FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com

Monday, May 16, 2005

James on the Royals

Following along the theme of "Royal Pain", Bill James, who lives in Lawrence, wrote an interesting article for the Lawrence Journal World that was published on Friday. There, James lays out the following five problems with the Royals.

"1) The economics of the game are stacked against smaller cities.

2) They have drafted relatively poorly in the last 10 years.

3) In the early- to mid-'90s, the Royals didn't know a ballplayer from a skeet shooter and committed themselves to staving off ruin by bringing in a long series of fading stars. This caused the base of the organization to crumble, which increased the financial pressures on the team, putting them in a position from which they never have recovered.

4) When the Royals have had young players that they could not afford to keep, they have uniformly failed to acquire value in exchange. The worst example of this was last year with the Carlos Beltran trade.

5) The Royals have been unable to identify and acquire the kind of affordable, decent journeymen players who could serve as a tourniquet on the organization. They have done this SOMETIMES, but just not consistently enough. Jose Lima was 8-3 for them in a stop-gap role two years ago. They wouldn't make a decent offer to retain him, let him go, and he was 13-5 for the Dodgers."


I couldn't agree more with all five points although points 4 and 1 are interrelated. Given that the Royals are a small market team that had no hope of re-signing the likes of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and in the future Zack Greinke, teams can afford to offer relatively little in exchange. In the Beltran deal of last June I think Baird did about as well as he could.

The strategy of acquiring affordable journeyman talent that can be used as trade bait around the deadline is one that the a small market team needs to employ with impunity and one which the Royals are not employing regularly. For example, one strategy would be to sign several quality relievers as free agents and then trade as many as possible at the deadline for prospects ala the Jason Grimsley trade of last season that netted Denny Bautista. This strategy would also not break the bank since veteran relievers are not priced at the same level as starting pitchers.

2 comments:

Ron Hostetter said...

4) When the Royals have had young players that they could not afford to keep, they have uniformly failed to acquire value in exchange. The worst example of this was last year with the Carlos Beltran trade.

I'd like to know exactly what James thinks is so bad about the Beltran trade. Baird turned one player into three who are today contributing. Wood has been serviceable as a reliever, Buck is a decent catcher (but needs to get that bat going for pete's sake), and Teahen has done surprisingly well in his rushed callup. Does Mr. James know something that we don't? Did he know of a better trade that was available at the time?

Dan Agonistes said...

It makes me wonder if perhaps he did have some other information. But still, being in an untenable financial position allows other teams to take advantage. It seems inescapable to me that the quality of the offers to the Royals for Beltran were lower than they would otherwise have been since other teams knew that it was a forgone conclusion that the Royals would lose Beltran at the end of the season.

So even if Baird didn't get a great deal of talent for Beltran, I still think he did about as well as he could given the circumstances. Baird's deals for Huber and Bautista were better though.