Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teahen to Second?

After church on Sunday, a knowledgeable Royals fan and I were having a discussion about the acquisitions the Royals have made this offseason, when he asked me what I thought about moving Mark Teahen to second base since DeJesus, Crisp, and Guillen are a lock in the outfield. I told him that Teahen is probably too tall to play second base, but if anybody his height could pull it off, it would probably be Teahen because he’s so athletic.

I came home after that and heard that Trey Hillman is thinking about giving Teahen a shot at second base. How about that? But we already have a log jam at second base: Willie Bloomquist, Esteban German, and Alberto Callaspo. The question is, would Teahen be better? Hard telling. He’s an above average fielding third baseman, but second base is a different animal. We’ll see how he adjusts during Spring Training. My fear is, if he is below average defensively that we’re going to have some problems because Mike Jacobs isn’t exactly known for his glove work over at first base. Another option is to use Teahen as an uber-utility man and put him in a different spot every day.

But I have another option:

1B: Alex Gordon (his best fielding position)

2B: Willie Bloomquist/Alberto Callaspo

3B: Mark Teahen (his best fielding position)

SS: Mike Aviles

DH: Mike Jacobs

Yes, this leaves Billy Butler, Ryan Shealy, and Kila Ka’aihue out of the equation. But we knew that somebody’s playing time was going to get cut when Moore signed Jacobs. If Moore was convinced that one of these three guys was going to turn into a 25+ home run guy in the next year or two, he wouldn’t have singed Jacobs. And if the Royals went with the infield I’m proposing, it would be their strongest defensive infield because nobody would be playing out of position. Of course, Butler or Shealy could play first base or DH once in a while.

What do you think?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sweeney Signs with Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have signed Mike Sweeney to a Minor League contract and invited him to Spring Training as a non-roster player. Sweeney had this to say at the press conference:

“I’m going to go to camp, put my head down and leave everything I can on the field,” Sweeney said. “If things don’t work out, and I don’t make that trip to Minnesota [for Opening Day], I’ll probably just sail off into the sunset to San Diego with my wife and three kids, be thankful for the opportunity, and look into the next chapter of my life.”

It would be just as hard to see him in a Mariners uniform as it was to see him in an A’s uniform last season, but I’m hoping that makes the team and has a good season. I’d like to see his career come to an end on his own terms.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Royals Sign Greinke to Four-Year Contract

Big news out of Kansas City today. The Royals signed Zack Greinke to a four-year deal through 2012. This is a great way for the Glass family and Dayton Moore to show Royals fans that they are serious about re-building this team around great pitching and that they are serious about keeping young talent in Kansas City.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Royals Sign Gobble, Buck, and Peralta

The Royals are busy singing players who are arbitration eligible:

Jimmy Gobble

The Royals signed him to a one-year deal with $1.35 million (compared to his 2008 contract in which he made $1,312,500). I like Jimmy Gobble. He hasn’t complained about the various roles he’s been given and I see him as a total team player. But he had an awful season in 2008 (0-2, 8.81 ERA, 1.958 WHIP). Remember the game against Detroit on July 21 when he gave up 10 earned runs in one inning? Wow. He did finish the 2008 season strong by not allowing any runs over his final eight appearances. But I’m not sure that he deserves a raise for that and I can’t imagine he would have won his arbitration case. He’s really only had one good season (2007, when he went 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA) and I can’t see that changing unless Hillman begins to use him more as a situational lefty. Right handed hitters eat him for lunch. In 2008, they hit .382 against him. In 2007, even in his good season, they hit .319 against him. In my opinion, he’s worth $1.35 million only if he’s used solely as a situational lefty.

John Buck

The Royals signed Buck to a one-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. According to Yahoo!, the contract is worth $2.9 million (he made $2.2 million last season). Is he worth it? From an offensive standpoint, probably not. He hit nine less home runs in 2008 than he did in 2007 and he had more at bats in 2008 than he did in 2007. With Miguel Olivo on the roster in 2009, Buck will surely split catching duties again, much like in did in 2008. Olivo hits righties better than Buck does (Buck hit just .219 last season against them while Olivo hit .251 against them). It seems that Dayton Moore and company like Buck because of the way he handles and understands the pitching staff. Some would argue that the numbers the Royals’ pitching staff puts up hardly warrants keeping Buck around, but I think the poor numbers have had more to do with poor personnel than anything. So, does his understanding of the pitching staff make him worth $3 million? Tough call, but probably.

Joel Peralta

The Royals signed Peralta to a one-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. According to Yahoo!, the contract is worth $640,000. Peralta had the worst year of his career in 2008 (1-2, 5.98 ERA). He didn’t even have one good month in 2008 (his best month was May, during which he had a 5.06 ERA). He did have a decent 2007 season (1-3, 3.80 ERA), so we know he’s capable. He’s experienced, knows and accepts his role, and has a career 4.45 ERA. Nothing to get too excited about, but he certainly seems worth $640,000.

Remaining Arbitration Eligible Players

Four players remain on the arbitration eligible list: Brian Bannister, Zack Greinke, Mark Teahen, and Mike Jacobs. According to Yahoo!, here’s where the Royals and players stand:

Right-hander Zack Greinke asked for $4.4 million and was offered $3.4 million; fellow right-hander Brian Bannister proposed $2,025,000 and was offered $1.45 million; outfielder Mark Teahen requested $3.85 million and was offered $2.75 million; and first baseman Mike Jacobs asked for $3.8 million and was offered $2.75 million.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another Dennis Leonard Video from the Royals Caravan

A video I shot at the Royals Caravan today in Omaha during which Ryan Lefebvre and Dennis Leonard discuss the severe knee injury Leonard endured in 1983, the four surgeries it took for him to get back, and the feelings he had when he returned to the mound on April 16, 1986 and shut out the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 in Kansas City. If you aren't familiar with the story, read about it here. It was an incredible day in Royals history.

Dennis Leonard Video from the Royals Caravan

A video I shot at the Royals Caravan today in Omaha during which Ryan Lefebvre discusses the old school mentality of starting pitchers with former Royals pitcher Dennis Leonard. To set the video up, Lefebvre had just told the audience that there were only 22 complete games pitched in the AL Central last season. Leonard threw 21 complete games in 1977 and he threw 103 in his career.

Alex Gordon Video from the Royals Caravan

A video I shot at the Royals Caravan today in Omaha during which Ryan Lefebvre asks Alex Gordon about his expectations heading into Spring Training. Gordon talks about taking on a leadership role.

Luke Hochevar Video from the Royals Caravan

A video I shot at the Royals Caravan today in Omaha during which Ryan Lefebvre asks Luke Hochevar about his quick jump from the minor leagues to the big leagues and about being the first player drafted in 2006.

Royals Caravan Stop in Omaha

I attended the Royals Caravan stop in Omaha today. A lot of fans showed up to hear and meet Alex Gordon, Luke Hochevar, Dennis Leonard, Ryan Lefebvre, and Joel Goldberg. I'll be uploading a number of videos from the event throughout the day. Here are a few photos.

Ryan Lefebvre telling a joke a Luke Hochevar's expense:

Ryan Lefebvre interviewing Luke Hochevar:

Lefebvre interviewing Dennis Leonard. Leonard still has that all familiar stare that used to intimidate hitters:

Lefebvre interviewing Alex Gordon:

Hochevar fielding questions from the press:

Hochevar, Leonard, and Gordon signing autographs:

More autographs:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Royal Memories: Dave Cripe

When I was a kid, my mom occasionally took my sister and I to see the Omaha Royals play. I remember one season, 1978, when she took us to a few games. I was 12 years old at the time. A third baseman named Dave Cripe caught my eye when he made a tremendous backhanded dive, ala Craig Nettles, snaring a ground ball and throwing the runner out. It made me think he might have a chance to play for Kansas City one day. But I was 12, what did I know?

Looking back, he’d been in the organization since he was signed as a free agent in 1972. He played for Omaha for two and a half seasons, joining them in 1976. Of course, a guy named George Brett was already establishing himself at third base in Kansas City, so Cripe never stood much of a chance. I certainly didn’t want him to oust Brett, but I was still rooting for him.

I can’t say for sure, but I think he wore number six when he played for Omaha. I followed him in the box scores for the rest of the 1978 season. While he didn’t put up stellar numbers (9 HR, 53 RBI, .300 AVG in 133 games), they were good enough for the Royals to call him up to the big leagues. According to Baseball-Reference, he played his first game on September 10, 1978 against California, going 1-1 with an RBI. He only saw action in seven games that September, getting 13 at bats. He had just one more hit that season. Baseball-Reference has a breakdown of all seven games he appeared in. Of course, with only two hits, there’s not much to see. According to this website, manager Whitey Herzog had this to say about why Cripe saw such limited playing time: “Dave really didn't get a chance to play much with us last September because of the divisional race, but we know he is a pretty good hitter. We also know he can play third and we'll watch him closely in the spring.” The Royals went on to win the American League West that year with a 92-70 record. Here’s a peek at the 1978 Royals roster. You’ll find Cripe’s name toward the bottom.

In 1979, Cripe went back to Omaha where his numbers diminished (6 HR, 46 RBI, .248 AVG in 131 games). In 1980, he went on to play in the Astros’ Minor League system and that was the end of his career. He ended up playing nine seasons in the Minor Leagues at varying levels. The most complete career statistics page I can find for him is on this website. Cripe went on to manage the Single-A Asheville Tourists in 1982 (they went 65-76, finishing eighth in the Northern Division, 31 games out of first place).

I’m not sure what he is up to these days, but for a brief summer many years ago, he had a big fan in Omaha.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Royals Sign Willie Bloomquist; Resign Davies

The Royals signed infielder Willie Bloomquist to a two-year deal yesterday that is believed to be worth $3.1 million. Sounds like he’ll compete for the starting job at second base, along with Alberto Callaspo, and presumably Esteban German. With Mike Aviles already penciled into the lineup, and Tony Pena firmly entrenched on the bench, I really don’t get the Bloomquist signing.

Yeah, he gets on base, and is above average defensively, but he doesn’t hit for average (.263 lifetime) and he certainly doesn’t have any power (6 HR in 7 seasons). And really, how many backup infielders do we need? I can see going after a legitimate starting second baseman and then letting the chips fall where they may regarding Callaspo, German, and Pena, but why add another guy who has never really been a starter to the mix? And for two years? Why two years?

He’s scrappy, plays hard, is said to have a good clubhouse presence, and all of that. I probably put more value in those those qualities than many other people do, but there comes a point in which scrappiness and playing hard aren’t enough. You need players who produce at high levels. I certainly don’t want more Jose Guillen’s on the team, but I don’t think we need any more David Eckstein’s either.

Turning the page . . . the Royals also signed Kyle Davies yesterday. According to this website, he signed a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, which seems about right—especially given how well he pitched last September when he went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA. He was 9-7 for the season with a 4.06 ERA in 21 starts. But with all of that said, last season was the best of his career. If he can sustain his momentum, he’ll be well worth the money.

A couple of other items to note:

  • The Royals caravan hits the road next week with stops in Nebraska and Iowa. It’ll stop in Omaha on Thursday. I may try to get to it if my schedule allows. Here’s a link with info about all of the upcoming stops.

  • The Royals Award Night is scheduled for January 16 in Overland Park. Tickets are available. Here’s a link for more info.
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