Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Royals Ink Gobble and Brown

The Royals avoided arbitration with Emil Brown and Jimmy Gobble, signing both to 1-year contracts. Gobble signed for $712,500. Gobble had a good year in the pen last year, striking out 80 in 84 innings. Certainly a good sign for a pitcher who used to strike out one batter every 3 innings. Gobble's stuff is probably best suited for the bullpen, especially since his fastball can reach 94 mph more regularly. He can also spot start and did a decent job last year (5.14 ERA as starter).

The Royals signed Emil Brown to a one-year, $3.4 million deal. Brown has been one of the Royals' most productive bats over the past two seasons, leading the team in RBI's over that period. With Brown and Sanders under contract, the Royals will have plenty of time to let Teahen transition to the outfield and give Gordon as much time as needed in the minors.

The Royals also signed Alex Gonzalez to a minor-league contract. He was downright awful for the Devil Rays last year, hitting .111/.158/.111 in 36 ABs. His career line of .243/.302/.391 isn't anything to brag about, but he is a good backup shortstop.

The Royals are still negotiating with Todd Wellemeyer. Wellemeyer has good stuff, but his even K/BB ratio is certainly a concern for next year. He may have trouble repeating a pretty good season last year if he can't improve his command. Nonetheless, he's a cheap, young reliever, so he's worth re-signing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Minor League Chat

meteorologistdave: The Royals seem to have set the main positions in the roster for 2007. The Royals could still use another veteran starter or reliever to add some depth. But, for the most part, the 2007 Royals are ready to go. And of course, if someone will take Angel Berroa, then by all means take him!

garoyal23: What I'd like to see the Royals do between now and Opening Day is to trade from our position of strength (outfielders) to land some more pitching depth. It doesn't matter to me if that depth is at the major league level or a legit minor leaguer. We just need depth. Like you say, Angel Berroa is a huge question mark. His numbers have been declining every year, but his defense seems to be improving. I'm comfortable giving him another year to see what happens with him. If he declines for the 4th straight year, then cut your losses. However, if he manages a .270 average with an OPS of around .670 to .700, then that will satisfy me. That being said, I'd like to see Moore sign a veteran middle infielder that could possible slide into the SS role if Berroa fails. Someone to push him.

meteorologistdave: Using their outfield depth to acquire more pitching or a shortstop would be a welcome move. Speaking of the Royals' tremendous depth at the corners, let's get started with Alex Gordon. If you put Gordon in the lineup now, he's probably going to be the best hitter in the lineup, even as a rookie. However, that could be detrimental to his development. I think he could use at least a couple months at AAA before he becomes the Royals' everyday third basemen.

garoyal23: I haven't seen anything that makes me think that Gordon will be a liability at third base defensively. I am leaning toward having him start in out in KC in 2007. That makes the lineup stronger instantly. I'm not sure where he'd start out in the lineup (I'm guessing 6th), but he'd definitely make the lineup stronger. Teahen was rushed to the majors, in large part to Chris Truby's spring training injury, and he struggled in his first full season. I really don't see that going on with Gordon. He put up fantastic numbers last year in AA. He's more of a hitter than Teahen at AA. If he starts in KC, he'd do fine with the bat and fine with the glove.

meteorologistdave: I think Gordon is talented enough to do very well in the majors right away, I just think it would be beneficial to give him a little more experience. Gordon's draft counterpart Ryan Zimmerman has already logged 672 ABs, so I'm guessing Gordon is probably ready. I just tend to be cautious, especially considering how important his development is to the future of the franchise. The next most likely prospect to make the team, Billy Butler?

garoyal23: In my mind, the thing that will keep Butler from making the team will be his defense. He was drafted as a 3B. He was then moved to 1B. Then moved to the OF. From what I've seen, he isn't doing all that badly defensively, but he would surely benefit from spending 2007 (or the greater part of it) in AAA working on his defense. I think the Omaha OF will be Lubanski in left, Maier in center and Butler in right. Huber will get the majority of his ABs (if he's not traded) from the DH spot in the order, but he's likely to play the field as well, so he's not viewed as one dimensional when Moore is shopping him.

meteorologistdave: That's pretty much what I was thinking when I asked the question. This season will tell us a lot about the future positions of Butler and Huber. My guess is that one of the two will become the Royals' left fielder (probably Butler) and the other will see time at DH. Of course, then there's talk about Huber moving back to catcher. So, his future is really up in the air. Butler is young enough I think he can become a passable left fielder. So, with Butler/Huber in left field and Teahen in right, how does that bode for the future of Lubanski, Maier, Costa, and the Royals' other outfield prospects?

garoyal23: DeJesus is under contract through the 2010 season (there's a team option for 2011), so he's going to be a fixture in center field for a long time. Well past the time that the Royals will have to make a decision on the futures of those you mentioned. I've seen that Maier has drawn some interest from other clubs and could eventually be traded. I'm sure that Costa is one that other teams would be interested in as well. I'd like to keep Lubanski in the organization, though. He is a young kid and has reached the AAA level. Both Lubanski and Maier were drafted in '03, so they could stay in the Royals minor leagues through the 2008 season. At that time, Lubanski would be only 23 and Maier would be 26. Shane Costa (also drafted in 2003) would be turning 27 after the 2008 season.

meteorologistdave: Lubanski would be a good prospsect to keep around considering his upside. He's just a year older than Butler and he's held his own offensively over the past two seasons. Maier could also be useful as a fourth outfielder with his versatility (he can play all the outfield positions). The outfield situation looks pretty good and the Royals have plenty of options and time to make these decisions with Sanders and probably Brown in the outfield this season. The Royals seem set everywhere except the middle infield positions. German's defense will have to improve before he becomes an everyday second basemen. Are there any middle infield prospects who seem like they could be the second basemen or shortstop of the future? Outside of Jeff Bianchi, who can't get out of rookie ball, I can't think of any who stand out.

garoyal23: I can't either. There's Sanchez and Blanco in the upper minors. Sanchez has the glove for SS (Blanco, too, for that matter) but I don't think either will put up the offensive numbers that you like to see out of your SS. Sanchez is going to need a full season at AAA and then we'll have to see what happens after that. We are set at 2B this season with Grudzielanek and probably 2008, as he has a player option for '08 ($4.0 to $4.5 million). I've read that Bianchi profiles out better as a 2B, rather than SS (I guess it has to do with his range). So, the way it looks, we've got no one to look to as our SS of the future. We used to think we were set at 2B for the future with Gotay and Murphy in the system, but they are both gone and all we got was Jeff Keppinger (who was recently DFA'd).

meteorologistdave: The middle infield looks pretty bare, so it'll be interesting to see what Moore can do to fix that. Next time we'll discuss the Royals' pitching and catching prospects. I guess that will mainly be a discussion about the Royals’ pitching prospects since there aren’t really any catching prospects to discuss.