Friday, December 16, 2005

Breaking News: 4 New Royals

According to the Kansas City Star, the Royals have signed Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Grudzielanek, Paul Bako and Scott Elarton. The good news is that the most of the deals are short-term deals. The Kansas City Star says that Elarton is likely getting a two-year deal and the others are one-year deals (Grudz has an option for a second year). While none of these moves are really anything to get excited about, the Royals did add some veterans to help solidify some of the weaknesses on the team. Mientkiewicz is a good defender at 1B and Grudz is an average defender at 2B, both improvements over the existing players defensively. I'm a bit anxious about the Elarton signing because he's been pretty inconsistent and will have a mediocre defense behind him this year. However, Elarton has put up league-average ERAs over the past two seasons with the Indians (4.53 and 4.61).

Before I go into detail about each player, here's why I consider today's signings good progress for the Royals. The first step the Royals must take is making this team respectable. These players should improve the offense, defense and pitching as well as add some major league veterans (not AAA ones). Moreover, these signings don't distract from the overall plan of the Royals. The Royals acquired players to fix team weaknesses until the organization has players ready to fill their roles. The Royals signed most of these players to one-year deals, which is in the best interest of the club. The next wave of prospects (Butler, Gordon, Huber, Murphy, Blanco, etc) need to spend a year at AA and AAA before assuming regular roles with the big league club. The free agent market is also much, much better next year. So, the Royals could find a impact player or two who could make a difference for the team in the long-term. Of course, to get an impact player to come to KC, the Royals must show significant progress and hopefully these moves will help the Royals accomplish that.

The best signing out of the group was Mark Grudzielanek. Grudzielanek gives the Royals a solid average defender at 2nd basemen and a decent offensive second basemen. The signing was fairly economical at $4 million for this year and a $3 million option if he gets 500 ABs. I'm not too excited about the option if it prevents the Royals from obtaining a compensation pick for him if the option isn't vested. Not sure about the details of the option.

The Doug Mientkiewicz signing was a pretty good one. Mientkiewicz got a 1-year deal at $1.85 million and 700K in incentives. He has a reputation as an excellent defender (although his FRAA was -5 last year, defensive stats are flaky). He'll improve the Royals' defense at first considerably and ensure that Joe McEwing or Estaben German aren't playing first or batting third in the lineup.

The Scott Elarton deal is questionable. Elarton struggled at Colorado but has been pretty successful for the Indians over the past two seasons. Still, his home runs allowed and inconsistency are worrisome. At 2 years and $8 million, the Royals might have been able to find a better option. For example, Byung-Hyun Kim had a pretty good season for Colorado and few teams have expressed interest in him. Kim is one of the younger starters on the market and wouldn't require a significant investment.

Paul Bako's main duties are to handle the young pitching staff and help John Buck improve his skills as a catcher.

Overall, given the inflated prices of free agents and the decimated state of the team, I think Baird has done a pretty good job so far. The starting pitching acquistions aren't particular impressive, but should help stabilize the rotation and add depth. Mientkiewicz and Grudzielanek will improve the Royals' infield defense and help the offense some. Baird has improved the team without mortgaging the future payroll and without deviating from the overall plan.

Next up, Baird's continued search for a power-hitting corner outfielder. The Royals have reportedly made a 3-year, $15 million offer to Jacque Jones. The Royals have also expressed interest in Reggie Sanders and Jeromy Burnitz, whom I would prefer. I like Jones as a short-term option, but the Royals can do better in the long-term. Sanders and Burnitz would solidify the middle of the lineup and improve the outfield defense. The Royals may also look to add another starter.


At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elarton is really worth taking a risk on. He was a great prospect with the Astros but has dealt with some injuries in the last few years. Still reasonably young.

This is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade for the Royals if the signings turn out to be true.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Mike A said...

Mentkiewicz, or however you spell it, is an outstanding defender, he'll save the young left side of the infield 20 errors next year.

Elarton is good, solid number 4-5 starter, but he's shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, you never know who'll break out and when they do it (think Jamie Moyer).

At least its a step towards respectability that'll get them some veteran presence.

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Mark (YoungPhenom) said...

The great thing is that this will give alot of our young players more chance to develop next season. I was thrilled to see that Huber is going to spend the full you in AAA working on his Defence and that Gotay/Murphy/Blanco will spend the year in the minors working on what they need to. This is what Baird tried to do last year with Teahan, but we signed some AAAA player (Clapanski?) who got hurt and Teahan got rushed to the Bigs. This is exactly what needed to happen.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

I don't know who writes this blog, but I'll give my opinion. If we want a FA outfielder, it had better be Preston Wilson. Forget Jones. Forget Sanders. Forget Burnitz. Forget Encarnacion he can't play defense worth a sh**.


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