Monday, March 06, 2006

Inevitable Demise of the Rotation

Each year, Royals fans await the collapse of the rotation. This year, it's arrived earlier than usual. Zack Greinke has returned to Florida for "personal reasons". I don't want to speculate on what is troubling Zack, but hopefully it gets resolved quickly for him and the Royals. Mark Redman injured his knee during his start yesterday and could be out for 4-6 weeks. Hernandez is healthy for now, but he's not in good shape and will be an injury risk. So, what's that leave the Royals with? A rotation with Hernandez, Elarton, and Mays, barring any additional injuries.

The next two starters will probably be either Bautista, Affeldt, or Howell. My guess would be Bautista and Affeldt making the team with Howell going to AAA (Royals want to give him more time there). Bautista and Affeldt haven't done much to make a case for themselves so far, with poor first starts. I'm not convinced that either has the consistency to be a good starter. Bautista and Affeldt haven't shown any signs of developing good enough command of their full repertoire. I'm not convinced that either pitcher can stay healthy long enough to become a productive starter either. But, they are the two most talented arms the Royals have in the rotation mix.

The Royals do have pretty good rotation depth heading into the season and they'll need every bit of it. Here's how the depth chart looks at the moment:

Hernandez
Elarton
Mays
Affeldt
Howell
Bautista
Gobble
Wood
Dessens (spot starter)
Bass

Available after the season starts:
Greinke
Redman
Madritsch

The Royals have some depth, but overall it looks like the same story in 2006. The Royals don't have enough quality starters in the rotation. Until that changes, the Royals aren't going to rise out of last place.

The failure to develop and find quality starting pitching has been the main downfall of the Baird era. Unless the Royals' rotation turns things around in miraculous way, it will likely be the end of the Baird era. At least Baird has figured out that the Royals need pitching depth (Kansas City Star article):

“I keep telling people,” general manager Allard Baird said, “that you can never have too much depth when it comes to pitching.”

Of course, it'll probably take him another 5 years to figure out that you not only need very good depth, but quality pitchers as well.

6 Comments:

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Troy said...

The only saving grace to having acquired Elarton, Redman, and Mays in the offseason is that maybe, just maybe, one of them has a decent first half. Let's say a half dozen wins with a sub-4.0 ERA, and Baird can trade that guy for a few quality minor leaguers. But at this point, I've got to wonder whether he would actually pull the trigger on a deal like that with the thought in the back of his head that another 100 loss season might end his tenure as GM.

This may be a bad season for the Royals, perhaps worse than the last two. Rather than build for the future, Baird may be so consumed with saving his job that he the organization actually regresses this year. It may create a few extra wins this year, but it will most certainly cost us wins in the future.

 
At 1:27 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

I can guarantee that Allard Baird is NOT going to place his job security ahead of the Royals' direction. It's not in his character to do anything like that.

 
At 4:47 AM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

Kevin, I agree. The Royals' signings didn't keep any young players off the field and should only benefit their development. The Royals' absolutely needed rotation help and depth. The Royals' needed a corner outfielder and a legit bat behind Sweeney as well as insurance at first in case Sweeney got hurt. Baird filled the teams needs, I'm just not sure if he picked the best players. Baird not only needed to improve the club to keep his job, but he needed to do so for the organization because another 100-loss season would be devastating to the fan base. I don't see how Elarton, Redman, Mays, Sanders, Mientkiewicz, or Grudzielanek are costing the Royals any wins, except if they don't perform well.

 
At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just our luck. It looks to me like the Royals' three best starters are the one's who aren't available.
The projections on Madritsch are pretty awful, but I think he might be decent. If Hernandez can regain some of his stuff, he's probably ahead of Madritsch, but the point is that these are not the pitchers that we want injured.
If Elarton and Mays went down, I probably wouldn't think twice about it.

But god, I don't think any of these guys are particularly good, other than Greinke (and Howell eventually being decent)
People can say what they want about Affeldt, but he still keeps the ball on the ground and in the park.
His PERA has actually been pretty consistent:

Year, PERA
2003: 3.91
2004: 4.20
2005: 4.15

...I think people are jumping on him too much.
I still think he has what it takes to start for this team and would really benefit from getting consistent work.

-sumajestad

 
At 6:03 AM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

I agree Affeldt is worth a shot. The Royals need some talent in the rotation and Affeldt has plenty of talent. Aside from staying healthy, Affeldt's biggest problem is his mindset. He had a great first half last season (2.49 ERA at end of July. Then, what happened after he didn't get traded? He was terrible (11.17 ERA in August and 5.17 in September).

The Royals are letting him do what he wants to do, start. Hopefully, he'll take advantage of it and we could have a good starter for the next two seasons.

 
At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look out '62 Mets!

 

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