Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Every silver lining has a cloud

Maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest. Maybe it's because I'm a Kansas City sports fan. Maybe it's because I have a mental illness (most likely). Regardless, whenever things are going well, I brace for detonation. I assume it's all about to blow up in my face.

Oh, you're starting to have feelings for that girl? Wait for it. She's even crazier than you and has actually been stock-piling things you do that annoy her like a survivalist hoarding canned goods and she's about to tell you about them all. Oh, you left with time to spare for that job interview? Wait for it. Traffic is going to be backed up for no reason and everyone else on the road is going to drive like zombies with nowhere to be but in your way. Oh, that Pad Thai tasted as good as any you've ever had? Wait for it. That chicken wasn't fully cooked.

I don't wish this worldview on anyone, but mine probably isn't going to change without professional help any time soon. Which leads me to the Royals offseason.

To this point, my biggest complaint was throwing a 4-year, $32 million contract in the direction of Jason Vargas before the offseason had seemingly even begun (Nov. 21 to be exact). Other than that, Dayton Moore has pretty much proven capable of running a Major League team.

Then today reports surfaced that had observers singing Moore's praises as being "ahead of the curve." The reports were that Dayton Moore and the Royals created $3 million in payroll space for the 2014 season by restructuring Jeremy Guthrie's contract.

Instead of making $11 million in 2014, Guthrie will make the same $8 million Vargas will make. In return, the Royals and Guthrie have a mutual option for 2016 worth $10 million and if the Royals decide to decline, there's a $3.2 million buyout. In other words, when the Royals decide not to bring Guthrie back after 2015, he will have earned $200,000 "interest" on the $3 million he forfeited this year.

Yes, on the surface, this looks like an incredible windfall for Moore and the Royals.

"Yay, the Royals have a whopping extra $3 million to spend on free agency! Surely that will bridge the gap to bringing back Ervin Santana!!!"

I'm sure these are the inner thoughts of the average Royals fan. However, the deeper I dig, the more skeptical I become. Here's why:

  1. Moore stated Guthrie agreed to restructure back in November. He didn't offer an exact day, but it stands to reason it was before the Vagas deal.

    So if we continue under that assumption, why the hell did the Royals bother signing Vargas if they knew they had an extra $3 million to play with? They could have brought in Scott Feldman instead for the 3-year, $30 million deal the Astros gave him and acquired a more complete and capable pitcher with a shorter commitment.

    Or the Royals could have passed on the likes of Vargas and Feldman altogether and saved those theoretical $11 million (from Guthrie and Vargas) and used it as the base for an offer to Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza.

    In short, for Moore to enter the offseason knowing he had $3 million coming off Guthrie's deal and still make Vargas his first acquisition makes even less sense than it did at the time. And to be clear, it made no sense to sign a pitcher of Vargas' caliber in November.
  2. There is no guarantee Moore spends this money wisely.

    It can easily be argued Moore has already misspent the $32 million he committed to Vargas. I'm not going to speculate as to who Moore might be targeting as Spring Training approaches. For all we know, he's combing the Dominican Summer Leagues for the next Miguel Tejada. And there's no guarantee such a signing would work out so well this time around.

    But looking at the roster and non-roster Spring Training invites, the Royals are set at catcher and around the infield. I'm not in love with an outfield of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Norichika Aoki with Justin Maxwell coming off the bench, but it's hard to imagine upgrading from that foursome at this point. Giancarlo Stanton ain't walking through that door.

    The bullpen is probably still overstocked, so there shouldn't be any new developments there unless it has to do with shipping someone out. So that leaves...drumroll...upgrading a starting rotation that still includes Wade Davis.

    With the payroll now reported to be a little below $90 million, though, unless ownership is willing to approach or surpass $100 million, that $3 million is merely a fraction of what it would cost to bring in a difference-making arm.

    If anything, that $3 million will only grease the wheels in a Kendrys Morales deal that would make no sense.*

    *If you follow us on twitter (@FireDaytonMoore) maybe you've seen my take on the Morales rumors already. If not, well, I think signing Morales would be one of the most foolish things Moore has ever done as Royals GM. First, it would cost the Royals their first round draft pick in 2014. Secondly, and most obviously, the team already has an accomplished DH in Billy Butler. Third, while it might sound ideal to be able to sign Morales and turn around and trade Butler for an impact starting pitcher, I would just like to know what team that needs a DH is going to ignore Morales' presence but fall over itself to trade anything of value for Butler (who has a $12.5 million option for 2015 and then becomes a free agent). No team, that's what.
    What worries me most about Morales is I've seen the reports that have listed the Royals as a team seriously pursuing him. And if there's one thing about Dayton Moore, it's that where there's smoke, there's usually fire. There were whispers about the Wil Myers-for-James Shields deal long before it went down. And no matter how asinine a move might seem to the average observer, Moore is still fully capable of pulling the trigger. See: Jeff Francoeur, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Sanchez.

    So believe it or not, this payroll relief could do more harm than good.
  3. Finally, there's no guarantee Moore is going to sign anyone.

    In all likelihood, he's already made the moves he wanted to make with this salary flexibility. The Vargas and Omar Infante signings both came after the agreement with Guthrie. So did the Aoki and Danny Valencia trades.

    As boring as it might sound, perhaps that $3 million simply allows the Royals to retain the services of Emilio Bonifacio, who some thought might be moved to free up a spot on the 25-man roster.**

    **If the Royals elect to go with 13 pitchers, it's going to be a tight fit filling out the other 12 spots and that's even when you assume Jarrod Dyson is out of the outfield mix. Personally, if there's any team that would benefit from having 13 position players, I think it's the Royals. And, personally, if there's any team that could get by with 12 pitchers, I think it could be the Royals. At least until Davis' first start of the season.

When it comes down to it, there were probably too many words written or spoken about Guthrie restructuring his deal compared to what will result from it. Most likely, Royals fans have already witnessed the fruits from Guthrie's generosity. I suspect it might have been crucial to the Infante signing, so for that, Guthrie is to be commended.

But as far as I can tell, unless a handful of Guthrie's teammates step forward and make a similar gesture, the Royals' next big move isn't going down until July, if even then. And if that disappoints you, be careful what you wish for. Moore could still sign Kendrys Morales and suddenly you'll find yourself looking at a team with two designated hitters that nobody else wants.

A Dayton Moore bomb is going off. It's just a matter of time.

-Fire Dayton Moore

No comments:

Post a Comment