Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let the Rumblings Begin

Trading season seems to be bearing down upon us now as the Royals have made news several times in the last few days on the subject. The Royals who find themselves in the cellar of the AL Central have several players that could be intriguing to contending teams, but unless they shop Joakim Soria or Billy Butler really lack the piece that would have teams salivating.

Nonetheless the rumors began on Friday when we heard that the Royals are seeking Major League pitching for Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur then countered the rumor by stating:

“At some point, we’ll talk to Dayton about the option. Maybe get a two or three-year deal or something. I’ve told Dayton that I like it here. I’d love to stay here."

Francoeur for the season has .264/.309/.438 which is right in line with his career line of .267/.310/.426. However, due to offense taking such a dive this season his OPS+ is a very respectable 108, which compared to his career OPS+ of 93 is a definite improvement.

Also, Francoeur has upped his steal count from his previous career high to 15. Honestly steals are pretty overrated but some teams, like the Royals, feel they are much more important than they truly are. Don't forget that he has been great defensively with one of the top arms in the game and leadership qualities that Dayton Moore wants around his young team.

Jeff Francoeur could have some appeal as a platoon rightfielder for a contending team, but I can't see a contending team acquiring him with the idea of playing him everyday. He has value, but if Major League ready starting pitching is what the Royals want they will probably come up empty handed or worse wind up with a Sean O'Sullivan/Vin Mazzaro type.

Keep in mind that Jeff Francoeur has already been trading twice. Once for Ryan Church. Once for Joaquin Arias. It is hard to imagine him netting much more value this go around despite all of his improvement. (Yes I do believe he has improved, just not much.)

Today rumors surfaced that the Brewers and Royals have discussed trading Wilson Betemit. I imagine Betemit could be an extremely appealing bench target for contenders given his ability to play on the corners, his combination of decent power with good on base skills, and his extremely friendly contract.

I imagine there will be more teams other than the Brewers that have discussions for Betemit, however since we don't have specifics I'll simply focus on Milwaukee who seems to really be selling out for 2011. Because Milwaukee has such a poor and empty farm system the Royals would probably be looking at acquiring one of the better prospects in their system.

Of course there is another outfielder that Kansas City possesses on a very team friendly deal that is playing extremely well this season and his name is Melky Cabrerra. The Melkman is having a career year with the bat, can play every outfield position is on a very team friendly contract and is under team control next season as well.

So far this season Melky has posted a career high OPS+ of 119. His previous high was 95. He has also posted a career high WAR of 3.0 compared to his former high of 1.7. These are great numbers, so good in fact that it is hard to imagine the Royals trading him for a fair return.

I don't think teams will be willing to pay him for what he has done this season, because teams will point to 6 other seasons worth of data that show a different story. The Royals will pitch this season and his two years worth of control and in the end the two sides may not be able to put a value on Cabrerra that both teams consider to be fair.

If the Royals can convince teams to pay for Cabrerra like a cheap 3 WAR player then they should without a doubt sell high and consider the signing a huge success. Cash the chips, pat themselves on the back, and give the centerfield job to Cain.

If the Royals can't sell high and Cabrerra is only worth a middling prospect, then the Royals should hang on. Move Francoeur, Shift Cabrerra to a corner, let Cain go to work in center.

The Royals have enough pieces that this could be an extremely busy deadline. However, Moore's quotations in the KC Star indicate that they could also stand pat. Obviously trades are excited, they show an attempt to get better, and give us bloggers something to talk about. But if the Royals do hang on to their pieces it won't necessarily be a bad thing, just the boring thing.


  1. No way I trade Francouer. I'll trade Melky instead for a bag of beans, since Melky is actually worth something.

  2. I think it's more than boring if you end up blocking Cain for the rest of the year. Essentially, doing the same thing as we did with Kai'hue. Not taking advantage of this year to give him some at bats.
    I totally agree with the comment on stolen bases. Way overrated, I heard Frank White make a comment on TV that was something like this "Jeff Francoeur didn't buy in to the running game in spring training but now he has and he has stolen a career high and the running game has really paid off for the Royals this year". Can you really say anything has paid off when you are in last place? Hilarious. We lead the league in steals but we are close to the lead in CS and I believe that in that statistic they do not count pick-offs as CS unless you take off for the next base, it would be interesting to know how many runs we have cost ourselves against average because of the running game if you include pick-offs. I cannot find the pick-offs statistic to add to the CS. Maybe I am all wet on that. I think if you are not above a 75% rate it is generally accepted, statistically, that you will not help yourself score runs.

  3. Yeah generally 70 percent is the cut off before you actually start harming yourself and your offense. But even if you are successful at a high rate the advantages are minute.

    The thing about steals is that at least people can look at the team and be like well at least we are trying. Also, for an offense lacking pop, steals can be more important.

    I really think Cain will get his opportunity and will get a couple of months worth of at bats this season. But will you complain about his slow start like Moustakas? Should he struggle some?

  4. I agree John, we're going to wind up keeping both and Cain is going to rot in triple A.

  5. I agree with both of you though, we need to get Cain into centerfield and we need to give him at bats. Quite frankly I'd be really happy if we were able to flip both Melky and Francouer. Allowing us to give Dyson and Cain two months worth of playing time.

    I don't think Dyson will ever hit enough to be a regular. But I don't think Royals fans would mind at all if we took the time to find out. If he doesn't hit, bring back Frenchy in the offseason for a year and put Cain in center.

  6. Yes, LA, I will be fine with Cain playing. I am fine with Moustakas continuing to play. I will certainly be rooting for him. My comment the other day was more around will he be as good as projected. The way I see it right now the only thing the management of the club is really good at is stocking the system with potential. The way we handle the Major League club means these kids will really have to be good to overcome some of the injected wisdom and evaluation at that level. I mean really, why is Matt Treanor getting more AB's than Pena? It's because of this immeasurable "handling the game" thing that he brings. Why are we bunting in early innings? Because that's "baseball" as Frank White would say. Well here is the reality. We will always have a lower payroll than some clubs so we are basically saying that we will have to have more talent because we are going to play the rest of the game the same as everyone else because that's "just good baseball"
    It was funny the other night after the All-star game ESPN had a tab on SC that Kruk and Valentine talked about the NL winning with "small ball" by taking the extra base, etc. Valentine said "I don't think it's small ball it's just baseball the way it's supposed to be played". I laughed. The NL won with a freakin mammoth home run, and good pitching!

  7. The Royals are making the right decision by playing the youngsters even if they struggle. For me that is why this year hasn't been frustrating. The more at bats and innings they get under their belt this season the sooner they reach their potential. (theoretically)

    With that being said Cain needs to be up come August 1st. Giavotella should have been up a month ago.

    I agree with your assessment regarding the way in which the Royals play the game. However, it isn't as though the Royals aren't attempting to be innovative. In case you haven't heard they are one of the first teams in baseball to install Pitch F/X in a minor league park.

    They also no employ statisticians. Dayton Moore made a horrible first impression in the eyes of sabermetricians and fans that understood statistics. But it does appear that he is at least attempting to learn from his mistakes.

    Your all star game example is perfect. I hate Kruk. he has no business talking about baseball especially sabermetrics which I have heard him try to do on several occassions.

  8. Yes, I heard of the new equipment, and I have to say that was really impressive. I am hopeful it is a sign of change. I still wonder if they will ever be innovative in game management. That is tough to do because it is easy to decide to bunt when it is not smart but if it goes awry then after the game the manager can always say "well we didn't execute well" totally ignoring the fact it usually is not a statistically warranted play.