Wednesday, December 17, 2008

TRT/RN Confidence Index

On the sister website to The Royal Treatment, Royals Nation, I submitted a questionnaire based on a series of questions posed, monthly, by Royals Review poster NYRoyal. This questionnaire serves, more or less, as a 'Confidence Index' for posters over at the other website.

Basically, I asked a series of question and asked the posters to submit an answer of how they feel about the questions, ranging from 1 (very pessimistic) to 10 (very optimistic)

Here are the questions and my number values, followed by my explanations. It's important to remember that, for me at least, 5.5 is average.

1. How do you feel about the 2009 Royals?


I feel it's been a somewhat disappointing offseason. We've traded two stellar relievers for slightly above average, at best, players. I think the team will struggle with OBP, as the priorities of management, in my opinion, are somewhat flawed. I remain cautiously optimistic that this team will outperform the '07 team, offensively, defensively, and pitching-wise. However, I was expecting more.

2. How do you feel about G.M. Dayton Moore?


When we signed Dayton Moore, he was the logical choice at the time. Many G.M.'s regarded Moore as the top General Manager prospect in the game, as he served under G.M.-extraordinaire John Schuerholz under much of Atlanta's incredible 14-year dynasty. He's a good scout and a traditionalist, intelligent 'baseball man.' However, as I mentioned above, his priorities are somewhat flawed. I believe, like most scouts, he overemphasizes certain aspects of the game - speed, defense, and the notion that pitchers serve as 'currency' in baseball, when that isn't entirely true. His strengths, thus far, are finding pitching, notably relief pitching, and he has a keen scout's eye for talent, I think. Of course, this grade is still somewhat preliminary. I'm hoping it will change for the better, and soon.

3. How do you feel about Manager Trey Hillman?


He was pitiful, early on, at handling the bullpen, had slow hooks on players such as Tony Pena, Jr., and showed irrational biases toward players like Ross Gload and Brett Tomko. He's a traditionalist - flawed - manager. His lineup selections among the players he *chose* to play did hinder our success (although, keep in mind that poor lineup selection can only hinder a team by a maximum of 40-50 runs). His ridiculous - though preliminary - lineup selection for 2009 - hurt his cause.

4. How do you feel about Owner David Glass?


Look, I've made my harsh opinions on Glass crystal clear through a multitude of mediums (how's that for alliteration?) He isn't off the hot seat he placed himself in until we actually begin contending. The progress is there - increased monetary commitments in drafts, no meddling with Moore's personnel decisions, adding a Minor League team, committing to player development, among other minor things. He needs to continue such commitments to even approach a '4' or '5'. Keep in mind that he was a firm '1' for many years before Moore took helm, in June 2006.

5. How do you feel about the 2009 Royals offense?


We will struggle with regard to OBP, and slightly less with power, I think. Jose Guillen and Mike Jacobs won't be the players Moore thinks they will be. I don't see an awful lot of progression from Butler (although he's young). Crisp will likely be barely above replacement-caliber in center field, unfortunately. If they continue to play Gload, Pena, and Olivo/Buck, and not show a bold open-minded commitment to the Kila Kaaihues of the world, then they're in for an awful lot of trouble. Keep in mind that signing Adam Dunn or another impact bat could raise this score to as high as a '6'.

6. How do you feel about the 2009 Royals pitching?


I'm probably a little irrationally biased toward our pitching staff. I haven't viewed acquiring an impact starting pitcher (Lowe? Burnett? Sheets?) at all a pressing issue, this offseason. I see Hochevar making strides and benefitting from better luck and a better defense (Crisp, DeJesus in LF, expected improvement at 3B in Gordon, a healthy Guillen in RF). I see Bannister leveling out his BABIP and gravitating toward his XFIP with an ERA around 5. I see Davies benefitting as a borderline #3 with a plus-curveball and plus-changeup. I see Meche maintaining, generally, his 2007/8 performance. And Greinke is a stud. Although signing Farnsworth was a poor decision, I think, and using Horacio Ramirez as a starter would be an irrational move, I think we have plenty of cheap bullpen options such as Robinson Tejeda, Julio Cesar Pimentel, Carlos Rosa, Doug Waechter, John Bale, the LOOGY-Jimmy Gobble, not to mention prominent (paid) relievers like Ron Mahay and Joakim Soria.

Greinke - 3.2 ERA
Meche - 4.1 ERA
Davies - 4.5 ERA
Hochevar - 4.5 ERA
Bannister - 5 ERA

....It's probably not great, but consider the average #s teams net from the 4 and 5 slots, and the fact that we can expect health from all 5 options (in the past two seasons, only one of these pitchers has suffered from any sort of extended injury) and it's the makings of a solid rotation. Keep in mind my estimates are conservative. The upside here is still pretty strong, I think.

7. How do you feel about the 2009 Royals defense?


I'm a bit worried that Moore uses his "scout's eye" to his disadvantage, sometimes. Will Carroll from B.P. has reported that a frenzy has taken place in a number of organizations to emphasize, in a Moneyball-fashion, defense. According to Carroll, only the organizations have gotten access to important defensive numbers. I hope Moore & Co. have taken notice, but something tells me that they only dabble in advanced statistics. I think the Royals will benefit from having an entire year of Aviles in the middle infielder (although his defensive numbers will diminish, somewhat, I think), an improved Gordon at 3B (yes, I trust the scouts and believe the franchise centerpiece will improve), and having a much-improved outfield (the 2008 Baseball Prospectus edition compared Crisp's defense to that of Andruw Jones in his prime, and said we can expect him to be a plus-defender each year, if not injured). DeJesus will also improve defensively, spending the entire year in left. I think Guillen will improve a bit in right field. I'm still worried about catcher, first base, and second base. There's a realistic chance Jacobs' -20 glove will be granted entirely too much time at 1B and Guillen's defensive ability will actually decrease in right field with age. Callaspo at second is obviously a problem, and that is why Moore has aggressively pursued other middle-infield options (Furcal).

8. How do you feel about the 2009 Royals Minor League system?


I'm going to keep my explanations here somewhat short, since I have rambled in response to previous questions. I like our Minor League development team. Hey, the 2008 draft has the potential to be historically great. We have a legitimate Minor League system, and I'm looking forward to watching the Hosmers, Cortes's, and Moustakas's prosper, while rooting for lower-end top prospects with legitimate upside (David Lough, Daniel Gutierrez, and Jason Taylor). I think a similiarly successful 2009 draft could boost this score to a '9' or, dare I say it, '10'.

9. How would you rank Dayton Moore's offseason performance?


I recently gave Moore a '4', but the score might be raised if his commitments to 4 Minor League Spring Training invites yield any positive performance at the Big-league level. I'm not counting on it, and I'm still a bit disappointed by the trades (Ramirez-for-Crisp, Nunez-for-Jacobs) and the high-monetary acquisitions (Farnsworth). His minor moves, such as signing players like Waechter, catcher J.R. House, and re-signing John Bale on the cheap, really carry his score, I think. I'm holding my breath for his first true impact acquisition. We now sit at 39 men on the 40 man roster. I'm crossing my fingers.

10. How do you feel about the future of the Kansas City Royals?


I'm cautiously optimistic. I doubt we'll ever return to years of 100-loss performances like we did under Baird, but I must pose this worthwhile question: will we contend - or become another Oakland Athletics or Minnesota Twins - with tremendous monetary and market-size disadvantages? Will we become another Cleveland Indians, or even compete intermittently like the Marlins? Ownership commitment must reign consistent, and Moore must continue to hit draft after draft after draft. And even then....a little luck can go a long way.

For the bonus questions provided below, I'll just provide my numerical responses. We'll let those do the talkin'.

Bonus questions:

How many games will Ross Gload play in 2009?

How many games will Kila Ka'aihue play in 2009?

Will the Royals acquire another Free Agent this offseason? If so, whom?
Yes, but no impact-signing

How many games will the Royals win in 2009?

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