Thursday, November 12, 2009
Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.
Today's team AL is the Kansas City Royals and our guest is Wally Fish from the Royals Blog, Kings of Kaufman.
1. A few years back the Royals had the free agent signings of Gil Meche and Jose Guillen, do you expect them to be players this offseason? If so, whom will they likely go after?
The Royals will be active in the trade market, and perhaps some minor free agents, but I think a FA signing along the lines of Gil Meche ('06) or Jose Guillen ('07) is out of the question. Even signing someone along the lines of Kyle Farnsworth ('08) seems unlikely. Dayton Moore was recently quoted as saying “Our free-agent pursuit will not be as aggressive as in the past. We’re going to focus on trades first. We’re going to exhaust every opportunity to make trades." Things line up for Dayton to be very active next offseason when around $25 million of the teams payroll will be freed up though some of that figures to be heading Billy Butler's way in some fashion.
2. Greinke is a beast, but if its just Greinke the Royals aren't going anywhere. So whom if anyone will be able to step up in the next few seasons and be Zack's sidekick.
The Royals have a bunch of stud young arms in the low levels of the minors including LHP-Danny Duffy, LHP-Mike Montgomery, LHP-John Lamb, RHP-Tim Melville, and RHP-Tyler Sample to name a few. Of that group, Duffy and Montgomery should open 2010 in Double-A and both have a good chance of reaching the Royals rotation in 2011 or 2012. The most immediate help is in the form of, 2009 1st round pick, RHP-Aaron Crow. He will start 2010 in the minors, but the expectation is that he will move quickly. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pitching in Kansas City by the middle of the 2011 season if not by the end of next year, but since he just made his professional debut in the AFL there are a lot of unknowns surrounding him right now. Gil Meche is still under contract for 2010 and 2011 is a competent #2 starter if he's fully healthy. Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies have the stuff and ability to be excellent middle of the rotation guys, but the results and consistency just haven't been there. I'd put my money on Mike Montgomery being the guy that emerges as Zack's sidekick and a legit #2 starter. Zack is signed through 2012, so unless the team can sign him to another extension the window to pair Greinke with one or more of the up and coming prospects is limited to the final year of his deal.
3. Billy Butler hit 21 home runs this season. Do you think he can become a 30+ home run hitter or do you feel he's more of a Nick Johnson type, .300 average 20 home runs and slow as hell.
Heading into the 2007 season, Baseball America tabbed Butler as the player in the organization with the most raw power and considered his swing to have no weakness. He's just 23 years old and put up some serious numbers, 0.314/.385/.540, in the 2nd half of the 2009 season. The list of guys who have hit 50+ doubles and 20+ HR before they turned 24 is very short and very prestigious; Grady Sizemore, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Hank Greenberg. By hitting 51 doubles and 21 home runs this year, Billy joined that list. I fully expect Butler to top 30 home runs in 2010 and, if he stays healthy, he seems primed to go on a run of several 30+ seasons. He's already blown past Nick Johnson, who incidentally has never hit better than 0.291 in a season.
4. Why did your GM Dayton Moore trade Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs? Will he make another baffling deal this offseason?
I wish I had a good answer for this one, but I don't. I suppose the thinking was that trading a middle reliever with a max effort delivery for a power hitter was a no brainer. Unfortunately Dayton Moore failed to take into account that Mike Jacobs is basically incapable of playing in the field, can't get on base, and isn't a legitimate power hitter. Even if Nunez blows out his arm tomorrow, the Jacobs deal will go down as a "whoops" on Dayton's resume. Will he make another baffling deal this offseason? Well, after making the Crisp and Jacobs trades and signing Kyle Farnsworth to a ridiculous contract in the offseason, he proceeded to trade prospects for Yuniesky Betancourt weeks before the deadline. The Teahen trade this offseason already falls into the category of baffling, though not on the scale of the Jacobs trade, and I am sure there are more to come. He has a knack for making baffling moves, and I'm pretty convinced that he can't help himself.
5. Will the kids cereal be back in centerfield this year? Or will Coco be finding a new home?
The Royals bought out his option so he is currently a free agent, but I'm sure Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman want to bring him back at a reduced rate. Thanks to the relatively weak CF free agent class, I don't think that will happen. He will likely get a better offer to play elsewhere and the Royals will be better off because of it. In this case, the market should save Dayton Moore from himself. This season should be an evaluation year for the Royals so I'd much rather see a younger, cheaper, and unproven option roaming CF even if it is someone like Mitch Maier.
6. The Royals dealt Teahen for Fields and Getz last week, what are your thoughts on the move? Will either get major playing time?
I wrote a lengthy post about it when it happened, but in a nutshell it seemed like an odd deal but I was mostly okay with it. Dayton acquired 2 guys that play positions that did not appear to be areas of great need for the team, and let's be honest, the Royals have a lot of holes to fill. I was okay with the acquisition of Chris Getz because he has good on-base skills, instincts, and at his worst is a slight defensive improvement at 2B. His presence should allow Alberto Callaspo to be the team's primary DH which further improves the team. Still, the loss of Teahen is going to hurt this team. He was a versatile player who was a team leader, the team's union representative, and an all around good guy. The real puzzling part of the trade, for me, was the acquisition of Josh Fields who doesn't seem to fit this roster in any way with the presence of Alex Gordon at 3B, David DeJesus in LF, and better options at DH.
I expect that Getz will be the primary 2B for the entirety of the 2010 season and that Fields will wind up in AAA. I see potential in Getz, but Fields has no redeemable qualities outside the fact that he hit 23 home runs in a ballpark that caters to hitting home runs. The rest of his numbers and skill set are very underwhelming.
7. You've gassed your owner and convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents are you bringing to Kauffman Stadium?
The top guy I am going after is Chone Figgins because he brings excellent defense, speed, baserunning, and the ability to get on-base at near a 0.400 clip. He's also the type of player who could thrive in the offensive environment of Kauffman Stadium which caters to gap hitters with speed. His presence would cause the Royals to relocate Alex Gordon, perhaps to 1B, but that is more than a fair tradeoff as far as I'm concerned. The second guy would be John Lackey. As discussed above, Zack Greinke needs a sidekick, and adding Lackey as the number two starter would allow Meche to slide down to 3. Signing Lackey would thus give the Royals one of the best rotations, 1-3, in all of baseball. The third guy I'm bringing in is Mike Cameron to patrol CF and pop the occasional HR. As bad as the Royals have been, adding Figgins, Lackey, and Cameron to the existing mix of Greinke, Meche, Soria, Butler, DeJesus, Callaspo, Gordon and Getz make them contenders is a real hurry. The lineup would still lack power outside of Butler, and the bullpen would still be real iffy outside of Soria, but I'll take my chances in the AL Central with that roster.
8. Which Royals prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
This question assumes two things. First, that they Royals have several prospects ready to reach the majors to choose from, and second, that they would actually give those players some significant playing time. That said, RHP-Carlos Rosa deserves to be in the bullpen the entire season, and 1B/DH-Kila Ka'aihue deserves an extended shot in the majors as well. The team needs to find out about both of these guys and evaluate them against major league competition. Letting them rot in Triple-A for another season is inexcusable. Among the prospects that will spend 2010 in the minors, I am looking forward to see if Eric Hosmer can bounce back from a disappointing season that ended with lasik surgery to correct a stigmatism.
9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Royals do you part way with?
Dayton Moore has built up a nice stockpile of guys that need to be cut; Jose Guillen ($12 million), Kyle Farnsworth ($4.5 million), Yuniesky Betancourt ($3 million), and Willie Bloomquist ($1.7 million). It's likely to happen anyway but, I'd also non-tender Mike Jacobs and John Buck.
10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Royals will make the playoffs in _______.
With some shrewd trades and signings this offseason and next, the Royals can be competitive in 2011 as the next wave of talent starts pushing for ML playing time. 2012 would be the earliest I can see them reaching the playoffs and only if some combination of players from the group of; Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery, Tim Melville, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, David Lough, Wil Myers, and Jeff Bianchi emerge to join Greinke, Soria, Butler and whoever else Dayton Moore can acquire/sign before the start of that season.