Friday, June 19, 2009

Our Defense

OK, I understand it's been awhile, but I'm going to try to Bob Dole out more blog posts on a regular basis. For those who don't know, I've been doing quite a spell of work over at the 610 Sports' Royals website Left of the Foul Pole. Available at that website are blog posts devoted to the 2009 amateur draft selections, (almost) daily gameday previews, Diamond in the Rough reports, and more. Also, if you are a devoted fan and Royals blogger - and if you are reading this sentence, you are likely one of the two - then I would suggest you call into the Postgame Show with Robert Ford and Greg Schaum following the contest. The number is (913) 576-7610. As B-Dub and others might tell you, just make sure you keep your radio turned down and make sure you keep it clean. Two simple rules in a pathway to venting yourself over a loss, discussing Zack Greinke's dominance, Trey Hillman's chinbeard, or any other Royals-related event that is on your mind. And random journeyman ex-Royal references are certainly welcome and encouraged.

Here are some general thoughts as we approach the 1/2 mark of the 2009 season.

- The defense needs to improve drastically, and in my opinion, it needs to be a #1 priority this offseason. If that means jettisoning Billy Butler, Mike Jacobs, Alberto Callaspo, and others, so be it. Especially considering this team still is not near contention (we're 5 1/2 games back, sure, but we're seven games below .500 well before the break), our veteran spare parts need to be shopped. As begrudging as it sounds, we need to shop Gil Meche, as well. He is a #2-quality starter who, in my opinion, could net us everyday players or prospects at a couple positions. Players like Crisp and Jacobs would net less, and we would likely have to pick up a significant portion of Jose Guillen's remaining salary.

- Trey Hillman needs to go. Enough with the bullpen mismanagement, the almost routine games with comedies of errors, and lack of fundamentals. He has improved with regard to playing time distribution and stolen base success rate, but in my opinion, he is still far from where we want to be as the captain.

- Dayton Moore needs to be on the hot seat. Our offensive run output has actually diminished under his tenure while he has had far greater fiscal resources and lack of ownership intervention during his tenure.

Since defense is a number one priority, though, here is a rant that I originally posted on Royals Corner. The final question applies for The Royal Treatment as well.

Unfortunately, even if Kila moves in (hopefully, that will happen), the right side of our infield will still be subpar. Now, of course, I think Kila and Callaspo will negate their defense enough to be at least everyday players next season. However, when pitchers like Hochevar are starting (assuming he starts next year), then it could hinder us that much more.

I realize this is subjective, but here is I believe how we would rank defensively from the players signed in our organization next year, including the arb.-eligibles (qualitatively):

Catcher - Buck (average), Olivo (slightly above average), B. Pena (atrocious), House (atrocious)
First Base - Butler (below average), Ka'ahiue (below average), Shealy (above average), Jacobs (atrocious)
Second Base - Callaspo (below average), Hulett (average), Bloomquist (above average)
Shortstop - Pena (well above average), Aviles (above average), Bloomquist (below average), Hulett (below average), Hernandez (above average)
Third Base - Gordon (above average), Teahen (slightly below average), Bloomquist (well below average)
Left Field - DeJesus (above average), Teahen (well below average), Bloomquist (below average)
Center Field - Crisp (above average), Maier (above average)
Right Field - Guillen (atrocious), Teahen (below average), Bloomquist (well below average)

We need upgrades at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop if Aviles cannot hit at least .270/.310/.400, and right field(!!!!!) That's four positions. If Aviles can even come close to replicating '08, we're fine at shortstop, and we might have to bite the bullet again with Callaspo and first base. However, we clearly need a much, much, much, much better right fielder and we also need to drastically reduce the playing time of players like Willie Bloomquist and Mark Teahen in the field.

Does someone want to work on finding which Free Agent-eligible (2009-10) players could provide us plus defense at a resonable cost?