Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Royals Chen Music May Doom Moore and Yost

It is official.  The Royals have cornered the market on mediocre starting pitching.

A steadfast, resilient, laser-like focused process for stock piling number five quality hurlers has been key.  In a way, I feel we have won the mediocre starting pitcher World Series.  Make Believe GMDM

I will hand it to the Royals, they really got my attention when they signed Bruce Chenand designated Emilio Bonifacio for assignment.  Sometimes somebody or something becomes so blah, so amazingly ordinary, it becomes interesting.  Let’s hope this latest Royal intrigue has more depth than the Dilbert like quality now on its menu.  Let’s hope the Bruce Chen signing, and Bonifacio jettison, trigger a bigger and better move.  Let’s not hold our collective breath.

Maybe the Royals understand Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar are rotation risks this team, this year, just can not take.  If the Royals want to have Chen as the opening day 5th starter, who keeps the seat warm for Yordando, this looks decent.  Decent as long as they also know Davis and Hochevar carry a price tag this team, any year, can not justify.  If you add up the salaries for those two, the now departed Bonifacio, and Chen, you approach Ervin Santana money.  Could it be those two are also on their way out, and the Royals will spend that extra cash on a real number two arm?  Maybe the plan is to sit on that cash in case they need it mid-season?  Let’s all hope.

Bruce Chen as a fifth starter is not a bad thing.  Not a bad thing for last year’s team.  Last year’s team had a true number one and number two starter.  This year’s team has James Shields, a deep collection of 4′s, and a couple wild card, high upside, young guns.  Unless the Royals make a move that clears space to re-sign Santana, they have failed to resolve his departure, while lowering their team’s overall ceiling.

As is stands, the Royals have a jumbled rotation and outfield.  That just means they don’t have adequate major league talent for these key pieces.  This is not a good thing for any team.  It’s a disaster for a Ned Yost managed team.  Yost is old school.  Yost goes with his gut.  Yost lets personal feelings and preference guide his roster moves.  Yost consistently makes awful decisions on personnel.

Giving Yost ambiguous starting roster challenges is like giving a bottle of whiskey to a recovering alcoholic.  Not cool, and very dangerous.  The whole baseball world will watch Yost predictably fumble and stumble, and Moore will actually be surprised.

If the Royals stand pat with this roster, they will not reach the post season.  If there isn’t another strong move made, Moore will clearly display the ceiling he has hit as a MLB General Manager.  Baseball will  have seen all it needs to from Ned Yost and Dayton Moore.  Neither will reach the tops of their profession again.

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Tags: Bruce Chen Dayton Moore Kansas City Royals Ned Yost

  • jimfetterolf

    My take is that Santana has made it clear that he only returns for stupid money and time and that Dayton Moore moved on. Bonifacio has never liked the bench, so that move became predictable when Infante was signed. Davis and Hocevar together racked up similar fW in similar innings to Santana last year for much cheaper.

    • jessanders

      You are correct in everything you just said.

      However, Davis and Hoch racked up most of their collective fWAR in short stints from the bullpen. We have no doubt that Hoch especially, is effective once through the lineup.

      However, they collectively racked up the same fWAR, going once through the order, while taking up two roster spots.

      You seem to buy into the whole, “Kershaw for cheap” fantasy idea. Take three middle relievers for cheap, and they combine make up the same fWAR as Kershaw (or a similar pitcher), for much cheaper.

      The problem is, while this is true, it’s taking multiple roster spots to do it. 3 fWAR from one spot at 13 million is better than 3 fWAR from 2 roster spots for 8.

      I’m not going to argue against the Bonifacio points as I have no knowledge of what happened behind the scenes, but arguing that having Hoch+Davis is somehow equal to, or better, than having a Santana the quality of last season, is ridiculous, borderline willful ignorance.

      • jimfetterolf

        Just pointing out a few numbers within the context of baseball as a team game. This is what I actually said: “Davis and Hochevar together racked up similar fW in similar innings to Santana last year for much cheaper.” Good luck arguing against that.

        • jessanders

          It’s amazing how one can pick and choose which numbers to look at to make their point.

          Guthrie had a better W/L record than Santana last year, so he must be the better pitcher, right?

          Let’s look at the numbers you’re referring to, shall we?

          Hoch: 1.2 WAR.
          Davis: 1.7 WAR
          Santana: 3 WAR

          A replacement level team is figured at 47.7 wins. So, a team needs about 45 WAR to contend for the playoffs (92-93 wins). That’s 45 WAR between 25 players.

          45/25=1.8. So, each player on your team needs to be worth, on average. 1.8 WAR (they say the average starting player is worth about 2 WAR, so it works out).

          So, on a playoff bound team, a single roster spot is worth 1.8 WAR minimum. Neither Hoch or Davis put up 1.8 WAR last season.

          Further, if you get rid of Hoch and Davis, add a random role player (valued at 1-2 WAR), and put his 1.8 WAR roster spot with Santana’s 3 WAR roster spot, suddenly you’re ahead by a ful 1.2 WAR.

          By the way, WAR going into 2014 is valued at about 5.3 million per WAR on the open market. That’s about what both Hoch and Davis are pulling, so they’re likely worth their value on the market. However, that means the average roster spot, on the open market, is worth 9.54 million. If you bring back Santana at 15 million per year (a bit high in light of Garza’s contract), he posts a 3 WAR season, and you bring in a role player at 1.8 WAR for 1 million per year, that’s 16 million for 4 WAR, showing a surplus value of WAR, as well as 1.4 WAR in the positive in terms of roster slot vs WAR value.

          So, I say again, circling back to my initial point. You’re correct, Davis+Hoch was worth, in WAR, about the same as Santana in about as many innings.

          Trying to draw any meaning from that is next to worthless, meaning that bringing it up in the first place was a worthless endeavor.

          • jimfetterolf

            I offered no point. You are hallucinating :)

        • moretrouble

          It takes two roster spots to equal Santana’s fW, Jim. That’s his point — and it’s a good one, in my opinion. The best argument against Santana isn’t money, it’s inconsistency. He could sign for big numbers and lay eggs out there — and I kind of expect that from him this year.

          • jimfetterolf

            Those two roster spots, but similar total innings, are also critical to avoid wasting a great starter’s performance. Santana could have 10fW, but wouldn’t do much good without a bullpen to hold it when he can’t finish 7 innings. Baseball’s a team game and it takes a lot of parts to win games. A deep, quality bullpen is likely to be even more important this year with Duffy and/or Ventura for significant starts. I’ll take a couple of quality arms with starter endurance backing up a couple of guys who may give you five innings. Hoch also looks to be Holland’s back up and his future is probably closer.

            As for Santana, agree. Not sure anyone really trusted what he did last year and those who think it real realize that much of his value came from the park and the defense behind him. I’m ambivalent about Santana, wouldn’t mind having him back fro a short contract, but real leery of four years. Last I heard Erv wants 4/60 and that’s when I sign Chen.

          • moretrouble

            If you really believe “A deep, quality bullpen is likely to be even more important this year,” then why would you advocate a 6 man bullpen?

            I think they need something more than Bruce Chen as a starter. Whether that’s one of the quality starters left unsigned, or whether it’s Duffy or Ventura, I just don’t think a middle three of Vargas-Guthrie-Chen is going to carry KC to the playoffs.

            It crossed my mind that you might, in fact, be correct about Ventura starting at Omaha. Once scenario would be Chen starting until Ventura gets past the Super Two date, then Ventura is called up and Chen goes to the pen.

          • jimfetterolf

            Less advocating than pointing out that that is the only way to keep Dyson and Maxwell. If Duffy and Ventura both start in Omaha a 6-man ‘pen is at least possible. Just looking at the numbers and assuming that Coleman, Joseph, and Dwyer will be at Omaha as virtual depth.

            As for Chen, agree, I expect him to be a swingman again, but not my call. At the moment I’ld probably go Shields, Duffy, Hoch/Davis, Vargas, and Guthrie, hot arms at the front of the rotation.

          • moretrouble

            At least possible? Obviously, you’ve never managed a rigorous schedule. You do realize, don’t you, that a 25 pitch outing isn’t the entire workload? There’s another 20 pitch or so warm-up in the pen. And, more if those guys sit down and then up again. And, you’d have your relievers do that three consecutive days? And, how long then would you rest them after throwing 150 pitches in three days? Or, would you hang your starters out to dry because your bullpen is used up? Or, eliminate the L-R match-ups in tight late inning situations?

            I had difficulty keeping a fresh bullpen playing 4-6 games per week at the collegiate level. But, when rain-outs stack up at the end, then the conference tournament — it’s impossible to keep a fresh pen. But, the KC Royals do that every week for six months. With all due respect, I don’t think you’ve ever had to make those decisions — the kind of decisions that, potentially, ruin arms.

            And, for what? To give Maxwell two extra AB’s a week?

          • jimfetterolf

            I didn’t want Maxwell, would rather have Dyson, but the Royals may prefer the RH power. I just look at possibilities and try to get into Dayton Moore’s head. To stay with 5 OFs requires a 6-man ‘pen. It’s an either/or.

            As for “brilliant”, Royals have been doing that for awhile.

            As for starters out to dry, you may not have noticed but Ned Yost does that, one reason that Luke had such a terrible ERA in ’12 and Davis in ’13, he lets starters wear a meltdown, 100 pitches in three innings. I do base my opinions on recent experience watching the principles.

          • moretrouble

            You’re entitled to an opinion — whether you’re qualified or not to give an informed one is a matter of perspective.

            I’m entitled to an opinion on my Ford vehicle because I own one. I paid Ford for the SUV. However, just because I read Consumer Reports and take a tour of the Ford plant doesn’t mean I know how to build a better car.

          • jimfetterolf

            I backed up my opinions. You can go to BR’s game logs and see how often Davis was left in for 80 or 90 pitches to get through one, two, or three innings, while the “I-29 Express” is well known in the city, as is “yo-yo pitchers”, up and down. Five OFs demanding a six-man bullpen is simple math.

          • moretrouble

            Ten outfielders and one relief pitcher is also simple math. Simple math is not a solution. Sound baseball judgment is. Of course, there is the old axiom — and axioms are generally true — that baseball is like religion: Many people talk about it; few understand it.

          • jimfetterolf

            Fine, put together a twenty-five man roster with twelve pitchers, five outfielders, seven infielders, and two catchers.

          • moretrouble

            At this point, I don’t think either of us have enough information to make judgments about what they’re doing over there. That’s not a criticism — they are great baseball people — but, looking at the recent moves from outside the organization, some fans — like me — are left scratching their heads, going, “Huh?”

          • jimfetterolf

            Bonifacio was definitely a “Huh” before I dug a little deeper and saw that he had issues with being on the bench in Florida and Toronto, as did Yuni and Mike Aviles here before him. The signing of Infante and the progress of Colon made Bonifacio and Ciriaco both expendable this year, as did the trade for Valencia.

            Chen was a “Huh” if the Royals were close to signing Santana or Burnett, or he was expected if neither was interested in the Royals on a reasonable contract. I assume that Santana was holding out for a 4/60, so Chen was a good move and his versatility will be a benefit to the team.

            The next potential “Huh” will be whichever of Maxwell and Duffy are traded, both players have positives and negatives and whichever is lost will have some fans outraged, like I was when they traded Lough after the Aoki signing, which upon further review may be a good signing as it brings a high OBP lead off man and puts Alex at 5 behind Billy.

          • moretrouble

            …and you have the last word.

  • cardsfanatik

    Again, I’m going to say, who gives a shit whether Bonifacio “likes” the bench or not, he is a major league baseball player, and until he is a FA, and can sign where he wants, with who he wants, to play the position he wants, he gets no say. He is probably one of the most valuable utility guys in all of baseball. You don’t designate him to sign ANOTHER back end starter, or for one of the 30 OF’ers we have, oh btw, Boni can play OF if need be. I’m sick and tired of watching Dayton the dumbass Moore take this team, and go nowhere. This team is further away from post season play this year, than they were last year, and keep in mind we started Frenchy and Getz last year. The pitching this year after Shields looks like something that the Marlins would run out there, oh wait, they are going with their young guns. I’m am seriously pissed right now. If there is not another move coming, I would buy Cardinal’s tickets if I were you guys. If they are going to spend money completely stupid where they don’t need it, and not spend it where they do need it, DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. I love the Royal’s, but there comes a point where a person can’t take the same thing over again. If you went to work every day, and the same guy kicked you in the balls, would you walk past him every day to go to your desk? Would you punch him in the mouth? What would you do? Would you give him money and say “Maybe tomorrow will be different?” Well my friends, that is what Dayton Moore does, he kicks us in the balls every year, and every year, someone will defend him, or someone will make excuses for him. Dayton Moore is used toilet paper. Would you use someone’s used toilet paper? The man can not construct a Major League roster. He can’t even draft the “best talent” in the draft, which is what he was brought in to do. Sale pitches for the White Sox, and Trout is patrolling the OF for Anaheim, the Royal’s could have had both. Isn’t that what Moore was for? To recognize the “best” talent, and build the farm system. Truthfully, we could have had Matt Harvey, Chris Sale, Taijuan Walker, but we got Colon :/ And instead of Shelby MIller, Mike Trout, we got Aaron Crow. Moore has proven what he is (parking attendant) and what he is not (Major League anything). I know this rant is just that, its a rant, but its another 3rd place finish this year. I’ve seen projections of 4th place, and that was BEFORE Yostradumbass said Chen was the #5 starter. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chen, as a guy, but this team needs a #2 starter(Santana, Burnett) and some insurance on the bench (Bonifacio). Moore is a bumbling idiot, all of baseball knows it, and I guarantee the only footage the Royal’s will see on ESPN, MLBNetwork this year, is how this year could have been different had Moore made some moves to move this club toward the future. Moore took one step forward last year, then just turned around and sat in his own pile of crap this year. Enough is enough. Sorry for the rant. OH, and not being mean Jimfetterolf, but HOCHEVAR AND DAVIS AREN’T STARTING PITCHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Royals_Fan

      First off…wow what a rant!
      Second off, to say we took a step back this year is an inaccurate statement.

      Now, I’m not going to defend anything Moore and Glass have done that may be a question mark for the team this year, but look at this team. Perez, Hosmer, Infante, Esky, Moose, Gordon, Cain and Aoki. Aoki was a solid trade because he solitifies our lead off issues. Aoki lead the AL as a lead off hitter. He’s fast, a gap hitter and can hit for power every once in a while. Great trade. We got Infante to sign with us. He finally gives us an every day 2B who has power, but mostly a gap hitter and he is a solid defensive player. We have a great defensive team, bring back all 5 of our Golden Glove players. The trade of Lough for Valencia from BAL was a quality trade as well. Moose can hit RHP but struggles with LHP, Valencia can hit LHP but struggles with RHP. If Moose continues to struggle then we platoon, but Moose looks great with the weight lose and muscle gain (got to meet him at Royals FanFest and he looks great) and he seems to be hitting with power. He’s spend the offseason getting better and I believe he’s going to be a stud this year. Designating Boni was kind of a shock to me, but Christian Colon looks like he might be his replacement. Now you can say, “Boni can do it all and he’s the best IFU player” but what it comes down to is we are going to be just fine. This kid we got from SEA, Colon and Valencia are going to do what they are asked to do, and that might be play in 20 games this year and do your job. We have players that can play 95% of the year. To say losing Boni makes us a terrible team is ridiculous because he’s a bench player. The only reason he played as many games as he did was because we had no 2B…we have a 2B now in Infante. Why pay a bench player $3+ million when you can put that somewhere else?

      Now, pitching.. I struggled with the idea that we don’t have a #2 guy and jimfetterolf and I have had our debates and such BUT I don’t think the Royas declinded as much as it looks. Shields is our ace, no doubt about that. But Duffy, Chen, Guthrie and Vargas isn’t terrible. We have Shields who is a 90-95mph fastballl pitcher. Guthrie who is a 90-93mph fastball pitcher. Duffy who is a 95-97mph fastball pitcher. Chen and Vargas who are 87-89mph fastball pitchers. We have slow ball pitchers and high speed pitchers. Ventura will be up at some point this year and probably take Chen’s spot so then we have slow pitch to throwing fire in our rotation. A lineup of Shields, Vargas, Guthrie, Duffy, Chen (or however you set it up) isn’t terrible. I would love to have Burnett or Santana back, but Burnett is for 1 year which is fine, but the Royals may want to spend $15-$20M on a player they are keeping for multiple years. Santana reportably wants a 3-4 year cotract for arouund $45M. What would your plan be for next year when Shields is looking for a new contract and Hosmer is looking for an extention. Would you rather sign Santana and maybe lose Shields or Hosmer because we don’t have enough money to keep them? We are, right now, prolonging for Zimmer and Ventura to be 100% ready to start in the MLB. Once those two are ready we could have a young, great starting rotation of Ventura, Duffy, Zimmer, Vargas and maybe Guthrie or Shields depending on how the next offseason goes.

      As for the draft issue, Colon was an All-American in college and has huge upside. With the signing of Infante it is clear that Colon is bitting at the heals of Esky. Esky needs to play well enough to keep his job or when his contract is up, Colon might take his spot and we let Esky walk. Yes, Trout and Sale and whomever else would be lovely to have but we don’t. Dwelling on that isn’t going to do us any good. You can say that for the other 24 teams that pasted on Trout and the other 14 or so teams that pasted on Sale.

      The fact of the matter is, we have a solid outfield. We have an amazing infield and a stud catcher. We have a ceiling that isn’t even close yet and we could be great if we play to the potential that we have. Who cares what we are projected to be. Did anyone project BOS to play as terrible as they did two years ago? Did anyone project the LAA and LAD to have as rough a year as they have had? They have it all and they still struggle. Did anyone think the Royals would be in contention for the playoffs come August? No. The Royals are the same team, but we have a blustered defense and offense and one new pitcher. The Royals are young. The Royals have talent. I thihk the Royals will give DET a run for their money and we will have a WC Playoff game this year. The Royals are confident, never give up and are relentless, what more could you ask for from a small market team?

      • cardsfanatik

        Lol, ya, sorry man, it was just a rant. Had to just blow up a little bit. The move of Chen for Bonifacio just doesn’t make sense to me, because thats essentially what it was. It can’t be money, They gave more to Chen. If Boni is unhappy about a utility role, who cares. I mean, I can’t blame him the way he played when he came over, but if he is unhappy about it, all he has to do is play hard enough that Deadhead HAS to put him in the line-up. Now our speedster is mosquito-net swinging Dyson. (I would have DFA;d him first and fast) And while I know that we are not the “same” team as last year, our pitching is not even close to as good. Last year I didn’t expect to much from Santana, but I did love the pickup, unlike some others. And it paid off huge. Your not going to get that from either Vargas or Chen. Vargas will probably be a league average pitcher, which is great for a 4 or 5. Chen is not a #2 to match up with the Sherzer’s of the world. Our offense will be a little better yes, maybe. Aoki is good at getting on, but has regressed the last 2 seasons. I love the Infante signing, yes I do. I’m tired of having Moustakas at third, so seeing him sit against lefties while playing Valencia will be a welcome sight. And before anyone gets mad at that comment, I don’t get 3 years at my job, to actually do my job, while getting paid obscene amounts of money.(And league minimum is obscene money for the way Moustakas has played) Playing baseball is a privilege not a right. Get it together or get out. Duffy, can he pitch more than 4-5 innings? Can he throw strikes? Guthrie is at some point in time going to run out of luck also. I know we aren’t going to finish the season with 100 losses, but going out and getting a Santana or Burnett, might have pushed us a little closer to the 100 win mark, than to the 100 loss mark, is what I’m getting at. Again, I love Chen, I really do, but he is not what I wanted to fill out he rotation, even if it is just until Ventura comes along. Burnett would have actually been my pick, 1 yr, and he blocks noone. I would love to resign Shields yes, but if Moore is going to do that, he had better do it before the Skankies and Blow-Sox can bid on him. I doubt Hosmer is a long term Royal unless he switches agents. Bore-ass is a money grubbing toad, and if Hos plays this entire season like he did the last half of last year, his contract is probably already out of reach for KC. I should not have blown up the way I did, but the time for bone headed moves by Moore has to be over. Peguero? Really? He couldn’t cut it in Seattle, and nothing against the M’s, but they are not as good a team as us, imo. He can hit it a country mile yes, but thats all he does. I guess I’m just lost to the reasoning. UNLESS there is indeed another move coming, but if there is, I just don’t see it. So anyway, sorry for the rant. Oh and Morosi just tweeted Freeman’s extension with the Brave’s for HUGE money, in the 100 million dollar range, what’s that do to Hosmer? Better sign him now, but he probably won’t.

    • jimfetterolf

      No mean to it, opinions vary. You probably thought last year that Santana and Chen were mistakes and Hoch would never make it in the bullpen because he blew up with runners on base. It happens. And you may well be right or you may be wrong. That’s why they play the games, humans tend to be somewhat unpredictable.

      I like the team so far and am looking forward to spring training. Offense looks better, defense is a little better, rotation may be a bit worse, with or without Santana, and bullpen should be solid. Moose and Eskie are the big worries, so I’ll just hope they listen to the coaches.

      • cardsfanatik

        Actually I loved the Santana pick up last year. I didn’t expect what we got, but I knew he couldn’t be worse than Hochsucker. And trading Luke the puke would make me a very happy camper.

        • jimfetterolf

          A little surprising, seemed like most in the blogosphere wanted to fire Dayton Moore for bringing in Santana instead of using the money to sign Anibal Sanchez and Zack Greinke. I was ambivalent, so was pleasantly surprised by the result, but am still ambivalent on re-signing Santana.

          I’ld keep Luke, the simple fact that he doesn’t collapse now with runners on makes him an intriguing possibility. I think the FO is thinking along similar lines. But, a good spring starting may make him trade bait for a team needing a set-up/closer/starter possibility. Someone will always take a chance on stuff and this is Luke’s walk year.

          • cardsfanatik

            I don’t mind Luke in the BP. But I loathe the idea of Luke in the rotation. Changing from a 5 pitch starting pitcher, to a 2 pitch relief pitcher is what made him better. He cannot be a 2 pitch starting pitcher. So I do like the idea of putting him in as a starter in spring, then offloading him to someone short a starter. So I wouldn’t be totally against that.

  • moretrouble

    Ed, I loved your piece because you presented a bold opinion and expressed it well. I don’t agree with all of it, but you had me right up to the point you started talking about Ned Yost. To the extent bad roster moves are made, they are the fault of Dayton Moore. To the extent that bad moves are made on the field, there is joint liability. Yost must make the correct move, but players must perform well. No manager can see the future, but every fan sees the past perfectly.

  • Bigtexjayhawk

    The Royals formula for winning on the pitching side is….innings eaters + power armed bullpen = Royals win. The real formula this year should be Shields + Duffy + Ventura + (Chen + Vargas + Guthrie ÷2) + power armed bullpen = playoffs.
    IF the boys in blue should actually make the playoffs we need power arms ie Duffy or Ventura to slot along side Big Game James. I hope to see multiple trades to upgrade staff as well as shed some payroll. Davis Has to be traded. Trade Holland if Hoch can do an Eckersly impersonation and get back RF, CF or 3B. Mr Glass has to be ready to open up his Millions he has been making all these years and grab a stud #2 OR maybe even #1 at trade deadline. This is the year for our Royals to shock the world!!

  • Ed Connealy

    Bottom Line….The Royals chance for a meaningful season now hinges on the development of Duffy and Ventura. The gamble may work, but I just don’t accept gambling on such a critical season. It’s been too long, this season’s opportunity is just too unique for this organization