Outfielders for the Royals to Target

Going into 2011, the Royals have a plethora of outfielders fielders competing for just 3 spots.   The problem is that none of the players are very good.  I have decided to go look for some outfielders that are blocked by better/more expensive players in other organizations, but would would be better than any of the options the Royals have currently.

First of all, here is the 2010 Oliver projections for the outfielders looking to be in the mix to make the 25 man roster on opening day:

 

Name Age PA HR BA OBP SLG wOBA Field
Gordon, Alex 27 521 17 0.250 0.350 0.430 0.350 2.9
Cain, Lorenzo 25 500 7 0.260 0.330 0.390 0.320 1.3
Cabrera, Melky 26 546 9 0.270 0.330 0.380 0.310 3.1
Lough, David 25 529 12 0.270 0.310 0.420 0.310 8.8
Blanco, Gregor 27 633 3 0.250 0.350 0.320 0.310 -1.2
Maier, Mitch 29 489 7 0.260 0.320 0.370 0.310 10
Francoeur, Jeff 27 570 14 0.260 0.300 0.400 0.310 -5.8
Dyson, Jarrod 26 459 1 0.240 0.290 0.310 0.270 9

I fully expect Gordon, Frenchy and Cabrera to be the opening day starters, but the backup spots will by up for grabs.  

Now here are 4 players that project to hit better than any outfielder on the Royals besides Gordon:

 

Name Pos Team Service time Arbitration years Age PA HR BA OBP SLG wOBA Field
Wells, Casper CF DET 0 0 26 538 25 0.250 0.320 0.480 0.340 4.5
Francisco, Ben LF PHI 2.05 1 29 435 13 0.260 0.330 0.430 0.330 -0.2
Martinez, Fernando LF NYN 0.13 0 22 442 15 0.260 0.310 0.450 0.330 -4.7
McDonald, Darnell CF BOS 0.15 0 32 470 12 0.270 0.320 0.430 0.320 6.1


Each of these players is in a possible platoon or bench situation and will be seeing limited playing time in 2011.   Each of the players are from a large market team and have a 1 to 3 high priced outfielders blocking them from more playing time.  I decided to reach out to a few other bloggers to get their take on these 4 players.  Thanks to each of them for their time and insight.

Ben Fransico – Philadelphia Phillies – Bill Baer of CrashburnAlley

"Ben Francisco is expected to platoon with top prospect Domonic Brown during the 2011 season. Francisco could have a bigger role if Brown struggles, but otherwise he should get about 300 PA facing mostly left-handed pitchers while starting in right field. He could also get the odd spot start to allow left fielder Raul Ibanez and center fielder Shane Victorino to rest, and should get some extra PA as a pinch-hitter. In terms of ability, Francisco is slightly above-average offensively and about average defensively. Depending on the total number of PA he accrues, he could be a 1 to 1.5-win player." (Baer)

Fernando MartinezNew York Mets – Eno Sarris of Fan Graphs and Amazin' Avenue

"So much of how you feel about Fernando Martinez is determined by how much credit you feel a prospect should be given for competing at a young age. If you think players should be lauded for putting up good-but-not-strong numbers at a tender age, then you still like Martinez and think he can be a major-league regular corner outfielder. He did hit .290/.337/.540 for Buffalo in the International League, and did so at 20 years old. However, if you think the age bonus only takes you so far, there's plenty to question about F-Mart. He's oft-injured; Even his seminal season produced only 190 PAs, and his minor-league seasonal high in PAs is 400 (at 19, when he hit .292/.345/.440 across two levels including Double-A). He doesn't walk much; He has a 6.5% career minor league walk rate. His power waxes and wanes; He owns a .170 career minor league ISO, but that has peaked at .250 in 2009 and valleyed at .148 in 2008. "

"The whole package seems to suggest that this former center fielder can provide strong defense and power, and that his speed would at least keep his batting average passable. The whole package also suggests that he'll have some trouble staying on the field, and that he's one of the older 21-year-olds in the game." (Sarris)

Darrnell McDonald – Boston Red Sox  -- Ben Buchanan of Over the Monster and Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus

"Darnell McDonald has a bat for center field and a glove for a corner, as his range isn't good enough for him to stick in center every day. He's a perfect fourth outfielder in that regard, as he can slot in wherever necessary without killing his team on offense that day, but he also has enough skill where he can be utilized in the way Boston did in 2010, when he picked up 363 plate appearances due to injuries to the starters. With the acquisition of Carl Crawford though, McDonald is more likely to be the team's fifth outfielder, coming in behind the superior Mike Cameron, or will spend time in Pawtucket alongside other emergency outfielders like Daniel Nava. He won't see much playing time with the club in 2011, unless another catastrophic injury-filled season hits Boston." (Normandin)

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"Coming into the 2010 season as a Quadruple-A sort of player, Darnell McDonald seized the opportunity provided him by the injuries in the Red Sox' outfield. Some early clutch hits ingratiated him with the fan base and, likely, Terry Francona, earning him more and more appearances in the lineup until he eventually took over the second spot for the injured Dustin Pedroia."

"Offensively, McDonald is a very solid bat for a bench player. While his plate approach is that of a power hitter, his speed is really his best quality, and could probably steal some bases in big situations if called on to do so. In a small sample size, he's been noticeably better against lefties, so he could possibly serve in a platoon as well."

"Defensively, though McDonald is willing to play center, it's probably best to keep him in the corners. There, he looks better than the numbers seem to suggest, and given a normal right field (Fenway's is rather cavernous) I expect he would fill in solidly."

"While the Sox are at a want for right-handed hitting, Darnell McDonald is definitely at the end of the bench. Mike Cameron can mash lefties, and Ryan Kalish will likely get called up well before McDonald gets any significant time in the field. The Sox don't necessarily have a clear replacement they'd be willing to have riding the bench for too long, but McDonald is far from untouchable."

"Though Darnell McDonald provided to be a surprisingly solid option off the bench in 2010, with Mike Cameron already the fourth outfielder and Ryan Kalish likely the next in line to start, he'll likely struggle to find playing time. McDonald provides solid offense, especially against lefties, though his approach at the plate doesn't really take advantage of his best asset: his speed. He can play a decent corner outfield if taken out of Fenway's cavernous right, and is willing to play center if called upon--though it'd probably be best if Ned Yost didn't." (Buchanan)


Well Casper – Detroit Tigers – Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys


"Casper Wells will likely be a key role player for the Tigers, so I find it unlikely he'd be available for a trade at all. True, right now he is competing with Brennan Boesch and Clete Thomas for the a fourth outfielder role. (Some might question whether this slot will be open at all, or if the Tigers consider Don Kelly the fourth outfielder and will be seeking to bring extra infield help north this spring. That is a valid thought.) In any case, what makes Wells valuable to both the Tigers and possibly other clubs is that he projects as an average fielder at multiple outfield positions. He has an above-average arm and pitched some in college."

"Off the bench, Wells can provide some power as well. Brennan Boesch has potential as a left-handed slugger but his problems in the field make him a riskier option off the bench. Clete Thomas is a question mark. Before having microfracture surgery on his knee last summer, he was an above average fielder and had some nice showings at the plate. Thomas is definitely in the fray and can also potentially help other clubs."

"It will be an interesting competition this spring, but the player or players who don't make the 25-man roster on March 30 will likely be kept around as insurance policies rather than traded."  (Mensching)

Summary

Looking at the group, I like the idea of acquiring Francisco from Philadelphia the best, but it looks like Detroit may be a better trading partner since they have more outfielders available.  Maybe the Royals could look at sending players to any of these teams to help shore up the weak outfield for a few years instead of using yearly band-aids.

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