September 21, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore watches batting practice before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

All I Want for Christmas...

Now is not the time to panic. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

I have two items, not really items I guess…but wishes, on my Christmas list this year. The first is for David Glass to stop being so damn cheap. Wish number two is for Dayton Moore not to panic.

I hate to go back to this well, as I’ve already examined the art of breaking of even, which seems to be all Mr. Glass cares about, but this is just getting ridiculous. According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Royals are burning up the phone lines trying to trade Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. Why the sudden urge to trade these two? To free up money so the team can acquire a (fingers crossed) better pitcher.

I’m not saying the Royals shouldn’t try to trade them. By all means…see if you can find a sucker.  But according the MLBTR report, David Glass told Bob Dutton of the KC Star that the team has to maintain a $70 million dollar payroll…to do what? Say it with me now…BREAK EVEN. This is the part where I get so mad I chuck the closest thing within reach across the room in frustration. Tonight, however, that thing is my cell phone – which I need – so, in an effort to save myself money, just visualize my cell phone shattering into a hundred pieces against the living room wall.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the basic thought process here…especially the part where the team rids itself of Hochevar. It’s that “break even” mantra that kills me. Glass just can’t keep running the team this way, and can’t keep reminding fans that’s all he cares about. We know. We get it. On behalf of every Royals fan out there, I’d like to quote Ben Affleck from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and ask, “When, Lord? When? When’s gonna be my time?”

And here’s the thing – we don’t HAVE to trade Hochevar. We can non-tender Luke, who is arbitration eligible and projected to have a salary in the $4.5-$5 million range, and be done with him. That’s easy money. My fear is that Moore and Glass won’t simply cut ties and let him walk. If you can’t trade him, fine. But either way, it’s time to let him go. It costs nothing to do so. In fact, you’ll actually MAKE money. Money you can use towards a pitcher and maybe stay closer to that break even line.

Does anyone else want Chen? Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Chen is trickier, as he’s got a guaranteed contract for one more year. I’ve been resigned to the fact that he’ll be on the roster in 2013, so I don’t think it’s imperative to move him, but by all means, if some random GM would like Chen on his team – trade the guy. I applaud the effort.

Now I’ll touch on my second Christmas wish, which is for Moore to keep his wits about him and not do something stupid to save his job. Something like…I don’t know…make an awful trade that cripples the franchise, which, hilariously, would probably result in him eventually losing his job anyway. What a cruel twist of fate that would be for DM the GM.

The awful trade I refer to, of course, would be something along the lines of the latest rumors. You know the ones…Wil Myers either goes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester or to the Rays for James Shields. The thought of either trade made me feel like vomiting. Not that either guy is a bad pitcher (although Lester had an awful 2012)…but for Myers? No thanks. Giving up the best hitting prospect in all of baseball for someone who is solid, but not necessarily an ace…it doesn’t make sense, and it goes against that “process” Moore has been telling us about since he came to town.

Having a young player under control – and on the cheap – for the next several years is someone a team in BEM (break even mode) can’t afford to swap out for a player who costs much more, and is only under contract for two more seasons. Both Shields and Lester fit that description. Not only is that going against Moore’s process of building from within via the draft, it also goes directly against the owner’s philosophy. This is the type of deal that, most importantly, makes no baseball sense…but on top of that, makes a hypocrite of Moore. On the other hand…Myers for Matt Moore is something you’d have to think about. But that’s not the point here.

Guthrie at $5M means we have money to burn…Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

I know we need pitching…believe me…I know. But here’s the thing – we’ve got to spend money. This is an ideal time for the team to go out and blow some cash on an ace type of pitcher. Yes, we just took on a large contract with Ervin Santana. And yes, we just signed Jeremy Guthrie for three years. But Guthrie’s contract is back-loaded, and Santana’s is a one-year commitment. For 2013, we owe Guthrie $5 million. That’s all. Go out and make a splash!

Not only does Guthrie’s contract structure make a high dollar signing more affordable for 2013, but Santana being gone makes it affordable in 2014. With a high dollar ace and Guthrie anchoring a 2014 rotation, and (hopefully) a couple of young – and CHEAP – pitchers stepping up and/or bouncing back from injury, spending money makes perfect sense.

If we can get the owner out of BEM, and into the mindset of not only winning, but giving the loyal fans something to really be proud of…and we can keep Dayton from shooting himself in the foot, this team will be on the fast track to respectability. Otherwise, to once again borrow from Mr. Affleck, fans are going to be stuck asking “When’s gonna be my time?” for the foreseeable future.

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Tags: Kansas City Royals Luke Hochevar Wil Myers

  • Bob Ellis

    Give me a break guys…Just non-tender this guy and be done with it…according to MLBTR this morning:

    After speaking to people within the organization, Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star doesn’t expect the Royals to non-tender Luke Hochevar. They are shopping him in trades though.

  • Eric Akers

    I agree with non-tendering him. Looking at the risk to reward, we have

    Option 1: Non tender – lose Hooch

    Option 2: Non tender – sign Hooch on the cheap

    The risk with losing him is that Hooch becomes an excellent pitcher (for the White Sox). If he only ever becomes average, then we don’t care if we lose him because we can replace average with a cheaper version. The risk is that he dos a Cliff Lee or Chris Carpenter change and becomes a number 1/ace type. My issue with this is that both of those guys had a couple of average seasons (WAR wise (BRef)) before turning the corner. Hooch has not had a single one. So I would give the possibility of becoming a number 1 (or even 2) an extremely low probability. I think it is more likely the guy becomes a good closer than a good starter. So, risk of this happening is low.

    The reward of non-tendering seems obvious, he is gone (or at least cheaper).

    • jimfetterolf

      “If he only ever becomes average, then we don’t care if we lose him because we can replace average with a cheaper version.”

      We just paid $8.3m for average. Average is getting expensive.

  • jimfetterolf

    Have heard there is interest in Luke, ace stuff with questionable results, so some GM has a pitching coach who is sure he can fix him. That’s how we got Paulino and even Guthrie, so the thought is at least a couple of low minors arms for Hoch, something similar to the return on Clint Robinson.

    As for cheap, MLBTR did mention a 2/26 offer to a pitcher and another 1/4.5. They’re in the bidding.

    As for clearing space, two reasons; you can never have too much money and the Royals need roster space. They signed Santana, resigned Guthrie, have three starters in rehab with summer return dates, and have Odorizzi and Ventura getting close. That suggests to me that Dayton Moore thinks he’ll get another fresh body and his 2/26 offer, maybe to Dempster, suggest they’ll be able to afford Sanchez.

    As for what Moore and Glass say, it’s been an ongoing issue for the blogosphere that Royals’ management keeps their cards tight and has little interest in “telling the truth”. I agree, both with the judgment and management’s use. Moore gave no signs he was close with Guthrie, Santana was a surprise, and his next signing will be a surprise. He doesn’t negotiate in the media and he doesn’t show his cards. The $70m is just a distraction for the chattering class, including me. I think he actually can go $85m this year without trading Gordon and next year he has $24m off the books plus $26m new media money, so he can dip into that with a small loan from David Glass to the Royals and make a major splash this year. IF Sanchez and/or Greinke would be willing to sign in KC, always a big issue for FAs.

    As for trades to clear payroll space, that may be another distraction. The Oakland/Tampa model has Gordon traded for a boatload of prospects and payroll savings. By claiming poverty, the angst of the fans will be blunted a little when Alex moves on in exchange for some hot young arms and the payroll savings helps the cash flow to sign a #1 or ace. The numbers are all doable.

    • Bob Ellis

      If they non-tender Luke that’s 4.5M in the bank…and if they made a 13M offer to Dempster…adding in that money saved from Luke means we can afford to go up to roughly 18M on a guy, right? So why not non-tender Luke and make a real run at Sanchez at least? if they can trade Luke – fine – but if not…they can’t afford to look at him as someone too valuable to just let go. That’s my fear…is if they can’t trade him, they won’t let him walk.

      • jimfetterolf

        I think they can afford Sanchez’ 6/90 easily, by, as you say, unloading Hoch. By trading Gordon and drawing on both past payroll savings and future revenues, they can afford both Sanchez and Greinke. Hoch has value and Dayton Moore will try to get return for it. If GM Moore decides there’s no value, they non-tender and Luke signs elsewhere because I don’t think he wants to be here. He will pitch in the majors next year.

        • Bob Ellis

          I agree I think he’ll be in the majors…I just hope he’s not wearing Royal Blue. I think the Glass 70M cap number is BS. In my opinion…with the low payrolls he’s rolled out there in the last decade…if 70M is our break even – he’s got money in the bank. He should be able to afford Sanchez and Greinke regardless. And if he cared at all about winning, he’d pony up some cash. He owes the taxpayers a little something after we all decided to pay for his renovations.

          I know…that’s not realistic…but I’m really ticked off at Glass right now. If they unload Hoch – in my opinion, they should go above and beyond to get Zack back here. Tell him the pieces are in place (that weren’t there when he was tired of losing) and he can lead this team back to respectability. Zack, Guthrie, Santana as a 1-2-3 would be pretty nice.

          • jimfetterolf

            “I think the Glass 70M cap number is BS.”

            I think $85m is pretty easy this year, based on savings the previous two years, and with new media money $96m+ next year is simple math. Within that $96m $24m come off the board with the end of the contracts of Santana, Chen, and Frenchy, so no problem for David Glass to make a little personal loan to the team to tide them over to next year.

            Again, all gets down to whether Zack and/or Sanchez want to pitch in KC. We went through this with Mark Davis many years ago when it took a then record contract to get him. We’ll have to overpay and give too many years, that’s a given, but are we willing to give a Pujols’ contract to Zack?

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