RC opens up the mailbag on a slow day...
RC is back, and we searched feverishly for something interesting to write about, but sadly, Royals news these days is difficult to find. Therefore, RC has decided to open up the mailbag to take some questions from our loyal readers.
Q: Pat from New York City asks:
Hey RC. My name is Pat, and I run a Mets blog called Shea Faithful. I was wondering if you could tell me what went down in the Kris Benson deal from the Royals side, and congrats on the ESPN mention. Thanks.
A: RC: It sounds like the Mets wanted both Mike MacDougal and Jeremy Affeldt, and the Royals didn't want to give up both. Word has it that the two teams continued their discussions throughout the Winter meetings, but were unable to come to an agreement. The Royals' trade for Mark Redman probably did alot to kill the Benson negotiations, and if they sign another pitcher like Brett Tomko -- who the Royals are reportedly interested in -- that could drive the final nail in the coffin of any Benson deal. RC was upbeat about the potential acquisition of Benson, but there are a lot of pitchers who offer similar things and aren't owed $7.5 million in each of the next two seasons. RC still thinks Benson would be a fine addition to the Royals' rotation, but we won't exactly be heartbroken if the deal never materializes.
Q: Kevin from Springfield, MO, asks:
When it comes to the Royals, what makes more sense to you in this free agent market: spending a truckload of money on one elite player, or dividing the available funds among three or four decent players?
A: RC: This is a good question, and RC is afraid the answer is entirely relative to the specific players you might have in mind. Remember, we are focused upon the Royals' ability to compete in 2007 and beyond, so if it came between signing several decent players to one-year contracts or an elite player to a multi-year deal, we'd go with the elite player every time.
Of course, this question was asked a few weeks ago, and now most of the "elite" talent has already signed. Therefore, RC would probably choose "none of the above" in your scenario, because we don't believe there are any remaining free agents who could significantly help the Royals' chances beyond 2006. If the Royals are still committed to increasing payroll to $50 million, we'd now prefer those increases come via trade, where several decent options may still remain. Otherwise, we'd like to see the Royals roll with what they've got, giving their young players like Chip Ambres a legitimate opportunity to sink or swim. Additionally, we'd like to see a good portion of that money saved for the 2006 draft, and used to sign young players like David DeJesus and Zack Greinke to long term deals that lock up one or two of their free agency years.
Q: Ted from Columbia, MO, asks:Hey RC, why would the Royals want to trade Mike MacDougal? He was our best reliever last year!
A: RC: Ted, there are conflicting reports in the media about whether or not the Royals are actually shopping Mike MacDougal, and we frankly have no idea which is true. However, RC firmly believes that now is the time to shop MacDougal. He's coming off an excellent season, and closers in this market are severely overvalued. It is not hard to imagine that the Royals may secure quite a bounty for Doogie, and if any team bites with a quality offer, the Royals shouldn't hesitate to make a deal. Frankly, RC still has little confidence in MacDougal's long-term effectiveness, and we'd hate to see such a golden opportunity missed. With Ambiorix Burgos in the pen, it's hard to imagine the Royals seeing much (if any) drop off in their closer's performance if MacDougal is traded.
That being said, if no dynamite deals materialize, then RC is also comfortable holding on to MacDougal, who does make up a key part of what could become one of the best bullpens in baseball. We don't want to trade him just for the sake of trading him, and we're confident that Baird will only make a deal if it makes sense.
Q: Adam from Kansas City, MO, asks:
RC, I agree with your assessment of Esteban German. Do you think he’ll replace David DeJesus as the Royals’ leadoff hitter? Will DeJesus then move to 2nd in the order?
A: RC: Assuming German enters the season as the Royals' 2B, we don't believe he'll immediately replace DeJesus as the Royals' leadoff hitter. However, if his plate discipline does indeed carry over into the Major Leagues, we don't think it will be long before German takes his spot at or near the top of the order.
Make no mistake...RC loves DeJesus as the leadoff hitter, thanks to his on-base ability and his patience (DDJ took 60.9 percent of the pitches he saw in 2005, good for 7th in the AL). Right now, there is nobody on the roster we'd rather see get the most at bats for KC. But since German does have the base stealing ability that DeJesus doesn't, if he can equal DDJ's OBP, we wouldn't be surprised or disppointed to see him eventually get the nod as the leadoff hitter. DeJesus could be equally valuable to the team batting second, and it would give him the opportunity to drive in some more runs, which is always good.
Of course, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. German still has to make the team first.
Q: Ken from St. Joseph, MO, asks:
Hey RC, why do the Royals want to sign a veteran backup catcher like Paul Bako? I thought Paul Phillips did a fine job last season.
A: RC: Well, as we said the other day, Bako certainly isn't anyone to get excited about. His offensive stats are pretty dreadful, but the same is true of almost any veteran backup catcher you can find. RC isn't sure, but we suspect the Royals want a guy like Bako because they believe he can help John Buck with his game-calling. According to some reports we've seen, that is the one area of Buck's game that has the Royals most concerned, and hopefully the presence of a veteran catcher can aid in that effort.
Paul Phillips did in fact do everything he was asked last season, but he simply doesn't have the Major League service time required to be able to help a young catcher like Buck with a skill that is learned primarily through experience. That's our theory, and we're sticking to it.
Well, that's it for this edition of RC's mailbag. If you have any burning Royals questions you'd like us to answer, simply send us an e-mail, and we'll do our best.