Trying to quantify off-season success is often an exercise in futility. The Washington Redskins (in the Daniel Snyder era of ownership) have been deemed perennial off-season winners, however, time after time the Redskins have had little postseason appearances or wins to show for it. Signing the "biggest name" or "making the biggest splash" does not cause winning to occur. While one can correlate regular and post season successes to the acquisition of certain players in the off-season, the fundamental truth is that winning relies on too many variables, quirks and twists of fate (to wit, health) to ever be accurately predicted. I'm not even getting into the enigmatic "team chemistry" impact.
The Royals history of off-season moves (Post-Ewing-Kauffman, hereinafter for brevity referred to as "The Dark Ages") are enough to cause bile to creep into the back of your throats. As a result I will spare everyone, myself especially, from listing the garbage we have acquired over the years. Please accept this post as an attempt to quantify the benefit added to our beloved Royals thus far this winter.
2007 Winter Acquisitions:
Miguel Olivo (Catcher)
Alberto Callaspo (2b/SS)
Jose Guillen (LF)
Ron Mahay (RP)
Yasuhiko Yabuta (RP)
2007 Winter Losses:
Jason LaRue (Corpse $5.2 mil. - we should sue him under the theory of unjust enrichment)
David Riske (RP - $2 mil.)
Mike Sweeney (DH/1b - $11 mil.) (I'm assuming he will not be re-signed)
Emil Brown (LF - $3.45 mil.)
Reggie Sanders (LF - $5 mil.)
Odalis Perez (SP - $7.75 mil.)
John Thomson (SP - I think he was the free gift GMDM got with his subscription to Sports Illustrated. - Am I the only one who liked what he brought to the table? He's got grit, no?)
(Note: I listed the salaries so you could all fully appreciate how much money we pissed away on a 93 loss season.)
Before I begin, allow me to address some of our "Losses" this Winter. LaRue, Sanders and Perez are all "additions-by-subtractions." Their departures freed up approximately $18 million. I feel confident that I need not explain further, by all objective measures they all suck. Thomson didn't play long enough (2 games, 10 and 2/3 innings pitched) to constitute a loss.
Run differential alone isn't a complete indicator of a team's success. The Royals' Pythagorean W-L for the `07 season was 74-88, based on 706 runs scored and 778 runs allowed. As we all know, they didn't crack 70 wins and finished at 69-93, five games worse than their Pythagorean. Still, if we could estimate the Royals Pythagorean for 2008 and know that we have an "error" of approximately 5 games, we could feel that we've succeeded in quantifying our off-season moves.
So, how many runs does the addition of Miguel Olivo, Alberto Callaspo and Jose Guillen, less the subtraction of Emil Brown, translate into? How do the additions of Ron Mahay and Yasuhiko Yabuta offset the loss of David Riske? (I won't bother trying to answer the bullpen question - someone else can take a crack at it.)
Callaspo has not played enough at the big league level to be able to project his impact. For the others, we can average their Runs Created (RBI + Runs Scored - HR's) for the past three seasons and use that as our measuring tool.
Olivo: 2007 - 122 Games - 60 RBI + 43 Runs - 16 HR's = 87 Runs Created
2006 - 127 Games - 58 RBI + 52 Runs - 16 HR's = 94 Runs Created
2005 - 91 Games - 34 RBI + 30 Runs - 09 HR's = 55 Runs Created
Average: 79 Runs Created
Guillen: 2007 - 99 RBI + 84 Runs - 23 HR's = 160 Runs Created
2006 - Injured Only Played in 69 Games
2005 - 76 RBI + 81 Runs - 24 HR's = 133 Runs Created
2004 - 104 RBI + 88 Runs - 27 HR's = 165 Runs Created
Average: 153 Runs Created
Brown: 2007 - 62 RBI + 44 Runs - 06 HR's = 100 Runs Created
2006 - 81 RBI + 77 Runs - 15 HR's = 143 Runs Created
2005 - 86 RBI + 75 Runs - 17 HR's = 144 Runs Created
Average: 129 Runs Created
Olivo will likely see less action this year than he has in years past. John Buck is still the Royals starting catcher. Last season Jason LaRue played in 69 games. Assuming that Olivo is moderately productive, he should get in 75 games. He's averaged 113 games per season over the last 3 years, thus, 75 games would be 66.37% of his average. 66.37% of his average of 79 Runs Created is approximately 52 Runs Created. By the way, LaRue had 23 Runs Created last season, meaning he created 1 run for every 3 games he played . . . YUCK!
All else being equal, offensively we've likely added 29 runs with Olivo and 24 runs with Guillen - 53 runs. If our pitching remains the same our Pythagorean will still be below .500.
With the subtractions of Odalis Perez and Scott Elarton, you can subtract 128 runs allowed. With Zack Greinke replacing Perez in the rotation we can extrapolate the benefit added. Assuming Greinke pitches as well as he did last season - he allowed 31 runs in his 14 starts - we can expect him to allow about 2.2 runs per game started. Perez allowed 3.46 runs per game started (considering that he averaged 5 and 1/3 IP per start, that is quite sucky). Anyway, with Greinke replacing Perez's 26 games - we can expect that he would allow a total of 57 runs - 33 runs less than the Odalis Perez experiment.
I think it would be safe to assume that any of the following group, DeLaRosa (3.82 runs per game), Davies (3.73 runs per game), Hochevar (2 runs per game - even though he only started 1 game), Nunez (2.17 runs per game) and/or Luke Hudson, will provide an improvement over what Elarton did to us. You realize that Elarton allowed 44 runs in his 9 games started?????? He only pitched 37 innings!!!!!!! That means that he averaged more runs allowed than innings pitched per game started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! An ERA over 9 (10.46 to be exact) means that someone does not belong in MLB. That has to be some sort of record!!!!! Good god! Good riddance!!!!! I digress; anyway, if we take the worst of the above group - DeLaRosa - as our example, and factor that performance in place of Elarton's 9 games, we get an improvement of 10 runs allowed.
If we can all agree that the bullpen additions/subtractions are a wash, then we can figure on the Royals having an improvement of 43 less runs allowed next season.
Our `07 performance of 706 runs scored and 778 runs allowed (assuming all else being equal - and that the improvement of our youth: Butler, Gordon, Teahen, etc., will compensate for Sweeney's 57 runs created) will be improved to 759 runs scored and 735 runs allowed. That is an above .500 team. I expect this team to be a winning team.