Sunday, December 25, 2005

Home for the Holidays

I've taken a bit of a hiatus from the Daily Lancer lately, but I thought I'd stop by to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I'm not religious myself, but I always appreciate the warm feeling of family, community and reflection that I get on days like today. Merry merry.

Speaking of reflecting, I've been reflecting on the actions of the Royals over the past several weeks, and while they haven't acquired any individual difference makers at any position, I can at least see the sense behind the acquisitions. Barring disaster (which is admittedly difficult to bar given the Royals' recent history), the Royals have improved their defense immensely and I'm very happy to see that they're focused on this. The Royals have finished last in defensive efficiency 3 of the last 4 years, and I don't think there's any question it affects the way their young pitchers approach the game (and leads to their finesse pitchers getting pummelled). Its difficult to quantify, but my hope is that Greinke, Hernandez, Affeldt and the like can finally pitch without the pressure of having offensive defenders behind them.

I'm less enamored with the starting pitcher acquisitions, but Mark Redman and Scott Elarton are ostensibly actual major league starting pitchers in contrast to the Kyle Snyders of the baseball universe. The Royals' recent track record with pitchers of this ilk (Lima, Anderson, May) is, er, spotty, so how I can I NOT expect that one or both of these guys will finish in the bottom 10 in VORP for pitchers? The notion that this team will finally have a collection of players who can actualy catch the ball is the only thing that sustains my belief that these acquisitions will work out.

I do not like Joe Mays. $1 to 2 million for a replacement level 5th starter is a foolish investment, and I don't buy the "depth" argument (warm bodies are not depth). Mike Wood, Jimmy Gobble and Jeremy Affeldt are better in-house candidates than Mays, all with upside and lower cost. Baird seems to believe that Mays is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and that he'll finally be all the way back next year. I'd argue that All-The-Way-Back Joe Mays is below league average anyway, but I suppose if Baird is right then he'll be worth the investment. I'm not betting on it (and I have a poor recent record with gambling anyway...)

In any case, I give Baird credit for staying with the program rather than drifting in an attempt to salvage his job. All of his acquisitions are short-term, low-to-moderate cost and allow the Royals to keep their not-ready-for-prime-time prospects in the minors for at least one more season (I believe I wrote the same thing before the 2004 season, however, so that could be damning praise). I can't say with any confidence that this plan will bear any fruit, but at least it is a plan.

Baird will be fired after next season but it won't be because he's not a good soldier for the organization.


At 12:51 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

I know Allard being fired after the seasons is a pretty good possibility, but I don't like it one bit. There's an intelligent plan in place, it's being executed to perfection, and AB deserves to be around when the club's contending for the division in 2007.

There'll be a lot of "I-Told-You-So"s coming from this fan.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

Mays is an okay addition, as long as he's not guaranteed a spot. I'd still like to give Affeldt a good shot at making the rotation.

I disagree that AB deserves to be around in 2007 unless the following happens:

1. The Royals have at most 90 losses this season. That will be tough considering the strength of the division.

2. Most of AB's free agent acquistions pan out and the young player's improvements play a large role in the club's improvement.

AB doesn't deserve to be around if significant progress is not being made after this season. If I owned the Royals, AB would have been gone halfway through 2005. AB's teams have tied or broken the franchise record for losses 4 times. He deserves to be fired. But, I'm willing to see what his plan does in 2006.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

To me, it isn't fair to fire somebody because and only because his teams lost ballgames. I know that's the reality, but it isn't fair when the GM's making sensible moves, but is seeing his players fail him over and over again.

Again, the plan is in place, it's moving forward, and most importantly, it makes tons of sense. If the Royals don't win, it won't be Allard's fault in the least. The process taken towards an end is equally as important as the result itself.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger DL said...

Allard Baird is a woeful judge and developer of pitching talent, young or old. The Royals will not contend in 2007, or 2008, or anytime after that because there simply aren't nearly enough talented, developing pitchers in the pipeline. Even if AB were perfect in every other way (and he's far from it), this is grounds for dismissal in its own right.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

"The process taken towards an end is equally as important as the result itself."

That might be true on a math test, but results are what matter in baseball. I think the W-L record shows the performance of the team. The consistent failure of the organization of the past 5 years is a result of poor decisions by Allard Baird.

The Royals need an excellent GM who can get the most out of the limited resources the Royals have. The Royals' GM must draft exceptionally, create an organization that can develop players, make excellent trades and free agent signings, and obtain compensation picks to get an advantage. So far, Baird hasn't show any signs of being an average GM, leave alone an excellent one.

If I were the owner, I would evaluate AB at midseason and at the end of the season. If the team is showing significant signs of becoming a contender in 2007, then I would consider giving him a one-year extension.

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

There's a pretty big difference between going about something the right way and not seeing results, and going about something the wrong way and getting results. In my mind, Allard's very much in the former and not at all in the latter. And that's good enough for me.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger DL said...

I can't agree with that assessment - IMO, if the process isn't coupled with results then how can it be sensible? - but I understand the sentiment.

Like I said before, though, there's nothing sensible or the "right way" about Baird and pitching. He should be fired because he can't figure out pitchers - how to draft them, how to develop them, or how to sign them. Its the key to success in major league baseball, and he's just not any good at it.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

How can it be sensible? Because it's entirely possible to do things according to your plan and for one reason or another, not have it work out. As long as the process the Royals take towards winning makes sense, I really don't care what the result is. For me, it begins and ends with setting yourself up for success. Whatever happens after that is up to fate.


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