A few notes on Angel Sanchez, the Rule 5 draft, and the Diaz trade...

RC today picked up our official copy of the latest print edition of Baseball America, and we were pleased to learn it includes some new information that helps further explain the mystery behind Angel Sanchez's addition to the 40-man roster. According to BA, Sanchez last season reported to spring training carrying an additional 15 pounds of solid muscle. Sanchez, who had been little more than a skinny, slick fielding shortstop who couldn't hit, proceeded to lead all minor leagues in base hits (183) while logging career highs across the board (.313/.356/.409 - 5 HR).

It's easy to chalk up those improved numbers to the altitude of the California League and High Desert, and that still may be the case. However, this new information sheds some light on the Royals' decision to add Sanchez to the roster over other players with more prospect hype, such as Mitch Maier.

Royals farm director Shaun McGinn was quoted by BA as saying that several scouts and baseball personnel who hadn't seen Sanchez in High Desert were amazed when they saw him in Puerto Rico this winter, saying "he looks like a completely different player."

"Angel's hands are very, very soft," said McGinn. "We were waiting for him to mature physically and waiting on his bat, his swing to catch up. He still needs to work on a few things, but I think he's going to be a pretty good player."

That explains quite a bit. As we've mentioned in the past, Royals GM Allard Baird raved about Sanchez during the 2005 season, and this helps provide us with some additional information about why, exactly, he was so excited about a player who had such a poor track record in the minors prior to last season. It also goes a long way in explaining why the Royals thought Sanchez might be vulnerable, and why they feel he's a better long-term bet than Maier.

  • Additionally, the free agent signings of last week also help shed more light on the Royals' seemingly questionable roster strategy in the lead up to the Rule 5 draft. Remember, we wondered why the Royals left Maier vulnerable to the draft while stiffs like Shawn Camp remained on the roster. Of course, we never expected the Royals to sign four free agents, and when those four players were added to the 40-man roster, the Royals designated for assignment Camp, Ken Harvey, Matt Diaz, and Chris Demaria.

    And when that happened, the method to Baird's madness was revealed. Adding Maier to the roster would have either limited Baird's flexibility in bringing new free agents to the team, or it would have forced him to remove a considerably better prospect from the roster when he added those free agents. Looking at the roster now, it appears that either Devon Lowery or Kyle Snyder would be next on the chopping block, and one or both of those players will probably have to be removed if Baird succeeds in bringing one or two more outfielders to the team. In other words, he still needs to keep those roster spots flexible.

    RC has pinpointed the cause of Shawn Camp's struggles last season: He REALLY WAS throwing a softball up there!

    This makes the Maier gambit far more palatable, particularly when you consider that Baird was absolutely correct in his belief that no team would select him in the Rule 5. In essence, Baird got EXACTLY what he wanted -- he got the free agents he desired, AND he got to keep Maier. RC now considers this matter closed.

  • Speaking of Diaz, the Royals today shipped him off to the Atlanta Braves for 24-year old pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez gained some notoriety in April, when he was suspended for 15 games for violating MLB's illegal substance policy. When he returned to action, he had a rough season pitching for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans of the Carolina League, logging a disappointing ERA of 5.34 in 86.0 innings of work.

    However, Rodriguez -- a converted infielder -- is still relatively new to pitching, and he has a live arm that has generated good strikeout numbers. In his 136.2 minor league innings, Rodriguez has struck out 144 batters while walking 64 and yielding 124 hits. The chances of a 24-year-old succeeding in the Majors after such a disappointing season in the pitching-friendly Carolina League is not very good, but Diaz clearly had no future with the Royals. It's nice that the Royals were able to turn him into a live body with at least one promising tool.

    At 12/20/2005 11:02 AM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

    As far as Ricardo Rodriguez goes, does the names Joe Nathan and Rafeal Betancourt mean anything?

    This could be big in a year or two.

    At 12/20/2005 1:27 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

    Why do you bring up Nathan and Betancourt? Are they similar to Rodriguez?

    At 12/20/2005 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This explanation for Baird's 40-man roster moves doesn't explain why Santos was exposed (in place of Camp, for example).

    At 12/20/2005 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Any timetable when Sanchez could be pushing Berroa to the curb?

    At 12/20/2005 7:10 PM, Anonymous Coachdg said...

    After all is said and done where does this leave Mike Aviles? Does he have a future with the Royals? Does he have a chance o ever making to the big leagues?

    At 12/20/2005 8:02 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Hey guys, in order:

    Anonymous #1 -- Santos wasn't protected because of the same roster crunch as Maier, and because he was far from being guaranteed a spot on the team. It stinks we lost him, but oh well. Easy come, easy go. And the odds are still very good that we'll get both Santos and Etherton back.

    Anonymous #2 -- If Sanchez somehow continues his production this season in Wichita, he could conceivably force the Royals to make a decision in 2007. Of course that also assumes Berroa's struggles continue.

    Coachdg -- the Sanchez thing really doesn't affect Aviles all that much. Sanchez will play SS in Wichita this season, while Aviles will probably go to Omaha to get work at all infield positions, but primarily shortstop. It will, however, be interesting to see how the Royals divy up the four middle infield openings between AA and AAA with the five players -- Gotay, Murphy, Blanco, Sanchez, and Aviles -- who figure into the Royals' future plans.

    Although Aviles has no chance of ever reaching the Major Leagues as a starting SS, the Royals do believe he might be a quality utility man someday. However, his defense was suprisingly bad last season, as he committed more than 40 errors for Wichita. If he can cut that number in half, he may one day see the inside of Kauffman Stadium as a decent hitting utility man.

    At 12/22/2005 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm sure Aviles will play mostly 3rd base wherever Gordon is not, and will fill in at the 2 middle infield positions when the starters get time off for rest. I don't know how they'll do all this stuff, but I hope that Don Murphy is playing 2nd base more than I care about where any of the others are playing.

    And I have to say that your article for which this comment board is attached makes a lot of sense from all the roster shuffling/protecting of players. I don't see how anyone would have relistically chosen Sanchez AND kept him all season on their 25-man roster, but I was wrong about my thoughts on Maier, Camp, et al. Of course, I didn't expect they'd sign so many FAs either though.

    Lastly, I see Phillips being the next guy after Lowery and way before Snyder in terms of who gets kicked off the island next if we sign / trade for others.

    At 12/22/2005 1:05 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    The reason I put Aviles at SS is because with Blanco and Gotay playing at 2B, I figured Murphy figures to be the primary utility man at Omaha. In addition, I remember the Royals signed a minor league third baseman who they will assign to Omaha during this offseason -- although I can't remember his name.

    Since I think the Royals pretty much have to send Aviles to AAA, the only place he really seems to fit is SS. It really will be interesting to see how they handle everything, and it should tell us a lot about how they view each player as a prospect.

    And you might be right about Phillips. With Tupman in the wings, Phillips would probably be more expendable than Snyder, although you have to think Snyder's chances are running out. It's also remotely possible that Gotay would be a candidate as well, but I don't see that happening.

    At 12/22/2005 3:30 AM, Anonymous Alex said... is reporting that Reggie Sanders will sign a 2-year, $10 million deal with the Royals.

    I don't know if this is good or bad.

    At 12/22/2005 12:51 PM, Blogger ksuim4u said...

    Why on earth would we sign Reggie Sanders? Dave, I've been with you on the other signings, but 2 years at $5/per for an aging outfielder that isn't really that good is too much.

    At 12/22/2005 12:52 PM, Blogger ksuim4u said...

    That should have been $5 million per.

    At 12/22/2005 2:31 PM, Blogger KO said...

    I heard the following hillarious reaction on ESPN radio...

    Johnny Damon:
    Looks like Jesus
    Throws like Mary
    Betrays like Judas.

    At 12/22/2005 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm wondering why you think Diaz had "clearly have no future with the royals"?


    At 12/22/2005 5:51 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

    Johnny Damon's saying stuff like, "I tried to let them re-sign me" and "The Red Sox don't appreciate me." Where have we heard this before?

    At 12/23/2005 10:02 AM, Anonymous Jack said...

    We sign Reggie Sanders and the new stadium proposal is announced and you guy have no new post? Get to work already!

    At 12/23/2005 10:13 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    We haven't signed anyone yet, and RC doesn't want to get burned again like we were with the supposed Benson deal.

    We hope to have a post for you tonight, however.

    At 12/24/2005 2:20 PM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

    Jeez! Sanders and Mays are signed and you haven't had one update!!!

    At 12/25/2005 1:56 PM, Blogger wadephillips said...


    Thanks for the site, I hope you and your family have a merry Christmas.

    Wade Phillips

    At 12/25/2005 7:08 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...


    I mention those two names because they also were short-stops who couldn't hit but were converted to pitcher. They all three have similar styles and numbers. I'm saying that eventually, Rodriguez could develop the same way.

    At 12/28/2005 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Come on, Dave, you honestly don't believe that they like Aviles more than Murphy, do you? Murphy's played SS before, and if they viewed him as a utility guy at best (I think they like him as a regular 2nd baseman the most of any farmhand we have who's anywhere close to being ready) they'd play him at AAA at SS to get him reps there in preparation to be a utility guy in KC...

    I think Snyder gets more time than just about any other player ever has before. We got $2.1 MM invested in him, at one time when he was right he had absolutely dominating arm, he is a ridiculously hard-working guy who came back from what, 3 surgeries? They love his makeup, and his arm could bounce-back if things go right.

    People undervalue what he was and what he might return to be. As it is today, he still has a well above-average curveball and changeup. If his fastball gets up from its current 88-90 into the 92-93 range, he'll have a chance to be really useful.

    At 12/28/2005 8:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    I don't know how I gave the impression that the Royals value Aviles more than Murphy, but clearly that is not the case. Murphy is a far better prospect than Aviles, and I know that.

    When I say I think he'll be the primary utility man at Omaha, it doesn't mean he won't play every day. I just see them moving him around more, not only because he is superior defensively to Aviles, but also because it will give him the experience he needs to become a quality Major League utility man.

    We can argue all we want about who the Royals view as their second baseman of the future (even though I agree Murphy still has a shot at 2B, he IS behind Blanco now), but I think we both know that Murphy's future is most likely as a utility man, for better or worse.

    As for Snyder, as I said above, you're probably right. I probably erred in my post, and I think he'll probably be spared on January 3.

    At 12/29/2005 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    In the end, I don't think even Allard Baird is stupid enough to seriously believe he would win more games with Andres Blanco starting at 2nd base than Don Murphy starting at 2nd base... provided both continue to develop at the rates they have shown in recent years. Murphy has a useful bat, Blanco simply does not, and the difference defensively between the two is not great enough to come close in off-setting that offensive difference, in my opinion. Blanco is the utility guy, and Murphy is the 2nd baseman for me. We'll see.


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