Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box: Draft Slots

I've got just a little bit of time here to throw out an idea I just had. I haven't worked out the details and I am sure there will be holes in the proposal I am about to present. That is just a fair warning.

Rumor is that the final sticking point in the new CBA for professional baseball is addition for a hard slotting system in the Major League Baseball draft. Word on the street is that Bud Selig views this and playoff expansion as a legacy thing. (Good for him trying to fool himself, I think we all know his defining moment was when he allowed the All Star Game to end in a tie.)

Selig wants to implement a hard slotting system in order to improve competitive balance in baseball. My only question is this: has the commissioner been paying any attention to the draft the last several seasons?

Because teams like the Pirates and Royals have overspent on the draft they actually have hope for the future. Sure they are spending a bit more on their first round picks than they probably would like, but there is absolutely no way their farm systems would be as beefy without the late round additions of players like Wil Myers, Chris Dwyer, Jason Adam, Bryan Brickhouse, Jack Lopez, etc.

Right now the Royals in particular have high hopes for the future and make no mistake about it, these high hopes are a direct result of their ability and willingness to overspend on the draft sine Dayton Moore's arrival in Kansas City. If baseball takes away the Royals ability to do this, they will be forced to find a new competitive advantage, and quite frankly in today's baseball world these are nearly impossible to find.

But even if we consider baseball's well being as a whole, as opposed to just our hometown team, how can this be a good thing? A slotting system means great prospects like Wil Myers, or Bubba Starling don't even sign. Instead they go to South Carolina for school and baseball, or to Nebraska to be a football star. Baseball starts losing out on part of its talent stream. A hard slot isn't helping the game.

So what do I suggest? Well I have a couple of ideas. First, what about instead of a slotting system, baseball implements a draft signing bonus cap for each team by in inverse order to the standings. Not only would this allow teams to maintain a competitive advantage, but it would also prevent teams like the Yankees and Red Sox from stealing this advantage away from small market teams as well.

The Red Sox are already overspending on the draft, and it is only a matter of team before other big market teams flex their financial muslces as well. At some point the Royals will at the least see this advantage shrink. In fact we are already seeing it. Less guys are falling due to signability.

With a cap on spending teams that are struggling could have the option of spending more on the draft than the big teams, and for once actually have a distinct financial advantage. Wouldn't that be a fun change?

My second suggestion that isn't nearly as original as I believe the first suggestion was, is implement a hard slot for the first round and then pick caps for each subsequent rounds. Enable teams to continue to sign guys for up to $1.5 millions in rounds 1-5. Allow up to $1 million in bonus for rounds 6-15, then up to $500K in 16-50.

You are still enabling teams to go overslot, but you are preventing the outrageoues contracts that happen in the first round. The bonus here is that teams could actually have more money for overslot spending than normal thanks to money saved on their previously high dollar picks. More guys could actually be bought out of scholarships, thus increasing the talent stream for baseball.

I am strongly against a hard slotting system for Major League Baseball. It isn't good for the Royals and it isn't good for the game. But I wouldn't mind seeing a creative solution to bridge the gap between the current system and the proposed hard slot system.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Royals Hire Dave Eiland

The Royals needed a pitching coach, and the rumor was they wanted a former Big Leaguer that survived for a lengthy period, while getting by on mediocre stuff. The Royals have now found their man.

Dave Eiland seems to be a perfect fit. Eiland pitching ten seasons in the Majors to the tune of a 5.74 ERA. For his career he averaged 3.7 strikeouts per 9 innings to 2.8 walks. Mediocre is an accurate descriptor for Eiland's career.

Eiland will take the place of former pitching coach Bob McClure. Throughout McClure's seven year tenure the Royals' pitching staff went through perhaps the worst stretch of the franchise. In my opinion it was without a doubt time to make a change.

While I think coaches and managers are generally overrated in their affect in Major League Baseball, I don't think that their presence is entirely without cause. In my eyes the Royals have three guys in Hochevar, Duffy, and Paulino that have displayed the stuff to be good strikeout pitchers. However, for some reason the current regime has saw fit to turn them into finesse guys.

The Royals would be much better served to implement a pitching plan that plays to each individual's strengths. I hope that with the hire of Dave Eiland and Rick Knapp as the Minor League pitching coordinator they will further separate themselves from a cookie cutter approach.

I don't want to act like this is a great hire, because quite frankly I have no idea if this guy is a better coach than the other available candidates. Truthfully it is probably tough for anyone to definitively know.

Eiland steps in to what could be a great situation for him. It is no secret that the Royals' pitching for the past several seasons has been on the whole pretty dreadful. If the numbers stay the same, it isn't Eiland's fault because he didn't have the talent to begin with, but if the Royals make a jump forward as myself and other believe Eiland instantly looks like a major reason for the progression.

Hochevar, Duffy, and Paulino all have the stuff and potential to become solid or even front end rotation pieces. During Eiland's tenure we should also see the debuts of several of the Royals' top pitching prospects. Eiland is going to have some talent to work with, let's just hope he is the right man for the job.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Giavotella Undergoes Surgery

"I had arthroscopic surgery to repair a small tear in the labrum of my hip.. bothered me during the season so glad I made it to the offseason." -Johnny Giavotella

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the surgery will keep Giavotella out of action for 10-12, but he should be back in plenty of time for Spring Training.

Personally, I don't think I am alone in having had no idea that Giavotella was playing through an injury during the closing weeks of the season. However, it could account for at least part of his late season struggles. After all hip injuries can play a critical role in affecting a player's swing. When the goal is as difficult to square up a round ball with a round bat, even small affects can cause enormous results.

Giavotella of course struggled at the plate for most of his time in Kansas City. I am not suggesting here that this was solely because of a hip injury, although adjusting to Major League pitchers is already an extremely difficult task even when the player is totally healthy, let alone when he is suffering from an ailing hip injury.

Truth is Giavotella probably just sealed Chris Getz' fate. Everyone knows how gritty a player has to be to play through pain. Jason Kendall would be proud of Giavotella's late season accomplishment. If Chris Getz' can't lay claim for being the gritty player what does he have left?

For those of us that have ever watched Giavotella over an extended amount of time, this doesn't come as a shock. For a guy that plays the game as hard as he does injuries are going to happen. Also, if there is a guy that is going to not only fight through an injury, but also make sure that the general public doesn't find out, it would be Giavotella.

The guy is an absolute gamer. I am sure he was well aware of the opportunity that presented itself this summer for him. I respect that he was unwilling to take a seat in order to fix an ailing injury. It goes without being said that Yost would have loved the opportunity to sit him more in favor of getting Getz a few more at bats.

I don't want to overemphasize or read to much into this injury, but when it comes to Giavotella it just reinforces my strong opinion of Giavotella's intangibles. Obviously I can't know how much of a factor it played into his success (or lack there of) at the big league level, but I do believe the second base job is as of now his to lose.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Front Office Leak? Royals Interested in Fielder

About 4 hours ago Royals Review's Jack Marsh published this little bit of whatever you want to call it:

"My friend, whose father may or may not be in the Royals FO (He has oddly hinted at it before), suggested to me a very strange idea for the Royals off-season. He suggested that the Royals may end up targeting Prince Fielder and trading Billy Butler and Chris Getz for a second baseman, as well as addressing their pitching needs this off-season. I thought he was messing with me at first, but he seemed to act like this was some sort of official info from the Royals FO. When I told him that the Royals must really expect to contend in 2012 if this is the case, and that I wasn't surprised that the FO didn't let this bit of info out, he says: "Why would the Royals FO leak this? That would be a terrible publicity issue." I then asked him if he or if any of his friends or family members was connected to the FO, he said: "Possibly". So, Prince Fielder. If this is actually happening, then, whoa. "

I'm sure that a certain group of Royals fans will take this bit of information and run with it, but there are definitely a few holes in this story.

Primarily though if the Royals needed a second baseman why would they trade Billy Butler and Chris Getz for him? If you were going to acquire a second baseman for these guys they better be ELITE. Let me rephrase that if you were going to trade Butler for a second baseman he better be elite.

Chris Getz presence in this quotation only hurts the validity of the entire thing. This reminds me so much of classic message board material, if we trade the scrap with player x, we can get player y because we have to fill this position! Just stop.

If I squint I could see a scenario where the Royals use Butler as trade bait and then make a move for a new designated hitter. But if that was the case Butler would have to be moved for starting pitching. If he was moved for something else and Fielder was signed to DH, how would the Royals fill their biggest offseason need? There wouldn't be any much money left for free agents, and you will have already traded the most logical commodity.

I'm not saying that a series of moves like this is impossible. I'd also hope that the Royals are discussing scenarios such as this considering their cash position. However, this looks to much like someone fabricating a story, pretending to know someone to give it validity just to drum up some excitement.

In my next post I plan on talking about how my uncle, who may or may not be named Dayton Moore, mentioned to me that the Royals were toying with the idea of luring George Brett from retirement.

The Closing of a Window

The Cardinals are now three wins away from achieving the ultimate goal of professional sports. Just 27 innings, 81 outs, 243 strikes. Just a month and a half ago this would have been considered almost impossible. (At least Nyger Morgan thought so.) But here we are.

If the Cardinals win the World Series they will hang a flag that will fly forever. They will have capitalized on their window of opportunity, and despite losing arguably their top starter before he could throw an inning in 2011, they will have won a World Series title.

But could this be that last beam of warm light pouring through that window of opportunity? Will the window be closed when 2012 rolls around? Obviously this is a critical question for Albert Pujols will ask himself when contract negotiations pick back up in a couple of weeks.

But the Cardinals are one of the premier organizations in all of baseball! There is no way the window of opportunity can close! It will always be open, because our fanbase not only demands it, but is also by divine right entitled to it.

We shouldn't forget that St. Louis isn't a top market. In fact it ranks 24th in all of baseball. Despite that the Cardinals ranked 11th in payroll for 2011. Perhaps the Cardinals have a large enough fan base to sustain these figures. Personally, I think that they can, as long as they win.

Wins directly influence attendance, in fact there isn't a variable outside of market size more critical than wins. You can have all of the bobblehead give aways, t-shirt tuesdays, and Hispanic heritage nights that you want but in the end fan bases need a winner to fully embrace a team.

I can't blame them. Who would want to buy season tickets, so that 45 times a year you can drive home frustrated? The Cardinals have won this year, reaching the World Series is proven to boost attendance and should the Cardinals win it all, attendance will be bumped up even more.

But there is without a doubt a white elephant in the room. Albert Pujols currently isn't a Cardinal in 2012, and to be quite honest I am not sure if there is a clear winning path for the Cardinals to take.

Post steroid era, players regress once they reach their 30s. However, indications are clear that Pujols is as of now one of if not the best player in professional baseball. If the Cardinals sign him to a massive contract they can keep open the window for their aging roster to win again in 2012. But if they don't keep him, there is a possibility the window will be closed.

Of course if the Cardinals do sign him, how long before he begins to regress? How long before that hometown discount starts to look more like a home town albatross? (Well played Mauer.) (Those weren't tic-tacs Alex.) By keeping the window open for 2012, do they shut the window several years down the line?

Over the past few seasons, the Cardinals have shown no fear in mortgaging the future in order to win in the present. Repeatedly they have sold off their top pieces on the farm or high potential players for sure things that can help them win in the short run. I don't fault them, top prospects live forever in the pages of Baseball America, but Championship flags live forever in the faces of fans on poles in centerfield.

For the Royals and their fans this could be an opportunity for a reversal of roles. The Royals for several seasons have sacrificed the present to buy stock in the future. The Cardinals have done the opposite. Will the Royals "Process" create success? Will Pujols defy the odds and prove worthy of every dollar for the duartion? Will the Cardinals creatively find a way to be competitive if he doesn't?

I don't have the answers, I am simply providing a little bit of food for thought.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Answer is Yu

The Royals need a front end starter. A man that simply by his presence at the front end, enables every other member of the rotation to pitch one day later and one slot back in the rotation. By doing this the Royals not only improve their top spot, but every subsequent spot afterward.

Due to a weak free agent class in the starting pitching department and the amount of prospects it would take to acquire a front end guy via trade, there aren't many options available. But there is one player that should be available via another route. The route I am referring to is the posting system, and of course that pitcher's name is Yu Darvish.

"please stop believing that CJ Wilson or Yu Darvish will end up here because they won’t." -Greg Schaum (

I agree that Yu Darvish won't be wearing Royal blue on Opening Day 2012. However, I don't believe this is because he doesn't fit, or because the Royals would be incapable of fitting him into the budget.

Personally, I see Darvish as a great fit financially. This is because a large chunk of the necessary cash would be tied up in a posting fee, virtually giving the Royals the opportunity to front load a huge percentage of the investment.

Why is this so important? Well as we all know the Royals are an awesomely young team. With twelve players making their Major League debuts in 2011, the Royals will be afforded the benefit of paying those players the league minimum for the next three seasons. In the three subsequent seasons those players will begin to receive raises through arbitration, gradually elevated the team's payroll.

My point is that while the Royals have a ton of payroll flexibility in the short run, this will begin to diminish in the long run. To illustrate this point consider that the Royals could very reasonably afford to pay a top tier guy for the next three seasons, this would be possible despite of an annual salary of $15-20 million.

However, top tier guys don't sign contracts for just three seasons. For this reason the Royals would also be committing an additional $15-20 million to payrolls 4-6 years out that ideally won't have that flexibility. (I say ideally because arbitration is performance based. Hopefully our young players perform as hoped and will earn major raises.)

Normally this situation would render the Royals obsolete in the market for a top tier starter. But this year it could be different. The reason is that there is an ace available that doesn't require a $15-20 million commitment 4-6 years down the road. Instead the Royals could only be committing half that.

Of course this prediction is only based in precedent. As we all know there has been another highly touted Japanese starting pitcher that has went through the posting system in recent years. Daisuke Matsuzaka required a $51 million posting bid, along with a six year $52 million contract. It was a $103 million investment made by the Boston Red Sox, but instead of paying $17-18 million a year for six seasons, they were only on the hook for $8-9 million for the final three seasons of the contract.

Of course just because you can figure out a way to fit the contract neatly into payroll projections for 2015-17, it doesn't necessarily mean that the problem is solved. The Royals would still need to figure out how to fit in a nearly $50 million posting fee into the present budget.

So what would be required in the posting fee to win the exclusive negotiating rights for Yu Darvish. As we've already learned it took a $51 million bid from the Red Sox to win the negotiation rights to Matsuzaka. Here is what Mlbtraderumors had to say on the matter:

"Baseball officials are increasingly convinced that righthander Yu Darvish will be posted to the major leagues, and industry folks wonder how much will teams pay. The Red Sox paid more than $51MM five years ago to talk with Daisuke Matsuzaka, and that hasn't panned out for them. The expectation is that in light of Boston's disappointment with Matsuzaka, teams won't bid as much for Darvish."

So if the Royals can get away with a $40 million or even a $45 million bid, that's awesome. But if a $50 million bid was necessary could the Royals fit that into the current budget? I say yes.

Of course it isn't my money, but considering this team has reached nearly $80 million in payroll before. And considering Dayton Moore has on several occasions talked about the ability to have payroll somewhere near that figure, it would seem that the Royals have the short term flexibility to absorb a $50 million posting fee.

In 2011, the team payroll ranked 30th in baseball and came in right around $35 million dollars. It is great to save money, especially when the saving was a result of leaving room for better and younger players. But if that money isn't reinvested back into the organization than David Glass haters, have another reason to cry foul.

Even if we operate with the assumption that the max payroll the 2011 team could have maintained was just $70 million, that still leaves roughly $35 million in excess. Looking at the roster for 2012, this figure shouldn't jump much. Even if through arbitration and raises it did jump to $50 million, the Royals would still have about $20 million leftover, before hitting our hypothetical $70 million threshold. In 2013, the Royals should still find themselves at the least $10 million under that same threshold.

In short, without the Royals taking on any major contracts they should have at least $65 million in payroll space, including 2011. If a posting fee was made it could be spread over the excess of this season's budget and the next two or three seasons. Make no mistake about it, from a financial perspective Yu Darvish offers the Royals an investment possibility that no other top tier starter can, without sacrificing top prospects.

Quite frankly, the Royals may be the only small or mid market team in baseball that can fit the financial burdens of Yu Darvish into their budget. This is enabled by being so far under payroll potential in the short term, coupled by the vast amount of young players on the roster.

Yu Darvish is 24 years-old this season. Which ever team signs him is going to enjoy him throughout the prime years of his career. He isn't your prototypical Japanese pitcher. This is in part because he is actually half Iranian descent.

Darvish is 6-5, according to Trey Hillman he has a similarity to Zack Greinke in that he loves to toy with his pressure points in order to add and subtract miles per hour on or off of his pitches. He can throw in the upper 90s, and entering 2011 he had a career 1.81 era in the Nippon Professional Baseball League. His career K rate is 9.2 and his career walk rate is 2.1.

This season he has been even better his era is down to 1.44. He is averaging 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings to just 1.4 walks. He has a 76-28 career record and in Japan is an absolute superstar.

Financially the Royals could fit Darvish into their budget, based on my cursory overview of the payroll and projected payrolls for the next six seasons. I haven't even mentioned how the potential payrolls could expand should the Royals perform as we hope. A playoff appearance, pennant, or dare I say World Series victory are known to have major implications on attendance for the following season.

Not to mention, a whole new market that the Royals would all of the sudden appeal to. Daisuke Matsuzaka has drastically affected the Red Sox popularity in Japan, an island that is absolutely infatuated with the game of baseball. How awesome would it be for the Royals to gain a huge appeal for the massive market? What could the financial implications be from that?

Do I believe that the Royals will sign Yu Darvish? No, I don't. But do I believe that they could? Yes. And do I believe that they should? Absolutely.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Royals Claim Laffey (Belated)

Four days ago the Royals made their first starting pitching splash by claiming lefty Aaron Laffey off of waivers from the New York Yankees. Not exactly an earth shattering move and Laffey definitely isn't the front end guy that we are looking for, but look at his career era and era+ compared to the other starters that are expected to compete for rotation spots next season.

Everett Teaford: 3.27, 126
Aaron Laffey: 4.34, 97
Bruce Chen: 4.52, 97
Vin Mazzaro: 5.13, 83
Felipe Paulino: 5.28, 78
Luke Hochevar: 5.29, 81
Danny Duffy: 5.64, 73
Sean O'Sullivan: 6.13, 69
Luis Mendoza: 7.36, 61

Think about that a waiver claim in mid October has the best career numbers of any of our candidates outside of Everett Teaford, who by the way just has 44 innings to his credit.

I don't expect Laffey to solidify the rotation or anything like that, but if he is the emergency guy in AAA I can definitely live with that. He has consistently outperformed his FIP and xFIP. But even his career numbers in that regard are better than most of the Royals' current staff options.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Edinson Volquez?

It's no secret that the Kansas City Royals have one priority entering the offseason: starting pitching. Everyone of course is itching for the Royals to net a proven top tier guy. You know, the kind of guy that can slide into the one spot and immediately turn this team into a contender.

Unfortunately bringing in a guy of that caliber and with that kind of track record is far from automatic. The free agent market bares little options, which could cause contracts to become bloated. While the trade market will undoubtedly be a costly venture in terms of prospects.

So what if the Royals can't net the sure fire front end starter that they so desire? Do we just enter 2012 with the same group, hoping for better results? How about instead Kansas City takes a flier on a buy low guy. There are quite a few of these out there, but I'd like to second the motion made by must follow Royals' tweeter Doublestix. The Royals should at least, check in on the price of Edinson Volquez.

As a rookie, Edinson Volquez took the National League by storm, by going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 196 innings. However, three years later he is coming off his worst season as a professional, in 108.2 innings he posted a 5-7 record with an era of 5.71. So what happened?

Here are his rate stats from 2008: 9.46 K, 4.27 BB, 0.64 HR good for a xFIP of 3.84.
And from 2011: 8.61 K, 5.38 BB, 1.57 HR and a xFIP of 4.08.

Obviously losing nearly a K per 9 innings and increasing your walk rate by over 1 per 9 innings is going to hurt your numbers for the year. But the real killer for Volquez was his spike in home runs allowed. In 2008, Volquez allowed just 8% of fly balls to leave the yard. But in 2011, this number has spiked to 20.7%.

Considering that Volquez's groundball percentage has actually improved from 46.3% in 2008, to 52.4% in 2011 I would definitely be willing to make the reasonable assumption that Volquez's home run rate in 2011 was more a result of bad luck than poor performance.

Do I believe that he can drop back down into singled digits in his home run per fly ball percentage? No, I think that would unlikely. However, do I think his improving ground ball rate could decrease his home runs allowed? Of course I do. Another thing that could really help Volquez's home run per 9 innings rate is a move to Kauffman Stadium.

Kauffman plays as a pretty neutral park. However, this isn't the case for home runs. Because of the deep power alleys at the K, offense comes more from players hitting loads of double and posting high averages. But Kauffman has a long standing history of depreciating home runs (as evidenced by the Royal single season home run record of 36.)

Bruce Chen is a fly ball guy that for back to back season has been able to outperform his xFIP numbers thanks to the K's spacious outfield dimensions. For these reasons I would expect that Volquez's home run rate should dip back down under 1 in 2012 should he pitch for the Kansas City Royals.

Of course there is another major concern for Volquez, and that is his increasing walk rate. But this is what makes him such an appealing buy low option. Because reasonably if he can just get the right pitching coach, or make the right adjustment, he would immediately be a front end starter.

I say this because it is apparent to me that Volquez's stuff could be just as dominate as ever. His fastball averaged 93.7 mph in 2011, virtually the same speed as 2008. His O-Swing% (pitches a batter swings at out of the strike zone) is actually up from 2008 by 4.6% to 28.6%. This obviously could be in part to throwing more pitches out of the zone, however, stuff wise a percentage this high would indicate that batters are still being fooled by his pitches.

His contact percentage (percentage of swings a batter makes contact on pitches) has actually dropped by 0.2% to 73.6%. I'm not suggesting this is statistically significant, merely pointing out that the stuff is just as much there now as it was in 2008.

Volquez is just 28 years old. He will be arbitration eligible for the second time this winter and would be under team control for two more seasons. He made only $1.63 million in 2011. Considering the numbers he posted, he probably won't receive much of a raise for 2012. This could make it difficult to pry him from Cincinnati, but not impossible.

I don't believe it would take much to acquire Volquez. The Royals continue to have a strong farm system, despite graduating several of their top guys in 2011. If the Royals could acquire Volquez for a couple mid-level prospects, I would immediately pull the trigger.

The Royals have obtained two quality pitchers for next to nothing: Felipe Paulino and Joakim Soria. Both of these guys were loved by both the stats department and scouts in the organization. I see no reason why Edinson Volquez couldn't be the third pitcher to this party.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Season Post Greinke

Yesterday morning I received the following text from a friend and fellow Royals' diehard:

"Now that the Brewers are in the NLCS and Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt are doing well, would you reassess the trade? Jeremy Jeffress and Lorenzo Cain hardly saw time and Alcides Escobar is really all we had to show for it."

I told my friend that instead of attempting to answer this question in a text, I would reply to him in the form of a blog post, so here we go.

Before saying anything else, at the time of the trade I commented that there is no way Yuniesky Betancourt should be the starting shortstop for a team expecting to win rings. Now though, the Brewers are doing everything they can to prove me wrong. Betanourt, despite posting a .252/.271/.381 line, has retained the starting shortstop job throughout the season.

In the playoffs Betancourt has upped that line to .278/.316/.444 and has came up with a couple of timely hits. With that being said I don't believe that Betancourt's line in any way could make this trade look worse from a Royals perspective. The fact that the Brewers are in the NLCS seems to have come in spite of Yuniesky Betancourt not as a result of his performance.

Zack Greinke on the other has been huge in the Brewers' magical run this season. His era is 3.83 and he has a 16-6 record. But looking even closer he has posted the highest K rate of his career at 10.54, with a walk rate of just 2.36. His xFIP is 2.56 and it wouldn't be hard to make the argument that this is the best season of his career outside of 2009.

Really though Greinke is doing exactly what we expected him to do this season, dominate. Well until the postseason, where he has had trouble staying low in the zone and has become a bit home run prone.

So what about for the Royals? As my friend stated Jeffress and Cain hardly saw time. This is true. Jeffress's stock definitely took a hit as he proved ineffective in the Major League pen and after transitioning to the rotation in Northwest Arkansas saw his control totally fall apart.

Jeffress's stuff is still there and I expect him to refine his command enough to be a useful piece in a Big League pen. However, his season was definitely a big disappointment.

Cain on the other hand did nothing to cause his stock to drop. He didn't receive hardly any big league time, because of the unexpectedly outstanding play of Melky Cabrera, not because he under performed.

In fact, with another season in the books I'm much more excited about Lorenzo Cain then I was at the time of the trade. Reports are his defense was absolutely spectacular in Omaha, all while hitting .312/.380/.497 with 16 home runs and 16 steals.

The outfield's performance in 2011 was obviously a huge plus for the Royals. They now have four viable solutions entering 2012. Should they trade Cabrera, Cain can step in and if they don't they can have depth while also controlling inventory and pushing Cain's arbitration and free agency back another season.

My friend is correct in stating that Alcides Escobar was all we had to show for the trade in 2011. Escobar was excellent defensively and thanks to an incredibly hot streak in the middle of the season, was passable on the offensive side of things. Moving forward Escobar has provided the Royals with at least a temporary solution at short stop and if the offense can continue to progress he could be a cornerstone.

Of course there is one more piece to this trade that has been totally forgotten here. This isn't the first time that I have discussed this trade with a friend and they have forgotten about the Royals' fourth piece: Jake Odorizzi.

Out of all the players involved in the trade, Odorizzi raised his stock more than anyone in 2011. If he can fix his problem with elevating his pitches in the zone he will be a front of the rotation guy in short order. Odorizzi is on the short list of prospects that can be argued for the top spot in the system.

At the time of the trade I believed that it could truly work out great for both parties. It was obvious the Royals HAD to move Greinke. Shelving a pitch in mid-August, threatening to no show for Spring Training, and who knows what else behind close doors. He had to be moved.

The trade was made by the Brewers to better contend in 2011 and 2012. The Trade was made by the Royals to better contend in 2013 and on. Obviously the Brewers should look like they have won the deal after 2011. But nothing that happened in 2011 would suggest that the deal is any worse for the Royals moving forward.

Major League Baseball trades are designed to be wins for both parties. It isn't fantasy football when one guy/girl is most likely getting ripped off when the deal occurs. Just because the trade has worked out awesomely for the Brewers, doesn't mean that it can't wind up being a win for Kansas City as well. It is simply way to early to tell. For now though, the trade looks just as good from Kansas City's perspective as it did when it was completed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Royals Release 13 Minor Leaguers

News broke today that the Royals had cut ties with 13 players in their minor league system. Here are the names:

Lance Zawadzki: I liked the Zawadzki pick up a year ago. I guess he did his job and held down the fort in Omaha. Not a real shock here.

Darian Sandford: Sandford has great speed, but that's about all he has to offer. I'm mildly suprised by this one. But the fact is that despite being older than his competition and in a hitter environment he still couldn't hit this summer.

Dale Cornstubble: I thought he was interesting enough to mention him in my catcher stock watch a year ago. With that being said, I felt no emotion when I read that he had been let go.

Nick Francis: This one is a bit of a shock. I really liked Francis's power potential. However, he had been suspended from drugs twice and the Royals already have several tweener outfield prospects in their upper levels.

Gerald Hall: Speedy infielder, that never really showed enough to think that he could be anything more than a low level roster filler.

Joey Lewis: Lewis was a a good player to have in the organization, with his ability to play both catcher and first. But no loss by cutting ties.

Steven Brooks, Casey Edelbrock, Justin Fredejas, Derek Hamblen, Nathan Johnson, Paul Krebs, and Robbie Penny: Umm.. I never knew we had any of these guys anyway.