Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Incentive Away From Contention?

Well, it's Saturday, which means that the first intrasquad game of spring training is tomorrow!  According to The Star,  the Royals have announced who will be pitching in the opener.  Jamey Wright, Julio Pimental, Devon Lowery and Heath Phillips will pitch two innings each and Henry Barrera will pitch one inning.  I am most excited to hear about how Julio, Devon and Henry do.  Barrera has the potential to be this year's Ram-Ram, in my opinion.  Now if only we could get a lineup for tomorrow's game!

Speaking of tomorrow's lineup, the one thing we do know is that Jose Guillen won't be in it.  Originally slated as the DH, Jose won't be playing due to a sore shoulder along with his sore toe.  I understand that Spring Training has only just begun and it takes players a while to get into the swing of things, but if he has a sore shoulder from overthrowing in the first few days of camp, that leads me to believe that he hadn't kept a very strict throwing regiment over the winter.  In fact, now that I think about it, I don't recall hearing about JoGui playing winterball at all.  I may be mistaken though.  More controversial news to come from Guillen is that he used to work out with the now infamous Angel Presinal, the same trainer that is banned from all MLB clubhouses and was allegedly working out with Alex Rodriguez. Although Jose claims that it hasn't been within the last three years and that it never involved PED's.  I think it's very discomforting that this steroid issue continues to grow despite the big congressional hearing which everyone thought was the pinnacle of the situation. 

Buster Olney recently wrote a new post, much of it centering on Greinke, and also the Royals improvement this offseason.  No new information really, except for this interesting little tidbit:  

"The Royals actually had a higher offer in a base salary for Orlando Hudson than theDodgers' winning offer -- $4.6 million, more than a million more than L.A.'s winning offer of $3.38 million. But Hudson can make more with the Dodgers if he realizes all of the incentive clauses, and there was a feeling all along within the Royals organization that Hudson's preference was to sign with L.A. and remain in the NL West as he tries to position himself for another run at free agency."

Well, this is somewhat depressing.  All the Royals had to do was add incentives, and we could have had an almost-all-star caliber second baseman and leadoff hitter.  We could have easily tweaked those incentives so that the Cabrera wouldn't have gotten paid unless we were within so many games of the division lead.  While this is the Royals I have come to expect, I wish that we could have pulled this one out.  I genuinely believe it could have turned us into a legitimate contender for the central pennant.

In the Star today was an excellent write-up about my second favorite Royal.  Coco Crisp is the type of "gritty" player that I enjoy being a fan of.  (As opposed to the "sucky" "gritty" player, like Ross Gload.)  While Coco still needs to try and improve his walk rate, if he can get back to his the stat lines he had in his years with Cleveland (or even head in that direction) it will make the loss of Ramon Ramirez hurt even less.  The best part about players like Coco Crisp and Mark Teahen is that you always know you are getting 100% effort from them.  This is clearly not the case with players like Angel Berroa, Neifi Perez and even some current Royals.  Coco has a lot of work to do to get back to the production that he has had in the past, but on a team like Kansas City where the pressure is much more similar to Cleveland than to Boston, maybe he has a chance.

On there is a small write-up about Derrick Robinson's first few days of his first trip to major league Spring Training.  While it's clear this is just a "see what you're in for if you work hard" maneuver, I think it is a good idea.  Derrick will be closely working with both Coco Crisp and David DeJesus.  Derrick was the "Willie Wilson Award" winner for last year, which I was previously unaware of until reading this article.  The "Willie Wilson Award" is given out to the best baserunner in the minor league system.  I think this is an excellent idea.  Awarding good baserunning and creating incentives for players to work on it is a somewhat new concept.  The Royals should be doing more things like this, trying to create improvement of their minor leaguers' game in anyway possible.  Creating 5 tool players should be their goal.  

Last thing for the day, for those of you that aren't familiar, I'm a big Paul DePodesta fan.  Paul first came to my attention when he was a predominant figure in "Moneyball" as an assistant to Billy Beane.  He has since moved on to be the Dodgers GM from '04 to '05 and is now a special assistant to GM Kevin Towers of the Padres.  I was on the Paul DePodesta bandwagon (I think I was driving it actually) when the Royals were searching for a GM.  In fact, if DM ever gets fired I really hope Paul gets the job, I think he is an excellent talent and understands statistical correlation in baseball better than almost anyone.  (At least better than anyone who actually has a resume that could land them a GM job.)  Anyway, Paul has a blog that I enjoy reading very much and I thought I might pass that link on to everyone.  That link is Http:// so if you get the chance, take a look.  I wish there were more front end personell blogs similar to this with wonderful insight and sometimes even breaking news.  As always, thanks for reading, and please leave a comment if you have a question or want me to cover a specific topic.  Thanks.

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