Graffanino added, Ambres designated for assignment...

The Royals today took a giant step toward finalizing their roster for the season, claiming Tony Graffanino from the Red Sox and Rule 5 pick Steve Andrade from the Padres. To make room, they designated Chip Ambres for assignment, which means he must now clear waivers in order to be sent to the minor leagues. There's a chance another club could lay claim to Ambres, so the Royals might lose him.

So long, Chip.

As a Rule 5 selection, Andrade cannot be sent to the minor leagues, so it's almost certain that he'll now break camp as the Royals' final relief pitcher. The 28-year-old righty has a solid track record of success in the minor leagues, but we don't have much information on him other than his stats. Andrade was listed as the Angels' 30th-best prospect in the 2004 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, which said he was very deceptive due to a "funky delivery and arm action with a head jerk," and that he "catapults himself toward the plate, a la Robb Nen." He could be an interesting guy to watch, and if nothing else, his acquisition helps to ensure that we won't see Steve Stemle make the club.

The Ambres decision is likely to cause some heartburn among statheads, who have always been entralled with his plate discipline. RC was starting to come around on the idea of Ambres making the club over Aaron Guiel, so we were a little surprised when we saw it was Ambres, not Guiel, who was booted from the 40-man roster. Nevertheless, we still maintain that Guiel is a better player right now, and Ambres isn't the type of player the Royals are ever likely to miss. Furthermore, Guiel gives the Royals another decent left-handed bat off the bench, and there's a better-than-even chance that Ambres won't even be claimed.

The other key implication of today's events is that it gives us our best idea yet of what the 25-man roster will look like when the Royals head north later this week. Barring trades, this is our best guess:

C: Buck, Bako
1B: Mientkiewicz, Stairs, Sweeney
2B: Grudzielanek
3B: Teahen
SS: Berroa
UT: Graffanino, German
OF: DeJesus, Brown, Sanders, Guiel
SP: Elarton, Mays, Affeldt, Bautista
RP: Burgos, Sisco, Dessens, Wood, Peralta, Gobble, Andrade

Our biggest concern now is about what happens when Runelvys Hernandez joins the rotation in mid-April. Before the acquisition of Graffanino, Esteban German figured to have a lock on a roster spot. Now, he seems to be the most likely player to be discarded on April 14. Of course, that assumes everything three weeks from now looks exactly like it does now, and we all know that trades, injuries, and circumstance have a funny way of changing things.

Editor's Note (Tuesday evening): As expected, we've learned that the Royals tonight also released Joe McEwing. RC wishes the best of luck to Joe, who by all accounts is one of the finest teammates and classiest players in baseball.


At 3/28/2006 6:11 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

You know I'm not thrilled with my boy Chip being given the boot, but, assuming Joe McEwing loses to Esteban German, today's activities are all very rational.

Besides, it's great having Graff back in the fold, isn't it?

At 3/28/2006 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you were entirely too hard on Ambres during his royals tenure.

Granted, he always looked rough and inconsistant, the opposite of Dougy Eyechart in a way. I suppose you're right when you say the Royals won't miss him if he's claimed, but the same could said about just about every other player on your projected 25-man roster.

It really is small potatos to get so worked up about guys like Ambres, German and Diaz, but it's frustrating to see guys who have something to contribute get wasted, especially when your team regularly loses 100 games.

At 3/28/2006 7:17 PM, Blogger Max said...

Good pickups today!

And Andrade is a rightie.

At 3/28/2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

I don't think the Royals really have a plan for this year. It is becoming more and more appearant they are spending money just to say they are spending money.

When it is all said and done this year, I'm guessing we'll have spent over $10 million on guys who will make no major impact to our win total. Sure Graffinino is better than McEwing, but is he $1.2 million better (or 5 times the money)? Same could and should be said eventually about Mays, Elarton, and Redmond. Sure, they will fill a need for the first month of the season, but by seasons end they'll remind us all of Lima! The Royals have at least $10 million worth of empty payroll.

I believe they are spending money just so people can't say they have the lowest payroll in the league.

This is a smoke screen!!

Sorry, just a rant. I am just not seeing a clear cut direction they are trying to go.

At 3/28/2006 8:27 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Thanks Max, I told you I don't know much about the guy. Not sure how I bungled that one, but the beauty of blogger is that it's easy to fix mistakes without too many people noticing.

At 3/28/2006 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone see what benefits it is to have picked up Graffanino? This one really bothers me...I just can't see how he can help anything...youth movement/veteran influx....reaching 70 wins, etc.

Just another warm body..and taking much needed payroll dollars.

At 3/28/2006 10:27 PM, Blogger Your Majesty said...

I'm one of those "statheads" that's upset, Dave.
You probably already knew that, though.

In my opinion, the Royals have proven without a doubt that they are a stupid orginization, today.
They knew damn well what they were going to get with Chip:
.240-.250 average with a .330-.340 OBP, decent SLG, speed, and significant defensive upside.
He goes out there, hits .240 and they act like he pulled the frickin' wool over their eyes or something.
He was probably the most predictable young guy on their roster because of how translatable his skills are.

At 3/28/2006 11:18 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

Wow, your maj, you really are stretching it to say Ambres had "defensive upside." When exactly did you see this? The guy looked lost more often then he ever looked sure of himself out there. Get your nose out of the books once and awhile and go out to a game, see it live and watch these guys when they aren't on camera. See if they take proper routes to fly balls, or over run things, etc.

As for what happens when the Royals add a 12th pitcher, my guess is that they drop Guiel to Omaha. We do not need him with do-everything Esteban German on the roster. I think they will use him much like the Angels have used Chone Figgins the past few seasons. If one of the starting outfielders gets hurt then they can call up Costa or add Guiel to the roster and use him. But lets face it, Guiel is not on the 40-man as of now and has an option left. So the club can easily keep Costa for the first 3 weeks or so and then send him to Omaha to get his ABs. This doesn't cost another roster move and makes sense.

Having said that, I would rather see that Stairs anounces his retirement and becomes a coach, then we could keep Guiel on the team all season. I do think he deserves it and has "made the team" so to speak. He adds just about everything Stairs does and a little extra (speed and defensive ability) in my opinion. Graf can play 1st in a pinch if Sweeney and Minky get hurt and we have all those infielders ready for a call up in AAA.

At 3/28/2006 11:25 PM, Blogger Your Majesty said...

"Wow, your maj, you really are stretching it to say Ambres had "defensive upside." When exactly did you see this? The guy looked lost more often then he ever looked sure of himself out there. Get your nose out of the books once and awhile and go out to a game, see it live and watch these guys when they aren't on camera. See if they take proper routes to fly balls, or over run things, etc."

I wasn't even referring to a defensive metric. Just the fact that he is fast and young, basically. He's been able to handle center field before and most CF's can convert to LF. He seemed to misread the ball last year, I agree... but with some practice, I think he can improve (hence, upside.)
Emil Brown has little defensive upside.

At 3/28/2006 11:51 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Yeah Eric, I'm kinda with you on Stairs. His contract made sense at the time, but now that the Royals have Minky, Stairs' presence on a roster with a 12-man pitching staff is increasingly hard to justify, particularly with his inability to play the oufield.

Your German idea is intriguing, and it's actually something I hadn't considered. I know he's played some LF this spring, but I haven't heard whether or not he's actually good at it. As for Guiel, I agree it would be tough to send him down again. If you look again, you'll see that he IS actually on the 40-man roster right now, and he's been mashing the ball all spring -- another HR tonight.

At 3/28/2006 11:56 PM, Anonymous eric said...

Actually Ambres is 26, been shaggin flies his whole life. I don't know if he will ever get it figured out. Brown however makes careless errors because of mental mistakes not physical ones. I think it is easier to tell him to drop on one knee if he has to in order to keep the ball from running between his legs. However Ambres has already practiced thousands of fly balls, do you think the next few hundred will do the trick? Ambres has had this problem for a long time now too. He played primarily LF in his minor league career because of his ineptitude in CF. His speed helps to bail him out of poor reads, it doesn't help him cover more ground than other fielders can. That is unfortunate but it is fact.

At 3/28/2006 11:58 PM, Anonymous eric said...

Plus this likely means MORE playing time for Esteban German, which is a truely great thing. There is a guy who can help this team win some games for the next several years.

At 3/28/2006 11:59 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

I really don't get today's moves. Why do you need Graffanino if you already have Joe McEwing? In my mind, they're the same player.

My biggest concern/fear is that the Royals for some reason do think that Graffy IS that much better than McEwing, and he will take PT and AB's from German, who we need to see what he is capable of at the major league level. With German and McEwing on the roster, I expected PT to be about 70/30 in favor of German, but with German and Graffy, I am afraid it will be 50/50 or even in Graffy's favor.

I can just see Buddy playing the "proven veteran" (Graffy) in favor of/over the player with actual upside (German), like what happened last year with TLong over Ambres, Diaz, and (to a lesser extent) Costa.

At 3/29/2006 12:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the Royals are trying to make German our version of Chone Figgins. That guy was so versatile for ANA, and he had that element of speed that is becoming harder and harder to find. I have no doubt that they planned on the OF/INF utility role for the guy from the get-go... they went out and got their everyday 2nd baseman anyway, so it looks obvious.

That said, with DeJesus, Sanders, Brown and Guiel in the OF, you have a lot of guys who are either brittle or not that versatile / proficient as defenders. Having German stick as a super utility guy makes total sense.

Not sure why Dave thinks he's likely to go off the team... I think besides what I've written above, Baird loves his approach at the plate and his speed.

At 3/29/2006 1:57 AM, Blogger Dave said...

My suggestion that German might be in trouble was based solely upon the rest of the roster. Take a look -- the roster I listed is almost certain to be the one the Royals break camp with. If they cut Guiel, then German is the only capable backup outfielder, assuming he's even a capable outfielder (unless you count Stairs, and we already know the Royals don't want him to play OF).

I certainly don't want them to send German away, but I also don't want German to be the only backup outfielder.

I wonder...Do you think there's any chance the Royals look at the roster and ask Stairs to make his foray into coaching a little bit earlier than planned? That seems to be the only other option left once Hernandez comes back, since the Royals are set on a 12-man pitching staff.

At 3/29/2006 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a vacuum getting Graf back is a fine move, but the royals and Beel have a tendancy to give him more playing time than a 'below average 34-year old on a young rebuilding team' should get.

At 3/29/2006 2:54 AM, Anonymous kcfanincanada said...

perhaps baird is being truly smart. A guy like Graffinino will have value some point in the year as trade bait for either a bad injury or playoff prepared team. Then they can convert the handy aged middle infielder into a prospect. I'm in agreement on a few other points on here, that German is an asset the coaches need to use as much as possible; and that the club has spent way too much on poor pitching. Had they pooled the $ spent on Elarton and Redman and traded for Odalis Perez, that would have been a more sensical idea. If you're going to pick up end-of-the-roll guys (like elarton and redman) go for the budget brand and let them scrap it out with your up-and-comers. You don't have to rush anyone but us slobs paying to see the games should be given an ounce of respect.
Oh yeah, I think Affeldt will break out this year and be a major piece to a surprising 74-88 finish.

At 3/29/2006 9:05 AM, Blogger Max said...

I'm as negative a fan as you can get, but I don't see how these are bad moves. Graf is a major upgrade over McEwing and with Grudz possibly hurt, good insurance at 2B. Andrade seems to be a great pickup to add depth (we could always use more arms). And Ambres will never be more than a fourth outfielder. Good moves all around.

Baird seems to excel at these kind of moves, he's very good at finding trash off the scrap heap and turning it into useful value. His biggest problems have been (1) drafting, although his last two drafts have been excellent; (2) executing the big trade (Damon, Dye, Beltran); and (3) developing young pitching.

Other than that he's a terrific GM!

At 3/29/2006 10:00 AM, Blogger Lee said...

I like the pick-up, Graff is a pretty good upgrade over McEwing, but what worries me is when Buddy comes out in the paper saying he has to find ways to get Graff ABs, be it at second, third or first. Grudz has proven that he can't play 140 games, so having a good UTL guy to back him up is great, but not when it costs German and Stairs ABs.

At 3/29/2006 12:48 PM, Blogger Max said...

810 reporting Guiel has been cut and Costa has made the team.


At 3/29/2006 1:21 PM, Anonymous tfn said...

I agree, bad move to drop Guiel.


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