Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dayton Moore's one talent

In case you missed it, I sent out this Tweet a couple nights ago:

And if you missed that, you must not be following @FireDaytonMoore so you should probably remedy that. Anyway, it later occurred to me I'm probably being too harsh on poor ole Dayton.

I mean, forget Davis' league-worst 5.92 ERA among qualified starters (yes, by the most liberal of definitions, Davis is a "qualified" starter). Forget Davies' 5.34 career ERA with the Royals over five seasons and 531 innings (yes, one of the worst starters in the history of the game lasted that long under Moore's watch). Forget Mazzaro's 6.72 ERA in two seasons with the Royals (after years with David DeJesus as the Royals' "best player" that is all they wound up with the show for it). Forget Hochevar's 5.45 ERA from 2008-2012 (No. 1 overall pick, everybody). And forget Sanchez's 7.76 ERA in 12 starts with the Royals in 2012. Forget that at least one of those five pitchers has been starting games for the Royals every year since 2007 even though, you'd think, Moore would have stopped pursuing such pitchers by like 2010.

Forget all that.

It's not fair to point out all those complete and pathetically utter failures on Moore's part and not bring to light the successes.

Sanchez began his career as a middle reliever and was slightly less implodable. Hochevar has a 2.00 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 36 innings as a middle reliever this season and, although most of those inning have been low leverage, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes he's the Royals' best trade chip. Mazzaro has a 2.62 ERA in 44 2/3 innings this season for the Pirates in a middle relief role. Davies' last success came out of the bullpen in 2011 (in Triple-A — he never experienced Major League success). Davis' one year of positive contribution in Tampa Bay came as a reliever in 2012, posting a 2.43 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.

So there you have it! Dayton Moore may be the worst general manager in all of sports — by leaps and bounds — but he does have a hidden talent. He has no equal when it comes to finding pitchers that are useless as starting pitches, but above average as relievers.

And perhaps that explains why Moore is so stubbornly refusing to part with Ervin Santana.

Amid some criticism last October, Moore acquired Santana for Brandon Sisk. Seeing how Santana was entering the last year of his contract, it wasn't the boldest of moves. However, Santana was coming off arguably the worst season of his career, so expectations were low, to say the least.

Nine months later, Santana has exceeded all expectations and proven to be an ideal No. 2 behind James Shields, spoiled only by the fact Moore neglected to fill out the rest of the rotation, let alone the lineup.

So from Moore's perspective, certainly he must be aware 99 percent of the moves he's made with the Royals have flopped. Throwing back the one catch he reeled in worth celebrating probably isn't easy.

Probably isn't easy for Moore, that is.

Billy Beane built a mini-empire trading prospects like Brandon Sisk for players like Ervin Santana only to turn around months later and cash in such a player for a collection of prospects or a younger player under team control. It's simple economics.

Former GM and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden puts it simply:

Santana's on the mound again tonight against a great Orioles offense. If he shuts them down, his value will continue to climb. And, as I wrote last time, if Moore plays his cards right as July 31 approaches, he should land a few prospects on par with what the Cubs received for Matt Garza.

And I did just read a Tweet from Rosenthal that said the Royals are willing to listen to offers for Santana. I suppose that's encouraging. I can only imagine how many middle relievers Santana is worth.

Fire Dayton Moore

Click here to sign our free, simple petition to save baseball in Kansas City.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Santana's time is up

One bit of news seems to be dominating the sports universe today. Of course it's not the story of the football player who will miss four games due to a drug suspension, it's the story about a baseball player who will miss 65 games with no pay. But I'm not here to write about witch hunts and double standards.

I'm here to write about the second biggest news item of the day in baseball. The Rangers finally landed their man, Matt Garza, from the Cubs. The deal was as follows:

To Texas: P Matt Garza
To Chicago: 3B Mike Olt, P C.J. Edwards, P Justin Grimm, one or two players to be named later
Garza, who sports a 3.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, nearly 8 K's per nine innings and a 3.1 K/BB rate in 11 starts this year, is a free agent after the season and turns 30 in November. So for a two-month rental, the Cubs received perhaps their third baseman of the future, an exciting pitching prospect, an inexpensive arm to fill the back of the rotation or front of the bullpen, and perhaps something of value from the one or two PTBNL. Not too shabby.

And let us not forget the Cubs already dealt Scott Feldman (30, also a free agent after the season) for two interesting arms in Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop plus cash. Thus, the Cubs have virtually set the basement and ceiling prices for starting pitching this summer.

Just a little further west across the Midwest, Kansas City owns the rights to a pitcher with a 3.18 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.7 K/BB in 19 starts against more American League hitters than Garza. This pitcher is also a free agent after the season and turns 31 in December, so therefore should be on the Royals' trading block. This pitcher is, of course, Ervin Santana, and the operative word here is "should" since we must, of course, factor Dayton Moore into the equation.

Late last week ESPN posted five American League and five National League trades that must or needed to happen. This was No. 5 on the NL list, looking at it from the San Francisco Giants' perspective:

Right off the bat, I see one glaring problem with this deal. The Giants are arguably in worse position than the Royals. Yes, they're only 5.5 games out of first place and 9.5 games out of a wild card spot. However, they're fourth in their division.

As much as I would like to think the Diamondbacks' chariot will eventually turn into a pumpkin, they've made it this far. The same could be said for the Rockies. But most importantly, the Dodgers are surging. I have a sinking suspicion Brian Sabean views the rest of the season more rationally now than Moore viewed the Royals' 2013 season back in December. In other words, I don't think he'll be buying.

Even if Sabean is buying, Gary Brown isn't the prospect he once was. Brown is a Quad-A player if I ever saw one, slashing .244/.304/.421 this year in Fresno in the PCL of all places. He has 12 homers and 12 steals, but he also has 96 strikeouts in 97 games (a 24 percent strikeout rate compared to 16 percent in 2012) and he's been caught stealing nine times. He's supposedly a strong defender, but all of this adds up to him being a career fourth outfielder.

As for Williamson, he may never even reach Triple-A. At 23, he's a year younger than Brown, but is currently at San Jose in High-A. He is slashing .280/.364/.480 with 17 home runs and seven steals. Those numbers look nice and all, but he's also struck out 94 times in 98 games at a 25 percent clip and he's walked just 35 times. At 23, he should be hitting much better at such a low level. It would appear to me he's simply crushing young pitchers' mistakes and flailing at their good stuff. But to be fair, you can't really scout stats.

Suffice it to say, if Santana is dealt for such a package, I'll be sorely disappointed. I'd rate it even below what the Cubs received for Feldman.

From my point of view, the Cubs got three Major League contributors for Garza, who is a facsimile of Santana. Olt probably won't live up to the hype that surrounded him last season but as long as Moustakas is in the majors, he won't be the worst hitting third baseman in the game (although Olt's glove is probably inferior). Edwards might flame out (he's been assigned to the Cubs' Double-A affiliate) but if he doesn't could be exciting, and Grimm is what he is, but he is capable of holding down a 25-man roster spot, which at the right price is valuable in itself.

Now that Garza is out of the equation for any suitors the Rangers were bidding against, the price for Santana, if anything, should be higher. The A's were rumored to be in the mix. Maybe that was Billy Beane working his magic to raise the Rangers' bid for Garza and that wouldn't surprise me.

If the A's are genuinely looking for another starter, though, a straight up swap of Santana for second baseman Grant Green would seem reasonable to me. Green is currently up with the A's and hitless in his first 12 big league at bats, but they can't all be Yasiel Puig.

In Green, the Royals would get a 6'3", 180 pound second baseman with a shortstop background, who would erase the memory of Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella. Green has averaged nearly 14 home runs a season (including only a half season this year, obviously) the last four years and he stole 13 bases last year. His strikeout rate the last two years, both in Triple-A, is 16 percent although his walk rate is below 10 percent. So maybe he would carry over some of Getz and Giavotella's shortcomings, but he at least has some power potential, he is a former first round pick, and is under team control for some time.

I don't know who would say "no" to that deal. I presume it would be Beane because I'm sure he would feel confident about getting Santana for someone like Jemile Weeks instead or get more than just Santana in return for Green. In which case, I'd gladly include Getz/Giavotella and/or a reliever and/or pay the rest of Santana's contract. If that's too rich for Beane's blood, there are other options out there.

Such a deal is just a phone call away with another club. Well, and the Royals need somebody on their end of the line savvy enough to pull it off, which sadly they do not.

Fire Dayton Moore

Click here to sign our free petition to save baseball in Kansas City

Friday, July 19, 2013

Could it be?

On the evening of Sunday, December 9, 2012, I received a text message, informing me the Royals had shipped off their most valuable minor league asset for a rental pitcher, a Quad-A pitcher, and a player to be named later.

I was livid. Burning a top prospect on a rental is one thing, but why give up more assets to add dead weight? Expensive dead weight at that. I sat with my dad in his living room, neither of us able to speak. Dumbfounded by the unthinkable coming to fruition. I couldn't wait to read columns lambasting GM Dayton Moore for such a foolish move — not just shortsighted, foolish. I expected sports radio stations to have phones ringing off their hooks from callers protesting the trade. If I had woken up on Monday and found the skyline of Kansas City engulfed in flames, I wouldn't have wondered as to why.

Instead, other than writers such as Rany Jazayerli, most opinion pieces on the move were measured in their criticism. Some analysts I highly respect, such as Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks, defended the Royals' side of the deal. My dad said reviews of the trade on sports radio were mixed. I'm fairly certain not even a match was lit in Jackson County in the hours following the deal. I began to wonder if I had overreacted. Maybe I judged Moore too harshly. I took a step back and reassessed the situation.

Upon further review, I dug in. The trade made no sense. Not even James Shields could catapult the Royals into a contender. Wade Davis and the player who turned out to be Elliot Johnson sure as hell weren't going to point the Royals in a positive direction. Whatever good Shields might do would no doubt be undone by the loss of Myers, who could have replaced Jeff Francoeur by June (Myers hit his fourth home run in 27 games on Friday — Frenchy hit 3 in 59 games and added approximately nothing else whatsoever other than a big, toothy grin and his legendary "clubhouse presence"), the inclusion of Davis on the pitching staff, and loss of all the years of inexpensive club control of Jake Odorizzi, who at the absolute worst, would have been no worse than Davis.

I'm not a sabermetric expert, but it didn't take one to realize Moore had made a mistake that would set the franchise back a number of years. Yet, the outrage was nowhere to be found. So, could it be, a transaction involving two of the smallest, least significant players in the organization turns out to be what breaks the floodgates wide open?

Thursday afternoon news broke that Johnny Giavotella was optioned with Everett Teaford to make roster space for Kelvin Herrera and none other than Chris Getz. Mr. Jazayerli documented the nonsense of this roster move quite well on his Twitter feed.

Giavotella was given two weeks, 10 games, and 34 at bats to prove he was worth a 25-man roster spot. He managed only seven hits, two doubles, a couple walks to sport a .206/.289/.265 slash line. Well, what can you do? He's obviously not Yasiel Puig. Might as well toss him back on the scrap heap. Getz had clearly fixed his impatient approach, after all, failing to draw a single walk while at Triple-A. Yet, he made up for it by reinforcing the fact he also has no power whatsoever, going homerless as well.

This time, Rany was not alone in his crusade to criticize Moore. Twitter blew up. I did my best to capitalize and draw traffic to the site and our petition, which you can sign here. Fans were beginning to mobilize. This site attracted close to 200 views. Our Twitter followers for @FireDaytonMoore increased by almost a third. Our number of signatures for our petition to save baseball in Kansas City, which again you can sign here, doubled. As I write this, we're merely 64 signatures away from reaching our goal.

All over a 5'8" second baseman with a career slash line of .206/.289/.333 in 393 career at bats. It's not how I pictured it happening, but I'll take it.

And I get it, Giavotella is like the backup quarterback on a crappy football team. Fans have seen enough of the incumbent starter. Any other option represents a better option. But when it comes down to it, Giavotella and Getz might as well be the same player — a player who has no business playing in the big leagues. For example, even Dan Uggla and his .200 average and NL-leading 116 strikeouts has a .315 OBP and 18 home runs. Giavotella and Getz's inability to get on base is matched only by their complete absence of pop. And they're no defensive wizards, either.

The problem really isn't that Moore didn't give Giavotella enough playing time. It isn't that Moore brought Getz back into the fold too soon. The problem is it's almost August and Moore is trying to con Royals fans into believing the Royals can still contend when he can't even put a Major League second baseman on the field. In reality, the Royals haven't had an acceptable second baseman since Mike Aviles in 2010 or Alberto Callaspo in 2009 and neither player is headed to the Royals Hall of Fame any time soon. Mark Grudzielanek held down the position the three years prior to that — coinciding with Moore coming to the Royals.

So what we have here is a GM who has had a glaring need at a position since his first day on the job. More than seven years later, fans are living and dying with Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella because Moore has failed — failed miserably — at filling that need. At no point along the way did he come close, aside from his back-to-back one-year wonders.

And he still expects people to believe him when he says the Royals are poised for a second half breakout? Most notably, his boss?

Unlike a majority of Royals fans, I won't blame David Glass completely for the state the Royals are in. He has provided the funds. Unfortunately, he's entrusted them with someone incapable of making sound decisions with that funding and every day Moore is left to run things, the further he will set the franchise back.

The Royals beat the Tigers tonight. La-di-da. Ervin Santana tossed a gem tonight. That's actually significant. Whoever loses out on the Matt Garza sweepstakes would have to be interested in Santana, who is a free agent after the season.

If Moore fails to cash in on Santana's trade value to blindly cling to postseason hopes that won't be actualized, fans had better not stop revolting. What Moore does with his second base situation is inconsequential. Holding onto Santana and letting him walk for nothing after the season is a fireable offense. One of many to choose from for Moore.

Let your voice be heard.

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The negative 2%

How cool is Jonah Keri? Super intelligent. Has already written an incredible book on a super intelligent MLB team (hint: not the Royals). And he will interact with almost anyone on Twitter.

On Monday, I noticed him responding to questions regarding what teams should do as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Naturally, I wanted to ask about the Royals. On one hand they're 43-49, but on the other they're only eight games out in the AL Central. But back on the one hand, they've lost five straight and seven of their last 10. OK, I'm struggling to come up with anything else on the other hand that doesn't have something to do with the Athletics overcoming second half deficits. But back to the one hand, the Royals will play their first seven games post-break against the Tigers and Orioles and will play 44 games in 44 days from late July to early September, so I'm sure that won't be a train wreck.

That being the case, even Jonah Keri didn't have a straightforward solution for the Royals:

You see, that's all Dayton Moore accomplished over the winter. He raised the Royals from the American League sewer all the way up to swirling around a flushing toilet (Congratulations, by the way, to the Royals' three All-Stars in Flushing, NY!) but refusing to go down, threatening to clog the stool at best.

In a way, the Royals are in the worst position of all. Face it, there's zero chance they reach the postseason. But they're just good enough and have been so pitiful in the past, the front office is scared to sell off spare parts and push back the "window" Moore crudely constructed by trading for James Shields.

Prior to the Shields trade, 2014 was a reasonable opening for a window to compete. Wil Myers would have been entering his first full season in the bigs. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez would all have another year of experience (for better or worse with Moose). Alex Gordon and Billy Butler would still be around. The club would have had ample money to spend. And with any luck, the development staff would have done its job and produced some — any — arms for the rotation. Meanwhile the Tigers would have aged, the White Sox would be bottoming out, the Twins would be rebuilding and the Indians would be a wild card.

I'm not uncovering anything new in saying that was supposed to be the plan all along until Moore panicked over his job security. Now the Royals are out of contention and, barring a handful of unforeseen prospects emerging by next season to help at second base, the outfield and the rotation, the team will be in the same boat in 2014. Remember, few impact players are expected to be available through free agency. Any Royals prospect of value for trade is in the low minors now. And by the time the Royals are out of contention and elect to deal Shields, they will recover merely a fraction of what they lost to get him and that's assuming he's still healthy and still pitching well.

So 2015 is technically the start of the window. But wait, Shields will be gone one way or another. By 2016, Billy Butler might be gone and the club will feel the effects of Moore whiffing on first round pick Hunter Dozier this year. By 2017, Alex Gordon* might be gone and the franchise will suffer from having a mid-first round pick in next year's draft, rather than an early-first round pick — another result of the damage done by Moore this year.

*I'm guessing Moore didn't budget for this either:

Because of one trade, the Royals aren't just in limbo for the rest of July. They're in limbo for the rest of the decade. Another decade, that is.

While I'm on the topic, I should mention Sam Mellinger wrote a great column for The Star about yet another small market team surpassing the Royals during Moore's tenure. Please read it here.

Mellinger mentioned the Pirates having the huevos to trade Nate McLouth at the peak of his career, even though it seemed he would have to remain a cornerstone if the team were to realistically compete. As it turned out, Pittsburgh couldn't have traded him at a better time and it has reaped the rewards.

So, as Jonah Keri and I discussed as in-depth as we could in 140 characters, Shields would be a prime trade chip this month. If Moore played his cards right and waited for a team desperate enough on July 31, he could probably get back as much as he gave up to the Rays. But doing so would signify throwing in the towel for 2014, thus putting his neck back on the chopping block, which we already know he doesn't have the integrity to do.

Instead, the Royals are left with one legitimate trade chip in Ervin Santana. He would fetch maybe one useful prospect. After that, like Keri said, maybe Chris Getz would fetch Yoenis Cespedes' batting gloves from the Home Run Derby. Maybe. I don't think any team would give up much for Jeremy Guthrie. What's worse, I'm sure Moore thinks he's actually a front end arm. The Royals have never been good at cashing in on relievers, unless you consider the pitcher formerly known as Leo Nunez for Mike Jacobs a success.

Of course, July trades have never really been the Royals' thing. You owe it to yourself to check that link out. Sums up the franchise nicely. Never buying, always selling, and bad at it. And if that truly was the Royals' best July trade, it wasn't made by Moore.

Not even someone who's used to having the answer knows what to do with the Royals at this point. Why is someone who clearly doesn't have the answers still running the franchise?

Fire Dayton Moore
(Please click here to save baseball in Kansas City)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Big Picture: MLB sucks at its job Pt. II

Sunday afternoon I was watching the Royals give away another game — their 49th loss of the season, compared to just 43 victories — and I thought to myself: "I wish there was something else to watch."

Then it hit me: "Oh yeah! The MLB Futures Game is on!"

Well, it was on, but I only caught the last 12 outs of the game. That was just enough time to see both Royals representatives, Miguel Almonte and Yordano Ventura, but looking at this from a broader scope, this is just as troubling as MLB's lack of internet self-awareness, which I wrote about last week.*

*It dawned on me after last week's post that Hunter Pence, whose official website still lists him as a Houston Astro, was a candidate for the Final Vote. He didn't stand much chance against Freddie Freeman and Yasiel Puig, but still. A player whose only hope of making the All-Star Game was based on his internet popularity doesn't even have an up-to-date official website.

What is the second most exciting day in the NFL's season besides the Super Bowl? The first round of the NFL Draft. What lifted the NBA out of the doldrums of the late 1990s/early 2000s? The influx of young talent in the form of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade. Fans appreciate wily veterans. They tune in for young, dynamic players.

Well, MLB's First-Year Player Draft doesn't conduce itself to must-see TV. College baseball isn't popular. High school baseball is a mystery., ESPN and Baseball America scouts aren't household names like Mel Kiper Jr. or Bill Simmons.

On top of that, NFL and NBA rookies make instant impacts. MLB draftees are thrown into the obscurity of the minor leagues. Only years later can they burst onto the national scene like a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper.

The Futures Game is the only realistic opportunity for baseball prospects to make a splash on a national scale. Why the hell is the game on in the middle of a Sunday afternoon while virtually every MLB team is also playing?

The Futures Game should be on at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN the Sunday before the All-Star Game every single year. Let every MLB team play in the afternoon and showcast the Futures Game in the evening. This should have happened years ago and it's a shame it probably hasn't even occurred to Bud Selig.

It would save diehard baseball fans from having to pick between watching their big league club or watching a game that happens just once every year. It would give baseball a chance to attract the more casual fans who probably aren't in front of their televisions in the afternoon. It would make the experience even more special to the players, who would play under the lights, rather than play in the afternoon like they do on get-away days.

The only obstacle I can think of is I think the celebrity softball game and maybe something else takes place after the Futures Game. My response to that is: So what?

I don't need to see the cast of "Grown Ups 2" scamper around a mini diamond in primetime. That event was made for a Sunday afternoon. Right up there with World's Strongest Man episodes from 1997.

Hold still, my All-Star Makeover is just getting started.

How about a skills competition? Hardest fastball. Strongest/most accurate outfield arm, Tom Emanski style. Fastest player from first to third. Catcher throwdowns to second base and pickoff throws to first and third. Infielder with the most range — sorry Derek Jeter. You can probably think of more off the top of your head.

MLB players shouldn't risk injury in a skills competition, you say? Fine. I don't need them. Keep some future stars around an extra day. Have two or three of them go head-to-head in their respective competition. Use the competitions to break up the monotony of the Home Run Derby.

Won't that make the Home Run Derby insufferably longer than it already is, you ask? No. Shorten the derby itself. Keep it at three rounds. Give them five outs apiece instead of 10. Or leave it at 10 outs but make it two rounds. I actually like that option better. Is there anything (excluding the "No Smoking" alert above every seat on an airplane) more unnecessary than the middle round of a Home Run Derby? If every player gets 10 outs, we don't need a second round to find out who deserves to go to the finals.

So, two rounds in the derby. Have half the skills competition before the first round and the second half before the finals. Start it at 7 p.m. ET and viewers will probably get to bed earlier than they do now. And happier.

They'll be happier because the derby itself will be more interesting in addition to being shorter because I'm still not done.

Enough of this "every home run is created equal" stuff. One that wraps around Pesky's Pole is not equal to one that lands in the San Francisco Bay. Give points based on seating tiers or decks in the outfield. Give bonus points for hitting certain ballpark landmarks. Fountain shot in Kansas City? Bonus point. Apple at Citi Field? Bonus point. Non-gang member at Dodgers Stadium? Bonus point.

Heck, let the players earn style points by calling their shot. If they call a foul pole shot and do it, just hand them the trophy and keys to a new Chevy Equinox right there. I would watch that and actually listen to Chris Berman regurgitate the same basic script he's used since the Reagan administration. Right now I have the derby on mute while listening to the Adam Carolla Show podcast and writing this post and texting and negotiating fantasy baseball trades.

And I'm basically the cutoff for generations that still care about the Home Run Derby. If this is all the attention I'm paying to it, it won't be long before the 18-35 demographic doesn't even register in the event's ratings.

At least the All-Star Game itself is flawless and above reproach.

Fire Dayton Moore
(Please click here to help save baseball in Kansas City)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Big Picture: MLB sucks at its job

Last month I noticed a curious headline on the homepage.

Milton Bradley was in some legal trouble — sorry, I should have advised you to sit down before writing that — but rather than refer to him as an "ex-ballplayer" ESPN deemed him "Ex-Dodger."

Bradley, of course, played for eight teams in 12 seasons. The Dodgers were third stop, where he lasted just two years — one of five teams he played at least parts of two seasons with. His best season by far was his All-Star season of 2008 with the Rangers, three years after leaving the Dodgers. He finished his career in Seattle. "Ex-Dodger" is one of a dozen adjectives one could use for Bradley, but certainly not the first one that comes to mind.

There's no logical reason to tie Bradley to the Dodgers in a national headline. More likely, ESPN figured the Dodgers are a marquee team and "Ex-Dodger" will equal more traffic than "Ex-ballplayer."

I must not have been the first one to notice the odd headline as ESPN changed it later on, but the first words of the story description were "Former Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle Mariners outfielder," which is almost even more bizarre.

Whatever the reason, it's ESPN. It's the company's job to promote traffic, so if a buzzword like "Dodgers" works for them, more power to the Worldwide Leader. And it's ESPN's job to help create stories. That's why the "bottomline" this week on its television networks has read something to the effect of, "Puig trails Freeman in Final Vote..." rather than, "Freeman leads NL Final Vote."

ESPN knows what people are interested in — or at least it thinks it knows — and it doesn't hold back on pushing those stories onto viewers and readers. Again, that's what has led to ESPN's success. As much as most of us despise Tim Tebow wall-to-wall coverage, there must be people somewhere who crave it or ESPN would move on.

Major League Baseball, on the other hand, must have no one with ESPN's knack for having a finger on the public pulse.

Who could forget this gem from earlier this year, which features fan favorite Kyle Davies, who must have been the only Royals player captured on camera in a powder blue hat in 2012.

Even the players themselves are strangely out of touch, or maybe just stuck in the past.

It's been two years since Pence played for the Astros. He's on his third team now in San Francisco. If you actually visit his site, it's amateurish at best. I feel like I could have designed it. So, my first assumption was a fan created the site and dropped it after Pence was traded.

However, the "Hunter's Bio" is written all in the first person, leading me to believe Pence had something to do with the site. As does the "Beyond the Field" tab. The "Stats" tab does actually link to Pence's profile.

And this is Hunter Pence we're talking about, not Milton Bradley. It befuddles me. Even if Hunter doesn't stay on top of his site, you'd think his people, his team or MLB itself would. I shouldn't have to frequent to know Pence is known as "Captain Underpants."

Of course, MLB is too busy with this tire fire.

That's right. The show cannot go on until the voters elect one of these five pitchers — all of whom having spent the majority of the season in middle relief roles* — an All-Star.

*I'm not going to get into the sabermetrics of this. Of course many middle relievers are more valuable than many closers, but "closers" carry much more meaning and interest with casual fans.

This cannot happen.

(Author pauses to cast his 18th vote for the AL Final Vote.)

I know Jim Leyland is a crotchety old man who Bud Selig respects to the nth degree and rightfully so. He's probably the kind of guy you pick your battles with. But this is a battle you have to fight.

All Selig had to do was give Leyland a call and suggest taking Ben Zobrist off the team, drawing one of the above five names out of a hat, and letting Zobrist try his luck in a final vote with Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Carlos Santana, Nelson Cruz and Old Hoss Radbourn. Then Bud could send Jim some nice cigars as a thank you. Crisis** averted.

**Or should I say, most pointless online vote in history averted.

Sure, Puig is a compelling story line as the Final Votes are tallied. But that's only the National League. The American League is the other half of the story — or at least should be — so why render it irrelevant?

Instead of pundits debating only whether Puig should make the All-Star Game after playing just a month in the bigs, they could also be talking about Oakland voters rallying to recognize Donaldson for transforming from a minor league catcher to an All-Star third baseman. Donaldson is no Puig when it comes to sexy story lines, but he's a story. Five relievers couldn't be less significant when it comes to attracting masses to your sport.***

***Unless of course there are throngs of people in the Dominican Republic/Detroit, Toronto, New York City, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Japan/Boston on their edge of their seats following this Final Vote.

If anyone has actually visited to partake in the Final Vote, it's been to vote for the National League side and maybe provide their input on the American League while they're at it. As a diehard baseball fan, I think that's sad.

When it comes to ESPN, only two factors force the network to move on from a story. Either people stop caring (the day after the World Cup) or the story dies out on his own and becomes irrelevant (I guess Jeff Francoeur isn't The Natural).

If baseball continues to make itself irrelevant, people will quit caring.

Fire Dayton Moore

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Baby steps

Being a fantasy baseball player, I always read ESPN's Tristan H. Cockcroft's daily columns. Last week he asked for questions via Twitter for his "Sixty Feet Six Inches" column, so I sent one in, using our official Twitter handle here at Lo and behold, he actually picked my question as one to answer:

Not sure how much exposure we actually gained, but it's something.

In other news, I may be appearing on a Kansas City-based baseball podcast in the coming weeks. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime...

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What took so long?

In honor of Dayton Moore taking an excessively long time to finally part ways with his sweetheart, Jeff Francoeur, I've taken my sweet time posting about it.

What is there to say, really? Being the first blogger to point out Francoeur left much to be desired in right field during his Royals career was not going to earn me a Pulitzer. There's nothing to state but the obvious: Francoeur seemed to be a good guy. Francoeur was also a bad baseball player. He was an overpaid baseball player. He was given an incredible amount of undeserved job security, which led to Moore undermining the franchise. Perhaps only one executive in all of baseball believed in Francoeur enough to sign him not only once, but also re-sign him, and that exec just happened to be Moore.

There, I said it. Moving on to what's actually important.

As a result of Francoeur's departure, Johnny Giavotella seems to be getting a long look at second base. David Lough and Jarrod Dyson should receive more consistent playing time. Are these signs that the Royals are still "going for it," are they going to take a conservative, "stand pat" approach and see what happens, or are they prepared to sell off some pieces?

From what I hear*, the Royals are still posturing as a contender. Seeing how they're only 4.5 games behind the now first-place Indians, who are in town, it's hard to justify hitting the eject button on this season just yet.

*I don't listen to local radio, but I've heard Buster Olney mention the Royals as ideal fits for Nate Schierholtz and Chase Utley.

Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt the Royals — without significant additions to the lineup and rotation — will hit the wall and fall out of the playoff picture.

But it's all about timing.

The Cubs fired the first trade shots today. The trade that's getting the most attention is Carlos Marmol going to the Dodgers. That deal is inconsequential. The trade that's getting overlooked is Scott Feldman — an underrated pitcher I would have targeted last offseason — being sent to the Orioles.

I had already planned on continuing my trade scenario series with the Orioles as another club in need of starting pitching the Royals could provide, so I might as well discuss it now.

With Feldman, the Orioles have Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen coming off the DL soon to round out the rotation. That's a decent rotation. But I'm sure the Orioles would like a big arm atop the rotation, seeing how Hammel missed most of last season due to injury and Gonzalez and Chen have already visited the DL this year.

Unlike the Nationals, which didn't seem to have an ideal prospect for the Royals to receive in return for a James Shields or Ervin Santana, the Orioles do. And I'm not even talking about Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman, who the Royals wouldn't be able to get anyway.

I'm talking about Henry Urrutia, a 26-year-old right fielder out of Cuba. Maybe I'm just drunk on Cubans because of Yasiel Puig, but Urrutia has looked good in his first season in affiliated baseball, hitting seven home runs in his first 52 games with a .365/.433/.550 slash line in Double-A. He's scuffling a bit his first five games in Triple-A, but by season's end, he could easily be ready for a call-up. His strikeouts aren't nearly as out of control as fellow Cuban, Yoenis Cespedes, at 39 to 27 walks. In short, I'd say he's one of the better right field prospects who is within a season of making his MLB debut.

The Orioles also have Xavier Avery, who is 23, plays center and left, and has also gone from Double-A to Triple-A this season. He's more speed than power, but at 6'0", 190-pounds, he shouldn't get the bat knocked out of his hands by big league fastballs.

Jonathan Schoop, at 21 years old, is already in Triple-A and can play in the middle infield, ideally second. His stats haven't matched the hype in my opinion, but he did hit 14 home runs in Double-A last year and, given his age, still has time to improve. In short, I would feel better about him as the Royals second baseman of the future than I do about Giavotella or Colon or anyone else near the top of the system.

Depending on who the Orioles might be willing to part with — of those three in particular — I would feel very good about letting go of Shields or Santana. With Shields, especially, it would feel good to stick it back at the Rays seeing how they swindled the Royals over the winter. I'd even throw in Greg Holland, considering Jim Johnson's struggles as the O's closer this year.

But, like I said, it's all about timing.

The Cubs are already selling. Matt Garza could go soon. Ricky Nolasco will leave Miami eventually. Yovani Gallardo could be dealt. What if all these arms are traded while the Royals continue to chase a playoff spot they won't ultimately claim?

I think given the pitching market, even if all those arms do go in the next couple weeks, the Royals will still be in OK position to make a deal. In a perfect world, all those pitchers will be dealt, thus raising the price for any pitcher the Royals might try to trade. As long as the Royals' inevitable collapse comes before July 31, Moore might actually be able to capitalize on their inflated value.

So for now, I'd be fine with the Royals standing pat and seeing what happens with Giavotella and without Francoeur. But I'd be deeply concerned if they splurge for Schierholtz or Utley. If they came cheap, sure, but I doubt Utley would. And if Moore was going to add more pieces, he should have done it long before now.

Doesn't my call for the club to add Michael Bourn seem spot on now? He could have taken over in center, allowing Cain to move to right, and removed all the drama that's surrounded the leadoff spot this season. And it wouldn't have cost the Royals a draft pick, as it did the Indians — who are now in first place.

Maybe Moore was too caught up ensuring Francoeur had as little competition for playing time as possible to realize the rest of the lineup needed some work, too.

Fire Dayton Moore