Friday, April 15, 2005

Dirt Kickin'

I didn't think it was possible for Lima to suck any worse than he already has, but that's what I get for thinking. After his "fire-up-the-troops" ejection, Tony Pena actually kicked dirt on the umpire. That is so 1982. Besides, if he wants to fire up the team, he should be kicking Jose Lima.


I'm sure I've missed a few, but this is a fairly comprehensive list of the major league veterans AB has signed as a free agent/traded for/resigned to a major league contract since he's been GM and a candid evaluation of their performances:

Jose Lima -- stinks.
Tony Graffanino -- stunk, missed half the season with injury.
Juan Gonzalez -- stunk, missed most of the season with injury.
Scott Sullivan -- stunk/stinks, missed part of season with injury, still out.
Brian Anderson -- terrible.
Matt Stairs -- decent bench player, overused in outfield.
Mike Sweeney -- two injury-filled and declining production seasons, untradable contract.
Desi Relaford - terrible. Production fell precipitously after wrist injury.
Darrell May - terrible (his one good season was on the cheap).
Brent Mayne - terrible, even if that isn't the perception.
Joe Randa - decent, but a low-tier starting third baseman.
Neifi Perez - terrible.
Chuck Knoblauch - terrible.
Paul Byrd - pretty good. But he took a flyer on this guy after serious injury, so it hardly counts as acquiring major league talent.

That is some track record.

Now, the Royals will compete in the future by:

a) Drafting well;
b) Drafting well;
c) Trading their established, quality major league veterans at the height of their value and demand;
d) Finding cheap talent on the minor league free agent market;
e) Filling in production gaps with major league free agents.

AB has proven himself very adept at finding cheap talent, and he's beginning to turn it around in the draft. AB made some awful trades early in his tenure, but had a banner year last year, even if he didn't leverage the Beltran situation as well as he could have.

But AB has been an unbelievably miserable failure at bringing major league players to this team. I acknowledge that he's working with minimal resources, but that doesn't not excuse the fact that 90% of the players he's acquired have COLLAPSED after coming to the Royals.

Question: given that AB seemingly has no ability to acquire established major league talent, can he lead this team into the playoffs?


At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Spike said...

I have to say that I don't think it's really fair to judge Baird so harshly on the major leaguers he signs since the really excellent major leaguers -- ones that are much more likely to be good signings than not -- are too expensive for the Royals. Not to mention, anybody that was a decent signing, you slam anyway -- Joe Randa for instance. "Low tier"? Of course he's low tier -- if he was a top-tier 3rd baseman the Royals could never have thought about signing him. Most major leaguers have already established their values and those won't change much over the course of their careers -- that's why it's hard to have a "great" major league signing.

I'm not ready to call Anderson or Lima horrible signings yet. BA pitched great in Anaheim, perhaps he'll get back on the beam this season, and Lima came back from that awful first innning today. After the first, he looked like a guy who could be very effective. Also, I don't think that, say, Desi's and Graff's injuries are emblematic of bad signings. Graff should be a nice utility guy -- I'm hoping that's what he'll be this year. As far as Sweeney's contract goes -- we'll see if he has another tough year. But the thing is, if you don't sign Sweeney, who are you going to sign? You saw the free agent market this year -- players quickly became overpriced. There were no good signings out there. The Royals couldn't have gotten a Beltre -- or even a JD Drew. (Talk about injuries.) Even if they could theoretically afford them, no free agent is coming to the Royals to be the best player on a team with no chance. Not unless the Royals offer them waaaay more money that anybody else. No, the absence of Sweeney would just mean the absence of Sweeney. No great player would be replacing him.

Like it or not, a C grade is the best Royals fans can hope for in the major league talent acquisition department. We just need Baird to continue to get an A in the minor league pick-ups and start getting A's in the draft. (A grades, not A's players.)

Still, I share your frustration. Had the boy's not fought back and won tonight, my comment would likely have been much less optimistic. Also, I'm with you on the Brent Mayne signing. I thought the Royals were doing just fine with the Greg Zaun's of the world, until they could develop or trade for a longtime guy. Then we signed Mayne for a ridiculous amount of money. That was just silly. And you left out Roberto Hernandez -- although I'm guessing you might be trying to block that out. Thanks for the posts, I enjoy reading them.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger DL said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't necessarily blame AB for some of his moves; I thought they were right at the time. But the fact is that none of them worked out, and its not just that he can't afford good players.

I'll try to post some data to support my contention soon, which is always a good idea.



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