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Thursday, November 13, 2003

"Free Agents" are actually neither...discuss.:

Royals Notebook: Rondell White will most likely not be resigned, Carlos Beltran for Alfonso Soriano trade rumors have died down.
According to the Seattle Times, the Mariners have offered Raul Ibanez a contract worth between 3 and 4 million per year.
Joe Posnanski channels George Steinbrenner...
Rob Neyer on the AL ROY voting, and the fact the Kauffman Stadium is now the #2 hitter's park in the majors. So that's why our pitchers keep getting hammered...
ChicagoSports.com's Fred Mitchell has a Q&A with Tony Pena.
// posted by Harley @ 6:56 PM

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Believe it!:

Tony Pena was named American League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA today. Pena received 24 of 28 first-place votes and finished 86 points ahead of runner-up Ron Gardenhire. Pena is the first manager in Royals history to win the award.
Here's the KC Star story on the award.

Bob Dutton reports from the GM meetings in Arizona. The chilly free-agent market could work in the Royals' favor, allowing Raul Ibanez and Joe Randa to stay in blue.

John Sickels' Arizona Fall League report includes a mention of David DeJesus:
"One of the few bright spots on a dismal 9-22 Peoria Javelinas team, DeJesus is hitting .309/.374/.630, while stealing six bases without being caught. His patience, speed, and defense will play at any level, and he has enough pop in his bat to hit doubles, triples, and perhaps 10-12 homers a year. I think he's ready for a major league job in 2004, probably in left field, though he has enough range for center should the Royals trade Carlos Beltran. His biggest problem has been staying healthy. He plays all-out, and has a habit of hurting himself by pushing his body too hard."

Also in the Arizona Fall League, Zach McClellan was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week today. McClellan, who played for the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2003, is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA for the Peoria Javelinas.

From Lee Sinins:
"According to the Kansas City Star, (1) the Royals have made an offer to free agent P Jose Lima, (2) the Mariners, A's, Brewers and Mets are interested in free agent OF Raul Ibanez and (3) the Pirates and Orioles are interested in free agent 3B Joe Randa."

// posted by Harley @ 5:17 PM

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Will Brian Anderson be back?:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Royals have offered Brian Anderson a two-year contract, and Anderson has said that he will not sign a single-year deal to return to the Indians.
The article also quotes Jody Gerut on the AL ROY, saying "I'm glad Berroa won it. I think if you asked Matsui, he wouldn't qualify himself as rookie."

MLB.com's Hot Stove Report says that the Royals have made offers to Raul Ibanez, Joe Randa, and Brian Anderson. It also says that KC is looking to sign Curtis Leskanic, Jason Grimsley, and Benito Santiago.

Benito Santiago
Year---Age---Games---OPS----2B---HR---Salary
1987---22-------146----775----33---18----63.5K
1988---23-------139----791----22---10---167.5K
1989---24-------129----643----16---16----345K
1990---25-------100----664-----8----11----750K
1991---26-------152----741----22----17---1.65M
1992---27-------106----700----21----10----3.3M
1993---28-------139----671----19----13----3.4M
1994---29-------101----671----14----11----3.8M
1995---30--------81-----746----20----11----650K
1996---31-------136----836----21----30-----1.7M
1997---32--------97-----835----10----13-----2.5M
1998---33--------15-----667-----5-----0-------4M
1999---34-------109----816----18------7-----1.7M
2000---35--------89-----719----11-----8------650K
2001---36-------133----664----25-----6-------500K
2002---37-------126----765----24----16------2.04M
2003---38-------108----753----21----11------1.78M

According to Baseball Reference, Santiago's most similar batter through the age of 38 is...Tony Pena. Maybe that's a sign that the Royals should sign him, or maybe it means that it's time for Benito to be a manager. Santiago has begun a second career of sorts over the past three seasons. Does his production over the past three years warrant a raise? I think the Royals are wasting their money if they offer Santiago more than 2 years, 3 million.

// posted by Harley @ 6:34 PM
Todd Walker--worth a look?:

Lee Sinins reports that "According to the Boston Herald, the list of teams interested in free agent 2B Todd Walker has grown to the Cubs, Yankees, Marlins, Mets, Devil Rays and Royals."

So the Cubs and Yankees will have first shot at Walker, but KC shouldn't be too far back in line. With all the attention on Alfonso Soriano as the premier second baseman, guys like Todd Walker and Mark Grudzielanek slide under the radar. Both are free agents this off-season but unfortunately for the Royals, both were prominent in the postseason, which could drive their prices up a bit.

Here are their numbers, courtesy Baseball Reference:

Todd Walker
Year---Age---Games---OPS----2B-----HR-----Salary
1997---24------52-------641-----7-------3------150K
1998---25-----143------845----41------12-----175K
1999---26-----143------740----37-------6-----277.5K
2000---27------80-------830----11-------9-----322.5K
2001---28-----151------814----35------17-----1.05M
2002---29-----155------785----42------11-----2.05M
2003---30-----144------760----38------14-----3.45M

Mark Grudzielanek
Year---Age---Games---OPS----2B-----HR-----Salary
1996---26------153-----737----34------6------135K
1997---27------156-----690----54------4------220K
1998---28------156-----673----21-----10------350K
1999---29------123-----812----23------7-------1.9M
2000---30------148-----724----35------7--------3M
2001---31------133-----711----21-----13-------4M
2002---32------150-----665----23------9--------5M
2003---33------121-----782----38------3--------5.5M

With Walker three years younger and putting up significantly higher power numbers, he'll be the more sought after of the two. I'd expect Walker's salary to increase slightly and Grudzie's to drop, probably back to near his 1999 level. A second baseman who can play 140-150 games, hit 25-30 doubles and bat .275 would be a great improvement over Febles/Abernathy/injured Relaford.

Conclusion: Walker's probably beyond Allard Baird's budget, but Grudzielanek would probably be a good investment at 5-6 million for 3 years. If his price goes higher than that, caveat emptor.

Mike's Baseball Rants argues that Hideki Matsui deserved the AL Rookie of the Year award over Angel Berroa because Kaufmann Stadium was a hitters' park in 2003. He adjusts the season numbers for stadium effects and shows that Matsui was better offensively in just about every category. Mike doesn't mention defense or leadership, though...

The Royals continued the recent trend of playing better at home than on the road, although it wasn't as drastic a split as last year. If it was home-field advantage that gave Berroa the edge, then part of that AL ROY award belongs to the great fans of Kansas City. And also to the Krispy Kreme donut company, of course.

Joe Posnanski weighs in on the AL ROY. He says that Berroa wouldn't have won 5 or 10 years ago. That's right Joe, because Angel wasn't playing in the majors then.

Tony Pena is favored to win the AL Manger of the Year award, which will be announced tomorrow. Pena would be the first Manager of the Year from a third-place team.

// posted by Harley @ 12:43 PM

Monday, November 10, 2003

All Hail Angel:

Angel Berroa was named the American League Rookie of the Year today, as the Baseball Writers Association of America announced their votes. In the closest ballot since the current point system was adopted, Berroa edged New York's Hideki Matsui by a score of 88 to 84, despite being left off of two ballots. (!) Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli third with 51 points, with Jody Gerut (20) and Mark Teixeira (9) rounding out the vote-getters. Angel managed to upset the favored Matsui by receiving 12 first-place votes to Hideki's 10. In the national league, Dontrelle Willis won in a mild upset over Scott Posednik and Brandon Webb. Here's the Baseball Primer message board on the ROY voting.
The Kansas City Royals now have had four Rookies of the Year, with Berroa joining Carlos Beltran, Bob Hamelin, and Lou Piniella. The Royals are tied with Oakland and Baltimore as the franchises with the most AL ROYs.

You can vote for your BBWAA award favorites at ESPN Sportsnation.

In other award news, Carlos Beltran finished sixth in Baseball Primer's AL MVP voting.

ESPN.com lists Raul Ibanez as #24 in the top 50 free agents of the 2003-4 offseason. They predict that he'll end up with Oakland. ESPN predicts that KC's big acquisition will be #34 free agent Reggie Sanders. Curtis Leskanic is ranked #39 (Cubs), Joe Randa is #41 (Royals), and Rondell White is #46(Pirates). They also predict that Benito Santiago will be a Padre in 2004.

This Date in Royals History:
November 10, 1975--The Royals release Harmon Killebrew, ending his Hall of Fame career.

// posted by Harley @ 6:16 PM

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Another 9-0 start?:

The KC Chiefs have a chance against Cleveland tomorrow to duplicate the Royals' 9-0 start to the season. No city has ever had both NFL and MLB franchises start 9-0.

Mets blog the raindrops has an interesting article up on the AtR stat, which is short for attrition rate, and is based on the pitches a batters gets per plate appearance. AtR basically represents the number of pitches a pitcher would need to get a particular batter out 18 times, or to get a 6-inning quality start. Since I rarely mentioned Aaron Guiel's name this season without also mentioning his ability to work the count, I wasn't suprised to find him near the team lead in this category:
AtR:
Carlos Beltran, 109.71
Aaron Guiel, 106.80
Mike Sweeney, 105.03
Raul Ibanez, 104.95
Joe Randa, 103.88
Michael Tucker, 96.50
Rondell White, 95.80 (including his San Diego stats)
Angel Berroa, 94.88
Brent Mayne, 92.58
Desi Relaford, 89.46
Ken Harvey, 82.12

Think how great a hitter Berroa will be once he learns to take pitches like Sweeney and Beltran...

// posted by Harley @ 7:46 PM

Friday, November 07, 2003

Today's News:

Royals Notebook: Zach Greinke will have a shot at the rotation this spring, the two non-roster invitees not mentioned in yesterday's article are righty reliever Shawn Camp, and righty starter Eric Thompson. Thompson was 11-0 with a 2.11 ERA for Wichita in 2003.
Of all the youngsters in camp, Mitch Maier may be the one to watch the closest. He was the Royals' 2nd draft pick in June, and he hit .350 with 45 RBIs in 50 games for the advanced rookie team in Arizona. Oh yeah, and he's a 21-year old catcher. If he can keep hitting like that (I know, a very big "if") he could fill the biggest void in the Royals' lineup by 2005.

More on the non-roster invites, from Lee Sinins:
"The Royals signed 1B Calvin Pickering and P Mike Venafro and re-signed INFs Gookie Dawkins and Brent Abernathy to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training.

After 4.80 ERA/-2 RSAA and 4.62 ERA/0 RSAA seasons, Venafro had a 4.74 ERA/0 RSAA in 24 games with the Devil Rays. He has a 4.11 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.70, and 19 RSAA in 283 games.

Dawkins has -14 RCAA/.445 OPS in 55 career games, including 0 for 2, with a BB, in 3 games in 2003.

After starting his career with -4 RCAA/.710 OPS and -26 RCAA/.599 OPS seasons, Abernathy hit .059 SLG, .086 SLG, .145 OPS, -7 RCAA in 12 games (first 2 with the Devil Rays).

Pickering had -5 RCAA/.734 OPS in 53 career games with 3 teams in 1998-99 and 2001."

Steve Shaad, longtime GM of the Wichita Wranglers, announced his resignation yesterday.

From MLB.com's Hot Stove Report:
"The Royals hope to know more after Tuesday whether they'll be able to re-sign key free agents such as Raul Ibanez, Joe Randa and Brian Anderson. Beginning Tuesday, those players can discuss financial terms with all teams and therefore get a gauge on their true market value. Kansas City will also be going outside the organization to talk with free agents. The club is believed to have interest in luring veteran free agent Benito Santiago to be the No. 1 catcher, with Brent Mayne being offered the backup role."

I don't like the Santiago idea. I know he's been pretty productive the last 2 seasons, but the guy is 39 years old. This sounds too much like the throw-a-few-million-at-a-mid-level-veteran-on-the-downslope tactics of the 90s Royals. The best possible scenario is that we get two decent years from Benito before Mitch Maier joins the lineup. Of course, things have a way of working out exactly how you don't picture or predict them...

The BBWAA will announce the AL Rookie of the Year on Monday.

// posted by Harley @ 10:03 AM

Thursday, November 06, 2003

This Week's News:

11 non-roster invitations to spring training were issued today, including Dennys Reyes, Mike Venafro, Zach Greinke, Gookie Dawkins, Brent Abernathy, Brandon Berger, Mitch Maier, Shane Costa, and Calvin Pickering. Spring training starts in just 108 days!
MLB.com rates Hideki Matsui as the favorite for the AL ROY, with Rocco Baldelli and Angel Berroa not far behind.
MLB.com looks at the 2004 Royals' options behind the plate.
Denny Matthews and Fred White are finalists for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting. You can vote for them at the Hall of Fame website.
Jeff Flanagan talked to Joe Randa about his Gold Glove snubbing.
Angel Berroa received AL Rookie of the Year honors in the Players' Choice awards.
The Chicago White Sox hired Ozzie Guillen as their manager, and hope he'll follow Tony Pena's example.
Former Royal Cookie Rojas may be a candidate for the Florida Marlins coaching job vacated by Guillen.
This Date in Royals History:
November 6, 1984-Dan Quisenberry finishes 3rd in the AL MVP voting, behind Willie Hernandez and Kent Hrbek.
November 6, 1987-The Royals trade Danny Jackson and Angel Salazer to the Cincinnati Reds for Kurt Stillwell and Ted Power.

// posted by Harley @ 1:34 PM

Monday, November 03, 2003

Today's News:

The Internet Baseball Awards, with more than 1,500 voters, named Tony Pena AL Manager of the Year and Angel Berroa the AL ROY. Carlos Beltran finished 9th in the AL MVP voting. Baseball Prospectus' writers also named Pena the AL MOY and Berroa the AL ROY.

Rob Neyer has a concise column up on what the Royals need to do before April 4.

Tony Pena was named Baseball Primer's AL Manager of the Year.

Baseball Reference has been updated with 2003 Royals statistics.

// posted by Harley @ 11:59 AM

Sunday, November 02, 2003

News Digest:

Here's an update on the Royals' news over the past two weeks.

Tony Pena and Allard Baird were both signed to two-year contract extensions on Friday.

Lee Sinins' Around the Majors reports: "The Royals signed P Joey Dawley to a 1 year contract, which is believed to be a little more than the major league minimum of $300,000. Dawley has a 17.18 ERA/-11 RSAA in 6 career games, including a 18.00 ERA/-11 RSAA in 5 games with the 2003 Braves.
Aaron Gleeman weighed in on Dawley recently:
"Joey Dawley was originally a 28th round pick of the Orioles way back in 1993. He bounced around for a while, playing in a couple of different independent league teams after being let go by Baltimore, and then signed as a free agent with the Braves in 1998.
Check out his numbers in Atlanta's minor league system over the past few seasons:

LVL IP ERA SO BB
2001 A/AA/AA 144 3.38 151 47
2002 AAA 140 2.63 136 36
2003 AAA 57 3.34 73 23

Dawley was a starter in 2001 and 2002 and then was switched to the bullpen this past season.
The strikeout rates are excellent, both as a starter and as a reliever, and his control is also very good. His strikeout/walk ratios over the past three years are 3.21, 3.78 and 3.17.
Dawley got into five games with the Braves this season and was absolutely hammered. He pitched a total of 7 innings and managed to strike out 8 batters, but he served up a total of 15 hits, including 3 homers. His career ERA now stands at 18.00, which is enough to make any minor league veteran want to keep fighting for another shot in the big leagues.
I think if I signed Dawley I would give him another shot as a starter, because his numbers there have certainly been good. At worst, he looks like a pretty decent right-handed setup man. I have no doubt that he could do better in a bullpen role than at least 50 or so currently employed major league relievers."

Soriano for Beltran?: This one is from the New York Post, so take it with a grain of salt, but the argument is that KC could save money by getting Alfonso Soriano long-term and not lose Carlos Beltran to free agency after next season. That would be quite the middle infield, but it would definitely hurt to see Carlos in pinstripes.
The KC Star discussed the rumor on Wednesday, saying "A Soriano-for-Beltran trade would work for the Royals on several levels. Soriano, 25, clearly qualifies as an "impact bat” which is what Baird cites as the asking price in any trade involving Beltran. Soriano could play second or shift to the outfield. He also has three years left before qualifying for free agency. And while arbitration should guarantee a large raise from his current $800,000 salary, it should still be far less than what Beltran will cost."
From Lee Sinins' Around the Majors:
"According to rumors from both New York and Kansas City, the Yankees and Royals may be working on an Alfonso Soriano for Carlos Beltran trade. According to the Kansas City Star, "This much is certain: Royals general manager Allard Baird has long coveted Soriano, whom he nearly snagged along with first baseman Nick Johnson a few years ago for outfielder Jermaine Dye before the Yankees nixed the deal at the last moment."
A Rochester, NY paper weighs in on the trade rumors as well.

Tony Pena was named The Sporting News' AL Manager of the Year.

Ticket prices for 2004 will rise by $2-$4 a seat. And parking at Kauffman will go up by $2.

Around the Majors reports:
"The Royals signed P Dennys Reyes to a minor league contract and will invite him to spring training.
After 4.92 ERA/-4 RSAA and 5.33 ERA/-3 RSAA seasons, Reyes had a 10.66 ERA/-9 RSAA in 15 games (first 12 with the Pirates, last 3 with the Diamondbacks). HE has a 4.77 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.37, and -13 RSAA in 268 games."
More on Reyes from the KC Star.

MLB.com has a nifty free agent tracker up. Royals eligible for free agency this off-season include Raul Ibanez, Brian Anderson, Joe Randa, Curtis Leskanic, Al Levine, Jose Lima, Brent Mayne, Jason Grimsley, Kevin Appier, Mike DiFelice, Jamey Wright, and Michael Tucker.

Carlos Beltran was named the Royals' 2003 MVP in a vote by the KC chapter of the BBWAA. Darrell May was named pitcher of the year and Angel Berroa received the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award. Yes, Angel is special.

Lee Sinin's Around the Majors reports on Brent Mayne:
"The Royals decided not to exercise their 2004 option on C Brent Mayne. Mayne had his 4th consecutive year with -20 RCAA, or less, with a .310 SLG, .309 OBA, .651 OPS, -25 RCAA in 113 games. He has a .686 career OPS, compared to his league average of .765, and -163 RCAA in 1196 games. Mayne became just the 3rd player to have at least 4 consecutive -20 RCAA seasons without having at 450 PA in any of those years--

1 Bill Bergen 1901-06 6
T2 Malachi Kittridge 1890-93 4
T2 Bill Bergen 1908-11 4
T2 Brent Mayne 2000-03 4"

The Curse of the Balboni continued with the Marlins' world series win.

MLB.com looks at the 2004 Royals at third base. It will most likely be Joe Randa, unless he decides to go free agent...then the hot corner would likely be covered by Jarrod Patterson.

MLB.com looks at the 2004 Royals' left field. Raul Ibanez is the top choice, with Dee Brown and Rondell White other possibilities.

MLB.com's series on the 2004 Royals: center field. Carlos Beltran should be back and ready for a career year.

Josh Beckett broke Bret Saberhagen's record of youngest player to win the World Series MVP award.

Former Royal Bud Black was re-signed by the Anaheim Angels to be their pitching coach in 2004. The Angels' 2003 ERA was 4.28, and their bullpen ERA was 3.03, so Buddy must be doing something right.

MLB.com's look at the 2004 Royals' right field. Aaron Guiel had a great season, but was it a fluke? Rondell White, Dee Brown, and Brandon Berger are other possibilities if Guiel returns to form.

Former Royals manager Whitey Herzog says that he'll be interested if the Red Sox ask him to manage. Another former Royals skipper, Jim Frey, may also be on Boston's list.

Curtis Leskanic says he wants to be a Royal in 2004. He had a 1.73 ERA for the 2003 Royals--let's hope he'll be back.

MLB.com has a photo gallery of offseason renovations at Kauffman. Specifically, the outfield fence is being moved back a few feet, so that the rubber warning track can be replaced with a natural surface, which appears to be...dirt?

The Royals made various front-office moves, including promoting Muzzy Jackson to Vice President.

David DeJesus is featured in a neat MLB.com series "Baseball Beginnings."

Lee Sinins' Around the Majors reports that "The Royals re-signed OF Brandon Berger to a minor league contract. Berger has -9 RCAA/.681 OPS in 70 career games, including a .219 SLG, .324 OBA, .543 OPS, -2 RCAA in 13 games in 2003."

The Negro League Baseball Museum recognized Allard Baird, Tony Pena, and Angel Berroa with special awards on Friday.

// posted by Harley @ 8:49 PM