Kings of Kauffman Mailbag – Ep. 3


It’s been a while since I’ve answered some questions from our loyal readers, and it’s about time I fix that problem. Since the last edition, many things have happened on the Royals landscape including the trade for Jonathan Sanchez, and the signing of free agent Yuniesky Betancourt. Both created quite the stir among the fan base for their own reasons, but one thing was clear with both of them:

The 2012 season cannot start soon enough.

There’s still plenty of offseason to go though, and even though all Royals fans would rather be watching Eric Hosmer‘s first swings of the new year, there’s still plenty of news with the team to talk about. So let’s get to it.

As always if you want to join in on the fun, drop us a line at [email protected], or shoot a tweet to @KingsofKauffman. Now, on to the emails:

Is there a real possibility the Royals sign Roy Oswalt? What would it even take? Something like a one-year deal for somewhere between $12-$15 million? – Jeff, Shawnee, KS

There’s been no shortage of words written about the Royals and Roy Oswalt on this site here, here, and here, and I’m probably even missing one. And I’m also sure that there’s been a whole-tonnage of words written about Roy Oswalt on any number of team blogs. For this offseason, he’s buy low free agent of choice. (However “low” you can consider $15MM that is.)

As far as the Royals are concerned I would think there is almost no way they sign the free agent pitcher. Even though he would seem to fit this team and how they are constructed now, I’m just not sure he would either fit the philosophies of the organization, or what’s more important, anything that would appeal to Oswalt at this point in his career.

Even though he is “open to a one-year deal”, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s open to a one-year deal with a team that has no realistic shot at competing for the playoffs, going deep in the playoffs, or winning the World Series.

Given the circumstances and the information we can all find on the pitcher, he’ll probably end up with the usual players in this sort of thing like the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, or possibly a team like the Cardinals.* Even though he’s trying to rebuild his value for a longer-term contract, I would still doubt that he would do that rebuilding for a team like the Royals. At least, where they are at this point.

*A thought I had while reading over this again is Anaheim. Think of it like this: Angels trade Ervin Santana for either a)bullpen help or b)natural third baseman and then spend the money to bring in Oswalt. Seems pretty conceivable to me. And for those that don’t think the Angels would spend that amount of money after signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, you’re underestimating how much money Arte Moreno has and how much money is in the Orange County market.

If he would take a shot with the Royals, I would think that dollar amount would be the starting point of the negotiations. Which, also, is why I figure he doesn’t fit with the Royals.

Who do you think is the starting second baseman for the Royals out of Spring Training? In June? In August? – Kenny, Kansas City, MO

To start the year in Anaheim, it’s 90-10 Johnny Giavotella. He probably doesn’t even have perform all that well in Spring Training and he’ll still be handed the job out of camp.

The real question begins with the season and with the Royals record through the first two months. If he struggles to start the year, he almost has to be sent down to AAA, right? It fits the Dayton Moore mold to do something like that, and it isn’t like Giavotella has ever really been an upper-level prospect. Struggles should be expected for the guy.

If those struggles are coupled with success for the team, he’s absolutely getting replaced. Part of the problem with the “Mission2012” campaign is that fans of backed themselves into a corner thinking this year has to be the year, even if it isn’t. And with the talent of the other teams in the division, and how they’re probably starting to take a step backwards (other than Cleveland) the window to compete may be starting to show a crack come June, and there will be pressure from fans to bust it open and go storming through. Even if the time just isn’t right.

So, if I had to really put a name with a date: out of Spring Training, Giavotella; start of June, Betancourt; start of August, Giavotella, once the team has started to fade from true contention. And somewhere in there, if this farm system truly is amazing, Christian Colon needs to be included.

I still don’t understand all the hatred over the Betancourt signing. He’s only going to be a backup. – Derek, Georgia

The signing of Betancourt has been hashed and rehashed on this site both with the posts and in the comment threads, so there’s no need to get too deeply into it again. (Just click around!)

But the two main points that I think Michael Engel and myself have tried to express are these:

1)   How can anyone be so sure Betancourt was signed to be just a backup when there’s been plenty of evidence throughout the Dayton Moore regime that he loves him some utility-guys-turned-regulars. The fear being that even though it was said Betancourt was signed as a backup he’ll still turn into a 300-400 at bat regular when there’s nothing about his skill set that says he should be. It may not be the fairest of arguments to not take the Royals GM at his word, but it’s still applicable given what we know of the situation and this organizations affinity with terrible players that are “good clubhouse” guys.

2)  The Royals will be paying a guy $2MM when there is someone on the AAA roster of each team that can do exactly (or better) the things that Betancourt can do, and they would all make league minimum. That’s my beef. Yes, when the roster gets better, the backups get better, and sometimes you need to pay a little extra for the backup that can do multiple things. But Betancourt isn’t Mark McLemore, and his flexibility is laughable when he can’t even play the one position the Royals will need him to be able to play most, shortstop.

My phone auto-corrects “Yuni” to “junk”. Fitting – @RegalAthletic1

(nods head)

Heath Bell gets overpaid to sign with the Marlins. Papelbon gets overpaid to sign with the Phillies. Isn’t this the best time to trade Soria? – @jjmbaseball7

Probably. Though in reality – and this is something Greg Schaum has been talking about for a while – the real “time” to trade Soria would have been the instant he become known as a “shutdown closer” and the Royals weren’t winning.

As far as this year, I can understand the argument that Soria makes this team better and having him at the end of an already strong bullpen is quite a weapon to have. But when you consider the market for closers and what they were going for in free agency, the time to trade Soria would be now and not until after Oakland unloads Andrew Bailey.

If I had to tie down one complaint of Dayton Moore during his regime (and believe me it would be hard to tie myself to just one) it would be his inability to manipulate the market in his favor. He paid for the career year with Jeff Francoeur instead of seeing what the market would have to say about a lifetime .319 wOBA corner outfielder, and he’s held on to Joakim Soria while his salary has gone up and the team’s need for him has stayed the same.

Plus, it can’t be said enough how entirely overvalued relief pitchers are, especially closers because they’re at the height of the narrative. You’re talking about a guy who will throw at most 80 innings in a season.

If Soria can be traded to fill a position on the team that won’t or can’t be filled at a high level by a player from the minor leagues (ahem, second base) then it’s a no-brainer. Trade away.

As an A’s fan, I would have really like to have seen Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery in return for Gio Gonzalez. – @davidwiers

Yeah, I bet you would have. And I’m (pleasantly) surprised that it didn’t happen. But, in celebration, pop in that CD of Billy Beane’s daughter singing and rejoice in the fleecing he did of the Nationals.

What do you think about the Royals letting go of Frank White? – John, Kansas City, MO

I’ll end with this because it’s something I’ve been reluctant to get into while Engel did such of good job of it (and used a SportsNight reference no less) and I haven’t really figured out my thoughts on it yet.

What went down with Frank White and the Royals certainly isn’t something any of us wanted to happen. Frank White is from Kansas City; grew up in Kansas City; played baseball for the Kansas City Royals. All of those things make him a fantastic centerpiece for the franchise and the type of person that fans of the Royals can look up to. None of those things mean that he is Kansas City, however.

There’s a good chance none of us will every really know what happened between White and the organization other than that White was fired from the organization, and he’s not at all happy about it. As with many things in situations like this, one side is doing all the talking, and the other side isn’t saying a word. And that is probably how it will always stay. Or at least it should.

Some of the things that Frank White has said about the organization and the way they’ve treated him are probably true. Some probably aren’t true but rather just how he perceives the situation. This isn’t unlike when you hear someone talk about an encounter while driving, and their account of the actions of the other person seem a little too outlandish to really believe. Many times in situations like these, how a person feels embellishes what really went down.

No matter what the case is, I’m not sure what about Frank White’s career entitles him to a position with the organization, or as part of the broadcast team. The Royals, after all, are simply running a business and they felt that for the sake of their business, it would be best for Frank White to no longer be a part of things. Is it sad? I guess. But in reality, if White wanted to keep his job with his employer, he should have done more to give them a reason to keep him.

And simply being from Kansas City, growing up in Kansas City, and playing for the Kansas City Royals, is not a good enough reason.

 

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Tags: Frank White Firing Joakim Soria Kok Mailbag Roy Oswalt Yuniesky Betancourt