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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Together we can:

Tony Pena believes the Royals can win the divison this year, if we stay healthy.

The Sporting News has a preview of the '04 Royals.

Kevin Appier is working hard to be ready by opening day.

And Garth Brooks will be a non-roster invitee to spring training. He has an .027 AVG in 39 spring training at-bats.
// posted by Harley @ 1:46 PM

Friday, January 30, 2004

Allaird Baird eats at Burger King, the KC Star is there:

The Star reports that the Royals' Dominican training camp has been interrupted by economic strikes in the country. 12 Royals players, along with Tony Pena and Allard Baird, have been mostly confined to their hotel, and workouts have been conducted at Santiago instead of at the Royals Academy in Salcedo.

Kevin Appier: "We mostly lay low here at the hotel. When we go places, we go in a Tony convoy-type thing."
Ok, I know this could potentially be a serious situation, but right now it just has me giggling.

As promised, John Sickels has posted a full report on David DeJesus:
"With Carlos Beltran still around, and the signing of Juan Gonzalez and Matt Stairs, the Royals have no immediate need to push DeJesus into a starting role in 2004. He could still make the roster as a reserve, where his defensive skills would certainly be valuable covering for Gonzalez and/or Stairs in the late innings. But the Royals see DeJesus as the replacement in center field for Beltran in 2005, so they may want him to get a full year of Triple-A under his belt rather than rust on the bench. Although he won't hit a ton of homers, his on-base ability, speed, defense, and hustle will make him a very useful player, assuming he can stay healthy."

CBS Sportsline has selected KC as the front-runner in the 2004 AL Central race. They also rank keeping Carlos Beltran as the top move made by any club in the division, and Brian Anderson's re-signing as the most under-rated move.

This Date in Royals History:
January 30, 1994—Royals sign free agent Dave Henderson for $750K. Hendu will play 56 games in his final major league season, and only one in Kansas City, batting .247 with 5 home runs.

// posted by Harley @ 9:33 AM

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

No Lima Time II for KC:

The Los Angeles Dodgers picked up free agent Jose Lima with a minor league contract yesterday. If Lima makes the team, he's guaranteed $950K. My guess is that he won't make the team out of spring training, but he'll probably appear on a major league roster somtime during the season.

Rob & Rany has been updated, with discussion of Darrell May and Jaime Cerda. Rob, like me, relies heavily on stats from Lee Sinins.

John Sickels' Down on the Farm column has a brief mention of David DeJesus, and he promises a more thorough look on Friday:
"...he has gap power, draws walks, steals bases, plays well defensively, and hustles his tail off. He won't have Beltran's power, but should still be a solid player."

The KC Star on the downton ballpark proposal. U L's Toothpick had a nice deconstruction of this article yesterday.

Former Royal Dean Palmer has announced his retirement. He played two seasons in Kansas City, though it seemed like more. They were just so action-packed, I guess. In 1997 and 1998 he played in 201 games, hit 37 doubles, 43 home runs, 150 RBI, and had an 839 OPS for the Royals.

Trivia: (answer in comments)
What former Royal is 30 years old today? He was traded from Kansas City to the city where he was born. He has earned one gold glove, and appeared in one all-star game. He also has appeared in 28 post-season games, despite playing the majority of his career for the Royals. His 2003 salary was nearly 100x higher than his 1997 salary, although he played in 10 fewer games.

// posted by Harley @ 10:09 AM

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Royals trade for another bullpen arm:

MLB.com reports that the Royals have dealt Shawn Sedlacek to the Mets for left-handed reliever Jaime Cerda. Yep, we're loaded with port-side hurlers. From Lee Sinins:
"After starting his career with a 2.45 ERA/4 RSAA in 2002, Cerda had a 5.85 ERA/-6 RSAA in 27 games. He has a 4.34 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.21, and -2 RSAA in 59 games."

Mets blog the raindrops has a much more comprehensive look at Cerda's minor and major league numbers. The standout minor league stats: In 210 IP, Cerda walked 53, struck out 215, and given up 4 home runs.

Trivia:(answer in comments)
What Royals player is 26 years old today? He has a .282 career batting average over three major league seasons. He has been hit by pitches more times than he has grounded into double plays. He has almost exactly three times as many strikeouts as walks. His career record against Mike Maroth is 6 for 16 with two doubles, two home runs, and a 1264 OPS--nearly 500 points higher than his career OPS.

// posted by Harley @ 9:29 AM

Monday, January 26, 2004

News from the past week:

The Royals avoided arbitration by signing Carlos Beltran to a one-year, $9 million contract. Here are Lee Sinins' comments:
"After 31 RCAA/.876 OPS and 8 RCAA/.847 OPS seasons, Beltran hit .522 SLG, .389 OBA, .911 OPS, 36 RCAA in 141 games. He has a .829 career OPS, compared to his league average of .772, and 54 RCAA in 726 games.

Beltran became the 6th player in Royals history to have multiple 30+ RCAA seasons--

1 George Brett 10
T2 Danny Tartabull 3
T2 Hal McRae 3
T2 John Mayberry 3
T5 Mike Sweeney 2
T5 Carlos Beltran 2"

Jimmy Gobble says he'll be ready to go for a spot in the rotation in spring training. If Affeldt and Gobble both make the rotation, KC could have 4 lefty starters in 2004.

KC also resigned Darrell May to a 2-year, $4.95 million contract. Lee Sinins' pessimistic comments:

"After a 5.35 ERA/-1 RSAA in 2002, his first time in the majors since 1997, May had a career year, with a 3.77 ERA/32 RSAA in 32 starts (35 games). He has a 4.69 career ERA, compared to his league average of 4.51, and 19 RSAA.

May's a 32 year old pitcher who had never had a positive RSAA in his whole career, had never had an ERA under 5.00 and had a low 4.93 SO/9 IP rate during his career year. He's an excellent bet to make a big decline."

The Courier Press reports that the Royals are "serious" this year.

// posted by Harley @ 4:10 PM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Travis Chapman to join Omaha:

The KC Star reports that the Royals are close to signing 25-year old third baseman Travis Chapman to a minor league contract. This signing gives us some extra infield depth. Allard Baird reported that he is "working on" Darrell May and Carlos Beltran.

The right-handed hitting Chapman has one career major league at-bat, for the 2003 Phillies. He was selected to the Eastern League's all-star team in 2002.

From Baseball America in 2002:
"Not a prototypical Rule 5 candidate, Chapman made an amazing transition from an organization player into a legitimate prospect last season. The 24-year-old was drafted in the 17th round out of Mississippi State in 2000, but entered 2002 as a corner infielder lacking in the power department. An offseason conditioning program bulked him up and the power developed resulting in a career-best 15 home runs and 35 doubles in Double-A. Chapman displays a solid understanding of the strike zone...Chapman played six games at first base last year but has spent his entire career as a third baseman."

And from a recent Baseball America chat:
"Q: What do you see as the future of Travis Chapman?
A: Will Kimmey: A corner infielder off the bench who can pinch hit. He plays and works hard, and is a good character guy but probably doesn'thave the power for a starting corner infielder. Best case scenario, he could be an everyday 3b in the Joe Randa mold."

Rotoworld released their Top 100 prospect list yesterday. Here are the Royals on the list:

3. Zack Greinke - RHP Royals - Age 20 - ETA: June 2004
Previous rankings: 2003 #127, mid-2003 #4

11-1, 1.14 ERA, 56 H, 78/13 K/BB in 87 IP for Single-A Wilmington
4-3, 3.29 ERA, 58 H, 34/5 K/BB in 53 IP for Double-A Wichita

With four quality pitches and terrific control, Greinke, the sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft, should take over as the Royals’ best pitcher within a year or two. Comparisons to Greg Maddux have become common, since Greinke dominates without being overpowering. However, Greinke doesn’t quite have the movement on his fastball that Maddux does. Bret Saberhagen might be a better match. Although he is supposed to have a slight chance of winning a spot in the rotation this spring, Greinke likely will spend at least a month or two in Triple-A before joining Kansas City. Expect him to have some fantasy value after the All-Star break.

52. David DeJesus - OF Royals - Age 24 - ETA: July 2004
Previous rankings: mid-2003 #141

.338/.422/.479, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8/9 K/BB, 1 SB in 71 AB for Double-A Wichita
.298/.412/.470, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 30/34 K/BB, 8 SB in 215 AB for Triple-A Omaha
.289/.356/.600, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 13/7 K/BB, 6 SB in 90 AB for Peoria (AFL)

DeJesus, a fourth-round pick in 2000, didn’t make his pro debut until 2002 because of injuries, but once he got going, he quickly surpassed Alexis Gomez to become the Royals’ top outfield prospect. With excellent on-base skills and improving power, DeJesus projects as Carlos Beltran’s replacement in center field and the Royals’ leadoff hitter in 2005. He could see time in left field this year, but he’ll open the year at Triple-A Omaha.

104. Chris Lubanski - OF Royals - Age 19 - ETA: 2008

// posted by Harley @ 11:01 AM

Monday, January 19, 2004

No Juan Gone Bobblehead in 2004:


Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals aren't planning to over-promote the acquisition of Juan Gonzalez. Also, George Brett thinks Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter should be in the Hall of Fame. (I agree) And Cleveland is rumored to be interested in Jose Lima.

Hal McRae unveiled his opening day lineup on this day in 1992. Tony Pena won't be announcing his anytime soon.

McRae's lineup, that took the Royals to a 1-16 start:

Brian McRae, CF
Gregg Jeffries, 3B
Wally Joyner, 1B
Kevin McReynolds, RF
George Brett, DH
Mike MacFarlane, C
Keith Miller, LF
Terry Shumpert, 2B
David Howard, SS

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's Legacy Awards were held in Kansas City last week. Among the honorees were Angel Berroa, Tony Pena, Allard Baird, and Julie Irene Kauffman.

// posted by Harley @ 1:30 PM

Friday, January 16, 2004

Hey everybody, it's arbitration time!:

Darrell May and Carlos Beltran, as expected, filed for salary arbitration. May has reportedly been offered a multi-year deal by the Royals. Beltran's agent, Scott Boras, is expected to ask for a $9 million contract for 2004. That's for Beltran, not for Boras--mostly. The Royals have until next Tuesday to sign the players in order to avoid arbitration hearings.

Tony Pena announced on Thursday that the Royals will continue their tradition of holding a mini-camp in the Dominican Republic this spring. The camp runs from Jan 28 through Feb 4 and Puerto Rican natives Beltran and Benito Santiago are expected to attend. Juan Gonzalez is not planning to attend.

Start times for 2004 have been announced. Most games will start at 10 minutes past the hour to allow more pregame show time on RSTN. The announced schedule also includes FOX game of the week dates on June 12 and July 17.

Trivia:(answer in comments)
What former Royal is 47 years old today? He was a starter for seven major league seasons, despite never hitting above .244. He played for two world series teams, but only appeared in one world series. He only fielded one position during his career. He led the league in a major category only once, although he still holds a Royals franchise record...for now.

// posted by Harley @ 10:23 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Jeremy Affeldt will be given a shot at starting:

Jeffrey Flanagan of the KC Star reports that Allard Baird is planning to give Jeremy Affeldt a shot at rejoining the starting rotation.

Baird on Affeldt: "“He'd read some stuff on the Internet that he was definitely going to the bullpen. But I assured him we would give him a look (at starting)." (Hi, Jeremy!)

Flanagan states that Affeldt would be more valuable in the bullpen than as a starter, which is incorrect. Jeremy Affeldt throwing 200 innings is far more valuable to the Royals than Jeremy Affeldt throwing 80-90 innings, even if you consider the possible leverage of his innings as a reliever. I'd prefer to see him in the rotation, BUT his recurring blister problems preclude this. Above all, the Royals need a healthy Jeremy Affeldt, and this means using him in the bullpen. (If you're reading this, Jeremy, think about it: work half the hours, make twice the money, extend your career--be a closer!")

The article also continues the fallacy that Mike MacDougal is a great reliever. He had a great start last year, and ended up with a good season, but MacDougal is the 4th or 5th-best reliever on the team, depending on how Grimsley's sinker is behaving. Curtis Leskanic is our best reliever, and Affeldt has the potential to be even better. Hopefully those two will be called upon in crucial game situations, even if Mac the ninth continues to be the closer, or the "get the last 3 outs of the game guy"

// posted by Harley @ 4:53 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Mike Sweeney & Jennie Finch: teammates

Mike Sweeney played in the Pepsi All-Star softball game on Sunday. His comments on Jennie Finch, who pitched part of the game for the AL squad: "She’s a stud." So how much would she have to alter her delivery to play in the majors? If Chad Bradford can throw underhand, why not Jennie? Allard Baird is rumored to be talking with Finch's agent...
Yep, it's a slow week for news.

John Sickels at ESPN.com has this to say about Colt Griffin:
"Although the Royals haven't given up on him by any means, he has fallen behind other guys like Zack Greinke and Jimmy Gobble on their pitching prospect depth chart. This is good in the sense that they will be less tempted to rush Griffin if he gets off to a hot start. I can't say I'm especially wild about his chances, but they look better than they did a year ago at this time."

This Date in Royals History:
January 13, 1991--Bo Jackson is injured while playing for the Oakland Raiders, leading to his release by the Royals.
January 14, 2000--Royals sign free agent Ricky Bottalico

// posted by Harley @ 10:33 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Free Agents:

The KC Star with a partial history of the Royals' past free agent signings. With Mark Davis and Bret Saberhagen on the staff how could we lose?

In other news, KZPL FM radio will simulcast night Royals games when WHB's broadcast signal strength drops.

And Truman Sports Complex Authority director John Friedmann died on Friday.

// posted by Harley @ 7:29 PM

Friday, January 09, 2004

Carlos Beltran: Hypnotist:

From MLB.com's article, "Players, Fans Excited About Juan":

Beltran said he spoke to Gonzalez after he signed with the Royals on Tuesday. "I told him, 'You're going to have fun this year. You're going to like Peña. He will find a way to push you and give you time to rest. It's going to be easy to communicate with (Peña).'"

It sounds best if you say it in slow, soothing tones--You're getting verrrry relaxed.....you're going to liiiike Pena....you're going to take a paaay cut so the Royals can keeeeep me....you're going to stay heallllthy all season...

This is what happens when my infant son wakes up in the middle of the night and I check my email while rocking him back to sleep. Sleeeeeep....

// posted by Harley @ 1:15 AM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

This Date in Royals History:

January 8, 2001--The Royals trade Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to the A's for Angel Berroa and A.J. Hinch. As part of the trade, Tampa Bay sent Roberto Hernandez to the Royals and Cory Lidle to the A's, and the A's sent Ben Grieve to the Devil Rays.

Since the trade:

Angel Berroa
Kansas City (2001-03)
193 G, 37 2B, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 26 SB, .282 AVG, .334 OBP, .432 SLG, .765 OPS; 1 ROY; $302K

A.J. Hinch
Kansas City (2001-02)
117 G, 10 2B, 13 HR, 42 RBI, .214 AVG, .286 OBP, .374 SLG, .660 OPS; $260K
Detroit (2003)
27 G, 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .203 AVG, .247 OBP, .392 SLG, .639 OPS;

Roberto Hernandez
Kansas City (2001-02)
116 G, 119.7 IP, 6-9, 54 SV, 38 BB, 85 K, 4.21 ERA; $6M
Atlanta (2003)
66 G, 60 IP, 5-3, 43 BB, 45 K, 4.35 ERA; $600K

Johnny Damon
Oakland (2001)
155 G, 34 2B, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 27 SB, .256 AVG, .324 OBP, .363 SLG, .687 OPS; $7.1M
Boston (2002-03)
299 G, 66 2B, 26 HR, 130 RBI, 61 SB, .279 AVG, .353 OBP, .424 SLG, .777 OPS; 1 AS, $7.25M/$7.5M

Mark Ellis
Oakland (2002-03)
252 G, 47 2B, 15 HR, 87 RBI, 10 SB, .257 AVG, .331 OBP, .380 SLG, .711 OPS; $307.5K

Cory Lidle
Oakland (2001-02)
60 G, 380 IP, 21-16, 86 BB, 229 K, 3.74 ERA; $2.55M
Toronto (2003)
31 G, 192.7 IP, 12-15, 60 BB, 112 K, 5.75 ERA; $5.35M

Ben Grieve
Tampa Bay (2001-03)
345 G, 67 2B, 34 HR, 153 RBI, 15 SB, .254 AVG, .364 OBP, .399 SLG, .763 OPS; $2.75M/$4M/$5.5M

Spring Training tickets go on sale Saturday!

// posted by Harley @ 10:40 AM

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Now hitting for Kansas City: Juan Gonzalez:

MLB.com made the official announcement this morning that Juan Gonzalez has agreed to a $4.5 million contract. "The free-agent outfielder gets $4 million next season, with an option for 2005 at $7 million. If the Royals decline the option, Gonzalez would receive a $500,000 buyout. In addition, he can earn $2 million in performance bonuses this year and $1.5 million in 2005." (AP)

As negative as I've been about this signing since it was first suggested back in July, I'd love to see Juan Gone fit right into Tony Pena's clubhouse, find renewed energy and enthusiasm, stay healthy enough to play 140-150 games, and break the franchise record for home runs in a season. If none of those things happen, well, at least I can say "I told you so."

If only our pitching rotation looked as good as our lineup:
Angel Berroa, SS
Carlos Beltran, CF
Mike Sweeney, DH
Juan Gonzalez, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Joe Randa, 3B
Benito Santiago, C
Aaron Guiel/David DeJesus, LF
Desi Relaford/Tony Graffanino, 2B

Rob and Rany has been updated with a commentary digest from December 17th through the signing of Gonzalez.

// posted by Harley @ 2:32 PM

Monday, January 05, 2004

Neyer more optimistic than I am--no sign yet of toads or locusts:

Rob Neyer is excited about the possibility of acquiring Juan Gonzalez, and generally happy with KC's off-season.

Robert over at U.L.'s Toothpick posted a friendly rebuttal to my anti-Gonzalez ranting in this morning's post. What is your view, gentle reader?

Tug McGraw died today at the age of 59. McGraw ended the Royals' 1980 run with a strikeout of Willie Wilson, and pitched in every game of the 1980 World Series.

// posted by Harley @ 11:34 PM
Gonzalez not signed yet:

Last night's reports of Juan Gonzalez being signed were apparently an exaggeration. We've been down this road before, back in late July, but Lee Sinins reports this morning:
"Juan Gonzalez's agent denies that he's got a deal with the Royals. Instead, there are still 3 teams in the running, while he says, 'I would clearly say that Kansas City is the front-runner at the moment.' Both the agent and Royals GM Allard Baird expect a decision this week."

Juan Gone is also the Player of the Day over at Baseball Prospectus. His actual numbers were slightly better than BP's projections, but not by much.

Personally, this news gave me a sigh of relief. I tend to focus on the negatives of possible free agents, but it seems to me that $4 million is too high a price to pay for a season from a left-fielder that could easily be equalled or bettered by one of our youngsters--David DeJesus, Alexis Gomez, yes, even Dee Brown. All of these guys have suffered because of KC's crowded outfield over the past few years, and yet we're trying to sign outfielders? When there's talent like Greg Maddux still on the market? Pitchers who can be depended on to win 10-15 games are not a surplus commodity at Kauffman.
Or better yet, we can simply rely on the talent development skills of Muzzy Jackson, who had as much to do with 2003's winning season as Tony Pena or Allard Baird. With too many hired guns, we'll be in real danger of turning into the 2003 White Sox. And nobody wants to see that.

[That is all.]

// posted by Harley @ 12:10 AM

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Happy New Year!:

Here's what happened while I was away:
Jan 1: MLB.com's 2004 preview for the Royals.

U.L.'s Toothpick has been digging up some interesting stats from the Royals' farm system.

The Idaho Falls Chukars have a new url: http://www.ifchukars.com Their new logos are also up on the site.

Dec. 29: The KC Star reports that the Royals may be interested in free agent outfielder Jay Payton.

Dec 27:
The Chicago Tribune proclaims KC a "royal pain" in a column analyzing the Royals' offseason.

In the Dominican Winter League, Alexis Gomez went 3 for 5 with a stolen base and a run scored. He's hitting .263 there.
In the Puerto Rico League, Ruben Gotay went 3 for 4 with a double, a triple, a stolen base, 2 runs scored, and an RBI, raising his batting average to .270.

Dec 26:
In the Mexican League, Calvin Pickering went 2 for 4 and is now hitting .288.

Dec 25: USA Today named Zack Greinke to their 2003 Minor League All-Star Team.

Dec 22: The Royals re-signed Mendy Lopez and Kris Wilson.

From Lee Sinins:
"Lopez has -20 RCAA/.668 OPS in 172 career games, including a .447 SLG, .306 OBA,. 753 OPS, -3 RCAA in 52 games in 2003. The only other time in which he had more playing time than his 52 G/100 PA was 74 G/225 PA with the 1998 Royals.

Wilson, who had just been nontendered, has a 5.32 ERA/-6 RSAA in 90 career games, including a 5.33 ERA/-1 RSAA in 29 games (4 starts) in 2003."

In the Mexican League, Calvin Pickering went 2 for 5 with a run scored and 3 RBI, raising his average to .284.

// posted by Harley @ 1:41 PM