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Monday, December 20, 2004

Asencio, Marrero, Santiago, and Sosa

Well, it was good to see that the Royals did not offer Miguel Asencio a big-league contract for 2005. The 24 year-old was recovering from Tommy John surgery and wasn't projected to be back until August or September. Regardless of whether he was recovering or not Asencio is a guy who doesn't project to have any kind of career. In 171 career innings he's struck out 85 and walked 85. Such a low strikeout rate (4.48 per 9 innings) and a high walk rate aren't a combination for success.

So right now it looks like Runelvyes Hernandez, Zack Grienke, Denny Bautista, Jimmy Gobble, Kyle Snyder, Brian Anderson, Mike Wood, and Kevin Appier (yes they signed the 37 year-old to a minor league contract) will all be in the running for starting spots in 2005.

On another front the Royals acquired Eli Marrero from the Braves for pitcher Jorge Vasquez. No, this is not the answer to the corner outfield situation (he's 31 years old) but it is interesting because Marrero can hit left-handers - to the tune of .415/.462/.670 last year in Atlanta. This could make a good platoon with Matt Stairs or Terrance Long at the corners. Allard Baid admitted that was his thinking in the story:

"But what this does allow is for us to buy some time if we need it. Looking at the free agent market and where the dollars go there, for us this makes more sense. If you combine a left-right, whether it be (Terrence) Long, whether it be (Matt) Stairs, you'd have pretty good production out there. It also improves the bats off the bench."

Finally, the Royals also unloaded Benito Santiago to the Pirates in exchange for pitcher Leo Nunez. The Royals will still have to pick up about $1M of his $2.15M salary in 2005. Of all the moves Baird made before the 2004 season this one was one that made the least sense to me. Paying a 39 year-old catcher over $4M for 2 years is strange to say the least. The deal also indicates that perhaps the Royals did not want to deal with the BALCO fallout and Santiago's likely implication in it. I'm looking forward to seeing what John Buck can accomplish in a full season behind the plate.

One more thing, Sammy Sosa will not be a Royal in 2005. His $18M contract is way too big for the Royals to even consider picking up half. Sosa also has a clause where he gets his 2006 option if traded and he won't waive it in order to play in a small market with the likely prospect of losing 90 or more games.


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