to low class A Burlington, but there is where their career paths diverged. Lamb dominated the Midwest League from the get go, while Hayenga struggled there for the entire season. The cause of this is the result of a decreased K rate (already low in the first place) a nearly doubled walk rate, and a tripled home run rate. These factors led Hayenga to a 3-12 record with an era of 6.13.

Hayenga has a natural athleticism and a tall frame. It appears that he somewhat lost his feel for pitching in full season ball, but if he can regain it then he should quickly rebuild his stock as a quality pitching prospect. He has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a curve that has shown flashes as a plus pitch, and a changeup that needs much improvement.

In a loaded Royals' system a poor year results in a huge drop in the prospect lists. However, I Hayenga is still definitely a prospect and for poor systems could rank in the top 30. Hayenga should start the season in the Midwest League once again, and it will be interesting to see if the Kane County environment helps Hayenga rebound in 2011.

59. Leondy Perez RHP

I haven't found much about Leondy Perez's stuff, but I do know that he is just twenty-one years old and he has a career era of 3.97 in rookie league baseball. This past season on the surface was perhaps his worst as a professional as he posted and era of 5.70 in the Pioneer League. However, 2010 saw Perez's k rate to rise to 10.2 per 9 innings. His walk rate moved from 3.0 to 3.8, while his home run rate stayed virtually the same.

I suspect that his era is a somewhat fluky number do to a high BABIP against him. The Pioneeer League is notoriously in the hitters favor, and it is also rumored that the infields in the circuit are of extremely poor quality that can humble the best fielders. But we will touch on that again in just a second.

I think Perez deserves to make his full season debut in 2011, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him make a return trip to the Pioneer League.

58. Leonel Santiago RHP

Like Perez, Santiago's 2009 season may have been a statistical fluke given his k rate of 10.2 and his walk rate of 2.5 in the Arizona League. With these peripherals it didn't make sense that his era came in at 5.40 in his stateside debut. In 2010, his K rate actually dropped to 7.3 yet his era did the same and came in at 2.78.

Santiago turned 21, yesterday and I expect him to make his full season debut in 2011 in Kane County. He is one part of the Royals increased efforts in Latin America since Moore took the reins in 2006. In 2011 some of those high upside pitchers should begin to filter into full season ball.

57. Justin Trapp SS

Justin Trapp made some noise in the prospect circuits heading into the 2010 season when he was rated as the 31st best Royals prospect and chosen as a sleeper candidate by Baseball America. The pick was justified by Trapp's athleticism and his work ethic, which pushed Baseball America into saying that he could become an impact middle infielder. In a system that at the time was totally bare of shortstop prospects some Royals fans latched onto Trapp's promise.

It isn't that Trapp had a bad year in 2010; it is just that he didn't live up to the hype that Baseball America had consequently applied to him, when they labeled him a sleeper. In sixty-seven games as a nineteen year old in the Pioneer League Trapp posted a slash of .269/.346/.323 with twenty-six steals and thirty-three errors. No that wasn't a typo Trapp had thirty-three errors in sixty-seven games. But no is the time that we are reminded that the infields in the Pioneer League are questionable to say the least.

The potential is still there for Trapp and I expect him and 2010 draftee Alex McClure to split time at shortstop in full season Burlington in 2011.

56. Jin-Ho Shin C

At the time of Shin's signing, he representing the largest ever international signing bonus ever given in Royals history. Other then Yasuhiko Yabuta he also represents the only evidence of the Royals scouting efforts on the Pacific Rim.

Shin has very good arm strength and is considered by many scouts to be one of the top prospects in the system. I have read that his blocking skills should just be average. But he is offense oriented with above average plate discipline and the potential to be a very good power hitting catcher.

The downside to Shin is that in his debut in the hitter friendly Arizona League Shin hit just .152/.280/.200. But he is just 18 and there were rumors of some nagging injuries that bothered him throughout the season. I expect Shin to first surface this season in Idaho Falls when short season ball begins.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Thought to Consider

Now that Zack Greinke has taken his talents to Milwaukee, the Royals are left with what some would call 4/5ths of a rotation and what others would call a pile of shit. I would say that I would fall in between these two mindsets. I think that Hochevar would be a fine number three and that Mazzaro and Davies would both be barable as the four and five starters. Unfortunately, though all three of these pitchers are currently stretched into roles about two positions closer to the front of the rotation. The Royals also have Sean O'Sullivan and well I guess you can pencil him into the opening rotation as well.

In an interview with 610 Sports Kansas City on Monday Moore said that the team would look to sign one or two starters to one year deals. There are several pitchers that could fit the bill and the guys that have received the most attention as potential fits are Joe Blanton, Bruce Chen, and Kevin Milwood. I am probably speaking for most everyone in saying that none of these three pitchers excite me in the least.

So I am going to make a suggestion: sign Brandon Webb. From 2006-2008 Brandon Webb finished first or second in the NL Cy Young voting everytime. He has a career era of 3.27, a career k:bb of 2.45. A heavy groundball inducing sinker and a plus change up and curve. His fastball velocity hadn't totally came back in his three instructional league starts, but it is only a couple of miles per hour off from where it was in 2008, when he went 22-7 with a 3.30 era.

After I saw that Rich Harden signed for a mere $1.5 million gaurunteed, I was mildly disappointed that the Royals weren't rumored to be in the mix. At that cost Harden is an excellent buy low candidate and if he returns to form he is a frontline starter that can either help you surprise people in 2011 or can either net you a pair of quality prospects at the trade deadline or in the 2012 draft via compensation.

The same can be said with Webb except with an even higher upside. But with that upside likely will come with a higher cost. His agent was said to be demanding roughly a $10 million deal when the offseason began. I'd like to see a Webb signing but only if it is a buy low. So I am curious what are your thoughts on Brandon Webb? How much do you think he would be worth on a one year deal? Or would he even be worth a deal at all? Perhaps it would be wiser to sign an innings eater that we are sure can provide innings until the prospects are ready. What do you think?

Prospect Countdown: 61-65

Since I have so many prospects to discuss, I figure it is important that when I am in the writing mood I need to knock out as many as possible. So a fair warning there will be no time table in between the Prospect Countdown posts.

65. Darian Sandford CF

Sandford was considered the fastest player selected in this year's first year player draft. He was selected in the 50th round, just like fellow speedster Jarrod Dyson. In his professional debut Sandford had a slash of .279/.364/.361 with 30 steals in just 38 games. Dyson in his professional debut in the Arizona League hit .273/.358/.373 with 19 steals in 51 games. The biggest difference is that Dyson did it at 21 while Sandford did it at 23.

Dyson basically progressed a level at a time which enabled him to reach the Majors at age twenty-five. Unfortunately if Sandford does the same he won't reach the upper levels until age twenty-five. So for Sandford to really have a shot at turning his speed into prospect status he needs to go to Kane County and do work from the start, so that he can warrant a midseason promotion to Northwest Arkansas. It is my belief that the Royals should be extremely aggressive with Sandford because if they aren't he'll never have a shot at being a Major Leaguer, however if they are he could respond positively and become a decent centerfield prospect.

64. Edgar Osuna LHP

Finally we get to the lefties that have everyone so excited. Well not exactly, but there was a time that many believe Osuna could break camp not just as the situational lefty but maybe even as the token lefty starter in Kansas City's rotation. Unfortunately for him he imploded the rest of spring and the Braves decided he wasn't worth the 25K to take him back.

Osuna was assigned to Northwest Arkansas and there he showed off his great control allowing just 1 walk per 9 innings pitched. He was also able to get 6 K's per 9 and these two things helped him to an ERA of just 2.95 during his time with the Naturals. Osuna then was promoted to Omaha where is walks per 9 innings went up to 5, and his homerun rate arose from 1.0 with Northwest Arkansas to 3.7 with Omaha.

As a soft tosser, there is a good chance that Osuna will simply never have the stuff to compete at the big league level. But if he can find his command in Omaha then there could be a point when we see his face in Kansas City.

63. Cole White RHP

White is a right handed relief prospect that was drafted in the 6th round of the 2009 draft. White has a fastball that can touch the mid-90s that often can get a very good sinking action, but at this point his slider isn't much of a threat as a second offering. White needs to refine it in order to fulfill his potential as a set up man.

White has a career minor league era of 1.40 while averaging a K per inning. On the other side though he also is giving up 5 walks per 9 innings and he missed nearly all of the 2010 season due to injury. I expect White to start his season in the back end of Wilmington's bullpen and then after a good start receive a promotion to Northwest Arkansas.

62. Tim Smith OF

Smith came to Kansas City with Manuel Pina in a trade that sent Danny Gutierrez to Texas. Apparently the Royals didn't think that Smith's 2009 Texas League campaign when he posted a .309/.380/.439 slash in 36 games wasn't enough to warrant a promotion so the Royals elected to have him make a return trip. On his return Smith posted a nearly identical line of .306/.372/.453 slash. I would think that he begins 2011 in Omaha, because that is a fine minor league stat line.

After watching Smith for most of the summer I see Smith as more of a future fourth outfielder that provides a good bat off the bench. He has a good bat with average power and good plate discipline. But with Arvest Ballpark playing like it did in 2010 you have to be a bit curious how inflated all of these prospects numbers are. My point is that on most night's it was only the home team that was scoring all the runs so maybe the park's hitter friendliness has been a bit exaggerated.

Smith split time in the outfield and at DH for most of the season and I think he takes a back seat to similar Royals outfield prospects that I will later discuss. However, if he continues to hit he should get an opportunity at the Major League level at some point in time.

61. Willian Avinazar

I haven't seen Avinazar pitch and I haven't had much luck finding any scouting reports that discuss what kind of stuff he has, but he had a very good season in Rookie League Burlington as a twenty-one year old so he should break camp as a member of the Kane County rotation. Thus far in his professional career he has a K/9 of 8.3 a BB/9 of 1.4 and a HR/9 of 0.5, promising numbers for the Venezuelan.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Prospect Countdown: 66-70

So I am going to begin my top prospect countdown. It was hard for me to decide how many prospects to include and the Royals system is so deep that I really didn't want to leave guys off so I have decided (at this point) to do individual profiles for the top 50 players, but to also give rank all the way to the 70 slot. The system is so deep that even going this far I might leave off a few guys that could have deserved a mention, but at some point I have to cut it off. I know that I am going to later regret such a long list. But oh well. So let's start the countdown with 70-66.

70. Eduardo Paulino RHP

Paulino is a guy that has consistently performed well year in and year out. He was a very valuable member of the Naturals rotation in the first half of the year when they won the first half championship. But as the top prospects started flooding into Springdale Paulino was pushed into a bullpen role. He was unprotected on the 40 man roster and his stuff is fringe but the guy has a 3.57 career era. Unfortunately his walk rate doubled in his first double A stint and with such great talent in the organization he will probably not reach the Majors in Royal blue. But I do believe that his career plateau is higher then Double A.

69. Mario Santiago RHP

Much like Paulino Santiago has been successful in the minor leagues but has never been young enough for those stats to get people too excited. He was twenty-five this season in double A and had a solid year in Springdale followed by a very good showing in the winter leagues with rumors that his newly found cutter was inducing a ton of ground balls. His name thrown around as a potential Rule Fiver, but that moment never came and he remains in the organization. I think Santiago could start the year in Omaha, or he will be in the bullpen because there won't be room for him in the Naturals rotation.

68. Rey Navarro SS

Navarro came to the organization for Carlos Rosa early in the 2010 season. Navarro hasn't done much as a professional with the bat, but he did enter the 2010 season rated as the number 12 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. Think about that for a moment, when Navarro was acquired he was perhaps the top shortstop prospect in the organization. Now he is nothing more than a lottery ticket that has hit a wall in high A. Navarro is still just twenty year old, so that is a positive. He also has plus range and an average arm. Going into the year Baseball America thought that he would one day become a quality defender that could hit in the bottom portion of an order. After struggling for another season he should return to Wilmington for 2011. It'll be a critical year for Navarro but if he can show that he can hit he'll become an interesting prospect again.

67. Carlo Testa OF

Testa has a career minor league OPS of .855 and plays in one of the more bare spots in the entire organization. I have never seen Testa play live other than a few batting practice cuts in Spring Training, but per scouting reports he has solid tools all across the board and judging by his stats he does a decent job drawing walks but also strikeouts more than his fair share. Testa is old for his level so he can't afford a slip up. He should start in Wilmington in 2011; there it'll be critical that he doesn't struggle in his first trip to Frawley Stadium.

66. Henry Barrera RHP

I had the pleasure of watching Barrera this season in Springdale and I can tell you that he has one of the strangest deliveries in all of baseball. It is borderline illegal, but involves him taking what appears to be the second half of a crow-hop toward the plate as he starts his delivery. Perhaps as a result of this his low 90s heat tends to get on hitters quicker than would typically be expected. Over the past couple of seasons Barrera has been a dominant reliever. So dominant in fact that the Royals elected to protect on the 40-man a year ago, because they thought he could be selected in the Rule 5 draft. I think Barrera has a puncher's chance to make the Big League Bullpen out of Spring Training in 2011.

Notes From 610 Sports Interviews

Here are some notes from a few interviews that have occured on Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Kansas City. I apologize for the awkward formatting but when I copy and paste it in the bullets won't function right and I really have no desire to retype this whole thing.

Dayton Moore:
· Best players need to be most competitive players, and if you aren’t comfortable you have to maximize value.
· From start Brewers had middle of field guys, but zack initially didn’t want to go there. In the end Zack waived his no trade for Milwaukee.
· Tried to lock Zack up thru winter meetings.
· Cain only has about 100 at bats in triple-A and some royals people believe he needs about 200-250 more.
· Moore says KC needs him on opening day roster.
· Wants position players to beat pitchers that, because there is more of an adjustment period.
· Jeffress will have opportunity to make club in Spring
· Odorizzi will start season in Wilmington.
· Since 2009 he has been tested weekly and there hasn’t been any issues. Many Royals scouts know him since high school. Before deal KC spoke to Hosmer and said “this guy’s a stud. He fits in with us. Was over at our house every Sunday for Barbecue.”
· Moore would rather have a player like Jeffress that they can manage risk, than a player in low A.
· Moore says he sees Jeffress as a reliever. Art Stewart saw every game and says he is best suited as a reliever.
· Soria signed longterm in one of most club friendly deals in baseball. Kansas City’s first choice was to sign Greinke long term again, but Zack didn’t want to.
· Moore expects KC to always be ranked among top farm systems in baseball.
· If you can’t sign a guy long term, in year 4 and 5 you have to look to maximize value.
· Want to get to a point where the roster can be predicted for the next 2-4 years.
· Ideal rotation going in is Hochevar, Davies, Mazzaro, O’Sullivan. But there is work to do in adding to rotation. Duffy, Teaford, and Crow are going to get very strong opportunities and could win jobs. Will look to add one or two more pitchers on one year deals.
· No guaranteed contracts in 2012.
Billy Butler:
· Greinke was going to do more damage than good, is glad the organization was able to move on from it.
· Butler doesn’t agree with the way Greinke handled it.
· Zack’s job wasn’t to comment on where organization was heading. Just because he had a Cy Young doesn’t make that okay.
· Butler is all for the Kansas City Royals. Butler wants to play for Royals everyday of his career.
J.J. Cooper:
· Pretty solid package. Key part is Escobar.
· Didn’t have an above average defensive shortstop prospect that is above 16 years old.
· With wave of pitching they need a good fielding infield. Should help pitching staff long term.
· Expects Escobar to be a bottom order hitter but great defensively. Range and arm both well above average.
· Duffy is most advanced of the wave of pitching. If he hadn’t stepped away from game last year he would be slam dunk to start in rotation this year.
· Knows how to set up hitters with both location and hitter’s timing. Very solid middle rotation starter.
· Expects Monty to start in double A, then hit triple A at some point. But there isn’t any reason that KC should speed up guys arbitration clocks this season.
· First year Cooper did Royals farm, they were writing about Montgomery and Duffy. There was nothing ahead of them. Now those guys are near major league ready. Very few of the initial group has failed.
· The gap between KC and 2 is about as big as the number 2 and the number 8 system.
· The Royals would have a better farm system than the Brewers if you took out the top 12 or 13 guys.
· Royals Top 5 prospects all are in top 25 in baseball.
· Doesn’t think Myers will be a catcher. Most scouts think that he could do it, except the Royals can’t acquire a top notch middle of the order guy. If Myers can move to outfield he can play in 20-30 more games a year.
· Lucas May and Manny Pina are back up types.
· Salvador Perez has starter potential. Showed ability with bat and is excellent behind the plate.
· If the Royals can’t find a homegrown guy the Royals will have such a large percentage of homegrown guys that they will have the money to fill the catcher spot up.
· Aaron Crow, Tim Melville, and Noel Arguelles are the three guys whose stock dropped in 2010.
· Crow still has same stuff. Cooper expects Crow to have a significantly better 2011 than 2010.
· Cooper says Brewers win short term. Long term Cooper hasn’t heard about a better deal than the one the Royals got. Because Greinke had such a large no trade clause, the Royals had to get a certain team to agree.
· Three of the guys will be in big leagues this year. Very confident that Jeffress and Escobar are going to be good contributors for years to come. Fairly confident that Cain will be a solid contributor.
· If they get 2 very solid contributors out of deal then they have done better than the Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay deals.
· IF they get 3 then Royals win trade long term.

Monday, December 20, 2010

48 Hours Worth of Greinke Trade Thoughts

Okay so Zack Greinke has been traded to Milwaukee along with Yunieskey Betancourt and 2 million dollars for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi. But if you are reading this blog you already know that so I am going to jump right into my thoughts on the deal.

First off it seems that this deal is being viewed as a major disappointment among Royals fans across the blogosphere. This is also the group of people that are going to know the most about the rumors around the deal and the names of the top prospects in baseball. I like most of these fans have been salivating over the idea that the Royals would add an elite prospect via the Zack Greinke trade. Because the Royals did not acquire a big name blue chipper Royals fans are up in arms and most view the trade as a major disappointment.

I can't argue with Royals fans in saying that when I first read the names of the players going to Kansas City I was somewhat disappointed, because like most I had been daydreaming about prospects such as Kyle Drabek, Jesus Montero, or Jurickson Profar joining the current core that has been built. When the guys in the deal aren't the guys that you had been reading and daydreaming about over the last few weeks weren't involved it is a natural feeling to be disappointed.

When the players involved fit the exact desire of Dayton Moore it leads Royals fans to recall the nightmares of Allard Baird only fielding offers that included a near major league ready third baseman, catcher, and starting pitcher. This time though Moore wanted major league ready talent up the middle and two pitchers with frontline potential. The difference though is that Baird demanded certain players when he needed every kind of player, while Moore sought out certain positions because the other positions on the diamond have quality prospects that are near major league ready already.

Royals' fans are up in arms about the haul that Dayton Moore received, because the deal didn't include the guys that they had pinned as the guys other teams would give for Greinke. However, we only know of three other packages that had been discussed: Toronto, New York, and Washington. It is also well known that Texas coveted Greinke, however we have no inside sources that I can recall that gave specifics on the discussions.

*With Toronto it was rumored that the Royals sought a package beginning with Kyle Drabek and Travis Snider. However, the Blue Jays refused to include either Drabek or Snider. Even after this it was later reported that Kansas City liked a package offered by Toronto, but Greinke didn't want to take his services to Canada.

*With New York the Royals were seeking a package that included Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, and either Manuel Banuelos or Delin Betances. But the Yankees were concerned that Greinke wouldn't be able to handle New York.

*With Washington the Royals sought a package that included Jordan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and Drew Storen. At one point Washington refused to include Zimmerman and at another Greinke vetoed a trade to Washington. (Both of these last points are speculation like all other deals are at this point.)

*Thanks to mlbtraderumors for this information.

In the end the Royals went with an offer from Milwaukee that their scouts and organization felt was the best option. Yes the Royals could have held Greinke but with as much as the organization talks about having a good atmosphere for the incoming prospects it wouldn't make much sense to hang on to a disgruntled superstar. Especially if the superstar isn't going to throw his slider because its too taxing on his arm and the year is a lost cause.

So let's analyze the players coming to Kansas City.

For those of you fans that are suggesting the Royals didn't acquire a top notch player realize that going into the 2010 season Escobar was considered a top 15 prospect and a prime rookie of the year candidate. Just because he posted a disappointing rookie season offensively doesn't mean that his potential is shot.

With Escobar is wasn't a secret that his offensive value would be batting average driven and when he hit .235 in his rookie year it was frustrating. But look deeper, because Escobar also posted a line drive percentage of 21.5%. Unfortunately for Escobar is that he also posted a *BABIP of .264. But wait! That doesn't make sense; typically BABIP is roughly .120 higher than line drive percentage. This would mean that his BABIP should have been .335. Well this is a crude estimate, but using an online translator we arrive at a BABIP of .315.

*BABIP= Batting average on balls in play

Take into account that Escobar also was in the 8-hole and you have to figure that he was probably getting pitched around the majority of the time he stepped into the box. If you couple that with the fact that he is a free swinging player then it would be expected that he isn't a guy that would take advantage of working the count. However, it is extremely reasonable to predict that he would be a player that could greatly benefit from hitting in front of a top notch hitter in the 2-hole for instance. (I realize that all players would but humor me for a second.)

A guy like Escobar could thrive being a 2-hole hitter in front of a threatening heart of the order. He should have above average contact skills, rack up steals and score runs just like he did in the minors. Also, by being in this spot his below average plate discipline could become less of a liability.

We haven't even mentioned Escobar's most appealing asset to the Royals: defense. Escobar has been called a defensive wiz and should be a top of the line defender for the next six seasons that he is in a Royals uniform. Because of this anything he does with that bat is gravy. Without Escobar the Royals projected infield for the future is Moustakas, Colon, Giavotella and Hosmer, defensively this could have been atrocious. But now Colon is able to shift to second with Escobar taking his place at short making the Royals' future infield defense look not just passable but even above average.

Escobar is an upgrade from Betancourt on day 1, but over the next several years his value could increase and he should become the first Royals fixture at shortstop in well... a very long time.

The other hitting prospect that the Royals received in the deal was Lorenzo Cain. To me Cain is the player with the lowest upside in the deal. However, scouts agree that he plays an above average centerfield and he has an arm that could play in right. This is a very good combination for a guy that could be the Royals starting centerfielder thru 2016.

This year in the majors Cain posted a very reasonable triple slash of .306/.348/.415. But if we are going to use the BABIP analysis in order to make Escobar sound better I should mention that Cain's BABIP was .370 even though he had a line drive percentage of 20.5%. Nonetheless if Cain continues to post a slash like the one he posted in his rookie year and his career minor league slash of .291/.366/.416 he is going to be an extremely productive Royal. Not to mention that Cain also stole 124 bases in his minor league career and was 7 for 8 in his rookie debut.

Even if Cain doesn't become a future star he could be the type of player that is consistently overlooked by other teams' fans but consistently praised by Royals fans. He fits the speedy mold that Dayton Moore is looking for in his future centerfielder and there is no doubt that he is a better prospect then both Derrick Robinson and Jarrod Dyson. Cain should be a good fit for Kauffman Stadium the speed that he brings to the table.

So Moore got the up the middle talent that he sought, but it was also rumored that Moore was seeking to pitchers with front of the rotation potential. He didn't receive a sure thing in this department by any means, but he definitely got two guys with frontline starter stuff.

Let's start with Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi is a 19 year old righty that heading into the 2008 draft was viewed by some as the top high school pitcher available. He fell to 32nd overall and was nabbed by the Milwaukee Brewers and since has become their top starting pitcher prospect.

Over the course 188 professional innings Odorizzi has produced a 3.43 ERA and a 1.152 WHIP while averaging over 10 Ks per 9 innings to just 3 walks per 9 innings. This past season in the start after his worst of the season he threw 8 no hit innings... against the same team that had shelled him just a few days before. Odorizzi possesses a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a potential plus curveball, a slider and change that are works in progress and a smooth repeatable delivery.

Odorizzi should begin the season at the front of Wilmington's rotation with Tim Melville and with a strong start could be in Northwest Arkansas midway thru the season as roster adjustments trickle down throughout the system.

The other pitcher that the Royals acquired was Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress has had a bit of trouble laying off the wacky tobacky as a professional but after his second positive drug test, Milwaukee oddly enough decided to place him on the 40 man roster. Interestingly enough Marijuana is not tested for if you are on the 40-man, and three drug suspensions in the minors result in a lifetime ban. I don't want to jump to any conclusions so I am positive that this is totally, without a doubt, 100 percent a coincidence.

Like Odorizzi there is a possibility that Jeffress is ranked in Baseball America's top 100 prospect list, although the drug suspension and the fact that the Royals will already have such strong representation could hurt him. Jeffress is a hard thrower that touched 100 at several points last season, with a curveball that at times has also been a plus offering. Jeffress also has a change-up that needs work. With an easy repeatable motion and such a great fastball the potential is there for Jeffress to be a front end guy or a closer in the future. However, this past season all of his innings came out of the pen.

Jeffress is under team control through 2016, while Joakim Soria is under team control through 2014. Because of this I believe that one of the two should make a transition to the rotation. If the decision is made for Soria to do this, Jeffress becomes the closer of the future and there is a good chance that Soria becomes the righty cog that is needed among the flow of lefty prospects on the way. If the decision is made to leave Soria in the pen, then it is my opinion that Jeffress should begin the year in Omaha and pitch as a starter.

If by chance Jeffress can't handle it, then he should be a set up man for a couple of years under Soria and then when the Royals feel as though Jeffress is ready to be the closer in either 2013 or 2014 then Soria can be moved. Ideally with both players under control for so long, a solution can be found that enables both pitchers to maximize their value as members of the Kansas City Royals.

The other aspect of the Greinke trade that has not yet been discussed is the unloading of Yunieskey Betancourt. Now I have already had one Brewers fan try to tell me that he was simply a throw in and that the Brewers are considering cutting him now. Well I can tell you right now that this is optimistic thinking on his part and simply isn't the case.

I know the Royals are kicking in 2 million on this deal, but why would the Brewers acquire Betancourt too if they were just planning on cutting him. This simply isn't what is going on. The Brewers are going to start Betancourt at shortstop on Opening Day mark my words, and when Greinke steps on the mound and looks over his shoulder to the left of second base he is going to feel as though he has stepped into the twilight zone as Betancourt stares back at him.

A Major League executive said early today that any value gained by Greinke will be negated by Betancourt. This is probably a bit of an exaggeration but for the Brewers sake let's hope they wise up sooner rather than later.

For Royals' fans the departure of Betancourt means that they can devote their entire frustration on the plate discipline of Jeff Francouer. For the Royals they also save some money by unloading Betancourt. In fact over the next two seasons this trade saves the Royals about $28 million. It'd probably be unwise to spend much of that at this point in the 2011 offseason, but next offseason they will also have $11 million more coming off the books as Gil Meche becomes a free agent and the Royals could add a big name talent. Systems are go for Operation:2012.

The worst case scenario for Royals fans is that the players received don't pan out and the Brewers fall out of contention in 2011 and net a better haul for Greinke at the deadline. But the best case scenario is that this moves speeds up the countdown to contention and provides the Royals with multiple pieces for a contending team in the future. Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if Milwaukee misses their one year window in 2011 and then the Royals contend in the 2012 season. The thought is so sweet that I can almost taste it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rumor: Greinke Traded.

Rumor on Twitter: Royals trade Greinke to Milwaukee for RHP Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, shortstop Alcides Escobar and Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain. More to come.

The only source I can find is this Brewers blog on the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinal:

Many are questioning the report, and Rotoworld expects denials to come forward soon. The fact that top baseball people haven't picked up on the rumor tells me this is either far from completed or it is a total fabrication.

My gut tells me right now that this deal probably has some truth to it about what the two teams are discussing, but I don't think it is a done deal. I do believe that this could be the start of a a swell of rumors that could end with Greinke being dealt within the new few days and maybe even the next 24 hours.

Update: Trade is now also being reported here:

Belated Notes on AL Central Prospect Chat

I recently listened to the Baseball America AL Central prospect chat and in case you didn't have time to listen for yourself here are the highlights:

  • Mike Montgomery would be the top prospect in any other AL Central system, but is ranked #5 in Kansas City's. This is just a testament to the depth of elite prospects that the Royals currently have in their system.
  • Comparing the Royals to other teams that have built from within in recent years (Indians, Rays, and Twins), they need 3 or 4 of the current prospect crop to become cornerstone type players. I think that if the Royals wind up with just 3 or 4 cornerstone players from the current crop there will be a lot of disappointed Royals fans.
  • The Royals have guys ranked in the low 20s that would rank on most teams' top 15s. This is where the Royals are going to find their role players. This depth will be critical in moving from a competitive team to a top of the line contender.
  • The Royals have more starting pitching prospects coming up then they can fit into a Major League rotation. This means that it will be critical for the Royals to properly evaluate which pitchers to keep as starters, which should be moved to the pen, and which should be dealt to fill other needs.
  • The current Royals lineup only features one cornerstone type player: Billy Butler. So there isn't any reason why any prospects would be blocked.
  • The only cornerstone arms the Royals have are Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria.
  • Before the Francouer and Cabrerra signings Baseball America expected a few guys to be signed on one year deals and then dealt at the deadline. It worked last season and enabled the Royals to bring in guys like Lucas May, Elisaul Pimentel, Kevin Pucetas, Sean O'Sullivan, Will Smith, Gregor Blanco, Jesse Chavez, and Tim Collins.
  • Tim Collins and Louis Coleman could easily break camp with Kansas City. In an interview with 610 Sports on Friday afternoon Dayton Moore confirmed this and also added Blaine Hardy's name to the mix.
  • The first wave of talent currently stretches from high A to triple A. Over the past two years the Royals have also been subtly laying the groundwork for a second wave primarily thru their spending in Latin America. Of course once the first wave starts hitting Kansas City the Royals can turn their attention to drafting to improve upon that second wave of talent. The good news is that unlike the first wave the Royals will already have a good base to build the second wave on due to the signing of guys like Cheslor Cuthbert, Robinson Yambati, Yordano Ventura, Humberto Arteaga, and Orlando Caxiste. I'd like to analyze this strategy in more depth later.
  • Finally, the chat discussed how the Royals would be hurt more than any other team by hard slotting judging by the way that they currently operate. I touched on this in my Zack Greinke post, but as the Royals start drafting lower in the draft (hopefully) they could also lose the ability to draft guys and sign them over slot. This could really hurt the development of the farm system and ultimately Kansas City's ability to field a competitive team.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gimme Rule 5

As I'm sure all of my readers are aware of by now, the Royals selected righty Nathan Adcock in the Major League phase of the 2010 Rule 5 draft. I've tried to get some information together on him but I really have found alot. Here's a look at Adcock's career minor league numbers:

Adcock became a Pirate as part of the trade that sent Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to Mariners after the Mariners made him the 141st overall slection of the 2006 First Year Player Draft. Judging by the Pirate fans reaction on the blogosphere many seemed to be disappointed that Adcock was left unprotected and hope that they can get him back at some point.

Adcock is 6-5, 190. He offers the Royals a projectible frame with a fastball that sits in the 88-93 mph range. With his size it would not be shocking to seem him either add some velocity as a starter, or dial up his stuff a bit in a move to the bullpen. Adcock also has a curveball that in 2009 was considered the best in the Seattle Mariner organization. However, at this point most believe that he possesses three average pitches, but no plus offerings.

The good news for Adcock is that he has a reputation as a downhill thrower and has consistently had an above average groundball rate. The bad news is that he doesn't have that plus offering and he throws from an "inverted w" which is a health concern moving forward.

Like they did with Osuna the Royals claim that they view Adcock as a rotation candidate and I agree. At this point the Royals rotation features five guys that I think the organization will give a very realistic opportunity (Greinke,Hochevar, Mazzaro, Davies, O'Sullivan), plus two guys that will get an on the surface opportunity(Teaford and Duffy), and one other guy that they will say gets an opportunity but really has no chance (Crow).

I think it is a safe assumption that Greinke, Hochevar, and Mazzaro are locks. I also believe that Davies will be granted one more shot, which means that the Royals currently are stuck with O'Sullivan in that fifth spot. I am in no way an O'Sullivan fan and it sounds to me as though Adcock's stuff is very comparable. For this reason I believe that with the current roster it will be a battle between Adcock and O'Sullivan for the fifth spot.

Since O'Sullivan has options remaining and Adcock is a Rule 5 selection, I think that Adcock will be given the slight edge early on and with a successful spring could be handed the fifth starter spot. If he doesn't win a spot in the rotation it would probably be due to poor performance and if that is the case the only way he wins a bullpen role is if his stuff impresses the Royals staff and he is able to dial it up in short stints. If he can't do that then he probably won't be a Royal much longer.

In conclusion, he is an intriguing player and I think he will provide good real competition for O'Sullivan in the fifth starter spot. Even if he gets returned to the Pirates and the Royals spend 25K he still provides competition in Spring and a realistic alternative to O'Sullivan should he stink up the place. If Adcock doesn't make the roster and the Royals get to keep him then they just paid 50K to add another pitching prospect with back end potential. Either way it seems like a good investment of that chunk of money.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Normally Don't Do This..

I normally don't do this but I have a best friend that has recently been debating about whether or not to start a Kansas City Chiefs blog. I encouraged him and said that it is alot of fun and whether or not people care about your opinions, writing is an awesome way to develope and fine tune them. I am not a big Chiefs fan, but I assume that many of Royals fans are and thus many of my readers will find him interesting.

My friend is an extremely bright individual with a great sense of humor, good writing skills and a top notch ability to argue. I expect him to create a fantastic Chiefs blog and I wouldn't be surprised one bit if it became a go to site for Chiefs fans looking for a midweek fix. So without further adu I give you:

Now with good luck, that will be the last time I steer away from the Royals and baseball on this site.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Generic "Got Melky" Title

It is funny that a player that has long been a potential target for the Royals can go to the Braves and then lose all appeal whatsoever. When Moore took over for Baird in 2006, he made a flurry of moves and many fans were excited by a rumor that stated a deal was in place to send Reggie Sanders to New York in exchange for Melky Cabrerra. The deal soon fell through due to a Reggie Sanders injury.

Melky is a twenty-six year old outfielder that can play all three outfield spots at an average level. He can't really hit enough to be a regular outfielder on an average team, but on a team like the 2011 Royals he offers improvement. Like Francouer Melky is on the good side of the aging curve and he offers some projection moving forward.

It's just a one year stopgap, but for just $1.25 million. It seems to be a team friendly deal. Just like with Podsednik and Ankiel a year ago, Francouer and Cabrerra ideally play at a decent level for the first few months of a season and then the Royals will have a couple of appealing chips at the deadline. Not a bad deal considering the state of the Royals heading into the 2011 season.

PS. Not to mention that Dyson will now be granted to the opportunity to prove that he can hit before he is giving a starting centerfield job at the Major League level. If Royals fans are seriously mad about these latest signing because it means that Dyson will probably start in triple A, consider this: .688. That's Dyson's career minor league OPS. Keep in mind that he has been old for his level at every stop and that he has only played in 116 games in the upper minors.


Let me preface this by saying that I am not a Jeff Francouer fan. In no way do I think that he is going to be a part of the long term outfield solution. I think even during his first couple of seasons he was an overrated player. I believe that he is one of the worst everyday players in the majors. I think he has a little bit of promise and is on the good side of the aging curve. But the backlash that Dayton Moore is receiving for the signing is unnecessary and exaggerated.

I don't want to get into an in-depth analysis of the psychology of Royals fans, but it seems to me as though the predictability of the Francouer signing has given Royals fans time to build up their frustrations with the deal before it even occurred. Moore is going to get flak for signing another former Braves top prospect, that has no plate discipline, good rbi totals, and of course the intangibles that are needed for a ballclub. The Francouer signing was perhaps the most predictability Royals transaction in history and for that fans are frustrated.

For all the haters of this signing I ask you this: "What should Dayton Moore have done?" You think he should have made a run at Crawford or Werth? Get real. You think he should have signed Matt Diaz? Well he is 32. You think he should have signed Austin Kearns? That's fine, but he's also always on the DL. You think he should have saved the money? I wouldn't have been upset with that, but even though an outfield of Gordon-Cabrerra-Francouer doesn't sound great, it does sound better than an outfield of Blanco-Maier-Gordon.

Moore didn't overpay for Francouer, he didn't give him multiple years as many thought he would. Francouer is going to be the starting rightfielder for Kansas City. He is going to be a frustrating player to watch at the plate on many a summer evening in 2011. He is going to impress fans with bullets from the outfield. He is going to send some cowhide spheres deep into the dark blue sky.

In the end Francouer is only 26 years old. He has shown the abilities necessary to be a productive major league player. He in no way is going to hurt the long term plan of the organization. He is signed at an extremely reasonable price. He isn't going to turn the Royals into a contender for 2011, but he does represent improvement to the roster.

I can understand the frustration of Royals fans for the predictability of Dayton Moore's moves. But the negative evaluations of this move have been much more a result of frustration then of unbiased evaluation.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Meeting Roundup: Day 1

Okay so it was a pretty exciting day 1 in Orlando, Florida and in case you didn't get to spend all day surfing the web for updates like me here is what you missed:
  • Phillies, Rockies, and Royals are all interested in the services of... (drumroll please)... Jeff Francouer! The rumor is that the Royals are the favorite given the fact that they can offer him the most playing time this season. I know that everyone expects the Royals to sign Francouer and I jokingly have even stated that I will go ahead and write the post regarding the signing, but with each passing day I am becoming more and more unsure about this. The fact that Francouer has not already signed a deal with Kansas City is very telling to me. First, that the Royals aren't overpaying because I believe he would of already jumped on it and also that either the Royals are waiting for other options that they like better or the Royals aren't even interested and their name pops up just because of the Dayton Moore connection.
  • Greg Schaum at Royals Prospects has a list of the top Rule 5 prospects available and his top pick for Kansas City is Wynn Pelzer. In the article Pelzer is compared to Joakim Soria. The Royals did leave a spot open so I imagine that they will select a player when the time comes. I know that it is extremely old information but I heard several months ago that Royals scouts were very intrigued by 2B prospect Matt Lawson while he was a member of the Texas Rangers organization. Now he is in Seattle and was left unprotected. Lawson also appeared on the list at
  • It appears that the Yankees I becoming more hesitant about a Greinke deal due to their fear that he wouldn't be able to handle the New York scene.
  • Texas continues to disappoint the Royals with their proposed packages. I think Texas could be the best fit and could offer the most as far as a return goes, but I believe it is going to take Cliff Lee signing in New York before Texas loosens the grip on their prospects.
  • The big news today was that Milwaukee and Toronto have become the most agressive teams in their pursuit of the Royals ace.
  • There was mention of a Braun for Greinke swap. I can't imagine the Brewers parting with the face of their franchise for two years of Greinke.
  • There is a rumor that the Royals and Blue Jays have discussed Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek. Both of these palyers are very intriguing from a Royals perspective, however they wouldn't be enough to get it done. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos hasn't been afraid to pull the trigger on a deal in his young tenure so I don't have a hard time at all imagining Greinke going to Toronto.
  • Toronto also acquired top Brewers prospect Bret Lawrie today. Lawrie is currently a second baseman though some suggest that he could handle centerfield. If the Royals believe that is the case then Lawrie could be the missing piece to a Greinke to Toronto exchange.

It has been an exciting day one at the winter meetings. It is Christmas time for baseball fans and bloggers, but unfortunately we are now that much closer until the end of the week. Hopefully Royals fans can wake up on Friday and be happy with what has filled their stockings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Greinke Thoughts

Entering the offseason Royals fans knew that there would be one major issue that would shape the offseason for the Kansas City Royals. Most blogs have already touched on the subject and I realize that I am a bit late in getting my thoughts out there, so as a primer for the Winter Meetings here it goes: my thoughts on whether or not the Royals should move Zack Greinke.

The Royals are presented with the luxary of not having to trade Greinke this offseason, because theoretically they still have three more opportunities after this offseason to do so: the 2011 trade deadline, the 2011 offseason, and finally the 2012 deadline. If the Royals elected not to trade Greinke at any of the aforementioned opportunites they could either attempt to resign him or offer him arbitration and likely obtain two first round draft picks for his services.

I think that an extension would be unlikely and perhaps not even possible given the likely demands that Greinke would have for a contract. Plus the Royals will hopefully be pitching heavy like the Rays currently are which could enable them to not be too devastated by losing Greinke. This would also free up money moving forward for extensions or free agent signing in an attempt to find a missing piece.

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that should the Royals choose to keep Greinke around for the duration of his current contract I do not think it would be a bad decision. In no way would that hurt the organization or prolong the current timeline until contention. Perhaps the stars would even align and grant the Royals with a few breaks enabling the team to contend in 2012, at which point Greinke would be extremely valuable.

If the Dayton Moore and company dealt with it in this way then they could let Greinke walk and use the two extra first rounds picks in the 2013 draft to begin to build a new wave of talent to replace the wave that should be arriving in Kansas City in 2011 and begin departing around 2017. Based off the current timeframe for prospect development in the organization, four years would be enough time for those 2013 picks to develop and then begin arriving in Kansas City in 2017 to replace the current wave that has Kansas City fans so excited about the future.

Based on the front office's current ability to draft and develop talent in comparison to evaluating minor league talent for trades I could see why many would prefer the two years of Greinke and two draft pick route. However, I have not seen many people considering that in addition to the two full seasons of Greinke the Royals would also get the two draft picks, but it is something that should be considered.

Plus if Bud Selig gets his way and Major League Baseball implements a hard slotting system for the draft, the Royals will lose their ability to nab first round talents late in the draft due to signability. This would mean that high draft picks would become much more valuable and compensation picks would become even more important in order for teams to acquire top tier talent.

My last thought on the benefits of keeping Greinke is that as a Royals fan I grow sick and tired of opposing teams' fans' taunts of the Royals being a minor league team. Or if I am wearing a Greinke jersey and I have to listen to a Yankees fan ask when will he be traded to New York. Or a Cardinals' fan's snide remarks about how the Royals have to get rid of their players as soon as they get good. Perhaps this is due to Cardinals and Yankees fans superiority complexes. But it is extremely irritating.

Sure the Royals have been an inept organization when it comes to trading away talent and keeping "talent." Many fans that do not know the current situation of the organization and view the potential Greinke trade as just the latest start to a rebuilding process in Kansas City. Most of these same fans also couldn't explain to you how service time, and arbitration works. So I shouldn't expect these fans to realize the degree to which the Royals organization has changed financially since Dayton Moore has taken over.

If the Greinke trade is completed it will not be fueled by financial motivations. Instead it will be because the trade gives the Royals the opportunity to accelerate the countdown to contention and that's why I am so excited.

I do believe that signs are beginning to point to a Greinke trade being inevitable. There is so much talk about it that teams are going to make sure that they put their best deal on the table to insure that they aren't the team that is left behind.

After Cliff Lee the 2010-11 free agent starting pitcher class is an incredibly weak group. Because of this Zack Greinke becomes the second best arm available and because there is only one other high quality arm, the Royals are garunteed that the team that misses out on Lee will still have a desire to acquire a frontline starter.

Juding by the names that have been thrown around it also appears that Greinke's stock is just as high as it was a year ago and that the Royals will not need to begin the season with him in order to rebuild his value as an ace. For these two reasons I believe that now is the ideal time to maximize the trade value of Zack. If you don't trade him this offseason you run the slight risk that he repeats his 2010 performance in 2011 and at that point his value could truly begin to slip. Not to mention the longer he stays on the Royals, the less he will be with his new team before his contract expires.

If the Royals want to maximize Greinke's trade value then now is the time to do it. It is possible that he is just as attractive at the 2011 deadline, but is it really worth it to run that risk in order to keep Greinke for half a year longer and risk his stock decreasing. I hardly think so. Earlier I mentioned that by keeping Greinke you don't run the risking off lengthening the countdown to contention. But if the right prospects/players can be had in the deal the clock can be shortened.

The two teams that have been discussed the most as bidders for Zack Greinke have been Texas and New York and interestingly enough there are rumors that both teams would maintain interest should they sign Cliff Lee. This is good news for the Royals because if there are two teams bidding for the services of your star pitcher you are going to be at a better position in negotiations.

The rumor is that the Royals are requested a Teixiera type haul for Greinke. As we all know this trade worked out extremely well for the Rangers as they received Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Beau Jones, and Matt Harrison. (In fairness the Braves also acquired the great Ron Mahay.) Given this the Royals can probably expect a return of three maybe four top tier prospects.

It has also been reported that the Royals are asking for two major league ready players, and two top tier prospects. I think that the Royals should be flexible on the readiness of the players that they require. For example at the time of the Teixiera trade Neftali Feliz was a nineteen year old in rookie ball, Elvis Andrus was eighteen and in the Carolina League, Matt Harrison was twenty-one and in double A, and Beau Jones was twenty and still in high A. The only player in the deal that was major league ready and a sure thing was Saltalamacchia and he is probably the biggest bust of the bunch.

The Royals could either take the safe way and acquire a top prospect that is Major League ready, or they could take the more ballsy approach and get multiple top guys with high potential that are a bit farther away and more of a risk. The interesting thing about this is that the two interested parties each represent one of these trading strategies.

The Yankees have the elite prospect that is major league ready. His name is Jesus Montero and he has received comparisons with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Piazza. He is listed as a catcher but his defense leaves much to be desired, but if his bat plays the way most scouts predict then it will more than compensate for his poor glove. Given the readiness and quality of Montero the other players in the Yankees deal would not match the depth and overall potential of a Rangers deal. However, it would probably be a safer bet. I can't help but get giddy about a middle of the order that includes Moustakas, Montero, and Hosmer by the end of the 2011 season.

The other names that have been suggested in a Yankees trade are Dellin Betances, a 6-8 righty, and Slade Heathcott a potential five tool centerfielder. Both of these players sound very intriguing but Betances has struggled with control in his professional career with a 4.1 bbs per 9 innings rate and Heathcott has makeup concerns and hit just .258 with a .712 OPS and 101 strikeouts in 351 South Atlantic League plate appearances.

As for the Rangers the centerpiece of the deal would likely be twenty-one year old outfielder Engel Beltre or seventeen year old shortstop Jurickson Profar. If the Royals could somehow acquire both in the deal it would be very exciting, but I think that they are going to be forced to choose one or the other. Both of these players possess five tool potential and could be game changers as premium positions for the Royals.

In addition to either of the aforementioned position prospects the Royals would likely acquire two starters. These could be come from a group that includes: Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Tommy Hunter, Robert Erlin and Eric Hurley. It has also been suggested that the Royals could get a fourth player: either Julio Borbon or Craig Gentry.

Beltre comes in as the third best prospect being discussed as a centerpiece to these deals, but I would love to acquire either Profar or Montero. The key is going to be what else the deals can offer but I can assure you that the rest of the offseason should be very exciting for Royals fans.

I also plead with Royals fans not to look at a Zack Greinke trade as just the latest sign that our organization will never be able to compete and keep its star players, but instead as an opportunity for this organization to continue to jump the gap and become a contender once again. We all know that Kansas City and Royals nation deserves it.