Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008-09 Rule 5 Draft Eligibilities: The Pitchers

On the second and final installment of Rule 5 Eligibilities for 2009, we focus on the pitchers eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on the final day of the Winter Meetings in December. The performance of pitchers is obviously much more volatile than hitters, as many hard-throwing moundsmen in the low minors tend to get selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Joakim Soria, anyone? This is why I believe we must take careful consideration, while paying attention closely to scouting reports, in order to conclude which Minor League pitchers we should and should not protect.

Remember the "selectability factor", which is simply the chances they are selected in the December Rule 5 Draft. This grading is on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being highly unlikely to be taken, 3 being somewhat likely to be taken, and 5 being very likely to be taken. I will divide this into a two-part series. Let us begin with the hitters.
The complete list of Rule 5 eligible pitchers is below.

RP - Henry Barrera (Opening Day Age: 23 / T: R)
2008 Line: 2.81 ERA, 57.2 IP, 42 G, 24 BB, 78 K, 1.23 WHIP (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Barrera has posted terrific strikeout rates in every Minor League level since being drafted out of Rosemead High School in California by the Royals in 2004. He is a power reliever who can touch the mid 90's with his fastball velocity. He was a key component of the Blue Rocks' pen in '08, and seeks to move up again in '09. At the mere age of 23, he is definite power reliever/set-up man future material, and possibly future closer material. It's difficult to claim that a team will surely select him in December, but with a small market, "rebuilding" team like the Royals, erring on the side of protection is never an unsafe philosophy.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

SP - Jose Capellan (Opening Day Age: 28 / T: R)
2008 Line: 4.10 ERA, 37.1 IP, 6 G, 5 GS, 14 BB, 20 K, 1.31 WHIP (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Dayton Moore and the Atlanta Brave'd Royals signed ex-Brave pitcher Capellan to a Minor League contract back in July. Capellan is a journeyman extraordinaire who has enjoyed - or not enjoyed? - stints in Atlanta, Milwaukee, Detroit, and most recently, Colorado. Capellan was arguably rushed through the Minors as a fairly good prospect. He possesses a mid-90's fastball, but projects as a more generic swingman in the future. The fastball could possibly increase if he moves to the bullpen. That said, I like taking chances on the Matt Wrights and Roman Colons of the world. I watched him pitch in Omaha back in July, and was impressed. He can never stay healthy, though, and he was shut down for the season with an injury in August. By golly, I can not find what the injury was, or when he'll return. I'll modify my projection if anyone can provide explanations or articles for this regard.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

SP - Luis Cota (Opening Day Age: 23 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.55 ERA, 25.1 IP, 6 GS/G, 16 BB, 21 K, 1.58 WHIP (R+ Idaho Falls) / 5.80 ERA, 35.2 IP, 8 GS/G, 14 BB, 32 K, 1.49 WHIP (A Burlington)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Cota has mostly disappointed since being selected out of Sunnyside, California in 2004, and being ranked 6th on the organizational prospect list by Baseball America in 2005 and 2006. Cota missed the entire 2007 season to repair fraying in his shoulder from surgery, and was truly only beginning to make headway back to the organizational top prospect list in Idaho Falls (3.55 ERA in 25+ innings) before hitting a slight bump in the road at Burlington, Iowa (4 HR, 5.8 ERA in 35 IP). His K-rate improved in Burlington, but he needs to demonstrate he can at least stay healthy over the course of the season, as he missed significant time in '08 due to injuries. Who knows if Cota can ever fulfill the potential and stuff he showed in the mid-decade? One thing is for sure: He definitely needs far more seasoning - mentally and physically - before we can begin to discuss him as a Major League pitcher. Err on not protecting him this winter.
Projected 2009 Level: A

SP - Blake Johnson (Opening Day Age: 23 / T: R)
2008 Line: 4.85 ERA, 143 IP, 38 BB, 86 K, 26 G, 22 GS, 1.44 WHIP (AA NWA)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: At the beginning of the season, baseball scouts and Royals fans were raving about the talented Northwest Arkansas rotation, with Johnson as merely the #4 pitcher. Like his counterparts Rowdy Hardy and Julio Cesar Pimentel, Johnson's stock fell significantly in 2009. He possessed one of the finest curveballs in the Texas League, but must rely on location! location! location! in order to succeed at every Minor League level and earning a position on the Major League squad. As a tall, young righthander, I like his makeup, but his lack of dominance or velocity will likely deter teams from selecting him, as he is probably not ready to start at the Major League level. Keep him in the organization, but don't worry about protecting him.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

SP - Dusty Hughes (Opening Day Age: 25 / T: L)
2008 Line: 2.91 ERA, 52.2 IP, 20 G, 4 GS, 16 BB, 43 K, 1.2 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas) / 5.04 ERA, 55.1 IP, 12 G, 11 GS, 25 BB, 36 K, 1.63 WHIP (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: The Royals named Dusty Hughes the Wichita Wranglers Pitcher of the Year in 2007. After showing promise in NWA in the first half of the season, the short left-hander stumbled a bit in Omaha. Hughes was once heralded for his excellent control, but given his short stature and non-overpowering stuff, he will need every aspect of that control for the remainder of his career. Hughes, unfortunately, doesn't really project as anything more than a long reliever at the Major League level. However, at 5'8", he is certainly an everyman in terms of height. I am rooting for him, but I don't count on any team selecting him this winter.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

SP - Matt Kniginyzky (Opening Day Age: 26 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.57 ERA, 141 IP, 27 GS/G, 51 BB, 113 K, 1.3 WHIP (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Kniginyzky - whose name I have to reference every time I type it - possesses an 89-92 miles per hour fastball and a solid power curveball and changeup. He holds a fine ability to throw strikes, but his age and lack of overpowering pitches do not make him worth protecting, in my opinion. Rowdy Hardy without the pizazz and more generic stuff. He did win the Wilmington Blue Rocks Pitcher of the Year award for 2008.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

SP - Mario Santago (Opening Day Age: 24 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.43 ERA, 141.2 IP, 27 GS/G, 39 BB, 86 K, 1.37 WHIP (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 4 / 5 (Worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Santiago translated his excellent heat into solid pitching results for Wilmington this year. In my opinion, he should have beaten out Kniginyzky for the Pitcher of the Year at that level. His tender age and upper hand as a starting pitcher make him worth protecting, in my opinion.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

RP - Juan Abreu (Opening Day Age: 24 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.66 ERA, 76.1 IP, 22 G, 4 GS, 42 BB, 104 K, 1.32 WHIP (A Burlington)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Abreu posted an excellent season for Midwest League champion Burlington Bees in '08. He combined with Dan Duffy for a no-hitter and, according to Royals Authority, was a darkhorse candidate for the Baseball America/Midwest League Top 20 prospect list. Abreu is still rather young and possesses excellent heat. He should be worth considering for protection.
Projected 2009 Level: A+ Wilmington

RP - Greg Atencio (Opening Day Age: 27 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.81 ERA, 54.1 IP, 27 G, 25 BB, 63 K, 1.27 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas) / 3.24 ERA, 25 IP, 9 G, 11 BB, 22 K, 1.44 WHIP (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 4 / 5 (Probably worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Atencio is a fairly average-sized right-hander who possesses an excellent slider and mid'90's fastball. There is every reason to believe he can translate his good control and solid strikeout rates to a middle reliever role in the big leagues next season. Atencio is Joel Peralta, part two: A late-blooming relief pitcher who relies on control, a decent fastball, the slider as his best pitch, and gives up his fair share of home runs. Atencio is worth protecting this winter.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA Omaha

RP - Kyle Crist (Opening Day Age: 25 / T: R)
2008 Line: 3.89 ERA, 74 IP, 42 G, 33 BB, 56 K, 1.35 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: The Royals selected Crist in the 34th round in 2004. Crist is a ground ball pitcher who throws a fastball between 93 and 95 miles per hour. That said, it hasn't exactly manifested in consistently good results. His 2007 season, notably, was subpar. Don't protect him.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

RP - Gilbert De La Vara (Opening Day Age: 24 / T: L)
2008 Line: 3.65 ERA, 44.1 IP, 24 G, 12 BB, 31 K, 1.02 WHIP (A+ Wilmington) / 2.76 ERA, 32.2 IP, 21 G, 15 BB, 21 K, 1.16 WHIP
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: De La Vara was selected as a draft and follow pitcher by the Royals back in 2005. He has shown flashes of domination throughout his climb, manifesting in a terrific 2006 season split between the Carolina League and Texas League. Him being a left-hander could provide additional value, but I doubt he gets selected, based on his inconsistency. He has been assigned to the North Shore squad in the Hawaiian League.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

RP - Patrick Green (Opening Day Age: 27 / T: R)
2008 Line: 8.38 ERA, 7 G, 9.2 IP, 3 BB, 8 K, 1.76 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: The Royals selected Patrick Green from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2004, but he's strictly organizational filler, at this point. He suffered with injuries in most of 2008, but managed to post a respectable 3.92 ERA in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League in '07. At age 27, whether he will even move significantly up the ladder is in serious question. Don't worry about a team selecting Patrick Green.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

RP - Chris Nicoll (Opening Day Age: 25 / T: R)
2008 Line: 2.91 ERA, 43.1 IP, 20 G, 15 BB, 49 K, 1.13 WHIP (A+ Wilmington) / 3.09 ERA, 43.2 IP, 19 G, 8 BB, 55 K, 1.17 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Nicoll has worked his way steadily up the organizational ladder since being selected in the third round by the Royals in 2005. Nonetheless, Nicoll faltered horribly in 2007, but bounced back nicely in 2008. Baseball America ranked Nicoll as possessing the best control prior to the 2006 season. Nicoll is a quick worker who changed pitches effectively in '07, but does not possess overpowering stuff. He is worth considering, but let's be blunt: I'm not exactly worried about losing him, because I'm skeptical he'll make it through May on any 25-man roster, even Washington's.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

RP - Jarod Plummer (Opening Day Age: 25 / T: R)
2008 Line: 4.19 ERA, 29 G, 58 IP, 15 BB, 65 K, 1.24 WHIP (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting)
RN Perspective: The Royals acquired Jarod Plummer from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade during Spring Training in 2006. He works with a moderate fastball that tops out in the low 90's. He also possesses an above-average slider and splitter. The Royals have opted not to retain him the previous two offseasons. We'll see how it shakes out, this time around. I'm still not counting on him being protected, but he continues to post solid results as he works his way up the organizational ladder.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

2008-09 Rule 5 Eligibilities: The Position Players

This is the first installment of Rule 5 Eligibilities. On Royals Nation, I compiled a list of players in the Royals organization who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason. The 2008 Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday, December 11, the final day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada. For those of us still unfamiliar with the rules surrounding the Rule 5 draft, here is the Wikipedia explanation.

Now for the Royals organizational eligiblities. I have included some general/personal information about the player, vital 2008 statistics, and the "selectability factor", which is simply the chances they are selected in the December Rule 5 Draft. This grading is on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being highly unlikely to be taken, 3 being somewhat likely to be taken, and 5 being very likely to be taken. I will divide this into a two-part series. Let us begin with the hitters.

C - Adam Donachie (Opening Day Age: 25 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .212/.310/.299/.609, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 91 G, 308 PA, 3.27 RC/G (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Donachie was selected two years ago in the Rule 5 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. However, he was returned to the Royals in Spring Training. Donachie was one of the infamous 2003 $1,000 signees by Baird and the Glass family. Suffice it to say, he has not exactly exceeded expectations in the Minor League system. If Donachie chooses to, he can declare himself a Minor League free agent. It's difficult for me to believe he would be signed elsewhere. Any other organization would likely place him in a similar situation as the Royals - a part-time Minor League catcher. The Royals have almost zero catching depth in their Minor League system, so it would be telling if Donachie chooses to remain a Royal. He is fine defensively, but is so woeful offensively that he's reduced to merely a footnote on the Minor League organizational depth chart.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

C - Jeff Howell (Opening Day Age: 25 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .259/.323/.385/.708, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 85 G, 316 PA, 4.16 RC/G (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Howell wil likely platoon with catcher Adam Donachie in Northwest Arkansas in 2008. After toiling in the Royals Minor League system with mostly mediocre results, he actually exceeded many people's expectations in 2008. That said, he is definitely not worth retaining on a 40-man roster. Even if another Peter Angelos-esque Baltimore Orioles squad swoops from out of nowhere to select him, their chances to retain him even as a backup are almost zero.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

C - Brayan Pena (Opening Day Age: 26 / B-T: S/R)
2008 Line: .303/.376/.462/.838, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 60 G, 266 PA, 5.96 RC/G (AAA Omaha) / .286/.333/.357, 4-for-14 (MLB Atlanta)
Selectability Factor: 5 / 5 (Worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Pena was a brilliant, under-the-radar waiver acquisition by Dayton Moore, who selected him in June. Pena projects most likely as a backup catcher given his lack of power. However, his contract rate in the Minors has been excellent over the previous four years, as evidenced by the fact that he struck out merely 17 times in 60 games last year in Omaha. Pena is also a bit quick on the basepaths (7 stolen bases in 10 attempts). I ike Pena, and believe he's essentially a catching version of Alberto Callaspo, except with better speed and athleticism. Place Brayan Pena not only on the 40-man roster in December, but let him compete with John Buck for the starting catching slot in Spring Training.
Projected 2009 Level: MLB

C - Kiel Thibault (Opening Day Age: 25 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .160/.196/.220/.416, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 31 G, 1.46 RC/G (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Suffice it to say, Thibault will likely only return to the Royals organization in 2009 in an extremely limited role. Thibault raked in the Pioneer League his rookie season (in 2005, he hit .310/.338/.593/.981 in Idaho Falls), but has mostly disappointed since. At age 25, he is Minor League filler at the absolute best.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

1B - Mike Stodolka (Opening Day Age: 27 / B-T: L/L)
2008 Line: .286/.366/.405/.771, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 75 G, 259 PA, 5.49 RC/G (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Stodolka has performed admirably in the Royals Minor League system after busting and getting derailed with injuries as a pitcher. Selected in the first round of the 2000 draft, Stodolka is used to riding buses instead of flying in airplanes by now, as he will enter his tenth season in the Minor Leagues in April. Stodolka's time as a Royal might be through, though. He can declare himself a Minor League Free Agent if he so chooses. Stodolka was relocated to a corner outfield position because of the presence of Omaha Royals DH/first basemen Ryan Shealy, Kila Kaaihue, and Billy Butler, who ranked much higher on the organizational depth chart. Stodolka performed horribly defensively in the outfield, as was to be expected, but performed decently offensively, given the circumstances. His contact rate has remained tolerable of his three seasons as a hitter in the organization, but 42 strikeouts in 259 plate appearances is still a bit high. As a first baseman, he possesses too little power to hold a Major League role for any period of time. He may get a few call-up stints here and there throughout his career, but he is likely not worth protecting. In December, he may still be selected, though, as an emergency bench bat.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

2B - Josh Johnson (Opening Day Age: 23 / B-T: S/R)
2008 Line: .253/.399/.337/.736, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 118 G, 459 PA, 4.64 RC/G (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Plate discipline and versatility on the infield have been Johnson's only defiant strengths, thus far, rising up the organizational ladder. He possesses little extra base power, but is still only 23. Johnson will likely begin next year in Springdale, Arkansas, and I'm anxious to see what the switch-hitter can deliver in the Texas League. That said, he is definitely not worth protecting, although he could still develop power with age, which will complement his on-base skills nicely.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

UT - Irving Falu (Opening Day Age: 25 / B-T: S/R)
2008 Line: .301/.367/.384/.751, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 101 G, 405 PA, 4.93 RC/G (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Falu, a Royals 21st round amateur draft pick out of Indian Hills Community College, enjoyed a career season at the plate in 2008. He was allocated defensively, even beyond the likes of what superutilityman Esteban German has seen in recent Royal years. Falu played eight different positions in '08 - including designated hitter - and performed decently at all. He possesses little power at all, but given his 2008 surge, is likely worth keeping in the Minor League system as a starter for '09, at the upper levels which otherwise lack depth in talent. That said, he probably is not worth protecting on the 40-man roster, as he is still miles from a mentionable prospect.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

SS - Chris McConnell (Opening Day Age: 23 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .252/.333/.325/.658, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 120 G, 529 PA, 3.45 RC/G (A+ Wilmington)
Selectability Factor: 1 / 5 (Not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Defense is McConnell's prime strength, as he was named the organizational player with best defensive skills by Baseball America prior to the 2008 season. That said, his sole strength went southbound considerably last year, as he committed 28 errors in '08, culminating in a mere .950 fielding percentage. Not brilliant numbers to define a defensiveman, sure, but they are cause for concern, nonetheless. He possesses at least some raw speed, at least enough to compliment the entire lineup of Juan Pierres and Chone Figginses they fielded in Delaware last season. There is no way McConnell gets selected in December, for reasons obvious to anyone who watched a Blue Rocks game last season.
Projected 2009 Level: A+

3B - Edward Lucas (Opening Day Age: 26 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .304/.372/.415/.787, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 79 G, 303 PA, 5.64 RC/G (AA Northwest Arkansas) / .128/.241/.128/.369, 6-for-47, 0 HR (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: Lucas, an eighth round draft pick in 2004 out of Dartmouth College, defied the Royals' scouts impressions and posted excellent offensive results in 2008 in Northwest Arkansas. He will likely continue his newly established career as a part-time Minor Leaguer in 2009. Actually, he could gain more playing time if no first base or third base frontrunner emerges in Northwest Arkansas or Omaha. However, he struggled mightily after getting promoted to Omaha in August, looking completely overmatched at the plate. Lucas doesn't project as a major leaguer, as he's a corner infielder without enough power. He is close enough to deserve an extended glance as a protectee, but will likely not get selected in December.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

LF - Chris Lubanski (Opening Day Age: 24 / B-T: L/L)
2008 Line: .242/.306/.448/.754, 15 HR, 54 RBI, 116 G, 438 PA, 4.79 RC/G (AAA Omaha)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: The raw power is still there, and Lubanski could still enjoy a Major League career as a stopgap corner outfielder or platoon player, but his contract rate and strikeout rate have fallen to such woeful levels in the Minor Leagues the last two years, that it's easy to understand why the Royals would not protect him this winter. He was - somewhat justifiably, at the time, in my opinion - upset the Royals didn't protect him last winter, and it definitely showed. How motivated he was to whiff an appalling 130 times in 116 games last year. He will always strike out waaaay too much (he has topped 91 strikeouts in every year in the organization except 2003). Very little speed and very little outfield range give him less projectability in the wide confines of Kauffman Stadium. Another non-protection candidate this winter.
Projected 2009 Level: AAA

CF - Jose Duarte (Opening Day Age: 24 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .250/.313/.350/.663, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 28/36 SBR, 133 G, 585 PA, 3.86 RC/G (AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 3 / 5 (Maybe worth protecting / Maybe not)
RN Perspective: Duarte's two defining strengths, at this point, are speed and an ability to play center field. The Texas League is always a hitter's league, and it's tough to get enthusiastic about a .663 OPS from an age 23 (a typical AA age) player at that level. Duarte should repeat the level in 2009 and prove that he's worth keeping. However - and this is worth considering - he does possess raw talent and tools on the baseaths and in the field. He's a poor man's Joey Gathright, and that might force teams to take a gander at him in December. It's debatable whether he's worth devoting a roster spot to simply because of his ceiling and tools. Scouts love the guy.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

RF - Brian McFall (Opening Day Age: 25 / B-T: R/R)
2008 Line: .241/.329/.454/.783, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 7/6 SBR, 106 G, 404 PA, 4.95 RC/G(AA Northwest Arkansas)
Selectability Factor: 2 / 5 (Probably not worth protecting)
RN Perspective: McFall has struck out way too often while climbing up the organizational ladder. He possesses raw power, but not enough to make him anything more than a C prospect. He probably isn't worth considering, because even if he gets selected, I'm sure no club will tolerate a .220/.290/.400 role, even from the bench. Let him master the TL, and see how he can perform in Omaha.
Projected 2009 Level: AA

In conclusion, it's fairly evident that there isn't much organizational depth at the top rings of the Minor League system. Plenty of toolsy players - read: speed! - and C prospects, but little else. The only player definitely worth protecting is Brayan Pena, who I'm convinced could post a .280/.350/.420 line in the big leagues, like, right now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts on the Posnanski/Moore Interview

Note: I don’t exactly know what the rules of this blog are so my apologies if I offend someone by posting. So… yeah.

Headline: Royals’ GM Moore has had enough

“That’s it,” he says. “We’re at a point now where you will never, ever hear me say again that we have young players who are improving. You will never, ever hear me say again that we are rebuilding. That stuff is over. I’m sick of all that.
“We’re not a young team anymore. We’re not an improving team anymore. There are no more excuses. It’s not like we made a lot of excuses before, but I’m sick of all that. It’s time now.”

Yay! You tell’em Dayton! No more of this losing/sucking/eternal rebuilding/patience stuff. Let’s get this thing going! You know, it is nice to finally have someone in KC who cares about winning. Who cares about setting a mindset of “Just win baby!” None of this dancing around crap. None of this “trying to save my job by pointing out every excuse I can give.” Freaking come out and say, “We are here to win and we are going to do everything we can to win or we don’t deserve to be here.” As a fan, I love it.

So, what’s the plan Dayton? How is this team going to start winning and competing for championships?

So now you ask: What does this mean in baseball terms? What kind of changes will the Royals make this off-season?

Right, that’s what I said, er, wrote.

That’s a trickier question.


The Royals have made a couple of coaching moves. They fired hitting coach Mike Barnett and third-base coach Luis Silverio. Barnett was easy to fire in many ways. The Royals were 12th in the league in runs scored and dead last in walks. Moore is quick to point out this wasn’t Barnett’s fault exactly — he’s a good coach and he preached plate discipline and worked tirelessly with players on their hitting — but he also didn’t fix things. This is where Moore’s hard-edged philosophy is now: You are part of the solution or you are part of the problem.

We’ve fired coaches before, what has that ever done? Coaches don’t hit, players do. What’s the plan there?

Clearly, though, they are not going to dramatically improve their on-base percentage by hiring a different coach.

Again, I know that.

Moore says that, in some ways, things will get better naturally. Third baseman Alex Gordon, after hitting bottom in late July, had a three-hit game against Oakland and two days later walked five times against the A’s. He had a better-than-.400 on-base percentage the rest of the year, and it looked like he had a much better ability to draw walks. Billy Butler seemed to find his swing about the same time and hit .309 the rest of the year. Moore thinks rookie Mike Aviles might not hit .325 every year like he did this season, but he will draw more walks as he gets to know pitchers

And Moore says the Royals are not going to give up on Mark Teahen despite a difficult season. Teahen hit well the last month or so.

“We still like Mark a lot,” Moore says. “I see how hard he prepares for every game. And he played better at the end of the year. We still have a lot of faith in Mark as a player.”

Wait, Dayton. Are you saying that our core is young and we have to be patient while they develop? You just said age didn’t matter anymore. Let me give you a refresher: “We’re at a point now where you will never, ever hear me say again that we have young players who are improving.” Remember? You just said that, like, three quotes ago.

But, again, Moore refuses to wait around for young players to get better. He says the Royals will have to add offense, even if it means moving and shoving some current players into different positions.

“We can’t be picky,” he says. “We need to go out and get the best offensive players we can get. We have to do it. And when we get those players, we need to play them in their natural positions. And we can do that because we have guys on our team that are versatile and can play a lot of positions.”

Oh, well, okay. I guess I can live with that. I assume that means by “go out and get the best offensive players we can get” would mean that our absolute terrible players – Ross Gload, Tony Pena Jr., Joey Gathright – will not get at bats and therefore make the team better. I can live with that. So, what defines “best offensive players we can get”?

OK, so Moore wants offense — and a lot of it. That leads to the next question: Where are the Royals going to find more offense? Moore concedes that the Royals don’t have as much payroll flexibility as they have the last couple of years when they signed pitcher Gil Meche ($11 million per year) and outfielder José Guillen ($12 million per).

“We’re open to anything,” Moore says. “And if we can do something impactful in free agency, we’ll certainly do that. But looking at it right now, I think we’d probably be looking more at trying to do those things through trades.”

Okay, so we should expect us signing Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell or anything then. But what you are really saying is that our payroll isn’t going up, which means we’re near maxed out on the amount of money David Glass is willing to spend on the MLB payroll. Well that’s not good, but that’s not your fault I guess. So, what kind of trades do you have in mind?

OK. Trades. The most positive step the Royals took in 2008 was that several pitchers established themselves. Zack Greinke won 13 games, finished fifth in the league in strikeouts and 10th in ERA. Gil Meche won 14, tied Greinke in strikeouts and was one of the league’s more dominant pitchers the last four months of the season. Closer Joakim Soria had an amazing year, start to finish, as his 42 saves and 1.60 ERA suggest.

So would the Royals be willing to trade any of those guys? Moore says he will keep his options open. But, honestly, a bold move involving one of those pitchers does not fit his personality. Moore believes a team wins with pitching, defense and an offense that maximizes its opportunities.

“You see what the Angels are doing, Minnesota, Tampa,” he says. “That’s our blueprint.” Well, the Royals finally seem to have built a strong pitching nucleus, and I suspect he won’t break that up in some kind of bold blockbuster move.

“Yeah,” he says. “I’m more of a piece-by-piece kind of guy.”

Okay, so let me get this straight. We won’t be signing any big time free agents because we don’t have any money to spend. We also will not be trading any of the guys who could actually bring us legitimate power hitters. And you just fired Deric Ladnier because of the lack of depth we have in the AA and AAA levels. So we have no one to bring up, no space to sign someone and we are not willing to deal our top guys. In other words, we are hoping Ross Gload can net us a “Brian Bannister-type hitter”. You know, hope we get lucky. How exactly are we going to win more games again?

“I just can’t predict what kind of opportunities we’re going to have,” he says. “All I can tell you is that there’s a lot more urgency going forward. We’re going to create as many options as we can. We’re going to do everything we can to make changes. There’s a lot of room for us to get better. And right now, that’s all that matters. We have to get better.”

So we are “urgently moving forward” and “creating as many possible options” and “doing everything we can” by not signing anyone of significant value, trading for someone of significant value and admitting we have nothing in the upper-minors to bring up. What you are saying is that you are hoping Mike Aviles remains the ultimate overachiever, Billy Butler gets his head straight for a full season, Alex Gordon remembers what made him good in college and in AA and that Mark Teahen becomes something we all know he can’t be. Well I’m optimistic about that plan. Ugh.

Look, I love you Dayton. I love how you are rebuilding our minor league system from the ground up, setting up a base in Latin America, pulling off nice little trades for guys like Brian Bannister and obtaining guys like Joakim Soria. But seriously, don’t come out here and tell me you are doing all you can to make this team better and that we are no longer rebuilding and then tell me that there is nothing you can really do but hope that some other team has an obscene desire to give three blue chip prospects for David DeJesus. With that said, I hope this post makes me look foolish next April.