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Catching Up

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I'm watching Iowa-Iowa State on a cozy, cool day in Iowa City. Baseball takes something of a backseat on these last few weekends, especially teams floating in the gaping maw of nothingness like the Royals and Mariners. If you're into college football, might I suggest Sunday Morning QB, Rakes of Mallow and our BYU site (loyal2), Provo Pride.

Rather than returning to last night's loss, I thought I'd revive a few stellar comments from yesterday's threads that deserve a little more love.

First, "BrothaTeacha" speculates upon next season's lineup:

I truly hope that Dayton Moore was using reverse psychology by stating that he "liked" Buddy Bell and that Buddy would be our coach next year. It is obvious that with a new GM, these guys are playing for jobs next season, even if some will not be with the Royals. If I were manager next year, here is my opening day lineup (barring any free-agent signings and trades):

1. David DeJesus (LF)
2. Mark Grudzielanek (2B)
3. Mark Teahen (3B)
4. Ryan Shealy (1B)
5. Emil Brown (RF)
6. Esteban Herman (DH)
7. Alex Gordon (SS)
8. John Buck (C)
9. Joey Gathright (CF) [Needs to play winter ball to work on hitting]

Yes, you notice Mike Sweeney is not in the picture. I really like Sweeney, but his body is not durable enough for an entire season. I don't know if any other team would want him now (his options are only in the American League), but the draws now will be Gordon, Teahen, and Shealy. Mike is an expensive liability, but hopefully his bat will be welcome elsewhere. Speaking of expensive liabilities -- goodbye Angel Berrora, and thank you for 2003! Note: Berroa signed a guaranteed contract extension on May 7, 2004, paying him a guaranteed $11 million through 2008 (annual salaries of $500,000; $2 million; $3.25 million; and $4.75 million, with a $5.5 million team option or $500,000 buyout for 2009)]. How Dayton Moore deals with that, I don't know... Maybe there's a sucker out there that'll take him. Is Billy Butler ready for the big show? That may squeeze out Emil Brown (even though he's earned a spot on this team).

Next season's lineup should be fascinating. We're all eagerly waiting for Phase Two to begin, when Gordon, Butler and all the rest come up and start mashing. I'm not sure Gordon can handle SS however, despite the fact that playing Gordon instead of Berroa would probably net about 5 wins. The Berroa problem appears unsolvable, as Joe Sheehan pointed out yesterday, he may be the worst regular in baseball, but the Royals haven't shown much interest in not playing him.

There's also the matter of Gathright and the outfield logjam. Dayton Moore's got almost limitless permutations at his disposal. The problem is, the good players are young and unproven, while the "trusted" guys are generally out-machines.

What do you expect/predict?

Yesterday during the Game Thread, "Billex Gordler" (great name) pontificated upon Dayton Moore:

The point of "Moneyball" was that small market teams have to be adept at valuation if they want to compete. Basically, that means both 1) understanding that the way certain skills are valued by the market fluctuates rapidly and 2) always being ready to capitalize on those fluctuations. This summer, middle relief was overvalued (which is why (in my opinion) Moore moved Dessens, MacDougal and Affeldt), while two winters ago veteran starting pitchers were overvalued (See, e.g., Carl Pavano's insane contract and the Hudson and Mulder trades). The smartest and most successful small-market teams are able to capitalize on those shifts in supply and demand to make themselves competitive. The whole "defense, pitching, speed and power" mantra isn't the point. Every team needs that. The difference is how a team goes about getting there. The Royals under Moore have shown a pretty canny perspective on the market, I think, by getting rid of guys who were maybe overvalued in exchange for guys who were undervalued.

The other point of moneyball was that since you're not able to spend money on guys who do everything well (guys like Beltran or ARod or Pujols), you have to think about players in terms of their strengths and not their weaknesses. Joey Gathright's a perfect example of this thinking. No, JG's not going to win a batting title, but he plays (allegedly) good defense, he has speed (although he's yet to show it off consistently as a Royal), and he can get on base. He's a guy with holes, but a guy who might fill an important role going forward, especially considering what the Royals might look like next year. Teahen playing RF? Well, you better have a CF who can cover a lot of ground. Billy Butler playing RF? Ditto. Shane Costa's not a bad defender, but the Royals have a lot of fly-ball pitchers and so the more ground your OFers can cover, the better.

I guess my point is only that we should consider Moore's actions more than his words. Just because he's talking about conventional ideas doesn't mean that he's using conventional methods to achieve results. And yes, part of the "actions speak louder than words" statement comes from my deep-seated hope that no matter how many times DM defends Buddy Ballplayer he's going to do the right thing and give him the boot this winter.

Tremendous stuff. We can only hope.

Did you know that the Royals are hitting .295 as a team in the last 30 days (thanks to "AndrewMiller" for the heads up). Thats good for third best in baseball, just behind the Yankees (.300) and the A's (.299). The Royals still don't walk, but are 9th during that period thanks to the singles (.342). Slugging? Not bad at .451, good for 6th. I still look out each day and see a bad lineup, but then again, I'm a negative sort.