Superfluous Alex Gordon photo. Credit: Minda Haas (

Kings of Kauffman Mailbag - Ep. 4

Spring Training has opened for the 2012 season and as is with every other opening to a new campaign, hope has sprung eternal. Although maybe, just maybe, this year is a little different than those of years past, and the 2012 version of the Royals truly will either compete for the AL Central title, or give all fans that bright and shining beckon that the good times are finally upon us.

All the stories about expectations, exciting new contracts, and the first of what will probably be many lineup projections have been written, it’s time to answer some of the emails. As always, drop a line to [email protected]. On to the bag:

Why haven’t the Royals signed Gordon to an extension yet? Jeremy, Kansas City

I’m starting with this question because, well, for obvious reasons. A couple of days ago when the Royals released a statement saying they were calling a press conference for a “big announcement”. Almost immediately everyone thought it was to reveal their shiny new contract for left fielder Alex Gordon. Alas, it wasn’t, and so now after Gordon did agree on his one-year tender, we’re all left to wonder if the long-term deal with the club will ever happen.

I think it will happen. Most think it will happen. Though, the fact that we’re now at the beginning of Spring Training and no announcement has been made, or even rumor of an announcement, is a bit worrisome. Even though the Royals are very, very good at keeping information under wraps, you would think a contract announcement that’s being anticipated like the Gordon deal, they would be all over letting the public know that at least something is in the works. Then again, that’s not their M.O., so who knows.

Obviously there’s some hang up, and it’s probably over money, which is to be expected. Gordon was a pretty average player until last season, so the argument is clearly between paying Gordon for his career year (like the Royals did with Jeff Francoeur) or for the years prior when he was decidedly less valuable. The Royals, really, are in a tough spot here.

If Gordon reaches free agency after the 2013 season and performs at even 85% of last year’s statistic over the next two seasons, he will be a very hot commodity. Very. So much so that he may price himself out of Kansas City altogether. The Royals on the other hand, can’t necessarily take the chance of inking Gordon to a deal now, and paying him at or around what his market value will be at the end of next year, and have him revert back to the player he was before 2011. They’re not in all that enviable of a position.

Dayton Moore has been questioned a number of times for his ability to read the market and sign players accordingly. With Gordon, he will be tested greatly. He’s in a tough spot.

Would you trade Billy Butler for Ivan Nova? Grant, Kansas City

This is from a while back when the rumor was going around that the Yankees were eyeing Billy Butler, and may in fact make a play for him to fill their DH role.

For Nova specifically, there’s no way I would trade Butler. I had a conversation before with a Twitter pal who writes FanGraphs amongst other sites about whether or not he would trade Butler for James Shields of the Rays. The conclusion that we both came to, if I’m remember correctly at this point, is that there are really very few pitchers we would require in return for #CountryBreakfast. (That is, of course, the perceived “available” pitchers.)

As I’ve written before on this site, and Jeff Parker has written at Royally Speaking, Butler is in reality a damn good baseball player. Damn good. And whatever limitations he may have with a glove on his hand – which are more or less irrelevant at this point – he more than makes up for by being one of the best hitters in the game. AND, he’s not yet 26. That’s pretty good stuff, people.

So would I trade Butler for Nova? No. For one, Nova isn’t that good and is mostly a product of being able to pitch on nights when they let the Yankees bat. For two, Butler is good. We should stop trying to fabricate trades to get the guy out of town.

How excited are you to start your Royals franchise on MLB The Show 12 in a couple weeks? – Brendan, Valencia, CA

If they make Alex Gordon a freaking “B” potential again this year, I will throw a massive hissy fit.

Have you read The Art Of Fielding yet? – John, Kansas City

I have not but it is on my to-do list for this summer. I’ll have a week of semi downtime in May when I go on my Honeymoon (yikes, I’m getting married), so I’m thinking that will be a good time to get into it.

Without spoiling it for me, what are everyone’s thoughts?

Loved the Buck article. – James Bereolos

Thanks James! All credit to that one goes to Alan. Everyone, read it here.

It’s amazing how many people that grow up in-and-around Kansas City have met Buck at least once in their lives. I was fortunate enough to have him give me an award at a Ban Johnson banquet a number of years ago.

After giving me the award the banquet went onto it’s normal fare and everyone had their laughs and what not. Buck even stood up and gave a five minute speech about his mom and how she used to encourage him to chase his dreams of playing baseball. Then after everything was over, he made a point to come up to me, to congratulate me again.

Buck went on to say that he had heard a lot about me (I doubted that was true), that he really liked the way I pitched (having never seen me pitch, that I know of), and that he would like to take a picture with me. I was flabbergasted. I was beside myself. It wasn’t so much that Buck said he knew who I was or that he liked how I pitched – because I was still pretty sure that none of that was actually true – but that here was a man that was the center of attention in this room, and all he could think of doing was to make me feel good about myself. That was pretty cool.

And I still have that picture.

We could probably go on for days on this site with all of our stories about Buck. In fact, that doesn’t really sound like a bad idea at all.

If the Royals were a ruthless dictator, which dictator would they be? – @oldmanduggan, NOT Dallas

You’re very weird. Very. But you like Aaron Sorkin and hate “How I Met Your Mother”, so you’re good by me.

If the Royals were a member of Guns ‘N Roses, which one would they be? @oldmanduggan, on a boat

Seriously, man. Weird.

But Slash, definitely. Lots of attention and popularity within his base of people, and the guy that’s easily made fun of for being a train wreck outside of that base. It fits.

You don’t like Yuni talking to all the youngins around the batting cage about how to properly hack away and pop up the first pitch? – Adam, Kansas City byway of Iowa

This is old but I still get a kick out of it. And I still don’t understand the need to spend guaranteed money on Betancourt. Just don’t.

Are you more excited about our wedding or the baseball season? – Sara, Aliso Viejo, CA

Um, uh, um, uh.

That’s Yankee weekend, we’ll have the game on during the ceremony, right?

What do you think the Royals record will be this year? – Tom, Kansas City

78-84. I think. Maybe.

Starting pitching is still a concern, and I’m curious to see how long the Royals stick with the traditional “proven closer” idea with Joakim Soria if he struggles out of the gates. I know Ned Yost has been hinting at other possibilities, but that’s one of those things I’ll have to see to believe. Traditional baseball thought processes and applications die hard.


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Tags: Alex Gordon Alex Gordon Contract Baseball Billy Butler Buck O'Neil Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC Kok Mailbag Royals

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