Five players have been designated for assignment in the last 3 days. All five times my initial reaction was that the Royals would be a better team if they claimed each particular player. It is a sad state of affairs at the major league level for the Royals these days. Even Sidney Ponson throwing 6 shutout innings can’t stop the season from drowning in the sewer. As of today, only the Nationals and Padres are keeping the Royals from being the worst team in all of baseball and I’m not so sure KC would win a series against the Padres if they played this week. With that rosy backdrop in place, here is a breakdown of the 5 DFA’d players and my brief thoughts on each.
On Friday the Colorado Rockies designated RHP-Ryan Speier for assignment on his 30th birthday. Happy birthday to you Mr. Speier. In 99.1 ML innings pitched over 4 seasons, the 6’7″ pitcher has accumulated a 3.99 ERA, 1.470 WHIP, and ERA+ of 117. With 42 BB and 58 SO in his ML career, control is an issue, but with the state of the Royals bullpen, taking a flier on him would be an excellent decision. In 2009 Speier has thrown just 5.2 IP before being DFA’d. He had spent most of the season on the DL with an injured left hamstring. Speier was once a top relief prospect in the Rockies organization prior to having major shoulder surgery which caused him to miss the entire 2006 season. His minor league numbers support his once lofty status. In 352.1 innings pitched in the minors he has a 3.35 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, and 2.62 K/BB. His 2009 ERA+ of 95, in an admittedly small sample size, would rank 4th in the Royals bullpen behind Soria (264), Mahay (104), and Farnsworth (101). He isn’t arbitration eligible until the 2011 season, so he could be an affordable, solid, and semi-long term option for the team. The potential snag with Speier is that he has value to other teams as well and since NL teams have first shot to claim him off of waivers it seems doubtful the Royals will have a chance at him. If they get the chance, Dayton Moore should definitely put in a claim. Since Horacio Ramirez was claimed by the Nationals after the Royals cut ties with him, I would be stunned if Speier goes unclaimed through all the NL teams.
RHP-Chad Paronto, who will turn 34 this week, was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros yesterday. In 7 seasons and 179.0 ML innings pitched he has accumulated a 4.27 ERA, 1.441 WHIP, and ERA+ of 102. Over 14 seasons in the minors and 866.2 IP he has a 3.92 ERA and 1.440 WHIP. At Triple-A Round Rock this season, in 32.1 IP, he had a 1.67 ERA and 0.959 WHIP. His 2.1 IP with the Astros did not go well, but there are some ML average innings still left in his arm. Acquiring Paronto would be akin to adding another Jamey Wright to the team, but the Royals will probably have a chance to claim him if they want to. Personally I’d take a pass on him in favor of Speier but he could be a slight upgrade if added to the roster. Still I’d rather see them give a chance to someone else pitching in Omaha who can probably provide equivalent, or better, results.
1B/OF-Mark Kotsay was waived by the Red Sox on Friday. The team had 48 hours to trade or release him and that window has now passed, but I haven’t seen any update on his status. Kotsay is now 33 years old with a 98 OPS+ and 0.281/.336/.413 line during 13 seasons in the majors. In 2009 he was hitting 0.257/.291/.324 and had an OPS+ of 58. The Red Sox were paying him $1.5 million and he is a free agent again this offseason. Since 2005 his OBP has ranged from 0.291-0.332 so he would fit in with the Royals in that regard. At this point in his career and at this point in the Royals season, Kotsay just isn’t worth taking a chance on.
A far more intriguing option for the Royals is 26 year old OF-Josh Anderson who was designated for assignment by the Detroit Tigers on Friday morning. He was hitting 0.242/.282/.315 with a 56 OPS+ in 165 AB for the this year, but it should be noted that he was adjusting to the AL after playing with Houston in 2007 and Atlanta in 2008. In his brief major league career over 368 AB, Anderson is a 0.283/.327/.372 hitter and his 114 and 101 OPS+ the previous 2 seasons show some promise. In 2,967 minor league at bats he has hit 0.294/.344/.378 and has 280 SB in 6 seasons down on the farm. The knock on Anderson is that he lacks patience at the plate, but that is a relative assessment. He may lack patience in the eyes of most of the other ML teams, but he’d be a significant offensive upgrade for Kansas City. He can play all 3 OF positions and would give the Royals a basestealing threat with legitimate upside. At worst he’d be a nice upgrade over Mitch Maier and/or Jose Guillen. Anderson isn’t arbitration eligible until 2012 and would be under team control through 2014 if everything went well. The Royals should definitely put in a claim on him, and since he was DFA’d by an AL team, the Royals have their chance.
25 year old OF-Wladimir Balentien was designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners. In 401 AB he has hit 0.209/.260/.359 and has an OPS+ of 65. The biggest knock on Balentien is that he lacks plate discipline, but along with that comes the potential of plus-power at the major league level. In 2,131 AB in the minors, he has hit 0.273/.345/.526 while never hitting fewer than 16 HR in any of his 6 seasons down on the farm. Last season for Triple-A Tacoma, Wladimir hit 18 HR in 233 AB. He’s not the greatest defensive player in the world, but he can play all 3 OF positions and isn’t a liability with his glove. Balentien isn’t arbitration eligible until 2011 and is definitely worth taking a chance on.
Kotsay and Paronto would probably help out this season, but their long term prospects leave a lot to be desired and because of that adding either player just doesn’t make sense. On the flip side, Balentien, Anderson, and Speier would all be upgrades for Dayton Moore and the Royals in the immediate and long-term future. Hopefully they have the foresight to claim at least one of them.
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In closing, I wanted to take a moment to mention several new blogs to the FanSided.com Sports Network:
Teddy Never Wins is our new Washington Nationals (MLB) blog
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We’re Bucked is our new Milwaukee Bucks (NBA) blog