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Monday, December 22, 2003

Happy Holidays!:

This blog will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. Next scheduled post: January 5.
Enjoy the holidays and if you're feeling like a humbug, just be glad you're better off than former Royal
Willie Aikens, featured at SI.com in Mike Fish's latest column.

On Saturday, Calvin Pickering went 3 for 5 with an RBI in the Mexican League. He's hitting .297 for the season.
// posted by Harley @ 10:30 AM

Friday, December 19, 2003

Opportunity for DeJesus:

The Kansas City Star reports today that the Royals are unlikely to sign another free agent outfielder, leaving the door open for David DeJesus to fill left field in 2004. Dee Brown is the second choice.

Kris Wilson is expected to decide today whether to return to the Royals. He can accept a salary near league minimum, or try his luck elsewhere.

Detroit continued their parade of signing KC castoffs, signing Mike DiFelice yesterday. And Jamey Wright signed a minor league contract with the Cubs.

And in the Mexican Pacific League, first baseman prospect Calvin Pickering went 2 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI yesterday, bringing his Mexican League batting average to .274

// posted by Harley @ 10:29 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2003

2003 VORP ratings:

These ratings come from Baseball Prospectus. VORP stands for Value Over Replacement Player.

Returnees:
Carlos Beltran -- 55.8
Darrell May -- 44.0
Angel Berroa -- 34.0
Joe Randa -- 27.7
Jeremy Affeldt -- 27.2
Mike Sweeney -- 25.8
Aaron Guiel -- 11.6
Brian Anderson -- 11.5
Runelvys Hernandez -- 11.3 (DL)
D.J.Carrasco -- 10.6
Curtis Leskanic -- 10.4
Mike MacDougal -- 7.5
Kyle Snyder -- 6.2
Nate Field -- 4.6
Jason Grimsley -- 4.2
Miguel Asencio -- 3.9
Jimmy Gobble -- 3.9
Kevin Appier -- 3.9
Jamey Wright -- 3.2
Mendy Lopez -- 2.7
Desi Relaford -- 2.6
David DeJesus -- 1.0
Julius Matos -- -0.2
Jarrod Patterson -- -2.1
Ken Harvey -- -2.2
Brandon Berger -- -2.5
Brent Abernathy -- -5.6
Dee Brown -- -7.3

Total: 282.4 (leaving out Runelvys)

Players Signed:
Matt Stairs -- 30.6
Benito Santiago -- 19.9
Tony Graffanino -- 11.7
Scott Sullivan -- 9.8
Kelly Stinnett -- -2.6

Total: 69.4
as % of returnees: 24.6%

Players Lost:
Raul Ibanez -- 16.3
Jose Lima -- 9.8
Rondell White -- 9.3
Al Levine -- 8.3
Paul Abbott -- 3.5
Michael Tucker -- 3.2
Mike DiFelice -- 1.0
Brent Mayne -- -5.1
Carlos Febles -- -8.1
Graeme Lloyd -- -9.2

Total: 29
Signed/Lost differential: 40.4
% improvement: 14.3%

Depending on how you interpret the numbers, you could say that KC's offseason signings have improved the team by 25% compared to doing nothing. Factoring in the players lost, the Royals have improved by 14.3% in terms of VORP. Does that mean the 2004 Royals will win 95 games? That's why we play the games. Of course, my brand of dime-store sabermetric analysis is probably a crime against nature, so feel free to ignore all of this!

The Transaction Guy compares the Stinnett signing to the Braves' signing of Eddie Perez.

Tony Pena denied rumors that he had been maul by pit bulls in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. This bit of non-news brought to you by the Kansas City Star.

Trivia:(Answer in comments)
What current Royal was born in Milwaukee 34 years ago today? He was originally drafted by KC in the 1991 amateur draft. He debuted with the Royals in 1995, and has hit .300 or better four times since then. He has been traded by four different teams, in deals involving Travis Fryman, Gabe Alvarez, Jeff Granger, and Willie Blair.

This Date in Royals History:
December 18, 2001--Royals sign free agent Chuck Knoblauch.

// posted by Harley @ 10:55 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Kelly Stinnett signed:

The Royals picked up their second free agent catcher of the week: Kelly Stinnett, a 10-year veteran, to a one-year, $500,000 contract. Yes, that should do nicely...

And another new Royals blog has been brought to my attention: Baseball Reverence (also known as Neil's Baseball Weblog--luckily this one's only a couple of days old so we haven't missed much. He's already got great fake comments, though, so I'm jealous. The authors are off to a roaring start, let's hope they keep it up!

// posted by Harley @ 11:15 PM
"New" Royals weblog:

It's been around since mid-October, but I somehow managed to avoid noticing it until today: U.L.'s Toothpick, a Royals-centric baseball blog has been added to the links at right. The author has a great sense of humor, and likes to write about the Royals. With the zillions of Red Sox and Cubs blogs out there, it's shameful that we Royals fans don't have enough opinions to fill a half-dozen blogs. I'm always glad to "discover" another Royals site.

// posted by Harley @ 2:36 PM
Nomar to Change Sox?:

New York Newsday is reporting that Nomar Garciaparra will be traded to Chicago for Magglio Ordonez, pending the much-ballyhooed A-Rod/Manny trade. I’d say that Maggs and Nomar are about even offensively, but Garciaparra probably improves the Pale Hose’s defense. Heck, the loss of Carl Everett improves the Chicago defense. What makes this deal a bust for the White Sox is Nomar’s fragility—they’re giving up a player that has averaged 155 games played over the past 6 seasons for one who has averaged 125 games a season over that span.
Maybe Nomar’s injuries are behind him—maybe Frank Thomas’s are too. But the 2004 White Sox look to rely on two of the highest-risk players in the league for a majority of their offense. And they lost Bartolo Colon. The article also suggests that Nomar isn’t looking forward to playing in Chicago—another moody player on a team plagued by chemistry problems last year. A lot can still happen this off-season, but at the moment, White Sox management is poised to make their team the next Tigers.

// posted by Harley @ 10:25 AM

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Rule 5 draft:

The Royals selected pitcher Jason Szuminski from the Cubs in the draft, then traded him, along with cash, to the Padres for outfielder Rich Thompson:

"The 6-3 lefthanded hitter was a sixth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000. The 24-year-old was dealt by Toronto to the Pirates for righthander John Wasdin this past July. Thompson is a .287 career hitter over four minor league seasons with 165 steals in 205 attempts." (Sportsticker)

In other news, Brent Mayne was signed by the Colorado Rockies to a 1-year, $800,000 deal.

And surprise, surprise, the Chicago media aren't too happy about the White Sox' off-season moves. The Sun-Times and Tribune react to the news that Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez are on the trading block, after the team has lost Bartolo Colon, Carl Everett, Roberto Alomar, and yes, Tony Graffanino. The White Sox haven't won a pennant since 1959, and it's looking like management has given up on doing it with the current core group. I wouldn't be surprised if Cleveland finishes ahead of Chicago in 2004.

Rob & Rany has been updated, for the second time in 7 days. Must be hot stove season!

Angel Berroa is playing for pride in the Dominican League.

// posted by Harley @ 4:03 PM

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Ask and Ye...:

Tony Graffanino was mentioned as a possibility by Allard Baird yesterday, and today the utility infielder was signed to a two-year, $2.2 million contract. He'll get a lot of playing time if does as well for the Royals as he has against them--he's a .370 career hitter at Kaufmann Stadium.
In other news, Rondell White was signed by the Detroit Tigers.

// posted by Harley @ 11:07 PM

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Who'll be next?

Tony Graffanino is reportedly high on Allard Baird's list of potential signings. The Royals are still looking to add a utility infielder, a left-fielder, and a backup catcher. Also, Baird reports that Miguel Asencio will be healthy for spring training, Kevin Appier should return by May 1, and Kyle Snyder's status is questionable.

This Date in Royals History:
December 13, 1996--The Royals trade Joe Randa and 3 other players to the Pirates for Jeff King and Jay Bell.

// posted by Harley @ 8:42 PM

Friday, December 12, 2003

Lee on Benito:

Lee Sinins, creator of the sabermetric baseball encyclopedia, had a few comments on the signing of Benito Santiago:

"After -22 RCAA/.664 OPS and -4 RCAA/.765 OPS seasons, Santiago hit .424 SLG, .329 OBA, .753 OPS, -6 RCAA in 108 games. He spent the past 3 years with the Giants and has a .722 career OPS, compared to his league average of .748, and -152 RCAA in 1923 games.

On the one hand, Santiago is less bad than the Royals have had (Brent Mayne and Mike DiFelice). While's a bad choice, over the past couple of years, he's been less bad than what they've had.

It's like getting punched in the face. You don't want it. But, given the choice of a punch in the face and getting shot there, getting punched isn't
such a bad thing.

On the other hand, he's going to be a 39 and 40 year old catcher who is already pretty high up on the all time list of most games caught, comes in with a career total of -152 RCAA, and in the past 5 years, has had 3 double digit negative RCAA's and 2 years with worse than -20. So, in this case, the gun is loaded, it's cocked and it's aimed straight at the Royals.

By the end of his contract, Santiago could be in the top 10 for worst career RCAA by a C (since 1900)--

RCAA RCAA
1 Bill Bergen -312
2 Luke Sewell -285
3 Rollie Hemsley -244
4 Joe Girardi -223
5 Tony Pena -218
6 Bob Boone -207
7 Billy Sullivan -195
8 Jim Hegan -190
9 Mike Matheny -183
10 Al Lopez -171
...
22 Benito Santiago -152

Actually, just a bad year in 2004 could put on the list. But, it's also more likely that Brad Ausmus (-167) and/or Mayne (-163) are going move into the top 10, just raising the ineptitude bar that Santiago is going have to eventually reach."

// posted by Harley @ 11:55 PM

Thursday, December 11, 2003

New Rob & Rany:

Rob & Rany has been updated. (It says November 10th, but read December 10th.) Rany is foolishly optimistic, Rob tempers his doubts with sarcasm. Worth the three-week wait? You decide.

// posted by Harley @ 5:46 PM
Santiago takes over behind the plate:

The Royals officially announced what we've been speculating about for days: Benito Santiago has been signed to a two-year, $4.3 million contract. Barring injury, Benito should easily outperform Brent Mayne and Mike DiFelice's 2003 season.

// posted by Harley @ 3:46 PM
Santiago will be signed soon:

MLB.com reports that the Royals are "moving forward" on a 2-year, $4.3 million deal with Benito Santiago. The only holdup seems to be "a review of contract language."
I'd have to assume that this will be the end of our free agent signings, at least until after we sign Darrell May and sign or trade Carlos Beltran.

This Date in Royals History:
December 11, 1989--NL Cy Young winner Mark Davis signs with the Royals for $2.125 million. The 1990 Royals are the first team to have both defending Cy Young winners: Davis and Bret Saberhagen. The team finishes 6th, with a 75-86 record.
December 11, 1991--The Royals trade Saberhagen and Bill Pecota to the Mets for Gregg Jefferies, Keith Miller, and Kevin McReynolds.

// posted by Harley @ 9:24 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

More on the signings:

The Kansas City Star has the full details on the signings of Matt Stairs and Scott Sullivan. They also report that the Royals are on the verge of signing Benito Santiago to a 2-year, $4.5 million deal. This would leave $10-12 million available for arbitration-eligible Carlos Beltran and Darrell May.
Here's a brief stats rundown on the newcomers.

Here's Lee Sinins' stats:

After 8 RCAA/.820 OPS and 7 RCAA/.827 OPS seasons, Stairs hit .561 SLG,
.389 OBA, .950 OPS, 24 RCAA in 121 games. It was his 4th year with 24-30
RCAA in the past 7 seasons. Stairs has a .862 career OPS, compared to his
league average of .779, and 117 RCAA in 1046 games.

After 3.31 ERA/12 RSAA and 6.06 ERA/-14 RSAA seasons, Sullivan had a 3.66
ERA/5 RSAA in 65 games with the Reds and Whitesox. He has a 3.91 career
ERA, compared to his league average of 4.37, and 44 RSAA in 509 games.

Michael Wolverton has an exhaustive look at reliever performance in 2003 at Baseball Prospectus. Here are the Royals' top bullpen arms, based on Adjusted Runs Prevented:
Curtis Leskanic 11.6
Jeremy Affeldt 8.2
Mike MacDougal 3.1
Scott Sullivan 3.0
Nate Field 2.9

Al Levine, who signed with Tampa Bay, rated a 5.0

The plan still appears to be for Affeldt to try to return to the rotation, even though he was much more effective in the bullpen last year. And MacDougal is still expected to fill the "closer" role.
I'll have more if and when the Santiago deal is final.
This Date in Royals History:
December 10, 1986--Royals obtain Danny Tartabull from the Mariners in a 5-player deal.
December 10, 1998--Royals trade Juan LeBron to the Mets for Joe Randa

// posted by Harley @ 10:11 AM

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Royals add Scott Sullivan:

The Associated Press reports that KC has signed veteran reliever Scott Sullivan to a two-year, $5 million deal, with an additional option year. The article also reports that the contract for Matt Stairs is for one year, one million dollars.
I'll have more details for you tomorrow, but for now this looks like very good news!

// posted by Harley @ 10:35 PM
Matt Stairs is a Royal:

MLB.com reports that the Royals have signed free agent OF/1B Matt Stairs to a one-year contract. At 35 years old, Stairs has not had more than 340 at bats in a season since 2000, though he did hit .292 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs for the 2003 Pirates. The Royals will be his 5th team in five years. Over his career, he has averaged 27 doubles, 27 homers and 88 RBIs per 162 games. Not quite Ibanez-level performance, but certainly better than Ken Harvey did last year. While a secondary peak is possible, it's more likely that Stairs will never have another season as good as 2003. Hopefully, he'll be able to fill the stopgap role when Harvey/DeJesus/Gomez/Gettis falter, and he won't be given a lot of playing time at the youngsters' expense. Contract terms have not been released--that may dictate how Stairs is used. A 2-3 million dollar deal is about what I'm expecting, and if this keeps us from blowing a wad of cash on Juan Gonzalez or Raul Mondesi, then this might be a very good move indeed.

// posted by Harley @ 2:22 PM

Monday, December 08, 2003

Grimsley re-signed

Jason Grimsley accepted a one-year, one-million dollar contract offer yesterday. The San Francisco Giants signed Michael Tucker, giving the Royals another first-round pick in the June 2004 draft. Rumors continue that the Royals are courting Matt Stairs, who could play left field and first base.

This Date in Royals History:
December 8, 1983--Royals obtain Steve Balboni from the Yankees in a 4-player deal.
December 8, 1992--Royals sign free agents David Cone and Greg Gagne.

// posted by Harley @ 9:55 AM

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Hot Stove Report:

MLB.com is reporting that the Royals will most likely lose free agents Brent Mayne, Al Levine, Michael Tucker, Mike DiFelice, Rondell White, and Jose Lima. The rumors continue on Benito Santiago, Matt Stairs, Raul Mondesi, and Juan Gonzalez.

We don't lose much with the guys headed out the door. Al Levine pitched well for a few weeks, but really faded down the stretch. Probably the biggest loss will be Brent Mayne, since his leaving means KC must sign a veteran catcher, who will almost certainly be more expensive.

// posted by Harley @ 5:45 PM

Friday, December 05, 2003

Mondesi or Gonzalez?

The AP is reporting that David Glass wants to sign either Raul Mondesi or Juan Gonzalez to fill Raul Ibanez's slot in the lineup next year. I think that either one would be a colossal waste of money. They're both injury-plagued, temperamental aging sluggers, and Alexis Gomez or David DeJesus could easily outproduce them--and at a price guaranteed to be millions lower.
What do you think?

// posted by Harley @ 9:10 PM

Thursday, December 04, 2003

News Update:

I had a lengthy post written, then lost it when the electricity went out at my house. So this summary will have to do for now. The most recent events are listed first.
--The Royals are rumored to be near a deal with Raul Mondesi
--Allaird Baird turned down a trade offer from the Dodgers for Carlos Beltran
--The Royals signed Joe Randa, Curtis Leskanic, and Brian Anderson
--Denny Matthews will be inducted into the Royals' hall of fame in 2004
--The Royals signed Kevin Appier to a one-year, $300,000 deal
--The Royals signed minor-leaguer Erik Hiljus
--The Jackson County Sports Complex Authority approved a deal to keep the Royals and Chiefs in KC through 2029.
--The Royals added OF Byron Gettis and Ps Brian Bass and Jorge Vasquez to the 40 man roster.
--The Seattle Mariners signed Raul Ibanez for 3 years, $13.25 million. KC will receive a draft pick in compensation
--Former Royal Ken Brett died of a brain tumor
--Tampa Bay signed Paul Abbott

// posted by Harley @ 12:32 PM