Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Guiel Gets Cut

Shane Costa won the 4th outfielder job with the Royals.

This isn't that big of a deal, but Guiel is one of the guys I like to root for. I hope he gets a call earlier this year than last if anybody goes down (Laverne, I'm looking at you).

My man AG was having a great spring, putting up a 351/479/622 line in 37 at bats.

Joe McEwing was also cut after posting 436/500/667 in 39 ABs. Super Joe put up a fuss (I haven't seen any Guiel quotes yet).

Let's take a quick look at each player's OPS this spring against last year, along with those of the guys who stole their jobs, and see who has more right to complain.

Player  Spring  2005
J-Mac 1167 558
Graffy 712 791
AG 1101 805
Costa 738 621

I'm sure they'll both have plenty of time to debate their merits while waiting at the bus station in Omaha.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Graffy's Back

The Royals picked up Tony Graffanino today.

OPS+ 161

I'm a big fan of this move. Graffy has a solid track record as a utility infielder and the Royals are only obligated to pay for him this year.

Hopefully, this move will keep Joe McEwing in Omaha and give Estaban German a chance to prove he can do something.

For all of the bitching I keep seeing on the internet about the Royals pickups this off-season, I don't see anybody offering a better solution. Last year, the team was derided for bringing up young players too soon.

What the moves from this off season have done is given every prospect more time to develop in the minors and avoided crippling the team with long-term contracts.

I, for one, am excited to have at least semi-competent big leaguers to watch this season while following the progress of guys like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler in the minors.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Who are These Guys? - Outfield

Our final installment for the position players will look at the men patrolling the vast amount of turf at The 'K' this year.

David DeJesus
OPS+ 114

David’s biggest drawback as a professional ballplayer has been his susceptibility to injury. A shoulder injury kept him out for the last month of last season and he missed significant time early in his minor league career.

The Royals just inked DeJesus to a long-term deal that will buy out his first year of free agency. If he can stay healthy, then this will be a really good move by the team, as he has maintained both his patience and his pop at the plate. The key will be getting Buddy Bell to realize that he is not a natural base stealer so that his times on base are not all wasted.

Reggie Sanders
OPS+ 126

Reginald, or Laverne as I like to call him, is the kind of power hitting corner outfielder Allard Baird has been trying to get for years. The problem is, he needed to get Sanders several years ago.

At 38, the Royals will need to be careful with the slugger from South Carolina. When he’s in the lineup, he will be a definite threat behind Mike Sweeney, but he needs to get more than the 295 at bats he cobbled together with St. Louis last year while battling leg problems.

Here is another fun site that shows how Sanders stats compare against the league. You can see that he is an average on-base guy, but almost always bests the league in power.

Emil Brown
OPS+ 113

Why did Emil Brown spend so much of his life languishing in the minor leagues, only to explode (if hitting .286 can be considered “exploding”) as a thirty-year old sensation with the Royals?

Let’s just say that last year wasn’t Emil’s first crack at the majors:

OPS     Min    MLB
1996 900 DNP
1997 DNP 588
1998 895 575
1999 865 357
2000 891 635
2001 974 583

’98 and ’99 were cup of coffee call ups, but Brown received significant opportunities to prove his metal in the Bigs before he was labeled a quadruple-A player and languished as a spare part for the Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston farm systems.

The hope for this season is that Emil doesn’t fade back from his first real progress as a major-league hitter. If he can post solid numbers for the Royals in left field (and maybe catch just a few more balls), he will help provide some extra pop behind Sweeney and Sanders in the lineup.

Aaron Guiel
OPS+ 114

Another player who languished for years in the minors before finally getting a chance with the Royals, Guiel was derailed by the cruel hand of fate when he developed vision problems during spring training in 2004.

A few laser surgeries later, he spent most of 2005 tearing up triple-A (OPS of 909) while luminaries such as Terrance Long (699) and Eli Marrero (563) manned the outfield of Kaufman stadium.

Aaron is one of my favorite Royal players, and while I know I should want them to give the 4th outfield job to the younger Chip Ambres, I really hope that one more Canadian makes the team.

Chip Ambres
OPS+ 88

Acquired in the Tony Graffanino trade from the Red Sox last year, Ambres is a high OBP guy with a little speed and some power. His rate stats have held up well in the minors over the last few years, but Chip has not had a great spring so far and was only so-so in his first bit of major-league action last year.

Given the fragile nature of the Royals outfield (Sanders rarely plays a full season and DeJesus pulled a hamstring the other day), Ambres will definitely have an opportunity to prove himself this year.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Who are These Guys? - Middle Infield

Mark Grudzielanek
OPS+ 92

Alphabet Soup #2, or “Grudzie” as I like to call him, has been brought in to ensure that yet another year is added to the streak of consecutive seasons with a different starting second baseman. (who would have imagined that Carlos Febles from ’99 through ’03 would be considered stable?)

Mark is a better than average line-drive hitter (his 23.6% rate ranked 21st among qualified batters last season) which helps him hit for a good average despite his low walk rate. Buddy Bell has already inserted Grudzie into the second spot in the batting order, so it’s likely his line-drive ability will be quickly neutralized by many requests to bunt people over.

Angel Berroa
OPS+ 81

Angel will be making some real money this year, the second of his five-year contract. The hope is that the 2003 Rookie of the Year can find some of the patience that allowed him to get on base at a 338 clip that season. If he can also manage to hit 20 home runs and throw the ball anywhere near Minkie’s glove, then he'll start to be worth the two million dollars he’s getting in ’06.