Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Q&A with Get Up and Go Sports

I recently completed a miniature Q&A session with Tim, the administrator of Get Up & Go Sports. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. There is some quality MLBlog info over there, and some interesting polls.

True or False: The Royals win more than 75 games in 2008?

False, because I feel they will finish with exactly 75 wins! They've improved their hitting, starting pitching, defense, and bullpen. Their pythagorean W-L record was 74-88 last season, and I feel that because our division is no stronger (or weaker) than it was one year ago, our record will improve slightly. Our offense underachieved considerably last season, but certain pitchers - specifically, Gil Meche and Brian Bannister - overachieved. I'm still not ready to call us a league-average offense, nor am I ready to deem former first-round draft selections Billy Butler and Alex Gordon legitimate power-hitting threats. I'll predict a 75-win finish for our Boys in Blue in 2008.

True or False: The Royals made no good deals during the off-season?

False. On the contrary, at least Moore made no foolish signings this offseason. The Royals paid market-value (in the form of a 3-year/$36MM contract) to left-fielder Jose Guillen, who provides much-needed power from the heart of a lineup that finished 13th out of 14 teams in runs scored last season. Handing out a one-year/$3MM contract to starting pitcher Brett Tomko and a one-year/$2MM contract (with an option) to backup catcher Miguel Olivo is questionable, because neither of those two will likely help our ballclub above what a league-minimum earning replacement player could help, but the signing of Ron Mahay adds always necessary pitching depth (out of the bullpen). We had a surplus of #4/#5 caliber young pitchers, and we traded one (Billy Buckner) for a solid, contact-hitting second baseman in Alberto Callaspo. Because we had literally no projected starting second baseman waiting in the organization, I feel Moore made a shrewd, albeit non headline-grabbing move. I feel Moore's best acquisitions overall may come in the form of a shrewd, under the radar signing such as Chin-hui Tsao.

Best deal the Royals made during the off-season?

Deem me a homer, but signing Jose Guillen was an important and necessary step to the recovery of a once-subpar offense. Like it or not, $12MM per season, this day in age, is chump change for a veteran #5 hitter like Jose Guillen.

Worst deal the Royals made during the off-season?

Signing Brett Tomko to a one-year/$3MM contract. Such a move speaks volumes to the fact that Moore made very few "foolish" signings this offseason, as this is essentially a small-risk, one-year contract. Despite the organization's reassurance that Major League and Minor League budgets are held separate, I can't help but feel this money could be better allocated toward the first-year amateur player draft. Baseball Prospectus' annual player projection system PECOTA pegs Tomko with an EqERA of 4.84 in a pitchers' park. Such an ERA probably translates to a 5.3 ERA in a moderate hitters' park like Kauffman Stadium. Moreover, there's not much to get excited about a 35-year old righty with a 4.62 career ERA, and steadily increasing ERA's of 4.04, 4.48, 4.73, and 5.55 the last four years, respectively. With those results, he's on a one-way track to baseball oblivion.

Player your looking forward to seeing play the most?

Unquestionably, Zack Greinke. After some inconsistency in the starting rotation, he was dominant in a 1970's-style relief role from May through August, posting a 3.54 ERA and striking out 55 men in 53 innings. Often times, Greinke dialed his fastball up to 98 and 99, simply blowing away hitters. Because of his overwhelming success in the 'pen, G.M. Dayton Moore and pitching coach Bob McClure eased Greinke back into a full-fledged starting role late last season, and Greinke flourished, giving up only seven runs in his next seven games.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Royals Confidence Index

I initially posted this as a response over at Royals Review, but I'll post it here as well. This was originally created by another poster, but how would you rank our team based on these regards?

Rank the below questions on a scale of 1-10. (1 being 'no' and 10 being 'yes', and 2-9 being all degrees in-between).

1. How do you feel about the 2008 Royals team overall?
2. How do you feel about the 2008 Royals pitching?
3. How do you feel about the 2008 Royals hitting?
4. How do you feel about the 2008 Royals defense?
5. How do you feel about Dayton Moore?
6. How do you feel about Trey Hillman?
7. How do you feel about the Royals minor league system?
8. How do you feel about the Royals future?

Here are my answers:

How do you feel about the 2008 Royals team overall?

7.5. I'm cautiously optimistic overall, and think we have a decent chance at improving on our 74-88 pythag. from last year. I believe we have depth in some respects and definitely have upside; but players like Pena and (to a lesser extent) Olivo take away from that a bit. Minor question marks include Nick Swartz and hitting coach Mike Barnett. I wish we would have committed at least $5MM more in payroll, and landed a high-profile Free Agent instead of players like Tomko, Olivo, and the flurry of fringe Major Leaguers.

How do you feel about the 2008 Royals pitching?

8. Despite my discontent with the Tomko signing, I'm not really concerned. We have enough candidates for the 4/5 slots that struggles in those spots become less of a concern. The bullpen matches up very well with virtually every bullpen in baseball. I generally trust Peralta, Gobble, Mahay, et al. to hold the lead. A lot of depth there. Starting pitching talent has improved considerably since last year. Compare starting fives. We need someone unexpected (Davies?) to emerge in a Minor way in order for us to finish 6th or 5th in American League ERA.

How do you feel about the 2008 Royals hitting?

5. The most questionable aspect of the team, in my opinion. I have not been impressed with Dayton Moore's easy access to improvement this offseason (what with our $20+MM to spend). Olivo is an OBP-black hole, another black hole in Pena still occupies that SS role, Ross Gload is the projected everyday first baseman, if Shealy performs in Spring Training, Huber will net us nothing in return when he leaves K.C., and we still have a lack of power overall. Remember that most of our productive position players Moore has inherited! I think if many Royals fans step outside the box a bit, we find that Moore hasn't improved our offense in a tangible way since Baird left. Moore's O-building is questionable, but I'm still (as always) holding out hope that 7 or 8 players improve significantly from '07 and 5 or 6 more beat their projections.

How do you feel about the 2008 Royals defense?

8.5. Defense is important, but the difference between great and poor defenses isn't as great as the difference between great and poor offenses or pitching. Nonetheless, here's how I rank each of our players on a 1-5 scale (3 being average)

C - Buck (3)
1B - Gload/Shealy (3.5)
2B - Grudz (4.5)
SS - Pena (4.5)
3B - Gordon (4.5)
LF - Teahen (3.5)
CF - DeJesus (3.5)
RF - Guillen (4)

The makings of an above average defense. I really like the range on the left side to counter for our average range on the right side. We have a couple strong arms in the outfield to compensate for the average to slightly below average arm in DeJesus. I really see no defensive liabilities. We have three potential gold glovers on our team as well, in Pena, Gordon, and Grudz.

How do you feel about Dayton Moore?

7. I think he has demonstrated he's at least a league average GM. In my humble opinion, he's an above average GM. He has not made any foolish signings, thus far. The 2007 draft, in my opinion, was excellent. However, I worry about our offensive philosophy; more specifically, OBP (plate discipline) and utilizing our speed potential in guys like DeJesus and Gathright. He has an unquestionably keen eye for pitching talent, and I love our direction on that front (starting and bullpen). Defense is good. Hitting has been a letdown, as explained above.

How do you feel about Trey Hillman?

7.5. Since being introduced as manager, Hillman has said a lot. Much of it I heartily applaud, and some of it I disagree with. I like that he's letting Buck implement his leg kick. I agree with NYRoyal that I'm a bit concerned - not worried, but concerned - at his "small ball" comments, and also his lineup proposals.

How do you feel about the Royals minor league system?

6. That score is inflated because I'm really optimistic that we can improve our system in this coming draft. I have faith in our organizational management and actual system, even if that system is deprived, somewhat, of talent in early 2008. Undoubtedly, we have a good amount of pitching prospects - Rosa, Pimentel, Johnson, Wood, Cortes, Hochevar, Duffy, Mitchell, De La Cruz, to name a select few. Offensive prospects? Helloooooooo???!!!!

How do you feel about the Royals future?

7.5. Score deflated because I feel .500 is attainable, but is .550+, with our projected payroll? I'm skeptical, at this point. If we finish with 78 or more wins in 2008 (not likely, but attainable), this would probably become an 8 or an 8.5. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Royals Insider: Gil Meche

After a three-week trek along the Sahara desert, Royals Insider, tainted, grey beard and all, emerges from the ashes and focuses on starting rotation centerpiece Gil Meche, or GilgaMeche, as we Royals fans affectionately deem him.

The $55 million man.

In eleven seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization, Meche followed a career path of a pitcher long on promise and potential, but short on results. Oh, sure, he combined for a respectable 100 ERA+ throughout his entire Emerald City tenure, but posted somewhat underwhelming ERA's of 4.59, 5.01, 5.09, and 4.48 in his final four years in the uniform. Meche possessed a 92-94mph fastball and a 12-6 curveball, but could never coax his potential as a frontline ('frontline', in this case meaning #1 or #2 starting pitcher) starter into fruition. He was a fine #3/#4 pitcher, but General Manager Bill Bavasi and the Mariners front office knew that, by the 2006-07 offseason, an offseason whose Free Agent market was loaded with mediocre to slightly above average starting pitching and many teams desperate for arms, he would command a multi-year contract. After many years of striving to force Meche's hand as a frontline, by then the Mariners concluded his production superceded his actual rotation value.

Thus, like mother eagles soaring over their young, in flew General Manager Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals scouting crew.

Moore felt Meche possessed the makeup of a bonafide ace starting pitcher. If Meche could coax an otherwise terrific curveball and well above average fastball at the ripe age of 28, he could succeed as a legitimate frontline starting pitcher for many years. On December 7, 2006, the Royals signed Gil Meche to a five-year, $55 million contract. Royals fans had grown accustomed to this style of offering, as franchise face and perennial captain and D.L. All-Star Mike Sweeney had, four years prior, been rewarded with 5/$55. The specifics of Meche's contract would be as follows:


5 Years / $55 MM

2007: $7MM

2008: $11MM

2009: $11MM

2010: $12MM

2011: $12MM

Signing Bonus: $2MM*

Award Bonuses: $0.1M for WS MVP, $0.1M for MVP ($50,000 for 2nd-5th), $0.1M for Cy Young ($50,000 for 2nd-5th), $50,000 for Gold Glove, LCS MVP or All Star selection

*No Trade Clause

Meche had bypassed similar offers from the Chicago Cubs and the Toronto Blue Jays, and ultimately decided the offer that contained that fifth season, the offer submitted by the Kansas City Royals. That the signing generated enormous controversy is a slight understatement. The signing even triggered spirited banter between two front offices.

After the Royals landed free-agent Gil Meche to a five-year, $55 million
deal, Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi questioned Meche’s competitiveness. “When a guy
talks about coming to our place where he has a chance to win and compete against
the Yankees and the Red Sox,” Ricciardi told USA Today, “and then he goes to a
place like Kansas City, that’s an eye-opener.”

Royals manager Buddy Bell, among others in Kansas City, took offence.

“(Ricciardi) is an interesting guy for all that he’s done in the game,”
Bell told the Kansas City Star. “He’s a little guy with a big mouth and all he
does is whine. And you can write that. That’s the kind of crap in this game that
drives me crazy. He knows nothing about our situation. You’ve got to be kidding
me. Every time I hear this guy talk, all he’s doing is whining.”

In a chatlog, Baseball Prospectus Managing Partner Nate Silver deemed the contract a risk, calling the contract a potential albatross with a possible reward if Meche stays healthy and reasonably effective. In addition, both analyst Jon Heyman and writer Rob Neyer strongly disagreed with Dayton Moore's decision to sign Gil.

I think we may very well look back at this move as the defining moment of
Dayton's era. It could be the day we rue as when we trapped ourself into an
awful contract because we were desperate. Or it could be the bold stroke that
pushes the Royals out of being known as a punching bag in baseball--the day the
Royals became winners again. Today we are left to wonder and hope. And right now
hope seems worth $55 million.

Indeed, Meche had the security of a long-term contract and lots 'n' lotsa dough. However, he needed to prove committed to a) staying healthy throughout his entire tenure, b) improving any mechanical flaws that may have resulted in less-than-stellar ERA+'s in Seattle, and c) simply proving the doubters false, which in turn is embedded in a) and b).

What could Royals fans - those easily the most knowledgable and informed about the small-market, midwestern team - possibly conclude about an acquisition of this enormity? No single definite conclusion arose; however, multiple analyses did. Some Royals fans deemed Moore foolish for making such a high-priced acquisition when it was obvious that our measures should have gone far beyond that of one, two, or even three 'marginal' players. Some Royals fans were finally glad Glass had opened the pursestrings and committed to a Major League budget in a Major League market. Many Royals fans remained cautiously optimistic, but in the back of their minds feared that Gil Meche would become the could'a been, albatross bust that so many recent acquisitions had in recent time. As a Royals fan, I affectionately call the contract exactly that. "The Contract". 5/$55MM for #55. Nevertheless, Dayton Moore was convinced that he had found our much-needed starting pitching ace.

We were proud to be a part of the process and delighted that Gil Meche made the
decision to join the Royals.....He is an impact pitching talent who fits in with
our plan for long term success. At 28, he is entering the prime of his career.

Moore instilled trust in pitching coach Bob McClure to tweak his delivery to maximize his potential. In a 40-pitch batting practice session early in the following Spring Training, McClure noticed a mechanical flaw in Meche's delivery. Meche countered that he felt much better than he felt before.

Despite experiencing a mild right hamstring strain in April and tightness in his lower back in June, Meche started 34 games for the Royals, indeed proving them haters wrong by compiling well above average results. Below are his final numbers.


GS/G: 34

ERA: 3.67

ERA+: 128

IP: 216.0

BB/9: 2.58

K/9: 6.50

H/9: 8.82

BAA: .263

WHIP: 1.30

VORP: 47.1

Attached are statistics borrowed from Gil Meche's Player Card, courteously posted - along with literally hundreds of other pitchers - over at From Small Ball To The Long Ball. Note that I did not create or assist in forming this data.

Movement in 'x' = Lateral movement

Movement in 'z' = Horizontal movement



Percent Thrown: 46.7

Percent Vs. RHB: 44.65

Percent Vs. LHB: 48.34

Movement in x (in.): -5.2

Movement in z (in.): 10.81

Initial Speed (MPH): 92.91


Percent Thrown: 22.25

Percent Vs. RHB: 19.53

Percent Vs. LHB: 24.41

Movement in x (in.): 3.71

Movement in z (in.): -7.52

Initial Speed (MPH): 77.95


Percent Thrown: 16.35

Percent Vs. RHB: 28.53

Percent Vs. LHB: 6.66

Movement in x (in.): 1.23

Movement in z (in.): 5.07

Initial Speed (MPH): 87.91


Percent Thrown: 14.7

Percent Vs. RHB: 7.29

Percent Vs. LHB: 20.59

Movement in x (in.): -8.45

Movement in z (in.): 7.8

Initial Speed (MPH): 83.26

Top Pitcher Comparisons (limited to select names):

Kyle Lohse: 97.73
Javier Vazquez: 97.46
Boof Bonser: 97.45
Brian Bannister: 97.19
Despite allowing a modest 22 home runs and allowing opponents to score an underwhelming .298 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) against him, Meche succeeded as a frontline starting pitcher, posting 23 quality starts and pitching at least seven innings fourteen times.Is this reason to believe Meche can continue posting excellent results in the remaining four years of his contract?
For the following two or three offseasons, and given the publicity the contract received, that question will probably cross the minds of Royals fans casual and dedicated. Warning signs include that relatively high BABIP, high pitch counts, and the HR/9.
However, shaving almost 200 runs allowed off the pitching staff from 2006 to 2007, and acquiring such young potentially great pitchers such as Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria, Moore has himself proven a keen eye toward acquiring pitching talent via all routes, high profile Free Agent and scrapheap alike. If Meche can continue mixing a 12-6 curveball with his 92-94mph. fastball with movement, he can succeed with results similar to 2007.
Indeed, Gil Meche was a significant factor in the Royals finishing 7th out of 14 American League teams in ERA last season.
Below are my predictions for Gil Meche in 2008.
GS/G: 31/31
W-L: 13-9
ERA: 4.10
IP: 187.2
BB: 71
BB/9: 3.40
K: 143
K/9: 6.86
H: 173
H/9: 8.30
BAA: .271
HR: 20
WHIP: 1.30
ERA+: 118
- Finally implemented fantastic curveball successfully in 2007.
- Posted BB/9, K/9, and WHIP well above his career average.
- Needs to improve on his somewhat excessive pitch counts from 2007.
- Has mild propensity to allow home runs and doubles with bases empty.
On-Field Performance:
Improves upon 2007: 15%
Repeats 2007 form (3.5-4.0 ERA): 30%
Slight regression from 2007: 35%
Dramatic regression from 2007: 20%
Remains in Kansas City all season: 100%
Injury contingency:
Misses 3 or more starts: 25%
In conclusion, I feel Meche is due to regress slightly from his 2007, mostly due to the fact that I feel he was slightly lucky that year in terms of BABIP and WHIP. However, I feel McClure's tutelage has proven to be respectable, and I feel he can continue to help Meche continue to beat his projections in the coming four seasons. I feel Meche's strikeout rate will likely improve as he matures enough to finish those many 3-2 counts. His walk rate will likely increase by a bit and his home-run rate will decrease ever so slightly. However, he will surrender more singles and doubles than he did last year, resulting in slightly more runs. Again, some of my predictions aren't based entirely on predictions; rather, I have a hunch he will regress slightly, but not as slightly as other prediction systems might suggest. As a comparison, here are several more major systems' projection:
PECOTA: 4.55 ERA, 21.4 VORP, 4.0 WARP
ZiPS: 4.55 ERA, 188 IP, 126 K, 66 BB
CHONE: 4.41 ERA, 196 IP, 137 K, 71 BB
Marcel: 4.26 ERA, 186 IP, 139 K, 70 BB
How do you feel Gil Meche fare in Contract Year #2, 2008?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Organizational Depth Chart

Recently, I posted my organizational depth chart over at Royals Review. These predictions are not necessarily complete 25-man rosters; some of them go over the limit by a bit.

Nonetheless, here it is.....

*Note* I have changed this a bit since Jan. 30.

Kansas City Royals:

C - John Buck
1B - Justin Huber (No options remain)
2B - Mark Grudzielanek
3B - Alex Gordon
SS - Tony Pena (No options remain)
LF - Mark Teahen
CF - David DeJesus
*RF - Jose Guillen (15-day suspension; no counted roster slot)
DH - Billy Butler

*Bench - Miguel Olivo (C) (5-game suspension; counted roster slot)
Bench - Ross Gload (1B, LF, RF)
Bench - Alberto Callaspo (2B, OF, SS) (No options remain)
Bench - Esteban German (2B, 3B, SS)
Bench - Joey Gathright (OF) (No options remain)
Bench - Shane Costa (OF) (No options remain)

SP#1 - Gil Meche
SP#2 - Brian Bannister
SP#3 - Zack Greinke
SP#4 - Brett Tomko
SP#5 - John Bale

RP - Luke Hudson (No options remain)
RP - Jorge De La Rosa (No options remain)
RP - Luke Hochevar
RP - Leo Nunez (No options remain)
RP - Joel Peralta
RP - Jimmy Gobble
RP - Ron Mahay
RP - Yazuhiko Yabuta
RP - Joakim Soria

29 players are on this list! Who are the odd men out?

(31 players)

C - Matt Tupman
1B - Ryan Shealy (1 option left; listed here temporarily)
2B - Jason Smith
3B - Mike Aviles
SS - Angel Sanchez
LF - Chris Lubanski
CF - Mitch Maier
RF - Damon Hollins
EX - Mike Stodolka

Bench - Ken Huckaby (C)
Bench - Angel Berroa (2B, SS, 3B)
Bench - Richard Lewis (2B, 3B)
Bench - Brian Buchanan (LF, RF)
Bench - Adam Greenberg (LF, RF)

SP#1 - Hideo Nomo
SP#2 - Brandon Duckworth
SP#3 - Mike Maroth
SP#4 - Brian Lawrence
SP#5 - Kyle Davies (1 option left)
SP#6 - Ben Hendrickson
SP#7 - Matt Wright
SP#8 - Tyler Lumsden

RP - Matt Peterson
RP - John Foster
RP - Roberto Giron
RP - Chin-hui Tsao
RP - Nate Hoelscher
RP - Dusty Hughes
RP - Jarod Plummer
RP - Roman Colon
RP - Neal Musser
RP - Ryan Braun

*Question marks?*: Derek Wathan, Greg Atencio, Jason Cromer, Thad Markray, Paul Mildren (was he released?)

(28 players - one stacked rotation)

C - Kiel Thibault
1B - Kila Kaaihue
2B - Marc Maddox
3B - Mario Lisson
SS - Chris McConnell
LF - Wilver Perez
CF - Jose Duarte
RF - Brian McFall
EX - Brad McCann

Bench - Adam Donachie (C)
Bench - Damaso Espino (C)
Bench - Irving Falu (2B, SS, 3B)
Bench - Valentino Arce (2B, SS, 3B)
Bench - Mike Thompson (3B)
Bench - Geraldo Valentin (OF)

SP#1 - Rowdy Hardy
SP#2 - Dan Cortes
SP#3 - Blake Johnson
SP#4 - Julio Pimentel
SP#5 - Carlos Rosa

RP - Rayner Oliveros
RP - Mike Connolly
RP - Julio De La Cruz
RP - Arthur Santos
RP - Russ Haltiwanger
RP - Gilbert De La Vara
RP - Ray Liotta (Injured rehab)
RP - Justin Barnes
RP - Tim Hamulack

*Question marks*: Mike Gaffney, David Bernat

(29 players)

C - Jeffrey Howell
1B - Clint Robinson
2B - Luany Sanchez
3B - Jeff Nettles
SS - Jeff Bianchi
LF - Joe Dickerson
CF - Derrick Robinson
RF - Jamar Walton
EX - Luis Castillo

Bench - Brady Everett (C)
Bench - Cody Clark (C)
Bench - Miguel Vega (1B, OF)
Bench - Brett Bigler (OF)
Bench - Ovandy Suero (OF)

SP#1 - Blake Wood
SP#2 - Jason Godin
SP#3 - Harold Mozingo
SP#4 - Matt Campbell
SP#5 - Chris Nicoll
SP#6 - Luis Cota (Injured rehab?)

RP - Aaron Hartsock
RP - Tyler Chambliss
RP - Mario Santiago
RP - Everett Teaford
RP - Angelo Morales
RP - Chris Hayes
RP - David Humen

*Question marks:* Kyle Crist, Yovany D'Amico, Patrick Green, Michael Penn, Cody Clark, Jeremy Jirschele, Miguel Vega, Jeremy Cleveland

Lists above subject to edit! Please post your input below!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

TRT: 2008 Royals Projections

I'm going to assemble my projections for our 2008 Kansas City Royals, based on the projections given for each player based on Royals Insider articles.

Several factors went into my projections for the 2008 season - age, three-year trends, and (sometimes) my own optimistic and pessimistic feelings. I tried to keep the last factor to a minimum. Attached will be several main (most important) offensive numbers for each player.

The following will be based on OPS+ and ERA+ (excluding the small sample sizes posted by September call-ups and players getting cups of coffee here in Kansas City).

100 or more PA's
Alex Gordon: .276/.340/.486 (.826), 25 HR, 71 RBI, 12 SB
Mark Teahen: .306/.378/.444 (.822), 11 HR, 67 RBI, 13 SB
Billy Butler: .283/.356/.459 (.815), 17 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB
Jose Guillen: .283/.349/.462 (.811), 21 HR, 85 RBI, 3 SB
Alberto Callaspo: .307/.363/.435 (.798), 10 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB
David DeJesus: .277/.358/.416 (.774), 6 HR, 51 RBI, 11 SB
John Buck: .235/.318/.452 (.770), 18 HR, 55 RBI, 0 SB
Esteban German: .292/.380/.387 (.767), 2 HR, 31 RBI, 9 SB
Justin Huber: .260/.327/.435 (.762), 5 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB, 44 G
Miguel Olivo: .251/.299/.451 (.750), 6 HR, 29 RBI, 0 SB
Ross Gload: .281/.317/.405 (.722), 6 HR, 43 RBI, 2 SB
Mark Grudzielanek: .274/.319/.390 (.709), 3 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB
Ryan Shealy: .252/.310/.399 (.709), 4 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB
Joey Gathright: .267/.343/.318 (.661), 0 HR, 21 RBI, 15 SB
Tony Pena: .267/.300/.355 (.655), 1 HR, 33 RBI, 6 SB

Small-sample size alert!
Chris Lubanski: .271/.338/.500 (.838), 2 HR, 8 RBI, 0 SB, 14 G
Mike Stodolka: .241/.322/.486 (.808), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 7 G
Angel Sanchez: .230/.308/.420 (.728), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 4 G
Mike Aviles: .283/.324/.390 (.714), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 2 G
Mitch Maier: .200/.275/.340 (.705), 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, 4 G
Shane Costa: .259/.314/.335 (.649), 0 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB
Matt Tupman: .233/.290/.316 (.606), 0 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, 21 G
Jason Smith: .216/.248/.350 (.598), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, 5 G

HR: 139
RBI: 699
Runs: 729 (we'll say)
SB: 81

Now the pitchers - listed in order of ERA+.

Zack Greinke: 15-8, 3.98 ERA, 207.0 IP, 47 BB, 177 K
Gil Meche: 13-9, 4.10 ERA, 187.2 IP, 71 BB, 143 K
Brian Bannister: 10-12, 4.24 ERA, 193.0 IP, 56 BB, 100 K
Luke Hochevar: 4-9, 4.77 ERA, 113.0 IP, 39 BB, 72 K
Kyle Davies: 3-6, 4.90 ERA, 96.1 IP, 44 BB, 64 K
Brett Tomko: 4-7, 5.12 ERA, 86.0 IP, 18 BB, 52 K
Luke Hudson: 1-2, 6.17 ERA, 26.0 IP, 11 BB, 14 K

Joakim Soria: 4-5, 3.49 ERA, 56.1 IP, 17 BB, 50 K
Leo Nunez: 6-3, 3.60 ERA, 72.0 IP, 34 BB, 60 K
Yazuhiko Yabuta: 3-4, 3.63 ERA, 60.0 IP, 25 BB, 65 K
Neal Musser: 0-2, 4.34 ERA, 29 IP, 14 BB, 18 K
Ron Mahay: 1-4, 4.63 ERA, 36.2 IP, 12 BB, 21 K
Jorge De La Rosa: 3-1, 4.75 ERA, 62.1 IP, 33 BB, 50 K
Jimmy Gobble: 4-2, 4.75 ERA, 54.2 IP, 25 BB, 43 K
John Bale: 2-4, 5.26 ERA, 32.0 IP, 13 BB, 25 K
Brandon Duckworth: 2-5, 5.91 ERA, 43 IP, 21 BB, 18 K

Small sample-size alert!
Roman Colon: 2-0, 5.14 ERA, 23 IP, 10 BB, 14 K
Ryan Braun: 0-0, 5.63 ERA, 17 IP, 8 BB, 10
Tyler Lumsden: 0-0, 6.10 ERA, 12.0 IP, 6 BB, 6 K
Matt Wright: 0-0, 7.62 ERA, 11 IP, 3 BB, 8 K
Mike Maroth: 0-2, 7.76 ERA, 23.0 IP, 9 BB, 8 K

W: 77
L: 85

Any thoughts?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Royals Nation

For those who haven't visited my Royals message board, please do so. It's called Royals Nation.

Many, many things Royals-related can be found at the forums, including:

- Trivia questions in its own forum
- Royals Nation questionnaire (75 questions)
- Royals Insider articles (also linked here at TRT)
- Links to Royals-related articles
- Links to other Royals blogs on the 'net, such as The Royal Tower, Royals Review, Royals Authority, and much more.
- Recurring Survivor contests
- Polling Booth
- Much more!

Check it out!

Royals Sign Greinke, Teahen

All the pending arbitration cases have now been avoided - the Royals have signed all twelve arbitration-eligible players for the 2008 season. The latest signees are outfielder Mark Teahen and pitcher Zack Greinke - two potential cornerstones of this rapidly rising franchise.

The amounts are as follows:

Teahen: $2,337,500 (Year 2/3)
Greinke: $1,400,000 (Year 1/3)

I'm ready for Spring Training.

Are you?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Royals Insider: Billy Butler

On the final segment of Royals Insider: The Hitters, we examine the life and times surrounding the man of (seemingly) a thousand nicknames: Billy Butler.

Often deemed such affectionate surnames as "Wild Bill", "Boom Boom", and "The Butler Did It!", Billy was a product of Wolfson High School. After posting phenomenal offensive numbers as a third baseman, Baseball America ranked him as a "can't miss" draft choice upon his pending graduation in 2004. The Royals selected the burly right-hander as the fourteenth overall selection in the first round of the amateur entry draft.

Attached is an excerpt from a Baseball America scouting report on Butler, circa 2005:

Butler should develop into an all-star caliber offensive player along the lines of Travis Hafner. He’ll begin 2006 in Double-A, and the only fear the Royals have is what to do if his bat becomes major league ready before his defense is passable. That could happen this year.

(Special courtesy: Royals Authority)

Below is (hopefully) the very beginning of an extensive trophy case:

2004 - Kansas City Royals Minor League Player of the Year, Pioneer League All-Star 3B, Rookie League All-Star 3B
2005 - California League Rookie of the Year, High A All-Star DH, Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star DH, Kansas City Royals Minor League Player of the Year, California League All-Star DH, California/Carolina League All-Star Game MVP
2006 - Texas League All-Star OF, Futures Game All-Star MVP, Double-A All-Star OF

In 2004, Billy thurst forth onto the scene, hitting a robust .373/.488/.596/1.084 line in 260 at-bats in Advanced Rookie league Idaho Falls. The following season, he would split two equally fantastic showings in A+ High Desert and AA Wichita, hitting a combined 30 home runs and 110 RBI's in 491 at-bats. He spent the entire 2006 season in AA Wichita, hitting .331/.388/.499/.887 in southern Kansas.

By mid-2005, he performed terribly at third base, committing an overwhelming 18 errors in 114 total chances before being converted to the outfield. His defense in left field was even worse, as he committed 6 errors combined in 60 games in High Desert and Wichita, combining for a fielding percentage barely above .920 at the position. It appeared crystal clear that Butler was destined for big things at Kauffman Stadium in the very near future. However, one problem presented itself, and that problem still exists to this day. Just where would Billy Butler play? DH-ing him would certainly be an option, but designated hitter prospects are difficult to come by. Simply put, Butler's range, instincts, and arm are terrible in the outfield and at third base, enough to safely deem that a project worth ceasing. By 2007, it became clear to the Royals that his days as an outfielder - in any organizational level - were gravely limited. General Manager Dayton Moore announced that Butler would be converted to first base. In 13 games in Kansas City, after posting an insanely low .84 range factor in 6 games in left field, he played mostly designated hitter, and committed 2 intermittent errors at first base.

What will 2008 hold for Billy Rae?

GS/G: 151/152
AB: 590
H: 168
AVG: .283
OBP: .356
SLG: .459
HR: 17
RBI: 71
R: 63
2B: 38
3B: 0
SB: 1
BB: 56
K: 100
CS: 0
OPS+: 110

On-field performance:
Regresses noticeably: 15%
Repeats 2007 form, except now over course of entire season: 60%
Enormous breakthrough (.290/.360/.540): 25%

Stays in K.C. all season: 85%
Gets sent back to minors: 15%

Injury contingency:
Injured for 15 days or more: 5%

Job allocation:
Starting DH: 85%
Starting first baseman: 15%

- Quick hands, terrific bat speed, and ability to make necessary time adjustments within strike zone
- Excellent contact and well above average power-hitter who uses all fields

- Comes packaged without a position. Has poor range, mobility, and instincts at all positions
- Speed is a non-factor in Butler's game

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Royals Insider: Shane Costa

Tonight on Royals Insider, Omaha/Kansas City Royals outfielder and journeyman-in-the-making Shane Jeremy Costa takes center stage on our spotlight.

The talented Cal-State Fullerton outfielder was selected by the Royals in the second round in the 2003 amateur entry draft. Throughout college, he was an exceptional hitter who had doubles power and good baserunning ability. The Royals hoped he could become that solid contact-hitting outfielder by the mid part of the decade. In his first half season in the organization, he hit .386/.44/.580 in 88 at-bats for the Rookie-ball Arizona League Royals. The following year, he emerged as that contact hitter, hitting .308 with 20 doubles and 7 home runs in 451 at-bats, as well as providing above average outfield range, in Wilmington. After hitting .282/.349/.448 in Wilmington, Costa received 16 at-bats in Omaha before making a late-season appearance with the parent ballclub. At age 23, Costa likely needed to wait at least one more season before being truly ready to hit Major League pitching.
The following season, Costa emerged as an offensive force in Omaha, and provided modest results in Kansas City, hitting a respectable but not overwhelming .274/.304/.405 in 237 at-bats spelling new acquisition Reggie Sanders and Joey Gathright for late season duties. In 2007, he found his niche in Omaha, once again (.326/.402/.502 in 233 at-bats) but struggled mightily in Kansas City, hitting to the tune of .223 and collecting only 7 extra base hits in 55 games.
Attached is a dated - but relevant - scouting report from The Sandlot Kid, author of his self-titled blog.
Muscular. ... Strong. ... Stiff. ... Top-heavy. ... Rigid movements. ...
Athletic legs. ... Nothing fluid. ... Mature build.

Imposing presence with the ability to really drive balls to center field
and right field. ... Below-average right fielder. ... Professional pitchers will
expose his lack of ability to handle and adjust to anything on the outer half of
the plate. ... Makeup is suspect after seeing him basically avoid and be avoided
all weekend.
- Possesses average speed, but makes the most of it with above average baserunning and stolen base ability.
- Has drilled AAA pitching to the tune of a .991 and .904 on-base plus slugging percentage in 434 at-bats combined the last two seasons.
- Excellent bat speed makes for good contact ability
- Weak outfield arm and bulk makes for below average range in the outfield
- Struggles with pitches on the outside half of the plate
- Lack of plate discipline
- Has demonstrated well below average power in Major Leagues
Here is my crystal ball for 2008:
GS/G: 23/45
AB: 104
H: 26
AVG: .259
OBP: .314
SLG: .335
2B: 6
3B: 1
HR: 0
RBI: 11
BB: 8
K: 19
SB: 2
CS: 0
OPS+: 71
On-field performance:
Improves from 2007: 50%
Remains the same: 40%
Declines from '07: 10%
Injury contingency:
Injured for 15 days or more: 15%
Chances traded/dropped before Opening Day: 10%
Chances traded/dropped before end of 2008: 35%
Job allocation:
Everyday or mostly everyday outfielder in K.C.: 5%
Alternates between AAA Omaha and KC Bench: 45%
Vast majority of 2008 in Omaha: 35%
Remains on K.C. bench entire year: 15%
At this point, many scouts consider Costa an above average Triple-A talent but a below average Major League talent. He possesses the makings of a classic AAAA ("Quadruple-A") player, an outfielder who will likely always rake those vulnerable Triple-A pitchers, but will provide no better than results typical from a fourth outfielder at the Major League level. From my perspective, it's somewhat frustrating that the Royals seem deliberately intent on not providing the emerging outfielder with an everyday opportunity, so that they can evaluate talent (while conforming with their current organizational mode - "rebuilding") and possibly receiving average results from an outfielder for the league minimum. Costa is an above-average baserunner but provides below average instincts, range, and arm in a corner outfield slot that has seen many a rotating Royal over the past thirteen seasons. He possesses precious little plate discipline to be projected as a legitimate everyday threat. At this point, it is questionable whether his .450-slugging potential will compensate for such a lack of plate poise. Since emerging as a Major Leaguer in 2005, life has not been kind to Costa. Like Justin Huber, he just does not seem to have a defined position within the organization - and will likely spend much of 2008 alternating between AAA Omaha and the Kansas City Royals first-base dugout.