Monday, January 21, 2008

Royals Update

The Royals have signed several players in recent days. Jimmy Gobble signed a one-year deal worth $1,312,500. Ross Gload signed a two-year contract with an option for the 2010 season. And John Buck and Jorge De La Rosa signed one-year deals. Mark Teahen, Zack Greinke, and Esteban German are negotiating with the Royals right now. If they can't agree on a deal, they'll be headed for arbitration next month.

Dayton Moore has signed a couple of free agent starting pitchers recently as well. He signed Brett Tomko to a one-year deal worth $3 million plus incentives and he signed Brian Lawrence to a minor league contract and issued an invitation to camp. Tomko, 34, had an awful season with the Dodgers and Padres last year, going 4-10 with a 5.55 ERA. He's 93-92 in his career with a 4.62 ERA, but you have to go back to 2004 to find a season in which he posted good numbers (11-7, 4.04 ERA). This is a good indication about how hard good starting pitching is to come by and since the Royals didn't spend a lot to get him, I'm not upset about the signing. Moore is doing everything he can to bolster the rotation. Lawrence has missed most of the past two seasons with a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Mike Sweeney continues to hold out hope that he'll be able to re-sign with the Royals, but his chances are looking slimmer by the day. Moore is saying that the Royals would need to "make some kind of trade to create room and create opportunity, and I'm not sure where we go with that. I'd love to be able to figure something out. I just don't know what we could do." I still can't imagine seeing Mike in some other uniform.

Jose Guillen is already making news the wrong way. He told a reporter recently that he wasn't going to play left field this year. Trey Hillman has been saying that Guillen is going to be his left fielder, so Moore got involved and they supposedly came to a compromise, which means Hillman will "keep an open mind" about the subject going into Spring Training. Hillman wasn't happy about it. He said that he respected the fact that Guillen feels he could help the team more by playing right field, but then he said, "I don't need anybody copping attitudes on my plans to get better defensively." Yeah, no kidding. Guillen hasn't even played one game yet in Royal blue and it's hard not to notice an attitude problem.

Former Royal Jeremy Affeldt signed a one-year $3 million deal with the Reds. Ken Rosenthal is calling it a bargain. Sounds like Affeldt will have a chance to make the rotation during Spring Training.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Royals Update

Emil Brown signed a one-year contract with the A's this week. He's headed back to the team that drafted him in 1994. He hit .317 against lefties last season which made him attractive to Oakland. Let's hope his lack of hustle and puffed up view of himself are a better fit in Oakland than they were in KC. I can't see how they could be though.

Luke Hudson signed a one-year $500,000+ contract with the Royals this week, which helped him and the Royals avoid arbitration. Hudson had shoulder surgery in June, and, while he isn't expected to be 100% during Spring Training, he is expected to compete for a starting job at the bottom of the rotation.

Speaking of arbitration, Sam Mellinger recently reported in the Star that the Royals still have seven players facing arbitration: John Buck, Jorge De La Rosa, Esteban German, Ross Gload, Jimmy Gobble, Zack Greinke and Mark Teahen.

How about rather bizarre situation involving Jacob Rodriguez? He's the 19 year-old right handed power pitcher that the Royals drafted in the 22nd round in 2007 who was suspended for 50 games for failing to take a drug test. In Dick Kaegel's article on about the incident, he added this piece of information: "J.J. Picollo, the Royals' director of player development, said Rodriguez was summoned for random testing this winter and reported as requested but had to leave before completing the required test." What exactly does that mean?

Jason Smith cleared waivers this week and was outrighted him to Omaha. He has until Thursday to decide if he'll accept the assignment. Given his .188 average last season, I'm thinking he ought to be jumping for joy to play for Omaha.

We now know the broadcast lineups for the 2008 season:

  • Denny Matthews and Bob Davis will be in the radio booth. Most games will originate on 610 Sports with Sunday games being broadcast on News Radio 980. Steve Stewart will fill-in for Matthews or Davis on occasion. Stewart is coming over from Cincinnati. Ryan Lefebvre may do a little work on radio when the Royals are not on TV. With so many games being shown on television in recent years, I don't listen to the radio broadcast nearly as often as I used to, but I'm still going to miss the Matthews-Lefebvre team. I loved listening to their banter and they had a certain chemistry that just seemed to work well.

  • Ryan Lefebvre and Paul Splittorff will be in the television booth. FSN is taking over the Royals television broadcasts this season and they'll be showing 140 regular season games plus two Spring Training games. At the point, FSN hasn't named possible fill-ins for Splittorff who is expected to decrease his schedule this year. Lefebvre and Splittorff will be a good combination. They worked together quite a bit last season.
  • The one guy who is missing from all this is Brian McRae who brings great insight whenever he's in the booth. I hope that he'll be considered for the available television fill-in spot.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Royals Sign Hideo Nomo

I'm just going to be honest with you. When I heard that the Royals signed Hideo Nomo to a minor league contract I cringed. And then I thought about the image of the team. The image of a team that has become an expert in losing. The image of a team that late night talk show hosts use as the butt of jokes. The image of a team who is routinely mocked for signing guys like Juan Gonzalez, Benito Santiago, Joe Mays and many other guys who have nothing left in the tank.

Once I stopped cringing, I realized that the Nomo signing doesn't really mean all that much. He's not on the 40-man roster. He's just a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. He's going to have to earn his way into our rotation--a rotation that still has some question marks. After Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, and Zack Greinke, the bottom of the rotation is up for grabs and is sure to included a battle between Kyle Davies, Jorge De La Rosa, Brandon Duckworth, Luke Hochevar, Luke Hudson, Nomo, and probably a few others. And if the rumors are true about Dayton Moore pursuing one more free agent starter, then Nomo might be battling all of those guys for the final spot in the rotation.

As others have already mentioned, maybe Nomo is being brought in partially to help Yasuhiko Yabuta with the transition to the major leagues and to American culture. Even if Nomo doesn't make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, he will have spent a full month with the club and with Yabuta and that certainly can't hurt anything.

But I can't get past the fact that the last time Nomo did pitch in the major leagues (in 2005 with Tampa Bay), he was 5-8 in 19 starts with a 7.24 ERA and a 1.768 WHIP. And the year before that with the Dodgers he was 4-11 in 18 starts with an 8.25 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP. Maybe he'll turn out to be the 2003-2004 version of Jose Lima (and hopefully not the 2005 version), but Nomo is (presumably) five years older than Lima, so I'm not holding my breath.

Maybe this is what GM's of small market teams have to do. They have to risk being made fun of in order to uncover a gem or two. And maybe I've just grown too sensitive to the mockery that the Royals face to even want to take such chances. I don't know. What are your thoughts?

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