Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks to Fellow Royals Fans

On Monday Royal Revival celebrated its one year anniversary. Over the course of the last year I have published 116 blog posts and received over 11,000 page views. There are also 12 people that haven't been afraid to declare themselves followers and many more who I believe to be following in the shadows. I have also been linked up on and in my opinion the more prestigous I was the first online source to write about the Royals third big time free agent signing and Keith Law thought enough of this to use me as a source for his own piece on the same subject.

But on this Thanksgiving weekend I am reminded that without all of the loyal Royals fans out there none of this would be possible. I am merely one of those great fans. I am thankful to be a part of one of the truly great fanbases in professional sports. There aren't many fanbases that have had to endure what the Royals' fanbase has and for this I am thankful. Sure it hasn't been easy but we must all remember that when the Royals do play in meaningful September games, when they do return to the playoffs, and when they do handout World Series it will only be all the sweeter.

I am thankful for everyone who takes time out of thier day to read what I have to say and I am thankful for all the other unsung Royals bloggers that take their time to give me something to read everyday. I am thankful for the Royals and their farm system. A system that all Royals fans should be thankful for, and all non Royals fans should envy. Because one day the Royals won't just be thankful for a bunch of kid prospects, but instead thankful for the wins and joy that these kids will have brought to Kansas City.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Detail on DeJesus Trade

"I don't think any particular reason other than opportunities presented themselves when they did," A's GM Billy Beane said. "It wasn't by design or anything like that. DeJesus was somebody we inquired on back in August when he was hurt and we didn't control the pace of that negotiation, because they didn't move him until they were ready to move him."

So you are telling me that the A's were not one of the bidders while DeJesus was healthy? Haven't the Royals been defended by many who said that they had been shopping DeJesus for awhile and probably knew what offers were on the table? Didn't Dayton Moore say that the deal they pulled the trigger on was by far the best on the table?

Okay one question at a time. First if Beane is telling the truth that means he became interested in DeJesus only when he became a less coveted item after his injury. Meaning that Beane wasn't interested in the bidding while DeJesus was healthy and one of the top trade chips at the deadline. Maybe this is an unfair conclusion (I doubt it based on how the A's operate.), but it seems as though there is no way the A's offer post DeJesus injury could stack up with any offers pre injury.

Second question. Let's reevaluate the defense that has been given to Dayton Moore for the early trade. How about instead of saying he was aware of all potential offers for DeJesus and knew the market value. Let's be a bit more specific and say he knew the value of DeJesus pre and post injury (probably different values) and say that he choose to go ahead and take the post injury value knowing it was probably significantly lower than the pre injury value.

Once again this very well may have been the best deal possible for DeJesus at the time being. But knowing how late the A's joined in the bidding and knowing that they did so only after the perceived value of DeJesus shrank, it is probably a fair conclusion that the Royals did get the best deal for DeJesus at this point in time. But what if they would have waited until DeJesus rebuilt some of his value in 2011? What if they Royals would have waited for a team to get desperate after losing out on the Werth or Crawford sweepstakes? Would this still have been the best offer?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Omaha Storm Chasers

  • In a sport rich with superstition wouldn't it be taboo to nickname the team Stormchasers?
  • Both of the organization's upper level minor league teams now have a lightning bolt as part of their logo.
  • The last time the Omaha franchise attempted a makeover was a failure, but I don't think that means that this time it will be. Afterall the team is moving east to Sarpy County and with a new stadium it is probably the opportune time to attempt to increase merchandise sales.
  • Who care's what the jerseys say on the front, Omaha is going to fall in love with this group of prospects just like Springdale did last summer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Prospect Stock Watch: Outfield

The following is a review of the Royals outfielders that intrigue me enough to make a post about. I'm going to offer whether or not the player performed as well, better, or worse than what I personally expected. I'll also give a brief explanation on my thoughts.

David Lough (Steady): Lough is a personal favorite of mine and he displays a great blend of tools and athleticism. The organization also appears to be a fan of Lough after the way he was touted during Spring Training. Lough struggled out of the gate, but put together a strong second half and finished with a line that should earn him a legitimate look in Spring Training. In a system lacking outfield prospects Lough could be an average solution in left.

Jarrod Dyson (Gain): Talk about a guy that has came along way since he was drafted as a 50th round selection. Dyson's stock improved after displaying gold glove caliber defense during a September call-up and he could very well surprise me, but I can't imagine him ever hitting enough to be a starting centerfielder in the Major Leagues.

Jordan Parraz (Loss): After a decent first half Parraz's second half was a disaster and I wouldn't be shocked if he was removed from the 40 man this winter.

Tim Smith (Steady): Smith very quietly had a very strong season for the Naturals this year, but the fact that he split time and never got an opportunity in Omaha tells me he is a second tier guy in the Royals' eyes.

Paulo Orlando (Gain): After an awesome season this year for the Naturals Paulo sets his sights on becoming the first Brazilian to make the Major Leagues.

Derrick Robinson (Gain): For whatever reason people seem to be disappointed with Robinson's year even though he posted the best line of his career. It also seems as though most people now view Dyson as the superior prospect, but I strongly disagree. Robinson is several years younger and has actually shown the ability to hit at the upper levels.

Nick Van Stratten (Steady): Has an awesome arm and decent on base ability, but he's an organization guy.

Adrian Ortiz (Gain): Ortiz needs to improve on his plate discipline, but I'm impressed that he was able to his .289 in his first full season in Wilmington.

Nicholas Francis (Gain): In Mike Moustakas's first season at Frawley Stadium he hit 16 home runs in 129 games. This year Francis hit 16 in 84 games.

Carlo Testa (Gain): He's old for his level but unlike the vast majority of the Bees roster he was able to hit in 2010.

Whit Merrifield (Steady): Didn't do anything to impress in his first minor league stint, but the losing atmosphere in Burlington this year was called contagious by more than one person. Even if his ceiling is that of a Willie Bloomquist that is enought to make Merrifield a prospect.

Hilton Richardson (Loss): Richardson has the body and the tools of a top prospect, and after an inflated BABIP helped him hit .313 in Idaho Falls in 2009, many expected this to be the year Richardson would breakout. Instead he posted a line of .204/.272/.316.

Julio Aparicio (Loss): Aparicio is only twenty years old, but he really hasn't done anything with the bat thus far in his professional career.

Luis Del Rosario (Loss): See above comment.

Lane Adams (Gain): I was torn here, because there were quite a few people that thought Adams would break out to an extent this season. I think he posted decent numbers in the hitter friendly Pioneer League and that was a big step forward from his 2009 season.

Geulin Beltre (Loss): High profile Latin American signing for the Royals in 2007, still fails to display any of his potential in live action.

Alex Llanos (Loss): Like nearly all of the guys at the bottom of this list, at somepoint he needs to actually show something in real games.

Darian Sandford (Gain): Supposedly was the fastest player available in the 2010 draft. He put some of that speed on display in the Arizona League swiping 30 bases in 38 games while hitting .279 with a .364 on base percentage.

Jorge Bonifacio (Gain): Managed to get at bats in the United States as a seventeen year old after posting a slash of .335/.429/.476 in the Dominican Summer League. I'm intrigued.

Prospect Stock Watch: Shortstop

The following is a review of the Royals shortstops that intrigue me enough to make a post about. I'm going to offer whether or not the player performed as well, better, or worse than what I personally expected. I'll also give a brief explanation on my thoughts.

Irving Falu (Steady): Falu did nothing this season to make me think there was anything more to his career than him being a journeyman triple A guy.

Chris McConnell (Loss): It isn't that I had expectations for McConnell to do so, but it would have been nice to see him hit just a little this season. I will give him credit where he deserves and without his sound glove and work ethic at short this season might not have been quite so magical for Naturals fans.

Anthony Seratelli (Steady): Seratelli provided some key plays for the Naturals during their playoff run and he also provided them a good on base pinch hit option and defensive replacement. However, his status as a prospect remains the same: he isn't one.

Christian Colon (Gain): I loved the Christian Colon pick in a draft that lacked a clear number four and I know that there were those who were disappointed by his numbers in Wilmington, but do not include me in that group. As we all know Wilmington is an extremely tough park to hit in and for a guy to hit .278 in his first professional stint fresh after a college season in the Carolina League, well I am impressed. Hopefully improved pop and plate discipline will be on the way.

Rey Navarro (Loss): Navarro came to Kansas City from Arizona in the Carlos Rosa deal and I liked the attempt to take a shot on a decently regarded prospect. Unfortunately, Navarro can't hit at all. He is still just 20, so I'm not going to write him off, but he is going to have to show something in 2011.

Adam Frost (Steady): Not much of a prospect, but he intrigues me giving his independent league background. Plus, you have to appreciate a player willing to do anything the team asks including pitch.

Alex McClure (Gain): Every draft there are guys that are hyped up by team officials as surprises and this year Alex McClure is one of those guys. He's very good defensively but after impressing team officials with the bat during instructs he deserves a gain on his stock.

Justin Trapp (Loss): Trapp only gets a loss here because of the raised expectations for him after Baseball America annointed him as the 31st best prospect in the organization and predicted a breakout season. In the end the Trapp struggled with the bat and committed 33 errors at short. He's only just turned twenty so he does still have time on his side.

Michael Antonio (Steady): Most draft experts felt as though the Michael Antonio pick was a bit of a reach for the Royals in the third round. But there is something to be said for a player that is the consensus top talent in a city the size of New York. He didn't amaze in the Arizona League but he showed a bit of pop that is promising moving forward.

Orlando Caxito (Steady): The artist formerly known as Paul Carlixte the million dollar man. Caxito showed a good eye at the plate in just twenty games. I'm interested to see where he is assigned in 2011.

Humberto Arteaga (Steady): I don't have a lot to say about Arteaga except that I read that the organization loves this kids makeup and work ethic. It's going to take a lot more than that for him to not be a million dollar bust though.

*Interesting note but 7 of these short stops have been acquired within the last year. Good work by the organization addressing a position of need. Hopefully some of these investments can pay off.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DeJesus to Oakland

Today the Royals jump started their offseason activity by shipping David DeJesus to Oakland for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks. So without further adu let's jump in.

Royals Lose: David DeJesus

David DeJesus has frequently been called one of the most underrated player to ever don the home whites for the Kansas City Royals. This of course begs the question if you are consistently called underrated can you really be underrated? Nonetheless, DeJesus was the focal point of plenty of trade deadline chatter after he got off to a career year with the bat posting a .318/.384/.443 line in 91 games for the Royals. However, as we all know DeJesus suffered a season ending thumb injury just before the deadline and was not able to be moved. Royals fans can't for sure know any specifics of near deals, but it was reported by some that the Royals and Rays had all but finalized a deal that would have sent LHP prospect Jake McGee to Kansas City.

McGee entered the season rated as the number eight prospect in the top farm system in baseball. However, this season McGee only improved his stock when he posted a 3.57 era as a starter in double A, then a 0.52 era from the pen in triple, before a 5 inning cup of coffee in Tampa. With a mid 90s fastball that is dialed up to upper 90s from the bullpen, McGee is a prime setup man candidate for the 2011 Rays.

After the injury the Royals believed that DeJesus would still manage to be a type A free agent, but in the last week of the season Denard Span slipped past him and knocked DeJesus into type B status. This made the decision to pick up DeJesus's 6 million dollar option a fairly easy one and just a couple weeks into the offseason DeJesus is now the newest member of the Oakland A's. In doing so he follows in the footsteps of fellow ex-Royal outfielders Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye. (Hopefully times have changed for the Royals.)

The loss of DeJesus obviously makes the 2011 Royals outfield that much more of a question mark. At this point you have to figure that Gordon should get regular at bats as the everyday leftfielder, plus I feel it would be a safe bet to pencil Dyson in as the everyday guy in center (the front office seems to be enamored with this guy). The other guys on the 40-man roster are Gregor Blanco, Mitch Maier, and Jordan Parraz. Blanco and Maier will probably battle for the fourth outfielder spot and after a subpar season in Omaha I don't expect to see Parraz anytime soon. This means that either a guy like David Lough or Paulo Orlando (who both need to be added to the 40 man to not be rule 5 eligible) could get looks in Spring Training, or more like the Royals will go bargain shopping for a right handed right fielder. I'd much rather the Royals acquire an interesting major league ready guy, then a guy that is coming off of a non-tender, but we will have to wait and see.
Royals Acquire: Vin Mazzaro & Justin Marks

Judging by the comments section of the mlbtraderumors post regarding the trade, it appears that most feel that the Royals have made out fairly well in this trade, but I can't be so sure. Pitching is the currency in baseball and at this point in time the A's are a wealthy organization that was boasting five quality young pitchers that would be under team control for several more seasons. Not to mention that the A's just won the bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese starter Hisashi Iwakuma.

So obviously the A's wanted to deal from a position of strength and acquire a bat. Interestingly enough they also acquired a top notch defensive outfielder which appears to be one of the current market inefficiencies that the A's are trying to take advantage of. So the Royals acquire Vin Mazzaro whose numbers appear to be pretty good for such a young American League starting pitcher. However, it is apparent that of the five young starter the A's have that Mazzaro is the worst or at least the less advanced of the bunch at this point in time. However, Mazzaro's 4.27 Era would have been the third best for the Royals rotation in 2010.

Unfortunately pitchers have a tendency to outperform their FIPs while pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Colliseum. This used to be a result of the vast expanse of foul territory but can now also be attributed to the top notch defense that Oakland plays. Last season Mazzaro outperformed his FIP of 5.13 with a 4.27 ERA, this is a significant jump and it is highly unlikely that this number can be maintained unless Mazzaro progresses as a pitcher which should happen considering his age.

Also, Mazzaro's peripherals of 5.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and 1.40 HR/9 remind me quite a bit of the 2010 version of Kyle Davies in which he posted a 6.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and 1 HR per 9 innings. Not too mention that in 2010, Mazzaro posted a 42% groundball rate compared to the 40% that Kyle Davies posted. Granted Davies is three years older than Mazzaro, but the problem with Davies is that he has not been able to improve upon his control and make the jump into quality middle of the rotation starter status. The hope here is that where the Royals coaching staff and Davies failed with his career potential they can succeed with Mazzaro.
By the way Davies Fip for 2010 was 4.46, so I am going to go out on a limb and say that at this point I expect a better 2011 season from Davies then from the newly acquired Vin Mazzaro. The A's are an extremely well ran organization and they traded Mazzaro at the perfect time: when his era was high enough that an old fashioned team like the Royals could think they were acquiring a middle of the rotation starter as opposed to a back end guy with middle rotation potential.

Unlike Davies, Mazzaro has never been billed as a top notch prospect. Entering the 2009 season Baseball America listed him as the number eight prospect in the league's third strongest farm system. At the time Baseball America said that Mazzaro possessed low 90s heat that had a strong sinking action that could induce plenty of groundball outs (haven't seen this yet), an average slider, and a questionable changeup. Obviously this scouting report is over two years old and Mazzaro has had to improve in order to have the Major League success that he has displayed, but nonetheless this scouting report is far from exciting to me.

Mazzaro is just twenty-four years old which makes him several years away from his prime as a baseball player. He also has four more season in which he will be under team control and he is undoubtedly a better and cheaper option then the just released Brian Bannister. Nonetheless I can't envision him as much more than a bridge to the better pitching prospects that are on the horizon.

The other pitcher acquired in the deal from Oakland was a twenty-two year old lefty by the name of Justin Marks. I have to say that I am extremely thrilled that the Royals were able to acquire a lefthanded starter given the lack of quality lefties that they currently have in the farm. Wait. Nevermind.

Marks entered the 2010 season regarded as the number twenty-seven prospect in Oakland's system. He has a low 90s fastball and a slider, curveball and changeup that like his fastball all grade out as average pitches. Baseball America believes that he could move very quickly and have back end potential. So he does add depth to the farm system which I am never opposed to.


This deal feels a lot like the Callaspo deal in that the Royals are basically acquiring a Major League ready right arm and a six foot three lefty that has back end potential. I was hoping to see a little more intriguing return and I agree with a fellow Royals fan in saying that "this trade bores me." There is nothing exciting about it. I would have been thrilled had the Royals acquired an upside major league ready hitter and it just so happened that the A's have one such player that could have stepped right in for Kansas City as the opening day rightfielder: Michael Taylor. Sure the Royals acquire two nice arms but neither figure to add much to the crop of promising arms approaching Kansas City as Jake McGee would have. Instead they will provide the Royals with depth and a bridge to the future.

You can never have enough pitching though and with the high end prospects that the Royals have you can't blame them for adding guys that could back them up in case of the situation arises. Plus, the 2011 rotation is virtually non existent should the Royals trade Zack Greinke this winter so it probably is wise to add a dependable piece to that group and Mazzaro should make the 2011 season a bit more barable for Royals fans as they await for the prospects to arrive.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Royals Acquire Lance Zawadzki

Another day, another waiver claim on a light hitting middle infielder. However, it would be a bit unfair to put Lance Zawadzki's bat in the same category as Joaquin Arias. Sure Zawadzki posted a .557 OPS in a twenty game stint this eason in San Diego and a .607 OPS in double and triple A this eason. But entering this season he had posted a minor league career line of .283/.362/.430, so unlike Arias he has shown some promise in a professional uniform.

Using the scouting reports that I have at my disposal that were written prior to the 2010 season, most felt as though there was a strong possibility that Zawadzki could at the least become an average utility player, with the potential of being a regular middle infielder or utility guy with an above average bat. His defense is average at short, which is more than can be said about the other short stops on the 40-man and he has a strong arm that some scouts graded as a 70 tool. He also has the capability of playing an above average second base.

Zawadzki had displayed a good line drive stroke, even hitting 10 home runs in the hitter friendly California League before a demotion into the Texas League. Zawadzki also probably becomes the most patient short stop on the 40 man roster. He has two options, which will be critical in his opportunity to stick with the organization.

I like the Zawadzki claim much more than the Arias claim if not simply for the fact that Dayton Moore gets out of his shortstop shell a little bit here and away from the Latin American flashy overrated defense low on base cast type that he seems to be in love with. But like the Arias claim I'll have to wait and see what guys are left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft as a potential result of this move. After a huge step back in 2010, Zawadzki is going to need to regain some of the prospect luster before I get excited about this waiver claim.

Also, as a result of this move Jai Miller will become a free agent tomorrow afternoon. It would be pulling hairs to determine which player will have the more lackluster future in the big leagues between Miller and Zawadzki, but at the moment the Royals have a stronger need at the upper levels for a shortstop than outfielder so the move makes sense.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Royals Acquire Joaquin Arias

Today we learned that according to Bill James defensive model Yuniesky Betancourt was worth -21 runs on the diamond (this is a defense only figure). Today we also learned that the first acquisition of the offseason is another former top shortstop prospect: Joaquin Arias. Arias is known by many in the baseball community as the guy the Texas Rangers chose over Robinson Cano as the player to be named in the Alex Rodriguez trade. Now Arias is a defensively challenged low on base shortstop. Sound familiar?

I wouldn't be opposed with the waiver claim if it were evidence that the Royals are seeking a possible replacement to Yuniesky Betancourt this season. However, this claim is probably more for depth and with the Royals viewing Arias as a guy that could fill in as the utility infielder this season with the "capability" of playing shortstop. The Royals will be able to pay Arias the league minimum in 2011 and he is not yet arbitration eligible.

Here is the issue that I have with this trade: there are only 40 spots on the 40 man roster. I know this seems like a pretty simple concept. But I am wondering just how many guys like Arias will be occupying a spot come Rule 5 draft day when the Royals need to be protecting minor leaguers that could potentially be impact players in just a couple of seasons. The Royals cannot afford to waste a single spot on the 40 man this offseason, because every spot will be essential in insuring that this organization won't one day look at the television to see Everett Teaford coming into pitch in the playoffs or Paulo Orlando stealing a crucial base in late September.

As of now I'm fine with the Arias claim. But if he steals the spot of a deserving prospect and that prospect is lost in the Rule 5, I will be far from okay with it. There is the possibility that the Royals will later pass Arias through waivers themselves in an attempt to keep him in the organization as an insurance policy, because even with Bianchi coming back from injury. The Royals still need depth in the upper levels at shortstop and Bianchi still needs minor league seasoning. But paying a guy six digits to play in Omaha isn't my favorite thing either.