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Some Hither, Others Yon: Dean Taylor, Sweeney, Teahen and the Losses Pile Up

This just in: the Royals have hired Dean Taylor as assistant GM. Umm, OK. All a part of the ex-Braves feel to the Moore admin of course. Then again, its also a bit of a frightening move, considering that Taylor himself was once Dayton Moore: the young Braves hotshot who took a job with a hopeless franchise (the Brewers) preaching the Braves Way and all its "the right way" moral authority. Only, well, that gig didn't turn out well and Taylor was fired by a barely awake Seligean nepotism-fueled Brewers front office (any of this sound familiar??) that cared more about getting tax dollars than winning (any of it?). Put it this way: I'm not considering setting up a second Dayton Moore fanblog right now...

And so it goes. Still, I'll try to be positive. you never really know how any of these things work out. But, I must say, its certainly not an inspiring move from Team Moore; hiring an old Braves retread who wasn't competent in a very similar situation. Sigh.

The Royals wasted another decent pitching performance from Bobby Keppel last night, falling 4-3 to the Angels in the OC. Considering Keppel's out-of-nowhere success and the team's general bad luck with pitchers (Ok, with every kind of player), its not a good sign that the Royals haven't been able to turn any of Keppel's outings into a win. It isn't exactly like the Royals have alot of good starts to burn through or anything. But hell, you've gotta lose 120 games somehow, and not taking advantage of finding a 3.04 ERA off the street is a nice, (un)productive move in that vein.

Last night's loss also featured a harrowing but ultimately positive bullpen appearance from Sisco, who bumped his ERA down to 7.33 in the process. The hopeful thing would be to take all of this as a positive sign and move on. In a rare moment of good faith, I'll consent to that hope.

In other news, the rumors continue to swirl regarding Sweeney and the Grimsley case. Dutifully, I'll contribute (rumors of rumors). As an example, here's Will Carroll:

The Jason Grimsley case continues to percolate. Behind the scenes, the owners and Players Association are prepping for a fight over the retiring Grimsley's pay and the likely 80-game penalty that will be levied against him. The names in the document are starting to leak--Mike Sweeney is said to be just one of the players who "have been made aware" of the names--and the whispers may end up more damning than the truth. As we look at the document, some errors are starting to show up. Grimsley is alleged to have stated that his steroid use began after shoulder surgery in 2000. That would make sense, if he'd had shoulder surgery. Grimsley had elbow surgery to remove bone chips after the season and multiple checks confirm that this is the case. Bone chip removal is one of the simpler operations for a pitcher and would not be affected by steroid use in the recovery. HGH after shoulder surgery? Sure. Tommy John? Again, sure, since studies show HGH has the benefit of affecting cartilage while steroids do not. It's a small error for a pitcher that many describe as "not intelligent" but perhaps it's not his error. It's just one thing in a long document; enough to cause some to question the accuracy of Jeff Novitzky's leaked affadavit.
Of course, Sweeney continues to deny the rumors, of which, there is something to be said for. Frankly, I'm bored and annoyed by the steroids story at this point, feeling neither hurt, angered or in any fashion misled. I know that many, many readers of this site respectfully disagree, so to each his own. The problem is that no information is ever good enough, final enough, strong enough to please the appetite of the Media Beast. No denial is ever enough, no negative test is ever satisfactory, just as no rational check ever enters the endless speculation stream. As Carroll notes above, major elements of the Grimsley story are patently untrue, yet somehow the infamous blacked out names are unimpeachable. Lastly, as I've written in this space before, the majority of "busted" players so far have been A) pitchers and B) fringe players trying to return from injury (Matt Lawton, Grimsley) or just trying to stay on Major League rosters (Alex Sanchez). Still, somehow, we've just gone through the "Steroid Era" in which our national innocence was lost and offensive levels skyrocketed because of dirty, dirty cheaters.

Moreover, as Joe Sheehan wrote yesterday, we can't forget the one thing even David Glass really cares about: $$$.

Trust is a major issue here. Someday very soon, a list is going to be released, and that list will likely have more famous names on it than any we've seen to date. That list is the list of players who tested positive in 2003. You may recall that those tests were to have been anonymous, but a tracking method was apparently put in place by MLB, and a list of players who tested positive exists. Once that list comes out--and it's only a matter of time now that the federal prosecutors chasing violators seem to have been loosed from all sense of decency in their pursuit--the already-tenuous peace between the MLBPA and the game's management is going to be broken. Not only will there be a media circus that dwarfs what we've seen to date, because there will be players the average fan has heard of involved rather than Alex Sanchez, but the damage will spill over into the next CBA negotiations. We've already seen MLB's management lie about their finances, the future of the game, violating antitrust laws (collusion) and, now, the anonymity of drug testing. How would you like to sit across the table from that and work out the division of billions?
Of course, in an environment when the writers of Game of Shadows are feted and praised for a book who's two major sources are a) legally sealed Grand Jury testimony and b) the hearsay of a jilted mistress/ ex-girlfriend, then clearly the media's moral superiority cannot be questioned.

But enough of that. More than anything I'd like to either see A) Sweeney traded at some point, if only the endless Royals' fan consternation surrounding him should cease or B) Mike come back and give us one last .320/.400/.500 season.

Sure, I'm the Royals Review choice for All-Star at Third Base. But am I finally turning things around for good?

Earlier today reader Andrew Miller emailed me, questioning my criticism/characterization of Mark Teahen,

I object to your lumping Mark Teahen onto the list of "barely relevant players":

* Both Aaron Guiel and Kerry Robinson are older than 30, and neither was ever considered a real prospect. Guiel was one of Baird's dumpster-diving finds, and Robinson was a 34th round draft pick. Teahen, a 1st round pick, is still young.

* To answer "What's worse, the Royals sending Teahen down, or bringing him back up two weeks later?," I posit that these decisions rank as the Royals' lone success stories this year. The whole process went perfectly: Teahen somehow learned how to hit in Omaha, and the success translated into the big-league level, where he's been the team's second-best hitter (after DeJesus) since his return. Also, the process is the exact anthithesis of the Royals' horrible handling of Huber, who came to the big leagues, learned nothing and forgot how to hit once he returned to Omaha.

Perhaps Teahen just inspires eternal optimism from me (as does Affeldt), but I haven't given up on the guy.

By the way, remember those "Baird turned down a Austin Kearnes for Affeldt trade" stories from years past? I wonder if those were legit, or possibly they were nixed by Team Glass? Anyway, its a distinction worth making of course, the essential difference between Teahen and K-Rob and his ilk. Teahen is hitting .375/.412/.500 in June, so it is possible that perhaps the Omaha demotion did work. Only time will tell. Still, he's not as young as he sometimes seems (he turns 25 in Sept), but he's also not 27 yet. Interestingly enough, Teahen came up yesterday in a Baseball Prospectus chat,
Azteca (Omaha): Is there any hope for Mark Teahen? He had a miserable year & a half playing in KC, but his demotion to Omaha, and subsequent promotion to KC, seem to have injected new life into his bat. Is he a future bench guy, or can he become an MLB regular for the next 3-5 years. (Of course, with Gordon in the pipeline, with some team other than the Royals.) Clay Davenport: There's always hope, but I don't see that much difference between his "miserable" time in KC and his minor league performances. Yes, he ripped the ball quite nicely at Omaha this year, and at Midland two years ago - but he was also lousy for extended periods at Modesto, Sacramento, and prior trips to Omaha. My fielding numbers have been consistently kind to him (unlike the Fielding Bible, which slagged him), but...I think he needs the fielding to count in his favor in order to be able to have a total performance deserving of a major league job, and he won't have that moving off of third. He'll probably bounce around for years as a fringe major/AAA guy.
I think the Royals see another Joe Randa in Mark: a decent offensive player who's good with the glove and a solid, everyday player. And there's still a chance that might eventually happen, and it might even be happening now. Still, there's something about Davenport's evaluation that also rings true. Teahen's had 603 Big League plate appearances to date, and has hit .246/.305/.379 in them. The problem is that he needs to improve in every aspect to become a good player. He hasn't been able to hit for average, get many walks or hit for power. He hasn't even reached the typical stage of development when he's a decent average hitter who needs to start turning doubles into homers even. And he's also, obviously, not a sluggardly slugger who needs to find a way to stay at his position and keep his average above .220 either. He needs more of everything. Clearly, the walks might come wih an increased reputation for either power or average, but thats more a possibility than a probability, especially in the current intellectual environment of the Royals.

Then again, the question may be rendered mute once the Alex Gordon era begins.

Lastly, I assume its a pretty good bet I'll never be getting press credentials, considering the Royals attitude towards negative/rational journalism. Of course, MLB's general disdain for blogging/bloggers would probably come into play beforehand anyway, considering, unlike the NBA, MLB has a uniform no-blogger policy.

Good times in the Royals City-State, eh?