Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Weekly Lancer

Without the fuel and excitement of a 106-loss team to sustain me these days, I'm planning to post about once per week in the offseason or when the need/urge arises. Today is one of those days.

-- Guy Hansen and Bob Schaffer get the axe. This isn't a surprise, since both were holdovers from the pre-Buddy era, so its just a case of Buddy Bell being able to complete his staff in a manner of his choosing. I also get the impression that Guy Hansen can be a difficult person to deal with, which given his proclivity for getting hired and fired is probably true. There's nothing controversial about this.

The next pitching coach, however, will be the 9th in the 10 years, I believe, a bizzare sequence summarized nicely by Joe Posnanski a few days ago in the Star. As you may well know, I'm not a big believer in the value of a manager. A poor manager can muck up a talented team, but a good manager is never going to be able to compensate for a collection of less-than-major-league-caliber players. The Royals have been producing low-caliber pitching from their minor league system, and the result is obvious. There is one guy out there, however - Leo Mazzone - who is in his own class as pitching coach. Leo has been shown to shave between 1/2 to nearly 1 full point off team ERA, all other things being equal.

The Royals may not be able to compete with other teams on the free agent player acquisition front, but coaching is one area where the Royals have no business crying that they can't compete. Bobby Cox makes about $2 million per season, and there is no way that Mazzone makes more. He probably earns on the order or $1.5 million per season. Given Mazzone's well-established excellence in making good pitchers great, mediocre pitchers good and bad pitchers servicable, this would be an investment that could pay huge dividends at a modest price.

Would Leo Mazzone listen? Not everyone is motivated solely by money, but I think most people have their price. If the Royals blew him away with a huge offer -- say, $10-12 million over 3 years - would he turn it down? Perhaps. But instead of signing marginal free agent flops like Brian Anderson, Darrell May and Jose Lima to $3-4 million contracts, why not make a big push to hire a guy who could help ALL of their young pitchers develop? This is, by far, the Royals' greatest need - a system that develops their talented, young pitching prospects into effective major league pitchers. All successful business hire away top executive talent from other firms to strengthen their firms, and they have to pay handsomely to do it. Why should the Royals be any different?

Instead, we'll probably get Mark Wiley - again.


At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mentioned this idea to my girlfriend yesterday before you posted on it. I think its a great idea. She, as a Braves fan, insists we can't have him. I wonder why.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger DL said...

I just don't feel like the Royals have any sense of urgency in the way they operate, which is especially frustrating for things that they can easily control, like hiring coaches. I don't think any team has a huge advantage in the non-player aspects of the organization: coaching, training and medical staff, clubhouse amenities, etc. There are plenty of reasons why the Royals can't have a $100 million payroll, but there's no reason why they can't have a state-of-the-art clubhouse, an elite medical and injury-reduction staff, and even assistant coaches. How much can these things possibly cost?

Someone posted some pictures of the Royals' clubhouse on the message board, and it looks pathetic. The Royals could spend $750k to $1m to transform into a fantastic facility. Why isn't that being done? Little things like that can be the difference between a free agent signing and not, a potential free agent deciding to re-sign or not, etc. These are the not-so-subtle signals any organization gives off to its employees about their committment to their staff, or in the case of MLB, winning.

The Royals exude indifference.


Post a Comment

<< Home