Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Developing Players

When you look at the other "youth movements" around the major leagues, it's hard not to be jealous of other teams young talent. The A's traded away their two prized starters and figured to be in a rebuilding year. The A's struggled at the beginning of the season. For a while, their record was almost as bad as the Royals. But, they've recovered and are leading the wildcard race right now. Their success is largely due to the development of good young talent on their team. The A's and the Indians have a core of young players that are producing and have some veteran players to add stability.

Why are the Royals so bad at develop young players? First of all, let's take a look at the last "youth movement" in 2003. This youth movement included Berroa, Harvey, MacDougal, Affeldt, Asencio, Carrasco, Snyder, Gobble, George, Hernandez, and Brown. That's a lot of young players to have on a team. So, how does that "youth movement" look 2 years later?

Miserable Failures: Harvey, Asencio, Snyder, Gobble, George, Brown
Questionable Future: Berroa, Carrasco (can he keep it up?), Affeldt (will he contribute before becoming a FA?)
Average Players: MacDougal, Hernandez

So, out of that group of 11 young players, 6 failured miserably, 3 are still here but not really in the future (at least if the team is going to be any good), and 2 have become average players. I think we have to consider that "youth movement" a bust. Except for developing centerfielders (Damon, Beltran, and DeJesus), this organization really hasn't done a good job at developing players.

The biggest problem has been the Royals' inability to develop starting pitching. The Royals have had plenty of talent to develop over the past 5 years after focusing on pitching in the draft. But, the Royals have developed one average starter (perhaps generously rated average) Hernandez. You can't win without good starting pitching. Free agent starting pitching is very expensive and has a high risk.

The Royals have done very little to correct this problem. Here are the major organizational flaws that have hurt the Royals ability to develop starters:

1. Rushing starters to the majors: This one is a big problem. The Royals have promoted many starters prematurely, without spending much, if any time at AAA. At AAA, young pitchers face guys like Pickering and Guiel who have major league experience and won't miss mistake pitches that a young hitter at AA might. Each of the Big Three spent significant time at AAA before joining the big league team.

2. Converting Starters into Relievers: The Royals seem to convert every talented pitcher that came up as a starter into a reliever. The trend started with Affeldt. Affeldt wasn't great as a starter, but he wasn't terrible. He was a league-average starter in his first two seasons as a starter (the Royals have developed one league-average starter). His blister problems had disappeared, so who knows what might have happened if he stays in the rotation. The Royals already converted their best young arms, Sisco, Burgos, and Nunez into relievers.

There's probably a lot more factors that have contributed to the Royals' failure to develop young starters and other young players. But, the Royals need to make some major changes. The Royals can add all of the talent they want. But, until they start developing good, young talent (especially in the rotation), the Royals will never be competitive. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that this youth movement really isn't different from the 2003 "youth movement". The only difference is that the 2003 team had some decent veterans who had career years and made that team pretty good.

On another note, the Royals lose their 17th straight game. The Royals need to make some serious changes this offseason.

6 Comments:

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work, Royals! The 1962 Mets await your joining them in the trash heap of history!

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

"On another note, the Royals lose their 17th straight game. The Royals need to make some serious changes this offseason."-- Duuh!

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I'd add some caveats on the relievers: 1) Burgos asked to be a reliever. Why, I'm not certain, but I'm sure it was a factor in converting him. 2) Sisco had to be a reliever at the time the Royals picked him up -- it was the only way to keep him. If he begins next year as a reliever and there's no plan to even try him as a starter, then I'll have a problem with it.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

There was good reason to move Sisco to the bullpen. The Royals still have time to convert Sisco to a starter, unlike Affeldt who really isn't likely to contribute much over the next 2 years. Burgos seems to fit the mold of a closer better than a starter. But, the Royals need starting pitching badly. Good middle relievers and setup men are much, much cheaper than a good starter.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

What the Royals need to do is have a set of rules for ALL of there minor league players and prospects.

1) Play at each level of the minors until they get beat up atleast once and recover. This gives a player the chance for the league to adapt to him and lets him learn to adapt back.

2) Every player must play atleast a half season at AAA (I would prefer a whole season for most, but always a half season)

I think a major problem with the Royals is they don't grow there talent in the right place. They think you can do that in the majors, but you can't. Teahan, Gotay, Burgos, Bayliss, Nunez, Costa all needed more grooming and it was obvious.

The player that they did do this procedure with was DeJesus and look how good he turned out. He has gotten into short ruts a couple of times this season, but each time he has quickly gotten out of it and gotten back to producing.

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger DL said...

If I were the Royals, I wouldn't care if Burgos asked to be a reliever. The guy struck out 172 batters in 133 innings last season. He has a special arm, and he's the kind of guy you want throwing 200 innings for you someday, not 50. But I'm out of explanations - the Royals are just stupid, in this case by letting 20 year old kids make baseball decisions they should be making themselves.

I have no doubt that Andrew Sisco is a reliever for life. What would the Royals do without those vaunted power arms in bullpen? Better to use D.J. Carrasco for those pesky 1-6 innings.

 

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