03 January 2008

Back from a holiday break

Back from a much needed holiday break....and the organization looks different to Royals fans. Let's do a rundown of some of the changes....

1. Trey Hillman hire. I like it, and it sounds like many others do too. The "want a winner" camp gets a guy who won 1 Japan Series title and got to another series in '07 with Nippon Ham. The "don't want a retread" camp gets a guy who is entering his first MLB managerial job. I have a good feeling about this guy. Hope it's not just the Buddy Bell reflux relief in me.

2. Shipping off P Dan Christensen to the Tigers. It was a minor move involving a AA pitcher, but he was a waste of a 40-man roster spot, and absolutely stunk last season. If he rebounds and turns into a good pitcher, it'll be in the Royals' division, but I think the chances of that happening are preeeeeeeeeeeety slim.

3. Signing RP Yasuhiko Yabuta. I think this was also a step in the right direction. The Royals need to get in the mix in the Japanese market and make themselves a player, rather than an observer. I would have liked to see them bring in OF Kosuke Fukudome, too, but that didn't happen.

4. Signed OF Jose Guillen. This is a risk-reward pickup. On one hand, Guillen could struggle in Kauffman and end up going Milton Bradley in the clubhouse, or play a month, get injured and pull a Juan Gonzalez. On the other hand, he could slug .500, hit 25 HR, drive in 100 runs and be the slugging corner OF the team needs. He's maybe not the optimum player for Dayton Moore to bring in, but we'll see how it pans out. I think it's a defendable move.

5. Selecting P Ray Liotta in the Rule 5 draft. I've kept track of Liotta in the White Sox minors for a few years now and liked this pickup a lot. He's rebounding from surgery, so a return to his prior form isn't guaranteed, but this a low-risk, high-upside move. I'd love to see him pitch well this year in Northwest Arkansas or Omaha.

6. Non-tendering OF Emil Brown. Hooray! He's taken enough Royal money.

7. Trade of P Billy Buckner for IF Alberto Callaspo. As the guy who named Buckner the #1 Royals prospect in August (a pick I still don't feel totally sure of), I was bummed to see Buckner go, especially for a guy with a history of (alleged) spousal abuse and possible anger management problems. But, Callaspo has put up great numbers at AAA for Arizona, and the team could use a replacement for Grudz for when he finally hangs 'em up or gets jettisoned. In the end, it made sense to bring in Callaspo, and Buckner wasn't such a sure thing he couldn't go elsewhere.

8. Signing RP Ron Mahay. I just hope he keeps up the good work out of the bullpen. This could be a waste of money if he reverts to 2005 (6.81 ERA) form.

9. Signing C Miguel Olivo. I don't see how he's much improvement from John Buck. Neither is gonna hit over .240, get on base consistently or slug consistently. Color me underwhelmed for this signing. BUT, he is better than Jason LaRue (hopefully).

10. Signing RH Chin-Hui Tsao to a minor-league deal. Another low-risk pickup that could have a reward if Tsao can continue to come back from surgery. He's worth taking a flyer on.

Hopefully I'll get checked in a little bit more frequently until ST and the 2008 season begins.

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