Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pitchers and Catchers Report

Oh, I love the day when pitchers and catchers report. And today begins the process. The Royals' pitchers and catchers actually report tomorrow with their first workout scheduled for Saturday. The Royals' position players report on February 23 and will work out for the first time on the following day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lima Signs with Mets

Jose Lima signed a one-year, $600,000 minor-league contract with the New York Mets yesterday—all based upon the assumption that he can make the 40-man roster. He could also earn $450,000 in incentives.

I like Jose Lima. I like his fire and his willingness to teach young players. Unfortunately, from the Royals perspective, you just can't bring a guy back who was 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA in 32 starts. Not even our starting pitching is shallow enough to justify such a thing.

I wish him well in New York though and just as I'd like to see Matt Stairs and Joe Randa be part of the Royals organization when their playing days are over, I'd like to see Lima wearing Royal-blue again. He'd be a great motivator.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Brown Wins Arbitration

Emil Brown is going to make $1.775 million this season. He won his arbitration case and so far, it sounds like no hard feelings exist between Brown and the Royals. That's a good thing. Brown is set to start in left field this season, and with Sanders in right and DeJesus in center, the Royals finally have an outfield that doesn't appear to be better suited for Omaha.

Chip Ambres is said to be the fourth outfielder going into spring training, which unfortunately, makes Aaron Guiel the odd man out—again. Guiel put up huge numbers in Omaha last season (30 HR and 103 RBI), but he's older than Ambres, and is presumed to not be able to play all three outfield positions at the same level as Ambres.

And let's not forget Matt Stairs. With Mientkiewicz sure to cobble up innings playing first base, Stairs will surely experience a diminished role. The Royals have been indicating that this would be the case for the past two seasons, but with all the injuries, and frankly, inability of too many players to perform at a high enough level, Stairs was up for the challenge. He's a great guy to have on the team and I'm sure he'll be ready to go whenever Bell calls upon him.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Royals, Brown Go to Arbitration

I don't know how players can sit through arbitration hearings and not come away without a complex. Nobody really likes to hear about his weaknesses. And certainly not in a harsh or clinical tone as appears to be the case during arbitration hearings. But, to keep it all in perspective, we are talking about people who are being paid millions of dollars to play a game that we love to watch. So, while I can understand the hard feelings that sometimes develop during arbitration cases, this can also be a time for a player to hear, with brute honesty, about the areas in which he needs to improve and then actually do something about it.

According to Allard Baird, that's how Carlos Beltran responded after he went through arbitration with the Royals. "There are seldom any players who go in there and it doesn't affect them in some way," Baird said in Jeff Passan's column this morning. "Some positive. Some negative. Some where they question their abilities. The one thing I remember about Carlos Beltran was as soon as he came to spring training, he said to me, 'These are the things I'm going to be better at this season.' They were all the things we discussed in arbitration."

It's no secret that Emil Brown's defense is suspect. He made 12 errors last season—more than any other outfielder in the major leagues. And it's also no secret that he had a good year at the plate—nothing monumental (.286, 17 HR, 86 RBI), but he was solid all year and he was the feel good story of the Royals' miserable season last year—making the club during spring training when nobody expected him to.

You've got to a love a player who perseveres through the minors and then one day, in his early 30's, finds a way to make a major league roster and then he stays there all year. Does that make him worth the $1.775 million he's asking from the Royals? Or are the Royals offering a more fair salary at $1.4 million? Considering that he only made $355,000 last season, either figure is a significant boost. I'd like to see a player perform on a high level for at least two seasons before he cashes in (can anybody say Brady Anderson and 51 home runs in the same sentence?), but the market is such that Brown deserves a raise.

Now we'll see which side wins and hope that the fight doesn't have lingering effects.
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