Saturday, January 23, 2010

If There's An Original Thought Out There

...I could use it right now.
(From "Brownsville Girl," Knocked Out Loaded)

Another outfielder. With the addition of Rick Ankiel, the Royals have now signed or traded for three new outfielders this offseason, and a fourth if you think Josh Fields will end up playing more outfield than infield.

By itself, the Ankiel move seems OK, as well as intriguing. Ankiel's numbers fell off last year, but that may have been due to a horrific crash into an outfield wall he suffered in early May. Giving him $3.25 million for only one year seems like an acceptable gamble--not much money to see if he can return to his 2008 form. The mutual option for 2011 means either side can walk away--if Ankiel doesn't produce, he probably won't be a Royal in 2011. If he does, it's likely he'll exercise his option and be a free agent again. So the contract doesn't seem to be a problem for either side, and I don't mind the Royals taking a small gamble like that.

It's true that Ankiel is now 30, and theoretically in the decline phase of his career. However, his famous switch from pitcher to outfielder means he's only had two full big-league season's worth of everyday hitting. Those factors probably don't offset each other, but I suppose the possibility exists that Ankiel's career arc could be different from a "normal" player.

However, given the other moves the Royals have made this offseason, I cannot figure out what the overall plan is. The Royals now have Ankiel, Brian Anderson, David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, Mitch Maier, and Scott Podsednik as outfield candidates. And that doesn't include Fields or, possibly, Alberto Callaspo, who apparently has been supplanted at second base by Chris Getz but is one of the few Royals who can hit.

Of course, this is a pattern for the Royals, and it's a disturbing one. There doesn't seem to be a master plan for the major league level--if there were one, why would they ever sign Podsednik only to sign Ankiel two weeks later? This follows last offseason, when it seemed like the goal was to sign any available relief pitcher. I guess the hope is that quantity will somehow equal quality.

Also, this seems like an indictment of the farm system. Dayton Moore has had almost four years to provide the franchise with some quality minor-league options to fill holes at the major-league level. Yes, the cupboard was pretty bare when Moore took over. But it seems like the Royals are trying to patch up both AAA Omaha and the big-league club now, while all the hot prospects are still in AA or A ball. This is rather depressing.

Well, at the risk of repeating myself, it will be interesting to see if another move or two (trade-wise) springs out of this signing. The outfield situation may not sort itself out until the end of spring training. For now, though, this is another head-scratcher, even though, as I said, I don't think this move by itself is bad.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


A couple of quick announcements...

First, I finally put up a poll for most disappointing Royals season. It's over there on the right side of the page. You can refresh your memory as to what I wrote about each of those seasons here.

Second, I decided it was time to join 2009. Yes, I now have a Twitter account. If you're so inclined, you may follow it here.

Now, go enjoy the Golden Globes or the premiere of 24. Or whatever you're up to tonight. As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I Keep Recycling The Same Old Thoughts

(from "Someday Baby," Modern Times)

The Royals have added Scott Podsednik to the team, giving him a one-year contract for $1.75 million, plus a club option for 2011. I'd like to offer you some trenchant analysis of this signing and how it will make the Royals better, but I can't work up the enthusiasm. And besides, I think we all (unless Dayton Moore is reading this) know it probably won't make the Royals better.

Sure, there's a chance Podsednik could make the Royals better in 2010. If he were to duplicate his .353 OBP from 2009, he would likely be among the team leaders in that category. That number would have ranked third on the Royals last season, behind Billy Butler and Alberto Callaspo. Combined, Royals center fielders (I'm assuming the Royals will play Podsednik in center and not left field) put up a .319 OBP last season; Podsednik's career number is .340. So from that perspective, yes, he probably will be an upgrade from 2009.

See, there's nothing wrong with this signing from that standpoint. On the other hand, I don't think you'll find many people, even optimistic Royals fans, who expect the team to contend for a division title this year. With that in mind, would there really be any harm in letting Mitch Maier play a full season to see what the Royals have there? Maier is younger and cheaper than Podsednik. While he wasn't great last year, he wasn't horrible. Why not see if he might be part of the long-term solution?

Look, the Royals are just marking time until this season is over and the ridiculously bloated contracts of Jose Guillen and Kyle Farnsworth come off the books and give the team some payroll flexibility. Furthermore, they're really just waiting until prospects like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are ready to make an impact at the major league level. I think most Royals fans understand that and are willing to wait a couple more years for the team to really be on the cusp of something good (we've waited 25 years, what's a couple more?). Scott Podsednik is a decent player and has had a solid career. But he'll turn 34 during spring training. He's not going to be here when the Royals' long-term plan reaches fruition (assuming, of course, it does reach some sort of fruition). Why not give someone who might be here when that happens a chance to play?

Instead, the Royals have made yet another move that looks OK in the short term but probably blocks a younger player from playing full-time. It's a move that doesn't make much sense to me. But that sort of move is quickly becoming a Dayton Moore specialty, and I think it's the sort of move the Royals need to stop making if they are ever truly going to change their losing ways.