Wednesday, September 5, 2007

2007 Season Evaluations: Part One

One of my offseason priorities is to begin to update this blog daily, and in turn stop making so many negative-minded posts. In this post, I will give a brief report card on how each of our Major League players performed in the 2007 season, how they can improve for next year and why they should pat themself on the back for their accomplishments this season. Keep in mind that most of these observations are strictly qualitative.

I will first evaluate our offensive producers and then move forth to pitchers in the next segment. The statistics are updated through Tuesday, September 4.

C - John Buck

Season Statistics: .231/.322/.461, 17 HR, 45 RBI, 295 AB, 94 G, 32 BB, 72 K
Strengths: Raw power, ability to call game/block baseball
Weaknesses: Hitting breaking pitches, getting on base consistently
- Developed into a legitimate power threat at a position typically lacking in that department
- Must improve situational hitting - hitting with runners on base
'08 Status: Arb. eligible: Will likely return as everyday catcher. Not everyday by Buddy Bell's definition, but everyday by standard definition - 80% of playing time. His power threat from the #7 slot in the order will be a Royal asset for the next three seasons. Given his less-than-stellar other peripherals, the Royals might be able to retain him at a reasonable price past 2010 should he continue to produce at this level.

C - Jason LaRue
Season Statistics: .145/.241/.276, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 152 AB, 57 G, 16 BB, 59 K
Strengths: Occasional power, ability to call game
Weaknesses: Everything else
- LaRue clearly failed in virtually aspect of the game in 2007, and was played about 40% more often than a sub-.200 hitting backup catcher should have been. His 1-for-48 stretch should be utterly forgettable. He will have major difficulty retaining a Major League position in 2008. However, backup catchers are a dime and dozen, and at times (see: Sal Fasano) seem to emerge from out of nowhere. He'll still latch onto a team for a MiLB contract by next spring. Furthermore, his CS% and Range Factor were less than stellar.
'08 Status: Clearly, the Royals should, and likely will not retain LaRue for next season. They're better off forgetting about LaRue's putrid performance and seeking backup help elsewhere - anywhere. Enough said.

1B - Ross Gload
Season Statistics:
.300/.319/.464, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 267 AB, 81 G, 10 BB, 33 K
Strengths: Defensive ability at first base, decent power
Weaknesses: Plate discipline, lack of power at a key power position
- Gload provided a reliable power source many fans didn't expect in the second half. However, the fact that he is a most-time first baseman and part-time corner outfielder suggests that the power, even the .464 SLG and 17 doubles in limited duty, simply aren't enough to be a true value.
- His lack of plate discipline was a liability to the ultra-aggressive Royals in 2007, as suggested by his mere 10 walks, and his inability to get on base. His OPS+ simply suggests that he's a below average first baseman. His semi-reliable power doesn't mandate his weaknesses, especially at his position.
'08 Status: Gload was clearly overexposed by Buddy Bell in 2008. However, Gload could provide as a key cog for any team off the bench and perhaps as a part-time corner outfielder where young prospects aren't exactly ready to emerge. For the Royals, he would probably be most valuable off the bench. He will be nearly 32 on Opening Day 2008, and thus is clearly in his decline phase.

1B - Ryan Shealy
Season Statistics:
A relatively high-upside and cheap risk for a last-place, young player-hungry team at first base.
Weaknesses: Serious lack of power for a first baseman, injuries, subpar fielding
'08 Status: Will likely only return as a backup option or a full-time Omaha first baseman as insurance in case our future first baseman falters. Due to his Mark Quinn-like regression in 2007, caused mostly by a nagging hamstring injury, he's at a crossroads in his career. He will be 28 on Opening Day. The Royals probably won't risk attempting to use him again as first baseman. Even if he does emerge healthy, will he be a productive source? All signs point to "no". The Royals are better off seeking help elsewhere, and letting the Affeldt/Bautista-for-Shealy/Dohmann trade of '06 subside.

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