Monday, January 17, 2005

Its MLK Day, so you might want to check out some of his written work. It is less than than happy for me, as I am not able to fully enjoy the freedoms for which Dr. King paid the ultimate price. Alas, my company does consider this a paid holiday, and I find myself at work. In fact, we do not get any holidays between New Year's Day and Memorial Day. How sick and twisted is that?

At least it was an easy commute into NYC from Queens, notwithstanding the ongoing bus strike. I highly doubt that my favorite bus driver, Larry of the Green Line QM23, is strutting along the picket line, but I'm sure he's enjoying the time off.

Anyway, on to serious Royals business.

Royals Problems, Continued.

2) Mike Sweeney's onerous contract. Over the next three seasons, the Royals owe Mike Sweeney $11 million per year. I like Mike Sweeney, and he's clearly the best player on the team right now (a dubious prize, no doubt). But his contract is hurting the franchise right now. The team has 25% of its payroll tied up in one player who is:

-- Injury prone
-- One dimensional
-- In performance decline at age 31

It gets worse. If Sweeney is traded, his salary jumps to $12.5 million per year and he has a partial no-trade clause (why do teams give these things to players?). Moving Sweeney will not be easy.

The most important thing for the Royals is to have payroll flexibility. Its too risky for the Royal to tie up so much money in one player for five years. Perhaps it is reasonable to ink long term deals with truly great players, but the risk is that they will not turn out to be what the team expects, which is the case with Sweeney, who is not great, merely good when he's on the field. Sweeney has always been a one dimensional player and the Royals handed him his contract for PR as much as production (given the horrible manner in which they dealt with Dye and Damon and their impending free agency, the team needed to give a gesture of committment to its core fan base).

Anyway, all of that is history, and the Royals must move forward and deal with the situation. I've maintained for a long time that only way to move Sweeney is to do one of two things:

1) Pay part of his salary to the other team;
2) Take on bad contracts in return

This is probably still true. But I think the Royals would have the most leverage with our favorite trading partner...the Mets. Assuming they don't sign Delgado, the Mets will be desperate for a first baseman. Sweeney is a risk for the Mets with his contract and injury concerns, no question, but its also risky for the team to go into 2005 with all of their massive expectations without a legitimate, productive player at 1B. And the Mets have some bad money they'd like to move as well. The Mets have been fleeced by the Royals before, and if the team can move Sweeney's entire contract for a decent outfield or pitching prospect or two, that would be grand (and not out of the question).

But it the spirit of radical Marxism, let's skip the idealism and keep it real:

A 3 way trade sending Sweeney to the Mets, Mike Cameron and a Royals prospect to a 3rd team (Houston, Oakland), and Cliff Floyd plus a B corner outfield prospect (from the 3rd team) to the Royals. Floyd and Sweeney are quite similar. They're both about the same age, good-to-very good offensive players when they can stay on the field (Sweeney is better, though), and defensively challenged. But Floyd is owed 2 seasons for a total of $13 million, which would save the Royals $20 million over Sweeney's contract. And Floyd could be moved again because his contract is manageable. If not, then the Royals have a pretty good left fielder for the next 2 years while the next wave of outfielders develop (and the cupboard is bare near the major league level).


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