Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If the Royals did MySpace surveys...

Where​ did you begin​ 2008?​
We had a fanfest thing in January in KC. Tons of people came out to see our new powder blues and our expensive new outfielder Jose. He took advantage of the spotlight to complain about the plan to use him as a left fielder. what a baby lol. Some of us went around the midwest on the Royals Caravan.

What was your statu​s by Valen​tines​ Day?
all checked in at Surprise and in the best shape of our lives! or at least that's what we always say.

Were you in schoo​l anyti​me this year?​
Only the School of Hillman, where we learned how to make idiot baserunning mistakes, cut down on walks, and say inflammatory things to the media.

Did you have to go to the hospi​tal?​

some of us had some pretty crazy injuries, like hives in the middle of a game, punching doors, and having Ross Gload cut us down at the ankles.

Did you have any encou​nters​ with the polic​e?​

Yeah Callie got picked up for driving drunk. we also had an encounter with the mitchell report. Oh, and some suspensions for punching pierzynski and Co. too. We have no regrets for that.

Where​ did you go on vacat​ion?​
Well all of us were free to go wherever we wanted after the regular season ended, just like every year. Then some of us went to Venezuela, Hawaii, the Dominican, and other places for winter ball.

What did you purch​ase that was over 100?

We bought an outfielder before the season started, but it turned out that may have been a stupid idea. We got a raise in our allowance after the season, and got all excited and spent it foolishly on junk we didn't need and won't like by the time we actually use it.

Did you know anybo​dy who got marri​ed?​

Yeah, a couple of our guys get married every year. As long as their wives are nice and they keep playin decent ball, we don't mind much.

Did you move anywh​ere?
Our AA players moved from wichita to nw arkansas, but other than that we mostly stayed put.

What sport​ing event​s did you atten​d?​

Do our own games count as sporting events? lol I guess we went to about 162 of those, even though we were told during ST to prepare for about 185. Some of us - OK just Jack - also attended the all-star game and stuff.

What is the one thing​ you thoug​ht you would​ not do, but did, in 2008?​

we did better than some ppl - ok just the baseball prospectus ppl - said we would. it was only one game's difference, but we'll take what we can get. We also gave in and gave some major league ABs to a few first basemen whose initials are not RG. That's something we never saw coming, and might regret someday.

What has been your favor​ite momen​ts?​

We had a lot of great moments from our pitching staff, and we're really happy with those guys. We signed Joakim to a pretty cool long-term deal, and felt great about that every time we watched him pitch. Filthy, isn't he? We also had some exciting moments from DeJesus, like that walkoff he hit in July against the Mariners, and one he hit off of Mariano Rivera in June. Grudzy got his 2,000th career hit - he's the 6th guy to do that as a Royal. And we as a team played a big part in making the battle for the division as tight as it was. Those games felt a little like the playoffs, and we liked that! Oh, and we didn't finish in last place. That was sorta cool too.

Any new addit​ions to your famil​y?​

Well John Buck's wife had twin boys, and we made a lot of changes to the "family" of the team - like Hillman and everyone else.

What was your best month​?​

September was a blast. We won a ton of games and people quit making fun of us so much.

Who has been your best drink​ing buddy​?​

Alberto Callaspo...well, he used to be. j/k but seriously i dunno.

Made new frien​ds?​

We always make new friends but the thing that never changes is how much aj pierzynski is NOT our friend.

Favor​ite Night​ out?

Prolly the night of that DDJ walkoff. Is there anything that feels sweeter than a win like that? Well prolly the playoffs but we don't relaly know how those feel.

Chang​e your hairs​tyle?​

Well this one time Gil shaved Bucky's head and then he pitched really well, so he kept doing it. Whatever works for the team, right? And a bunch of us grew all different beards, but none were as awesome as the Soria Abe Lincoln look lol.

Do you have a New Years​ resol​ution​?​

We gotta play at least .500 all season, and try not to let the Star pick up on so many things we don't like in the clubhous. And maybe don't make Trey wanna yell at us out on the field again!!1!

Do anyth​ing embar​rassi​ng?​

Lots of things - see above - getting yelled at right there on the field made us feel like total losers. Then in August we got no-hit, which was cool for Lester but that doesn't mean we liked it! Then we lost 11 more games in a row after that. Oh and then there was August - we only won 7 games that ENTIRE month. wtf? What kind of major league team does that? seriously it was stupid.

Buy anyth​ing new from eBay?​

idk maybe like some ash for new bats!

Get arres​ted?​

Yeah one of us did but Callie's turnin it around


Been snowb​oardi​ng?​

That's prolly not a great idea, we might get hurt. That doesn't mean none of us went though!

Did you get sick this year?​

Lots of us had the flu in arizona, that was really gross. Puke everywhere ewww. Then there were some problems with hives for SOME of our guys - DDJ i'm lookin at you lol - but otherwise no huge illnesses i don't think

Are you happy​ to see 2008 go?

YES!!!!! we can only get better from here, right? ...right??????

Been naugh​ty or nice?​

lol we all try to be nice buuuut it's hard to be that way in baseball. plus we lost a lot of games which isn't very nice.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What have I done for you lately?

After examining Mark Teixeira's worth as a player, I broke down the week in Hot Stove action on Monday. Then Tex became a Yankee, and I was too disgusted to write anything about that.

On Thursday, I used attractive athletes to wish a Merry Christmas/whatever to Ladies... readers. That took more man-hours than I'm ready to admit.

And about 5 minutes ago, I realized I was repressing some of the horribleness of the 2008 Royals season.

Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Farnsworth, after the smoke clears: Still a thumbs-down

I have given myself a few days to digest the Kyle Farnsworth signing. I thought that perhaps my initial rage would subside into something more palatable, which I could then turn into a blog post that was actually worth something (very unlike my first attempt at analysis of the deal).
All I had to say that day was this:

$9.25 million? Really, Dayton?

That's a lot of money, for not a lot of pitcher.

...And really, that's all I can think of now. It still makes absolutely no sense to sign a "pitcher" (I'm using that word generously) like Farnsworth for THAT MUCH MONEY. In last year's Baseball Prospectus book, he was described as "an overpaid trash-time pitcher, albeit one with unusually good velocity for that role."

Once again, it seems that the Yankees' abundance of money is at the root of this problem. After 2005, by far Farnsy's best season, the Yanks snagged him for about $5.5 million, when he had previously never made more than $1.9 million. This year, when New York traded him back to Detroit for Ivan Rodriguez, his salary was up to $5.9 million.

That's quite a trick he's playing; being a guy who throws pretty hard but can't actually pitch, and getting ridiculous millions to do it. But if the Yanks had never been so jumpy to sign him at whatever cost, we wouldn't be here today. (Sorry, apparently part of my grief over this signing includes finding someone to blame. I don't really mean anything by it.)

Was there a purpose in paying him that much in the first place? I know his 2005 season was awesome, but did it warrant a pay raise of $3.5 million? Were the Yanks that desperate for a right arm in their pen?

In 2005, New York had these right-handed non-closers throwing significant innings in their bullpen: Tom Gordon, Tanyon Sturtze, Felix Rodriguez, Scott Proctor, and Paul Quantrill.

Sturtze and Proctor stayed with New York for 2006, and the team added righties Farnsworth, Brian Bruney, and rookie T.J. Beam. (Again, those are just the guys with more than a handful of appearances.) That pitching staff was already pretty darn good in '05, and improved in the standings in pretty much every category in '06. So I'm not trying to say that the addition of Farnsworth was an inherently bad thing for the Yankees from the start, but did it have to be such a high-dollar signing?

I can understand New York grabbing him off of his hot season; it's easy to see why he was a tempting free agent target for them. But I'm having a harder time understanding why Dayton Moore was so jumpy for him this year. Does Moore really believe that no one as good as Farnsworth (but preferably better) would be available at all this winter? Oh hey look, I found one! And I'm not even a GM.

Farnsworth in 2008 was NOT Farnsworth from 2005. So why be so quick to throw craploads of money at him? Like I said, I can understand why a team would want to bite on a reliever after a really good year, like Boston going for RamRam or the Yanks and our boy Farnsy. But this line, and all the scouting reports on Farnsworth do not inspire confidence, and certainly not $9.2 million worth of confidence.

IP H R ER HR BB SO HBP WP BFP IBB BK ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
60.3 70 32 30 15 22 61 1 1 261 4 1 4.48 4.44 99 1.525

(Sorry if the spacing is all weird; you can just look at his baseball-reference page)

I'm trying my hardest to find a silver lining. We all are. But the best anyone can come up with is that the Royals are well-equipped with players who can lead the team to victory in bench-clearing brawls. Oh, goody.

I have officially spent too much time thinking about this waste of money and roster space. I'm going to bed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Some links

Some other stuff I've done in the last few days, because I sure as heck haven't done anything notable here.
At Just Other Things: Googling for dummies. (with a new update!)
At Getting to First Base: Athletes being people and people being athletes
At Ladies...: Ladies... Gift Lists

So there's that. I really, really, really, REALLY miss baseball season.
Oh, and here are two threads at Royals Review that win my award for Bestest Unintentional Comedy of the Winter:
Guillen is our best hitter - I dare you to question this

and
Can you all just shut up!! Farnsworth will be better in KC than Ramirez in Boston


I have no idea what I'd do without Royals Review.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yipee! (Oh, and Kyle Farnsworth)

Short personal note:
My computer works again! A friendly Dell tech fixed it and now it's all better. Huzzah!

Now, on to this Farnsworth business.
$9.25 million? Really, Dayton?

That's a lot of money, for not a lot of pitcher.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BBWAA and BP, Plus some other things (naturally)

Every time I think I'll have lots of extra time to post more here, my computer dies. Well, OK, my laptop didn't DIE, per se, but it only runs in Safe Mode and the laptop display doesn't work so I have to hook up an external monitor. But being in Safe Mode means suuuuuper-low resolution, which makes my head hurt. YUCK. Oh, and the sound doesn't work (by default) in Safe Mode. Thank God (or your own deity of choice) for warranties. Tomorrow, a tech will come and all will be well again.

ANYWAY, the Baseball Writers' Association of America is continuing to eschew its fear of the Internet and all the nerds therein by adding Will Carroll, Christina Kahrl, Rob Neyer, and Keith Law.

Law and Neyer were the only two 'Net writers excluded last year, a year in which 16 Internet writers were added.

All four are deserving of inclusion in the BBWAA, and I'm especially pleased for Carroll and Kahrl, the first writers from Baseball Prospectus to be recognized this way. I have a particular fondness for Carroll, ever since he friended me on Facebook and took me under his wing. Both he and Kahrl answer every question I've ever had about baseball and life as a baseball writer, and I am grateful that they are so accessible. They, obviously, are also very talented and I think will set a good precedent for other BP writers to be added to the BBWAA.

And certainly, many other BP folks deserve inclusion. I'm honestly a little surprised that Joe Sheehan, Nate Silver, Rany Jazayerli, etc. were not included. Perhaps next year. But in the meantime, a hearty congrats to Carroll, Kahrl, Law and Neyer.

In the comments on Kahrl's Unfiltered post on the topic, Carroll left this response:
First, let me say thank you. In large part, this is a validation of you, the readers, who have shown that there's an appetite for this type of content.

Second, let me say thank you to everyone who helped with this process, especially the BBWAA board and the members who supported us through this, like John Perrotto.

Finally, I'll say that I wouldn't expect anything to change because of this. If anything, we'll get better due to additional access. CK and I will be asking questions, attending games, and continuing the growth of BP from niche to slightly larger niche.

As I was walking through the hallways of the Bellagio, I ran into Peter Gammons. He smiled and said "welcome to the club." Yeah, it's been a good day.

Awww.

Shoot, this post is getting longer than I anticipated. I still owe you all some thoughts on clubhouse leadership, and in fact am thinking of starting a whole series called "How Much Does ______ Matter?" There are so many factors that fans and media see as important, but might not actually be too big a deal to players. Maybe some things are the other way around. ("Veteran Presence," Jose Guillen's attitude, whatever.) I would like to explore lots of these issues, so if you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail (mhaas33 at gmail dot com), facebook, whatever.

A Will Carroll post about what statistical evaluation MLB front offices use sparked this great discussion at Royals Review. It's worth a read, and could also turn into a post at some point.

OK, now I must go back up all my stuff in preparation for the Dell tech tomorrow. He is going to replace my hard drive, so it will be like starting all over, again. Umm...yay? (For the record, I do absolutely love my laptop. My family surprised me with it when my old computer died, and it is fabulous when it's working. But my understanding is that bad sectors can happen to any hard drive at any time, regardless of brand or age or anything. Hard drives are fickle by nature, and I'm just lucky this one decided to fail while still under all kinds of warranty protection, and that it didn't happen last week when I was scrambling to finish all kinds of final projects, job applications, etc.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mad Dog makes his exit, everyone is sad.

I've spent the last two or three hours reading dozens of tributes to Greg Maddux. There's really no way to sum up in words what he has meant to the game of baseball. Many players have had a huge impact in my lifetime: The bats of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa carried bats that brought all kinds of fans back to baseball after they'd been turned off by the strike. Pedro, Clemens, Johnson were scary good (emphasis on scary). Pujols is simply the best hitter I'll ever see, a dominating force at the plate. A-Rod is A-Rod, and on and on.

And then there's Maddux. Mad Dog. The Professor. Whatever you want to call him. Every time I think I'm finished reflecting on his quietly amazing career, I feel the need to pour out more words, and read more that others have written. I collected some of those words at Ladies... but it's not enough. This is a really sad day for baseball, because I can't imagine anyone else being so cerebral but thrilling, someone who made thousands of little pitchers fall in love with pitching as beautiful craft rather than a contest to see who can throw the hardest fastball.

We will be hearing from Maddux again, at the very least to shoo him into the Hall as soon as we possibly can. Hall of Fame voters get things wrong sometimes, but they'll get this one right in 5 years. You just can't deny a guy like Maddux.

Anyway, I've got some thoughts coming soon about clubhouse leadership, because Mark Grudzielanek has declined arbitration, as expected. Mike and Kevin, I swear I'm not ignoring your comments from my last post; you both bring up great points about clubhouse leadership, and I've been wanting to post about that but I have been ridiculously busy with school. Hopefully we'll get to that today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Arb offer to Grudz was easy choice

If some silly person made me the Royals GM for one day, and that day happened to be yesterday, I'd also offer arbitration to 2nd baseman Mark Grudzielanek. Naturally, some commenters at Royals Review are seeing this as a negative thing, but I don't see it as a problem at all. (RR fellas, I love you dearly, but y'all are a lot more negative than I am.)

If he accepts:
The Royals have a 2nd baseman whose production is predictable, in a good way. OR, if Dayton Moore doesn't actually want him on the team any longer*, the Royals can release him and only pay 1/6 of whatever the offered amount was. From Bob Dutton:
The Royals retain some financial wiggle room if Grudzielanek accepts arbitration because arbitration-determined salaries are not guaranteed. Teams must pay only one-sixth of a salary if they release a player with 45 or more days remaining before Opening Day.

*most likely scenario

When, errr...if he declines

We get a sandwich pick in next year's draft. Mmmmmm, sandwiches...

Grudz will almost certainly decline the Royals' offer so he can try and get on board with a winning team. He all but said that in this Royals.com article.

Don't get me wrong, I love Mark Grudzielanek. He's, as stated many times, a fabulously professional player who keeps his mouth shut when it's not necessary to talk, who produces consistently on the field, and by all accounts works hard. I realize his numbers aren't the greatest, but to me there's value in knowing what you're getting from a player, especially if your team is otherwise chock-full of question marks.

Grudzielanek was a valuable addition to a club that needed stability somewhere. If he declines yesterday's offer, which I'm almost certain (I'd say about 95-98% sure) he will, I hope he can find what he's looking for, which is the chance to win. What player doesn't want that?

Farewell, Mark. I'll miss you, but I'm also looking forward to that sandwich...pick.