30 Teams in 30 Days: Kansas City Royals Roundtable

Royals

Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold from The Sporting Hippeaux and Jeff Parker from Royally Speaking.

Question 1 – Is Drayton Moore the right GM to turn the Royals around?
Jeff: I originally thought so but I’m not so sure now. He has done some nice things with their minor league system but his free agent signings have mostly been disastrous. It would be nice if the Royals could field a club with 25 home grown players but that never happens anymore so he is going to have supplement his core players with guys from outside the organization. And that is where he fails. He talked about bringing in high OBP guys but then did the exact opposite with moves like the Mike Jacobs trade. I won’t say he can’t turn them around because they do have some outstanding young pitchers in their system but it just seems a bit unlikely at this point.

Eugene: I completely agree. He’s had some solid drafts (stealing Tim Melville in the 4th round in the 2008 draft) and has brought along some good players from the system (Butler, Aviles, etc). The trades haven’t worked out so well; Leo Nunez would be nice in the pen and adding Yuniensky Betancourt did nothing for the team. His free agent signings have been worse – seriously, Kyle Farnsworth got a nice payday for doing little.

Aaron: Moore came with such an impressive pedigree that it was hard to not be optimistic. But, the acquisitions of Jacobs and Betancourt show an abject lack of knowledge of how to put together even a passable roster. The Jason Kendall signing was simply lunacy. Two years for a guy who hits like 1970s shortstop and can’t stop the running game behind the plate. Sorry, Royals fans.

Matt: Dayton Moore has proven, quite beyond refute, that he is one of, if not the worst GM of the 21st century.

I won’t bother to speculate as to how free agents like Rick Ankiel and Scott Podsednik are going to fare this season, I’ll merely provide you with a list of the major free agent and trade acquisitions of Moore’s tenure: Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Jacobs, Yuneisky Betancourt, Coco Crisp, Juan Cruz, Gil Meche, Mark Grudzielanek, Ross Gload, Reggie Sanders, Odalis Perez, and Doug Mientkiewicz.

Now, obviously, they aren’t all his fault. I liked the Crisp and Cruz signings at the time. Meche may still be a good value, if he regains his ’07/’08 form. But the fact is, there isn’t a single standout performance on that entire list, and there are a lot of flat-out busts.

Sure, the farm system is decent, but considering how many top draft picks the Royals have had in recent years, it should probably be a little better. Keep in mind, Moore did not draft Butler, Greinke, Aviles, or Gordon! They all pre-dated his tenure. Luke Hochevar, who Moore took with the #1 in his first draft (2006), might still develop into a fine middle of the rotation starter, but Moore took him ahead of guys like Evan Longoria and Tim Lincecum. Moustakas, who Moore took at #2 in ’07 (ahead of guys like Matt Wieters, Rick Porcello, etc.) isn’t promising a whole lot, as he hasn’t advanced past A-ball, and hasn’t played particularly well even at that level. It remains to be seen beyond that, but the Royals system under Moore has yet produce anything noteworthy.

Moreover, I think Moore has done his prospects a disservice by burying them behind mediocre veteran acquisitions. The development of Kila Ka’aihue was stunted when he has to spend ’09 in AAA, behind Mike Jacobs and his .698 OPS.

Moore is the reason why fans believe they could handle the GM’s job. Some of his moves are so ridiculous that even the casual fan sees the transparent idiocy.

Did you know that John Buck and Miguel Olivo combined for 31 HR and 101 RBI last season? They were one of the best offensive catching tandems in all of baseball. And, they were cheap!!! So, naturally, Moore released Buck, let Olivo walk, and overpaid for Jason Kendall and his two homers.

Yuniesky Betancourt was the single worst everyday player in all of baseball in ’09, according to Wins Above Replacement. He bombs in almost every statistical metric, on both offense and defense, AND, there were constant stories in Seattle about his laziness and morose attitude. So, naturally, Dayton Moore gave up a pair of middling pitching prospects to get him and the $9 Million remaining on his contract.

I could go on, but Moore’s arrogant brand of incompetence wily only serves to ruin your morning.

Mark: Dayton is the perfect man to turn the team around. The Royals were not going to bulid success on splashy free agents (although they did make a valliant effort to sign Torri Hunter) or trades for stars. They were going to completely rebuild the farm system and rebuild from within. Moore, with help from former Phillies front office farm guru Mike Arbuckle, is the man to do that task. Almost all his trades are pretty much shots in the dark, hoping for a diamond in the garbage. Either that or he’s filling holes until he can get someone better. Moore is able to take criticism well because he knows what the long range plane is, having a productive farm system. He is the right man for this team at this time.

Question 2 – Can Luke Hochevar be a front of the rotation starter?
Chad: No, he’s shown flashes of being good, but he’s not going to be the top end starter he was supposed to be. He should do fine as a 3-4 guy though.

Matt: I think the best cast scenario of Hochevar is a solid #3, something like Bronson Arroyo. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you expect a little more out of your #1 pick…and, there’s absolutely no guarantee he’s even going to be that good.

Jeff: I think the talent is there to be a 2/3. He had a 9 game stretch last season where he went 6-1 with a 3.66 ERA. Then he was just dreadful the rest of the year (except for a complete game shutout in September). There were reports he was tipping pitches so we will see this year if that in anyway legitimately affected his performance. A lot of the knock against Hochevar is because of his draft status, being picked ahead of Tim Lincecum is going to unfairly follow him the rest of his career.

Eugene: While I don’t think he’s been the worst first overall pick (that honor goes to Matt Bush; runner up is Bryan Bullington), he won’t be the ace that the Royals (and Dodgers) envisioned. He’ll be mid-rotation at best.

Question 3 – If contraction were discussed again, would the Royals be considered?
Matt: First of all, contraction isn’t happening. The business of baseball is booming. Owners who complain about competitive balance and economic hardship are merely posturing for their fans and players. MLB has an abundance of growing revenue streams which are being shared to an extent that no team can realistically claim that they are “losing money”. If they do, it’s their own damn fault.

However, as long as this discussion is merely academic, I’d have to assume the Royals would be among the handful of teams under discussion. However, they just renovated their stadium and last season they finished ahead of several teams in total attendance, despite their paltry performance on the field.

Florida, I think, would be the odds-on favorite.

Jeff: I think the stadium renovation ended any chance of KC being contracted or even simply moving.

Daniels: Owners who complain about competitive balance might be posturing. Fans who complain are not. Granted, the Royals have much less to complain about because they are only competing over the long haul against teams who also don’t have a huge cash edge. And, really, the Twins spend barely more, on average, per season then the Royals do and at least remain competitive within the division. I doubt contraction will be discussed in this current labor negotiation, but in my perfect world the Blue Jays and the Royals are bounced. Milwaukee returns to the AL and Washington joins them to set up a DC Metro divisional rivalry to keep the fans of the teams who can’t spend $200M+/season something to cheer about.

Eugene: I agree with Matt – Florida would be the odd on favorite for contraction. I think many residents of Florida follow their local spring training team more than they follow the Marlins.

Question 4 – How will the Royals finish?
Jeff: Last place, little was done to address the offense and bullpen. Their defense will be better, if only slightly. Provided everyone is healthy they have a solid rotation but I’m not sure if that will be enough to pull them out of the cellar.

Matt: In their usual place.

Daniels: Do we even have to ask with the Royals. They do nothing well except cash revenue sharing checks and hoodwink the local government in to giving them concessions.

Eugene: There is a team each year that sneaks up on you; the Rays did it 2 years ago, the Royals did it one year under Tony Pena. I think they’ll finish in last this year, but have a chance to be that team next year, as the graduate a few more guys from their system.

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