Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Suppan Signs with Brewers

Jeff Suppan signed a four year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers on Christmas Eve that is worth $42 million. It's a good signing for the Brew Crew because they get a model of consistency to plug into their rotation--probably around the number three spot. And it's a good signing for Jeff Suppan because it'll keep him in the National League, where he seems to excel.

That doesn't change the fact that I think he would have been a good fit with the Royals--maybe even a better fit since our staff is going to contain younger, more inexperienced pitchers who need guys like Suppan to show them what hard work and good preparation can do. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hernandez Signs with Red Sox

If you needed proof that teams are in desperate needs of pitching, look no further than Boston. They just signed Runelvys Hernandez to a minor league deal and then invited him to Spring Training hoping that he can "deepen" their bullpen. Hernandez will get $655,000 for a one year contract and he'll have the chance to earn an additional $1.5 million in bonuses.

Even though Hernandez had his moments in a Royal blue uniform, his career statistics are atrocious. He's 25-33 in 78 starts with a 5.38 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and .284 BAA. Last season he was even worse, going 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and a stunning .327 BAA. He couldn't get anybody out. But it's not like the Red Sox dumped a bunch of money in his lap. They took a small risk in hopes that the other Runelvys Hernandez will show up.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Royals Sign Riske

Dayton Moore signed David Riske to a one year contract with an option this week. Finally, the Royals are attempting to solidify the bullpen by actually signing guys who are accustomed to bullpen roles. How many guys have we banished to the pen in recent seasons as a consolation prize simply because they weren’t good enough to start? Truth be told, many of them were not good enough to be in the pen either.

Riske, 30, is expected to be our setup guy. His career numbers speak for themselves: 3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and .229 BAA in 361.1 IP. And he’s never walked more than 41 guys in a season.

We’re actually starting to put a legitimate bullpen together. I can see Jimmy Gobble finally settling into long relief and guys like Todd Wellemeyer, John Bale, and Joe Nelson setting the table for Riske and then Dotel.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Too Many Outfielders?

If you assume that Teahen will be playing a corner outfield position at some point in 2007 because of Alex Gordon, then you have to wonder if maybe a deal isn’t in the works regarding Reggie Sanders or Emil Brown after the Royals traded for Ross Gload today. David DeJesus is going to be the every day centerfielder and that only leaves one corner outfield position left for Sanders, Brown, and Gload. Joey Gathright can back up DeJesus in center and Gload can back up Shealy at first base, but it seems to me that we’ve got one too many outfielder/DH-types on this roster right now. Let’s see what happens next.

UPDATE [12-17-06 @ 8:34 AM]: Moore confirmed in this article running in the Star that he picked up Gload to back up Shealy because he doesn't think Justin Huber is ready for the big leagues yet. Watching how things shake out in Spring Training ought to be interesting.

Royals Trade Sisco for Gload

Obviously, Dayton Moore doesn’t feel attached to the players or to the “plan” that Allard Baird had in place when he was in Kansas City (and why should he?). The Royals sent Andrew Sisco to the White Sox today for first baseman/outfielder Ross Gload. Gload, who is 30, hits for average (he’s a career .298 hitter) and he’s considered above average in the field. He hasn’t shown a lot of power (12 HR and 74 RBI in 259 career games), but this should solidify our outfield (he’s played all three positions) when a guy needs a day off.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Soria Throws Perfect Game

Add Joakim Soria to the list of young arms that Dayton Moore has stockpiled since he came to Kansas City less than a year ago. The Royals selected Soria as a Rule 5 draft choice from San Diego and he’s already making noise in the Mexican Pacific League. The 22 year-old righty threw a perfect game on Saturday night—striking out nine guys in the process.

Here’s what Moore had to say about Soria: “I think (Soria’s) going to fit in well with some of the young arms we have coming into the organization. I think he’s got a chance, a year from now, to be mentioned in the same vein with some of our younger prospects. He could be that kinda guy for us.”

He’s 9-0 with a 1.77 ERA in the MPL and the beauty is—he took Runelvys Hernandez’s spot on the roster. Soria may or may not be ready for the major leagues yet, but I don’t see how he could have a worse season than Hernandez had last season (6.48 ERA in 21 starts).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stairs Signs with Toronto

Matt Stairs signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays recently. Given that he’s from New Brunswick, Toronto seems like a good fit for him, but I’d rather see him in Royal blue for one last season.

Reitsma's Next on Moore's List

The Royals are now considering strengthening their bullpen by signing Chris Reitsma. He’s coming off elbow surgery, but is expected to be ready in time for Spring Training. Reitsma was awful in Atlanta last year—going 1-2 in 27 appearances with an 8.68 ERA. But presumably, his elbow was at least partly to blame. His career ERA is 4.58 (a little high for my taste, but far better than what we’ve seen out of our pen in recent years) and he has saved 37 games in his career. Obviously, he wouldn’t be closing games for the Royals unless Octavio Dotel goes down.

Jeff Suppan’s agent said that Suppy won’t be making a decision about where he’ll sign until after Barry Zito gets a contract—which means he’s hoping to get top dollar. That is not good news as far as I’m concerned. If he ends up demanding a lot more than Meche got, I can’t see the Royals signing him.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Royals Considering Suppan

Talks with Miguel Batista are cooling down, and some reports say that he may be headed to Seattle. So, it sounds like the Royals are turning their sites to Jeff Suppan—which I’ve been in favor of since he became a free agent after the season ended. As I said about Suppan during the first Royals Roundtable over at Royal Ingenuity:
I’d love to see Moore resign Jeff Suppan. The guy is a rock in any rotation he joins and right now, the Royals are in desperate need of such. You can pencil Suppan in for 30+ starts and 190 innings every season. And the guy knows how to win. He’s won 106 career games—39 of which came in a Royals uniform. He cost the Cardinals $4 million last season, and he’s sure to garner more after the post season he had, but if we were willing pay Paul Byrd $7.5 million to be a Royal before last season, we’d darn sure better be willing to pay a guy like Suppan that amount of money.
Well, as you know, the winter meetings blew salaries all out of proportion after they’d been kept in check in recent seasons, so Suppan’s stock went up as guys like Gil Meche received $11 million per year. Sounds like Suppy may cost the Royals around that same price if they hope to ink him. Is he worth that much? Who is to say? But if Gil Meche is worth that much, then Suppan is as well.

Harvey Signs with the Twins

Ken Harvey has signed a minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins and they invited him to Spring Training. From what this article says, the Twins expect Harvey to compete for the DH spot.

Who have thought after the year Ken Harvey had in 2003 that things would end like this for him in Kansas City? He’s only played twelve major league games in the past two seasons and with so many other people (Shealy and Huber) coming along and earning a shot at the major league level, Harvey just didn’t figure into the Royals future any longer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Royals Sign Dotel

Octavio Dotel is the latest get by Dayton Moore. Several news outlets, including the Boston Globe, are reporting that Dotel will get $5 million for one year (with a chance to earn $2 million more in performance bonuses) to join the Royals. Apparently the Royals outbid the Red Sox, the evil Yankees, and the Devil Rays. The Royals finally have a closer.

The Royals also signed John Bale, a 32 year-old lefty who has been pitching in Japan for the past three years. Bale signed a two-year contract worth $4 million. In five starts and 34 relief appearances last season he was 1–2 with six saves and a 2.93 ERA.

Passan's Take on Meche

Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports isn’t convinced that the Gil Meche signing was a good one. He named it as the “Worst Contract, Vol. 1” of the winter meetings. Here’s what he said:

“If the Royals were going to give out that amount of years and dollars, why didn't they just go after A.J. Burnett last season? In Meche, they get a sinkerballer who spent time in the minor leagues two years ago and has found minimal success at the big-league level.”

The answer to his question may be two-fold. Number one, Allard Baird was still in charge, and Glass didn’t seem quite so willing to fork over the money for free agents (Burnett got the same contract that the Royals just gave Meche—$55 million for five years). Number two, A. J. Burnett has only pitched more than 180 innings once in the past four seasons, while Meche has done it twice. The Royals were looking for an innings eater who could get them further into games before getting into the pen.

Will Meche be the right guy? Who knows? Time will tell.

RR Poll Results

We definitely had a split decision regarding the previous Royal Reflections poll question that asked: Are the Royals headed in the right direction for 2007?

  • 49%: Yes (25 votes)
  • 35%: No (18 votes)
  • 16%: I’m not sure (8 votes)

So, twenty five of you think the Royals are on the right track and twenty six aren’t convinced that they are.

I ended this poll when I did because the winter meetings may influence answers and I’m just about to post a new poll asking your opinion about the winter meetings.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Moore Signs Meche

Moore made it happen. He signed Gil Meche to a five year contract that is believed to be worth $55 million. Moore said that Meche will be considered as the Royals’ potential number one starter. At 28 years old, he should fit nicely into the rotation. I’m not convinced that he’s a number one guy, but he’ll probably be the best number one guy we’ve had in a while.

Moore also released Runelvys Hernandez and that’s good news as far as I’m concerned. I think the guy has talent, but he just never seemed to be willing to do the hard work during the off-season to come into camp in shape. And now that we have other alternatives regarding starters, Hernandez just doesn’t fit into our plans anymore.

No word yet on Batista. Check back for news as it breaks.

Royals Close to Signing Meche

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Royals are close to signing Gil Meche for $45 million for four years. The $24 million for three year deal for Miguel Batista is still on the table (considerably more than the Cardinals are offering). And the Royals are one of four teams in the running to sign Octavio Dotel.

Sounds like money really isn’t an issue with the Royals this off-season.

Moore Pursuing Dotel

The Royals are making an attempt to sign Octavio Dotel. Dotel is only interested in going to a team where he can be the closer. The Royals certainly have had their share of problems at the back end of the bullpen, but MacDougal is gone, and so is Burgos, so somebody will need to fill the role in 2007.

I’m not in favor of making Zack Greinke the closer. I don’t think he has the mentality of a closer. Leo Nunez throws hard enough, but he can’t get anybody out and so far, he hasn’t even been able to stay in the major leagues for an extended period of time. Scott Dohmann was a disaster last season (7.99 ERA). Joe Nelson probably did the best job in the closer’s role last season, but I’m not sure he’s the long-term answer. I’d like to think that Andrew Sisco has the right mentality, but his 7.10 ERA won’t cut it.

Moore obviously isn’t convinced that we currently have the long-term answer under contract or he wouldn’t be fishing for a closer. Dotel is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery and he is 33 years old. Moore would be taking a chance by signing Dotel, but if Dotel returns to form, we’d be getting a guy with eight years of experience who has a career 3.75 ERA with 71 saves (he spent several years in Houston as a set up guy).

Last year, Dotel made $2 million with the evil Yankees. If his price remains low, I’d be in favor of taking the risk.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Burgos Traded for Bannister

The trade for Brian Bannister when through this morning, and Ambiorix Burgos is now a New York Met. Some will probably say that the Royals were premature in dealing Burgos away—that he was brought to the big leagues too early and that he hasn’t had a chance to mature yet. All of those things may be true, but he’s wild and doesn’t seem all that interested in toning down his speed to gain a little control. I wish him well, but frankly, I’m glad he’s gone.

I love Bannister’s minor league numbers. Now we’ll see if he can perform consistently at the big league level. Bannister will join the Royals’ rotation that currently includes Odalis Perez, Jorge De La Rosa, and Luke Hudson. Hardly a rotation that is going to strike fear in opposing hitters—primarily because it’s missing a number one and number two guy.

Perez was hardly lights out in his twelve starts for the Royals. De La Rosa looked shakey and I’m not all that sure he’s even ready for the big leagues yet. Hudson was up and down, but still ended up being one of our most solid starters. If the Royals sign Miguel Batista, that’ll leave Runelvys Hernandez and Zack Greinke out of the rotation and it’ll probably shut the door on Mark Redman’s return to the Royals.

Scott Elarton will figure into the mix when he returns in June. And of course, Luke Hochevar is waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Royals Offer Batista $24 Million

Ken Rosenthal is confirming that the Royals have offered Miguel Batista $24 million for three years. But it’s not a done deal yet. The Cardinals are in the hunt for Batista since they may lose both Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver.

Burgos to the Mets?

According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, the Royals and Mets are discussing a deal that would move Ambiorix Burgos to the Mets for a “pitching prospect.”

Matthew Cerrone’s MetsBlog says that the prospect may be Brian Bannister. Bannister is 25 and has spent most of his career in the minor leagues where he is 41–26 (mostly as a starter) with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and a 3.05 strikeout to walk ratio.

Bannister, a righty, is the son of former big leaguer, Floyd Bannister. According to this article, he has four pitches and he has good control on both sides of the plate. He throws two fastballs, a curveball (that he considers to be his out pitch), and a cutter/slider. He’s also working on a change up.

Royals Seeking Meche, Batista

With salaries skyrocketing and the Royals in dire need of starting pitching (Royals’ starters had a ridiculous 5.85 ERA last season), it’ll be interesting to see how much Moore has to fork over to get a second-tier starter or two. Just looking at what guys like Barry Zito are rumored to be getting ($102 million for six years) makes you shake your head.

With that said, the Star is reporting that the Royals are “among the finalists, though not necessarily the favorites” in signing Gil Meche and/or Miguel Batista. Moore is hoping to hear something this week from them. According to the same article, it’ll probably take between $8–10 million per season (for three to four years) to sign Meche and $20–25 million to sign Batista for three years.

Sounds like Mark Redman is still a possibility and the Royals are also talking about signing Ryan Franklin.

Meche is 55–44 in his career with 4.65 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP. I’d like to see a higher strikeout to walk ratio from him (1.58), but he’s not a strikeout pitcher. Is he worth $10 million? Probably not, but then again, the market determines worth, and if the market is willing to pay him that much, then that’s what we’ll have to pay if we hope to sign him. He is only 28, so that is a major plus.

Since Batista’s brief stint with the Royals in 2000, he’s established himself as decent major league starter (he had a brief stint in the pen with the Blue Jays in 2005), going 55–55. He has a 4.46 career ERA, a 1.455 WHIP, and a 1.47 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s also 35 years old and that makes me a bit leery of him, but he did throw 206 innings last year, so maybe he still has something left.

Unbelievably, Mark Redman was the Royals’ pitcher of the year last season, even though he had a 5.71 ERA. Redman made $4.5 million last season. Is he worth that much? I don’t know. After he developed a cutter late in the season, he seemed to be more effective. If we can’t get Meche and Batista (and I’m guessing we won’t get both, hopefully we can get at least one of them), then I’d probably resign Redman, but I certainly wouldn’t go higher than what he made last season, and I’d hope to go lower.

Franklin hasn’t won a lot of games in his career, but he’s played for some bad baseball teams. He’s 41–57 with a 4.35 ERA, a 1.345 WHIP, and a 1.73 strikeout to walk ratio. He was used exclusively as a reliever in Philadelphia and Cincinnati last year, but prior to that he was a starter in Seattle. His best year there was 2003, when he was 11–13 with a 3.57 ERA. He really hasn’t looked like the same pitcher since then. He made $2.6 million last season and I don’t think he’s worth that. He’s 33 and I just don’t see where he’d fit it on this staff.

Stay tuned for more news as the winter meetings continue.

Matthews a Finalist in Frick Award

Denny Matthews is one of the ten finalists for the 2007 Ford C. Frick Award. Here are the qualifications according to MLB.com:

To be considered for the Frick Award, an active or retired broadcaster must have at least 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a ballclub, network, or a combination of the two.

Voters base their selections on an announcer's longevity, popularity and continuity with a club, as well as honors such as national assignments, including the World Series and All-Star Game.

He’s been with the Royals since day one (thirty eight seasons). He paints a beautiful picture for listeners. He’s not such a homer that you feel like you can’t trust him. He interjects great memories as he calls the game. And you just feel like you know him.

And in a way, we do. I’ve been listening to him for twenty-eight years (since I was 12). He’s been the voice of the Royals all across the Midwest for longer than many Royals’ fans have been alive. And I can’t imagine the Royals Radio Network without him. I bet you can’t either.

I’ve met Denny a couple of times while working on assignment for different publications and he’s just as personable as you might imagine.

The winner of the Frick award will be announced on February 22. I’ll certainly be rooting for Matthews to win.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Royals Roundtable

I have an exciting announcement to make. Garth Sears over at Royal Ingenuity has pulled together a panel of writers, including: Craig Brown from Royals Authority, Dan Fox from Baseball Prospectus, Max from Royals Resource, Sam Mellinger from the The Kansas City Star, Joe Posnanski from The Kansas City Star, Garth, and finally, me to talk about Royals baseball a little more in depth.

The group is called Royals Roundtable. Periodically, we’ll all answer questions in a roundtable format, and hopefully it’ll give you a chance to gain some great information as well as some well thought out opinions about the Royals. And anybody can comment (after you register), including the panelists. The first Royals Roundtable discussion is posted. Check it out by clicking here.

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