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Royals Plan to Take Hochevar

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When will we reach the point when we can trust this franchise again? When we can view their moves, large and small, with some modicum of hope and some sense that, "well, someone we trust is making this decision, so there's probably a good motive for it". For some, apparently, the Moore hire was step one: Moore was a respected choice from a respected organization that would turn things around. As we sit here on Draft Day, the profound weirdness of the situation sits in: so, umm, is Dayton calling the shot with the picks, is he involved in the negotiation process with agents, etc.? The latest word is that at the last hour the Royals have elected to go against the Andrew Miller consensus and take Luke Hochevar with the first pick overall. Honestly, try as I might, I have no idea what to make of this move, positive or negative...

At the immediate level of reaction, we've got some dark shadows however, including this spooky note from Jim Callis at ESPN.com/Baseball America,

Further complicating matters are reports that Moore would advocate taking Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs at No. 1 if he already were calling the shots. While Stubbs would come at a discount because he's not a candidate for any other team in the first five, he'd also be a reach for a franchise desperately in need of credibility. Kansas City has dismissed the possibility of taking Stubbs, yet those rumors wouldn't die on Monday night.

So right away we know, apparently, that A) Moore doesn't have final say on the #1 pick (bad) and B) Moore would have, apparently again, opted for the raw, toolsy outfielder (showing his true Braves roots at their worst). Not exactly a scenario to get excited about. And are we to think that Muzzy's actually arguing against Moore in making the call? Thats got to be a weird conversation. The always reliable Bob Dutton broke/confirmed the story on Hochevar this morning:

Club officials spent Monday night in negotiations with Scott Boras, who represents Hochevar, in an attempt to reach an agreement. But plans are in place for the club to select Hochevar even in the absence of a deal. The Royals turned to Hochevar as a staff consensus Monday as the best-available talent among a pool of three finalists that also included North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller and Houston right-hander Brad Lincoln.
Yesterday, JoePo discussed the subject of the Draft, calling for Andrew Miller,
The Royals on Tuesday are expected to take Andrew Miller with the No. 1 pick in the amateur draft ... here we use an alternate definition of the word "expected." Here, the word expected means "To be obligated." This is like when parents say, "We expect you home by 11 p.m." Nobody knows whether the Royals will take Andrew Miller. But everybody knows that the baseball world will crash down if they do not.

"Miller is the no-brainer of this draft," one baseball executive said. "The Royals, of all teams, cannot afford to pass him up."

But, as we enter the last 24 hours before draft time, the signs say the Royals just might pass up Miller. They like him, of course. But some Royals push for Houston pitcher Brad Lincoln, who they say is more polished. Around baseball, rumors buzz that the Royals might work out a deal with Scott Boras client Luke Hochevar, a right-handed pitcher who was drafted by the Dodgers last year but sat out for more money.

Well, apparently that buzz matured into fact. Apparently.

John Sickels rated Hochevar 8th overall, well behind consensus #1 Andrew Miller, as part of Minor League Ball's extensive draft/mock-draft prep discussion. This afternoon, Sickels wrote,

"Main question now is who the Royals pick number one. Most sources agree that they have soured on Andrew Miller due to financial concerns and worries about his mechanics. But it is unclear at this time if the replacement pick will be Brad Lincoln or Luke Hochevar. Kansas City TV stations were reporting that the choice was Lincoln last night, but this morning multiple sources say that Hochevar is the likely choice. We will know in an hour and a half."

For more perspective on the general weirdness of the Hochevar signing, check out what Kevin Goldstein (formerly of Baseball America, now at Baseball Prospectus) had to say about the Hochevar rumors,

Rumors of the Royals going cheap and selecting University of Washington righty Tim Lincecum or even University of Houston righthander Brad Lincoln remain...

...and then there is this. Straight from the X-Files, and directed by Oliver Stone, it's the latest tidbit of gossip in the world of draft discussion: Luke Hochevar to the Royals with the first pick in the draft. It almost begins to makes sense if you think about it too long because of the spin-job that allows for both sides to sell this as a win-win situation. Assuming the Royals and Hochevar's agent, Scott Boras, could bang out the basics of a deal before the Royals selected (with the numbers being mentioned as around four million), here's how it works. For Kansas City, it means a seven-figure savings from what it would take to sign Miller. In addition the Royals would say that they selected the best pitcher from last year's draft, which is a much stronger class than the current one. Not only would being the top pick benefit Hochevar, but it would be a bit of redemption for Boras, who was highly criticized for his handling of the Tennessee star last year, but now would be able to boast that he turned his prot?g? into the No. 1 pick in the draft and signed him for far more than the $2.98 million bonus Hochevar agreed to with the Dodgers while temporarily advised by Matt Sosnick. Will this happen? Probably not. But in late May, talking about these scenarios is half the fun. Some people have the National Enquirer, we have the draft.

Meanwhile, the Royals fell 4-1 to the Mariners last night, wrapping up the NY-Oak-Seattle roadie in fitting fashion, falling to 4-6, and missing out on a nearly impossible 5-5 trip. For a more minute-by-minute breakdown on the game, check out Grudz69's Diary. A good effort from Wood was wasted, as was an OK appearance from the Gobbler.

More on the the Draft as the day continues.