Saturday, November 29, 2008

Royals sign JR House

Via MLB Trade Rumors - Royals sign J.R. House, a 29-year-old catcher who was drafted by the Pirates, but has spent the last 4 season with in the Astros and Orioles organizations.

In AAA Round Rock last year, House hit .306/.378/.480 with 53 walks and 52 strikeouts in regular duty. House has only seen a handful of Major League games over the last 5 seasons, so there's not much known about his readiness.

Tim Dierkes mentions that House was highly touted in his early career, to the point where Pittsburgh would make a drastic move to get him behind the plate:
Back in the day, House was considered the Pirates' top prospect before he was derailed by injuries. There was a time when Jason Kendall was expected to move to the outfield to accomodate him.

Does this mean Matt Tupman will not end up back with the Royals after all? Or is this signing just an insurance policy for the Omaha lineup in case Brayan Pena gets lost to the waiver wire in the spring? Either way, not a bad pickup for the Royals.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things for which I'm thankful

Not a complete list, not in a particular order, and all completely sincere:

My God / my parents / my brothers / my sister-in-law / my brothers and sisters in Jesus / my puppies / Joakim Soria / Dr Pepper / Sudoku puzzles / Google reader / getting paid to blog / the Ladies... / my car / goodish health / choirs / blogger / Joe Posnanski / the Internet and all it has allowed me to accomplish without ever leaving my mother's basement / large piles of pillows / Journey / my hearing / Denny Matthews and Fred White / that my family hasn't dispersed as we all "grow up" / life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness / higher education / Child's Play / cellos / cows / two shoulders that (mostly) work / Christmas decorations / the way the last note my choir sings echoes off the church ceiling / the women of my Bible study / a fresh start with a new bank / my summer job / my new computer (!) / 4-inch heels / free speech / warm blankets / Dayton Moore / Photoshop / "Old City Bar" by TSO / wearing pearls with jeans / Opening Day / the people who read and comment here / random acts of kindness / fountains / Puppy Cam / tiny adorable children / Ryan Shealy / the two previous items standing next to each other / Molly / a roof over my head / plenty of food / chiropractic care / Latin / the simple, honest sound of a single acoustic guitar accompanied by a djembe / that my brothers have let me crash at their houses the last two summers / facebook / the Red Zone / always knowing I'm loved / seat belts / firefighters and EMTs / Michael John Sweeney / Beethoven / the History Channel / honest mechanics / the city of Omaha / the two strangers who helped me move in last year when I was too proud to ask for help / January 6, 1978 / Brian Bannister / The Office / packing / car washes / some wood and three nails / Baseball Prospectus / The United States of America / YouTube / the way my dog just woke up from a nap and came to sit at my feet / the men and women around me at the Newman Center in Lincoln who constantly teach me what it means to be excellent / Zack Greinke (and moreso if he signs a long-term deal in KC) / you, again, for reading this far.

Happy Thanksgiving!
129 days...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Expectation vs. Reality: 2008 Royals (Part I)

As we head into the depths of the offseason, I thought I'd look back at some of the predictions I made last winter. What did I want from the 2008 Royals? What did I think was realistic? I'll go over one or two at a time periodically, whether I was wrong or right.

I'll start with an easy one: Joakim Soria, from March 2008.
Expectation: Soria would be Soria.
Quote: "He’ll continue to do his thing, and people will continue to suggest moving him into the rotation."

Reality: Um, yeah. This is like expecting the sky to keep being blue. His numbers are here, and some fun videos are here.

The 2nd part of the "prediction" is also true. Just today, JoePo mentioned in passing that he thinks that Soria should be moved to the rotation.
I mean, look at this Royals team: They have a couple of very good starting pitchers in Zack Greinke and Gil Meche. That’s as good or better than the Yankees 1-2 starters — better, I think. The Royals have Joakim Soria, who appears to be a 24-year-old version of Mariano Rivera — unless they decide to try him a starter, which I believe more and more they should.

Joe's not the only one to write this; it's been discussed from top to bottom, side to side, and underneath the paws at places like Royals Review. Making Soria a starter vs. Leaving him in the pen is one of those issues that could be frighteningly polarizing until it either happens or Soria retires.

From the same post back in March, I listed some numbers I hoped to see from David DeJesus.
Expectation: David DeJesus would increase his productivity
Quote: "He ought to deliver; I’m hoping to see his OBP in the .360s and his batting average much closer to .300. Steals will be another thing I’ll be watching for from DeJesus, and I really want him to far exceed his career best of 10 (from last year). I’d love to see him swipe 20, actually."

Reality: I wanted a .300 BA and an OBP in the .360s; DeJesus actually put up a .307 average and a .366 OBP. Man, I'm good. The thing he didn't do was steal a ton of bases - he swiped 11. I think at the time I wrote that post, the stories had been coming in from Spring Training about how DDJ and Joey Gathright were figuring out how to watch the pitcher's shoulder instead of his leg movement, and I thought that would lead to more steals than it actually did.

It's now time to pack up the computer and head West to see my parents, little brother, and dogs(oh, and chiropractor! My back is killing me!). I'll be back at some point with more of these posts, but first, a few thoughts:
1) I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Whether you have a big family dinner or a pizza in front of the football games, I hope it's an enjoyable day.
2) This blog got a 90% Manliness rating according to, meaning their AI examined the text of the site and figured with 90% certainty that I am a man. Heh. More amusing analyses of Royals sites here.
3) If you somehow missed these, here are Part I and Part II of an interview I did with Sam Mellinger.
4) I also wrapped up the week's Hot Stove activities at Ladies... .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crisp to the Royals: My immediate reaction

First, here's the story if you haven't read it yet.
Sports Radio 810 said the Royals had acquired the 29-year-old Crisp, who hit .283 with seven homers, 41 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 361 at-bats in 2008. Crisp, who will earn $5.7 million in 2009 with a 2010 club option worth $8 million or a $500,000 buyout, started 98 games in center field for Boston but had to share playing time because of the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury.

( has confirmed the report - it's official)

My immediate reactions:
1. Yay!! David DeJesus can now play left field full time! As a CF,DeJesus is good enough, but when he plays left he's one of the best in the game. I've been hoping KC could find someone to play center every day who is not Joey Gathright, but didn't think it was possible given the market and budget constraints.

With DeJesus in left and Crisp in center, that's the start of a pretty good (and rangey!) defensive outfield. Yeah, then there's Jose Guillen in right, but that's another concern for another offseason, I think.

2. This lends credence to the Mark Teahen to the Cubs rumors, but now suggests it will be for one of the infielders (SS Ronny Cedeno or 2B Mike Fontenot) instead of Felix Pie.

Crisp will play as an ever-so-slight offensive upgrade to Teahen except with a little less power. In 2008, Crisp walked more and struck out less, so he fits in with Dayton Moore's OBP plan a little bit better than certain other acquisitions thus far.

Mark Teahen stats: Baseball-reference and FanGraphs (which includes Bill James and Marcel projections)

Coco Crisp stats: Baseball-reference and FanGraphs

3. I rather liked RamRam, and wonder who will take his spot in the bullpen. This move definitely dashes the hopes of people who were hoping that Ramirez would emerge as the new closer as Joakim Soria is eased into a starter's role.

That said, I think trading Ramirez for Crisp straight-up is fabulous, and offer some form of applause to Moore for pulling it off.

4. I have to think at this point, after trading away two relievers, that Ron Mahay will stick around, and John Bale will find himself in the bullpen to start 2009 (which is as it should be).

More thoughts later...I have homework now. :(

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ORoyals roster projection: Pre-free agent edition

This will of course be shaken up if/when the Royals pick up random free agents when the FA market opens up on Friday. Before I begin, here are some highly bookmarkable links for you: the list of MLB free agents, and Minor League free agents.

Now, here's who I think we'll be seeing in Omaha next year, at least to start. The usual caveat applies: I'm not an expert, and I'm preemptively labeling this post with "eating my words" for when this roster is totally wrong.

Starting rotation:

Carlos Rosa
Brandon Duckworth (gets placed above Cortes solely b/c of seniority)
Dan Cortes
Jose Capellan
Matt Wright

Duckworth, Wright and Capellan are ultimately roster filler. I'd love to try Wright as a long reliever but there's currently not enough starting pitching depth to test that theory. Cap is a decent pitcher but has never quite been able to crack it in the Majors because of a lack of movement in his fastball. However, no AAA team would suffer from having them on the roster, and of course Duckworth is good for a handful of spot starts in the event of an injury.

**Note: Roman Colon can be used effectively as a starter if any of the 5 on this list are not retained or if Cortes starts the season at AA again (not entirely sure why that would happen, but it could). Colon showed the ability to throw a lot of innings when he had to start games last year, often going deeper into games than some of the regular starters. However, I’ll also list him as a possible reliever, because he can be either according to the team’s needs.

Devon Lowery should start the year at Omaha; his September performance showed he has the ability to strike batters out, but he still gave up too many hits in limited appearances. He’s not quite ready for the Majors and will spend part of next season dominating AAA batters.

Greg Atencio, who was promoted from AA NWArk late in the 2008 season, will start the season at Omaha this time around. He’ll again serve as a durable middle reliever, and maybe even see a little time in the Majors later in the season.

Brad Salmon had a rough 2nd half of ’08 after being thrown into a starter’s role for which he wasn’t fit. If he gets to go back to the pen full-time he’ll be OK but probably won’t be first in line for a callup if KC has a need in their bullpen.

Because the Blue Jays claimed SS Angel Sanchez in November, the Omaha middle infield will be even more full of holes than before – and I didn’t think that was possible. Unless Dayton Moore makes some moves here, Omahans may be stuck watching Josh Labandeira and Gookie Dawkins butcher everything that comes their way again. Throw Dave Matranga into that mix as well, although Matranga is the most talented of this trio of filler.

Kila Ka’aihue will likely anchor 1st base for at least the start of the year. On days he needs to take off, Mike Stodolka can come in from the outfield to fill in. This could change depending on how Dayton Moore handles Billy Butler, who is not out of options.

Third base is more up in the air, as stud Mike Moustakas isn’t going to be ready for AAA for a while yet. Expect to see 3b manned by a revolving door of fill-ins like the middle IF trio mentioned above, and even catcher-cum-utility man Brayan Pena as needed.

The Royals will stick with Chris Lubanski in the outfield, but only because they have to. As soon as a different option comes along, the team should cut ties with Lubanski, who has been a pretty big disappointment after being the team’s #1 draft pick in 2003. I think Shane Costa will return, because his late-season injury problems will chase away any teams that might have otherwise wanted him. Mike Stodolka and Damon Hollins will probably return, but again it’s just out of necessity and a lack of OFs in the lower minors who are ready to move up to Triple-A.

Brayan Pena has been added to the 40-man roster, and Matt Tupman was removed from it, a sensible move given Tupman’s lack of power, failure to develop throughout his 20s, and recent injury history. Pena will likely see more of the starts in ’09, but the two will continue to share duties. If one is hurt, the club can bring up someone like Demaso Espino from AA.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Links 'n' notes

The Royals are quiet, so here are some other things I've been up to...
-Some speculation on the Matt Holliday trade before details came out.
-I really really hated that the Chiefs went for two at the end of their game yesterday.
-Some ideas for International Make Someone Feel Uncomfortable Day*.
-Last week's Hot Stove roundup, featuring hotties. Starting next week, I'll be writing on Mondays instead of Thursdays at Ladies..., so update your Minda-stalking schedule accordingly.

*by the way, I started a new blog as a spinoff of this one. No more non-sports here.

Back to Monday Night Football and studying. Toodles!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Grammar, the Royals, and YOU

Since Dayton Moore appears to be finished for the season*, I would like to explore the fascinating community of commenters on the Kansas City Star Royals section. I don't understand where any of these people come from; the commenting community in most of the Royals' online community seems to be made up of intelligent, thoughtful people who understand what stats are and how they work. But reading the comments on Star stories is a far more negative and, um...not very well-researched.

*So much for the massive shake-up Moore promised. I was sort of excited to see what he'd do. What a disappointment, like paying 8 bucks to go to a movie, and then realizing it was Saw V.

I don't even know why I read these comments, ever. It only serves to frustrate me and make me cry a little for humanity. But since I have been reading these oh-so-enlightening comments, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites nuggets of Royals wisdom from this column I think was JoePo's but isn't labeled as such. All [sics] are implied.

1. "...I'm guessing there won't be any "I was wrong." ever put in here after Jacobs gets 600 AB and draws 50-60 walks and a few more hits fall to bring his OBP up to around .338..."
There was about 4x more to this sentence, but I snipped it for you because...if Mike Jacobs gets SIX HUNDRED at-bats, I will quit being a Royals fan. There are simply not that many ABs available against righties, and if anyone has any sense Jacobs won't be seeing more than a dozen ABs against lefties.

Jacobs has never appeared in more than 141 games in a season and never had more than 477 AB. And that's the way it should remain, no?

2. "Oh, I forgot most royal's fans aren't to bright."
One of the best things I've ever read. If you're going to insult a group's collective intelligence, you might want to use the right "too." And don't put a random apostrophe in "Royals."

3. "Who cares! Glass won't spend any money so I'm going to spend my money somewhere else."
OLD. Also irrelevant, because Glass has been spending money. Someone hasn't been paying attention.

4. "Maybe Joe the intent is to trade him somewhere else for what he really wants ...."
I wish. Except that Moore has already said that he's finished for this offseason. But good try. Also, punctuation and nouns to accompany pronouns are good things.

5. "Please remember triple A and the majors are a lot different, let KK develope, look at Gordon & Butler they are realy playing like they did at triple A, right? wrong not even close."
Yeah, man, you actually do have a point. Except the part where Gordon ever played at AAA.

6. "You are right Joe, the Royals should just stand pat, they are doing awesome. Kila will probably be the next great power hitter in the MLB.

Craig Braizel"

I give 1 point for cleverness, but deduct about 50 for spelling "Brazell" wrong. Kinda ruins it. Also, I'm pretty sure Joe wasn't suggesting that Moore stand pat this winter, but that signing another 1B/DH who can't on base is asinine.

7. "What do you know? Again, we traded a middle reliever for a guy who hit 32 homeruns last year. I'm glad you are not the GM and Dayton is!!"
Yep, and homeruns [sic] are the only thing that matters!!!1!1!one! Never mind what Jacobs did in his other 445 ABs last year...

8. "I don't know much about Tilman, but the way he seems to manage best is when he has runners on base. Hit and run, pressure on defense."
I words.

9. "Remember that home runs count for OBP too! You win by reaching home plate more times than the other team, not by reaching 1st or 2nd. A TEAM needs to have a good OBP to win, but not every batter on the team needs to have a high OBP..."
How can a team's already-low OBP go up if it signs a player whose OBP is significantly lower than the team average? I guess I'm not cut out to understand this kind of math. Curse my decision to only take three years of math in high school!

OK, I'm done. I have no idea what made me do that. I must really like pain.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Royals make lots of catcher-related announcements

The big story today is that the Royals and Miguel Olivo both exercised his $2.7MM option for next year, so Olivo will still be a Royal.

I'm a little surprised by this, mostly because I thought Olivo was pretty darn sure ("hell no!") he wouldn't remain in Kansas City after this season. But more than that, I'm relieved that the team won't have to go shopping for a backstop this winter. Here's a complete list of free agent catchers this offseason from MLB Trade Rumors:

Brad Ausmus (40)
Paul Bako (37)
Josh Bard (31)
Michael Barrett (32)
Gary Bennett (37) - $900K club option for '09 with a $50K buyout
Henry Blanco (37)
Johnny Estrada (33)
Sal Fasano (37)
Toby Hall (33)
Paul Lo Duca (37) - Type B
Adam Melhuse (37)
Chad Moeller (34)
Ivan Rodriguez (37) - Type B
David Ross (32)
Javier Valentin (33)
Jason Varitek (37) - Type A
Vance Wilson (36)
Gregg Zaun (38) - Type B

Of those names,none really stand out to me as someone I'd want. Many, like Pudge Rodriguez, are in decline. Others, like Gregg Zaun, Paul Bako and Sal Fasano*, have been with the Royals before and are well past their prime compared to the catchers KC has now.

*Side note about Fasano. In the summer of 2007, I found someone on Facebook who was allegedly David DeJesus. It obviously wasn't DDJ, just someone pretending to be him, but one thing I remember about the fake profile was that one of the only groups "DeJesus" was in was "Put Sal Fasano on the Ballot for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game." Random!

Moving along in the list, I feel that Varitek would be too expensive. Lo Duca was booted to the minors far part of this year and wouldn't be an improvement. Michael Barrett seems to have a fallen off a statistical cliff after his very good 2006 season.

So yeah. It's a pretty uninspiring free agent market for catchers. To let Olivo part ways with the Royals would create a difficult task.

MID-POST UPDATE: Since starting this post, the Kansas City Star has expanded its story about Olivo's retention to include the news that Olivo will be the Royals' #1 catcher for 2009. Interesting.

Elsewhere in the Royals roster:
Matt Tupman and Yasuhiko Yabuta outrighted to Omaha. I'm glad the team has ended - at least temporarily - the Yabuta-as-a-Major-Leaguer experiement. Dutton referred to him as an "expensive whiff" at this point, and I agreed with that assessment a long time before he wrote it.

As for Tupman being moved, I'm not surprised. He didn't show enough improvement through his mid- to later 20s to warrant staying on the 40-man. His shoulder problems didn't help, and at this point Brayan Pena deserves the roster spot instead. I had hoped that Pena would be given a shot in September, but I can wait until Spring Training to see what he can do.

And farewell to Angel Sanchez. He certainly had - and still has - potential to be a nice middle infielder at some point, but is injury-prone so I don't blame the Royals for not pushing to hold on to him. The way to build organizational depth in the middle infield is not to fill roster spaces with guys who get hurt often and carry a light bat when they do play. I wish him the best with the Blue Jays.