Where are Scooby, Shaggy, and the rest of the Mystery Inc. gang when you need them? Seriously, what the hell is Dayton Moore doing? I’m not a major league GM, though I’m taking calls if any team is crazy enough to hire me, and by crazy I mean crazy like a fox. Coming off a 65-97 record and with no hope of contention in 2010, the logical course of action seemed pretty simple. Dayton and I clearly have differing views on the concept of logical and simple.
I laid out the my version of this simple plan (great band by the way) back on October 9th when I wrote the following:
"This offseason, Dayton should take advantage of the lack of expectations and focus on acquiring low risk, high reward players who could figure into the team’s long term plans. [Snip] The Royals are at a place in their organizational development where they can afford to take chances on players who have a lot of potential, but have been short on performance in their young careers. This concept is especially important considering the limited payroll flexibility Dayton has to work with right now thanks to terrible contracts given to mediocre (or less than mediocre) talent."
Since then Dayton has basically done the exact opposite when it comes to improving the major league fortunes of the Kansas City Royals in 2010 and beyond. Yes, he did acquire Chris Getz and Josh Fields and in doing so also freed up some payroll flexibility by sending Mark Teahen to the White Sox. That payroll flexibility has basically been parlayed into Jason Kendall, Brian Anderson, and now Scott Podsednik. Frankly I’d rather have Teahen back.
I do, however, like the acquisition of Chris Getz. Unfortunately his acquisition blocks the potential defensive development of Alberto Callaspo at 2B. I know, I know, he looked real bad at times, but in terms of UZR/150 he wasn’t that awful turning in a mark of -7.5 which followed up a positive 6.5 UZR/150 in 2008. In almost 1,700 career innings at 2B in the majors he has a -2.9 UZR/150. He’s not going to win a Gold Glove but his lack of defensive ability has been overstated a bit. Baseball America had this to say about Callaspo in their 2007 Prospect Handbook:
"He has good speed and good actions at second base, and he can play almost anywhere on the field … While he’s best at second base, Callaspo can also play shortstop, third base and the outfield."
The above is a far cry from saying that the guy is a defensively liability. Chris Getz, comes to the Royals with a career UZR/150 of -6.0 in 919.1 innings at 2B so really all we can go on is what we think either player can develop into in the field. What if Alberto focused on his swing and improving his power during the last offseason and put his defense on the back-burner. If he did just that, it clearly paid dividends at the plate and cost him in the field, but at 26-years old and with another year of major league experience under his belt, we should not be writing off Callaspo’s glove entirely.
Again I like Getz, but his addition to this roster addresses something that didn’t need to be addressed this offseason. Bert deserved another season in the field as the team’s everyday 2B. Now we have Chris Getz who has been inserted as the teams’ starting 2B before a spring training pitch has been thrown. For what it is worth, Josh Fields kind of fits the profile of my plan, but doesn’t fit the roster and hasn’t shown any valuable tool beyond some decent power at times. In my mind, Fields was just a throw-in and will spend his 2010 season in Omaha, but clearly Dayton Moore sees things far differently than I do. I can see him playing RF on the days Guillen is the DH and Callaspo rides the pine. Won’t that be awesome? I need to make it a point to be at the K for everyone of those games!
Moving on, we get to the Jason Kendall signing where Dayton whiffed on so many different levels it truly disgusts me. I’m not going to rehash it all again. Seriously, it might make me throw up. You know how I feel, and if you are new to this site just type “Jason Kendall” into the search box and catch up.
Not to be outdone, by his own awful signing, Dayton signed Brian Anderson to a 1-year $700,000 contract and tied up a spot on the 40-man roster in the process. He did all of this when a minor league contract and spring training invite probably would have gotten the job done. The Anderson signing has some merit outside of the terms involved. He was at one time a very highly regarded prospect and could still make good on some of the promise. He will be 28-years old on opening day, so 2010 figured to be his last real opportunity. Anderson figured to give “incumbent” CF-Mitch Maier some competition in spring training, and that loser of that competition would slide into the 4th OF spot on the opening day roster.
The only way Anderson’s signing could possibly make less sense is if the team went out and signed an aging outfielder to play CF who really isn’t all that good, you know, playing CF. 30-year old Rick Ankiel and 33-year old Scott Podsednik were two such players that the Royals were reportedly looking at. I wouldn’t have been thrilled to have either one but Ankiel, at least, would have brought a power presence to the lineup. While his actual fielding is suspect, -9.4 UZR/150 in almost 1,400 innings in CF, he has a strong accurate arm and is still learning to play the OF after his implosion as a pitcher. Ankiel was the superior choice between the two.
So, of course, Dayton went out and signed the inferior choice by inking Scott Podsednik to a 1-year $1.75 million contract, with a club option for 2011 at $2 million. But wait, there’s more! Scotty Po can also earn $250,000 or more each season by way of incentives, and his signing means that someone will need to be removed from the 40-man. Podsednik will turn 34-years old before opening day, and sports a career -5.6 UZR/150 in just of 3,100 innings in CF. Offensively he’s a 0.277/.340/.381 hitter with a career OPS+ of 87 OPS+. He has 266 career SB and 87 CS which gives him a solid success rate of 75%, but those numbers are inflated by his 2004 season where he stole 70 and was caught only 13 times. He proceeded to lead the league in CS during the 2005 and 2006 season. In a vacuum Podsednik getting a 1-year contract isn’t a huge deal but this is they Royals we are talking about.
We must keep in mind that every move this team makes tends to have a negative impact in ways that aren’t readily apparent. Take David DeJesus for example who just spent 2009 playing LF at a well above average level despite the fact that it was his first full year at the position. Logically you would assume that Podsednik was brought in to play CF and that DeJesus would remain in LF. Not so fast my friend. Again this is the Royals and apparently making your defense worse in two places makes more sense. What follows is a quote taken from Sam Mellinger’s post on the Kansas City Star’s website:
"He mostly split time between left and center for the White Sox last year, and the Royals are at least considering moving David DeJesus back to center after he played last season in left."
Yeah, that sounds about right. Seems like something that Trey Hillman will think is a great idea.
Don’t worry though, Dayton and the Royals aren’t done screwing over DJ. Guess where Podsednik figures to hit in the lineup? If you guessed leadoff you know how things work in Kansas City. DeJesus produces more out of the leadoff spot (0.297/.367/.441) than he does hitting anywhere else in the lineup. The same can basically be said for Podsednik who has hit 0.278/.342/.384 over the course of his career as a leadoff hitter, but he’s actually been better hitting 2nd. That pesky fact won’t stop the Royals from bumping DJ down to 2nd in the order where his career numbers drop off to a line of 0.245/.319/.370. The career splits of Coco Crisp didn’t seem to matter so I don’t see why such things would come into play now. You’d think the events of 2009 would be fresh in Dayton Moore’s mind and the organization would learn. It is fact that while Trey kept Crisp hitting leadoff, DJ struggled. When Crisp got hurt and David became the leadoff hitter again, he recovered to hit 0.306/.378/.457 at the top of the order. Another quote from Mellinger’s article:
"Podsednik, who bats left and throws left, will most likely hit at the top of the order, regardless of which position he plays in the field. The Royals also signed center fielder Brian Anderson, who has a minor-league option remaining, this offseason and have incumbent Mitch Maier, who does not."
What? Brian Anderson has an option? So the team can send him to Triple-A to make $700,000 and occupy a spot on the 40-man? Well, I feel better now.
Here are some links to other reactions to the Podsednik signing, with my favorite sentence or two from each.
"There’s not an awful lot to like about this signing because it will mean less playing time for Mitch Maier and Anderson. I mean why see what you have in a couple players in their late 20’s when you can have a 34 year old roaming centerfield?"
"The equation describing how Dayton Moore is going to fill each perceived roster hole is as follows: Determine where you are weakest, find the player with highest intangibles who lacks any upside/utility whatsoever, give that man a contract at least a year too long and a couple million dollars too much, and watch your fanbase grow increasingly exacerbated."
"The money isn’t bad, but it’s almost inevitable that Podsednik will be used incorrectly. We expect him to play below average defense in CF and hit leadoff. Oh, and there’s that Mitch Maier guy who is younger, cheaper, better defensively, and still has some upside."
"The Royals are marginally better with Scott Podsednik. That may sound like applause for the move, but it’s more of an indictment on the roster."
"Give Mitch Maier a chance to play CF (or even Brian Anderson for that matter)? Nope, make another shitty signing today with Podsednik.I mean, good lord. What is there to say anymore? The GM keeps talking about how he wants to build the team from the minor league system, but how can we even trust him when he doesn’t give anyone a shot?"
"Podsednik’s best offensive year of his career came in 2003 – his rookie season. That year in Milwaukee, he hit .314/.379/.443 with an OPS+ of 116. Those numbers all remain career highs. Defensively, he’s not very good. Yes, he’s fast, but he has a weak arm and doesn’t cover as much ground as you might think. His UZR/150 over the last three seasons was: 6.5, -17.0, -2.3. The Royals will obviously use him in center, but he was primarily a left fielder for the Sox. So it all fits together…"
"If you’re a GM, ask yourself, “What would Dayton Moore do?” then do the opposite."
"I’m not exactly sure what the goal of The Contest is: to put together a team that might contend in 2005, get fired, or to shatter the blogosphere’s Universal Snark-O-Meter in one fell blow, but it’s been apparent for some time now that Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and his Mets counterpart Omar Minaya have been involved in some sort of bizarre rivalry for at least the last year."
Where are those meddling kids anyway? Someone needs to figure out what happened because “The Process” has become “The Mystery.” Maybe I if I eat a couple boxes of Sluggerrr Snacks and think about the opposite of what makes sense, I might come to understand what it is exactly that Dayton Moore is trying to do. I have long believed that a MLB GM should be given a full 5 years to do their job before replacing them with someone else. Dayton is making me continually reconsider that stance. I’m not quite to the point of joining the “fire Dayton Moore immediately camp” but I am getting awfully damn close.