Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's who you know

As if Ruben Amaro Jr. hadn't put Phillies fans through enough this offseason — trading for Michael Young and signing Delmon Young — today he signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league contract.

It just goes to show, sometimes, it's all about who you know. Betancourt has played eight seasons and has compiled a career WAR of 2.5. But Betancourt has had the benefit of his career coinciding with Dayton Moore and Amaro Jr.'s tenures as GMs.

As a result, Moore rescued him from Seattle, where he had worn out his welcome. Then no sooner than Moore finally rid the Royals of Betancourt in the Zack Greinke trade, Moore snatched him back up before last season for a cool $2 million.

But apparently not even Betancourt's negative WAR in 2012 was enough to mercifully put his career to rest. The only explanation is Amaro Jr. must not think Philadelphia fans are grumpy enough as is. No word yet on whether or not Betancourt's contract will include any clauses regarding his weight.

Can you imagine a three-headed monster of Moore, Amaro Jr. and Kevin Towers running a single organization?

I can and I envision it looking a little something like this: 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Yuniesky Betancourt, 3B Michael Young, SS Cliff Pennington, LF Delmon Young, CF Cody Ross, RF Jeff Francoeur, SP James Shields, SP Jeremy Guthrie, SP Ervin Santana, SP Luke Hochevar, SP Kyle Kendrick, CL Heath Bell. To their credit, this team would have a stud catcher whether it's Salvador Perez, Carlos Ruiz or Miguel Montero.

Fire Dayton Moore

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Moore comparing and contrasting

February is days away. Pitchers and catchers are less than three weeks in the distance. Outside of remaining marquee free agents Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Jonathan Sanchez, the offseason is all but wrapped up.

Seeing how the Royals aren't likely to be involved with any remaining free agents — although I'm sure Dayton Moore is kicking the tires on Sanchez — it's time to contrast Kansas City's offseason with some other clubs around MLB.

Looking back at the transactions that have taken place since the end of last season, it's fair to say four teams have drawn lines in the sand: Kansas City, Atlanta, Arizona, Toronto. Whether or not these lines are parallel, perpendicular, or even in the same sandbox, I'm not sure. But Moore, Frank Wren, Kevin Towers, and Alex Anthopoulos have steered their respective organizations in distinct directions that may or may not lead to success.

Yes, I know the Dodgers and Angels have spent piles of money this offseason, but both teams started that trend before the offseason began. I don't count them in this group. The Mariners tried to make a big splash this offseason, but even with all their moves, I don't see them as drastically different or better going into this season. Tampa Bay did what it does. Nothing new. Miami did what it does. Nothing new. (Can the United States please trade Florida for Puerto Rico or something?) The Phillies had perhaps the worst offseason, bringing in the likes of Michael Young and Delmon Young, but this is Fire Dayton Moore. I'm not going to let Ruben Amaro Jr.'s disdain for advanced statistics get Moore off the hook.

Understanding Their Opportunity

The Yankees aren't what they once were and are dealing with some cumbersome contracts while trying to lower payroll. The Red Sox are trying (awkwardly) to rebuild after a 69-93 season. Nobody seriously expects the Orioles to catch lightening in a bottle a second straight season. The Rays are always a threat, but coming off a third place finish and have James Loney as their starting first baseman. Therefore, the window of opportunity in what was once the best division in baseball is wide open and the Blue Jays held nothing back.

Granted, they took on a load of players that led the Marlins to a mere 69-93 record, but they also added a Cy Young winner. Even if R.A. Dickey regresses somewhat, when Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle are at their best (or close to it), they give the Blue Jays one of the two best rotations and the best shortstop in the AL East. And all it cost them was four promising, but certainly not can't-miss prospects, and a bigoted shortstop.

Would it shock me if Anthopoulos' plan imploded and Tampa Bay won the East while, let's say, the Yankees and Rangers earned Wild Card spots? No it wouldn't. But I can't blame Anthopoulos for recognizing a rare opportunity to win and a farm system with valuable trade pieces and using the latter to improve his odds of the former.

Anthopoulos' tenure with the Blue Jays has been highlighted by taking risks (trading for Colby Rasmus, re-signing Edwin Encarnacion between 2009-2010 before his career took off, believing in Jose Bautista). Without those risks paying off, Toronto probably isn't in position to make a major push this offseason. Now the Blue Jays have gone from depending on Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero atop their rotation and Yunel Escobar at shortstop to handing the ball to a Cy Young winner in Dickey on Opening Day and plugging in an everyday shortstop with a 10.7 WAR the last two seasons in Reyes.

Anthopoulos could have waited for prospects like Travis d'Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard to reach the Majors and compete with them, but wisely he realized there are no guarantees in the AL East. The odds of those four players panning out and the division still being up for grabs when they did aren't as good as Dickey, Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle leading the Blue Jays to the playoffs the next couple of years. For Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays, the risk was worth the possible reward and I'll be more surprised if it doesn't pay off than if it does.

Toronto's Notable Transactions
  • Signed Melky Cabrera
  • Traded Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino (prospect), Anthony Desclafani (prospect), Jake Marisnick (prospect) for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck
  • Traded John Buck, Noah Syndergaard (prospect), Travis d'Arnaud (prospect), Wuilmer Becerra (prospect) for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas (prospect)
The Towers-ing Inferno

As frustrating as the Royals' offseason has been, I can't imagine what my mental state would be if I followed the Diamondbacks.

From my viewpoint, the D-Backs play in a winnable division no matter how much ravenous spending the Dodgers do or how many trophies the Giants add to their mantle. I didn't necessarily see the Diamondbacks as sure-fire contenders in 2013, but I liked their rotation. I liked some of their outfield prospects like Adam Eaton. No, not that Adam Eaton (shudders). I loved their pitching prospects (Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin). I still felt Justin Upton was a franchise player, despite a down 2012 season. When the offseason began and they signed Brandon McCarthy, I was a fan of the move. That's literally the only move Kevin Towers made this offseason that made any sense to me.

Even when Heath Bell saved 43 games in 2011, the underlying numbers showed he was getting by on smoke and mirrors. The contract the Marlins gave him last offseason was ill-advised and the thought of anyone trading for him this offseason was inconceivable. Especially if it left a hole in center field that Towers would apparently try to fill with Cody Ross, who isn't a center fielder, but is listed as the D-Backs' starting center fielder on's depth chart.

Regardless of what position Ross plays, it doesn't add up. In center field, he stunts Eaton's development. If he plays right, he takes Gerardo Parra out of the lineup, even though it would seem he's the kind of gritty, grinding player Towers has been seeking out to appease manager Kirk Gibson. And by signing Ross before dealing Upton, it seemed to paint Towers into a corner that probably kept him from maximizing Upton's value. Especially when you consider he could have shopped Jason Kubel instead and still landed at least one solid pitching prospect and kept Upton or traded him at any point during the season rather than having to trade him in the winter. Of course, Towers wouldn't have been as desperate for young pitching had he not given up on Bauer and dealt him for a glove-first shortstop and little else.

So, recapping Towers' offseason: He went into the offseason with 22-year-old Trevor Bauer as his top young pitcher, 25-year-old Justin Upton as his best offensive weapon and shortstop Chris Owings as one of the Top 10 prospects in his system, according to Baseball America (not expected to be great, but some promise nonetheless). He goes into the 2013 season with 22-year-old Randall Delgado replacing Bauer — a downgrade until Bauer proves otherwise — 30-year-old Jason Kubel and 29-year-old Martin Prado expected to carry the offense (yes, Prado's WAR is solid, but he may not even be with the club a year from now), and shortstop Didi Gregorius ranked just two spots ahead of Owings by BA in the organization's Top 10 prospects.

At best, the Diamondbacks are no better than they were when last season ended, but now Towers has traded away the two best trade chips he had. If these moves don't pay off, Towers will likely have to trade away even more pitching. It seems the logical move would have been for Towers to trade Upton straight up for an elite shortstop prospect. Maybe even toss in a Corbin or Skaggs if he can get a Jurickson Profar in return. Instead, he took the roundabout path to land a shortstop who might not even hit. And even without Bauer I'm not sure why Towers was so dead set to deal Upton for more young pitching.

Maybe the cast of Charlie Hustlers that Towers has compiled will surprise baseball and set back the cause of advanced statistical analysis, but I don't see the Diamondbacks as any better than the .500 club they were a year ago.

Arizona's Notable Transactions

  • Signed Brandon McCarthy
  • Signed Cody Ross
  • Traded Chris Young for Cliff Pennington, Heath Bell
  • Traded Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw for Lars Anderson, Tony Sipp, Didi Gregorius (prospect)
  • Traded Justin Upton, Chris Johnson for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury
Pushing in His Chips

If you're reading this, you've heard this story before. Going into the offseason there was a team in a winnable division, but one stacked team ahead of it to overcome. So this team's GM put his neck on the line and made a bold, franchise-altering trade. And now that GM's club is in prime position to win.

I'm talking about Frank Wren and the Atlanta Braves, of course. What? Did you think I was talking about someone else? In just three moves, Wren turned the Braves into what I see as a legitimate World Series contender.

Say what you will about B.J. Upton, but if Michael Bourn wasn't interested in re-signing, there weren't any better center field alternatives this winter. Say what you will about Tommy Hanson, but his numbers haven't matched the hype the last couple seasons and, as great as Atlanta's bullpen has been with Craig Kimbrel as closer, Kimbrel and Jonny Venters have logged a ton of innings, so Jordan Walden alleviates some of that workload to ensure Kimbrel and Venters are around come fall. Those were the "minor" moves.

Last week came Wren's hum-dinger — trading for Justin Upton. Wisely, Wren offered up an attractive, but expendable arm in Randall Delgado. I'm sure he would have preferred to give up Julio Teheran, but I'm sure Towers insisted on Delgado. Well, that might be giving too much credit to Towers, but outside of Delgado and the versatile Prado, Wren gave up little else to land a 25-year-old outfielder with MVP potential. That kind of player isn't made available often and he pounced on the opportunity.

If there's any downside to the trade, it's the hole it leaves at third base for Atlanta, and the possible exhaustion Brian McCann might experience chasing errant throws by the Upton brothers.

The Braves may lack the marquee names in their rotation that the Nationals possess and the leadoff spot remains a question, but there's no doubt the Braves are better off now than when umpire Sam Holbrook effectively ended their 2012 season. Because of Wren's savvy moves, I see the Braves testing the Nationals in the NL East and securing at least a Wild Card spot.

Atlanta's Notable Transactions

  • Signed B.J. Upton
  • Traded Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden
  • Traded Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury
Objects in Mirror are More Confusing Than They Appear

Earlier I wrote how I felt Dayton Moore should have continued his sale on farmhands to land Justin Upton for the logical reasons. After reading Mark Simon's Tweet above, I can't believe Moore didn't go after Upton for the sheer entertainment value of saying he had personally acquired three of the four outfielders with the most unpredictable arms.

I apologize. But until the Royals actually win something, Moore's just too easy a target. The more time I've spent thinking about and analyzing his moves this offseason, the more warped my mind has become.

He rushed to re-sign Guthrie, as if such a pitcher would fly off the shelf without a comparable alternative to be found. He rushed to trade for Ervin Santana, as if a $13 million commitment for a franchise such as the Royals was a drop in the bucket. He traded for James Shields as if he was the only available "front line" starter. He traded away Wil Myers as if it were mandatory he be dealt in order to acquire a "front line" starter.

Meanwhile, Shaun Marcum signed a 1-year, $4 million deal with the Mets just last week.

If any lesson was learned this offseason, it's that patience truly is a virtue when it comes to running a baseball team. The Blue Jays and Braves were patient in years past and moved to strike this offseason. Kevin Towers apparently lost all patience for his two most promising talents. The Royals had been patient all this time under Moore, but jumped the gun.

This notion of patience has probably held true for years, but I've spent significantly more attention to this winter's wheeling and dealing than years' past. How a person who doesn't realize this comes to run a Major League club is beyond me, but that's probably precisely why I don't get paid the big bucks.

Sadly, the Royals' offseason began with so much promise when Moore managed to dump Clint Robinson and Vin Mazzaro on the Pirates for a couple prospects. News last week that the Royals claimed catcher George Kottaras off waivers for a cool million dollars was also promising. But as far as I'm concerned, those have been the lone highlights.

To be fair, after seeing what Upton was traded for, maybe the market for young power-hitting outfielders has dried up. I would say it's more likely a case of smart GMs taking advantage of desperate ones, but maybe the Upton trade can at least lessen the blow for some Royals fans. I just don't see how the same GM who saw the value in Kottaras (a stat-geek darling) also saw so much value in Shields, Guthrie and Santana.

One more note before ending this diatribe: If Moore were serious about turning the Royals into winners this season and wanted to sign Michael Bourn or Kyle Lohse, it would not cost the Royals their first round draft pick because the first 10 picks in the draft are protected and Kansas City owns the eighth selection.

Don't get your hopes up considering Scott Boras is the agent for both Bourn and Lohse, but if they were to set their egos aside and sign one-year deals, they could be had for below market value. Why would they do that? For one, it's pretty clear teams with unprotected draft picks aren't biting. For another, it's believed that next year's crop of free agents will be desolate and still nine months remain between now and then for players in the last year of their contracts to re-sign with their current clubs. So, while I originally estimated Bourn could get $16 million a year, one analyst I heard recently said he could see Bourn signing for just $6 million on a one-year deal. We'll see.

Kansas City's Notable Transactions

  • Re-signed Jeremy Guthrie
  • Traded Brandon Sisk (prospect) for Ervin Santana and cash
  • Traded Clint Robinson, Vin Mazzaro for Luis Rico (prospect), Luis Santos (prospect)
  • Traded Wil Myers (prospect), Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery (prospect), Patrick Leonard (prospect) for James Shields, Wade Davis, player to be named later
  • Claimed George Kottaras off waivers
Fire Dayton Moore

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mad money

As you've surely learned by now, the Royals signed Luke Hochevar to a 1-year, $4.56 million deal. Hochevar can also earn up to $100,000 in performance bonuses.

I'm not going to waste many words on how terrible Hochevar has proven to be as a Major League pitcher. His 5.73 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 2012 and 5.39 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 771 career innings pitched tell just about all that needs to be told. He's pitched at least 100 innings in five seasons and the only consistent trait Hochevar possesses is his inconsistency.

From game to game and inning to inning, Hochevar has been nothing but a ticking, right-handed time bomb. With his 30th birthday coming in September, there's no reason to believe Hochevar will ever come close to meeting the expectations of the No. 1 draft pick he once was.

But rather than rehash all of the Hochevar factoids that everyone is already aware of, I just wanted to recap the Royals' offseason spending because, in all likelihood, this will be the Royals' last move of consequence before Spring Training. Below is a list of the noteworthy players Dayton Moore has acquired or re-signed this season and the damage done to David Glass' wallet.

  • Wade Davis — $2.8 million in 2013/$4.8 million in 2014/$7 million in 2015/$8 million in 2016/$10 million in 2017 (team options for 2015-17, $2.5 million buyout in 2017)
  • Jeremy Guthrie — $5 million in 2013/$11 million in 2014/$9 million in 2015
  • Luke Hochevar — $4.56 million in 2013 (eligible for $100,000 in performance bonuses)
  • Ervin Santana — $13 million in 2013 ($1 million paid by the Angels)
  • James Shields — $9 million in 2013/$12 million in 2014 (team option for 2014, $1 million buyout)
  • Miguel Tejada — $1.1 million in 2013 (must make Major League roster, eligible for $400,000 in performances bonuses)

So for 2013 alone, the Royals committed $34.36 million and that doesn't incude the money Miguel Tejada could earn. That doesn't take into account the escalating salaries due to Davis, Guthrie and Shields. The Royals are reported to have an opening day payroll of $78 million, and that figure was released before the Hochevar deal. So nearly half of the club's estimated payroll was spent this summer — a hefty investment from Glass as such a payroll is 28 percent higher than the club's 2012 payroll — and this is the crop of players Dayton Moore has to show for it. This is the collection of players expected to push the Royals into playoff contention.

That's it, Kansas City.

By comparison, Oakland and Tampa Bay are estimated to have payrolls around $60 million. Is there any question which of these three teams — eternally connected by the Johnny Damon trade in my mind — are in the best position to compete in 2013?

I'm not going to run down the list of free agent signings that I would have preferred. I'll only compare the Royals' acquisitions to three made by the Cubs to build up their own rotation.

  • Scott Baker — $5.5 million in 2013
  • Scott Feldman — $6 million in 2013
  • Edwin Jackson — $13 million in 2013/$13 million in 2014/$13 million in 2015/$13 million in 2016

Add it up and you're at $24.5 million — nearly one-third of what Moore has spent — with only one long-term commitment and, overall, a comparable pitching trio to that of Shields/Guthrie/Santana without having given up Wil Myers. And the Royals would still have Jake Odorizzi, who many compare to Davis, but wouldn't cost nearly as much over the next five seasons. And if Moore's offseason budget was about $35 million, he'd still could have brought back Hochevar and brought in Tejada and had money left over.

And he'd still have the best outfield prospect in baseball.

Fire Dayton Moore

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What was that I said about imagination?

Another day, another missed opportunity by Dayton Moore. Michael Morse was traded to the Seattle Mariners today in a three-team trade and let me preface this post by saying I have no misconceptions about Morse being a savior.

I've written way too many words on transactions that will never happen involving the Royals, Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton and Michael Bourn. I'm not going to write that Morse is even close to their level. However, if I were the GM of a team I was masquerading as a contender and I had possibly the worst right fielder in baseball, I would want a player like Michael Morse on my roster. And once the Nationals traded for Denard Span, it wasn't as if Moore had to look under rocks to find such a player. Everyone knew Morse would be moved.

Again, maybe Moore did his due diligence. However, when all the Nationals got in return was a pitching prospect they traded away last offseason to land Gio Gonzalez (A.J. Cole), a 24-year-old pitching prospect from Osage City, Kansas (Blake Treinen), and a player to be named later, it's not hard to imagine the Royals scraping together a better offer. If Moore was committed to winning in the next two years, that is.

First thing's first, the caveats on Morse: He turns 31 in two months. He'll make $6.75 million in 2013 and he'll be a free agent after the season. Although he's played first base and the corner outfield spots over the last few seasons, he's a subpar defender. He's struck out 287 times the last three seasons in 1,194 at bats, which comes out to a strikeout once every 4.16 at bats. His WAR last season was 0.3 as he battled injury.

On the plus side: Unlike Jeff Francoeur, who Morse would most likely replace in the lineup, Morse is a legitimate middle-of-the-lineup bat. He's hit 64 home runs over those same 1,194 at bats the last three years (just 73 shy of Francoeur's career total in eight seasons). His OPS the last three seasons were .870, .910 and .791. He can play first base and both corner spots so, while right field would have been his ideal position with the Royals, he could have floated to give guys days off or allow a righty-heavy lineup. Assuming Alex Gordon hits leadoff, how much better does Butler/Hosmer/Morse/Moustakas sound in the heart of the order than Hosmer/Butler/Moustakas/Francoeur? Oh, and Morse looks eerily similar to Javier Bardem, who played all-time great bad guy, Anton Chigurh.

My friend, Casey McClain, wrote on his blog why the deal made little sense for the Mariners, but that has more to do with what the Mariners gave up and what the Mariners already have than Morse's abilities. However, it's probably fair to say I'm higher on Morse than Casey is, all thing's being equal. I believe Morse's down 2012 season was due to injuries that he was battling before the season even started. His numbers will no doubt be muted by Safeco Field, but he's a proven power bat who would have been a no-brainer upgrade from Jeff Francoeur. And he wouldn't have cost the Royals much, but yet again I'm left with the feeling that Moore never even picked up the phone.

Just to give my two cents on the actual trade that went down, it didn't make much sense to me either. It made sense from the Athletics' perspective in that John Jaso was made to play for Billy Beane. He's a better version of George Kottaras, who the A's apparently had to designate for assignment to make room for Jaso on the roster.

At the same time, the A's gave up Cole, who they acquired with Derek Norris, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock last offseason. The A's don't lack pitching, so Cole won't be missed. However, Derek Norris (a Goddard, Kansas, product) was basically the A's everyday catcher by the end of last season. While his OBP (.276) left much to be desired, he displayed a ton of pop, even for that ballpark. I suspect Norris (who bats right-handed) and Jaso (a lefty) will be used in a platoon, so in that regard I get it.

As for the Mariners, as Casey wrote, they probably stretched themselves too thin at catcher to acquire a player in Morse who plays the same position as several players already on the roster. Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak are atop the depth chart at first base. Jesus Montero should be a DH but will be forced to catch. The outfield corners are littered with players on both extremes. Among the veterans past their primes are Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay. Among the youngish, less-than-promising players are Michael Saunders, Casper Wells, Eric Thames and Carlos Peguero.

My guess is Morales plays first and fills in at DH when Smoak plays first. Montero plays catcher and occasionally is used as a DH, depending on who else the Mariners might bring in at catcher. Saunders plays in left and Morse has no problem proving himself the best option in right field. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through for a slim margin of improvement.

If the A's do go with the catcher platoon, the deal should work out for them. Depending on who the player to be named later is, the Nationals will depend on Cole (the A's No. 3 prospect at the time of the trade behind a teenager in Addison Russell and Michael Choice, who stalled last year at Double-A) to prove whether it was a good trade or not from their perspective. As for the Mariners, at least it didn't cost them any of their young, promising arms, which is probably what led to the A's getting involved in the first place.

Sadly for Royals (and Mariners fans), Kansas City could have been a much better fit as a trade partner for the Nationals. Maybe someday we'll learn that Jeff Francoeur cut Dayton Moore's phone lines this offseason and he actually executed the Wil Myers-James Shields trade and Miguel Tejada signing and all of this will make much more sense.

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MLB couldn't market itself out of a wet paper bag

Like most folks these days, I have a facebook account (you can like us on facebook and follow us on Twitter, by the way!). On said account, I follow's official page.

On an almost daily basis, some web editor who loves the game but doesn't apparently know much about it posts a throw-away topic or question for fans to respond to.

This was today's:

I bet you'd never know is headquartered in New York City, would you? I mean, what Royals player is more topical these days than Alex Gordon?

Wait, that's not Alex Gordon? Well, neat! They must already have a shot of James Shields in a KC hat!

Shields isn't the one pictured bottom-right? Let's see...Luuuuuke Hooochevaaaar maaaayyyybeeee?

Nope. None other than Hiram Kyle Davies. You know, the only pitcher worse than Luke Hochevar that Dayton Moore has acquired.

The one who didn't pitch affiliated ball in 2012? Yep! That's the one! Keep up the great work of warding off American youths who might actually care about your game,

Fire Dayton Moore

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Can you imagine?

In my last two posts I've called out Dayton Moore for his lack of imagination. I imagine some Royals fans might think that's unfair considering what Moore has done building up the farm system.

However, I would argue no amount of imagination has been necessary with rebuilding the farm system. All Moore needed was more backing from ownership and that's exactly what he's received, allowing him to spend over slot for high draft picks and devote more funding to international scouting.

At the Major League level, though, Moore has been anything but creative. As I discussed with a friend yesterday, almost all of Moore's Major League transactions have been traditional, by-the-books moves as if he were running an organization with money to spare on bad moves. The only problem is, the Royals don't have money to spare when Moore makes a bad signing or trade. Instead, they're stuck with that miscue on the roster. Case in point: Jeff Francoeur.

It's a virtual guarantee that Francoeur and his robust -1.2 WAR from 2012 will be penciled in as the Royals' everyday right fielder this season. That means, unless the 29-year-old can miraculously improve in his ninth season, Royals fans can once again expect one of their corner outfielders to post an OPS only Minnie Mendoza would envy.

The only explanation for this is Moore inexplicably sees Francoeur's 2012 campaign (16 HR, 4 SB, .235/.287/.378) as an aberration and his 2011 season (20 HR, 22 SB, .285/.329/.476, 2.9 WAR) as the norm. Of course, this also requires Moore to ignore the fact Francoeur hasn't had another season with a WAR above 0.6 since 2007. He would also have to disregard Francour's two negative WAR seasons since 2008 compared to just one season with a WAR above that same 0.6 plateau. At 29, Francoeur isn't ancient, but with steroid and now HGH testing in MLB, the instances of veterans reinventing themselves are few and far between.

Meanwhile, with Moore's best trade chip already spent, one difference-making free agent remains to cure what ails the Royals outfield: Michael Bourn.

No, Michael Bourn is not a right fielder. He's a center fielder and a spectacular one at that. Seriously. If MLB allowed highlights to be posted onto YouTube, Bourn would have his own channel for jaw-dropping catches. The fact he's a spark-plug of a leadoff hitter, capable of leading the league in stolen bases and, with hitters like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler behind him, runs scored is a bonus.

Those are the impacts Bourn would make that can be easily observed. But how much more would it help players like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to know they wouldn't have to do the heavy lifting in the middle of the order if Gordon were allowed to drop down and hit in front of Billy Butler?

Finally, you eliminate the issue of playing Francoeur everyday by sliding Lorenzo Cain from center field to right. Then, should Cain falter, the Royals would have Francoeur available to fill in. And since he is such a good clubhouse guy, maybe you could reward him as a ninth inning defensive substitute for his arm. Either way, you replace an everyday player with a negative WAR and career WAR of 10 with Bourn and his 6.4 WAR from 2012 and 21.4 career WAR in 7 seasons.

Of course, with a player of Bourn's caliber (who comes with an agent of Scott Boras' caliber), it's going to cost you. But we're almost to February and Bourn is still available with no team strongly linked to him. Although certainly not ideal for Bourn, the possibility remains he could do what Edwin Jackson did a year ago and sign a one-year deal and try free agency again after the 2013 season — a free agent class that already appears to be devoid of impact players.

So once again, if the Royals were serious about winning in 2013 and 2014, why shouldn't Bourn be a target for Dayton Moore? Shane Victorino signed a 3-year, $39 million contract and B.J. Upton signed a 5-year, $75 million deal this offseason. Both players posted a 3.3 WAR last season. Victorino is older than Bourn. Upton is younger. Odds are Bourn will wind up with a deal close to Upton's on a yearly basis ($15 million per). If Moore is sincere about winning the next two years, a 1-year, $16 million offer to Bourn should be a requirement and a 2-year, $32 million offer to Bourn would be ideal.

That's if Moore has any imagination when it comes to competing with a small market team. Then again, it takes a heck of a lot more imagination to envision winning with Francoeur than it does Bourn.

Fire Dayton Moore

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another unrealistic, hypothetical trade scenario

If you trust Ken Rosenthal and his sources, Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton nearly became the Seattle Mariners' right fielder this evening, but used his no-trade clause to void the possible trade.

Even without the Mariners out of the mix, supposedly the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves are still pursuing Upton. By no means do I suspect the Royals are a fourth, unnamed team in the hunt for Upton's services. I don't expect them to be either. The cold, hard truth for the Royals is, they've already spent their most alluring trade chip. Don't expect any sexy deals to be done the rest of the year, unless there's a team out there willing to wait on Bubba Starling or a package of prospects.

But the other day I brought up a hypothetical, pre-James Shields trade for the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton in exchange for the Royals' top 10 prospects. Based on the thousands of emails and comments I did (not) receive following that post, I figured now would be a good time to delve deeper into it in regard to Justin Upton.

In my last post, I failed to list the Royals' top 10 prospects they would have hypothetically had to part ways with. According to Baseball America, this is what that list would have been prior to trading for James Shields:

1. Wil Myers, OF
2. Kyle Zimmer, SP
3. Bubba Starling, OF
4. Yordano Ventura, SP
5. Jake Odorizzi, SP
6. Jorge Bonifacio, OF
7. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
8. Sam Selman, SP
9. Orlando Calixte, SS
10. Jason Adam, SP

For the sake of simplicity, since they're already gone along with Myers and Odorizzi, let's substitute SP Mike Montgomery for Calixte and 3B Patrick Leonard for Adam. Now, if you were running a team like the Royals, would you give up those 10 prospects for a young, proven, bona fide stud such as Stanton?

My thinking was the Marlins would use Stanton similar to how the Dallas Cowboys used Herschel Walker in trading him to the Minnesota Vikings for a King's ransom of players and draft picks. Of course, history shows the Cowboys couldn't have asked for a better return in rebuilding their franchise while the Vikings never achieved the success they hoped with Walker.

In much the same way, giving up 10 of your best prospects might mortgage your future. But as Bill James says: Everybody has prospects. In the Royals' case, they have a deep farm system. They've figured out how to draft better and how to find international talent. Even such a trade as the one I'm suggesting wouldn't be crippling. That's the difference between the NFL and MLB — if the Royals tried to win in the next three years, the depth of their prospect pool wouldn't immediately affect them at the Major League level. In fact, their greatest impact would merely be felt in limiting future trade possibilities.

In regard to Stanton, other than his injury concerns, I said he would well be worth a Brinks truck full of prospects, assuming the Marlins would also throw in a couple other veterans to help out in the near term, such as Ricky Nolasco. My reasoning was Stanton would push Jeff Francoeur out of the lineup completely and he would instantly become a franchise player to build a batting order around while lessening the pressure on guys like Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

Now, how differently should Justin Upton, who is obviously available, be viewed?

Upton is two years older than Stanton. He's a free agent in 2016 (a year earlier than Stanton). He'll make $9.75 million in 2013 and $38.5 million the next three years while Stanton is still arbitration-eligible. He posted a 2.5 WAR in 2012 compared to Stanton's 5.8 (despite injuries). That right there eliminates Upton from the small collection of players I'd sell the farm for.

However, nobody is saying the Diamondbacks are asking for the farm. They lost leverage when they signed OF Cody Ross. The Mariners have good prospects, but their elite ones are pitchers. No names were reported in today's potential trade. Maybe all the Diamondbacks are looking for is young pitching. If so, then the Royals aren't a good match anyway. But let's pretend Arizona is open to any good prospects, regardless of position.

If you were running the Royals, would you part with your five best remaining prospects? Zimmer, Starling, Ventura, Bonifacio and Mondesi? Pretty sure the Diamondbacks would have a hard time turning that down.

Sound like too much for the Royals to give up? It's a lot, I admit. But remember, the whole purpose of the James Shields trade was to shout from the most mediocre-sized mountain top that the Royals were trying to win now. I still can't take a team with Francoeur starting everyday as a serious contender. Replace him with a proven star like Upton, who could easily shake off a down 2012 with a change of scenery, and suddenly I'm intrigued. It sends a mixed signal for the Royals not to pursue a player like Upton, who is clearly available.

Again, maybe the Royals wouldn't be a good fit if they tried to go after Upton. Maybe Upton would turn them down just as he did the Mariners anyway. Maybe the Royals actually have made legitimate attempts to land Upton. Maybe they are as I write this.

In all likelihood, we'll never know for sure, but you and I both know what it's safe to assume. And once again I'm left doubting the creativity of the Royals' front office, as well as their true commitment to winning.

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tardy Tuesday Tidbits

"(Miguel Tejada has) obviously got a great track record and he's playing really well this winter. We've got a chance to see him a lot. Felix Francisco, one of our scouts, is actually a GM in the (Dominican Winter League) and has seen him play quite a bit and recommended we sign him."

--Dayton Moore

Much has happened in the sports world and even Kansas City sports since our last post, but there are a couple noteworthy Royals notes to touch on, as well.

The Royals were one of the topics discussed on ESPN's Baseball Today Podcast last week. As you might expect, the Miguel Tejada signing was what caught the hosts' attention. Later on in the week, Moore talked to The Star about his recent handiwork.

While the likes of Keith Law were as perplexed as me as to where Tejada fits in with the Royals, Moore sounded dangerously confident Tejada would find a role on the Royals' 40-man roster — you remember, that exclusive list that had no room for Wil Myers during September 2012.

The good news is the $1.1 million that Tejada said he signed for is not guaranteed. He must first make the Major League roster and it sounds like a second base/utility infielder role will be his best chance at doing so. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a believer in Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella, but I cannot envision a scenario in which a 38-year-old Tejada who didn't play a Major League game in 2012, will prove worthy of at least $1.1 million if he's handed a roster spot with the big league club. Not even after trying to read Richard Justice's touchy-feely, cliché-riddled, out-of-touch column on

As if Justice's column wasn't enough,'s Royals beat writer Dick Kaegel wrote a Fire Dayton Moore-like Q&A on New Year's Eve that I just noticed today. Normally I enjoy Kaegel's work, but this just read like a fanboy piece to me.

In his first bullet point, Kaegel said the Royals "certainly" should contend in the central because of 1) their rotation "upgrades" and 2) the fact they were merely 13 games out of first on Sept. 1 last year, the closest they've been to first place in September since 2003. Not 1.3 games, but 13 games behind a team in the Detroit Tigers that actually should be improved in 2013.

Later on he describes the rotation as being in "good shape," refers to Jeff Francoeur as a "middle-of-the-lineup" hitter. The rest of the piece is far more measured. I know writers are discouraged from being critical (I was once an intern), but I don't think they should be allowed to mislead readers either. If Kaegel truly believes what he wrote about the rotation, Francoeur and the overall state of the Royals, he's been talking to Moore too much.

Lastly, Peter Grathoff wrote a piece for The Star on the Royals' farm system. It gives an overview of what's left following the Royals' trade with the Rays and is very much worth reading. It made me think back to a podcast I heard last week (either Baseball Prospectus' Effectively Wild or ESPN's Baseball Today) on which the hosts discussed the possibility (or impossibility) of the Marlins trading Giancarlo Stanton.

They compared it to the Cowboys trading Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five players and six draft picks. It got me to thinking about the most unlikely of scenarios: What if the Royals had traded for Stanton? What if, before the James Shields trade, the Royals traded their top 10 prospects for Stanton and Ricky Nolasco? Would that be too steep a price? Not enough? Personally, I can't imagine the Marlins and their history turning that offer down.

It's a moot point now since the Royals' top 10 prospects surely wouldn't be enough without Myers. But if I was going to go out and buy MLB 13: The Show, which I'm not, it'd be a deal I'd try to make. IF Moore had been that creative, he could have jettisoned Francoeur from the lineup for good with a franchise player who could have set the Royals' single-season home run record his first season. Moreover, Stanton would give stability to a lineup that has forced Alex Gordon to play every role and heaped too much pressure on Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Plus, Stanton isn't a free agent until 2017.

And a rotation of Nolasco, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Bruce Chen and Jake Odorizzi would be at least comparable to the current rotation of Shields, Guthrie, Santana, Wade Davis and Chen. And who knows, maybe the Marlins would have give up a couple more veteran pieces to help the Royals contend right away. We'll never know. The GM running the Royals might be the least imaginative in baseball despite working in a market where being conventional doesn't pay dividends.

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Acquire like it's 2002!

If you're reading this, you should already be aware Dayton Moore extended minor league contracts to Miguel Tejada and Endy Chavez. They join the likes of Xavier Nady, Max Ramirez, Willy Taveras, Brandon Wood, George Sherrill and Dan Wheeler, who have either made notable Major League impacts or were once well-regarded prospects but are now on their last proverbial professional leg with the Royals.

I don't want to get too carried away with this seeing how almost any minor league signing is harmless and worth a shot. However, what stood out to me was the 38-year-old Tejada told the Associated Press that he will earn $1.1 million dollars guaranteed and could earn $400,000 in incentives (not breaking a hip, perhaps?). Tejada was American League MVP in 2002, but didn't play a pitch of Major League baseball in 2012. Chavez hasn't played a season significantly above replacement level since 2006.

Meanwhile, the Royals will pay Jeremy Guthrie and Ervin Santana a combined $17 million in 2013 (not counting the $1 million of Santana's deal the Angels will pay this year). The Tejada signing offsets the cash offered by the Angels, so even if you're on board with the Wil Myers-James Shields trade, that's $18 that could have been spent on more stable pitching to complement Shields.

I listed about a dozen pitchers I would have rather had in my Q&A post. Brandon McCarthy was one I forgot (2-years, $15.5 million, but only $5.25 million due in 2013), now that I'm back on the topic. Player-for-player, the ones in Santana's price range were more reliable than Santana and McCarthy and anyone else in Guthrie's price range were at least equally reliable and didn't require a 3-year commitment.

The Kansas City Star's story didn't include any quotes from Moore (and neither did's version). I assume he'll spin it one of two ways:

1. Players like Tejada and Chavez will provide veteran leadership.
2. Players like Tejada and Chavez could contribute in 2013.

If Moore goes the latter route, he's off his rocker. There's virtually zero chance either player takes a meaningful at bat all season. If Moore goes the former route, Tejada and Co.'s lone value might be in mentoring Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.

If somehow Tejada, Chavez or any of the names listed above can coach some form of consistency out of the Royals' young bats, the money spent will be well worth it. But if all they're in the organization to do is help the farm teams win, I don't see the point. The players that have gone through Northwest Arkansas have shown they can win against their peers. I don't think Tejada — and certainly not Chavez — garner much name-recognition in clubhouses these days.

The third alternative is that Tejada is back on the juice. If not, I think it's fair to say Moore just wasted more than $1 million on minor league contracts when the playoff contender he's supposedly building has several holes remaining at the Major League level.

Fire Dayton Moore