Sunday

Future lineup and RC's weekend notes...

Ughhh. Two games against the Angels, two ugly losses. RC doesn't feel like commenting further. Instead, we think that right now -- after losing 10 of the last 11 games -- is the perfect time to begin speculating on what the Royals lineup should look like next month, after the July 31 trading deadline. In addition, we'll also speculate a little on some moves we feel the Royals should make at the end of the season.

RC is under the assumption that Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs, and Terrence Long will no longer be with the club on August 1. Graffanino's trade is a no-brainer. Long will either be traded or released -- we're guessing the Royals will be able to unload him, along with a tiny fraction of his salary, in exchange for a marginal minor leaguer. We are least certain about Stairs, because we could definitely see the Royals hanging on to him to keep a veteran presence in the clubhouse. However, that is purely dependent upon who the Royals could get in exchange for him. If it's someone decent, then he's gone. If it's someone who is marginal, then he probably stays, because his salary is relatively low and he's a good veteran to have in the clubhouse.

Regardless, this lineup will most certainly look different a month from now. We expect the Royals to go into FULL REBUILDING MODE. It might not be pretty at first, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

Without further delay, here is the everyday lineup we want to see on August 1 (presuming Buddy Bell fills it out correctly):

1. CF David DeJesus
DeJesus should have never been moved from the leadoff spot in the first place. He's one of the few guys on the team who makes a point of taking pitches, and his ability to get on base makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. The only knock against him is his lack of base-stealing ability, but that should be secondary to on-base ability.

2. LF Shane Costa
This would be more of an experiment. Long's departure should put Costa in the lineup most days, and RC figures he could be decent hitting second. Costa almost always makes contact with the ball, so if the Royals did want to hit-and-run with DeJesus, then Costa would probably be the ideal man in the lineup to have hitting behind him.

3. DH Mike Sweeney
This one is pretty obvious. Sweeney should get the majority of time at DH, but he'll also share 1B duties with Huber.

4. RF Emil Brown
Again, this is pretty obvious.

5. 1B Justin Huber
Huber should get the call back up to KC by the end of July, or early August, where he will become a mainstay in the lineup for a long time.

6. 3B Mark Teahen
Come August, Teahen should be in the lineup every day, once they no longer have to worry about getting Graffanino playing time. Hopefully he'll begin pulling the ball.

7. 2B Ruben Gotay/Donald Murphy
RC believes the first move once Graffanino is traded is to call up Murphy from AA Wichita. We envision a platoon at 2B for the rest of the season, with Murphy serving as the primary utility infielder against RHP.

8. C John Buck
If Buck starts hitting, he could move up in the lineup, but for now, he shouldn't be hitting any higher than eighth.

9. SS Angel Berroa
Berroa, likewise, shouldn't be hitting any higher than ninth. Hopefully he can turn it around, but RC has never seen a player with less of an idea of what to do at the plate than Berroa these past several weeks. If Berroa continues to play like this, he's going to force the Royals to reconsider their future at shortstop. There are some solid prospects in the pipeline, and their development could be accelerated if Berroa continues to falter.

Moving along...

  • RC is sold on Emil Brown. A lot of our fellow statheads think Brown is due for a tumble, but RC doesn't think so. Brown has put up two stellar months in a row, and he's not slowing down. We've watched him closely, and RC has concluded that Brown is actually a pretty good ballplayer. He doesn't swing at bad pitches, and he hits the ball hard consistently. He sometimes loses focus in the OF, but he's got a strong arm and has even made a few spectacular plays this season.

    It's true that he's 30 years old, but RC believes that Brown's presence on the roster removes for the time being any immediate need for the Royals to acquire that "power-hitting corner outfielder" we've been hearing about since last October. As such, we believe the Royals would be well served to immediately begin negotiating a one-year deal with Brown for 2006. Since we don't believe Brown will fade, the sooner the Royals can sign him, the better (and cheaper).


  • RC also believes it would be in the Royals' best interest to negotiate long-term contracts for DeJesus and Zack Greinke following this season. This is dependent, of course, on both players' willingness to sign away their first one or two years of free agency eligibility. Both are tremendously talented, and RC believes both carry low risk -- and far less risk than Angel Berroa, who signed a similar contract after his 2003 ROY season. Ironically, it may actually work to KC's benefit that Greinke has struggled this season -- he may demand far less in a long-term contract while being much more willing to sign.


  • Keeping our promise, here is today's Billy Butler Photo of the Day. This is a picture of Butler's follow through on a ball he hit to right field.



  • A few minor league notes from RC correspondent Craig Weddle:

    Chris George continued his comeback from the Royals' trash heap, posting what was his best outing in at least two years. In six innings, George struck out 11 (walking one), with his only mistake being a 2 run homer. I noticed a few weeks ago that George seems to have a newly found ability to strike people out. Whether this trend is able to continue remains to be seen; however, he hasn't pitched like this since he was a top prospect in the organization.

    Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless 9th in that game for Omaha.

    Ambiorix Burgos struggled in his first rehab outing, giving up hits to 3 of the 4 batters he faced for Wichita.

    Butler hit his 19th homer for High Desert, while Alan Moye continued his torrid hitting with his eighth homer for the Mavs (and 12th overall this season).
  • 8 Comments:

    At 7/03/2005 4:12 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

    Has anyone heard an explaination from the Royals Organization explaining why all of a sudden C.George is now dominating? i.e. Mike MacDougal added a cutter as did Jimmy Gobble.

    I say the more quality arms the better! If the young guys keep improving--including scrap heap guys like George, Gobble, Sonnier, etc.--this organization is gonna have tons of trading/improvement possibilities over the next 12 months!

     
    At 7/03/2005 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Please stop suggesting the Royals need to sign Zack Greinke to any deal.

    The guy is arguably the least effective starting pitcher in the American League (besides Lima).

    It is a shame what's happened to him, and the organization needs to wake up and fix it, instead of not penciling, but inking his name into future plans.

     
    At 7/03/2005 11:15 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    >>Please stop suggesting the Royals need to sign Zack Greinke to any deal.

    The guy is arguably the least effective starting pitcher in the American League (besides Lima).<<

    Which is exactly why the Royals need to place an emphasis on getting him signed NOW. There's a difference between a bad pitcher like Lima having a bad year, and an uber-talented 21-year-old like Greinke having a bad year. The Royals need to take calculated risks, and getting Zack signed long-term is one of them.

     
    At 7/04/2005 11:15 AM, Blogger DL said...

    Greinke's struggles this year pretty much guarantee that he won't sign a long term deal now. He can just wait.

    I don't think he'll sign a contract beyond his arbitration years anyway.

     
    At 7/04/2005 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Brian,

    Good question on George. I haven't heard anything, but will continue to monitor his development. Pretty soon, even the KC Star will notice and then maybe they can ask Baird directly why George is now pitching so well.

    Craig

     
    At 7/04/2005 2:12 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    While George may have figured out how to throw strikes again judging by his 2.9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, he's still entirely too hittable (9.87 H/9) and surrenders way too many round-trippers (1.65 HR/9) to be taken seriously as a pitching prospect.

    It's possible -- if not probable -- that he'll be another one of those Al Leiter-esque lefties who "figures it out" at a later age, but I'm fairly confident in saying that it won't happen in the Royals organization. Who knows? Maybe Allard can sell him to some club in a trade.

     
    At 7/05/2005 3:52 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

    Kevin,

    I believe you are looking at numbers in a way that doesn't really make up the proof sample. First, Lieter was finally quality at an advanced age because he spent his younger years always hurt ala Jeremy Affeldt (only in the minors instead of majors). Secondly, you are looking at George's numbers on a whole and not really limiting your study to his recent success.

    I am asking if there is a reason to believe that success is truly based on a change to his approach or if it is simply a hot streak. Only time will tell on that one.

    George has only given up 3 HRs over his last 6 outings (about 35 innings pitched) That obviously is about 0.75 HR/9IP. A pretty decent ratio for what has become a power pitcher.

     
    At 7/05/2005 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What happens if you give Greinke a deal, and he never comes back around?

    He is 1-10 with a 6.09 ERA right now. Him "never coming back around" is a distinct possibility.

    Do we need to have another dead-weight contract on our hands like Berroa's? NO WAY!

    Muzzy Jackson said at the "Can the Royals Win" panel discussion (and Baird's said this lots of times too) that the Royals simply do not have any margin for error.

    Signing Greinke to any deal doesn't jive with that. A better solution would be to send his butt down to get the point that this isn't a vacation spot.

     

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