Kings of Kauffman Mailbag – Ep. 5


Well now, this sure has been a month to forget.

April hasn’t been so kind to the Royals – again – and all the warm and fuzzies coming into 2012 were quickly dashed after the club thought it to be a good idea to roll off 12 straight losses, and be the first team in a century to lose as many at home to start the season as they did. So, that’s something.

Alex Gordon has stunk. Greg Holland has stunk. Joakim Soria and Salvador Perez got hurt and no one seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present.

All of that being said it is May, and May means new beginnings in the form of flowers from April showers, or something. And with that hopefully some things will start to turn around for the team like Eric Hosmer’s BABIP or the starting rotations out-making ability. One thing we do know for sure though is Alex Gordon no longer stinks and is back on track to winning the 2012 AL MVP award.

On to the bag:

Gordon got his deal and Escobar and Perez got theirs, when does Hosmer get his? – Raymond, Grandview

The Hosmer Long-Term Contract train started once the news of the Alex Gordon signing was announced late on a Friday. (Really knows how to take advantage of good PR, do those Royals folks) Coal really started to stoke the engine (I’m assuming that’s how trains work from what I remember from Back To The Future III) a couple weeks later when the Reds extending their franchise cornerstone Jay Bruce Joey Votto for a small-market unprecedented (and ridiculous) 10 year, $225MM deal. Which of course led to everyone’s collective mind-losing about the possibility that Eric Hosmer was on the Royals radar for a new contract as well.

If a 28-year-old Votto is worth 10 for $225MM, what is a 22-year-old Hosmer worth? Given that the two markets are pretty similar, this could get ugly.

Signing Hosmer to an extension/new contract now is a unique case. First baseman all over baseball are getting massive deals not only in terms of dollars but, more importantly, years. Which is something I would almost always steer away from.

A 10-year deal to Votto at age 28 leaves something to go off of. Add in the contracts to Pujols and Fielder, and the going rate for elite-level first baseman is somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-10 years in length. That’s scary.

While Hosmer would appear to be just about as much a sure thing to return the value of a contract of that type of length, a team in a small market like Kansas City still needs to keep in mind the type of payroll flexibility it would need in the future, and guaranteeing the type of money it would take to get Hosmer to sign on the line that is dotted, would seriously cripple the organization should an injury occur, and leave an empty dollar amount on the books.

So while I appreciate all Royals’ fans fervor about getting Hosmer locked-up now to take advantage of buying out some free agent years, we should keep in mind two things: 1) in order to make the contract worth it for the Royals it would take a lot of year, and in order to make the contract with it for Hosmer if it is a lot of years, it needs to be a lot of money. Those two things are something small-market teams like the Royals should be leery of in a contract. 2) Hosmer’s agent is Scott Boras and the only other deal to compare Hosmer’s contract with in terms of service time is Evan Longoria’s, and if you think Boras is signing off on a six-year deal with three option years amassing a potential total of $44MM, you’re crazy.

What ever happened to Pitcher Dusty Odenbach? – Bob Rowe

I have no idea. I asked Royals prospect guru Greg Schaum (we also did this interview with Odenbach) and he didn’t know either. So for this one, I defer to the masses. Anyone know?

What would it take for you to have faith that the Royals organization is moving in the right direction? Not talking about a win/loss number – Jairus, Kansas City

Interesting question because I’ve been pretty critical of “The Process” and am still not all that sure that it will ever pay real dividends. But the first thing that comes to mind is the organization has to actively, through both words and performance, put an emphasis on offensive outs being significant. They don’t, in any way.

To talk simply about on-base percentage ruins the overall point to the narrative that not making outs is the single most important thing an offensive player can do. However when you boil down the argument to be just solely walks, it cheapens the message. Outs are essential to a team’s success. Having players that rarely see past the third pitch in an at-bat, that run into outs on the bases, and having managers in 2012 still call for a sacrifice bunts despite all the evidence available that it is failed procedure, is what is going to hold this organization back.

There may be that one year or two where everything clicks, and a large number of guys play over their heads and the team competes at a high level, but that will almost certainly be the outlier as long as the philosophy of the organization is to view offensive outs as insignificant.

You’re so negative – Mike, Bonner Springs

Am not!

Do you feel that Luis Mendoza would make a good relief pitcher? He seems to do well the first time through the order, but then fizzles out as he sees hitters again. – @DBLesky –

Do I have to have him on the team at all? I’d rather not.

Look, there isn’t anything to Mendoza’s career or stuff that should lead anyone to believe that he’s a viable option as a big league pitcher. He’s been hammered at every level and he doesn’t strike out near enough batters to sustain success. In over 1000 minor league innings, he only struck out 594 batters. Folks, that is a whole lot of balls in play. That won’t work.

So given that, Mendoza belongs in the bullpen for an inning at a time, if he’s on a roster at all. Limit his exposure to the opposing lineup as much as possible.

How can someone so athletic like Dyson be so poor at reading fly balls? Is Mitch Maier better defensively? – @ryan_weedin

This is a tough one because from all accounts one of the major pluses of Dyson’s game was supposed to be his defense. Sure, speed will make up for a lot, but there never was talk that Dyson was just like Joey Gathright in that his speed would over-shadow his terrible jumps; Dyson was just good all around.

So the handful of games he’s had since he’s been recalled twice now are a bit startling. Maybe he’s nervous, maybe he’s just not seeing the ball well; we’ll never know for sure. But there’s almost certainly a good explanation for why he’s performed how he has when there hasn’t been much evidence that this would occur.

That being said, is Maier better defensively? Eh. Possibly, on some days, but Dyson’s speed will allow him to make the more spectacular plays. Now is Maier the better player? All things considered, absolutely.

We get married in five days. You are not allowed to tweet during the ceremony – @sarad19

We shall see ma’ lady. We shall see.

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