Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Not the second baseman we deserved, but the second baseman we needed

If you remember my first post on, and I'm sure you do not, you'll remember I began it with a quote from "The Dark Knight." Today the Royals acknowledged their signing of second baseman Omar Infante and I can't help but think back to another quote from the same film (hint: it's the headline).

According to, the Royals will hold a press conference Tuesday morning to announce the deal, which supposedly will include a team option for 2018. So from what's been reported, Infante will receive a four-year deal worth $30.25 million plus incentives and the Royals will apparently have the option to extend that to a fifth year.

First thing's first: Omar Infante is not a sexy acquisition. Regardless of what you've been led to believe, the Royals could afford 10-years, $240 million on Robinson Cano when you factor in the revenue such a signing would have generated by itself. I already wrote about my desire to trade for Nick Franklin. I'm sure Royals fans have had their hopes set on Howie Kendrick of the Angels since the summer. The Reds have been shopping Brandon Phillips. I personally thought Mark Ellis (1-year, $5.25 million to St. Louis) would have been a decent option. And I seem to remember hearing trade rumors in the past linking the Royals to Gordon Beckham, Jose Altuve and Rickie Weeks.

Some of those players are better than Infante. Some aren't. Most are sexier names, though. Even Ellis has appeal as "the one who got away" after being traded from the Royals to Athletics in 2001 as part of the Johnny Damon dump. However, if the Royals are actually getting Infante for a little over $7.5 million a year, it's hard to argue with the value in signing him compared to chasing down any of the alternatives.

Even though the Royals could have afforded Cano, it would have been a bold move this front office isn't capable of. And Kansas City might not be Cano's favorite hotspot anyway. Franklin wouldn't have come cheap (in terms of trade assets), no matter how dysfunctional the Mariners front office may be. Kendrick would have cost even more in trade assets and will make $18.85 million the next two seasons. The asking price for Phillips wouldn't have been any less than Kendrick and Phillips will make $50 million the next four years (compared to Infante, Phillips is a half-year older and his OPS was 89 points lower than Infante's last season, despite hitting in a much friendlier home ballpark). Ellis is four years older than Infante and the biggest thing he has going for himself is he isn't Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella.

As for Beckham and Altuve, I'd say both would have been long-shots to land simply because the White Sox are apparently refusing to commit to a full-blown rebuild and the Astros seems to be making an effort to be competitive in 2014. As for Weeks, he has the name recognition, but he's been backsliding the last three seasons and I doubt a change of scenery would be enough to reverse that trend for the 31-year-old.

But the one thing I'm absolutely certain of is the Royals could not afford to go into 2014 without upgrading at second base and hope to convince anyone they were serious contenders for a playoff spot.

I've devoted countless words to chastising Dayton Moore for failing to acquire a single serviceable second baseman since he traded away Alberto Callaspo (July 2010). I've devoted nearly as many words to pointing out the faults of Getz and Giavotella. Getz had worn out his welcome in Kansas City and I for one am wholeheartedly in favor of making Giavotella the next Mark Ellis and shipping him off to the first team that expresses interest. Was it fair for Giavotella the Royals never truly gave him a shot to win the job last season? No, but what's done is done and, barring an injury to Infante or Bonifacio, he's just going to be battling Christian Colon for at bats in Omaha now.

In Infante, the Royals may have actually taken advantage of a market inefficiency. Cano signed a contract worth nearly eight times what Infante's deal is supposedly worth. The Tigers gave up Prince Fielder to get Ian Kinsler. The Dodgers were reportedly considering trading Matt Kemp for Phillips. But the Royals snuck in and snagged Infante away from teams such as the Yankees, who also desperately needed a second baseman. And the best part is, the Royals got Infante for almost $10 million less than what he was supposedly asking for going into the winter meetings.

What does Infante bring to the Royals other than his bargain bin price tag?

His age, 31, is in the same neighborhood as all the other openly available second basemen. So even if the Royals exercise his option for a fifth season, he'll only be 36 when that contract runs out (the same age Ellis is now, to put it in perspective). With his addition, Emilio Bonifacio is now freed up to be an uber utility man with a fielding history so long on, it won't even fit on one screen (simply put, he's played every infield position left of first base and every outfield position at some point in his career).

More importantly, Infante's production is surprisingly solid. Last year with Detroit, he slashed .318/.345/.450 with 24 doubles, 10 homers, a handful of steals, just 20 walks in 476 plate appearances, but more importantly just 44 strikeouts. For his career, he's struck out more than 73 times in a season just once (112 times in an inexplicable 2004 campaign). Although his at bats have fluctuated greatly over his career, he's averaged just 51.3 strikeouts per season even with the 185 whiffs he recorded from 2004 to 2005.

The Royals were attracted to Infante for his propensity to be aggressive at the plate, put the bat on the ball and limit his strikeouts. He figures to slide in behind Norichika Aoki as the club's No. 2 hitter, so all he needs to do is set the table for Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Salvador Perez. Anything he can contribute in the form of counting stats will be a bonus. And although we already know Kauffman Stadium won't allow Royals players to walk or hit for power, his counting numbers could improve with the Royals.

Infante has spent parts of eight seasons in Detroit, hitting at Comerica Park. His career home slash line is .274/.315/.385 whereas his career road slash line is .285/.322/.419. It's only a slight difference and maybe his age will offset any uptick he might have experienced otherwise.

But at the absolute worst, the Royals have taken a position that was a black hole last season and filled it with an above-average player at a competitive price. Ben Lindberg of Baseball Prospectus wrote an incredible piece on the Infante acquisition. If you've read this far, you owe it to yourself to read his story.

Lindberg echoed some sentiments I've professed over the past year, but he did some tremendous research as well to illustrate just how abysmal Royals second basemen have been in recent years. You have to read it to believe it.

Infante isn't a player who will overly excite even the most optimistic Royals fan. But he will reverse the trend Lindberg documented. He's more than just a stopgap at second base. He's an instrumental piece of what the Royals hope will be a competitive team.

The Royals lineup and defense appears complete. If Moore wanted to trade an outfielder, he certainly could. But the focus now, without question, should be on adding another starting pitcher — even if it costs the team a draft pick. The Aoki and Infante moves mean nothing if Wade Davis starts any more than three games for the Royals in 2014. Whether they want to admit it or not, the money is there. Whether the desire is truly there remains to be seen.

Fire Dayton Moore

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not as relieved as I thought

If you had told me two months ago the Athletics would trade Brett Anderson but not to the Royals, I probably would have sighed with relief. It's not so much that I don't believe in Anderson. It's not so much that I don't think the Royals could use him.

The talent is there without question. For his career, Anderson has a 3.81 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 7.1 K/9 rate in 450.2 innings (84 appearances/73 starts). He's left-handed, turns 26 in February. The problem is, those stats were accrued over the course of five seasons. Since tossing 175.1 innings as a rookie in 2009, his innings dropped to 112.1 in 2010, 83.1 in 2011, 35 in 2012 and back up a tick to 44.2 in 2013 (although predominantly as a reliever). The culprit? Injuries.

According to Wikipedia, Anderson suffered from forearm soreness in 2009, although it didn't cost him any starts. The next year he suffered a forearm strain, cutting his season in half, and he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011. Even after coming back from TJ in 2012, an oblique strain landed him on the DL. And last year he suffered from an ankle injury/stress fracture in his right foot.

The red flags run up and down Anderson's 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame.

So the knowledge that Anderson would not be breaking down again as a Royal would have been a load off my mind. Plus, any time Dayton Moore can avoid trading with Billy Beane is a plus in my book.

But that would have been my mindset two months ago. On Nov. 21, the Royals inked left-hander Jason Vargas, who will turn 31 the day after Anderson turns 26, to a four-year, $32 million deal. In the best of all possible scenarios, Vargas will be nothing more than dead weight on the Royals' 40-man roster by 2016.

And today the Rockies traded Drew Pomeranz and minor league arm Chris Jensen for Anderson.

Pomeranz is known mostly for being drafted No. 5 overall by the Indians and then traded as part of the deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. Other than that, his professional career has been less noteworthy than Anderson's, with a career ERA of 5.20 and WHIP of 1.54 in parts of three seasons. Jensen will report to Double-A Midland for the Athletics and, at age 23 going into his fourth year of pro ball, is not an especially dazzling prospect. Entering the Oakland organization and exiting Colorado's is sure to help, though.

There's no clear winner in this deal. Pomeranz just turned 25 himself, but the A's will control him for the next five years whereas Anderson will be a free agent in two years (he has a club option for 2015). The A's also save $8 million this season and potentially $12 million in 2015 ($1.5 million buyout). But the Rockies had obviously seen enough of Pomeranz and decided the devil they didn't know was preferable to the one they did.

Ah, but did that $8 million catch your attention? As in the same $8 million amount Vargas will be making this season.

So today, armed with the knowledge that the Royals filled out their rotation with an $8 million nothing of a starter, I am actually disappointed to learn the Royals didn't trade for Anderson.

I'm not saying the Royals should have been the team trading for Anderson today. Depending on the price, which appears to have been reasonable, I'd have taken Anderson today if it meant bouncing Wade Davis to the bullpen. If it would have cost the Royals anyone more promising than Danny Duffy, though, I'd probably have backed out. And from what I read, Beane was adamant about getting at least one starting pitcher back in any deal involving Anderson.

However, if you go back to Nov. 21, that was before the A's had gone coo coo for relievers, trading for Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson. So playing the "what if" game, at that point in time, perhaps Beane would have taken Louis Coleman and a pitching prospect not in the Royals top 15 prospects for Anderson. It's possible.

At that point, Moore would have acquired a pitcher with much higher upside than Vargas for the same monetary amount and an expendable price as far as assets go. And whereas Vargas is sure to be a burden on the 40-man in two years, even at $8 million, there would have been little long-term risk involved with Anderson.

If Anderson had come in this year and been hampered by injuries yet again, a pitcher of Vargas' quality would no doubt have been available midseason via trade. Then after the season you buy out Anderson and look for the next bargain bin arm.

Or, if Anderson's body had finally held up and he pitched as well as he's proven capable, $12 million is an absolutely fair price to pay to bring him back for 2015. After that point Moore have taken a wait and see approach to signing Anderson long-term. Even if Anderson would have walked as a free agent, Moore would have had the peace of mind knowing the $4 million extra he spent on Anderson was money well spent compared to having Vargas for another two years and another $16 million.

That's why if you're the GM of a budget-conscious organization like Moore, you don't throw yourself at the first nondescript free agent that shows interest in you. Those are the players you wait on until January.

November and December are reserved for the bold, savvy moves. As long as they don't involve trading your best hitting prospect for a two-year rental.

Fire Dayton Moore

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Royals fans might cheer Robinson Cano the next time he visits Kauffman

Nearly 24 hours later, Magic Johnson is still the only source to come out and actually confirm Robinson Cano's 10-year, $24 million contract with the Mariners.

However, for all intents and purposes, I think it's safe to say Cano will be in a Mariners uniform on Opening Day 2014. However, this move could have a ripple effect from the Pacific Northwest all the way to Kansas City, if not further.

With the addition of Cano, Nick Franklin now finds himself without a job. Well, without a starting job in the Major Leagues anyway.

For those of you unfamiliar with Franklin, he's a 22-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman who made his Major League debut last season with the Mariners. He was drafted in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft out of high school. By 2011, Baseball America had rated him the No. 53 prospect in baseball. The next year ranked him the No. 54 prospect in baseball while Baseball America left him off their list. But last year he was ranked by both publications, No. 47 by and No. 79 by Baseball America. So pedigree is on his side.

In five minor league seasons he combined to slash .287/.360/459 with 46 homers, 80 doubles, 24 triples, 63 steals while being caught stealing 18 times, and he struck out 338 times while drawing 168 walks. Percentage-wise, he struck out 22 percent of the time while walking 11 percent of the time. However, last year in Triple-A he struck out 20 times while walking 30 times, so he's come a long way since his first full season of pro ball in 2010 when he struck out 124 times and walked 51 times.

In 102 games last year with the Mariners, he slashed .225/.303/.382 with 12 homers, 20 doubles, a triple, six steals, just one caught stealing, and 113 strikeouts (31 percent) to 42 walks (11 percent) in 369 at bats. In the second half of 2013, all of his percentage stats dropped off while his strikeouts more than doubled even though his at bats increased only by 70 percent.

There's a lot to like with Franklin and there are some disturbing numbers as well. So it goes with young talents that are a few tiers below the can't miss prospects.

However, one thing to remember with second baseman is a below average one won't kill you but an above average one can give a significant edge to a team hoping to contend. That's my opinion anyway.* Look at the Royals. They won 86 games last year despite playing Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella at second base for over half the season. And regardless of your feelings on Giavotella, rest assured he's every bit as bad as Getz and, together, they were arguably the worst starting second basemen in the American League last year, if not all of baseball.

*If you don't buy into my theory, consider the fact Cano just received $240 million for his hitting prowess as a second baseman and the fact the Tigers last month traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler, who I might not even rate a Top 5 second baseman, but has proven to be one of the better hitting second basemen in the game.

Even in a little under two-thirds of a season last year, as a rookie, Franklin hit 12 home runs, 20 doubles and stole six bags. In 250 combined at bats (about half a season), Getz and Giavotella produced just one homer, nine doubles, one triple and 16 steals (Giavotella actually only accounted for three doubles and nothing else in those categories). Franklin's 42 walks nearly doubled Getz and Giavotella's combined total of 24. Getz struck out significantly less than Franklin, but he's also seven years older.

Franklin will, or should, develop more patience and a better command of the strike zone with experience. And he should also only add more power to what were solid power numbers as a rookie. As I mentioned, Franklin is a switch-hitter and his numbers were better hitting as a left-hander against right-handed pitchers, which is positive since he'll see righties a majority of the time. But I would expect his numbers as a right-handed hitter against lefties to improve as well with more experience.

If everything breaks right, I could see him developing into something between Brandon Phillips and Martin Prado. But even if everything doesn't, I see him becoming a player of substance. He's not Getz or Giavotella material.

Of course, I'm not the only one who likes Franklin's chances of being a solid Major League contributor and, if I'm right, I'm definitely not the only one thinking about what it might cost to lure him away from the Mariners.

First and foremost, the Yankees could use a second baseman to replace Cano. They don't have the deepest farm system in baseball, but they certainly have enough to afford Franklin and the Mariners and Yankees do have a bit of history trading with one another. The Rays are also rumored to be interested in Franklin as a piece for a trade that could send David Price to the Mariners. If there is any truth to those rumors and I were the Mariners, I would probably explore every possible avenue that could net me Price.

That being said, the Royals might be able to offer a little something of value to the Mariners, as well.

The way the Mariners lineup stacks up right now, it is predominantly left-handed. Cano, Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley are all left-handed. Justin Smoke and Abraham Almonte are both switch-hitters. That leaves Mike Zunino and, if they dare play him, Jesus Montero as their only right-handed bats. That's as of now. Now with Cano in the mix, it's a guarantee the Mariners aren't done shopping.

Scanning over that list, though, the most glaring hole is designated hitter. A hole that could easily be filled by the rotund Billy Butler, who just so happens to be a right-handed bat. Sadly with the season Butler is coming off of, that might be his most attractive attribute to Seattle and he's certainly not in the same class as a David Price. But the pieces fit and maybe the Royals could coax a pitching prospect away from the Mariners, as well, given Butler's history of hitting better than he did in 2013. In this scenario, I imagine talks with Carlos Beltran might heat back up for the Royals.

With the addition of Norichika Aoki on Thursday, that could also free up Lorenzo Cain to be dealt if the front office has lost some love for him with his latest injury woes. And if you look at Seattle's outfield of Saunders, Ackley, Almonte, it's not as if his services couldn't be of use. A Cain for Franklin deal straight up would be agreeable for both teams, I would think.

Other than that, I would be willing to send a Danny Duffy to the Mariners for Franklin, but I'm not sure Dayton Moore would. Actually, I have no idea what Moore values when it comes to pitching, which brings me to my rant for today.

Did Moore not learn his lesson last year with Scott Feldman?

I wanted Moore to sign Feldman last offseason, but instead the Cubs got him on a one-year, $6 million deal and eventually traded him to Baltimore for two decent long-term pieces. Well, Feldman was snatched up today by the Astros on a three-year, $30 million deal.

Feldman is actually five days younger than Jason Vargas, and last year owned a lower ERA (3.86 vs. 4.02), WHIP (1.18 vs. 1.39), an identical K/9 rate (6.5), in more innings (181.2 vs. 150). On a blind resume alone, it's a no-brainer as to which is the better pitcher. It's equally as obvious that at just $2 million more per year, Feldman is the better value and comes with less risk since the deal is a year shorter. A shorter, yet still reasonably priced contract, also makes Feldman more valuable as a trade asset for when the Royals inevitably return to rebuilding mode. At no point in Vargas' tenure with the Royals will he hold any trade value whatsoever.

There is nothing Moore is going to do with those extra $2 million to make it worth signing Vargas instead of Feldman. I wish I had a nickel for every time I said this, but Dayton Moore blew it again.

So far this offseason the Astros have acquired Dexter Fowler and Feldman while Moore has managed Aoki and Vargas. Just another example of why the Astros won't be a laughing stock for long and the Royals will be again before Moore's contract is up.

Moore has a chance to redeem himself by acquiring Franklin, but it goes without saying I'm not holding my breath.

Fire Dayton Moore

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Making sense of the offseason (thus far)

I must apologize for my hiatus. I've actually just come back up for air after a two-month celebratory bender in honor of the 2013 Kansas City Royals. I mean, is it just me or does it feel like not Boston, but Kansas City is the reigning World Series Champion?!

No. It doesn't.

The last time you heard from me, I'd thrown my hands in the air and decided ridiculing Dayton Moore could wait for another day. Almost everything that happened post All-Star break for the Royals defied reason or explanation. Moore's lucky rabbit's foot or whatever he was using at the time skipped warp speed and went straight to plaid as Justin Maxwell belted five home runs and slashed .268/.351/.505 down the stretch for the Royals, for example.

It was simply Moore's year and, although none of the math added up, even I couldn't argue with the results. When the dust settled, the Royals turned in 86 wins, a third place finish and unpunched tickets to the playoffs — 7 games behind American League Central champ Detroit and 5.5 games out of the wild card. You already know this. I basically predicted it. (I officially predicted a fourth place finish behind the White Sox. Those games I expected the Royals to lose to the White Sox but turned out to be victories nosed Kansas City above .500 while Chicago fell off the face of the planet).

But I'm back. So is Ned. And, more importantly, so is Dayton (of course) through 2016. Assume the position.

Up until today, all I had to rant about was Moore doing what Moore does — sign a mediocre pitcher to an excruciatingly long contract to get a bargain price. Giving Jason Vargas four years and $32 million was such a pathetic attempt to replace Ervin Santana, I couldn't muster the energy to return to the blog just yet and I can't even expend much energy on it right now.

Vargas will be a league average pitcher for the first two years of the deal. The final two years, he will make fans wish Moore had just given him an extra $2 million per to cut the length of the contract in half. And compared to my friend and Mariners fan/blogger, whose blog you should visit here, I'm being optimistic.

Vargas is slotted to be the Royals' No. 3 starter and that makes the Royals most optimistic of all. Then again, Wade Davis is penciled in at No. 5, so what difference does it make? And as much as I still hate the Shields-Myers trade (see below), it is downright frightening to think what the rotation will look like in 2015 (a whole lot of Guthrie, Vargas and Davis if Danny Duffy and his younger cohorts don't figure things out fast), let alone 2014.

(From Jonah Keri's Trade Value piece on Grantland, where Myers rated the 23rd most valuable trade asset and Shields went unmentioned. As did Wade Davis.)

Simply put, Vargas is a back-end arm on a contender and a mid-rotation guy on any team that's simply crossing its fingers and hoping for the best. If Moore had developed any arms internally in seven seasons, the Vargas signing never happens and that $32 million dollars goes to fill another hole. Like taking a chance on a pitcher with upside like Phil Hughes (3-years, $24 million) instead. Or maybe toward signing Mark Ellis, which I would be in favor of. Moving on.

Actually, before today, Moore had annoyed me more by what he hadn't done than what he had done this offseason.

The Athletics traded for a reliever not once, but twice. The Tigers, who desperately need bullpen depth, unloaded Doug Fister for the equivalent of a homeless person's shopping cart. And the Houston Astros acquired Dexter Fowler for a back-end arm and fourth outfielder (if only I knew of another team with a storm shelter full of such assets).

I don't know and I don't care why Billy Beane was suddenly falling over himself for relievers. And I'm also not huge believer in Brett Anderson. But would I have coughed up Louis Coleman and a middling prospect for him? Sure. Regardless, I feel a Brett Anderson trade coming and it won't be that cheap now that the A's bullpen is set.

As for Fister, according to Ken Rosenthal, many GMs were unaware Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was shopping the lanky stat-head darling. I have no doubt Moore had his head in the sand on the matter and I have quite a bit of doubt Dombrowski would have felt compelled to deal Fister within the division. However, I'd have offered up Greg Holland and Johnny Giavotella without thinking twice about it and that would have been a better return than what the Tigers ultimately received for Fister.

Finally with Fowler, who was traded for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes, would have only added to the Royals stellar defense and could have allowed Lorenzo Cain to shift to right field and maybe stay healthy in 2014. If Moore had been so inclined, he easily could have topped the Astros' offer with Jarrod Dyson and Duffy and, even with the Royals' rotation in its current state, I still would have paid that price. Duffy has potential but has proven nothing. Fowler has more potential and has proven a little bit.

Fowler would have been a "want" acquisition. Fister would have filled a need (and sent Davis to the pen). And it just would have felt nice to feel like Beane got duped, trading any starting pitcher for any reliever. These are the kind of deals I wish Moore were capable of, but I simply don't think he is.

That is, until I woke up this morning. The news that the Royals had acquired Norichika Aoki from the Brewers for Will Smith shook me to my core.

Moore had somehow acquired a leadoff hitter. He'd landed a decent defender capable of playing all three outfield spots. He'd brought in a left-handed bat he shouldn't have to platoon. And, most astonishing of all, he had added an on-base wizard. Norichika Aoki. The first Japanese-born player to play for the Royals since Darrell May.*

*Not true

Aoki has spent two years in the Majors, posting a .355 OBP in 2012 and a .356 in 2013, so there's no reason to expect anything but the same from him hitting in front of Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and (maybe) Billy Butler.

He fits the leadoff prototype after leading MLB with 40 infield singles last year and 140 base hits, which led the National League. Even more impressive, his .339 average against left-handed pitchers was the highest for any left-handed hitter, so David Lough appears to be out of a job and that's OK with me. (Lough served his purpose and Moore would have been foolish to go into 2014 expecting the same production from him, but more on this situation later.)

As someone who hated the way the Royals toyed around with Mark Teahen, I shared similar sentiments with how Gordon was constantly shuffled around the lineup. So I'm pleased he will be able to settle into the middle of the order next year.

And considering how brittle Cain has proven to be, it doesn't hurt to have an everyday player capable of manning center field (sorry Jarrod — although Gordon would probably be capable).

Suffice it to say, Thursday's trade was the most pleasantly surprising move from Moore since he brought in George Kottaras last offseason. Kottaras, of course, posted a .349 OBP last year and added five home runs in just 100 at bats, yet most Royals fans are probably still under the impression he was a bust. Moore didn't completely disagree when he let Kottaras go in November to the Cubs for cash considerations.

The only catch with the Aoki move is his stay in Kansas City, like Kottaras', is almost certain to last just one season. He will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Meanwhile the Brewers will have Smith under team control through 2019.

However, I'm not that concerned about either factor. Shields will also be gone after 2014 so, barring a miracle, the Royals are on a collision course for a rebuild project in 2015. If that doesn't happen, Aoki may become as enthralled with Kansas City as Ervin Santana appeared to be and actually resign with the Royals. As for Smith, I see him as a decent bullpen arm and nothing more. Well, maybe a little more in the National League. Regardless, he wasn't a key building block for the Royals' future (you know, LIKE WIL MYERS!).

I'm actually more concerned with how Aoki might regress in other offensive categories aside from OBP. His doubles dropped from 37 to 20 last year. Overall, his slugging went from .433 to .370 and his OPS went from .787 to .726. His average and OBP stayed essentially the same because his singles increased from 99 to 140 and his walks went from 43 to 55. And even if he hit .339 against lefties in 2013, he slashed .264/.345/.357 against righties, which he faces a majority of the time.** Also his steals decreased from 30 to 20 while he was caught stealing 12 times in 2013 compared to just eight in 2012.

**I don't know what would be more profound: Lough platooning with Aoki even though they both hit left-handed or Maxwell platooning with Aoki, meaning Aoki faces lefties as a left-handed hitter and Maxwell faces righties as a right-handed bat. As crazy as it sounds, Maxwell slashed .262/.335/.462 last year and hit six of his seven homers against righties. Lough slashed .284/.310/.408 with three homers against righties last year.

So his power and speed are both dropping substantially. The speed might stay the same, but we already know Kauffman Stadium is a black hole for power. And, now that I think about it, we can't be too sure Kauffman won't negate Aoki's ability to walk.

But seriously, let's call Aoki what he is: a rental. And he certainly appears to be more serviceable than most of the rentals Moore is known to acquire. Because of the corner Moore painted the Royals into with the Shields trade, a move like this needed to be made to improve the Royals chances in 2014 and Aoki does just that while losing Smith does little to undercut the Royals beyond 2014.

So far this offseason Moore has made one poor move and one decent one. He says the team isn't done yet (which is so sad that he even has to say after adding Jason Vargas and Norichika Aoki), so we should have many more opportunities in the near future to...

Fire Dayton Moore