Once again, there’s not a heckuva lot to like about what is going on in Kansas City.
The Royals' front office appears to be completely lacking in terms of a consistent philosophy on how it wants to build the ball club.
GM Dayton Moore acquired a couple of decent young players in the deal that sent Mark Teahan to Chicago—but otherwise, his moves appear to be ill-conceived and devoid of direction.
Frankly, the organization appears to be only marginally better off today than on the day Moore arrived—and that isn’t good enough. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
The Royals finished the 2009 season with a 65-97 record, tied for fourth place in the division. After a busy offseason, it seems they may improve by as many as five or six games—but that leaves them a long way from becoming relevant in the AL Central.
Moore brought several new faces aboard to help improve an offense that ranked 23rd in MLB last year with 686 runs scored, but he did nothing to improve the pitching staff— which ranked 27th in MLB, with 5.20 runs surrendered each game.
The key is what he does with guys who clearly will not be a part of the team’s future. Does he flip a guy like Rick Ankiel at the trade deadline for a prospect who could be a contributor two or three years down the road—a la Billy Beane? Or does he continue with the aimless patchwork he has engaged in since the day he arrived?
Jason Kendall? Scott Podsednik? Really?
OF Rick Ankiel, 3B Josh Fields, 2B Chris Getz, C Jason Kendall, and OF Scott Podsednik
C John Buck, OF Coco Crisp, 1B Mike Jacobs, C Miguel Olivo, and UT Mark Teahan
Zack Greinke (16-8, 2.16) was named to the All-Star team and eventually won the AL Cy Young Award last season. He will continue to be on the short list of the game’s best pitchers—but after him, the rotation is filled with question marks. RHP Gil Meche (6-10, 5.09) took a huge step backwards last year—and he is starting to develop a reputation for being injury-prone.
Of the remaining three pitchers in the rotation, only Luke Hochevar (7-13, 6.55) appears to be a part of the Royals' future. Brian Bannister (7-12, 4.73) and Kyle Davies (8-9, 5.27) aren’t part of the club’s long-term plan—or at least they shouldn’t be.
With Meche again hurting in spring training, there has been discussion about who might fill in for him if he misses a couple of starts at the beginning of the season. The options seem to be Robinson Tejeda and Kyle Farnsworth. Tejeda is a part of the team’s future, while Farnsworth is not.
The club is not going to the postseason in 2010—so why is this even being debated? The clear choice is Tejeda—but the fact that Farnsworth is being considered says everything you need to know about the state of the organization’s dysfunctional front office.
Last winter, Moore dealt young relievers Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez in exchange for 1B Mike Jacobs and OF Coco Crisp, while simultaneously bringing in Farnsworth and free agent Juan Cruz for his bullpen.
Expressed in other terms, he traded two cornerstones for his bullpen for two marginal veteran ballplayers and two marginal veteran pitchers—none of whom could be expected to be on the club in 2012 or 2013. ‘Nuff said.
Closer Joakim Soria (3-2, 2.21, 30 S) is a stud, but there’s little in the way of quality behind him. Cruz and Farnsworth were huge disappointments in their first season in KC— and both must turn things around for the bullpen to have any chance.
I would add Tejeda’s name here, but if there is any sense of sanity in Kansas City, he will be a permanent part of the rotation by May 1—and thus, he cannot be part of any discussion about the bull pen.
Roman Colon? Anthony Lerew? The mere thought sends chills up and down my spine.
It’s hard to imagine how this group was put together, and it’s easy to envision that as many as half of these guys could be dealt for prospects by midseason.
This lineup is proof positive that Moore should be on the unemployment line.
LF Scott Podsednik (.304, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 30 SB) will lead off, followed in the two hole by RF David DeJesus (.281/13/71). After that, I expect CF Rick Ankiel (who hit just .231, with 11 HR and 38 RBI in 372 AB last year) to bat third in front of young slugger 1B Billy Butler (.301/21/93) and veteran DH Jose “Head Case” Guillen (.242/9/40 in 281 AB).
The bottom half of the lineup will find ever-promising-but-always-disappointing 3B Alex Gordon batting sixth—assuming he can stay on the field. (He’ll begin the season on the DL after fracturing his thumb in a spring training game.)
C Jason Kendall (.241/2/43) and SS Yuniesky Betancourt (.240/4/27) offer little in the way of offensive productivity—and they only have major league jobs because guys like Moore have jobs running major league organizations. It’s really very sad.
2B Chris Getz (.261/2/31/25) will bat ninth. If he performs well and shows the ability to get on base, he could parlay those skills into the No. 2 slot in the batting order when DeJesus eventually gets dealt.
As I stated above, I expect the Royals will improve by upwards of a half-dozen games in 2010.
Meche has to be better than last year. The same can be said for Hochevar and anyone who occupies a spot in the bullpen. The lineup is a disaster, but if Podsednik and Ankiel have good years, they could bring something of value back in a trade.
SOX1Forecast: 71-91, Fourth place.
Kansas City Royals—Top Five Prospects
1. P Mike Montgomery
2. P Aaron Crow
3. 3B Mike Moustakas
4. 1B Eric Hosmer
5. C Wil Myers