Monday, January 26, 2009

Teahen Thoughts

Mark Teahen moves to second base… I like it – I think.

Let’s start with this and get it out of the way: The Royals are to blame for the disaster Teahen has become in respect to the Beltran trade. If the move to second base is completed, Teahen would have played at first, second and third base, all three outfield positions and designated hitter for the Royals since Opening Day of 2008. 2008! Asking a guy to help you forget about Carlos Beltran and not give him a position is very difficult to ask of a guy.

It is clear what Dayton Moore’s plan was going into 2009. He wanted Rafel Furcal so he could move Aviles to second and have a couple guys on the bench to fill in when necessary. It is also suddenly clear why Moore saw Furcal as the “only guy I would go to ownership for to get more money” because there was literally nothing out there in terms of middle infielders. Moore was hesitant to trade prospects for a middle infielder when a projected everyday second baseman is a season or two away. Signing Furcal wasn’t an option, but the only option. Furcal not signing threw the Royals through a middle infield loop and now you can see why Teahen is “more valuable to us than he ever has been” according to Moore.


The negatives of this move are obvious: It is a completely new position for Teahen (again), his size for the position is gigantic (but not unheard of – see: Alexei Ramirez) and turning the double play is one of the more difficult things to do in baseball.

But if you look at it this way, the Royals really do not have a true “defensive second baseman” on their roster. Yeah, they have guys who play second base, but none of them with such defensive excellence that it would be utterly foolish not to play him. The Royals options outside of Teahen are as follows:

Alberto Callaspo: Has never played a full big league season, has no power and has off-field issues.
Estaban German: Cannot play a full season and maintain production (see: 2007 season).
Willie Bloomquist: Has never played a full season.
Mike Aviles: Is currently slated at short stop.
Tony Pena Jr.: Can’t hit.

Throw in that the Royals are full in the outfield and at first base and there really is nowhere for Teahen to play. The Royals have nothing to lose here.

And let’s also consider Teahen’s value as an outfielder is next to nothing on the trade market. The Royals, with all of their maneuvering, have managed to not set a value on Teahen high enough to get anything for him. If Teahen can become a steady second baseman with an above average bat for the position, he could not only establish a high value on the trade market but also keep the Royals from rushing prospects like Johnny Giavotella.


Statistically, Teahen projects as a middle of the road second baseman.* Behind the Chase Utley’s, Ian Kinsler’s, Dustin Pedroia’s and Brian Roberts’ of the OPS world, but ahead of guys like Brandon Phillips (minus the 20-plus home runs).

*Bill James’ projections were used.

Something else to consider is Teahen is not going to be asked to hit 25 to 30 home runs this year. That burden will fall on Jose Guillen, Mike Jacobs and Alex Gordon. Hopefully, the more laid back approach will see a decrease in strikeouts and more extra base hits for Teahen. This may bump him up in the statistical rankings for second basemen.

Teahen always seemed to me like he would be a great two- or seven-hole hitter. He’s a good OBP guy (minus his lousy 2008 season) and runs the bases very well. To me, the Royals have three of those types this year – guys who get on base, hit for extra bases and run the bases well – in David DeJesus, Coco Crisp and Teahen. And without even discussing the x-factors that are Mike Aviles and Billy Butler, the Royals offense could be much improved

So, looking at it through that spectrum, I’m really excited about the possible move of Teahen to second base. And more importantly, Teahen seems to be excited about it too. The last few seasons, when the Royals were shifting him around the outfield, Teahen had several of those generic, “Whatever helps the team, I’ll do it” quotes. But, even when read, those statements always seemed to have that begrudging tinge about it – the “I really don’t want to do this, but I have no choice” aura.

But reading Sam Mellinger’s article, it almost seemed like Teahen was excited about the prospects of returning to the infield.

“I like being on the infield, I like being in the action,” Teahen said. “If second base gets me there and gets me in the lineup every day, I’ll do everything I can.”

There’s an urgency there – a desperate energy mixed with excitement about being “in the action.” It is like he’s finally returning home or something. Teahen knows he has to make this work, which makes me think that it will. He doesn’t have a lot of shots left.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Awards Night/FanFest Experience

I attended the Royals Awards Banquet Friday evening, and it was a very well organized event. I received autographs from (I’ll just list them)

Joakim Soria, Kevin Seitzer, Trey Hillman, Dayton Moore, Zack Greinke, Frank White, Mike Aviles, Jeff Bianchi, Daniel Cortes, Toby Cook

…on one baseball. Not to gloat, haha.

I had extended conversations with 610 Sports analyst Greg Schaum (I sat next to him). I also discussed the team at some length with Dayton Moore, and said a few (considerate!) words to Hillman, Greinke, and Daniel Cortes.

To expand upon the above comments, I discussed the Bloomquist signing, a possible push toward signing Andruw Jones, and a couple other topics with Dayton Moore this evening.

- He claims that Bloomquist’s clubhouse character played a significant portion of his acquisition of the former Seattle player. He says that the character will rub off positively on Alex Gordon. Say what you will, folks….., I’m just relaying the information.

I also asked him about a possible pursuit of Andruw Jones, and he said they were comfortable with the current outfield.

I told him I’m excited about players within our farm system on the verge of MLB status, such as Kila Ka’aihue and Carlos Rosa. He agreed with me when I stated Rosa could be a top-flight setup man but admitted health was a concern ("he needs to stay healthy")

He also seemed positive about his acquisitions Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp, going out of his way to mention them.

Also, I was holding an autographed baseball, and asked him to sign the baseball. I said that I had been waiting and my fingers were getting tired trying to avoid the ink placed on the now ultra-valuable baseball (because of the players he acquired). He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. That was my comic relief for the evening.

(I wonder if he recognized me as that blogger on Royals Nation and the Royals blogosphere who has practically obsessed over every one of his personnel decisions? Something in me felt that he did…..)

- Also, I received Zack Greinke’s autograph, and mentioned the high tension from his mid-to-late inning outings in 2007. He didn’t really say a word, but just nodded in agreement to what I was saying. (I mentioned that it felt odd asking for an autograph of a player approximately two years older than me).

- I met and talked with Daniel Cortes (Royals #3 Prospect) for awhile. We discussed somewhat briefly his Red Bull commitment from several years ago, and he asked me where I played, or used to play. I told him that I was a pitcher, but nowhere near his caliber (which is why he’s playing for the NWA Naturals and I have a part-time computer hobby).

- Zack Greinke’s girlfriend. Kila Ka’aihue’s wife. Mike Aviles’ fiancee. Wooooowwww.

- Greg Schaum sat next to me the entire evening. We discussed many things at great length. That’s a fairly broad statement, but we made notes throughout the event, talking about the singing (which I felt was unnecessary) and just the event in general.

- I got Trey Hillman’s autograph. He told me that he kept his facial hair the entire offseason. I just wished him a general ‘good luck’ on next season.

- When Soria was signing my autograph, I asked him to write "Joakim. Soria" on the baseball. My obvious (funny) joke of the evening….he laughed.

- I told Frank White "it must be a hard life" after he had continuously tried to leave the building but kept getting hounded for autographs and talking. What a classy guy.

- I met Steve Stewart, Ryan LeFebvre, and saw Mike Sweeney up close at the event, as well. Steve Stewart actually went out of his way to shake my hand.

- I also got Jeff Bianchi’s autograph, and we exchanged a few words. He seems like a genuinely nice guy.

Anyway, those are my (brief) notes from that event.

I attended the Royals caravan last week in Columbia, MO and received autographs from Denny Matthews, Joakim Soria, Billy Butler, Kevin Seitzer, and Willie Wilson on one baseball. Hooray! (Soria and Seitzer would of course be repeated two days later).

My FanFest experience was rather brief. I posted these sentiments over at Royals Nation. I only stayed in the center for roughly an hour. I originally was going to help usher players to the 610 booth, but when I arrived I discovered that the minor 'duty' was no longer available. Funny how I've become the intern, although I'm not technically an 'intern' (yet).

Anyway, I don't regret paying the $14. The prices seemed a bit steep at first, but then considering it's supposed to be an all-day event, it wasn't too bad. I'm of a different mindset, though. If I have to wait in line for more than 15 minutes or so at a time, I usually consider the endeavor a waste of time (which is why I don't attend theme parks often). So, basically, I ordered a cappuccino refreshment, and snapped a few dozen photographs of the event. I also stopped by the booths and picked up some giveaway material, including a few Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Omaha Royals baseball cards and gear.

All in all, it's a spectacular event for families, and for the most part action-packed, but not for older adults. It really pales in comparison to the awards banquet, where you get to meet players firsthand, get tons of autographs without waiting in line, and hear speeches and actually discuss baseball with people at the "dinner table." I'm 22 and hence don't have small children, so I'm not the obvious targeted demographic of the group. Be prepared to wait in line, though. My God, the lines are ridiculous.....

The full picture archive can be found here and here. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thanks, but goodbye.

Thank you Royals Nation. I extend to you my sincerest thank you for letting me write for this blog (even though I only did 2 or 3 times last summer).

But today I've decided to start my own blog where i'll be able to say and do anything I want.

If anyone wants to read it from time to time it will be located at

Thank you to everyone, and I wish you all the best. Some of the best Royals fans in the world post on this site and your forum Royals Nation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Odds 'N' Ends

This week and weekend promises plenty of adventure in Royal-land. For one, I plan on attending at least one Royals Caravan event: in fact, I'll probably attend the Wednesday session in Butler, MO.

Also, I'm attending Awards Night this Friday. Plenty of pictures are promised.

Furthermore, FanFest is this weekend at the Overland Park Convention Center. Pictures are promised.

Here are questions that I would never be allowed to ask Dayton Moore:
- To what extent do you use statistical analysis in the organization
- Kyle Farnsworth to 2 guaranteed years. Why?
- Alex Gordon 7th in the lineup????!!!!

I have given Moore criticism where I feel it's due, but he's nonetheless an intriguing G.M. to follow. His old-school methodology just might work. And, well, it's not like I'm hanging up my Royal cleats anytime soon. In fact, I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan every single day (no, not fact, exactly the opposite at times!)

It appears some message board-ites loathe the idea of blogs. Who knew?

In the meantime, please visit TRT's sister site, Royals Nation. All-Time MLB Player Survivor is still happening in General Discussion.

In the meantime, the Royals invited five more Minor Leaguers to Spring Training camp. I provided a short analysis on the players at my site.

3 of these five players seem like filler types, which is perfectly acceptable to me. One is a possible future backup MLB catcher, and two more could eventually provide value on the bench, I think.

Clark is a definite filler type - really more of a bullpen catcher.
Howell's absolute upside is that of an easily replaceable MLB backup catcher. 25-years old just entering the Texas League? Hmmmm....
Suomi is organizational filler.
Duarte could be a 4th outfielder/pinch-runner type at the MLB level. Some isolated power...not a lot of on-base ability.
Robinson is intriguing because of his speed and defense. Definitely seems like a Moore guy. I'm not at all sold on him. He's an excellent athlete who can run well, but at this point he is Willie Mayes Hayes stuck in preseason batting practice mode in the movie Major League. The upside is obviously there. I project a Joey Gathright type career for him.

Cheers! Looking forward to sharing my FanFest/Caravan/Awards Night experiences with "Royals Nation" - both visually and verbally!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Current Perception Of 'The Boss' (no...the other one)

Here is a copy of what I posted over on Royals Corner.

I feel the Willie Bloomquist signing has helped solidify my perception of Moore. He's very much a traditional baseball man, not too enthralled by sabermetrics and other advanced statistics, but willing to dabble in them - to an extent - in acquiring talent.

He is very much traditional, as I mentioned. He likes raw talent in the draft - high schoolers with potentially tremendous upside. He likes to gamble in the draft.

He thinks clubhouse chemistry matters. He has gone on record stating this numerous times. I don't feel he wants to load the clubhouse with 'nice' guys, but potential 'impact' guys like Jose Guillen. People who will shake the clubhouse up, or generate an interesting (non-tense) one, nonetheless.

He likes speed and raw athleticism. In terms of statistics, he thinks the timing for 400-meter dash or the timing from home to first base is extremely important.

Defense matters. If a guy has good range to his left or right, good hands, and good instincts, it definitely matters, regardless of what his FRAA or UZR/150 shows.

Every move is carefully considered. Moore and other front office members gather around a table, watch extensive videos of that player, share comments regarding the player, and then arrive at a conclusion regarding where to go with that particular player.

Makeup is extremely important, as a pitcher. The pitcher has to have command of more than one pitch. Ambiorix Burgos and Mike MacDougal-types, pitchers with raw tools - height, tremendous stuff, occasional dominance - are emphasized less and pitchers like Kyle Davies, with a fairly solid couple pitches and a good makeup with clean mechanics, are emphasized greater.

Offense matters, too, though. Power is important, but on-base percentage only matters vitally with a couple spots in the lineup. #s 3-9 are responsible for driving runners in, and making sure they make contact on any pitches in or near the strike zone. OBP is slightly overrated. Speed is an important element of offense, though. Slap-hitters - guys who can hit .280 - are emphasized more and raw OBP/pitches-per-plate-appearance and other advanced statistics are emphasized less.

Pitching is the currency of baseball. If you develop pitching, and then if that pitching doesn't quite fit into the future mold, you can trade them more conveniently and have a greater pool of players (in return) to choose from. Relievers *are* very much tradeable and replaceable - or at least semi-replaceable - commodities. The perception of a multi-million making 'closer' is somewhat overrated, but to have a lights out pitcher in the ninth inning is still vital. Good pitchers of any caliber can easily be developed, and can be replaced at any cost.

Dayton is a traditional baseball man, which can have positives and negatives. He seems to grasp several concepts (i.e. drafting, bullpen handling, OBP at the top, defense [which is sort of the new 'OBP in terms of baseball, in terms of being undervalued - although I'm not 100% sure Moore is aware of this). On the contrast, he needs a little help grasping other concepts (i.e. replacement value, the importance of on-base percentage, college players are important as well).

This team is resembling a throwback team more and more. Such a method of establishing a team could work....look at the Braves, Twins, and current Angels. Granted, some of those teams have greater budgets than others. I think Moore carefully executes each move and isn't rash, by any means, in personnel decisions. He has built a solid front office with experienced and talented baseball men; although most are probably men who hold a more traditional view on how to evaluate talent. He's professional - runs a tight ship, and holds personnel and management accountable.

I think in Hillman he found a manager who agrees with him on many of these issues. Hillman isn't by any means rigidly old-school - he shows willing open-mindedness toward on-base percentage and the problems with bunting - but doesn't abandon many traditional old school methods (run! run! run! the closer should only be used in the ninth inning, etc.). Luckily for Hillman, many, many managers follow a similar method of thinking. Several G.M.'s follow a similar method of thinking as Moore; Tony Reagins, Doug Melvin, and Terry Ryan come to mind instantly. With Moore, fewer G.M.'s share a similar line of thinking, but enough to make the competition interesting.

Any thoughts?

NOTE: Also, on message boards, I've never understood why these folks never bother to argue with the poster they disagree with. They just '1-star' the post, conveniently, and move on. It happened awhile ago when I featured 'karma' on my website, or where you could 'exalt' and 'smite' somebody. A person was excessively 'smiting' people, and never bothered to reveal their identity or actually argue the point. Ridiculous.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bloomquist in K.C.? Stop The Whining!

Here is an assessment of the 2-year/$3MM contract Willie Bloomquist agreed to on an early Friday morning.

- Bloomquist can play a multitude of different positions - some better than others. Basically, he can ably play every position except catcher and pitcher - a pretty valuable asset from the bench
- The Bill James and Marcel projections don't reveal terrible #s for an essential middle infield backup for 2009
- We have enough worthwhile candidates for starter spots that Bloomquist can be safely stowed on the bench


- It's a two-year contract. I have to think that a one-year deal, or at least a 1 year deal with an option could have been available. Willie Bloomquist is not more valuable in 2008-9 than Miguel Olivo was in 2007-8.
- The formidable possibility remains that Bloomquist unseats Alberto Callaspo (and, to a much lesser degree, Mike Aviles) for the starting role sometime sooner in 2009. That would be a mistake. He doesn't possess nearly the upside Callaspo does, defense included. (Callaspo is a .300/.360/.380 hitter, at best, which is very good for a 2B.

I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but only narrowly. A one-year deal for Bloomquist certainly would have been a better move than 1-year for Eckstein or Counsell, but a 2-year? needs to handle Bloomquist correctly.

I think Bloomquist is a worthwhile makes sense. But why the second year, Dayton? Although I'm encouraged by his OBP last year (.377), I'm almost entirely convinced it's an outlier. He'll likely return to his .265/.330/.340 line next year. For the money, and coupled with his ability to play an above average middle infield, and capability of playing five other positions in a pinch (including center field), I think it's an understandable move.

A note to the blogosphere, though. I understand your point that potentially bad moves can add up, preventing us to land Vladimir Guerrero to a 6-year/$140MM deal in 2012, but for now, it's a worthwhile signing. In the end, it's David Glass' problem, not mine. Overall, I'd give the offseason a C or C-. Pretty significantly below average, but certainly nothing to proclaim Doomsday over.

In other news, is anyone attending FanFest next weekend? I have posted regarding this matter over on RN's General Discussion area. I plan on attending on Saturday and taking plenty of pictures. Nonetheless, I do feel a bit smited, as the event is now a 30 minute drive (and 15 minute park+walk time) in my own freaking hometown, as a Jackson County taxpayer who is helping several hundred thousand others commit to a huge renovation project to a perennial losing ballclub. Also - my father's season tickets to the Club Level seating have now been deemed officially unrenewable by the ballclub. They promised seating changes, but they haven't fulfilled them. Wow! I'm beginning to think we should have voted against the stadium renovation initiative. Way to go, ballclub. Anyway, rant over. As for FanFest itself....apparently Ross Gload, Jimmy Gobble, and Esteban German will not be present at the occasion. Trade bait, anyone?

For more details on the players who will be present at the event, here is the official page. Pictures to come! Promise!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Belated Happy New Year! (Cheers To Trey Hillman's Lineup!)

Question #1: Is it rude to wish a Happy New Year to Royals Nation almost five days too late?

Question #2: Is a 'Belated Happy New Year' even possible?

Some conundrums for your mental pleasure on this Sunday night. Nonetheless, I hope everyone had an awesome, party-hardy New Years for '09.

I understand the difference between the best assembled and worst assembled lineups for any group of nine players is but a few dozen runs, but is the lineup below seriously the best Trey Hillman can conjure up for the 2009 season? I'm going to nitpick what I feel is incorrect about the lineup, and how I feel our manager is slightly misguided in his thinking. Granted, his thinking is still rather dubious. I think he understands the importance of OBP, but doesn't exactly know which old school statistics not to implement.

Keep in mind Hillman's original reveal of a likely 2009 lineup is rather dated, but it manifested itself once again in Dick Kaegel's looking forward of (to?) 2009.

CFCoco Crisp
SSMike Aviles
LFDavid DeJesus
RFJose Guillen
1BMike Jacobs
DHBilly Butler
3BAlex Gordon
CMiguel Olivo
2BAlberto Callaspo

1. Crisp
Why? Because of his lifetime .331 OBP, a full 5 points below the league average during that time span? Because of his mediocre 72.9% career stolen base percentage? Because of his negative career WPA, which would almost certainly be anti-progressive in the leadoff spot of a lineup seeking to vastly improve from its paltry 691-run performance in 2009? He may 'make things happen' and be somewhat inefficiently 'fast', but it doesn't mean he should bat leadoff on any respectable squad. On the contrast, #2 hitter wouldn't be a terrible option, since OBP isn't as dramatically important in that spot as it is in the #1 slot and the #s 3-7 slots.

2. Aviles
I understand this decision. Aviles performed respectably in the 2-hole last season, hitting .293/.329/.457. However, that total doesn't resemble his balmy yearly totals (122 SOPS+), and he was batting mostly between two of the team OBP leaders for last year, Dave DeJesus and Alex Gordon.

3. DeJesus
David is an asset to a team like the Royals. Good contact ability, excellent patience, and a team-friendly contract. However, I would be more inclined to pencil him into the leadoff slot, mostly because, well.....he's a true leadoff hitter. I'm afraid the organization views his lack of speed as a deterrent against placing him in that role. Such a mentality isn't proper evaluation of your club's resources. He gets on base and runs the bases reasonably well (although, granted, his career SB% is an atrocious 56%).

4. Guillen
The reigning team leader in outs enters the cleanup spot, once again. Look, I supported the Guillen contract at the time, but to place such a horribly low OBP in the cleanup spot doesn't make sense. I hope Hillman isn't too enthralled by Guillen's circumstantial HR and RBI totals, again. I *do* feel Guillen will become much less hack-tastic in 2009, mostly because a) he does have better protection in the lineup, and b) I really do feel his low BA-OBP split of 2008 was an abberation. The team would serve itself better placing either Jacobs, Gordon, or Butler in this role, at the very least. Maybe the organization doesn't feel inclined to piss off the veteran, but then irrational bias toward vets over youngsters has been hindering teams' success for decades. It would best serve the Royals to escape such a mentality, but that's another story.

5. Jacobs
I'm more supportive of the Jacobs trade than most members of the Royals blogosphere. I feel his low BABIP total of 2008 (.260, which didn't correspond with his not terribly low LD% of 17.6) was an abberation, and a .277/.335/.470 performance next year is a safe bet. In our lineup, an argument could be made that he best fits our #5 slot. I feel the Royals should pencil a 'DH' next to Jacobs' name instead of a '1B', but that's another story. (Yes, Butler has good hands at first, and while that doesn't cover up his atrocious agility, it makes him a better fit at the corner slot than Jacobs...also keep in mind Jacobs has a -26 FRAA, while Billy has a career -0.9. Time accrued is, of course, important, but it isn't as if Butler's a complete downgrade).

6. Butler
I agree, but only to an extent. It is sensible, taken alone, to place Butler in this slot. By virtually all standards of evaluation, he underachieved last season, and it might make sense to place the 22-year old in a complementary role rather than a role of centerpiece (cleanup spot). However, I still would rather see Butler manning the #4 or #5 slot than Guillen or Jacobs. (And let Butler stand at 1B!)

7. Gordon No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. Gordon had the second highest OBP for a full-time player last season, and the third highest VORP (19.7) behind DeJesus (29.1) and Aviles (34.5), who sat in the #1 and #2 slots last year, respectively. Placing less pressure on the kid makes zero sense when his OBP is higher than anyone else in this lineup who played an entire season (sans DeJesus). Bat Gordon third.

8. Olivo
I would almost rather J.R. House or Brayan Pena assume leading catching duties, given that they are bound to OBP much higher than Olivo for 2009. Olivo OBP'ed .278 last year, and had a .251 EqA. Olivo can throw runners out effectively, hit lefties with power, and can run the bases reasonably fast - and well, but he shouldn't start, in my opinion. However, if he did, it would probably make best sense to place *him* in the #8 slot.

9. Callaspo
#2 or #7 probably makes more sense, in this lineup (and possibly even #1), but I'll give Trey Hillman a pass, basing my agreement on the now commonly well regarded notion that the #9 man should serve as a secondary leadoff man.

So, in essence, grading Hillman's selections:

#1. D+
#2. B+
#3. C
#4. D
#5. C+
#6. C+
#7. F
#8. C (A- on placement / D- on selection)
#9. B
Overall: D+ (a well below average lineup - C+ being average)

Here is my lineup for 2009:

1. DeJesus, LF
2. Aviles, SS
3. Gordon, 3B
4. Butler, DH
5. Jacobs, 1B
6. Guillen, RF
7. Callaspo, C
8. Crisp, CF
9. Pena, C

....and choosing among these nine players, I would simply move Crisp to the 9-hole and replace Pena with Olivo and move him to the 8-hole.