Posted on March 3, 2010 at 10:16 PMLast year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball. I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by. That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.
Filed Under: Kansas City Royals
| Playing Pepper
So this year, I've brought Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist. Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set. Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.
We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.
Kansas City Royals
2009 Finish: 65-97, tied fourth in AL Central
It's tough being a Royals fan. One of my best friends has followed Kansas City for as long as I can remember and it never ends well. There are those brief glimpses, such as 2003, but then things fall apart. The process starts again, but it never seems to end.
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C70: How was the off-season? What kind of grade would you give it?
BBS:The highlight of the off-season was the signing of Cuban defector Noel Arguelles. Without that pickup the offseason is an F, but with it I would upgrade it to D-. They overspent on Kendall and signed him to 2 years which was preposterous, Brian Anderson, Podsednik and Ankiel seemed superflous. They really did need to move Teahen and I am fine with the return from Chicago.
KK: The offseason has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. Dayton Moore has made some good moves including the acquisition of Chris Getz via trade and Edgar Osuna via the Rule 5 draft. While I wouldn't have promised him the job in CF, I think the acquisition of Rick Ankiel was also a nice low-risk, high-upside move. The Royals also did a nice job of adding some AAA depth by adding Bryan Bullington, Brad Thompson, Jorge Camillo, and Matt Herges among others by way of minor league deals.
I am especially excited about the addition of Bullington who I believe can really surprise some people this year if given a shot in the bullpen. I don't see how Josh Fields has any place on the Royals, or any other major league roster and he's out of options, but if the team can get him through waivers and assigned to AAA he would provide a low-risk insurance policy to Gordon at 3B or Podsednik in LF. Part of me would have preferred Moore to trade Teahen for Getz straight up but with Getz as the prize, Fields was basically free money. The addition of Brian Anderson would have been fine if the team had signed him to a minor league contract, but giving him $700,000 and a spot on the 40-man roster was inexcusable. This move looked even more questionable when Scott Podsednik was signed a few weeks later.
All of those moves together would have merited a grade of C or C-, but Dayton Moore also signed 20-year old Cuban lefty Noel Arguelles which was a major addition for this organization. In January it was also reported that the Royals were close to signing Dominican SS-Paul Carlixte but his deal has, to my knowledge, not been finalized. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that he will be signed and with Carlixte and Arguelles added to the organization I'd push my offseason grade up to a C+ or B-.
The addition of Jason Kendall was arguably the worst free agent acquisition by any organization this winter. My assessment isn't because Kendall is an awful player. Though his offensive ability has completely eroded he still has value to a major league organization. The problem with the Kendall signing is that it highlights Dayton Moore's complete inability to assess the free agent market and to react accordingly. The Royals got Kendall for 2 years and $6 million while John Buck, Miguel Olivo, and Yorvit Torrealba collectively signed for $5.75 million. The Kendall debacle bumps the grade back down to C- for me. On the surface a C- isn't a terrible grade, but in some ways it represents a failure because the team failed to truly address any of their holes outside of the potential that Arguelles and Carlixte represent. Coming off a major league worst 672 wins in the last ten seasons, the Kansas City Royals have to turn in better offseasons to climb out of their very very deep hole.
RS: The offseason was disappointing because it seems Moore once again fails to learn from his mistakes. Getz and Fields were nice pickups and even Ankiel was ok but Podsednik and Kendall were pointless. My grade would be a very generous C-.
RK: The offseason was confusing. First we signed Scott Podsednik and Brian Anderson, then we signed Rick Ankiel. We have a few young outfielders in the upper minors who could have possibly made impacts in David Lough and Jordan Parraz, yet Dayton Moore decided to spend millions on veterans. I also expected to see the Royals offer Billy Butler some kind of extension, but they did not. I give the Royals offseason a D.
C70: What is the key to success for 2010?
BBS: Key contributions from younger players like Hochevar, Bannister and Gordon. If those three guys can be above average major leaguers then the Royals should be a much better team.
KK: At the major league level, the 2010 season is pretty much a lost cause, but the long awaited breakout of Alex Gordon would go a long way toward brightening the horizon. Success for the organization will be measured by the progress of their prospects in the minor leagues. Offensively a lot is riding on Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and to a lesser extent Johnny Giavotella, David Lough, Jeff Bianchi, and Jordan Parraz.
RS: The long awaited breakout year from Alex Gordon and probably Luke Hochevar too. Meche needs to bounce back and flash his 07/08 form and Billy Butler need to continue his ascent into a being one of the premier right handed hitters.
RK: Obviously Zack Greinke needs to continue dominating. But if this team has any chance to contend, the starting rotation and bullpen will have to improve. Starters need to go deeper into games and avoid big innings to help bridge the gap to Joakim Soria. Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies and Robinson Tejeda will be guys that I keep close tabs on throughout the spring. The defense must improve as the Royals were nearly impossible to watch when on defense last year.
C70: What will be the team's strength?
BBS: Clearly for the Royals it is starting pitching. Greinke is the clear ace of the staff and one of the best if not THE best pitcher in baseball. Meche and Bannister are solid middle of the rotation guys if they stay healthy. Hochevar is still young and showed flashes of brilliance last year, and Tejada will probably be the fith starter after having a very good end to 2009.
KK: Without a doubt the team's strength lies in the starting rotation with Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, and Brian Bannister leading the way with Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, and Robinson Tejeda vying for the final two spots. Starting pitching is also the team's strength in A and AA.
RS: I'd say the rotation, Greinke/Meche/Bannister are a solid 123 and if Hochevar does indeed breakout they will match up well with the rest of the division. Fifth spot is still up in the air but if Robinson Tejeda can replicate his 6 start success (3-1 2.84) over a full season they will be tough...until the 7th inning.
RT: Starting pitching. Zack Greinke is my pick to repeat as the Cy Young winner. Along with a healthy Brian Bannister and Gil Meche, the Royals have one of the best rotations in the American League.
C70: What could be their Achilles' heel?
BBS: They cannot get on base. It really is that simple
KK: Without question the Achilles heel of this team is that the offense is built on a collection of "what ifs" that are bundled together with bubble gum and scotch tape. Outside of Billy Butler at 1B and David DeJesus wherever they wind up playing him in the OF, the team is counting on players to have career years or breakout seasons. If seven positions manage to come through on that, the offense still might not be much better than league average.
RS: The bullpen or more specifically the bridges from the starting pitcher to Joakim Soria. Farnsworth cannot be counted on (and I'm not buying the rotation talk, it won't happen) in crucial situations and I don't know what happened to Juan Cruz but the 7th and 8th innings are going to most likely be brutal. And defense, the Royals are going with the least effective OF defense and their infield defense won't be so hot either, though they will be an upgrade at second base.
RK: Defense and the lower part of the order. The Royals really struggled on defense last year, and when you have an ace like Greinke, you have to play good defense. I even think that with a better defense behind him last year, Zack probably would have won 20 games.
C70: Who will be the team's MVP?
BBS: Billy Butler. He had a fantastic 2009 and I don't see him slowing down. I think his potential is to be Tony Gwynn with a bit more power.
KK: For the Royals, it comes down to the obvious choices of Zack Greinke or Billy Butler. I expect Greinke to again be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but it is unreasonable to expect him to repeat what he did in 2009. Since Greinke is likely to regress a little and Butler figures to improve, I'll go with Butler. I'd like to be able to pick someone else, but I don't see anyone on the roster doing more than either Zack or Billy for this team in 2010
RS: I'm going out on a limb and guessing Zack Greinke.
RK: Billy Butler. This guy is scary good. He's the most exciting hitter we've had on this team since Carlos Beltran. He is a natural power hitter. I have him projected at .315 BA, 28 HR and 107 RBI. I expect him to surpass those numbers.
C70: Will a rookie make a significant impact on the team in 2010, and if so, who?
BBS: Jordan Parraz will start the season at AAA, but has a very good chance to make his debut sometime this season. He isn't an elite caliber player, but could be a very solid MLB outfielder. I would love to say it would be Kila Kaaihue, but the Royals seemed determined to never give the guy a shot.
KK: Only RHP-Carlos Rosa and LHP-Edgar Osuna have a legitimate chance to make the opening day roster. As a Rule 5 pick the team will probably try to "hide" Osuna in the bullpen, so the smart money is on Carlos Rosa to establish himself and lock down a late inning role in the bullpen, setting up Joakim Soria.
RS: Doesn't seem likely mostly because of roster space. I know that some people seem to believe Aaron Crow will arrive sooner rather than later but I think the earliest we see him will be September.
RK: Maybe. I think Dayton Moore is using this year as a bridging year, trying to develop players in the minors and contend in 2011. But my money is on 1B/DH Kila Ka'aihue.
C70: Who will be the breakout player for the team?
BBS: It's been said a million times, but I honestly think Gordon takes a huge step forward this year. If not him, I would pick Hochevar.
KK: We've been waiting for a couple years for the breakout of Alex Gordon and I hate to go back to the well again, but of all the players on the roster he strikes me as the only one who is capable of putting up a season that comes out of nowhere and wows everyone. I think Butler is going to put up an impressive season but based on his second half in 2009 I don't believe he'd qualify. I also expect Chris Getz to have a real nice season, but I don't see him doing anything eye popping.
RS: I have a gut feeling Alex Gordon comes into his own this year (if I say that every year I'll eventually be right, law of averages).
RK: Robinson Tejeda. He posted a 2.84 ERA as a starter in September last year and has really thrived in Kansas City since being acquired in 2008. If he doesn't catch on in the rotation, I expect him to join Juan Cruz as a set up man to Joakim Soria.
C70: Which player will drop off the most from 2009?
BBS: Alberto Callaspo. He hit wonderfully in 2009, but seemigly already lost his starting job to Getz. I would pick him to regress somewhat even if he were the everyday starter, but coming off the bench will not do him any favors.
KK: After 5 straight seasons with an OPS+ between 67 and 86, Scott Podsednik finished 2009 with an OPS+ of 98 at 33 years old. If he doesn't scream drop-off and regression, I don't know who does.
RS: I'll say Alberto Callaspo because I think he is gonna struggle to get playing time, if he's still here by opening day.
RK: Scott Podsednik. He didn't play for the Royals last year, but I don't think he'll be able to put up the numbers in 2010 that we saw last year.
C70: Who is the most likely player to be dangled as trade bait?
BBS: Frankly, I am hoping about half the starting 9. I think Meche will be dangled around the AS break unless the Royals somehow are in contention. I believe that Podsednik and Ankiel were both picked up specifically to be dealt if one of them is performing well.
KK: Take your pick from the group of Alberto Callaspo, Gil Meche, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, and David DeJesus. I think Alberto Callaspo is the player most likely to get dealt before opening day but at the trade deadline I think it is a toss-up between David DeJesus and Gil Meche.
RS: If Ankiel comes out hot he may attract some attention but my guess is Gil Meche. I believe he will be traded this summer.
RK: David DeJesus or Gil Meche. DeJesus has been a solid player for the Royals for the past half decade, but he is getting older and his value will start to decrease, if he puts up big numbers in the first half and the Royals are cellar dwelling in July, I expect him to be dealt. The Royals desperately need to get Jose Guillen's $12 million off the books, and if they can trade Gil Meche and clear the final $25 mil off his contract, then I am expecting a big offseason for the Royals heading into 2011.
C70: What will be the team's final record and divisional standing?
BBS: 75-87 (this is what passes for optimisim for Royals fans)
KK: I wish I could be more positive, but the 2010 Kansas City Royals will wind up in the basement of the AL Central yet again with a final record of 67-95.
RS: 70-92, last place.
RK: I think the Royals will improve, but not significantly and I expect Trey Hillman to be fired sometime this year. 74-88, 4th place
My thanks to all these guys for chipping in. There's still a lot of work to be done in Kansas City, so we'll see if they step in the right direction in 2010.