10th Least Improved
For those with ESPN Insider privileges, you'll be happy to know that our own celebrity Royals fan Rob Neyer lists the R's as the 10th "least improved team" of the off-season.
As a side note, is anyone else amazed by the amount of praise White Sox GM Kenny Williams continues to get?? (Check the message boards at White Sox Interactive and elsewhere) It sure looks like he's hell-bent on a 75-win season to me...
Royals Season Preview- Part 1 of 4
Today's a get-away-day for Royals Nightly, as I'm heading out on a long weekend early this evening. Before braving a trans-midwestern drive however, I wanted to get some thoughts out concerning the Royals and their recently released PECOTA projections. If you're reading this site, you probably know all about PECOTA, the projection system used by Baseball Prospectus on their site and book. You probably also know that PECOTA is a computer program that takes into account the players past performance and uses age, position and body type to attempt to project future perfomance.
As Martha Stewart would say, "its a good thing."
So, the semi-format of my early attempts at thinking through this upcoming season is to kinda inch through the PECOTA data (availible for download for subscribers) and see what sticks out. As some of the fantastic commenters on this site have already noted, the system thinks highly of Calvin Pickering (free Calvin Pickering!) and somehow thinks, despite Allard's ideas to the contrary, that dude's gonna get over 400 ABS. Well, if that happens, I'll be shocked...
Going down the list (although leaving out more minor players... which I may come back to later...):
Angel Berroa: .265/.310/.409 (all numbers listed BA/OBP/SLG). Ehhh... so-so... I'm not alone in thinking that Berroa's about 30 walks a year from being a damn fine player, especially considering he's fast (although not particularly intelligent) on the bases and commonly in the lead-off spot. In short, he's actually got an offensive skill-set, however flawed. And to top it off he plays a premium defensive position non-badly. Players like Berroa, or rather what Berroa could be, are exactly the kind of players that make teams good. PECOTA thinks he's got a nice shot at improving in 2005, which is of course all age-based... but we'll see.
John Buck: .263/.314/.432. Pretty good for a young cathcer who starter his 2004 by looking like one of the worst hitters in the American League. PECOTA likes Buck to sustain his modest amount of pop, slamming 12 homers in 331 at bats. Looks like his nice second half will carry-over.
A. Castillo: .234/.313/.341. Sounds like your standard-issue middle infielder who can't hit. Notice the early trend of low OBP guys, this will continue.
David DeJesus: .283/.367/.434. DeJesus is really becoming THE brightspot to look forward to (or look forwards to) in 2005. That, and the outside shot that Sweeney has a Sweeney season again, which may or may not ever actually happen. Well Royals fans, DeJesus and Greinke... your positive elements on the roster from here till 2009. Enjoy it.
Swingin' Ken Harvey: .268/.323/.428. PECOTA thinks theres a 44% chance Harvey will improve in 2005. Sure hope so. Despite the endless posts here denouncing Harvey, he's not a totally terrible player (and of course good be a great guy... I wouldn't know). Nevertheless, its reflective of a failed mindset that Harvey is playing more than Pickering, or any other Pickering-esque AAAA player.
Terrence Long: .266/.319/.410. Why Allard why? Does anyone realize how much this guy gets paid? PECOTA only sees Long playing 60-70 games in the Royals outfield platoon of horror... we'll see if that happens. I'm dead afraid that Pena will take a shine to this guy and he'll play in 130 games.
Eli Marrerro: .272/.330/.452. Basically, Eli needs to play well, which could create a cascade effect that makes the Royals outfield situation better in spades. He isn't the tantalizing player he once was in St. Louis, but he has an established ability to hit decently. If he plays well, lesser players might not play as much. Everyone wins.
Closing question: Will any Royal hit over 20 homers in 2005???
Well who's it gonna be then I ask? Sweeney's gonna need at least 110 games to do so, as will Pickering -- and thats if everything clicks, at the plate and on the lineup card -- and maybe a guy like Marrerro. Buck? Perhaps, but I think he'll top out at 15. Swingin' Ken? Ditto.
Right now, I'd say the odds of a Royal hitting the magical 20 barrier ar less than 35%...
Until Next Time.
The Base-blog Community Reaches Out
Larry M. (I know I'll misspell the name) is one of the more famous baseball bloggers on the net... and his apartment has burned down.
Larry's got a paypal button setup on his site (it was there before all this, actually) and his parents and close friends have been politelly urging donations.
Larry's "Replacement Level Yankees" blog was one of the first such sites I started reading every day, and his subsequent expansion and involvement with The Hardball Times has been well-earned and well-deserved.
Personally, I don't know Larry, or really anything about him. (Although I did send him an email once-- no response) But, not having a house anymore -- with no renter's insurance-- well, thats a pretty big deal.
PECOTA Projections Are Out
Evidently that eternal annual rite of mid-winter, the BP release of the new PECOTA projections via excel spreadsheet has happened...
Needless to say, I'm really excited about this.
Time to see just how inept this 2005 Royals team will be.
Nixed Affeldt-Kearns Deal?
Scanning through a recent Reds discussion over at All-Baseball, Will Carroll dropped an interesting nugget relating to our Royals:
"The Reds overpaid for Dunn. What would really worry me is that O’Brien
doesn’t have a clue about value. They asked KC for JEREMY AFFELDT of all
things in return for Kearns and turned down Zito for Dunn, asking for
Well, who knows how close the Red-Royals were to making said deal, although I am heartened that there is a chance that Allard at least had the discussion. The recent stories/press-releases on the kcroyals.com site about "taking another look at Abraham Nunez" are truly horrifying.
Royals Sign Denny Hocking
Our Royals have reportedly inked Denny Hocking to a minor league deal.
Yes, that Denny Hocking, the former announcer/Jayson Stark favorite from the Twins, with a career line of .250/.308/.346.
Buster Olney probably has long essays stored away somewhere about his grit, hustle, moxie and productive-out-orific qualities.
At least Desi Relaford had a cool name and cooler hair.
Mike Sweeney (.287/.347/.504 - 106 games) has created a stir throughout the Royals-community with his semi-negative comments about the Royals organization.
On the Royals-L and elsewhere, much indignation has been feigned, but looking at the actual story, Mike takes great pain to qualify himself time and time again:
-"It is a bit frustrating. I'm not the owner. And I'm not the GM. But I am a player who wants to win."
-"I just feel like I've been misled a little bit."
-"I'm definitely not throwing up the white flag and saying get me out of here."
Interestingly, Sweeney essentially echoes the sentiments voiced by RN last week:
"Everyone in baseball knows the Central Division is the weakest. But you have to go out there and try, make some good off-season acquisitions. Build around your veterans and hopefully supplement them with guys from the minor leagues and free agents. I'm looking at the team for '05 and it's not what I hoped it would be as far as stacking the team to win a division in 2005."
Since 2001, Sweeney's games-played totals are : 126, 108, 106, with the 108 in 2003 playing a large role in slowing down the team's miracle run at an 87 win, AL Central winning season. Right now, you'd have to think that the over/under on games played in 2005 is somewhere around 110...
Has Greinke hit the DL yet??? Knowing the Royals luck, I'd say its inevitable...
Looking at the Sox
Guy Bacci, over at the always fun White Sox Interactive, provides a nice summary of the off-season moves the ChiSox have made.
The article seems to place undue stress on the possible value of stolen-bases, but Bacci does mention OBP, so he just escapes getting an official reprimand from the authorities.
The question remains, does anyone else think Scott Podsednik won't be out of baseball in two years?
Beltran (Maybe) A Met
Seven years, 119 million...
If he wasn't signed by the Yankees, it seems obvious now that he would end up being a Met...
Omar Minaya's pent up spending urges from his years in Montreal contribute to his off-season of insanity...
Sometimes the most obvious things jump right in front of your face and you wonder why you haven't been thinking a certain way all along.
(Sorry for the incredibly hokie, tired, cliched opening sentence... its late.)
The Royals don't have to be that good to win the AL Central.
Think about that for thirty seconds.
In the AL East, the Royals would forever be without hope. Even with a Yankee collapse (which might not be as unlikely as it seems, although, no, it wouldn't be because A-Rod "isn't a winner") there would always be the Red Sox around to win 93 games. In the AL West, you'd have Beane's A's and the revenue rich, and spending friendly, Rangers, Angels and Mariners. In one sense or another, every AL West organization is "well run", as is half the AL East. If you put the Royals in either division tomorrow, I would literally bet my life that they would not come within 5 games of first place for the next decade.
But the Royals aren't in those divisions, they're in the Central, which is probably baseball's underhanded way of approaching fairness without a salary cap; lets create a three division format which nicely manages to put most the "small market" teams in one division. Its almost as if the annual playoffs can be seen as "the three best teams and the best team from a media market under 2.5 million."
Anyway, of course you know this already.
But do the Royals really know it.
Consider the obvious implications:
1) There is no elite competition. The AL Central's champion, Minnesota, won 92 games. But with a none too sparkling 35-33 record against the East and West.
2) Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Royals played 76 games last season against their AL Central brothers.
Sure, the Royals are bad, even horrible. They have, to my estimation, maybe three players that any other team would trade an everyday player for: Greinke, perhaps DeJesus and possibly Sweeney.
Although it may just be Greinke.
The twist of it is though, the Twins really aren't that far ahead of the Royals, and neither are the White Sox, Tigers or Indians. The miracle ride of 2003 was both fluky and not that miraculous (83 wins, hello) but it at least showed that with a few breaks and inept rivals, alost anything is possible.
What this means is this; the Royals don't need to be the Yankees, they can be the Rangers, Orioles or Blue Jays (in terms of talent) and win the AL Central.
And yet, so far, the front office is handling this off-season as if they're the Devil Rays: resigned to failure, aware that any "major" free agent signings are futile, and praying that in 5 years all the minor leaguers in the system will become All-stars.
Talent is out there. Hope is out there. Maybe the Royals can't win in 2005, but they definetely can by 2006.
This organization needs a playoff berth... badly.
It can happen, and I think Allard has at least a decent enough vision to make it so, but there is no justification for this team to become the Expos/Nationals/Devil Rays/Brewers and throw up their hands and say "can't do it, coach, time for a spending freeze and 'youth movement'".
The Royals off-season comings and goings are nicely discussed in the latest Baseball Prospectus Triple Play... worth reading.
Most interesting is the side-discussion of Zach Greinke's possible non-starter-on-opening-day status...
MakeRSS at baseballblogs.org
Buy sports tickets,
premium Cardinals, Yankees
Series, and Boston
- Baseball Prospectus
- Royal Board (msg board)
- Royal Blog
- Warning Track Power
- Royals Court
- H.G. Miller Royals Blog
- The Daily Lancer Royal's Blog
- Royal Blues
- Royal Reflections
- Powder Blue Pinetar
- KC's Royal Fan Zone
- All Baseball
- MLB Center
- Fire Brand of the American League
- Lookout Landing (M's)
- Value Over Replacement Blog
- Independent Thinking
- Home Plate in Space(Astros)
- Lets Talk About Sports (BoSox)
- Replacement Level Yankees
- United States of Baseball
- College Basketball Blog