Friday, December 21, 2007

Right Idea; Wrong Division

As my counterpart Dylan alluded to at the end of his last post, there's a team in KC's division that has a murderer's row lineup. And as you can tell by the incredibly shabby graph someone cooked up on the interweb, 2007 was a competitive year for the Central, which hadn't been that competitive in a long while. Dylan's gonna sit this round of analysis out; he's currently in Germany looking for an outfield bat.

Before I get to the sizing up of the rest of the division, let's size up the Royals offseason, so far. This acquisition of UT Alberto Callapso has all the markings of a good trade. Though we gave up a good arm at a position where we have arguably the worst depth in the majors throughout the organization, he may end up being our second basemen of the future. He has hit in the mid-.300s in all the years of his AAA career, and only had limited appearances in the bigs. Also, Ron Mahay's on board, which, while a pretty good deal, leaves our bullpen filled with lefties, lefties, and more lefties. It sucks not resigning Riske, because he was the cog who got us to Soria or Dotel in the first place, which is arguably as important as saving the game itself. We missed out on Kuroda, but everyone saw that coming, as the Dodgers were the first to overpay him.

Anyways, we all know about the Tigers. Adding Cabrera (assuming he drops some weight...that dude is very, very fat) and Dontrelle Willis can instantly be seen as an improvement to the big league club. However, they gave up A LOT of young pitching, including their #1 draft pick from 2006, Andrew Miller. The Indians will be strong again. The White Sox, who have done nothing in the offseason except acquire Orlando Cabrera for a good young pitcher, can't really go anywhere but up. The Twins; this is the team that worries me most. First of all, the Matt Garza-for-Delmon Young swap is going to make the loss of Torii Hunter MUCH less painful, as Delmon can play center, has already established himself as a major league hitter now just looking for that power swell, and he's 22. Also, the Twins are going to bring in an absolute HAUL from the eventual dealing of Johan Santana. While Santana has been mowing down hundreds of Royals batters routinely over the past half decade, he's only one guy who can only pitch one game in a series. If they get any of these young players that have been mentioned in the trade talks, whether it be Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Philip Hughes, Lastings Milledge, or the like, they're going to get those guys and 3-4 good prospects. Five guys with legitimate big league potential, and young. Sounds like bad timing to be a Royals fan.

This 2008 Royals team will be the best one we've seen in the last five or six years, and I'll even include 2003's above .500 squad. Problem is, our division doesn't have many holes. But as long as I have a typewriter and these falsified subpoenas I've been working on, there's always hope.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Pennant In The Making (Very Slowly)

Well, three things of significance have taken place this winter for the Royals:

1.) They signed clubhouse cancer/juicer Jose Guillen for a lot of money (36 for 3)
2.) They did not sign the most overrated player in baseball (Andruw Jones, 36 for 2)
3.) Dylan was mildly amused by the former, overjoyed by the latter

Personally, I am a fan of the signing, but only if a couple of other things happen as well:

1.) The Royals need to leave Mark Teahen and Alex Gordon where they are.
2.) They need to sign another starting pitcher (not Carlos "I Don't Walk Anyone, But I Get Shelled Pretty Hard" Silva).
3.) They need to deal Dave Dejesus or Joey Gathright.

All of this is based on the assumption that Gordon and Butler will improve, and Teahen will hit at least 15 homers. As previously discussed, if Teahen does not hit 15 or more homers a year, then he has very little value as a major leaguer. With all this said, here is my home run projections for our starters:

1.) David Dejesus: 8
2.) Mark Grudzielanek: 5
3.) Mark Teahen: 16
4.) Jose Guillen: 24
5.) Alex Gordon: 25
6.) Billy Butler: 18
7.) Ryan Shealy: 14
8.) John Buck: 15
9.) TPJ: 2
2008 Starters Total: 127
2007 Team Total: 102 (last in AL)
(Factor in approx. 15 bench homers)
2008 Team Total: 142

Even this incredibly optimistic jump in homerun totals puts the Royals 11th in the AL, tied with Baltimore, and we all know the punch that Baltimore packs in their lineup (big time eye-rolling).

The point here is that the Royals need more. Hopefully, A-God can become the 30-35 HR hitter we've been dreaming of for decades of Royals suckdom, but that's just one guy. The Royals need to get more, and develop the players they draft at a higher level. We've seen what Dayton has done with the minor leagues and player development so far, and it appears that he has us on the right track, but we need guys like Mike Moustakas (1st rounder in 07) to make impacts. We can't continue to miss on draft picks, especially in the early rounds.

Bomb jobs (much like blow jobs, i suppose) are more than just crowd-pleasers, they are game-changers. Unless I'm sorely mistaken (which is almost impossible), the KC Soft Singles did not hit one Grand Slam last year. Not one. That doesn't provide the "Sonic Slam" contestant very good odds for winning the 25 grand in the 6th, now does it? The most effective way of scoring runs in bunches is the homerun. It's not the only way, but it is by far the most efficient and the Royals simply have to hit more if they want to win more games. Without a "lights out"-type pitching staff, you have to be able to score runs in bunches. KC, who was somehow not the lowest scoring team in the AL (way to go, White Sox!), scored just 4.36 RPG last year. The Yankees, tops in the league, were at a 5.97 clip. Now, I know the Royals are not the Yankees, nor will they ever be, but they need to get that number up to about league average to possibly compete for division titles (taking out the top and bottom teams, league avg. is 4.86 RPG).

And, oh yeah, the powder blues are back. (blech).

Today's Lesson: Don't play in a division where one of the other teams in that division has a lineup that looks something like this:

1. Curtis Granderson
2. Pudge Rodriguez
3. Gary Sheffield
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Magglio Ordonez
6. Carlos Guillen
7. Placido Polanco
8. Edger Renteria
9. Jacque Jones

Who is this team? Hint: They play in a really shitty city.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Winter Wonderland...

It is Monday afternoon on a chilly December day, and my Royals obsession has once again kicked in. Thanks to Dayton Moore competence, and David Glass's sudden drive to win World Series (thanks for the last 15 or so years, Dave), the Royals are suddenly in position to contend not only for division titles, but for big name players as well. Hopefully the days where the biggest news of the off season is the signing of Darryl May are long gone. Names like Jose Guillen, Andrew Jones (God I hope not), and highly respected Japanese sensation Hiroki Kuroda. The addition of Trey Hillman, Japanese manager for the past few seasons, as the new manager of the 2008 Royals has already paid dividends as the Royals were able to lure established reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta from the depths of the far east. It is obvious that this Royals squad is headed in the right direction. That's about it for my welcome back to the Royals blog intro, so let's get in to the meat (preferably lamb chops) of today's discussion.

Let me preface this rant by acknowledging that what I'm about to reveal is 100% speculation. Apparently, the demand for David Dejesus is extremely high right now. Because all of the free-agent high-level center fielders are quite pricey, double D has become somewhat of a hot topic as the off-season moves progress. From what I have heard, Dayton Moore has labeled Dave as one of our "young core position players" along with Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, and John Buck (sorry TPJ, maybe next time), he has openly said that Dejesus is not available. Now, hopefully this is simply a tactic in luring higher quality players (established and prospects) from other organizations. If not, this statement just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. While the lord of the KC outfield has been a reasonably effective player for the past 2 plus seasons, he is certainly expendable. Joey Gathright showed us last season that he has the ability to continue to grow and fill into the potential that the D-Rays saw when he was drafted. He showed improved defense, improved bunting/situational hitting skills, and improved base-running. Joey's rob jobs in back to back nights of what appeared to be Aaron Hill homers were easily the defensive plays of the year (the guy can jump over a damn car, for cryin' out loud!). Both Gathright and Dejesus do not have a spot on this roster. At this point in time, my preference would be the kangaroo kid. (Too obscure??? Look it up. I'm pretty proud of that nick name. not only does it fit his name, but also his leaping abilities! Yay, me!) I have no reason to doubt Dayton Moore at this point in time in his tenure as the Royals General Manager, but I pray that he is working on shopping one of these guys. It appears as if it will take quite a bit for Jose Guillen to not be a part of the '08 outfield, so maximizing value for one of these players is imperative.

Today's Lesson: Never bet more than $10 on a high jump contest with a kangaroo.