Monday, June 8, 2009

Dayton, year 2

As the abomination of a season continues for the Royals, I take a look at year two's worth of choices in the Dayton Moore regime. While Moore's first year seemed to be filled with a trade every other week the second is more defined by his free agents and their (lack of) success. First, starting where I did last year, a look at the first 4 picks of the first draft that Dayton actually takes credit for:

Round 1- #2 overall- Mike Moustakas- After a terrible start to last year, Moustakas really turned it on and ended up leading his league in home runs with 22. This year he's hitting .263 with 7 home runs and 35 RBI in 49 games. Everyone says that this guy, being a high school draftee, will take 3-4 years before he's ready for the bigs...well we're half way through year 2, shouldn't he at least be in AA?

Round 2-#66 overall- Sam Runion- 7.26 ERA in Low A ball...that's terrible even for a 20 year old. 20 Ks and 14 BB in 48 innings this year.

Round 3- #96 overall- Danny Duffy- Now this is what you expect out of a Dayton Moore draft pick. Dominating Low A ball for two years in a row now, 5-2 with a 2.95 ERA striking out almost a batter an inning...get this guy moving!

Round 4-#126 overall- Mitch Hodge- Disappeared from the baseball landscape after posting a 9.79 ERA in the Arizona rookie league last year. Maybe is only playing Rookie ball again? Regardless, not a good sign.

Octavio Dotel for Kyle Davies- Fantastic start to year 2 for Dayton Moore right? Dotel injured himself almost immediately and Davies became...well...what has Kyle Davies become? According to Baseball-Reference the closest thing to Davies is...wait for it...Runelvys Hernandez! This is really the make or break year for Davies and so far he's 2-5 with a 5+ ERA. I'd say he's a legitimate #5 starter if he can learn to eat innings.

Danny Christensen for Roman Colon- Christensen is still struggling through AA with the Tigers while Colon has finally made it back to the Bigs with the Royals. Colon hasn't done enough to call this a win yet, pretty irrelevant really.

Billy Buckner for Alberto Callaspo- Last year I thought this was a terrible trade...last month I thought it was I really don't know what to think. Callaspo has proven several times in the past that his off field decision making leaves much to be desired. Now that he's playing full time I think we can say the same for his baseball instincts. He really isn't fast, he has little power...but he can put the bat on the ball...that's not disputable. Buckner is a 26 year old pitcher with a career 4.86 ERA who has just been given a chance as a starter for the Diamondbacks.

Justin Huber for player to be named later- Anything we got for this Aussie was worth it.

Jorge De La Rosa and cash for Ramon Ramirez- Officially the Royals traded a player to be named later for Ram Ram and then weeks later traded De La Rosa for a player to be names later. Why? I have no idea, but no matter how you slice it, this was probably Dayton's best trade of year 2. Ram Ram was dominant in 2008 and then the Royals turned him into Coco Crisp, DeLa Rosa has been exactly what we thought he was: an enigma. 10-8 in 2008 with a 4.92, 0-6 in 2009 with a 5.43 ERA...not terrible, but not near as good as Ramirez was.

Henry Arias for Brad Salmon- Arias is a 24 year old pitcher in High A ball with an ERA around 7, Salmon's almost 30 and no longer still in the minors...but not with the other words, irrelevant.

While year two was much less active, it was also much more productive. Looks to me like 2 wins, no real losses, one trade that's TBD (Callaspo/Buckner) and three that mean nothing at all. That brings Dayton's record through two year's to 4-4-10...pretty inconclusive. However, year two's class of free agent signings sheds a little (or a lot) of light on the Royals problems.

Yasuhiko Yabuta 2 Yrs $5 million- Yabuta's early season struggles were at least a part of the Royals' collapse last season. This year he gets passed over by the likes of Roman Colon when the Royals need a quick fix in the bullpen. Terrible signing.
Jose Guillen 3 yrs $36 million- Last year Guillen hit .264 with 20 home runs and 97 RBI...this year he's on pace for a much worse season. That's not to mention his terrible defense, his clubhouse outbursts, or his complete lack of speed on the base paths. Jose Guillen is a player that took steroids to become a slightly above average player and without them he's just very very average. This signing wasn't terrible, but it certainly isn't good.
Ron Mahay 2 yrs- Mahay made $4 million last year and he was definitely worth it. One thing Dayton Moore has been able to do is find relievers in bunches. Hopefully Mahay is one that he can trade this summer...and hopefully it'll be more successful than the Affeldt/Howell trades of year 1.
Miguel Olivo 1 yr $2 million- I never understood why we were spending money on a backup catcher when we already had one. Olivo has a great arm but that's about the only thing he offers that Buck doesn't. This move doesn't kill itself.
Brett Tomko 1 yr $3 million- Tomko was so terrible the Royals released him on June 21 of last year, and we know how hard it is for the Royals to give up on someone they've invested in.
Brayan Pena waivers- I think Pena was a really good signing...if they hadn't just spent 2 million on Olivo.

Anyways, you're looking at about $25 million (or 40% of our 2008 payroll) for this group of players. Once again, yes we improved, but did we improve enough to justify the money we spent? Doesn't seem so to me. In year two I see further example that David Glass is making more of a commitment to make this team better while Dayton Moore may well be squandering that opportunity with poor decision making.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Return to Futility

The title of this blog may have to do with the current state of our hapless Royals but it could also reflect my first blog post in 5 months. I'll address the latter before the former at least partially because the former makes me sick to my stomach. It seems blogging isn't for me because I can't pretend like a bunch of people are reading what I'm writing and I feel a little silly talking to my friends in the same pompous self serving way that most writers speak to their readers. So, generally, when I have something to blog about I find someone to call, and rant for 15 minutes...I get my fix and better yet don't have to worry about misspelling Jorge De La Rosa and hearing about from some DB that scours the internet looking for blog errors.

Regardless, I love my Royals...with every inch of me. It started when I was just a kid, sitting in my Poppy's truck every summer night listening to the game and inhaling his secondhand cigar smoke.

The problem is, well, I love the Royals...and some times that is enough to drive a guy insane. So, once again I believed again...only when I believe it's different, I buy in 100%..and then it comes crashing down. Well, this time when it came crashing down it was different...I just don't get it.

Three years ago we put our faith in a man named deliver us from the past transgressions of Herk and Allard, Glass and Muser, and all the people who'd wronged this great franchise in the past. Almost immediately, he was able to persuade Glass to pen his pocketbook and when he did we opened our hearts. We trusted again...things were going to be different...we had Alex Gordon and Billy Butler coming and Zack was getting his head right and we were going to spend money and in just a couple of years we'd be a contender...and not a flash-in-the-pan-2003-where-did-that-come-from contender, but a real, talented, bona fide contender. First there was Meche, then signs of brilliance from Zack, the arrival of Billy, a power hitting outfielder, Soria became a star, a left handed bat...and 2009 arrived...people were calling us a sleeper...the Royals! And they weren't laughing! So why is this happening? Why do we suck again?

That brings me to why I'm back...a three part series on the history of Dayton Moore as a General Manager. To this point I've only completed part one, so I don't know how this ends...then again, I'm looking at the same Royals you I kind of do.

That's right, despite what Dayton says, I'm holding him accountable for the 2006 draft. There is no way you take over a team and then let someone else draft for you...not when a farm system is as depleted as ours was at the time. Maybe he didn't have full control, but I'm only looking at the first 4 rounds which I assume he had at least a hand in. If nothing else, it's his staff that's (allegedly) developed these players.

Round 1- 1st over all- Luke Hochevar. I won't spend too long on Hoch, because we all know what he is (or at least looks like to this point): The quintessential AAAA pitcher. He's lights out in Omaha and lit up in the Bigs. I'm not giving up on him by any means, but I think best case scenario we're looking at a 3-4 starter...Jeff Suppan if you will. And that's best case. It bears mentioning that Hochevar is the only player from the last three drafts to sniff the majors thus far. That's not an indictment of Dayton, but...

Round 2- #45 overall- Jason Taylor- 21 year old 3rd baseman played all of last year for Class A Burlington Bees. Hit .242 with 17 Hrs and 58 RBI, stole 40 bases and struck out 97 times in 127 games. Has yet to play a game this season due to injuries. Not too far from where you'd expect him although you'd sure expect him to be in AA by next year if he's really a prospect.

Round 3- #77 overall Blake Wood- P (77)- 23 year old pitcher in AA is 2-3 with a 6.31 ERA this year. Last year he went 8-9 with a 4.25 ERA splitting time between A and AA. Struck out 139 in 144 innings and only walked 47.

Round 4- #107 overall Derrick Robinson OF (107)- 21 year old outfielder looks like he might as well be named Joey Gathright or Coco Crisp. Currently hitting .230 in A ball with 28 steals in 46 games...but only 6 extra base hits (all doubles) all year. Last year hit .245 with 62 stoles bases and 8 triples.

From the looks of it, we may have a couple of prospects, but no one that jumps out at you as maybe helping this year unless Hochevar figures something out fast. So the draft did nothing really to shape this team other than factoring in to our hole in the #5 spot of the rotation, next I though I'd look at what really excited me, Dayton's first year of trades:

JP Howell for Joey Gathright and Fernando Cortez- I was all over this deal at the time and quickly became a Gathright homer. However, looking in the rear view looks like Dayton got worked over by the Devil Rays. Gathright spent two years bouncing between KC and Omaha before being released this past winter. While I'd still argue that the Royals would be a better team if they'd kept Gathright and Ramon Ramirez instead of trading for Coco (who is, essentially, the same player as Gathright with a little more pop)...the facts say his time in KC was a failure. He was signed by the Cubs and just recently traded to the Orioles (after hitting .214). Cortez played all of 8 games in a Royals uniform before being released a little over one year after the trade. He's now in AA with the White Sox. Howell on the other hand has turned into a fantastic reliever appearing in 64 games last year with a 2.22 ERA. This year he's been just as good and looks like he may get a shot at the Rays closer job...and he's still only 26. That's about as close to an F on a trade as you can get, but I did have a mancrush on Jumpin Joey we'll give it a D.

Ruben Gotay for Jeff Keppinger- This one probably doesn't amount to much, but I liked Gotay. He spent 2007 with the Mets hitting .295 in 98 games with the Mets. Then he was claimed off waivers by the Braves and hit .235 in 88 games with the Braves mostly as a backup/pinch hitter. He's hitting .281 in AAA this year and as a 26 year old utility infielder I'd guess he'll get another shot. Now, it turns out, a 26 year old utility infielder is exactly what we got for him...but we traded him before the 2007 season. Since then Keppinger's started 192 games at 6 different positions with the Reds and Astros. He's becoming the Spork...anyways, like I said, this trade probably doesn't matter much other than it makes no sense why we ever made this trade. If Dayton really liked Kepp so much, why trade him so soon? If he didn't why trade the same player (only 3 years younger) for him?

Mike MacDougal for Tyler Lumsden and Daniel Cortes- Here's the trade where we really pulled one over on the Sox right? We all knew MacDougal couldn't hold it together and we got two of their best pitching prospects. Only, once again...this trade probably doesn't really matter least not yet. Mike was money the rest of 2006 for the Sox, terrible in 2007, only appeared in 16 games in 2008 and then exploded this year before being released. He's been picked up by the Nationals, and may resurrect his career but overall the White Sox got slightly less than one great year from MacDougal and slightly more than one terrible year from him. What did the Royals get? Well, Lumsden is now a reliever for the Astros AAA club,we traded him this winter for outfielder Jordan Parraz (more on him in the year three evaluation). Cortes is still just 22, right now he's 2-5 with a 4.01 ERA, last year he was 10-4 with a 3.78 ERA and 109 Ks in 116 innings. He's still one of our best pitching prospects. How do you call that one? Hard to say either team won until we see what happens with Cortes.

Elmer Dessens for Cash, Odalis Perez, Blake Johnson, Julio Pimentel- We may have found a winner. Essentially, the Royals got two prospects for agreeing to eat Perez's contract I think. In return, Perez ate everything in sight. So maybe that was part of the deal but I cursed his fat Latino butt many a time at the K. Despite is 10-15 record, his 5.6 ERA and his devastating effect on the Royals food budget, this trade could still work out well for the Royals. Dessens has yet to post an ERA under 6 since 2006, while the two prospects received for him are still in the Royals system. Johnson (turning 24 this month) is in AA with Pimentel (also 24 and a 2008 Futures Game participant) who is recovering from an elbow injury. Considering how terrible Dessens was, and that the Royals still have 2 24 year old pitchers from the deal, I'd call this a win.

Tony Graffanino for Jorge De La Rosa- Pretty much irrelevant. Graffanino has put together a few more years as a average backup infielder, De La Rosa put together a year and half's worth of Odalis Perez like years before the Royals shipped him off to the Rockies for what I believe ended up being a trade for Ramon Ramirez. In this way, the trade becomes significant and the Royals I would say won this trade, because the possibility of De La Rosa's talent landed them a quality reliever which is more than Graff was worth.

Matt Stairs for Jose Diaz- Stairs went has continued his career as a journeyman power hitter with the Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays and Phillies. The Rangers in fact traded him later that same season. In other words, he was much more successful than Diaz who pitched 4 games with the Royals (allowing 8 runs in 6.2 innings) and was released.

Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista for Ryan Shealy and Scott Dohmann- Why could we never figure Jeremy Affeldt out? He's become a journeyman reliever (3.51 ERA in 75 games for Rockies in 2007, 3.33 in 74 games for Reds in 2008, 1.93 in 27 games so far for Giants in 2009) which is more than you can say for anyone else involved in this trade. Dohmann put up a 7.99 ERA in 21 appearances before being released while Bautista and Shealy appear to be the AAAA players. Both sit in AAA right waiting for one more chance.

Cash for Jason LaRue- This started out as one of those player to be names later trades but eventually Larue proved to be so woefully ineffective that the Reds accepted much? I'd speculate very little. However, the enjoyment I received bellowing his nickname (Jason LaBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) after every meager at bat was priceless.

Donnie Murphy for Cash- I wonder if this is the money we used to buy Larue?

Ambiorix Burgos for Brian Bannister- Here's a winner! Burgos has been out of the majors since 2007 and per is currently out of the minors as well. Meanwhile, Bannister is taking us on a roller coaster ride from fantastic to terrible and back again. Regardless, this is clearly the gem of Dayton Moore's first year as GM.

Andrew Sisco for Ross Gload- As much as I hate to admit it this trade was also a winner. While I got tired of watching Hillman run Ross Gload out there way too often, he's still been much more successful than Sisco who was so terrible in 2007 he was banished after 21 games and has yet to return to the majors.

Jeff Keppinger for Russ Haltiwanger- So, Russ answers our question from earlier. Keppinger (essentially Gotay)was traded for a 22 year old infielder who never made it out of A ball and is now out of baseball.

Erik Cordier for TPJ- So far, Dayton has lucked out on this one. We all know what TPJ is, a decent fielding SS that the Royals believe can become an adequate hitter. With Aviles' injury problems it seems Pena will get every chance to prove them wrong again. Cordier had Tommy John surgery in 2008 and is now a 22 year old pitching prospect with a sub 3 ERA in A ball. At this point the Royals at least got a (arguable) major leaguer, but I'm afraid this one could turn into a very bad trade...we'll see.

Maxim St Pierre for Ben Hendrickson- Irrelevant...but Maxim St Pierre is one awesome name!

So by my count, the final record for Dayton Moore in year one looks like this:
Win- 2
Loss- 4
Irrelevant- 4
TBD- 2

What's disturbing to me isn't so much that he lost more often than he won (because even that is debatable) it's this: How many players that Dayton Moore traded for are helping the Royals in 2009? Only Bannister and Pena are on the active roster and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd tell you that Tony Pena Jr is any help at all. So out of all of the trades listed above, the only benefit the Royals have experience in 2-3 years is the services of their #4 (fine, you can call him a #3) starter. Now, how many players that the Royals traded away are helping someone else? JP Howell, for one, is a fantastic reliever for the Rays. Same could be said for Affeldt and the Giants. Keppinger is pseudo WIllie Bloomquist, Gathright will probably be for the Orioles what TPJ is for us, light hitting insurance against injury. My point isn't so much that Dayton threw away the future of the club, only that we certainly didn't improve ourselves through those first 12 months worth of trades...and the idea that we were improving was at least part of the reason we all trusted Dayton so much.

Finally, we come the signings from the first year
Gil Meche- 5 years $55 Million- I love this deal, I hope these recent back problems don't persist or we may be eating 40% with a pitcher who isn't worth a damn...but for the first half of this deal it's been a great signing.

Joakim Soria- Rule 5 Draft- Best move made in the entire Dayton Moore era much less year 1. In fact, maybe the best move in all of baseball that year...that is if The Mexicutioner's arm really is healed.

John Bale- 2 years $4million- Bale has pitched in 43 games over 3 years with an era in the mid 4s. Hard to fault Dayton for the injury problems. Then again, even when he's been healthy he's been mediocre. This year he's been terrible and I'd say we're due for another surgery soon.

Todd Wellemeyer, David Riske and Octavio Dotel were all signed to one year deals and all long gone now. Their signings and performance really add nothing to the discussion on Dayton Moore's first year(although Dotel's name will come up in year 2 discussions when Dayton turned him in to Kyle Davies).

Now I know at this point I've probably lost some of you, it may even seem like I'm trying to cast Dayton in a bad light...I'm not. I fully recognize that we went from 54 wins in 05 to 62 in 06, 69 in 07, and 75 in 08...that's improvement. My question is, how much of that is because of the fact that our payroll has ballooned from $47 million to $70 million? And that's what I'm trying to find out with this analysis. My grade for year one? At the time I would have given Dayton an A-, almost everything he did I was in love with. Now, with hindsight on my side I would have to give him a C+ because he made some fantastic moves (Bannister trade, Soria pick) he made some duds (Howell and Affeldt trades) and we've got several things riding on the future of a few prospects, but overall I'd say it was slightly above average...certainly not the Godsend we thought at the time.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dezmon Briscoe

What a stud! 15 TDs, over 1400 yards, 2 different 200 yard games? He doesn't get near the hype he deserves. Kansas fans had better enjoy him, because he's only got one year left before he's a first round draft pick.

I haven't posted on here forever, but I have 9 prognostications for 2009 I'd like to make while I'm here:

1. Bill Snyder's return will be less successful than Brett Favre's.
2. Oklahoma will win the National Title (but Texas and USC have fantastic arguments).
3. Peyton Manning leads the Colts to a Super Bowl victory over Carolina.
4. Herm Edwards returns for the start of the 2009 season.
5. The Royals win more than 81 games.
6. Missouri and Kansas both win at least 24 games and make the Sweet 16.
7. Brodie Croyle will never win a regular season game as a starter in the NFL.
8. The Chiefs will not draft a quarterback in the first round.
9. Alex Gordon will lead the Royals in extra base hits.