17 August 2005


Well, since I last posted about the Royals, the team has had it's high point, low point (ongoing) and has generally smelled up the league like a rotting corpse. Let's sum it up -- 1. They took 2 of 3 from the White Sox, beating Garland and Buehrle to mark what will surely be the high point of the season other than Pena's resignation (personal high point for the Royals); 2. From then, they've been swept by such teams as Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit (the 2-game rain soaked "85 reunion" series which Baird and Glass neglected to show up for) and are on the verge as I write this of being swept by the lowly Mariners. They are in serious contention to go 0-fer in August, since they have Oakland, Boston, the Yankees and Twins left to play this month; 3. They made absolutely 0 moves at the deadline -- Lima is still here, so are Long and Stairs (not that I'm sad to see Stairs stay) and Affeldt and MacDougal. The only player they gave up was Graffanino, who could be of use right now at second base. Nothing like sitting in your own mess while the season burns down around you. All in all, very dark times for the franchise. I would say the darkest. Cheap ownership, shoddy personnel management, a manager who knows nothing about managing a winning team (don't even bring up the 2-games over .500 one year with the Rockies), and players who don't seem to care too much at this point. Ah, baseball fever, catch it!

Anyway, as 2005 fizzles out like a soggy firecracker for the Royals, it's worth a look to see how the '06 team may shape up. Any of the FA information in this comes from http://www.mlb4u.com/freeagent.html

Catcher -- Like him or not, John Buck isn't getting it done as catcher. He's decent defensively (Seattle's stealfest not withstanding) but can't hit his way out of a wet paper bag. He doesn't even have an OBP of .300 or a SLG of .400. At best he should be the backup next season. Here's a list of FA catchers I'd consider:

Ramon Hernandez
Bengie Molina

I'd like to see them go after either (preferably Ramon Hernandez) for something like a 2-year deal and see how Buck does in developing.

1B -- Sweeney as 1B/DH if he's still around and I wouldn't be against signing Stairs for another year. Huber likely will get some serious playing time at 1B, too, so he'll hopefully be a good option.

2B -- I wouldn't be against using Gotay or Murphy as a backup and hopefully McEwing and Hocking will be dust in the wind for the Royals by March '06. Unfortunately, here's the list of FA 2Bs:

Lou Collier
Bret Boone
Ray Durham (Player Option)
Carlos Baerga
Damion Easley
Mark Loretta (Team Option)
Fernando Vina (Expected to retire)
Frank Menechino (Team Option)(arb.)
Tony Graffanino
Todd Walker (Team + Player options)
Eric Young (Team Option)
Damian Jackson
Ronnie Belliard (Team Option)
Manny Alexander
Marlon Anderson
Mark Grudzielanek
Pokey Reese (Team Option)
Miguel Cairo
Roberto Alomar (Retired)
Enrique Wilson
Denny Hocking
Dave Berg
Joe McEwing

I could take getting Graffanino for another 1 or 2-year deal or, if the Indians don't want him, Ronnie Belliard for a stopgap but I doubt the Royals will do much at the second base spot with Gotay and Murphy in the wings and Baird seemingly so high on them.

3B -- I assume KC will stick with Teahen as the full-timer for 2006 to give him another year to develop and, if/when Alex Gordon gets signed, Gordon may be ready for prime time in September '06. The list of FAs at the hot corner also isn't great:

Herbert Perry
Mike Mordecai (Retired, but could be signed in Sept. to reach 10 years of service to achieve a pension)
Todd Zeile (Retired)
Mark McLemore (Retired)
Shane Halter
Dean Palmer
George Arias
Bill Mueller
Lenny Harris
Abraham O. Nunez
Jared Sandberg
Wes Helms
Joe Randa
Chris Stynes
Jeff Cirillo
Geoff Blum
Brandon Larson

Randa may still make a good backup at 3B for '06 and there aren't many young guys available. If Truby comes back he could also make an OK backup at third.

SS -- I also assume KC will stick with Berroa although I wouldn't be sad to see him go but there aren't many good options in the minors at short for KC. Blanco will be coming off an injury-plagued '05, Mike Aviles is a defensive liability worse than Berroa and Angel Sanchez has struggled at times in A-ball before picking it up recently. As at 2B and 3B, there aren't many good FA possibilities at SS:

Rey Ordonez (Agent Adam Katz)
Barry Larkin (Retired)
Royce Clayton
Ricky Gutierrez
Jose Vizcaino
Chris Woodward
Desi Relaford
Alex Gonzalez (FLA)
Nomar Garciaparra
Deivi Cruz
Jose Hernandez
Jose Valentin
Luis Lopez
Ramon Martinez
Alex Gonzalez (TB)
Rafael Furcal
Benji Gil
Lou Merloni
Chris Gomez
Rich Aurilia
Rey Sanchez
Neifi Perez

Let's bring back Neifi!!! I'm kidding. Furcal would be nice but I doubt he would sign with KC and that KC would even go after him with the investment in Berroa. Maybe Blanco will prove to be a serviceable backup.

LF -- Ambres may make a decent backup but I doubt Terrence Long will be back. You never know, tho. Diaz might work to split the position with Ambres with Butler being a September '06 call-up possibly. I also assume Costa will get a shot in ST as well. All the FA possible signees are old, scrap-heap guys other than Hideki Matsui, who if the Yankees don't work something out with, would never play in KC, and Carlos Lee, who I don't see the Brewers letting go of.

CF -- DeJesus has earned his spot in CF and doesn't have a lot of competition for the job. The big names as free agent CFs are Jacque Jones and Johnny Damon, neither of which would likely come to KC. With DeJesus doing all right the Royals don't need a marquee CF.

RF -- Emil Brown is probably out the door as, with Costa and Diaz and Ambres in the mix, do the Royals really need a 31-year-old 4th OF? Richard Hidalgo has been rumored to be in the Royals' sights as a potential signee, which would knock Brown out for sure. If Hidalgo didn't sign, I'd consider Juan Encarnacion for the right price or maybe Matt Lawton if he comes at a discount.

SP -- Hopefully, Lima is also long gone by March and I wonder if D.J. will be back as a starter in 2006. Also, with hope, Bautista will be back and ready to go. I wouldn't mind seeing BA become a thing of the past with his performance for KC. There's nobody other than J.P. Howell really threatening for a starting spot, although Howell could likely use more AAA seasoning. I figure Snyder may get another shot at a rotation spot. The other promising pitchers in the organization would just be moving up in the minors if anything, as none look that close to major-league ready. But that hasn't stopped the Royals recently. Here's a list of the FA SPs I'd consider:

Albie Lopez (just kidding)
Matt Morris
A.J. Burnett
Jeff Weaver
Jason Schmidt (Team Option)
Joe Mays (Team Option)
Kevin Millwood
Tony Armas Jr.

Ted Lilly
Jarrod Washburn

As far as righties (besides the marquee guys the Royals would have to overpay to play in KC), I'd like to see the Royals try to get Matt Morris, Joe Mays (if the Twins let him go), or Armas Jr. They maybe could get Millwood fairly cheap as he hasn't done much lately. In lefties, I'd be behind throwing some money at Jarrod Washburn or less money at Ted Lilly. We'll see if Sisco gets a shot at starting in '06.

Bullpen -- Assuming Burgos, Affeldt and MacDougal are back, I also think Bayliss will get a shot at opening the season in the pen along with Stemle, Justin Huisman, Shane Nance and Nunez. I bet Gobble will be back starting at Omaha in 2006. Here are the FA relievers I'd consider:

Ricardo Rincon
B.J. Ryan

Ryan Dempster
Julian Tavarez
Felix Rodriguez
Tom Gordon (be nice to end it in KC)
Mike Timlin
Scott Williamson (Team Option) -- at the right price
Jim Mecir

On paper, the team doesn't look much better for next year and Baird nor Glass have talked about upping the payroll for 2006, which should worry all Royals fans. March seems like a long way away but hopefully the Royals have made some good changes by then. I can't help having a feeling Baird and Glass won't do much -- what reason have they given anyone to think differently. Of course, at this point, I'm ready for Baird to go but can understand (somewhat) why Glass would keep him around at this point since they're "committing to the youth movement." I predicted when Bell was hired that Baird would be gone by 2008 but with the way the team is playing, I hope it's much sooner. It would be hard for any season to be much more frustrating than this one has been, but if any team can make that happen, it's the Royals in the Glass/Baird regime.

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