I have been a little slow updating this and I apologize to loyal readers. A few weeks ago, I accepted a position writing for KC Kingdom (kckingdom.com). It is a site dedicated to KC area sports, including the Royals, Chiefs, and Jayhawks - the topics I write the most about. I was originally brought on a general staff writers, covering a multitude of topics, and I will still be doing that to a certain extent, but now I will be writing more about the Royals than anything else.
I appreciate everyone who read my stuff on a regular basis. It was because of your support that I have been given some opportunities to cultivate my writings skills to the point where I have been asked to write for bigger and bigger sites. I ask that everyone follow me to KC Kingdom. That site has a hard working staff that produces good work. I appreciate your continued support and feel free to follow me on twitter for my posting updates.
I intend to to continue with Jaws Thoughts From The Recliner, when I have time to go see another movie. I probably won't be posting much to this site, my original foray into the blogosphere. There just won't be enough time. If I have some random thoughts that don't fit into KC Kingdom's format, then I may pour those thoughts out here from time to time, but it won't be a regular thing. Please continue to read my stuff at kckingdom.com and jawsrecliner.com.
Thanks for reading...
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Monday, December 24, 2012
Santa Self has delivered us another great gift this year. Despite losing two top players from a National Champion finalist team last year in Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, Santa Self has wrapped up a team heavy with seniors and freshmen that continues to get stronger. A big win on road in Columbus, Ohio last Saturday was a holiday treat for us all.
This 2012-2013 college basketball season is proving to be a weak one, not only nationally, but in the Big XII as well. Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News has the Big XII ranked 8th among conferences, behind such power leagues as the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Pac-12, and the round ball challenged SEC. It wasn’t too long ago that the Big XII had moved up into the top two or three basketball conferences. Missouri jumping to the SEC certainly didn’t help. Even though the Tigers have the 146th ranked strength of schedule (Rivals.com’s RPI Ratings), they are 10-1 and would probably be Kansas’ biggest challengers this season if they had stayed put. Missouri and Texas A&M were replaced by a horrible basketball school in TCU (only scored 31 in a game this season and have scored less than 50 in several others) and a very disappointing West Virginia, 6-5, 111 RPI). The conference only has three teams in the RPI top 40 – Kansas (2), Oklahoma St. (20), and Oklahoma (25). Only three teams have played a schedule ranked in the top 60 – Kansas (3), OU (13), and Baylor (26). Three teams have schedules ranked lower than 200 – Kansas St. (215), TCU (283), and Texas Tech (298). I have long believed that many of the Big XII schools historically don’t schedule a tough enough slate. KU and Texas usually are the only teams that play stronger teams on a regular basis.
Be that as it may, Kansas is ranked 7th in the AP and 2nd in the RPI with the 3rd toughest schedule in the country. I think Santa Self has done a great job of picking some of the strongest mid-major teams year in and year out to play. I think that is why his strength of schedule is so high. Throw in teams like Colorado and Temple, on top of the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State, and he has a competitive schedule against several good to decent teams Kansas should beat.
Santa Self also does a terrific job being patient with his teams. He lets them grow as players throughout the pre-conference schedule. His teams generally make a leap forward about this time of year as he has much more practice time between semesters to put in more plays. Kansas usually hits their stride come the conference part of the schedule. Barring something disastrous, Kansas should stroll away through the Big XII this season and win their 9th straight conference title. That would be an amazing accomplishment.
One of the things Santa Self does best is to reload each year. Year after year, KU loses a big chunk of their points, rebounds, assists, and minutes to graduation (it should also be noted that Santa Self's players graduate at a very high rate) or the NBA. Several higher echelon schools go through this. It also seems that Santa Self has something left in his stocking for the next season, even when it doesn’t always appear that he does. This year, he was left with four seniors, three of whom started in the National Championship game last April.
After KU beat Richmond a couple of weeks ago, Chris Mooney, the Spiders’ coach, said he was surprised when he started watching film on the Jayhawks. He couldn’t believe a school on the level of Kansas would have four senior starters. In this day and age of one and done players, the top tier teams are often hit the worst by this. One of the CBS announcers on Saturday, I think it was Greg Anthony, also mentioned the anomaly of a school like Kansas having four seniors during the Ohio State telecast. Santa Self does a terrific job of getting a lot of his players that are not one and done talent to stay the course and convinces them that they can be major contributors down the road. He does it year after year. Players who don’t play much as freshmen or sophomores end up playing huge roles on very good teams by the time they are juniors and seniors. Santa Self and his staff are obviously coaching these kids up, even when they are not playing a lot of minutes in games. It always seems to pay off.
This team has the four seniors, one sophomore with significant playing time in Nadir Tharpe, and the other five guys who get to play in varying degrees are freshmen (not counting the walk-ons or junior Justin Wesley). The four seniors are not the most talented or athletic players in the country but they all do many things very well. They all bring something important to the table. They have all been role players in the past but are now the leaders. They all know what Santa Self requires of them and they work together to win games. Talking heads always go on about how important senior leadership is come NCAA tournament time. That theory will be tested in March as Kansas tries for back to back Final Fours.
Kansas can look very good (Colorado, Belmont, Richmond) but they are happy to win ugly too (Chattanooga, Ohio State). The ugly wins don’t count less than the pretty ones. Kansas has a very good chance, because of their strong non-conference schedule and an apparently weaker than usual Big XII, to mount a pretty big win total by tournament time. Unless something unforeseen happens (never want to count chickens before they hatch), Kansas should be in a prime position to garner a #1 seed, and no lower than a #2 seed. With senior leadership, it would a great gift to the fans for the Jayhawks to return to the Final Four and maybe even the Finals. Santa Self has delivered before; he can do it again. Check your list Santa Self; we have been very good this year!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season!
Get TV and movie reviews at jawsrecliner.blogspot.com and follow me on twitter @jawrecliner. Thanks for reading.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I have been prepared to write this for a few weeks now but other things have pushed it to the back burner. I am just going to knock this out and be done with the Chiefs for a couple of months. This team has frustrated me to no end and I am ready for their season to be over.
The negatives on this team are seemingly infinite but there are four components that are the root cause to all else. The first is ownership. Long time legendary owner Lamar Hunt died in December, 2006. In the six seasons since, Kansas City has won 4, 2, 4, 10, 7, and 2 games for a total of 29 wins against 65 losses (this doesn’t count the two more that are coming to end this season). Clark Hunt has just run this franchise into the ground. Even so, this organization has been going the wrong way for quite a while now. The Chiefs only have four winning records in the last 15 seasons. In that time, they have a record of 105-133 (44%). They have won more than 9 only three times and more than 10 just once in the last decade and a half. And there have been zero playoff wins. While the Chiefs weren’t tearing up the league in Lamar Hunt’s final years, it is much worse now with the team only winning 31% of their games since his passing. That is flat out not acceptable, especially when the team is reportedly well under the salary cap. Where is that extra money going???
I think we can all agree Scot Pioli has been a total and utter failure ass the General Manager of the Chiefs. I admit to being excited when he was hired but he hitched his horse to Matt Cassel as his guy at quarterback, his new Tom Brady. The “Patriot Way” certainly works better if you have the real Tom Brady. Pioli’s biggest failings stem from Cassel not being even close to Brady in talent and Pioli’s lack of admission of this simple fact. Pioli has also failed twice in hiring head coaches.
Pioli has also been a horrible talent evaluator and has not build up good NFL-talent level back-ups. Injuries have crushed his teams. Injuries are part of the game and that is why depth is so important. The guys backing up the starters in a lot of the positions are not good players. I am still befuddled by the fact KC entered the season with no one with experience at center on the roster to back up Rodney Hudson. Ryan Lilja, who had never played center in the NFL has had to play center for most of the season. He has struggled mightily at times just getting the ball snapped in a timely and accurate fashion. I don’t blame him. He was set up to fail. As I watched the corps of wide receivers the Chiefs ran out onto the field against the Raiders, I am convinced Pioli isn’t even trying. His eschewing Brandon Carr in the off season and offering a big contract to Stanford Routt, who couldn’t even last the season with this lackluster team, is proof enough of Pioli’s incompetence. Of course, this is just highlighted by the quarterback position.
The next complete failure of this team is the Head Coach and his staff. I know this stems from Pioli’s failure but these guys look like they have just given up. The team doesn’t look disciplined or well drilled. The offensive and defensive game plans look vanilla and uninspired. This whole mess with Steve Breaston is just plain ridiculous. He is by far the most accomplished wide receiver on the roster with Bowe hurt. The fact he has not been active the last several weeks is just mind blowing. Also, I have been disappointed in the lack of improvement from the defensive backs as a unit and individually. I think we can all agree it is time for Crennel and his whole staff just to disappear, the sooner the better.
Finally, the quarterback position has been awful. I think Cassel and Brady Quinn would be serviceable back-ups but they are obviously not starting NFL quarterbacks. You can’t really blame the players. I think both of these guys are gutsy, tough guys who want to succeed but just aren’t starting caliber signal callers. The fact that Pioli/Haley/Crennel couldn’t recognize this fact is why their teams have been so terrible. There hasn’t even been an effort to upgrade the position in the present GM regime. Every single person who knows anything about the game of football knows that it is very difficult to win consistently without good play from the quarterback position. Teams have to always be thinking of the future of that position for their organization and the Chiefs just haven’t done that.
That is enough of the negative. Those topics have been covered pretty well. Heck, I called for Pioli and Crennel to be fired after the first loss to Oakland weeks ago. It is only fair to mention some positives. There have been a handful of good performances from this squad.
Derrick Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Justin Houston all played very well. These three guys have shown heart and toughness throughout the season. I think rookie offensive linemen Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson appear to be legitimate NFL linemen. They have had games in which they haven’t looked good but I see enough from them to feel good they can be part of the future. I also saw some things from Dontari Poe that indicates he can develop into a good starting defensive tackle. He seldom gets enough push to disrupt the pocket and needs to do a better job clogging the middle on runs but he has improved as the season has progress and with more experience, one can certainly see he could end up being very good. Late in the season, I even saw some improvement from Tyson Jackson – finally. It is probably too little, too late but it was nice to at last see him make some plays on the field. I think the defensive line is unquestioningly better than it was a year ago but still has a long way to go to be a solid unit.
That’s about it. I can’t think of a single position other than those above in which I wasn’t disappointed. Lack of improvement or plain lack of talent seemed to be the theme under the present regime. What is sad for Chiefs fans is that is going to take time to right this ship. It really bugs me that Kansas City stills employs Pioli and Crennel. Hunt needs to be proactive and just let these guys go. The longer he delays, the more he alienates fans. The fans of this once proud franchise deserve better and they deserve it sooner rather than later. Hunt needs to fire these guys and shoot for the moon with his next hire and that person needs to shoot for the moon when hiring a new head coach. It has been a long season, a long six years, and it has stretched into a long 15 years. It is time for Clark Hunt to give a little back to the city of Kansas City and give us a winner.
Catch movie and TV reviews at jawsrecliner.blogspot.com and follow me on twitter @jawsrecliner. Thanks for reading.
Monday, December 10, 2012
I had a big Chiefs’ piece ready to go this morning but I woke up to find Royals’ news tearing up the world wide web and the radio airwaves. After quivering in the bushes for weeks, afraid to make a big move, General Manager Dayton Moore finally went for it. The Royals traded 4 minor leaguers to Tampa for “Big Game” James Shields and Wade Davis. Of course, two of the minor leagues were top prospect Wil Myers and the Royals’ top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi. This is where the argument comes in.
Kansas City just traded six plus years of control of a guy that hit 37 home runs in the minors in 2012 AND their top minor league pitcher with 6 years of control for two years of James Shields (committing $25 million) and five years of Wade Davis. For an organization starved for future stars, that will be a bitter pill to swallow. I get it. I did not want the Royals to trade Wil Myers. I am not sure adding Shields and Davis will win more games than having Franceour still in right field every day. If Myers turns into a star and the Royals do not make the playoffs in the next two years, this trade will have been a disaster – in hindsight. It is not a disaster right this minute.
Wil Myers has a chance to be a superstar. Few argue that point but we don’t know that for sure. Phil Hyatt once hit 44 home runs in the minors for the Royals. Phil Who Now? Exactly. With prospects, you just don’t know. Not every prospect is Mike Trout. Even if Myers turns into a star, the odds are against him contributing in a major way in his first two years. BaseballHQ.com did a great 4-part series on the MLB success of players who made the top 100 prospect lists at some point. To summarize, the rate wasn’t good. That doesn’t mean Myers is going to fail; top 10 prospects fair better than those outside the top 10. My guess he will be at least an above average MLB player, and possibly better than that but maybe not until year three. That is pure speculation on my part. Odorizzi has question marks, too. He struggled in AAA to pitch deep into games and that would be a big problem at the major league level. The Royals already have plenty of pitchers in that mold. At the very least, Davis is on the same talent level as Odorizzi but much farther along in his development. Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard were throw-ins here and while I don’t know much about the latter other than he is a power hitting third baseman nowhere near ready for the majors, the former is obviously in need of a scenery change. I wish them good luck in their new organization.
James Shields is the type of pitcher the Royals desperately need - a staff anchor who takes the ball every five days and pitches a lot of innings at a good level. BaseballHQ.com took statistical data and came up with a list of staff anchors for the 2013 season, based on performances over the past two years. Only 8 pitchers met their criteria. One of them was James Shields. A guy like Shields, in addition to Guthrie and Santana, should take the pressure off the bullpen. The bullpen has been great but just how long can it succeed working as hard as it has the last two seasons? This team is much stronger today than it was yesterday. Wade Davis could be very important because he is probably better than Chen, Mendoza, and Hochevar and should move right into the number four slot. Now all those #5 pitchers will be slotted where they belong. Now maybe Moore can trade one of those guys for some outfield help (don’t expect much in return, though). This also relieves any pressure there might be to rush Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino back too quickly. These two important guys will have time to build up to their full strength and if things play out right, maybe they are ready to contribute to meaningful games in September and October (I’ve always been the optimist).
I know we all love the possibility of Wil Myers. I know I do. The fans of this team want heroes and Myers looks like he could have been a big one but this team is loaded with possible contenders. Billy Butler can still hit. Alex Gordon is still an above average, under appreciated player. Hosmer and Moustakus are still very young, developing players. Escobar and Perez are still among the best at their positions. If these young players don’t improve and take the next step forward, it won’t matter how good James Shields, or how good Wil Myers may be. If there isn’t an improvement in the hitting among the youngsters, the Royals are not going to compete anyway. Now, if these guys all do take that step forward, I like the Royals’ chances with James Shields on the mound.
Shields comes with risks (he throws a lot of innings and has shown inconsistency in the past) but there isn’t a pitcher out there who doesn’t come with a fair share baggage and risk. There is always a chance something goes wrong (Kansas City has had more than its share of bad luck over the decades) but I am going to be positive and look at the fact the Royals got a top of the rotation arm and a solid number 4 starter with upside.
Let’s dream a little here. What if the Royals’ young guys take big steps toward reaching their potential? What if Guthrie pitches like he did with KC last year? What if Santana throws up numbers like 2011? What if Shields has opportunities to earn his nickname in powder blue? This is a lot of “what ifs” but I am going to choose to be optimistic and positive going into 2013. I love the feeling of hope going into each Spring Training.
I wrote just a few days ago that Dayton Moore wasn’t getting anything done and I put owner David Glass’ feet to the fire about pinching pennies. It would be terribly hypocritical of me to berate them for going out and getting a couple of good starting pitchers, including a top of the rotation guy, for a bunch of minor leaguers. You have to give up something to get something. Royals made the move they needed to make and now have a chance to compete in the AL Central. Maybe the Royals become that small market team in 2013 that challenges for the division title like Oakland and Baltimore last year. Maybe now it is our time.
Moore and Glass are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Fans are just not going to be happy. Well, this fan is much happier today than he was four days ago; I can assure you of that. They pulled the trigger and only time will tell if it will work successfully. Only in hindsight will we be able to judge the success of this move but this morning, I am glad to be a Royals’ fan.
Be sure to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 “You Don’t Know Bo”. It is outstanding.
Check out my movie and television reviews at jawsrecliner.com and get twitter updates for my blogs @jawsrecliner. Thanks for reading.
Friday, December 7, 2012
I was all prepared to write up an article about how the Kansas City Royals made out at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville this week. I was ready to praise Dayton Moore for pulling off exactly the right move and I was equally prepared to blast the sometimes panicky General Manager for giving up too much for too little. This article is going to unfold much differently than I had planned.
Let me start off with saying it was really nice to actually be in the discussions during the Hot Stove season. Year after year, I watch the pinnacle of the Hot Stove season with interest only as a fan in general. The Royals seldom participate in this annual extravaganza in any tangible manner. Not so this year as rumor after rumor shot through the world wide web, keeping me checking my twitter page for days. The rumor mill had been churning out possibilities for weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings and everyone knew the Royals were ready to make a big splash. MLB Network and ESPN talking heads were all reporting that Kansas City was going to be a big player during these Winter Meetings because of their dearth of starting pitching and their perceived plethora of young bats, including the top hitting prospect in all of baseball.
The biggest fear for me was that General Manager Dayton Moore would trade a key piece of a below average offense to fill a spot in a horrible rotation. Worse, that he would trade a guy who could possibly hit 30+ homeruns for several years for the services of a good pitcher for just two years. I am not saying there isn’t a situation where that might not be a good thing but it has to be the right deal. I am tired of the Royals always promising they will be better next year. I want them to win this year. When is the vaunted Process going to pay dividends?
As it turned out, all those exciting rumors amounted to nothing. Whispers in the wind, if you will. Despite reassurances from all the talking heads, the Royals talked a big game but, as usual, didn’t deliver. They didn’t even add anyone via the Rule 5 draft. The Winter Meetings as a whole turned out rather uneventful, for the Royals specifically and most teams in general, other than maybe the Giants and Red Sox.
So yesterday, the post meeting hangover set in. Dayton Moore was flying home and it didn’t look like there was going to be any excitement. Then – BANG. Bob Dutton from the Kansas City Star dropped a bomb on all of us die hard Royals’ fans. A few weeks ago, Royals’ owner David Glass talked to certain media members and declared that basically the Royals can’t be profitable if their payroll is over $70 million dollars a year and that he had subsidized MLB payroll out of his own pocket several times over the years. Every person who could type and post on the internet, some of them very respected baseball people, disclaimed this statement as a blatant falsehood. Even Forbes magazine provided numbers much differently.
Instead of a soft cap of $70 million to work with, the Royals, according to Dutton’s article yesterday afternoon, provided by Royals’ officials, the Royals’ breakeven point was closer to $60 million because the $70 million included the 40-man roster, draft signings, and international signings, and that Kansas City was already over budget for its payroll for 2013. Twitter blew up. Radios exploded. There was cyber chaos everywhere in the Kansas City Metro area. David Glass, whom many already believed was lying before, now jumped up into Richard M. Nixon and Pinocchio levels in the pantheon of liars. No one I read or listened to believed these numbers were anywhere near accurate.
Then the “Oops, my bad.” Dutton retracted his article. Some Royals official had given him the wrong data or something. Whatever, but the number is still supposedly $70 million for the 35-man roster. While everyone has recovered and calmed down, no one is buying that figure either. Glass and other club officials claim he has not pocketed a dime from the Royals. Forbes reported otherwise, claiming Glass has reaped profit to the tune of approximately $100 million since 2000. That is a big disparity. Let’s not forget that Glass bought the Royals for less than $100 million and it is now valued, according to Forbes, at more than $350 million. I dare say, Mr. Glass, that is a tidy profit.
With all the money that is pouring into the coffers via television contracts, which will increase dramatically in 2014, and other league generated shared revenues, plus the increased revenue from rising attendance, I can see no reason the Royals can’t have a payroll of around $90 million this year and $110 million in 2014. Guys a lot smarter than I (check out ranyontheroyals.com for a very good financial breakdown for the Royals) have done the math and I can see nothing to dispute their numbers. It is time, Mr. Glass, to piss or get the hell off the pot. Help us field a winning team or sell it and take your quarter of a billion dollar profit and return to Arkansas.
I wish there was a way we could see exactly what the numbers are. I wish the teams that are playing in county or state funded stadiums had to provide financial statements to the public. There needs to be a show of good faith. Right now, there is no faith in David Glass as owner of the Kansas City Royals. Few people believe his statements about the financial situation. We as fans are tired of the constant losing and penny pinching. Either loosen the purse strings or you may witness an empty, cavernous stadium this summer. Well, you won’t witness it. You’ll be safely tucked away in Arkansas or in your bigger-than-Rhode Island compound in Wyoming or Montana or wherever the heck it is, counting your money like King Midas.
Glass has never had an accurate reading of the pulse of the KC fans and he better have a thick skin if he doesn’t provide extra dollars this off season. It is getting harder and harder to be a Royals fan. I am tired of the heart break. I love baseball and I love the Royals but I am close to giving up. It’s up to you, Mr. Glass. At least show us some effort. I am begging you.
Check out my list of all-time favorite TV dramas at jawsrecliner.blogspot.com and thanks for reading.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
I use the term “stat geek” in only the most complimentary manner possible. I am a stat geek. I have been for years. I was the kid who minded the stats books for the girls’ games before my games in junior high and high school. I kept stats on my own video games. I studied the back of baseball and football cards until I knew all the numbers. When fantasy baseball rose to prominence in the 1980s, I was one of the first in line and I have been hooked ever since.
I love all the stats like the hard stats like home runs, stolen bases, RBI, etc. I like the peripheral stats like on-base percentage, slugging percentage etc. I like the trending skill stats like ground ball rate, contact rate, strikeouts per 9 innings, K/BB, batting average on ball in play, etc. I even love algebraic stats like wins above replacement and runs above replacement. So much of baseball – real and fantasy – is based on the projecting of stats through scientific and mathematical analysis. We try to predict hard stats much more scientifically than we used to be analyzing players’ trending skills. For example, if a hitter bats .320 for a season and he enjoyed an average of .360 on balls in play (batted balls in between the lines), we can predict with confidence that his batting average will drop the next year. Throughout baseball history, the average on balls put in play is right around .300. If our batter hit .360, we know he enjoyed extreme luck on batted balls. The odds are very good that luck at that level will not continue for a second season, therefore his batting average will most likely drop. The point is I love all of these stats and I use them all the time to analyze players. Sometimes, though, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Now we come to the part of this post that I have rewritten three times this morning. I keep falling into a deep explanation of stats and what separates similarly skilled players from one another. That is not what I intended when I started this piece. I decided to write this because I am ticked off at the reaction of all the stat geeks out there to the Royals signing Jeremy Guthrie, and also to their reaction to the Royals trading for Ervin Santana a couple of weeks ago. There are several stat guys and bloggers out there that I have read and respected for years. I still do but I have gotten very frustrated with them over the past few weeks.
I am not going to list all of the bloggers and their sites. Let’s just say these are some very smart, very passionate guys. Most are Royals fans but a couple others are just stat geeks. Some are baseball guys – you know the talking heads on television. Almost to a man these guys are ripping the Royals for the money they have committed to Santana and Guthrie. Their point is the Royals could have spent their allotted free agent money more wisely. My question to all of these guys is how?
Kansas City will pay Santana $11 million in 2013 (it’s 12 actually but they received a million form the Angels) and they will pay $5 million to Guthrie this season, $11 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015. They have committed $36 million to receive 4 seasons of services (overlap in 2013). I read a comment from one former GM, ragging on the Royals for paying $16 million to those two newly acquired pitchers. He asked why they didn’t spend that money on Greinke or Anibal Sanchez. This was an utterly stupid comment. Neither of those pitchers, the best two options on the free agent market, are going to sign 1-year $16 million dollar deal with the Royals, or anyone else for that matter. They are not going to sign a 2-year deal for $32 million deal either. It would not surprise me if Greinke signs a 6-year, $120 million contract and I’m expecting at least 6 years and $90 million for Sanchez. The Royals flat out can’t afford those contracts for that amount of years.
The next level of free agents is Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse. All of these three have their warts and are probably better than the two pitchers Kansas City added. They are all probably going to command much bigger deals than what KC handed out. There is still a chance the Royals can sign one of these guys but it is an outside chance because with such a limited market, these guys are probably going to be way over priced, more so than Guthrie.
Last night I got into a polite on-line argument with a stat guy about the length of Guthrie’s contract. Another baseball guy, Rany Jazayerli, liked the signing but hates the third year so much he is not willing to endorse the signing. I understand the argument but my stand was there was probably little chance the Royals sign him without that third year. The debaters against the signing all point to that third year, saying you don’t give a 36-year old pitcher with pretty pedestrian numbers $9 million. The contract averages $8.3 million a year. That is not out of line with a pitcher of his caliber. If Sanchez signs that 6-year, $90 million deal, will he be worth $15 million at the age of 34? Will he provide more than 3 and a half times the value over the course of his contract than Guthrie will provide over the duration of his contract? I sincerely doubt it very much.
Another point is that premium free agents, especially top of the rotation pitchers are not going to sign in Kansas City, for any reasonable amount. This is sad and it sucks but it is the absolutely the truth. People can hide behind their keyboards and pontificate all they want about how terrible Dayton Moore is (and he has earned much of their scorn in all honesty) and how he should be spending money on the Greinkes and Sanchezes of the world. That doesn’t change the fact they aren’t going to sign here. I would love to be proved wrong but it will never happen at this point. Until the Royals can improve their record and challenge for divisional titles, the Royals and Dayton Moore are going to have to slightly overpay for fringe free agents who only marginally improve the team. That is a fact of life. It is reality. Quit begging the general manager to improve the team then bashing him when he does. How about finding ways to be positive instead of filling your pages with negativity? How maybe throwing some support behind your team?
Of course, I know the answers to those questions. Whenever Moore has made a move with the major league roster, more often than not, it has ended in disaster. We have to live with Moore’s bad judgments in signing Jeff Franceour and Bruce Chen to 2 year extensions for too much money. We have to live with Moore trading anyone for Jonathon Sanchez. We have to live with Moore signing terrible players like Yuniesky Betancourt. Those types of moves do not translate into confidence when Moore signs a guy like Guthrie for 3 years.
I want to take a moment to examine Jeremy Guthrie. If you throw out the very small sample size of Guthrie’s starts in Coors Field, his stats last year were right in line with his career numbers. Many a pitcher has fallen apart in Coors Field. Guthrie wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last. I think we can safely toss out those three plus months in the Mile High City. Guthrie has been consistent and durable, if not spectacular or flashy, throughout his career. The Royals desperately need a starter who can throw into the seventh on a regular basis. One national talking head baseball guy has gone on the record that other GMs around the league think the Royals’ deal with Guthrie is a fair one because of his stamina and durability. Rany Jazayerli does a great breakdown on Guthrie and comparable pitchers and their contracts at ranyontheroyals.com.
One stat guy told me last night he thought the Royals should tap into their deep reserves of minors to acquire pitching. I agree and I hope this is still being pursued by the Royals’ front office. Many people think KC should give up one of their young hitters but I think it is counterproductive to trade key offensive pieces on the major league level to acquire pitching. What good is that pitcher if they can’t score runs for him? The Royals do have a deep minor league system and I hope some of that talent can be moved to improve the big league roster.
Two years from now, I may be bemoaning the fact the Moore was an idiot and the Royals are paying a broken down, awful pitcher $9 million instead of having money freed up to sign a stud. Feel free to remind me of this tirade then. At this point, under the circumstances, Moore has added two arms better than what they had before. I believe the market on free agent pitching is about to quickly explode and the Royals may end up with a couple of bargains. Hopefully they will get the performances they are hoping for. It seems the Murphy’s Law rules at Kaufman. Eventually, there has to be a turning point for this organization. Let’s hope it is 2013 and let’s try being less negative and more realistic.
Thanks for reading and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Day and weekend.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I have debated with myself about whether or not to write about the recent Toronto Blue Jays/Miami Marlins trade. So much has been written about it already and it has been talked about on all of the sports channels. I went ahead and penned this today because there are some things about the trade that really bother me and I just need to sort some thoughts out.
First of all, I have to say BRAVO to the Blue Jays. They were willing to open the checkbook and bring in five players who, in one way or another, will help them challenge in the AL East. For me, it was a no-brainer on Toronto’s part. If they are willing to accept the long term salary risks that accompany some of the players’ contracts, then I say good for them and good for their fans. Their fans really can go into Spring Training with a positive attitude toward their chances for the 2013 season.
Secondly, one has to take a look at the trade itself and the players involved. Toronto received Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Emilio Bonafacio, and John Buck. Five players, all with their own warts, but all with talent to really fill out a roster and make significant contributions. Miami received Yunel Escobar, Alvarez Henderson, Jeff Mathis, and four prospects, a couple of which are pretty decent MLB candidates. Basically, Miami received an average shortstop, a number four starter that can’t strike anyone out, a career back up catcher, and four players who may or may not be average major leaguers someday. I know it is a slippery slope to compare real major league baseball with fantasy baseball but if this trade were made in any keeper or dynasty leagues, it would have been challenged and overturned. Miami just did not get enough back for the sheer volume of talent they shipped off. If the deal would have been Reyes and either Johnson or Buerhle for Escobar, Henderson, and the best two prospects, this would have been closer to fair. As it stands, though, the trade is completely imbalanced.
Thirdly, and this what bothers me the most, is the Marlins’ method of operation here. They get a new stadium and in the winter before its grand opening, they go out and spend money like Steinbrenners. Miami’s payroll doubled over last winter, going from approximately $57 million to $118 million. Marlin fans rejoiced and I didn’t blame them. Then the season started and things started to go askew. Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen’s mouth got him in trouble (big surprise) right off the bat and Miami just couldn’t get it going. The season slowly started to slip away. In July, they shipped off the talented but discontented Hanley Ramirez, and then almost as soon as the season was over, they shipped closer Heath Bell off. About a year go right now, baseball was toasting Miami for signing Bell, even though most knew they overpaid for him. Miami signed Reyes and Buerhle to lucrative, end loaded, long term contracts and the future looked rosy. Now, all of those players are gone, plus other key pieces.
Here we are, less than a year later, watching Miami ownership stab the fans in the hearts with the complete approval of Commissioner Bud Selig. The Commissioner’s office took some time before giving the green light to this trade but I think it was just for show. Selig was never, ever going to overturn this trade. In truth, it would have set a bad precedent. What I would like to see is a stern reprimand to Miami for their methodology, and a warning to other teams that this kind of behavior by ownerships won’t be tolerated. That, or course, is not realistic and would never happen. These teams belong to the ownership groups and not to the fans. This has been shown to be the case over and over. Owners can spend, or pocket, whatever money they want and in many cities, ownership couldn’t really care less about their fans. In the last fifteen years, Miami has laid out some cash and won two championships (this fact still bugs me), then dismantled those teams instead of paying their increased salaries. At least Miami fans have those two championships.
One more thing bothers me. It has come out, and I have no way a verifying the truth of these reports, that the Marlins gave Reyes and Buerhle verbal agreements that they would not be traded. The Marlins do not offer no-trade clauses so apparently they made gentlemen’s agreements with a couple of stars to get them to sign. If this is true, the players’ union should warn all of their members that the word of the Marlins means nothing.
So, as we look to the 2013 season, the Marlins should be terrible and the Blue Jays should be the favorite in the AL East. Not only do they have the players they traded for but they also have Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, Brandon Morrow, among others. They also just signed disgraced All Star MVP Melky Cabrera to a 2-year deal. There rotation isn’t scary good, and there is as much chance it falters as it succeeds. The bullpen could have some holes in it, but overall, the Blue Jays are solid and downright impressive offensively.
The fans north of the border celebrate while the fans in South Florida cry into their cups. I’m happy for Toronto fans but Miami fans, in their sparkling new stadium they are paying for, do have my sympathies.