Prospectus Triple Play
The latest Baseball Prospectus Triple Play discusses the Royals, complete with a celebration of the recent news that Pickering might get a chance this season.
Good to see I'm on a similar wave-length as the pros...
Pickering Might Actually Get A Shot
Very cool news from today's Star:
That leaves one opening if, as anticipated, the club chooses to keep 12 pitchers: Harvey or Pickering, whose power potential and plate discipline demand a long look.
“Pick would probably be a DH only,” general manager Allard Baird said. “There's only one year of (age) difference between the two. One guy has gotten a lot of opportunities to play in the big leagues, the other guy hasn't.”
Pickering, 28, batted just .246 last season in 35 games but hit seven homers in 122 at-bats after clubbing 35 in 299 at-bats at Class AAA Omaha, Neb. He spent the winter at the Athletic Performance Institute in nearby Tempe in hopes of slimming and toning his 6-foot-5, 300-pound physique.
“He looks good,” Baird said. “He's not another David Ortiz, but I do think he'd be a productive hitter if you gave him 500 at-bats. I think he'd have a very good on-base percentage. He'd strike out a lot, walk a lot and hit a lot of home runs.
“I'll live with the strikeouts if I have power and walks.”
The amazing thing is that a large part of the non-excerpted portion of the article is that Dutton's tone is critical, as is Harvey's. Its like both writer and player are shocked that Swingin' Ken's 3 months of empty batting average aren't guaranteeing him 600 ABs.
As I've said before, I'm rooting for Pickering to get a chance this season. This is probably his last serious shot ever, and his last decent chance at throwing together enough solid ABs to justify getting a nice MLB payday. I don't know anything about the guy, but unless I find out he's an absolutely horrible human being, shouldn't we all be rooting for him?? He's got an outside shot at retiring a millionaire, but its dependent on the decisions of others to play him...
I really love that quote from Allard pointing out that Harvey and Pickering are actually close in age.
Of course, Pena will have a large say in this, and sadly, as amazing as this sounds, I'm not sure he "gets it" as much as Allard does.
Good ole Buster Olney gives his preseason "power rankings" (a strange concept that has somehow infiltrated all sports and all sports websites) on espn.com. Not too surprisingly, our Royals are ranked 30th, behind such luminaries as Washington, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay.
It must be their huge advantage in steals.
But Buster, the Royals ranked 18th last season in productive outs!?!? Doesn't that count for anything anymore!?!?!
Yes, I will never live that stupid stat down. I wonder if Buster realizes that Washington led MLB in productive outs, followed by Colorado and Pittsburgh? Those teams ranked 28th, 11th and 27th in runs scored...
So f*&ing stupid... and yet, I'm mad about it.
Hope everyone is slogging through winter well-enough... Personally, I can't wait to spend many a summer night following the Royals in a losing effort. Really, it sounds great right now.
Anyway, I'm sure just about all of you have found your way over there already, but the latest Rob and Rany on the Royals discusses the state of the Royals farm system.
Basically, the Royals aren't in the best shape, excpet that, considering Greinke and DeJesus are already non-prospectus, its not quite that bad. That is more or less the situation right now. There just isn't immediate help on the way.
Affeldt and Brian L. Hunter
As you've probably seen Affeldt lost his arbitration case this weekend. From the AP:
Affeldt, eligible for the first time, will receive a raise from $350,000 to $950,000 instead of his $1.2 million request, arbitrators Christine Knowlton, Elliott Shriftman and Steven Wolf decided. They heard the case Friday.
I guess at some level I'm supposed to be happy that the cash-strapped Royals "won" the hearing and saved a couple $100,000... But honestly, I can't even muster the feeling. Maybe Affeldt really wanted to tell his boys that he was a millionaire, ( I sure would) and now he's just a little bit short of being able to do that.
Either way, RN is officially on record as not having much faith in Affeldt anymore, considering that even if he becomes an effective reliver thats still a net-loss from his former career path, which had him as a potential rotation conributor...
And, former steals champion (insert fake glee!) Brian L. Hunter has been given a NRI by the Royals, and could make the team as a fourth outfielder.
In 2003 with Houston Hunter hit .264/.313/.346, with, umm, no steals.
Jacob Luft at CNNSI (does that TV channel still exist?) has ranked the AL rotations 1-14... Our Royals show up at number 13, which everything being equal injury and luck wise seems about right.
However, I'm starting to think that theres some real upside to this staff, with Greinke and Runelvys being solidly above-average and Lima-Anderson-Gobble morphing into a replacement-level innings sponge. This formula is also known as "The Minnesota Twins starting 5, 2002-3", with or without Kenny Rogers.
By the way, Luft is well-worth reading. You'll eventually see that he's down with advanced metrics, (his recent columns have used DiPS and VORP, which would get you fired from espn.com) park factors etc.
Watch out Devil Rays... the Royals are coming for ya...
I hope everyone read with wonder and joy my question concerning Zach Greinke in Will Carroll's recent chat at baseball prospectus:
"Will (Iowa): I spent last season convinced the Royals should have shut Greinke down early, if only because there was no real benefit to his being on the mound after awhile and he's so young. Can you tell me anything about how Greinke projects injury-wise... I remember how everyone said Prior was too perfect to get injured...
Will Carroll: Greinke is an interesting case to watch. Young, not a power pitcher, never overused. I feel very good about how he'll work with new Royals pitching coach Guy Hansen. Add in that the Royals are smart enough to work with ... other smart organizations, we'll say (gotta keep those sources secret!), and it adds up to the right place to be. There's always things like ticket sales, schedule integrity, and the chance that the Royals had Greinke working on certain things during those last starts that we don't know. There's a long way to go between integrating the insider and outsider info."
Its nice to see the Royals behind-the-scenes staff being well-recieved in the analyst community. This is a new phenomenon.
Where do you begin on the Magglio deal?
Too many years, too much money, and the supposed "out-clause" they have is really pretty limited.
And consider, I'm probably one of the biggest Maggs fans out there.
Seems to me that the Tigers think they have a real shot at contending in the Central. I don't know if they are right, but maybe, given Cleveland's shakiness, the WhiteSox's "lose now" plan and the general medicority of the Twins... maybe they are close.
Its the right attitude to have in this division, but perhaps a little iffy on the execution.
2005 Season Preview- Part 2 of 4
At this point the question needs to be asked:
Will any Royals position player appear in over 110 games?
1) There's the Sweeney/Harvey/Pickering platoon at 1B/DH. Sweeney's not shown that he's capable of playing a full season anymore, Harvey's a thoroughly disapointing option, and Pickering's gotta fight about three different established biases against ever seeing regular playing time. I predict that Harvey will top 110 games, but its highly possible that all these guys fall into the 70-100 range.
2) Obviously, DeJesus is a good bet for a near-full season... But beyond him, the platoon rotations from hell at the corner spots seem to spell no-full time players. I still like Stairs well enough, but he's a considerable injury risk, and combined with the trio outlined above produces one of the slowest, poorest defensive combos in the American League. I doubt he tops 110 games.
3) The strange 3B/2B situations. Truby? Teahen? Where have you gone Joe Randa??
Onto the PECOTAs.
Donnie Murphy (.260/.322/.405): I don't know who Donnie Murphy is. Honestly. Apparently he's 22 and figures in the Royals 2005 plans. Split-mind point of view: .322/.405 is of course nothing to be excited about// .322/.405 from a Royals middle infielder? I'll take it, Sir.
Abraham Nunez (.231/.312/.388): Just an awful, awful projection. Say hello to one of the worst corner-outfielders in baseball if that line holds up. PECOTA sees this as a kind of make-or-break year for Honest Abe, he's got a 30% chance to collapse (to what??) a 50% chance to improve and a 33% chance to breakout. No, those number don't all add up to 100%, But the "improve" category contains the "breakout" seasons as well, breakout being lots of improvement. Worst case scenario: Nunez his like .280/.310/.450 in April, and Pena plays him for another 4 months. Hey, its not like it hasn't happened (see Harvey, Ken 2004).
Calvin Pickering (.272/.400/.543): (Free Calvin Pickering!) Sorry people, this projection isn't happening. He's not hitting 24 homers next season, and he won't be DHing in roughly 100 games. Just my prediction, based on the ominous comments coming from the Royals leadership this off-season, and the generally tragic nature of Pickering's career. Basically, I've got two interests heading into this season- seeing if the Royals can catch lightening in a bottle and contend in the Central (i.e. going .500 for two months, thus being 4 games behind the Twins on June 1) and seeing if Pick plays. Apparently his audition last season was quite good enough. He better have a good April if he ever wants to make a million dollars. Really, this is exactly the kind of guy we should be rooting for as fans...
Matt Stairs (.267/.359/.472): A year ago he seemed like a cheap, serviceable option. Now, that line just isn't quite good enough. He's an All-Star compared to Nunez, and with that kind of line about once every 10 games he'll do enough to really effect the game. PECOTA sees a 57% chance that he improves from 2004 however, which kinda fits well with Stairs' career: everytime he looks done he rebounds.
Mike Sweeney (.290/.364/.478): Sweeney's place in the heart's of Royals fans is starting to take a Sosa-esque turn, proving once again the old Jamesian (Bill, not William or Joyce) adage about teams taking out their frustration on their best player. Granted, there was that Beltran guy, but until very recently Mike was the only Royals player who could consistently get on-base and hit for power. Yea, he's well-paid (which is what each and every R's fan wanted at the time) and is injury-prone. Its time to move on. I'll never quite get over the sense that Sweeney's injury in 2003 cost this team the Central title, but thats all gone now anyway. Mike's patience has been eroding in this decade, perhaps signalling that he's pressing. I'd sure like to see him slug over .500 again, but considering his inability to leg out many doubles, and the new fences at the K, that might be only a dream. Still, PECOTA sees a 45% chance that Sweeney really rebounds in 2005, coupled with a 25% chance that the bottom-falls out.
Chris Truby (.251/.312/.415): Why?!? He's the insurance plan against Teahen not being ready, but other than a major meltdown type performance (say .200/.220/.250) whats the point? This is like having an insurance policy that just gives you another damaged car or burned-down house. Ehh... maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe I'll close my eyes and imagine that Trubes is a good glove-man, and that he'll have a career year and go .280/.320/.440.
Mark Teahen (.251/.322/.375): Just my negativity. I say he has a rough spring-training and never gets on Pena's good side. PECOTA guesses at 90 games. I say he won't see 50, and may not top 100 ABs. For the curious, Randa's 2005 projection is .269/.331/.402 with an incredibly high collapse rate... So yea... possibilities were limited... I never did write that Randa tribute though.
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