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Monday, December 18, 2006

Drunken Sailors Update IV    

So... let's check the scoreboard real quick, shall we?

Top new $ spenders this offseason (thanks, ESPN):

Chicago Cubs
LA Dodgers
San Francisco
LA Angels
Kansas City
St. Louis
New Team
NY Mets
NY Yankees
San Diego
Tampa Bay
New Team
Chicago Sox

Note the differential between the Sox and Los Junkees. Granted, the league is still playing catch up to the Yankees power hour of spending that was the early aughts, but still... if the Sox don't win the AL East this season (or, if not this season, for the next few), you have to chalk this up to gross fiscal mismanagement, don't you?

And how much are you hating life as a Royals prospect? $60M??? They let the likes of Damon, Dye, et al go because of lack of $, and then they make the starting 7 of drunken masters in an offseason of Dionysian level debauchery? Gil Meche better win the freaking Cy Young award AND give ATM/A2M in the parking lot on a daily basis or I expect a full scale riot in KC next year.

And yes, I brought up this chart mainly as a way to work both the Sox/Yankees feud and the Royals into a single speaking point. Which is, I believe, a record.



  • Damon, Dye, and Beltran. Don't forget about Beltran. Too bad they can't concentrate the development of those guys a little better.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 9:53 AM  

  • Don't forget about Aaron Guiel.

    I'm not ready to be all "they have no excuses" yet. You want to remove money from the equation, absolutely. But for all that they've dropped Mad Money this winter, they aren't the favorite unless two things happen:

    1) Clemens does NOT sign with the Yankees
    2) the Sox acquire major help at the end of the bullpen

    Will the insane rotation depth lighten the load on the pen? Sure, but not enough to justify Julian Tavarez making this roster.

    And much as they've set themselves up admirably on paper, their recent acquisitions (Okajima, Donnelly, Romero) have much more in common with last year's acquisitions (Seanez, Tavarez)... plenty of question marks to go around. And that's in addition to our existing question marks. Here's the current lineup, and their highly likely failure scenarios:

    TIMLIN: he's getting too old for this shit, Riggs
    DONNELLY: possibly washed up at 34
    ROMERO: good with LHP only, horrible with RHP, bad in clutch apaprently
    OKAJIMA: no idea how good he is
    DELCARMEN: could be a bust
    HANSEN: a PawSox until he proves otherwise

    The old rule of thumb stands: can't just be equal to the Yankees, but significantly better.

    Also, I'd like to point out that the Drew contract is NOT official. Rumors abound that he failed his physical. The club is not denying it at the moment, though team mouthpiece Gordon Edes has worded the situation differently. Personally, I think if the Sox didn't have a good reason to be worried, Gene Orza would be screaming bloody murder about them not signing the deal.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 11:07 AM  

  • I don't know; I don't really blame the Royals for letting those guys get away. Damon, Dye and Beltran were each young and coming into their primes, and were going to cost more than the Royals could afford. Also, their team wasn't winning with them, since they didn't have the money to spend on complementary players, so I don't really see anything wrong with them trying to use them to acquire talent, rather than signing them to Sweeney-type deals and losing anyway. It's the same strategy the Twins and A's seem to use pretty effectively.

    Unlike the A's, however, the Royals haven't gotten any return for their future stars. Damon netted Berroa (who showed promise, but has been disappointing), A.J. Hinch (?) and Roberto Hernandez; Beltran got them Teahen (finally looking like a good pickup), John Buck (disappointing and on the verge of losing his job) and Mike Wood (released); and last (and least), they got Neifi Perez for Dye.

    Assuming the strategy was (or at least may have been) sound and the execution was lousy, Moore should be looking to Baird's mistakes to see what should be done differently now. Two of the mistakes, arguably, were (1) Glass refusing to spend money (although if I had a team that would win the same number of games regardless of whether I poured in another $10-20M, I'd be reluctant too), and an environment that didn't put their players in the best position to succeed (although to be fair, they've been pretty good at putting other teams' players in positions to succeed. Yuk yuk).

    In spite of this year's outlays, it's not a huge departure from recent history (Glass seemed inclined to spend more money the past couple of years, although it hasn't made much of a difference).

    Moore's moves have also arguably solidified their team a bit. First, Meche was brought in to anchor the rotation. Worst case scenario is that he fails to do so and either loses a lot (thus sparing the remaining young arms from becoming 20-game losers) or doesn't provide a whole lot of injuries (inefficiency and/or injury). The best case scenario is that they get an ace at a below-market price for the next 5(?) years. They gambled on a pitcher with a good arm who had a season of extremes and is entering his prime. Sure, they spent a lot (most of their offseason money) on him, but they had to overspend to get any kind of free agent over there. Second, they brought in Dotel to hold down the bullpen, and had to overpay for him too. Again, he's a risky player (injury history, problems closing in the past), but the stable bullpen seems to make a difference for pitchers and everyday players alike. And he'll probably be a lot better closing for the Royals than he would be for some high-pressure, high-visibility market like Boston.

    And that's pretty much it. That's their big offseason. Aside from that, they've made some minor trades and roster moves to add depth, provide stability and shore up weaknesses (Ken Ray, Jason LaRue, Brian Bannister, John Bale). The only move I really don't like is releasing Runelvys Hernandez; he looked good before he hurt his arm. And with him, he looked like he was trying to eat his way back to good health last year. So stop messing with the Royals.

    By Blogger chas, at 6:16 PM  

  • Meche is not going to be their ace, and Dotel is not going to pan out as their closer (just like he's failed to pan out everywhere else that has allowed him to close). But that's irrelevant.

    What the Royals did in this market is what Toronto did in last year's market: overpay with a purpose. The exorbitant contracts are necessary to reestablish yourself as a viable free-agent destination. It has nothing to do with the player involved. The side effect is a ridiculous deal or three when taken in isolation, but the Royals are actually just paying for renewed credibility.

    KC really isn't that far from digging themselves out of the "embarrassment" category. They have great fans, an underrated stadium (or so I've heard) and as of Moore's arrival a competent front office. If they field a team that is at least trying, as it appears they have, I'd expect them to climb back up to respectability fairly quickly. The only thing preventing a franchise revival is their roster. (Details, details.)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9:38 AM  

  • Two points:
    1) It's GIL FREAKING MECHE, people, not Cy Young. Cy Young ain't walking in that door.

    2) "they got Neifi Perez for Dye."
    I had forgotten that. Yikes.
    Somewhere, Larry Anderson is laughing.

    By Blogger Alex, at 10:30 AM  

  • Lehr, you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Yeah. It's Gil Meche. He sucks. They overpaid him. No shit.

    But the fact that "it's Gil Freakin Meche" doesn't mean jack fucking shit. His role was to sign on the line which is dotted. Mission accomplished.

    With the Meche deal, the Royals established themselves as a player, whereas previously they were not. Now it's at least theoretically possible for them to make a legitimate run at Ichiro, or Andruw Jones, or A-Rod (if he opts out). They see that Meche got big bucks from them, so why not someone good? Should those guys sign in KC? Probably not. But for a franchise with zero credibility, moving from "HA!" to "well, I dunno..." is a HUGE step.

    Further, the players currently in KC now see that the team is going to support them, in terms of both money and on-field talent. Their careers are no longer forfeit, and they can play as if their performance means something. Heck, they may even be able to stay in KC and get a fat contract themselves. Therefore, team morale is improved.

    Finally, the fans will see that the team is at least trying to improve. Competing for a coveted free agent and winning him counts for something, even if it's Gil Meche. Maybe they won't stay away from Kauffman Stadium in droves now that the front office is committed to elevating, instead of merely treading water.

    In short, there are more important things for them to worry about than whether Gil Meche sucks.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 11:42 AM  

  • Still, I think if you're a team like the Royals that has a long way to go, you'd rather spend a lot of money on a mediocre pitcher who might be terrible but has a small chance to be great than that kind of money on a solid/predictable pitcher or more money on a known-quantity good pitcher. Would I have wanted the Sox to sign that deal? No, b/c he could, and probably will, totally bomb. But the Royals are going to finish last anyway; why not gamble and see if he really has started to put it together? Respectability, sure, but there's a reason the chose Meche to prove the point.

    By Blogger chas, at 12:55 PM  

  • No, Meche is bad. He does not have good stuff; that is a myth. He did have good stuff at one point, apparently, but he hasn't for a long time. He's a mental midget with OK stuff and control problems that hit like a hurricane when they rear their ugly head. And he's not very smart. Meche is bad. It was a bad signing.

    Jeff's points are all well and good, but without some major payroll increases, all the "being a player" isn't going to do them a lick of good. And that contract is much more likely to weigh them down than help them sign anybody, if you ask me. I'm not saying it was a terrible signing, there were many worse. But it was not smart.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 4:36 AM  

  • jeff- i disagree.

    If i'm a young player on the Royals, this move pisses me off. Cause I'm playing for the team most famous for letting it's premiere young talent go rather than pay them... a team that cries poverty all the time. Then they go out and blow a crapload on a guy who's mediocre?

    As Jesse said, unless this move is backed up with major payroll increases, it will backfire completely.

    By Blogger Alex, at 11:17 AM  

  • Few things.

    * You're right that this has to be followed up by a persistent Toronto-style payroll bump. It honestly hadn't even crossed my mind that they wouldn't raise payroll. If not, then the deal is too stupid for words.

    * I think it's possible for a Meche disaster to hamstring the team going forward. But I'm of the opinion that they had no choice, for previously stated reasons, if they want to be taken seriously in the future. It's not like there was a better move to be made, right? If there was, I'm all ears.

    * Lehr, I understand what you're saying, but the whole point of my argument is that they're CHANGING THAT PERCEPTION. What you're describing isn't what Teahen, Shealy et al are thinking... it's what Damon, Dye and Beltran are thinking. Nobody on KC who's worth a damn has enough service time to have been screwed yet. Going forward, money will be available to them. So I don't buy your argument.

    Where we seem to disagree is whether this spending will continue. You have assumed Meche got ALL the Royals' money. I have not.

    I see no reason to think it won't. Dayton Moore is not an idiot. He's not doing anything just to do it. He's been excreting Allard Baird's feces from the organization left and right (Hernandez, Sisco, Burgos, MacDougal) since taking over, so I see no reason to doubt his sincerity about giving the Royals a new face.

    Further, I'll point to two recent success stories that defend Moore's strategy:

    Toronto overpaid Burnett, Molina and Ryan last season, and are now extending Vernon Wells to the tune of about 7/125 I think. They have been active in this season's bloodbath, and figure to next year, given that they didn't land anyone with their moeny. In the meantime, they've improved to second place in the AL East, ahead of big-market Boston, and have to be considered legit contenders for the division.

    Detroit followed their 119-loss season by overpaying for the likes of Rondell White and Fernando Vina. Those moves were atrocious... but they led to the Pudge Rodgriguez and Magglio Ordonez contracts. Think they'd have gotten to the World Series this year without those two guys? They're only there because Vina and White got money before them.

    That's precisely why I think the contract is no big deal. It is not designed to pay dividends via Meche, but via the NEXT guy who comes along. So who gives a rat's ass what Meche does?

    (Apologies for restating facts, points, etc from earlier)

    By Blogger Jeff, at 1:30 PM  

  • your toronto and chicago points are good, and counter my natural tendency to downplay the importance of doing something for public perception reasons only.

    But yes, my argument is mostly based on the assumption that they will not make a major increase in salary, and thus lose Teahen in a few years.

    By Blogger Alex, at 2:36 PM  

  • I'm more sympathetic to Jeff's points after reading his comeback, but I do want to offer that citing the Ordonez signing as a good after-effect of previous overspending is probably not accurate. Detroit blew everyone else out of the water with that offer, and no one thought it was a good deal at the time. It's been pretty good so far and might turn out ok--I hope so, I like Ordonez and Detroit--but it's got a ways left and they could end up paying a lot of money for a guy who won't even suit up eventually.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:18 PM  

  • OK, now at least the rationale has been heard, so this is my last post on the subject.

    Lehr: Granted. I do think this is a case where a PR-driven signing is justified, though. At least now everyone knows KC is serious... even if it's in a "look, I cut my wrists!" kind of way.

    Jesse: True, Ordonez may end up overpaid. But Detroit won't have to overpay the next two guys. In fact, the Sheff extension (2/28) is awfully reasonable for a guy of his caliber.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5:25 PM  

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