13 January 2010


I'm still awaiting that surge of refreshment to drive me to do the RotF reports for 2010. Really I can only think of two reasons to do so....1) you, ladies and gentlemen, the readers. If you've come to read this blog at some point, it's because you care about the topics of choice, and if you're a fan of the reports, you care about the young players in the system, and it's future as far as the Royals go....and 2) because this blog was built around those reports. Without them, it's just another blog, for all intents and purposes. I think my point of view is worth sharing on many topics, but those reports are kind of the niche here. Anyway, if I decide to move forward, just know it's for you, the reader. If I decide to can the reports, don't take it personal. Blame the organization. Blame Glass. Blame Dayton. Hell, blame me. If the team is sold and Moore stops pontifficating and starts making sound decisions, maybe the reports would return. Not that I'm making that call yet. Moving on...

Yes, I did neglect to go into the signing of Cuban lefty Noel Arguelles in my last "Touching Base" post, but it wasn't finalized until this week. I guess it's a good move, everybody seems to think it is. I'll wait and see how he does. Colt Griffin had speed on his pitches too, but it does no good if you can't control where the pitch is going. Arguelles is a little more battle-tested than Griffin, tho, I'll concede.

Then there's the Scott Podsednik signing, which is a classic Dayton move. Podsednik is coming off his best season since his rookie year, his first to crack a less than mediocre .701 or better OPS since then, and the Royals feel the need to bring him in. I'm not convinced Mitch Maier can't do what Podsednik would. It's a one year, cheap deal tho, not Jose Guillen. But it's also just one more guy who can't post a league-average OPS. Dayton collects them on the side along with former Braves. I honestly don't think the bagging of this deal by many Royals fans is based on Podsednik himself, it's more based on Moore's increasing track record of these kind of moves.

By the way, I'm holding off on the Legacy post for 2009 until next month, most likely. I wanna give Dayton time for a couple more dumb decisions. There have been a couple stellar posts over at Royals Review recently about the front office, so check those out.

That brings me to Monday's release of the BA top 10 Royals prospects, which I would say didn't include any huge shockers. I would say Crow is overrated at #2, but at least he didn't crash and burn in his AFL stint. It could be argued Jarrod Dyson had the best AFL season of any Royals farmhand, as he hit over. 300 with a .772 OPS. Mike Moustakas hit for an .848 OPS but once again posted a sub-.300 OBP, which isn't gonna cut it in the majors, but is right up Dayton Moore's alley. It helped that 11 of his 20 hits in 19 AFL games were for extra bases. Jeff Bianchi didn't really blow anybody away in the AFL either with a .741 OPS, but it wasn't awful. Pitcher-wise, Aaron Hartsock and Brandon Sisk were marginal-to-good, Crow had an ERA near 6 but the rest of his numbers weren't bad, and Blake Wood and Ben Swaggerty crashed-and-burned on the mound. Anyway, getting back to BA's list, they ranked Wil Myers ahead of both Moustakas and Hosmer, which I can see but still kinda surprised me, and had Chris Dwyer at #9, which I think is kind of premature but we'll see how he does in 2010. No big surprises on the best tools list, although Mario Lisson must be pretty good defensively to make it as far as he has with his offensive output. My reaction to the projected 2013 lineup was, that looks great, but I bet that's if Moore doesn't have anything to do with it that year. I have no idea what prospects will have to do to crack the MLB lineup in this system. The FO is too stuck on the mediocrity they know rather than the unknown talent in the minors. But then again none of the top-flight prospects have put any pressure on the FO to make a move, other than Kila.

Finally, Chris Jaffe of the excellent Hardball Times site contacted me last month with a proposal to review portions of his new book, "Evaluating Baseball's Managers" and I agreed to give it a look. I guess the Royals content in it is minimal, as the only two Royal managers he focuses on at any point are Jack McKeon, who made his bones later and in other places, so his work in KC isn't discussed at all, and Whitey Herzog, whose time in KC is discussed but the focus mainly lays on his time with the Cardinals. I got to review the McKeon and Herzog sections plus the chapter on some of the more modern-day managers that weren't covered in the other main statistically-based book on managers, the Bill James Guide to Managers, which I own and have read. I think Jaffe's work mines a part of statistics and baseball research that needs further study, and that's the effect of the manager on a team and how much he contributes to wins and losses. I am of the thinking that a manager has much to do with the fate of a team, unlike many who think the manager makes little to no difference at all. Jaffe uses a sabermetrical database of statistics (explained at his blog site linked above, and in the book) to help evaluate the managers, which provides some interesting and thought-provoking results.

Being that there seems to be relatively little known about how much effect a manager has, it's interesting to read about what's been the secret of Ozzie Guillen's success in Chicago, how Bruce Bochy has kept a managerial job so long despite the lack of a serious run at a title, why certain managers are underappreciated, or how much Terry Francona and Joe Torre have had to do with their teams' success in large markets where the money flows like water, and front offices break out the checkbook. What makes this manager work well, and what does he do right, and what does he do wrong? Jaffe's work makes strides in that direction. I think Jaffe could have factored in stats like Pitcher Abuse Points to his evaluations, but there's already quite a bit of statistical work involved and I'm sure there's a saturation point. I also mainly think that because he argues the managerial value of Dusty Baker. He isn't afraid to take some strong points, such as Dusty Baker as good manager and the role of batboys in that career, and the potential effect of racism on the career of Felipe Alou. The reader probably won't agree with all the arguments, but that's why they're arguments. As a Royals fan, the managerial picture has been pretty bleak since the demise of Dick Howser, the days of Hal McRae aside, and when you're trotting out the dead weight the Royals have the last decade, it's easy to think it doesn't matter what the manager does. But there's a reason some managers can do more with what they're given than others. Jaffe's book plumbs those depths. I'm sure you'll eventually be able to find a copy at your local library, but if you want your own copy, go here. I'm sure it'll hit Amazon too.