Monday, October 1, 2007

Muneer's 2007 End of the Season Report

2007 is in the books, and it's as good a time as any to recap what happened.

What Went Right:
Gil Meche and Brian Bannister were dependable
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler got their experience
Tony Pena, Jr. was steady at SS
There was a 7 game improvement over last year's record.

What Went Wrong:
Mark Teahen mysteriously lost his power
Mike Sweeney was injured again
The back end of the rotation was horrid
Ryan Shealy was a bust

Looking at their record, one would think this season was more of the same that Royals fans have endured for the last 17 years. But, believe or not, the Royals did make some improvements.

Alex Gordon, Tony Pena, Jr., Billy Butler, and Brian Bannister had decent rookie seasons. For the first half, Gordon was beyond bad. But, he picked it up in the second half and actually hit over .300 for a couple of months. Butler didn't get the consistent playing time he needed to get, but showed the hitting prowess that he is famous for. Buddy Bell inexplicably sat him and played Ross Gload in September. Butler should have the first base job next year, barring injury. Pena was quiet, but that's what the team needed after years of Angel "Criscohands" Berroa botching everything in sight. Bannister turned out to be a wily and tough competitor and should be a good one for years to come.

The first base tandem of Mike Sweeney and Ryan Shealy spent the majority of the season on the DL. This was expected for Sweeney, but troubling in Shealy's case. Shealy had heel problems, the same type of injury that plagued Mark McGwire during the mid-1990s. Here's hoping the Royals' training staff can get it sorted out before spring training. I would be fine with having Shealy and Butler split time at DH and first base. Young players need to be out in the field.

Sweeney deserves his own paragraph. I like Mike Sweeney as a person. He's good with kids and does a lot for the community. That being said, he doesn't deserve to have a starting job in the majors. His body cannot absorb the pounding of a full season. He also seems to have lost bat speed, which was the key to his earlier success. I would be fine with having Sweeney back at under $1 million, but I think it's time for him to move on. Sweeney is the poster boy for the Royals' past mistakes. He needs to go so that the team and the fan base can move forward.

Overall, the Royals' hitting was bad. Emil Brown led the team in RBI's again. Problem is that he played two to three times a week. Mark Teahen lost his power stroke after surgery. Alex Gordon was historically futile in the first half. Overall, the hitters need to work on their games in the offseason for this team to have any shot of competing in 2008.

Gil Meche lived up to his big contract. He was the stabilizing force that the Royals needed in the rotation. Save for a couple of bad stretches, when Gil was pitching, the Royals had a chance to win. That's all you can ask. Brian Bannister was another shrewd pickup for Dayton Moore. He showed the wiliness of a veteran and pitched with no fear. He and Gil will be a nice tandem at the top of the rotation next year.

The bullpen was good, while the rotation beyond Meche and Bannister was shaky. Riske, Soria, and the rest of the relievers were dependable and kept the Royals in games. This unit reminded me of the bullpen from 2005. The starters were another story. Jorge de la Rosa, Odalis Perez and whoever they tried as a fifth starter were inconsistent at best. Help from the minors doesn't appear to be arriving anytime soon. Hochevar and Lumsden were very mediocre and likely need another year in the minors. The Royals need to sign some vets. They can afford them, with Sweeney's contract coming off the books.

Buddy Bell is retiring, which is excellent news. The team needs a manager who doesn't have an allergic reaction to playing rookies and young players. The way Butler was handled in September was inexcusable. Had the Royals been in a pennant race, I would have understood playing Gload. But the team was not contending for anything other than first place. Butler should have been out there every day, getting the seasoning he needs to start strong next April. Here's hoping the next manager can guide this team to the next level.

There was some improvement this season, but not enough for me to be optimistic for 2008.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hey, at least we're not the Nationals

So, here we are, Royals are not the worst team in baseball and they are winners of three of their last four games. Its nice to see the hitters get on a roll, but the pitching, especially the bullpen has been a (well documented) problem. I am sort of surprised as I felt the bullpen would be solid – however, I must again point to the injuries which have caused a shuffle that has hurt the effectiveness of some of the relievers.

Being second worst is no big consolation.

Looking over the stats though, I am encouraged by the fact that Sanders and DeJesus are hitting well. This bodes well especially for Sanders. He looks like a good fit for the Yankees, given Damon's health troubles early on. The starters seem to be doing decently too. Odalis is putrid, but I didn't expect anything better from him. He'll be Lima 2007. Greinke has had bad luck recently, but I was encouraged by his good start.

I may be a curmudgeon when it comes to KC, but I have hope that they can make my prediction of 70-92 come true. Losing more than 100 is just plain embarrassing and I don't want to see it happen again.

Curmudgeon is a generous word. If we were talking about the Red Sox, or Yankees, we should be angry about what’s going on, but this is a team that’s on the right side of the hill at this point (that is, going up, instead of down or staying level). I will say Gordon has one week to start hitting… he’s done a little better, but he still seems overmatched.

Gordon is actually the one hitter on this team who really doesn't worry me that much. He was able to hit .325 last season in AA, so I think he should be good for around .280 in the majors. I think he just needs to get over any jitters he may still have. I've heard reports that he's still smiling and happy in the dugout. This is good news, since it means that he isn't taking this slow start badly.

I actually agree with you on this one.

Well, I am worried that he strikes out in one out of every three at bats. He has 21 strikeouts in 59 ABs, and his strikeout rate is not improving. I know, you are missing Angel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Royals at 3-11


Somehow, although the losses are just as frustrating as ever (Buddy Bell, in a post game interview, looked on the verge of going completely loony) – it seems the situation is temporary. I don't remember the Royals bats being as cold as they are this year – and we know that the heart of our line up will NOT continue struggling like it has, its just not possible (although I wonder if Sweeney's done as a major league hitter). Gordon has hit in 4 of his last five games, but he's not drawn a walk all season---and Teahen is really letting us down so far. Maybe we need to move Buck up in the lineup and get Reggie some ABs. One way or another, our hitting will come around ---- and, Dotel and Bale will come back…the injuries have clearly effected the bullpen.


I didn't really expect anything more than this from this team.

While I do think that the hitting will pick up (no team can finish a season hitting .232), the pitching is right where it usually is. As of today, the Royals have a 4.92 team ERA. That number is much more troubling to me. The team has all of its expected contributors out there except Dotel, and this is the result. It is a genuine cause for concern because hitting is nice to have to have, but pitching and defense is what can carry a team to a championship. I don't see anymore pitching help on the horizon with the exception of Elarton. The young guys we have in the minors still need another season of conditioning. This is it, and it's not good enough.

Unlike you, I think the situation is permanent, and this will be another lost season like 13 of the last 15 have been.


Well, you are a little inaccurate as you've forgotten about Bale (who was stellar in his work in Japan and is our second lefty out of the Bullpen). Lets also not forget that Luke Hudson is due to come back as well – we have three players who were expected to be significant parts of this team who are unavailable—two of which are guys picked up for late game situations—it'll help this team a lot to get these guys back (and, by all accounts, Dotel was an important leader for the team during Spring Training). Are you going on the record right now that the Royals will lose 120+ games (which is the pace they are on right now), or are they going to lose 100+ games? My point is they are going to get better, they are a better team and this will not continue.


Check the website, sir. I have gone on record to say that the Royals' record will be 70-92. Speaking of which, perhaps you should go on record with your expectations for this team.

I am still unsure about Bale. He may have been stellar in Japan, but he's no Dice-K. The last guy we got from Japan, Darrell May, was mediocre at best. I'm not anticipating any stellar contributions from Bale.

Dotel can be as much of a leader as he wants. If he isn't pitching, he is not helping the team as much as it needs him to. I think the years of abuse in Houston have caught up to his arm. I'm hoping for a positive contribution, but it's hard to expect anything when there isn't even a timetable for his return.

I'm in agreement with you about Hudson. I had forgotten he was on the shelf. But, he needs to prove that he can make the adjustments needed to continue his success. A pitcher often proves his mettle in his second full year, since that is when the league has scouted him and adjustments must be made to continue the first year's success.


Oh, see, then you and I agree that things are much worse than they will be. In order to go 70-92 they Royals would need to go 67-81 the rest of the way and will have a .452 winning percentage over that stretch….although I think they will win at a slightly higher rate -73-89. I believe Bale will make a stronger bullpen for us, and the return of Hudson will give us a chance to use Duckworth as long reliever (and an upgrade over Wellermeier, at this point). Hudson is well past his second year of course, so I'd say if he's healthy, he'll be a solid contributor to the rotation.


I base my prediction of their record on the fact that this team was close to .450 after that horrific start last year. I do think the hitting will come around a little, and the pitching really can't get much worse. But, this team is still nowhere close to being competitive.

Hudson is past his second year in the majors, but this is only his second year in the American League. And we know that pitching in the AL is a whole tougher to do than in the senior circuit.


Baby Steps… baby steps. Turning a near 10 game improvement is a nice step, and really, I think we will see stretches of very good ball. Once the hitters start hitting and the injury but turns around – we will see some good ball… maybe we'll still lose some close games, but the stuff that we're seeing now is an aberration.

Friday, April 13, 2007

No Tell on Dotel

Kevin: This little nugget from raised my eyebrow:
“Bell still is processing the effects of Dotel's prolonged absence from the Royals' bullpen. Dotel was first expected to return this weekend, then the timetable was pushed back to April 20 after Dotel was sent to Arizona to rehabilitate what was thought to be a minor injury. Now, Bell doesn't know when -- or if -- Dotel will be able to contribute.”
Muneer: Uh oh. Sounds a lot like the Octavio we've come to know. I'm not surprised by this turn of events. He was abused in Houston, and that carried over into his time with Oakland and the Yankees.

I'm unhappy about the fact that he's being paid $5 million and the team may not see a return on its investment.

From what I can gather, Soria's now the man. I wouldn't be surprised to see Riske back in the mix when he begins pitching better.

Kevin: Well, the injury is to his oblique on his non throwing side, so I’m not sure just what or who to blame that on. I hope he can come back as it would really really solidify a bullpen that seems to be on the brink of being pretty solid. The worst part of this, is that I drafted DOTEL for my fantasy team! DOH!

Muneer: You know who else had an oblique injury? Mike Hampton. I hope that nothing is wrong with Dotel's arm. Let's just hope that Dotel is back at some point this season, and doesn't become the Juan Gonzalez of 2007.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Royals Triage

Kevin: You know, the Royals are, no question, a better team this year – they’ve had some bad breaks that literally have cost them a .500 record – but, these things will turn around (I hope). However, I was just sort of thinking we may need to run a little triage on the team if some of the younger players are still struggling. Here is my idea: Gordon and Shealy go to AAA to right the ship and clear their heads. We call up Butler and Huber, move Teahan to 3B (and have him play the outfield a little to keep developing his skills) allow Butler to play the OF and put Huber at 1B. We can then give these other guys a shot to produce, but if we need to, move our young struggling players to AAA to get their confidence back. Again, this is something we do at the end of the month, not time to panic now.

Muneer: From the sound of it, Butler's defense is pretty bad right now. We don't need two Emil Browns in the outfield.

I don't know what Huber's stats are so far this season, but has he earned a spot with the big club? He might be fine as a stopgap, but the object is to win games, and I think Shealy gives the team a better chance to do that. I think the team would be better off making Huber a catcher again, and having him compete for that job next season.

I hope Shealy and Gordon can improve, but I don't believe sending either player down to the minors will help his development. Unlike in the past, these guys have been brought up at the right time and are ready to play. They need to take their lumps and then they will improve. Just look at the Twins and A's back in the late '90s. Their teams were horrible, but the core players were kept at the major league level and allowed to develop together. This fostered a sense of team, and that showed when both franchises became successful in the 2000's. Sending Gordon and Shealy down to AAA will erode each's confidence, rather than improve it. It might also hinder the cohesiveness of the team.

Kevin: I am fine with leaving Butler down (and I know you’ve read about how Brown’s defense is actually underrated) Reggie can give us some quality play in the OF. However, Huber to have value to us (he is going to be traded eventually) needs to perform some at the big league level, and I think the situation with Shealy and Gordon could result in more of a Teahen like wake up call (and maybe Shealy doesn’t even have any options left) – however, Ryan is like 27 so who knows if that’s a good idea. I just think young guys can lose a whole season if they lose their confidence in their ability to hit Major League Pitching early and I fear Gordon and Shealy are treading that ground.

Muneer: I think losing confidence is an issue if the player is not ready to play in the majors. I think Gordon and Shealy have proven all they can in the minors. To send them back at this point would simply hinder them from making the adjustments they need to make to become productive big leaguers.

I agree that Huber needs to be dangled as trade bait, but it's more important that the Royals find a way to get Sanders off the books. Maybe Huber can come up once Reggie is out of town.

Kevin: Gordon has not been in AAA, so he hasn’t proven all he can at this point… I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go down if he’s still hitting below the Mendoza line in early May.

Muneer: I'm convinced the Royals will send Alex down if he's at the Mendoza line, but I don't think that would be the best course of action.

Let's use Torii Hunter as an example. He was a mediocre part timer with the Twins in 1999 and 2000. The important thing is that he was in the majors, learning and making adjustments. Then, when the time came in 2001, he was able to become a productive member of the lineup and has remained as such ever since.

Gordon has way more talent than Hunter, and his college experience puts him ahead of a guy drafted out of high school who may need to climb the minor league ladder slowly, and return for confidence boosters.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Riske Business

Kevin: Did you hear Riske’s excuse for giving up the home run yesterday? He thought I-Rod was going to bunt so he put one right down the middle—no joke!

Well, at least he was thinking. That's more than we can say for guys in the past like Runelvys and Asencio.

It's baffling that Riske would think to groove one simply because he thought a bunt was coming. Isn't it standard to make the batter work when he attempts to bunt?

Kevin: Its definitely the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard an athlete admit to!

Muneer: Agreed. Given the Royals' recent sordid past, it's surprising that this is what trumps them all.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gload over Shealy

Kevin: I'm very irritated that Ross Gload got the start at First Base tonight. For a team trying to develop young players, why is it that Shealy would already be benched the second game of the season in favor of a "grizzled" veteran? I know that's been the concern that I've seen on other blogs, and the concern came to fruition the second game!

Muneer: Let me begin with an analogy: If you have an alcoholic and you place twenty bottles of vodka in a room and leave him in there, the man will drink. It doesn't matter if it's been 20 years since his last drink. That much temptation at the same time is simply irresistible.

That's how Buddy Bell is with vets. Any rational manager would use Gload to spell Shealy and as an occasional DH. Bell loves those vets like a fat kid loves cake. That's why Emil Brown and Sanders will be playing a lot until they get shipped off. That's why Odalis Perez will trot out there 30 times a year even if he's threatening to repeat Jose Lima's 2005 stat line. Bell was the main reason the Rockies and Tigers stank when he was at the helm. He stayed with washed up players for far too long and didn't allow the youngsters to develop. I daresay that he might be one of the main reasons Colorado has been down for so long. By not allowing homegrown Rockies pitchers time to settle in to MLB, he ensured Colorado's pitching staff would be the worst in the NL until Jason Jennings and Jeff Francis showed up.

I have no idea why Dayton didn't bring in his own guy in the offseason. The only reasonable explanation is that he's waiting for his agreement not to poach Braves' personnel to expire, after which date we'll get a manager with an Atlanta pedigree. Even so, I think Dayton could have promoted someone from within the organization to act as a caretaker while the agreement with Braves keeps tolling.

Instead, we have Ross Gload starting the second game of the season.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Opening Day: Thoughts

Muneer: Opening day is in the books. I have to say that the boys in blue didn't look half bad yesterday. Meche pitched as an ace should, we got some good offense, and have the first W in the books. An added bonus was shutting up Curt Schilling. He has become an insufferable gasbag ever since he got to Beantown. How about he stops blogging and starts pitching a little? You know I'm a pessimist when it comes to the team, but I hope this is the start of a season-opening run like the team had back in 2003. Even though I lost $10 to you that year, it was damn good to see the Royals on the good side of .500.

Kevin: Well, I have to agree that the Royals won their BIGGEST game of the year – that is, provided they don’t end up in a playoff race – which, if this was three years ago, this team would be in the running in the Central – however, the Central is by far the strongest division in baseball (at least on paper) so our youngsters are not a good bet to make noise – but at least, for now, the Royals are in First Place!

Gil Meche probably pitched in the biggest game of his career yesterday and came up in a BIG way – even after his first inning problems (lets face it, he could have just melted down). For a pitcher who has been dogged as not having an ace mentality, it looks like the money and pressure has Gil rising to the occasion – at least on opening day. Tony Pena Jr is a huge improvement over Berroa – he can work the count and he’s a smart player (i.e. the slide at third to avoid a tag out). I think he’s drawn a little less than a walk per game (including spring training) since he came over.

Lets face it, long suffering Royals fans should feel good about yesterday, and I guarantee you – that win sold a LOT of tickets for the team. Veddy Nice!

Muneer: Alas, the pessimist in me just can't be kept down. I've been watching this team for too long to think that one game will make such a big difference. Meche and Pena certainly did well for themselves, but opening day doesn't make a season. The Royals are in what may be baseball's toughest division. The Tigers, White Sox, Indians, and Twins are all solid clubs. In order to be competitive this season, the Royals need to have something close to a .500 record against all of those teams. I just don't see that happening. This team still has some glaring holes in the pitching staff, but a sterling offense. I think this team has the potential to be like the 1999 squad. That year, the Royals were something like 4th overall in the majors in offense, and 30th overall in pitching. Unless we have some in-season moves or a couple of the current starters suddenly find some consistency, it will still be a long season at the K.

Kevin: Well, I think Meche’s performance in a big game atmosphere bodes well – and I frankly don’t see how Pena (just even considering the “little” things) can’t be an improvement over Berroa (God Bless that poor guy). There are a lot of things that needs to come together, but the first, and biggest chip was that Meche CAN rise to the occasion. It is a long season, and heck, pitchers have up and down days – and you know, I think we will all be thrilled if this team can avoid 90 losses – however, the pessimist in you lost 10 buck to me in the past on prognosticating (and frankly, I’ve got bragging rights in Fantasy Baseball as well). I’m right – you’re wrong! Heh heh.

Muneer: Look, I think that this team has potential in 2008 and 2009, but I don't see 2007 being their year. Don't forget, the 1999 team finished 64-97. I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person, but we both know that pitching is what wins championships. This team just doesn't have enough at the major league level to be able to compete in the AL Central. "I'm right - You're wrong"? Is that the argument you use in court when all else fails? We both know that the Royals have had over 100 losses in 4 of the last 5 years. The organization has been in a shambles since the mid 1990's. Dayton may finally reverse the trend of illogical decision making the front office has displayed since the early 1990's. I need to see some more positive steps being taken before I can believe in this team once again.

Kevin: Its funny, I still have the Royals pegged as a losing team, one that will hopefully not lose more than 90 games, and you’re making me sound like Pollyanna? I don’t know why it isn’t important that Meche came through in an important game. A lot of guys would have just folded under the pressure, and supposedly Meche was not a pressure player (one who couldn’t rise to the occasion). I don’t see how one can overlook the fact that he stepped up in THE BIGGEST game in his career? Its sort of like Suppan stepping up in the playoffs. Its just nice to see this guy succeed under pressure. He’ll not be under the same pressure for a while this season (that is, big crowd, important game), but I’m looking at that as a good sign, and Pena has been getting on base since he’s been here. Good sign. Berroa had NO WALKS in Spring Training!? What gives? We played at about a .435 clip with a much worse team last year (from June on) and had a winning month, or near winning month late last season AGAIN WITH much less talent, and we were still playing the very tough AL Central – I’m just basing my analysis on past performance and the fact that YES, the Royals have more talent now than they did to close last year…. to hopefully…win… 70 or so games…and, I wouldn’t be surprised at a winning record…

Muneer: I think it's hyperbole to say that this was the biggest game of Meche's career. He's pitched for some excellent Seattle teams that either made the playoffs or challenged for a spot until the end of the season. Pitching Opening Day at the K is not on that level. I'd say that the Royals will be a 70-92 team this year. Which is an improvement. Unlike you, I would be extremely surprised at a winning record. If there is to be a repeat of 2003, then multiple members of the pitching staff will need to have career years, as happened in 2003. I don't think KC can catch lightning in a bottle like that more than once.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Berroa and Pena, Jr.: The Royals' new SS experiment

Muneer: In other news, the Royals are finally trying to replace Angel Berroa, something they should have done last season. Right now, there are apparently 20 players the Royals have targeted, none of whom are in the Royals’ camp. The possibilities range from Clint Barmes of the Rockies all the way to Brandon Wood, the Angels’ superprospect. I don’t expect the Royals to get Wood, and I hope they don’t get Barmes. The last time they picked up a light-hitting shortstop from Coors (Neifi Perez), the results were less than satisfactory.

I am very happy that Dayton is finally addressing what has been a problem for too long. With the offensive prowess displayed by some of the other SS’s, there is no reason to keep trotting Berroa out there. Berroa has been a textbook example of a player who not only brings nothing to the table, but actually takes things off of it. Who but the Royals could justify starting a light hitting SS who also happens to be horrible defensively?

Kevin: I think everybody agrees that Berroa is done… I bet he’s actually like 35 and not 28 years old.

Muneer: Well, the weekend has passed, and Berroa is officially out as the Royals’ SS. In his place we have Tony Pena, Jr. Here is what USA Today’s fantasy baseball people had to say about him:

“Pena has a career .253/.285/.335 line in 2,308 minor league at-bats. He did take a step forward last year, batting .282/.312/.359 in 298 at-bats as a 25-year-old in Triple-A, but with no power or patience, that’s the top level of his ability.”

So, we’ve basically gotten an Andres Blanco type at the expense of Cordier, who was deemed good enough to be a second round pick in 2005. This doesn’t look good for Dayton. Pena is a mediocre hitter, has no power, and is not a good basestealer. Given his defense over the last few games, he seems to have trained in the Berroa school of shortstop play. How does he bring anything to the table that Blanco or Alex Gonzalez couldn’t have?

I’d say it’s his worst trade since JP Howell for Gathright. Before you say anything, Gathright is sitting on the bench, while Howell has been better than most of the Royals’ pitchers and is quite likely the new 5th starter in Tampa.

Back to the subject at hand though, why get a guy like Pena when you have Alex Gonzalez in camp? The guy has a .243 lifetime batting average, but at least he compiled those numbers in the majors, as opposed to Pena’s unimpressive minor league stat line. He also has had some decent power numbers, which Pena has not shown at all.

The only thing that makes this trade make any sense to me is that Dayton drafted Pena, and sees something. I sure hope he’s right, because at the moment, this trade has the potential to blow up in the Royals’ faces.

Kevin: We are still the Royals financially, and so I’m not sure what other options they really had in terms of bringing in a new SS and not wasting any more money. I would like to know what it was about Alex Gonzales that they didn’t like – I suspect though that Dayton Moore wanted a more dynamic defensive player and, well, he sounds like he’s of the belief that Pena will hit and will develop more in that area (and from what I understand, Pena actually got a late start in his baseball career). I’m willing to see how it goes, but both sides had to take risk here, and while Cordier might have a higher ceiling if healthy, it seems we really needed to make a move at SS. On the bright side, Pena has walked in each of his first two games with the Royals, so I think that’s a huge improvement over what we had. I feel bad for Anhell … but when he played SS in KC (other than that magical rookie season) it was more like we were “Inhell” as fans.

Muneer: Pena appears to have begun his minor league career at 19, and then resumed it at 21. I don’t know what he was doing for the two years in between.

We did need to make a move at SS, but why not make a move for a guy who will at least be guaranteed to hit better than Berroa. That’s not a sure thing with Pena. He may walk, but there is not a lot of evidence to indicate markedly better plate discipline than Berroa or Gonzalez.

Finally, by bringing Pena in, Berroa’s market value has dropped considerably. Teams know that the Royals have no interest in keeping him, and will not be motivated to offer any real value. I think Dayton has really botched this situation.

What I would have done is platoon Berroa and Gonzalez, try to establish some value for Sanders and Brown, and then trade one of those guys for a SS better than Pena. As it stands, the Royals now have 3 no-hit, mediocre-fielding SS’s. That’s two too many.

Kevin: I think the only conclusion that we can draw from why Pena over Gonzalez is that Pena must have better defensive capabilities, and has a better bat than Blanco, and is somebody who knows how to play the game in the right way (the intangibles). I think if the Royals were ever going to get anything useful in exchange for Berroa it would have happened, at this point, making him a utility player is their only hope. And as for saying Dayton more botched the situation, I couldn’t disagree more – botch is a strong word. Neither of us have seen Pena play yet, and Dayton was obviously VERY familiar with his capabilities being that he came from Atlanta, plus he’s making the major league minimum. Cordier has been hampered by injuries, heck look at the broken road riddled with injured minor league pitchers – they guy won’t even pitch this year. Not to mention, Pena is just keeping the spot warm until Bianchi is ready (which is another IF as he’s been hampered by injuries constantly). Savaging this trade is like writing a movie review without having seen the movie. Lets revisit at the All Star break.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Royals’ Excess OFs and a little pitching talk

Kevin: How bout the royals, still seeing promising signs – we do have to trade Brown and Sanders we have too many other young guys who deserve a chance in our OF…

Muneer: You know, I would actually hold on to Brown and Sanders for now. Butler’s defensive skills still need work, Shane Costa is not an everyday guy, and neither is Gathright. I think that if the team holds on to the vets, it allows Butler and Costa time in the minors to get their games together and keeps Gathright’s atrocious stats on the bench. What do I know though? Given the Royals’ history, they’ll bring Butler up for two weeks to ride the bench and then rush him into the lineup in late April.

Kevin: Costa could play everyday – at least platoon with Gathright. Don’t forget Butler, Maier and Lubanski all in AAA OF as well. Maier is really close I think. We just need to make sure the young guys get a chance to develop.

Muneer: To seize upon your last point, the Royals do need the young guys to develop. That’s exactly why they have to keep Sanders and Brown. We’ve seen in the past what has happened when the Royals allowed players to develop at the major league level. In my view, a player is basically done developing his basic skill set when he gets called up. Once up in the majors, that player should basically be honing that skill set and helping the team. The majors are no place for a young player to continue learning exactly how to play or hit.

Gathright and Costa are both part-timers, and for good reasons. To take the concept of two wrongs, two platoon outfielders don’t make one decent major leaguer. Butler should be up midseason if Dayton has any sense. I fail to believe his defense is THAT bad.

I hadn’t thought about Maier and Lubanski as being ready for the show. I say they’re still at least another year off.

Kevin: Well, the point is you can’t have Costa or Gathright in the minors, their time is now, and Costa projects to a good offensive hitter.. I mean, really, so you send Costa to the minors—what then for Lubanksi, Butler and Maier…and Huber.. see it’s a really crowded situation…

Muneer: You can certainly send Gathright to the minors if needed. It’s not like it’ll stunt any developing he still has left. Gathright is a no-hit, all-speed guy. Those sorts of players are always 4th OFs or pinch runners.

On Lubanski, we’ll have to wait and see. He hit .282 with 15 HRs and 11 SBs last year. Those are good numbers, but they don’t indicate an MLB-ready player. The Texas League is notoriously hitter friendly, and if those stats are all Lubanski could muster, he’s not ready for the show.
No arguments on Butler. He’s more than ready offensively, and I think should be called up midseason at the latest. At that point, the Royals should look into moving Sanders or Brown.
I agree Costa should be up now. But, I think it’s more important to showcase Brown and Sanders so that the Royals can get maximum value. Which puts Costa’s ETA in becoming an everyday player at sometime in June.

Maier is decent, but like Lubanski, he put up only above average stats at Wichita. Based on past performance, I’d say Maier is ahead of Lubanski right now. But, neither belong with the big club just yet. They both need at least another full season at Omaha.

I don’t think Huber even warrants much consideration as part of the Royals’ future. He has put up mediocre numbers at Omaha, and failed miserably each time he’s been up in KC. Granted, the sample size with KC is not that large, but he has not done much to inspire confidence in Royals fans with his Omaha stats.

Kevin: Yes yes yes, but we can’t keep all these guys around – at least two of them must go. Although, isn’t Huber manning 1B rather than OF? Gathright’s been having a very good spring by the way, Gathright deserves one more chance to succeed – he should at least be our 4th OF at this time. You need to check the spring numbers though, you are right on some counts, and wrong on others. Huber talked about his poor performance last year as a result of him trying to generate more power, but once we went back to his normal plate approach he hit very well. Huber should be traded, I agree, but he need to perform in AAA and let us spin off for a pitcher or a Middle IF.
How about pitching? We’ve actually got a nice fight on our hands – Meche has been solid, Perez has been awful (but is a lock for the rotation), Hudson hasn’t done anything to lose his grip… but the last two slots should, at this time, belong to Bannister and Soria.

Muneer: Dude, 1B is an even bigger roadblock for Huber. Shealy’s got that spot locked up unless he becomes like Berroa. As far as the explanations as to why he sucked last year, I need to see him put up numbers like he did at AAA before I can believe any excuses for last year. Plus, if Huber was such a star in the Royals’ eyes, then what was the rationale behind trading for Shealy?

I wholeheartedly agree that Gathright should be a 4th OF. I’m saying that he has no business starting for a decent MLB team.
Before we start crowning Gil Meche as the new ace, we need to be mindful of the fact that he has only pitched 3 innings so far. I’m waiting until later in the spring to see where he really is. Same for Soria. He’s not facing true MLB competition right now. A lot of these batters playing in spring training right now will be in the minors or bagging groceries in a month. I’m reserving all judgement on pitching until about March 25.

But, if I had to set the rotation today, I’d put in de la Rosa as the 5th starter. Soria hasn’t pitched above A ball. He’ll get killed if he’s trotted out there against the AL’s big bats. There’s a huge differences between an A ball hitter and Gary Sheffield.

Kevin: Woah nelly, I’m just saying I may have misspoke in stating that Huber was an OF rather than a 1B. He’s still young and a prospect – the idea obviously is that he produce so well the Royals can spin him off (as I mentioned). One caveat to Gathright, if he can be a high OBP guy and can actually steal 80% of his attempts, I’d say he’s a starter in the Majors – this is the last chance we’ll have to see if he’s that type of guy – if he is, he’s still probably best off being traded at that point.
Who crowned Meche as the new ace – he’s been solid so far in Spring Training (compared to Odalis Perez). Soria started yesterday and as you know, he did face MLB players, as the true MLB talent usually start games and then are benched in favor of young guys, so starting pitchers can tend to give an indication on their ability more so than those who come in later in the game. Also, all indications are that Soria’s work in the Mexican League was AA quality AND it’s a hitters league, so its not completely outrageous for pitchers to be ready to go after AA work. There’s still a lot of pitching left in Spring Training, but as things stand now, Soria has been THE BEST the Royals have thrown out there so far.

Muneer: The reason I lumped Huber in with OF was because he will not beat out Shealy. OF is the only viable option for him, unless he goes back to catching.
Gathright has had several chances with TB and KC to prove he’s a high OBP guy, and he hasn’t done it. He’s had quite a few chances to become an elite basestealer and he hasn’t done it. The Royals need to stop being lured by pure potential and send out the boring guys who will actually produce. He’s simply not going to be a starter in KC, simply because the team has other, more reliable options.

Dude, I can see a hitter coming up here from AA, but how many pitchers make that jump successfully. Just look at the track record of the Royals bringing up guys from AA (Greinke, Jim Pittsley, etc.). It’s not good. The Mexican League may be the equivalent of AA, but it’s still two steps in the chain away from MLB, and Soria has not played an entire season at that level. If the Royals are smart, they’ll either buy him from his old team or stash him away as one out specialist.

Why is Meche the ace? I think there are about 55 million reasons why. If he’s not the ace, then what the hell were the Royals thinking giving him that ridiculous contract?

Kevin: Gathright is only 25 years old, just one year older than Mitch Maier. I think you are being to quick to write him off. I don’t think he’s necessarily better than f 4th OF though, I just still think he can be a valuable player. As for Soria, we’ll have to see, he’ll be with us for a whole season regardless, and he projects as a starter, so perhaps the Royals will use him for that purpose.

Muneer: Soria projects as a starter, but when was the last time a pitcher made the jump from A ball and was successful. I know you brought up the point that he played in the Mexican League, but that is a winter league and they don’t play a full season. Hitters at the MLB level are a lot better than A ball hitters at making adjustments and taking advantage of a pitcher’s faults. If Soria is used in anything but middle relief, we can expect a Lima-esque performance from him.
Gathright is 25, fine. He technically has not entered his prime. I agree that he can be useful, but there is no way I think it’s feasible for the Royals to give 300-400 ABs to a guy who hit only .238 last year. Those ABs would be better given to guys like Maier or Costa. Gathright really isn’t suited for much right now besides pinch running. He can’t hit enough to be a valuable pinch hitter, and is fielding is not good enough to make him a viable defensive replacement. On second thought, maybe he should be in the minors, improving his defense like Billy Butler.

Kevin: If Soria continues to be the absolute best pitcher in Spring Training the rest of the way, he’s earned a spot as a starter. Probably the fifth starter but he deserves that spot. That’s why they play the games, right? There’s still 15 some odd games left in ST and he’ll have a lot more innings and will face higher caliber hitters. Its just not out of the realm of possibilities that he could be slated as a starter if he performs at the level he has been at.

I’m not ready to write Gathright off, but we have players/options who will contribute more to the team overall – but he’s had a very good spring, has hit well and got on base at every level other than the Majors, this is his season to make or break, either way, I think the Royals trade him later – but we all know what speed on the basepaths does to help the hitters – and that’s why I think Gathright is an important player to develop, he’ll not have the power of DeJesus, but if Gathrigh can get an OBP over .360 and lets fact it, improve his steals rate, then I think the Royals have a decision to make. The whole point is 3-4 of our OFs are trade fodder anyway.