Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Richer By Far

...with a satisfied mind.
(From "A Satisfied Mind," Saved)

This is a happy day, Royals fans! Zack Greinke has signed a contract extension through 2012. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best move Dayton Moore has made as GM. The Star reports Greinke will receive $38 million over the four years, but the contract is backloaded; $27 million of that will be due in 2011 and 2012.

This is such a refreshing change for Royals fans; our team has found a talented youngster and will keep him two years beyond when he would have been a free agent.

So rejoice, KC! And now it's time to embrace Greinke; he wanted to stay here, and he's ours.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Don't You Try And Move Me're just gonna lose.
(From "Crash On The Levee (Down In The Flood)," Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2)

Apparently the Royals are tinkering with the idea of moving Mark Teahen to second base. I can certainly see the rationale behind this. Two of the three outfield spots are locked up, with Coco Crisp in center and David DeJesus in left. And the Royals have collected so many 1B/DH types that, to get his bat in the lineup and justify his excessive contract, Jose Guillen has to play right, defense and on-base percentage be damned. And Teahen has shown defensive versatility and the willingness to play good soldier as he has bounced from third base to right field to left field to first base to center field without complaint (in the linked article, he says he is willing to try playing at second if it will get him in the lineup).

While I'm glad the Royals are thinking outside the box, I'm not sure this is their best move. First, I thought the recent signing of Willie Bloomquist, plus the roster presence of Alberto Callaspo, meant the Royals were going to give one of them the second base job (for the purposes of this discussion, I'm giving Callaspo the job now). If they put Teahen at second, the Bloomquist signing really seems useless (although he would still be a better backup option at shortstop than Callaspo or Tony Pena Jr.). Second, putting a guy at a premium defensive position when he has not played there in roughly 10 years (freshman year of college, according to the Star) strikes me as a bad idea. Finally, I'm not convinced that Teahen is an offensive upgrade from Callaspo.

Callaspo's offense was pretty much unnoticed last year. He only played 74 games, and missed two months in the middle of the season. He normally hit at the bottom of the lineup, so he was rarely in the offensive mix. He had little power (8 doubles, 3 triples and no home runs in at-bats) and only had 2 stolen bases. Still, he did hit .305, with an OBP of .361, which by Royals standards is tremendous. And he ended up with an OPS+ of 98, which isn't good but also isn't terrible (a 100 OPS+ is a league-average player).

On defense, Callaspo didn't make anybody forget Frank White, but he also played 365 innings without an error. So he wasn't a butcher either. And, as mentioned, second base is an important defensive position, where you would prefer someone who is used to playing there.

I'm sure the Royals are looking at the fact Teahen hit 15 homers last year, while the Royals' second basemen combined for 3 (all from Mark Grudzielanek). But power seems to be Teahen's only advantage over Callaspo. Granted, for a team that finished 12th in a 14-team league in runs, that's an important consideration. But I think the Royals need more on-base percentage in the lineup, especially if they insist on having OBP-challenged players like Guillen, Miguel Olivo and Mike Jacobs in there. Callaspo's OBP was nearly 50 points higher than Teahen's (.361 to .313).

The Royals may be considering this move in case Callaspo has more off-field issues. Those two months he missed followed his arrest for drunk driving and were presumably time he spent in rehab. In that case, getting Teahen some experience at second is a good idea. If you're giving me a choice between Bloomquist and Teahen at second base, I will certainly take Teahen. True, Bloomquist had a higher OBP, but he has absolutely no power and that OBP last year was some 50 points higher than his previous best, which makes it look like a fluke. His career OBP is lower than Teahen's.

Since the Royals gave up a pitching prospect (Billy Buckner) for Callaspo, I wish they would at least give him a chance to see what he can do. I also think they have jerked Teahen around enough and wish they would let him settle on a spot--it might improve his offense. And I also wish the Royals would have thought of this before they spent any money on Bloomquist.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Final Repudiation of Carl Peterson

The Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl. The Arizona Freakin' Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl.

Why bring this up on a (mostly) baseball blog? And why drag Carl Peterson into it? Well, it's my blog, and while I am happy for any Cardinal fans out there, it angers me as a Chiefs fan that my team has been unable to reach a Super Bowl, which is apparently so easy a Cardinal can do it.

When Peterson took over the Chiefs after the 1988 season, the NFL had 28 teams. Now there are 32; two of the new teams have been to a Super Bowl in the last 20 years (this counts Baltimore as a new team, since the new version of the Cleveland Browns was granted the rights to all of Browns history. It may not be the most sensible decision, but that's how the NFL looks at it). And of those 28 teams, 20 have gone to the big game at least once in those 20 years. The Un-Elite Eight: Cincinnati (the Bengals did make the Super Bowl following the 1988 season), Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, and the New York Jets.

And the Chiefs.

Even worse, here are some teams who joined the Chiefs at the bottom of the 1988 standings: Atlanta (5-11 that year, lost SB XXXIII), Dallas (3-13, won 3 titles in the 90s), Green Bay (4-12, won SB XXXI, lost SB XXXII), San Diego (6-10, lost SB XXIX) and Tampa Bay (5-11, won SB XXXVII). And Detroit, proving some things never change.

It may not be fair to blame Carl Peterson for all of this. But he was the one constant in the Chiefs organization through the entire 20-year period. Players changed, coaches changed, even the owner changed. Scott Pioli may prove to be a terrible hire as new GM (I don't think this will be the case, though). But it will be easy for him to surpass Peterson's record. Just get to one Super Bowl, and he will look much better than his predecessor.

New Look!

As you can see, the boring old blog look has been replaced with something new. Please let me know what you think!

In other news, spring training is a month away! And Royals fans have a reason to watch this spring's World Baseball Classic. Actually, three reasons, as the Star reports, Mike Aviles, Joakim Soria and Mark Teahen will play for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada, respectively. And Miguel Olivo may play for the Dominican Republic. So that's cool. I'm glad none of the Royals' starting pitchers are going to be there; I worry about those guys throwing too many pitches in competitive games so early in the spring, even if there is a pitch count limit in the WBC. But it probably won't hurt Soria; he won't throw many pitches in any one outing. And playing competitive games should help Aviles and Teahen get ready for the season more than regular spring training games would.

Let's hope this next month hurries along; I'm ready for some baseball!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Too Much Of Nothing

...can make a man feel ill at ease.
(From "Too Much Of Nothing," The Basement Tapes)

This is what it's like to be a Royals fan. For years, you put up with the worst baseball imaginable from a major-league franchise. All the while, you curse the big payroll teams for simply buying the most expensive players and never going through the pain of a losing season, but you do have to acknowledge that your team is run by clueless morons.

Then one day, new leadership comes in. Finally, the team looks like it has a plan. The payroll increases, the spending on scouting and draft picks increases, some of the promising young players are signed to longer deals. The team rips through the final month of the season with an 18-8 record, climbing out of last place for the first time in 5 years. As the offseason starts, the team has a wishlist of free agents that are actually intriguing. You start to dream a little: "Rafael Furcal would look great in blue! He can lead off, he walks and steals bases. And we'd be moving a shortstop to play second--what a great defense we will have!" Or maybe: "Well, Furcal might be a little expensive, but Orlando Hudson is a good solid second baseman. And Mike Aviles looked good at shortstop last year, we don't have to move him to second." Or even: "Boy, Pat Burrell would fix up this offense! And we'd never have to watch Jose Guillen play outfield again!"

But, of course, reality sets in. The Yankees spend roughly $87 billion on players. And after trading for a first baseman when they already have three players at that spot, and trading for another outfielder, and worst of all, signing an overpriced mediocre reliever, the Royals decide they don't have any money left. So instead of getting Furcal or Hudson or someone else with above-average ability to play second or short, the Royals come up with Plan B.

Willie Bloomquist.

Perhaps that was really Plan Q.

I just can't get excited about this signing. At least it's only $1.5 million a year, but still...when fans are expecting a Rafael Furcal or an Orlando Hudson and instead get the second coming of Keith Miller (seriously, check baseball-reference's similar batters), it's rather frustrating. Somehow, a competition for the starting second base job between Alberto Callaspo and Bloomquist just isn't that exciting.

To be fair, there are some good things about Bloomquist. He's cheap, as I mentioned. He can play any spot on the field (he has played everywhere except pitcher and catcher in his career). His SB/CS ratio is very good: 71/16. His addition likely is officially the end of Tony Pena Jr.'s time in KC. He did post an OBP of .377 last year, a slight upgrade from Pena's .189 mark. He's never played more than 102 games in a season, so his legs should be fresher than most guys' when the heat of August rolls around. And, much to The Amazing Michelle's chagrin, I can now make the same stupid Army of Darkness "This is my...BLOOMQUIST!" joke I have loved so much since he joined the league, even though it's really not very funny. Hey, I'm not a writer for 30 Rock, what do you want from me?

(Side note: Tina Fey, if you're reading this, I would LOVE to be a writer for 30 Rock. Call me!)

Where was I? Oh yeah, trying to convince myself to be excited about the 2009 season. One thing I know after all these years of being a Royals fan, once spring training starts in a few weeks, it will be a lot easier to get excited. But for now, this has been a disappointing offseason. Which is all part of being a Royals fan.