Monday, August 22, 2011

Update: What we Need to See

At the All Star break I made a list of ten things that I would like to see in the second half of the season. Well we are about at the halfway point in between the break and the end of the season, so let's see how the Royals are stacking up with my goals.

1. A strong second half from Alex Gordon. In the first half Gordon posted a .299/.367/.483 line. So far in the second half he has a .290/.373/.497. His OPS is up from .850 in the first half to .870 in the second half, while his OPS+ is at 138 in the second half compared to 139 in the first half. In the end he has done plenty to warrant this goal receiving a CHECK for the time being.

2. Billy Butler finding his power stroke. Butler has 9 homers, 10 doubles and a slugging percentage of .541 in 37 games. CHECK

3. An efficient Danny Duffy Duffy is averaging just over 5 innings per start in the second half, which is right in line with his first half numbers. With Duffy reaching his season's innings limit soon I can't imagine this goal doing anything but remaining UNFULFILLED.

4. Eric Hosmer developing into a Superstar. Specifically I asked for Hosmer to post a line of at least .300/.350/.450 for the second half of the season. Instead his average has improved by two points from .268 to .270, while his on base percentage has jumped from .317 to .327. Not to mention his slugging percentage has actually dropped from .431 to .390. Definitely UNFULFILLED.

5. A good luck Felipe Paulino In the second half Paulino's K to walk has dropped from 3.75 to just 1.74. Due to his increase in walks his era has taken a hit. Whether or not he is having good luck or not this isn't what we wanted to see. UNFULFILLED.

6. Mike Moustakas driving the ball with power. Despite having a hot few days to finish the Boston series (just over twenty-four hours after I tweeted that I felt Mous might get things going soon based off of his recent swings) he still hasn't shown nearly enough for a check. UNFULFILLED

7. Luke Hochevar has to be better. A 3.55 era with a k to walk jumping to 2.40 qualifies here. CHECK

8. Alcides Escobar building off of his offensive outburst. He hasn't really built off his outburst, but he has been better than his wretched start. But a .250/.271/.339 line is hardly what I had in mind. UNFULFILLED.

9. Continued dominance from the bullpen. Aaron Crow has taken a step back. Greg Holland has continued to dominate. Tim Collins has been a little better. Joakim Soria still can't put his struggles behind him. Louis Coleman, despite his performance a couple of days ago continues to impress. This one is hard, but due to Crow's struggles I am marking it UNFULFILLED.

10. Mike Montgomery righting the ship He has had several decent starts, but at no point has he dominated like he did right before the All Star break. UNFULFILLED.

Overall, the Royals are three for ten on my Goal List for the second half. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I made this list of goals, all of which I felt were attainable.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Opportunity Missed?

After Jeff Francoeur's extension a few days ago the Royals seem to have in place their lineup for the 2012 season. I'm not sure when the last time was that the Royals had their next season's lineup in place in August was but it is nice to enter the offseason without a hole in the lineup that needs to be filled.

With that being said, I do believe that the Royals have to sign a front end starter to truly initiate the launch sequence for Mission 2012. At this point the Royals have Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, and Luke Hochevar as locks for the 2012 rotation. I believe that they should also reserve a spot for either Everett Teaford, Aaron Crow, or Greg Holland depending on which wins a job next Spring.

This isn't a bad group of starters. Not as bad as what Kansas City had to deal with throughout late April into early June this season. Obviously the Royals could go out and bring in a serviceable starter or two in the Bruce Chen/ Jeff Francis variety (heck they could even keep Bruce Chen and Jeff Francis). Or they could invest some of that excess cash and really strengthen that rotation.

Unfortunately it isn't exactly the most impressive free agent class when it comes to starting pitchers. There are a few names that could be pretty good fits, but considering the lack of many potential front end guys there could be a bidding war for guys deserving of that role. This isn't what the Royals want to get into.

Needless to say it isn't easy for teams like the Royals to get a hold of front end starters, even if they have the payroll flexibility to do so. But in my opinion the Royals were just presented an opportunity to get their hands on one.

On August 19, the Houston Astros placed the incredibly underrated Wandy Rodriguez on waivers. This means that teams have two business days to stake a claim on him in order for a chance to trade for him. Some people suspect that should a team claim Wandy the Astros would be content to just let him go in order to retain salary relief.

This is not only a risk that I believe the Royals should take, but also the scenario that I would have preferred to happen. Wandy Rodriguez is slated to make $10 million next season and $13 million the following season. According to Doug Pappas of SABR his 2014 option for $13 million also becomes a player option should Wandy be traded.

I am not sure if a waiver claim would make 2014 a player option, but let's say it does. The Royals would be on the hook for $36 million over the next three seasons. This is without a doubt a big chunk of money. Not to mention Wandy is already 32 and would be 35 years old by the contract's end.

Don't forgetthe Royals were willing to pay Gil Meche $55 million over 5 years and his track record at the time of the deal wasn't even close to as strong as Wandy Rodriguez. The Royals also were willing to pay $36 million to aging, steroid using, no walk taking, Jose Guillen over three years. Why wouldn't they be willing to commit the same amount of cash to a proven front of the rotation starter.

The Royals have a huge amount of payroll flexibility. Even after spending roughly $20 million on amateurs in 2011, the Royals are in a position where for the next three or four seasons they will be able to pay a huge chunk of their roster the league minimum.

The Royals are in a position where they could afford a contract such as this more than any other point in their franchise's history. Also, the guy in question is exactly what the Royals need in order to push themselves to contention.

Wandy Rodriguez has called Minute Maid Park home for his entire career. Normally I would expect his numbers to dip, due to a league change but in this situation not only could I see his numbers staying consistent, but also even improving by moving to a park that's a less hitter friendly.

There is definitely risk in committing $36 million to Wandy Rodriguez. But I believe the Royals are in a position that would make it worthwhile. There aren't many starting pitchers on the 2012 free agent market that will be as good as Wandy Rodriguez, and most will command similar financial commitments.

Should the Astros pull Wandy back if the Royals claimed him, the two clubs could then work out a trade. Rumor is that the Astros prefer salary relief to prospects at this point, so the less the Royals had to give up in terms of talent the better.

I believe that the Royals would have to place their claim on Wandy Rodriguez by Tuesday. I have read several tweets from baseball people that speculate no team will claim Wandy Rodriguez. Quite frankly there are probably only a few teams in all of baseball that could take on the contract without the Astros help at this point in the season.

The Royals have a chance to make a big move to position themselves as a front runner for the 2012 AL Central title. Will they have the courage to take it?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Francoeur Extended

In case you haven't heard or didn't see it coming from miles away the Royals elected to extend Jeff Francoeur earlier this morning. Francoeur was the only of the three Royals outfielders that weren't already under team control for next season. Considering management's infatuation with him, the fact that Frenchy is having a good season by league standards, and how Francoeur clearly would love to be back in Kansas City for Mission 2012.

Francoeur, who will make $2.5 million this season, had a mutual option for 2012 for $4 million. Now though he is signed to a two year extension that will be worth a total of $13.5 million. Is anyone really surprised?

So what does this extension mean? First let's just examine if Francouer is worth the amount of money the Royals will be paying him over the next couple of seasons. At this point in time, the fine people at Fangraphs believe that each Win Above Replacement is worth about $4.4 million (roughly).

So far this season according to Fangraphs Jeff Francoeur is worth 2.3 WAR, meaning that he has been worth $10.1 million on the open market. Obviously these figures are debatable. However, Fangraphs does its best to provide a dollar figure for player's values and that is the best we have to go on at the moment.

So if this market value continue to hold true, Jeff Francoeur will need to produce 3.1 WAR over the next two seasons in order to achieve fair value for the contract. Over his career Frenchy has averaged being worth 1.5 WAR a season. However, over the past three seasons that figure drops to just 1.1 WAR.

As Joe Pawlikowski displays in this article, Jeff Francoeur numbers this season do not appear to be an outlier compared to the rest of his career. Instead his offensive numbers seem to have remained consistent while the rest of the league has regressed. What this has done for Francoeur is turn his below average offensive production and turned it into above average. When you consider that Francoeur is twenty-seven and entering his prime years it isn't outrageous at all to suggest for the next couple of seasons he could at least be as good offensively as he has been in 2011.

On the low end, let's say Frenchy regresses to his three year average in WAR production and only contributes a total of 2.2 WAR over the next two seasons. If that happens he will be worth a 9.7 million dollar deal. Should he contribute 4.6 WAR and keep up his play at 2011 standards, he would be worth $20.2 million.

I suppose this is a long way of saying that based on the figures for the contract Jeff Francoeur could very well wind up being paid more than what he is worth. However, just as likely he could be a bargain for the next couple of seasons. I believe Rany said it best after the extension today (and I am paraphrasing here) how often can a time sign an outfielder entering his prime with the kind of tools that Jeff Francoeur has for this kind of money?

I am not willing to call this a bargain for the Royals, but it would appear that they have paid pretty fair market price for their charismatic right fielder. If you are a believer in the intangibles that Francoeur brings to the clubhouse than you also have to consider those benefits as well.

So what is the opportunity cost here for the Royals? Well considering that the Royals and Alex Gordon have already stated that an extension for the pair is a goal in the offseason, it probably means that an extension for Melky is very unlikely.

At this point Gordon and Frenchy are both under control through the 2013 seasons. Melky is under control for 2012. Is it even feasible that the Royals totally commit to their current outfield through 2013? I can't see it happening. Not this offseason at least.

So what the Royals have done is elected to commit to Francoeur long term, while going year to year with Melky. Melky by the way has been a vastly superior player to Frenchy this season. Cabrera has contributed a WAR of 3.6 and has played a premium position.

Even though Cabrera has been a better player and signing for the Royals this season, was there anyone that thought he was more likely to be extended than Francoeur? I doubt it. Cabrera's ability to play center and switch hit coupled with the fact that he has had a better season than Francoeur should have made him a better fit to sign to a multi-year deal.

In the end, Dayton Moore and company knew that they wanted Francoeur back and quite frankly they may not have been able to do that on a one year deal. By selecting Francoeur as the man to receive an extension they were able to keep the entire outfield intact.

The Royals could have very easily picked up their half of Francoeur's mutual option. If he would have accepted, it would have been a great deal. If he would have declined the Royals could then have offered him arbitration. If Francoeur would have accepted that once again there is only a small financial commitment and it is just for one season. If he would have declined arbitration the Royals could have patted themselves on the back, been proud of their thrifty signing, and hoped that Francoeur obtained Type B free agent status and netted them a supplemental draft choice.

If the Royals would have taken this route they could have shifted Melky Cabrera over to right field next season and hand the centerfield job to Lorenzo Cain. This wouldn't have been a bad route at all. Truthfully I would have preferred the Royals take this route.

What this signing also means is that the Royals don't view Wil Myers as a guy that will be ready by mid 2012. There is nothing wrong with this and it definitely isn't a shot at Wil Myers. But what it means is that Myers should now be afforded at least another season or a season and a half in the minors before he will be able to really push for a big league job.

By signing Francoeur the Royals are able to add to their inventory now and in the future. Obviously they wanted Francoeur back in 2012, and without at least a two year extension they probably couldn't have been sure that he would return. My unimpressive and boring conclusion to all of this is that like the Francoeur signing last winter, this signing isn't a detrimental move. It is predictable. It does offer some positives, but these are about as high end as the potential negatives.

It isn't the route I would have taken. But it isn't a route that will hurt the Royals either. But when the Royals resign Jeff Francoeur to another two years in 2013, it will be a different story.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Royals Sign Bubba

Just five or six minutes before the draft pick signing deadline the Royals agreed to terms with uber prospect Bubba Starling. The bonus is a club record $7.5 million that will be spread out over the next three seasons. The deal will prevent Bubba from playing football from Nebraska during that time and will commit him fully to baseball.

Bubba Starling had been a standout three sport star at nearby Gardner-Edgerton High School. There he averaged nearly 30 points a game on the basketball court, signed a National Letter of Intent to play quarterback at the University of Nebraska, and homered once every six at bats his senior season.

Starling seems to have all of the tools. He has a hose for an arm that has been displayed under the friday night lights and on the diamond. He has the wheels. He was clocked as having a 4.36, 40 yard dash. His power his legendary and he has never had a problem hitting for consistent contact.

He immediately becomes the toolsiest Royals prospect since Carlos Beltran, Bo Jackson or maybe even ever depending on your perspective. The hype is there. The excitement is there. Not to mention that he lives just right down the road from K.

During his progression up the ladder he is going to be scrutinized like no other Kansas City prospect has. The guy is said to have a mental toughness, and I hope this is the case because he will need it. It won't be easy to play for your hometown team and struggle. From this day forward he will always be under the spotlight.

Just because of his proximity to the K, and his hype the road was going to be tough. But now he joins a farm system that gets as much as any other in baseball. He becomes the face of the second wave. (A wave that is already looking very impressive in it's earliest stage.) He becomes critical for the Royals.

The pressure is on Bubba. The pressure is on the Royals. But the fact that the two sides agreed to a deal already avoids what could have been an incredibly ugly situation. Bubba signed for just $7.5 million. Obviously that is a club record bonus, but I say "just $7.5 million" because this is a smaller figure than virtually everyone predicted.

The Royals have had an impressive haul in amatuer talent this year. Bubba Starling joins the likes of Elier Hernandez, Adalberto Mondesi, Bryan Brickhouse, Cameron Gallagher, Kyle Smith, Jack Lopez, Patrick Leonard, Jake Junis and others as additions to that second wave.

I'm excited for this wave. But unlike the first one, if the Royals can't win at the Major League level soon Dayton Moore will not have the privilege of witnessing this wave cascade on to the Major League level. This is the wave that ideally will transition the Royals from having a short window for contention, to being a year to year team in the AL Central. We can only hope.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Royals Gettin' Their Over Slot On

The Royals got the ballpoint pen rolling on getting their top 2011 draft picks in uniform a couple of days ago when they got 3B/OF prospect, 5th round selection Patrick Leonard. Leonard was coached in high school by the great Craig Biggio, whom he gives huge amounts of credit to the development of his game.

Leonard receives big praise for his right handed power, something that has become a commodity in today's game. He's 6-3, 200 and was clocked as having a 6.73, 60 yard dash according to Perfect Game USA. The site also states that he has an "awesome bat, good in field, can do it all." Hopefully that short run down proves to be true. Leonard signed a deal with a bonus of $600K, the slot value for the pick was $161K.

This morning the Royals continued to force the Commisioner's office to approve overslot deals with a couple more big time prep signings. This time the players came in the right handed pitching variety.

First we learned about 29th round pick Jake Junis, whom the Royals signed to bonus of $675K. Here you can read about Pinetar Press's scouting report on the player. To highlight, Junis is a 6-3 righty with a very athletic frame. He has a fastball that currently sits in the low 90s, a curveball that has been at times a plus offering, and a changeup that is a show pitch at the moment.

Junis was considered a top 10 round pick by Baseball America entering the draft. His bonus demand of $800K scared teams off so much that he fell all the way to the 29th round. Once there he became a guy that most thought would be going to college for sure. The Royals did a great job of putting the dollar sign on the muscle with Jake Junis.

Just tens of minutes later the Royals signed their second prep righty of the day, 4th round pick Kyle Smith. I have to admit that outside of the Starling selection, no pick in the Royals draft had me as excited as the selection of Kyle Smith. His high school numbers were outrageous. He had an era of 0.40, with 116 Ks to just 14 walks in 69 innings his senior year. He also faced great competition, and had the privilege of playing baseball all year round in the state of Florida.

Smith has shown the ability to uncork mid 90s heat, a hard curveball, and a changeup that he has thrown much more than the typical college righty. Judging by his numbers he seems to already be polished to a certain degree and for that reason I'm hoping he can be a fast riser in the system. Smith signed to a $695K bonus, nearly three times the slot value.

Another thing that really intrigues me about Smith is his build. he is only 6 feet tall. This tells me two things. First, if Smith was a couple inches taller and posted the same numbers his senior season he would have been a top talent and coveted at the top of the draft. Second, the Royals must really like him if they were willing to deviate from their ideal frame for right handed starters.

Personally, I think it is only doing disservice to oneself when you create a typecast for the type of players you want to fill each position. It narrows your potential field of vision and disallows your staff from finding the absolute best players available. If you can see past prejudices and in this case old scouting prejudices and stereotypes you are enabled the opportunity to be more efficient than your competitors.

But the Royals didn't stop there. Later in the day they signed their 16th round selection, shortstop Jack Lopez. Lopez fell hard on draft day, due to a baseball scholarship to play for the hometown Miami Hurricanes. Jack Lopez was very open that there was a dollar amount that could prevent him to going to school, but it wasn't cheap. Well a couple of months later we know that the amount was $750K.

Lopez has soft hands and should stay in the middle infield long term. His father is a bullpen coach for the Cincinnati Reds, which is definitely a feather in his cap considering that players with Major League ties often adjust easier to pro baseball life.

The Royals latest work on the day comes in the signing of right handed starter Bryan Brickhouse. Aside from having a top flight name Brickhouse also attended a top flight high school baseball program at the Woodlands, TX. The high school has also produced Kyle Drabek, Jameson Tallion, and Brett Eibner.

The 3rd round pick Brickhouse had a UNC baseball scholarship in hand, but was bought out for $1.5 million. Brickhouse currently sits in the low 90s, but will flash mid 90's heat when he is on. He also displays a plus 11-5 curveball and like Junis has a show changeup. Baseball America says that Brickhouse could develop into a mid rotation starter, but if he can't find enough consistency he will find a home in the bullpen.

While the Royals have undoubtedly had a great day thus far, the attention now fully turns to Bubba Starling. Yes I believe he will sign. I think at one point I even ventured a guess of 9.1 million as a bonus for him.

If Bubba doesn't sign there will definitely be a taste of disappointment in the mouths of Royals fans, though I am sure it won't be due to lack of effort on the Royals part. The deadline is still almost two hours away, I am convinced he'll sign, but with each passing minute I grow just a little more nervous.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An Ominous Sign?

Last night the future became today for Royals fans. For eight and a half innings we were able to daydream about the future by witnessing the present. Johnny Giavotella hit a triple to the gap. Salvador Perez was dominating the Rays' running game. Felipe Paulino gave up just one run in 5 innings.

The telecast even asked the viewers which Royals player was going to win a Major award first: Salvador Perez, Johnny Giavotella, Mike Moustakas, or Eric Hosmer. (As if it was a given that all of these guys would develop into star caliber players.)

When Melky Cabrera hit a three run home run in the top of the ninth it was an awesome way to cap off the evening. Aaron Crow was then rushed in from the bullpen and we he took the mound he was surrounded by five other players that hadn't yet turned twenty-five.

But then the Royals collapsed. For a team that had for eight and a half innings had looked an awful lot like the fabled 2014 World Series Champion Royals, they looked an awful lot like the 2004, 100 loss Royals in the bottom of the 9th.

To start the inning Ned Yost rushed Aaron Crow to the mound for one reason: a statistic. Remember that mantra "You play to win the game." Well in baseball, Managers play to build up statistics. I don't want to get deep into my feelings on how the modern bullpen is operated, but when Soria was already warmed up and ready to go he should have been put into the game. It isn't as if he has been over used lately.

Instead when the Royals took the four run lead, Ned Yost frantically had to alter his plans because Soria had no place pitching in a non-save situation. So the route Yost took was to rush in a pitcher that hasn't had his best stuff since the All Star break. Sure we learned he was pitching through some ailments. But even if those have recovered, the stuff hasn't.

For a guy that has lacked crispness since the break, rushing in from the bullpen was a recipe for disaster. Two batters later Yost was pulling Crow from the game and calling for his closer. Soria by the way had already warmed up once, sat back down and then as quickly as Crow was forced to warm up for the 9th Soria was asked to rewarm up to relieve Crow.

A few hitters, some shoddy defense, a throw that bounced off a base runner, no one backing up third, and five runs later the Royals were exiting the field without the opportunity to shake hands in the middle of the diamond.

I was an extremely frustrating finale to an otherwise awesome night. It sure felt like 2004, and until this team can put together 9 quality innings on an everyday basis there will be other gmes when we are reminded of the past as well.

But for now we'll try to write this off as a growing pains, a common problem for young teams. Let's just hope we can get them out of our system fast, because I don't know if Royals fans can handle much more bad baseball when the light at the end of the tunnel is supposed to be blinding.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Perez Promoted to the Big Show

In surprisingly sneaky fashion, catching prospect Salvador Perez was promoted to Kansas City yesterday evening. The spot was opened up when Brayan Pena left the team to join his wife, who was delivering a child.

The interesting part of all of this is the timing of the move. I am sure the Royals imagined that whenever Pena would leave the team to join his wife they would be promoting Manny Pina, thus allowing Salvador Perez a couple more weeks in Omaha. However, what they didn't foresee was Matt Treanor hitting the 7 day disabled list due to a concussion. When this happened the Royals were forced to promote Manny Pina sooner rather than later.

When Treanor wasn't healthy enough to return in time for Pena's paternal leave the Royals had to make a decision. They could either give a guy like Cody Clark a few days in the Majors or they could push Salvador Perez right on through to the Majors even though he had only played 12 games in Omaha. I don't believe the Royals ever really considered the first of these options.

So here we are, Salvador Perez is getting the call to the Majors and will be the everyday guy until another roster move comes. Perez was hitting .290/.331/.437 for the season between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha. He is considered a top notch defensive catcher praised for his 1.8 second pop times.

John Wathan even called Perez the top prospect in the system. Royals Scout legend Art Stewart even said "if he doesn't go to the Hall of Fame, I'll go into the furniture business." Clearly this is a guy that the Royals brass love.

So far this season the Royals haven't appeared to have rushed a prospect to the Majors. Every guy to get the call has proven himself in the Minors. (Except for Aaron Crow, but he was moved to the pen and was lights out last Spring.) I do not believe that Salvador Perez is ready with the bat. But I do believe that the Royals feel he is Major League ready.

In fact last Spring Ned Yost said himself that he thought Perez was a Major League ready catcher. Quite frankly the Royals value defense at catcher more than they probably value defense at any other position. For this reason Brayan Pena has never been given an everyday shot at being the guy.

The Royals now have two defensive first catchers on the Major League roster that are under control for at least six seasons a piece. But common sense would indicate that the Royals would not feel comfortable entering next season without a veteran backstop in the picture.

I wouldn't bet against the Royals bringing in a veteran, but I am not so sure that it is a given either. Ned Yost seems to already be in love with Salvador Perez and we have also heard that he is a big fan of Manny Pina. I could see a scenario in which he decides to embrace his young defensive tandem and goes into next season with just the two of them.

Brayan Pena should only be gone for a few days, and Matt Treanor could return at anytime. Whenever either of these thigns happen, I expect Manny Pina to go down to Omaha. But when September rolls around I wouldn't be shocked if the Royals carried four catchers on the roster.

I'm absolutely pumped to watch this team tonight. The lineup we see tonight very likely will be the lineup we see on Opening Day of 2012, barring a few minor adjustments. Six of the nine players are homegrown and seven of the nine are under team control for at least two more seasons. Not to mention that Alcides Escobar just became the oldest player in the infield at 24.

The lineup is in place and the clock is ticking for the Royals to make their move in the AL Central. The Process is now pouring into the Major League team and while these players will need time to develop at the Major League level, the expectations for this group of players are already present.

It isn't fair to expect these prospects to perform immediately, but just watching them grow together on the grandest stage should be entertaining enough for the next month and a half. Go Royals!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trade Deadline Wrap Up

I realize that I'm a bit late to the party when it comes to offering my thoughts on the trade deadline, but here I am anyway and I have something to say. People need chill out with the horrible deadline talk.

To be clear I want to see Lorenzo Cain in centerfield for the Royals. But we need to keep in mind that he isn't an elite guy. Not the kind of player that you have to clear a spot for at least. For that reason the Royals shouldn't just ship off an outfielder for scraps in order to make room for the man.

Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur are both having great years. Cabrera can, without a doubt, be brought back next season simply by offering him arbitration, which he will be required to accept. Jeff Franceur has a mutual option and I expect both sides to exercise it.

So both players should be back next season and should be key components in Mission 2012. I realize that entering the season neither played a role for the Mission, but make no mistake both are deserving of spots now. If the Royals are lucky enough next season to not have an outfielder go down with injury and the outfield performs like it has in 2011, then Lorenzo Cain spends the season as a fourth outfielder in Kansas City or the everyday centerfielder in Omaha and in 2013 the job is his.

If Cabrera or Francoeur regress or go down with injury, Cain assumes the role as the everyday centerfielder and the Royals don't miss a beat. Given that neither Cabrera or Francoeur would be under contract after the season the problem would work itself out. If both perform well and the Royals don't contend, well they'll have another deadline to try and make a deal.

It seems as though the fanbase has widely accepted the youth movement and bought into the farm system so much that they are missing the point in this case. The point of having a great farm system is to turn the crop of young talent into a competitive team. The point isn't to fill the roster with the hot prospect every time he declares himself ready, not when you already have a contributor in place at the Major League level.

The Royals have found a good starting centerfielder in Melky Cabrera. Jeff Francoeur has also put together an excellent season, though many Royals' fans are still unwilling to admit it. If the goal is to win a division in 2012, then why would you sell off a proven commodity for scraps just so that you can give an unproven commodity a chance? Not to mention the predicament you get yourself in should an outfielder get hurt or not perform.

Now we don't know what Dayton Moore was offered for either of his outfielders. But what we do know is that the market quickly became saturated with quality guys. Colby Rasmus, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn were all dealt, not to mention B.J. Upton appeared to be on the block for the week leading to the deadline.

What the Royals needed was a mid rotation starter to make a deal worthwhile. Francoeur was never going to net that and with the outfield depth on the market we knew that Cabrera wouldn't either. The Royals made the right decision to hold on to the outfielders. Some fans just won't accept it.

As for the pitching side of things, the Royals didn't make any trades either. The market for back rotation starters was almost nonexistent so Dayton Moore held on to his two elderly lefties. Both of which are here are on one year deals and will be gone at the end of the season. I don't advocate resigning either.

Right now Chen may be able to net the Royals a Supplemental pick in the Rule IV draft, but he will need a strong finish to the season and even then a team would have to sign him to a Major League deal for 2012.

Jeff Francis, on the other hand, has been a good innings eater for the Royals but he is no better than a back end guy at this point in his career. The way I see it the Royals rotation for 2012 goes like this: Paulino, Duffy, Hochevar, Montgomery or Crow, plus a free agent signing. Either the Royals bring in a back end guy like Francis, or they go for a front of the rotation guy. They have the money, so if they want to contend in 2012 a front end guy is what we need.

It would have been nice to grab a high upside low level prospect for Francis, but I am not sure that it was even possible. Like I said the market was virtually nonexistent so I can't blame Dayton Moore for holding on to an innings eater in an attempt to take some stress off of the pen for the last two months of the season.

Had we dealt Francis it would have meant a stint in the rotation by Vin Mazzaro, given Davies shoulder inflammation. Even without the trade, I'm sure point we'll see Mazzaro again, but him going four innings a start isn't what our bullpen needs after a taxing season. Hopefully the next time we see him will just be as a spot start and nothing more.

Obviously it would have been great if the Royals could have fleeced a desperate team and brought in a near Major League ready starter with front end potential. But it didn't happen. The Royals did an excellent job in free agency last winter and found two quality outfielders. Now they are going to hang on to them and hopefully they can perform to the same standard in 2012. If they can then the signings in themselves pushed contention forward and that has always been the goal.

Poll Results: 2012 Centerfielder

In our last poll I asked "Where is the Royals 2012 Opening Day centerfielder is currently playing?" Here are the results:

Royals Major League roster- 6 votes, 50%
Another team's Major League roster- 1 vote, 8%
Royals Minor League roster- 5 votes, 41%
Another team's Minor League roster- 0 votes

Be sure to cast your vote on the latest poll asking how you feel about the trade deadline.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What are we waiting for?

Bob Dutton made some noise on the Royals blogosphere and twitterverse last night when he released a story stating that the "goal" of Dayton Moore and the front office was to get Johnny Giavotella 100-150 Major League at bats this season.

So what would it take for the Royals to meet that goal? Well there are twenty-five games in September and considering that Yost is planning on starting Giavotella everyday he could get close to the lower end of that goal should he be called up on September 1.

More likely though Giavotella will need to be called up in mid-August and handed the everyday duty the rest of the season in order to comfortably fall into that 100-150 at bat range. So my question is this: if you are already virtually naming him the starter for the last month or month and a half of the season why not bring him up now?

Perhaps, there are service time issues that the Royals can benefit from should they wait until mid-August? Well, unless the Royals wait until several weeks into the 2012 season Giavotella will be a free agent after the 2017 season. The same time as Moustakas, Hosmer, Duffy, and the bevy of relievers. Also, the Royals are way past the Super Two cutoff so that is no concern either. So obviously service time isn't the reason he is still in Omaha.

I guess maybe the Royals feel like he isn't quite Major League ready. That would be a great reason for Giavotella to still be in Omaha, except for it is obviously not true. In fact Giavotella has proven himself more in Omaha than any rookie on the Major League roster not named Eric Hosmer.

Gio currently is hitting .339/.391/.482 in Omaha and since the all star break his line has been .392/.427/.581. In the last two months he has posted an OPS over 1.000. No, it is pretty clear the bat is Major League ready. So that leaves just one reason why Giavotella isn't in the Majors.

Obviously Giavotella is blocked by a superior player. Wait... What? The player blocking Giavotella is Chris Getz? The guy that has set a record for Royals at bats without a home run? The guy that is hitting .259/.317/.288 for the season?

So obviously there is no good reason for Giavotella still being in Triple-A. My guess is that one more cold streak by Getz will result in a move. Obviously the Royals would like to try and flip Getz for something useful, but I can't see why a team would give anything up for him.

Getz does have options remaining, but he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter making him more expensive. (Although I can't imagine him making seven figures.) He could go back to Omaha and be a back up guy should Giavotella fail miserably or get hurt in 2012. This is the solution I would take with Getz. Control inventory and take advantage of depth.

The Royals have already made it clear that they want Giavotella to be the starter for at least the final month of the season. So why wait? I realize that if they bring him up now they will probably net him close to 200 Major League at bats. But seriously, since when is it bad to exceed a goal? Giavotella has warranted a promtoion and is ready to go. Give him the rest of the at bats as the starting second sacker for the rest of the season and he should be ready to hit the ground running in 2012.

Giavotella isn't the only player deserving of a Major League spot. There is also the issue for Lorenzo Cain. Considering the current shape of the roster I'd prefer to keep Cain in Omaha for the next month allowing him to play everyday. Once the Omaha season ends bring him up and do your best to rotate him in and out of the lineup.

Also deserving are David Lough and Clint Robinson are also on the 40 man roster. Both have also done plenty to warrant promotions in September. There won't be enough playing time to go around to truly benefit them from a skills development standpoint. But I'd like to see them both called up to give them a taste of the Big Leagues, while rewarding them for their hard work and quality performances over the past few seasons.

Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera also have gotten call ups to the Triple-A recently. Both are Rule 5 eligible this winter so, should an opportunity present itself, both should be given September call ups as well. This could give them each about five weeks of playing time in Omaha that would include a playoff run (hopefully). Plus a few weeks in the Majors allowing them an opportunity to experience what Major League life is like.

The Royals are the youngest team in the Majors. But don't think the youth movement is done. We can only hope that Moustakas and Hosmer were the initial outburst from a consistent pipeline of talent.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Royals Sign Cam Gallagher

Finally the Cameron Gallagher signing has been approved by the Commissioner's office. Early reports indicated that Gallagher and the Royals had come to terms on a bonus of roughly $600K which is just $37K over the slot of $563K.

However, as many speculated the bonus actually was much larger. This was speculated because had the bonus only been $37K over slot it wouldn't make sense why the Commissioner's office was putting off approval of the deal. Of course this begs the question why should the Commissioner's office ever put off deals considering Latin American players are signing for outrageous amounts of money without being forced to wait to get their careers started. But I digress...

Anyway, the right handed hitting Pennsylvania catcher is now the highest drafted Royal to be signed thus far. He is the 26th to sign, and hopefully several more will follow suit. Rumor is that all of the top 5 have signed except for Bubba Starling, but that none of the deals have been approved yet due to the bonus amounts.

Gallagher has been described as a good catch and throw guy. What intrigues me is that early reports were that his glove would be what would carry him, however we have also heard that his bat could be his true calling card as he projects to be average in the hit department with above average power.

With the trade deadline past, the next deadline looming is the draft pick signing date. Hopefully deals already completed will be announced and hopefully Bubba will put his name on the dotted line. My guess is a bonus of $8.7 million. But I'm no expert.