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Friday, April 21, 2006

The Buzzards are Circling

Joe Posnanski came off his book writing sabbatical to pile on in the Royals debacle.

"The Royals have to fire Allard Baird. Everyone who would care knows how much I like and respect Baird as both a baseball man and a person, but we’re way past all that now. Business is business. And this team is a Royal disaster.

You know all this: The pitchers can’t or won’t throw strikes. The lineup has no speed, no power, no patience and no hope. The two young pitchers the Royals needed to succeed — Zack Greinke and Runelvys Hernandez — are both dealing with serious issues and might never make it back. Veterans like Mark Grudzielanek, Reggie Sanders and Scott Elarton have played like expected, but that has made no difference at all. The team has been absolutely horrible. As one baseball person told me: “This team is drifting beyond our ability to capture it in words.”

It just hasn’t worked. Why? I don’t think it’s just one thing. Royals ownership has not spent much money (even while Forbes says the team made $20 million last year). Baird has swung and missed with free agents. He traded stars Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran and has not secured even one above-average everyday player. The Royals have done a miserable job developing pitchers, despite the hiring and firing of a half-dozen pitching coaches. And there has been some bad luck.

Perhaps more than anything, though, Baird has not figured out a way to create a winning climate in Kansas City.

It’s not an easy job. But it is the job."


I'm a little on the fence on this one. If you read my Five Questions piece on the Royals you'll see I noted how many good things Baird has done along with some of the more inexplicable moves topped off with letting Chip Ambres go and keeping Estaban German. That said, it's not like this 2-12 start is that surprising. If David Glass thought he was getting a .500 team this year then he was sadly mistaken or mislead. And although a 2-12 start is not good, things are not as bad as they might seem. Anything can happen in 14 games and losing perhaps your best starting pitcher to a strange ailment and having your best hitter in a horrible slump certainly didn't help. What if the Royals were 4-10 or 5-9? Would anyone be surprised? Would the buzzards be circling? It just seems like if the ownership had no confidence in Baird they should have fired him in the offseason. Seems less like "business is business" and instead a little bit like a scapegoat situation now. In addition it will put the new GM at a disadvantage if they want to go in a different direction especially with the draft just 8 weeks away. BTW, Kevin Goldstein had some interesting comments on the Royals perhaps moving away from drating Andrew Miller in favor of a lower priced option.

I listened to Frank White on MLB radio this morning talking about the prospects at Wichita right now and he said he told those guys that the reason the Royals went out and signed a few veteran free agents was to give them time to develop. To me that's a reasonable approach although as I mentioned previously I think they over did it a little bit on the pitching side and with Sanders (2 year contract). Now, I do think Baird has given way too much slack to Runelvys Hernandez and Jimmy Gobble, both of whom they should have cut loose awhile back.

But again, it seems a little disingenous for everyone to be so surprised.


Garth said...

Two things I don't like about this tidbit from Posnanski:

(1) Runelvys Hernandez and Greinke are two of the young pitchers the Royals needed to succeed, not the only two. Denny Bautista, J.P. Howell, Ambiorix Burgos, Mike MacDougal, Andrew Sisco? No? Guess not.

(2) Has Posnanski not heard of the future? In an earlier column, he told fans to have hope for this year. What? No. Have hope for the future. There's credible and real hope there. Now this year's vets aren't performing well and Pos is all freaking out.

Dan Agonistes said...

I see that Rany advocates a complete house cleaning