Professionalism In Announcing

A certain Major League Baseball team recently had one of their games broadcast on television. During the broadcast, a trivia question was asked of the audience. The question was along the lines of “Which major league shortstop…” and dealt with batting averages. There were four answers to choose from: Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughan, Luke Appling and Nomar Garciaparra.

The play-by-play announcer for this broadcast had never heard of Honus Wagner or Arky Vaughan. He might not have heard of Luke Appling either but I don’t know. The color commentator had never heard of Vaughan either and claimed to have heard of Wagner stating something about him being from “way back in the thirties.” After a few moments, the color man said that he had just found out that Wagner had played for the Dodgers.

Um.

Honus Wagner never played for the Dodgers. He was one of the five players elected to the Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 1936, along with Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson. He and Ruth were tied for second in the voting, being selected on 95.1% of the ballots cast. (Cobb was first with 98.2%.) I don’t think I have ever seen any “best ever” list of shortstops that doesn’t have Wagner at #1. For that matter, I can’t recall a “best ever” list of position players that doesn’t have Wagner in the top ten or fifteen. He dominated the National League from 1900 through 1910 almost as much as Cobb did in the American League from 1907 through 1918 or Ruth from 1920 through 1931. Category after category after category, they were not only among the top five or ten players, but the number one player. Honus Wagner is baseball royalty, among the best of the best of the best.

Like Wagner, Arky Vaughan was the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played in the ’30s and, while he didn’t get any love from the BBWAA during his time on the Hall of Fame ballot, he was elected to Cooperstown in 1985 by the Veterans Committee. Vaughan died young, drowning at the age of 40, and had statistics that only became widely respected in the 1980′s with the rise of sabermetrics and the realization that walks and on-base percentage were of tremendous value. He was in the top 10 of WAR for position players 11 times in the NL, six times as first or second. He had seven seasons in the top 10 of Adjusted OPS. He is 44th all-time in career OBP. Check his record out at www.baseball-reference.com for more.

To me, for the professional announcers to not have heard of Honus Wagner is beyond unbelievable. It is more understandable, but still surprising, for them to not have heard of Vaughan.  But the issue is that they compounded their ignorance of Joseph Floyd Vaughan and his tremendous career by making fun of him. Repeatedly. In the “who the heck has ever heard of THAT guy?” vein. Primarily by the play-by-play man. I have never heard anything like it. The color commentator is a former major leaguer. The play-by-play man played very briefly in the very, very low minors but is the son of a man who played in the big leagues for eight years then managed for another six. He’s been around major league baseball for a long time. So one would think that one of them would know about these two tremendous players. Or that there would be someone associated with the broadcast that would perhaps quietly mention via headphones that they needed to clam up. But it didn’t happen.

For these two to act as they did, throwing gasoline on the bonfire of their ignorance each time they made some chuckling reference to Arky Vaughan, was tremendously annoying and unprofessional. And so I used the ultimate weapon at my disposal. I turned them off.

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The Royal Line Up

Royals’ fans are, by now, fully aware that scoring runs is a major problem with the team. I’m not saying that I am disappointed or even particularly unhappy in what they have accomplished so far this season–heck, if anything, it is amazing that they are in the middle of the pack in the AL Central given their relative inability to dent the plate. But as I followed last night’s game against Seattle, I began to wonder if perhaps a little lineup juggle would help.

Last night, the batting order was this:

Aoki
Hosmer
Butler
Perez
Gordon
Valencia
Cain
Moustakas
Escobar

It produced four hits (three by the 1 and 2 slots) and no runs. Now, they were facing Hisashi Iwakuma who is a heckuva pitcher. But bunching Butler, Perez and Gordon in the heart of the order seems to be a bad idea no matter who is on the bump.  Butler is having a terrible time in general, can’t run and is only having success grounding into double plays. Perez has tailed off since his hot start and Ned Yost seems intent on driving him into the ground. The constant blather and hype about Gordon’s defense overshadows his awful plate discipline and subsequent inability to get on base.

So my suggestion is to try the following order:

Aoki
Moustakas
Hosmer
Infante (if available)
Escobar
Gordon
Cain
Butler
Perez

Right now, Moose is floundering. Everybody knows that. If he’s moved up to the #2 slot with Hosmer behind him and Nori dancing on the paths, pitchers should be forced to feed him fastballs instead of off-speed stuff and perhaps his hits will start coming. Infante is a good on base guy and I like him at #2 but I think dropping him to #4 will give him more opportunities to drive in runs. If he isn’t available, I’d put Gordon at #4 and stick Valencia somewhere low in the order.

 

 

 

 

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Oh My Omar!

Kansas City Royals’ second baseman Omar Infante put on a clinic in offensive versatility in today’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.

Infante’s first contribution came in the first inning and was helped a great deal by the Baltimorians. Nori Aoki had led off the game and hit a long fly to center but Adam Jones put in a lackadaisical effort and had the ball clank off his Gold Glove. Aoki, who had been off and running, charged all the way to third. Infante then hit a grounder to J.J. Hardy at short and Aoki made a break for the plate. Inexplicably, Hardy threw to first. Get the sure out and everything, but this was the first inning, your team is facing James Shields and it looked like Hardy could’ve had Aoki out by twenty feet. Still, Infante forced the issue and got the run home so it was a good play for Royals’ fans.

I love Aoki’s hustle by the way. I’ve already seen the Royals blow two plays when a batter fails to run hard to first—Alcides Escobar did it in one of the first games of the season and Billy Butler did it in the tenth inning last night when the second basemen who fielded his routine grounder threw poorly to first. Billy may have been out anyway but we’ll never know. Oh, and a batter later, Salvy Perez cracked a double that even Butler might have been able to chug home on. Perhaps he was exhausted from sitting on the bench all game. Rrrrr.

Back to Infante. In the third, he drove in Jarrod Dyson in a beautiful small ball inning. Dyson had walked, stole second and moved to third when Aoki spanked a grounder to the pitcher. Infante then lifted a fly ball to right and Dyson trotted home, putting KC up 2-0.

Showing that he could hold his own in a bash fest as well as a “manufactured-runs” environment, Infante smashed a double to left in the fifth that scored two and then, in the seventh, blasted a two-run homer to left, putting Kansas City up 8-3. The Royals eventually won 9-3.

The happy totals for Omar were two hits in three official at-bats, a walk, six runs batted in and a run scored. He now leads the club in RBIs, something that one hasn’t been able to say about a KC second baseman in a long, long time.

But as great as this game was statistically, the aspect that impresses me the most is how Infante did it a mere 20 days after getting hit in the face by an 89-mph pitch from Tampa’s Heath Bell. Six stitches were needed to close the wound created by that pitch but no bones were broken and he did not suffer a concussion. Still, it was a harrowing thing to watch and had to be only more so to experience. After such an episode, one might expect a player to be a little flinchy in the batter’s box for a while. I certainly expected Infante to take quite some time to get comfortable again. But he hasn’t.

Oh and let’s not forget that Infante also has a bone spur in his elbow and some shoulder problems.  And since getting hit, he’s worn a modified helmet with an elongated ear flap–good for protecting his jaw, probably not so good for seeing pitches.

A lot of guys have bone spurs and shoulder issues so perhaps it is not that big a deal for Infante to be playing well with those issues rattling around. And perhaps the modified helmet is forcing him to concentrate more. But whatever it is, it is impressive. And the Royals need him to be impressive to reach their goal of making their first postseason appearance since 1985.

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Viva Los Vargas!

Did you see this coming? Did anyone? When the Royals signed Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 M contract last fall, I groaned. Who? For how much? For how long? Oh geez.

About a month ago, I started a post about the signing of both Vargas and Omar Infante but never finished it. The gist was that these were horrible signings as neither player seemed to be anything special. If anything, they were below average. Vargas had turned in three decent seasons in Seattle but then moved to the Angels in 2013 and saw a major decline in innings pitched. (He’d averaged around 203 IP per year with the Mariners with ERA+’s of  104, 88 and 99. Nothing to write home to Mother about but completely acceptable. In LA, 150 IP, ERA+ of 94. Again, not bad really, just what looked like the start of a decline phase in an undistinguished career, which was somewhat understandable since he turned 30 that year.) Infante seemed to have a similar history and trajectory.

I likened Vargas and Infante to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You might want steak, but you can get by on PB&J’s. But no rational person buys four years worth of the stuff and spends so much that they are almost the most expensive thing in your pantry.  To me, the signings looked like just another example of the team-building approach the Royals seem to take—sign guys who are not good enough to make it anywhere else just so there are some upright bodies on the field at Kauffman Stadium.

But so far, I’ve been about as wrong as I could be, especially about Vargas. In his four starts, he’s thrown 29 innings and only allowed four earned runs. Pow. He’s gone at least seven innings in each start. Yes, he’s faced the Twins twice, but he’s also faced the perennial stalwart Tigers and Rays.  And the Twins aren’t a bad team this year.  The thing that strikes me the most is how calm he is on the mound. It almost looks like he couldn’t care less.  But from what I’ve read and heard, it’s just his personality and his practiced approach. Pitchers are going to have good days and bad, and so it is probably best not to throw a tantrum whenever the pendulum swings over to the bad place.

Now, of course, it is waaaaaaaaaaaay too early to call the signing of Jason Vargas a success. But so far, he’s been steak and champagne on a silver platter.

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Is Derek Jeter One of the Five Best Shortstops Ever?

Yes, I’ve been hibernating. It’s good to be back.

The prod that got me out of the cave wasn’t the stupid money thrown at Robinson Cano, or the Royals signing Omar Infante without ever giving my man Tony Seratelli a shot. No, it was a short article on the Five Best Shortstops in History.

The author decided that the five best were Honus Wagner, followed by Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Ernie Banks.  Did you start to hack at number two? I did. Jeter the second best shortstop in baseball history? We’re going to be hearing this sort of thing all summer as Jeter repeats the Year of Mariano Rivera Saying Goodbye. (And if your knees still hurt by all the genuflecting at the Yankee altar, I’m guessing you ain’t seen nothing yet. Jeter’s long goodbye will be slower than Lincoln’s funeral train.) Now I know like you do that Jeter has been a fixture on the Yankees for, what, three hundred years and is their Captain and all that but the maddening thing about this ranking is that the author had nothing statistical to base it on.

Is Jeter a great player? Absolutely. He was extraordinarily durable and productive. He had some power,  got on base and knew how and when to steal a base. And of course, he ripped over 3,000 hits. I’d want him on my team. And he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

But one of the very best shortstops? Hmm. To be considered as such, a player would need to be both a top tier fielder and hitter for the most number of seasons.  The dWAR and oWAR stats are very useful here.  (dWAR is defensive Wins Above Replacement, oWAR just measures a player’s offensive performance. They are complicated stats—you can learn the methodology via an internet search.)

So I made a list of all the Hall of Fame shortstops as well as many that played a long time at the position. 31 players in total. I am sure that there are some that I should have included but this wasn’t an attempt to do an exhaustive study, just to examine the idea of Jeter being top five material.  I wish I could have included two Hall of Famer’s from the Negro Leagues—Pop Lloyd and Willie Wells.  Lloyd was called the “Black Wagner” and Honus reportedly took the comparison as a tremendous complement.  So I would guess that one would have to rank Pop Lloyd in the vicinity of Honus. There is just no way to tell where.  I didn’t include Monte Ward either since he played almost entirely before 1894 when Major League baseball was different enough to what we watch today to, in my opinion, make it necessary to consider it a different game altogether. One can compare Ward to the other shortstops of his day, but the rules in place cause the stats to be different and so comparisons between eras get to be meaningless.  (Pitching stats are particularly skewed by the pre-1894 rules.)

For this list of 31 players, I tallied how many seasons each player was in his league’s top 10 for dWAR and oWAR. Then I added the two numbers to see which shortstop had the most seasons of being one of the top defensive and offensive players in his league. The top five, in order, are Luke Appling, Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughan, Pee Wee Reese and Bobby Wallace. They are followed by Joe Cronin, Cal Ripken Jr., George Davis, Rabbit Maranville and Handsome Lou Boudreau. Derek Jeter is in 16th place, tied with Joe Sewell, Bert Campaneris and Phil Rizzuto, just below Alan Trammell and just above Robin Yount, Ernie Banks, Travis Jackson and Marty Marion.

But the WAR stats also make one understand that offense is more valuable in baseball than defense. We Royals’ fans know this well. Having a great defense is nice, but it just doesn’t feed the bulldog enough. I decided that it made sense to consider offense to be twice as important as defense based on this article http://www.sabermetrica.com/research/relative-importance-of-hitting-pitching-and-defense. So if we run the numbers again, double counting the seasons of being in the top 10 of oWAR, Jeter rises , but only to ninth place. The top five become Luke Appling, Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughan, Joe Cronin and Pee Wee Reese.

I know. Luke Appling right? Who’d a thunk it?  But there it is. Now it should be noted that I only counted the seasons in which the guy played shortstop. This distinction is important. It hurts Ernie Banks and Alex Rodriguez a great deal as they each only played eight years at short. Wagner was affected too as he spent several years at the beginning of his career playing all over the place. (He was the best wherever they needed him.) Bobby Wallace was also impacted as he pitched (and did pretty well by the way) at the beginning of his career.

One of the big reasons that the author of the article in question was so enamored with Jeter was his post season performance. I agree that it is very impressive. Jeter has basically played an entire season of post-season games. 33 series. 158 games. Slash line (BA/OBP/SLG) of .308/.374/.465. Wow. But to me, it is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. A player can’t control whether or not he gets to play in a bunting draped stadium. Just ask Ernie Banks. Granted, it’s a nice extra, and will be noted on his plaque in Cooperstown, but it just doesn’t matter in this analysis.

So the answer to the question of whether Derek Jeter is one of the top five shortstops in history is “no.” One of the greatest hitters to play shortstop? Sure. But not top five overall.

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Eric Hosmer, Man On Fire

To what do you ascribe the protracted late-season relevancy of the Kansas City Royals? (Yes, I realize the Boys in Blue are getting beaten black and blue by Detroit as I type this but I wrote this post this morning.) The starting pitching? Could be—it’s generally been quite good.  The bullpen? Perhaps–it’s been, like the starting rotation, extraordinarily reliable and effective. But for my money, it’s the big guy playing first.

Eric Hosmer has been on a season long tear.  And lately, he has been an on-base machine. In the six games preceding tonight’s contest, Hos has nine hits (including two doubles) and four walks in 27 plate appearances. That’s an OBP of .519. It’s true that he has only scored three times in this span but then, he usually has Billy Butler batting behind him and Butler is collecting GIDPs like a kid grabbing chocolate eggs on Easter morning. Over his last 27 games, Hosmer has an OBP of .400, which is Cabrera-esque and so far this year, his slash line is .300/.354/.445 with an OPS+ of 117. Dang.

There has been some criticism of Hosmer for not hitting home runs. Ridiculous. This criticism makes me think of Wall Street. Company A says it is going to turn a 7% profit, which is great. But the three or four analysts at the big investment firms covering Company A scratch their heads and say, oh geez, we think Company A should be making 12%. And when the annual report is released and it shows Company A actually made a fantastic 8% profit, there are many who see it as a failure because of misguided expectations.  Hosmer is a helluva player. To knock him because some people continue to hold on to outdated ideas like teams need “power from the corners” and such is just plain silly.  Would I like to see him hit more homers? Sure. But he’s a line drive hitter so I wouldn’t expect him to get more than 20, maybe 25.

Looking deeper into the numbers, which you can via www.baseball-reference.com if you have the time and inclination, Hosmer’s production becomes more impressive.  He’s hit lefties as well as he has righties (respective OBP’s of .352 and .355), does equally well home or away (OBP .347 and .361 respectively) and produces with men on base (.298/.355/.468.) But perhaps the most telling stat is his batting in “late and close” games. Www.baseball-reference.com lists this stat and says it refers to plate appearances in the 7th inning or later, with the team at bat tied, up by a run or with the tying run on deck.  In essence, the exact times you need men to successfully handle the ash most.  Hosmer has 94 PA in these situations and has produced six doubles, a triple and four homers as part of a slash line of .422/.479/.663. Incredible. 

Now Alex Gordon has been good too. But he’s been fading all year long. Each month, his OBP and other stats drop. Billy Butler can get on base but then the base paths turn into sand. Plus he only plays half of each game. Salvy Perez has been coming on strong but overall has not nearly been as consistent or effective on offense as anyone mentioned so far. (For example, Perez has not performed as well against the better teams in the league, on the road or in the “late and close” games. Still glad to have him of course.)

So hats off to Hosmer for leading Kansas City to its recent relative heights in the standings. And here’s to hoping he doesn’t cool off until November.

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Rename The Royals As The Zombies

The Kansas City Royals need a new name. Well, maybe that’s a little strong. They deserve a new name. At least right now. The Zombies. Oh yeah. It’s topical. Jersey sales will go through the roof. Especially if they have some fake blood on them. And the name fits them for several reasons:

  1. They are proving to be relentless. Here we are in September for crying out loud and the pesky Royals are still in the hunt for the postseason. Seriously. They struggle against the White Sox and the Marlins, but they play well against the Red Sox and Tigers, scratching out wins. Relentless.
  2. Many, including me, have given them up for dead. But then the Twins come to town or something and they lurch back to life, stumbling towards the playoffs.
  1. They don’t make a lot of noise and can be awfully boring. Did you watch the recent home series with the White Sox? Yawn. 20 hits in three games, (which is okay) all of which were singles, save one double (which is not.) They’re dead last (!) in the AL in homers, tied for 11th (out of 15) in doubles and 13th in total bases.
  2. They’re kinda buried in the standings. It’s true that they are in the playoff picture, but they are looking up at three first place teams in the AL and five others vying for that elusive wild card. Pretty stiff competition.

Okay enough with the bad puns. The comparisons only go so far of course–witness the fact that KC is leading the league in stolen bases this year, even with Billy Butler making like Herman Munster on the basepaths. I’d rather have them leading the league in OBP of course but, hey, it’s something. And as the games dwindle and we stop using the words “playoffs” and “Royals” in the same sentence, people would probably still come out to the K to see the Undead unlose a few more games.

 

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Assessing the Latest Royal Changes

The Royals made another flurry of moves yesterday, none of which will help the team score more runs.  Let’s take a look anyway:

1. Starting pitcher Wade Davis was sent back to AAA Omaha.  My reaction: About damn time! He seems to be another one of those pitchers the Royals just can’t see accurately. He has not been a good starting pitcher but is a great big (6′ 5″) guy with potential. One might call him Hochevaresque. The most worrisome thing is that, in his three years as a major league starter, he has gotten worse every year–ERA+’s of 96, 85 and, this year, 72.  Manager Ned Yost claimed that the move was made because they were worried about the increased number of innings Davis has thrown this year– 125 compared to 70 last year when he was in the Tampa Bay bullpen. So, what’s he gonna do in Omaha Ned? Play second? I’m guessing he’ll pitch. But maybe he’ll only toss it in there, since it’s the minor leagues and all. The talk is that the team did this because they have already decided that Davis will be part of the KC starting rotation next year. Which, as a Royals fan, is about as depressing a thought as I can bring to mind right now. Unless KC re-signs Miguel Tejada or something.

2. Danny Duffy was promoted to the KC starting rotation.  My reaction: Thank you! Duffy is a young lefty who can strike guys out but who also has to learn to control his talents. Nonetheless, it’s time for him to get a big league chance.

3. Outfielder Quintin Berry was traded from Omaha to the Red Sox organization for pitcher Clayton Mortensen.  My reaction: I’ll be surprised if we hear about either of these guys again.

4. Starting pitcher Ervin Santana was placed on revocable trade waivers. My reaction: None. This was expected. Hopefully, the team can entice a good deal out of someone who is a realistic playoff contender.

And last but not least,

5. The Royals signed first baseman Carlos Pena.  My reaction: Why the heck would they do that? Pena is 35 and has serious Adam Dunn disease. The symptoms are that the player’s annual strikeout total consistently threatens to exceed his batting average but he still manages to have a decent OBP (because of walks) and production value (because of power.)  Last year, for example, Pena whiffed 182 times for Tampa, batted .197 but had an OBP of .330 and 19 roundtrippers. The curiousness of this move is the motivation. Last time I looked we had a superb first baseman named Eric Hosmer who is great at the plate and a dozen years younger than Pena. And an above average DH in Billy Butler. So why start spending money on Pena? I don’t know. I really don’t. Let’s just say ‘security’ or ‘depth’ or one of those other labels that get hung on odd transactions.

So there it is, a lot of smoke and noise surrounding one move of everyday substance. It is encouraging that the Royals are finally sitting down a very subpar player in Davis even if they are bleating some nonsense about their motivations. Like I like to say, it’s the results that count. And the Royals should be a better team with Wade Davis out of the starting rotation.

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Miguel Tejada–Spanked Too Hard for his Juice?

Royals infielder Miguel Tejada has been caught taking naughty pills and suspended for 105, count ‘em, games. Yet, many people calling in to radio talk shows and writing about baseball have been full of praise for him. (He’s been quite the darling of the team’s radio announcers all season–they constantly chatter about his leadership and so on.) I don’t understand this at all. He’s Alex Rodriguez on a much smaller scale. He’s cheated and lied about his PED use and his production for Kansas City has not been great.

That being said, the point of this post is this: I’m not sure his 105-game suspension is fair. Relative to the crazy world of MLB suspensions of course. If it is true, like Tejada reportedly says, that he tested positive because he was taking Adderall for some attention deficit disorder AND the league had been granting him an exemption to use Adderall in the past AND he had applied but not yet received another exemption after it expired, well then, the penalty seems to be excessive. (To get an exemption, the league requires a player to get the approval of a “three expert panel” according to Deadspin. See http://deadspin.com/5964744/1-in-10-mlb-players-took-adderall-this-season. I’m assuming that these experts are reputable, independent doctors that don’t work for some Miami-based anti-aging clinic.)

Of course, it should be noted that Tejada has lied in the past—to Congress about PED use and baseball in general about his actual age. So perhaps the penalty is just, if you look at it in a broader sense. Adderall is an amphetamine after all and if Tejada doesn’t really have an attention-deficit disorder, it would act as a stimulant and possibly enhance his performance on the diamond, although I would venture to say that if his 2013 campaign has been chemically “enhanced,” he’d have a hard time making a AAA team unjuiced.

I understand that the suspension is based on the negotiated agreement between the owners and the player’s union. But I think that a deterrent system needs to be rational and fair in order to be successful over the long term. And the length of Tejada’s suspension seems to lie outside that boundary. I think Alex Rodriguez should be banned for life because it appears that he was not only a user who lied repeatedly and very publicly about his use but also encouraged others to use. (A quick aside—did you notice who is now representing A Rod and who has been making grand public pronouncements about the weakness of the evidence in the Biogenesis case? Joe Tacopino. If that name sounds familiar to folks in Kansas City, it should. Tacopino was the guy hired by the parents of missing toddler Lisa “Baby Lisa” Irwin, whose disappearance from her Northland KCMO home on October 4, 2011 remains unsolved. As far as I can tell, he held a few flashy press conferences and then disappeared.) Anyway, Rodriguez has held himself out as a role model and so should be publicly flogged (figuratively) for his cheating. Melky Cabrera should also be kicked out of the game for recruiting others to help him avoid the consequences of his actions. If the recent reports about the lengths Ryan Braun went to discredit his accusers are true, I’d put him out at the curb as well. And, frankly, I think the Hall of Fame should kick out Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford and any of the other old timers who actively worked to deceive umpires or the league to gain an advantage or make the game something other than an honest athletic contest.

But if Ryan Braun got a 65 game suspension and the others who agreed to their parts in the sordid little affair down in Florida were sat down for 50, then it seems to me that Tejada should suffer something commensurate. I don’t want him around the Royals anymore you understand, but if MLB wants the clean players to push the union to accept comprehensive testing and such, the deterrent system needs to be respected. And it won’t be respected if it is capricious.

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The Royals Trade For Who? Why?

The Royals recently traded for Jamey Carroll (from the Twins) and Emilio Bonifacio (from the Blue Jays) in an apparent effort to cover however long third baseman Mike Moustakas will be out and to “solve” the problem of second base. This follows their signing Justin Maxwell (from the Astros) to help cover the outfield while Lorenzo Cain spends some time on the ranch, tending to his calf.

These deals, coupled with the franchise’s lack of activity before the trade deadline, have been seen as evidence that the team is committed to success this season, the first year in decades when they have a mathematical shot at making the playoffs in mid-August.

But to me, the trades look desperate and short-sighted. I thinIMG_1684k the team should be conserving resources and looking long term. If they were in first place, I’d be all for a current year push. But they aren’t. Not even close. Making these moves even more head-scratching is that the players obtained are way too similar to the ones already on the roster. The Royals don’t get on base or score runs. So who do they trade for?

Let’s take a look.

Jamey Carroll, 39, no power, rusty wheels. He has had great plate discipline in the past so his career OBP is very good (.350) but his OPS+ of 85 indicates that he’s a singles hitter. The rub is that his ’13 OBP is a horrid .274 which I suppose isn’t that bad a thing since he can’t run very well in his dotage, so what good is having him on base? Carroll has been a good infielder but, like I mentioned, he’s 39.

Emilio Bonifacio is 28 and plays all infield positions, can steal bases but has no power. His career slash line is .261/.319/.340 with an OPS+ of 78. This is way better than Elliot Johnson, which is good, but is almost identical to Chris Getz, which is not.

Justin Maxwell.  28-year-old free swinger with some power.  He hit 18 homers for Houston last year, which is more than half the total he has produced over parts of five seasons in the bigs. Career slash line is .228/.316/.434 with a career OPS+ of 102. So he’s okay at the plate. His defense is not stellar.

The biggest problem with these deals is that the team has two players at Omaha that they should have promoted instead of dragging the bottom of the trade pool.  I’m talking about Irving Falu and my man, Anthony Seratelli. Neither will win a Gold Glove. Or a silver. Or a bronze. But they can make the plays needed. And they produce on offense. Which is what the Royals sorely need.

In 2012, when the 29-year-old Falu was in the Royals lineup, he had a slash of .341/.371/.435 (OPS+ 120) in 91 PA while playing 2B, 3B and SS. Since KC found this unimpressive and so invested in 39-year-old Miguel Tejada (2013: .288/.317/.378; OPS+ 91), Falu has spent 2013 in Omaha where he’s put up an OBP of .326.

Seratelli, as I’ve pointed out before, has never been given a chance in the major leagues. He’s 30, a switch hitter, has played every infield position although had mostly been an outfielder and has lumber stats that an offense-starved team like the Royals should drool over.  This year, in 419 PA up in Omaha, he’s put up a slash of .292/.414/.452. Gesundheit. Oh and he’s got some power—he hit his eleventh homer yesterday, giving the Storm Chasers the only run in their victory. And then it should be noted that he is rather speedy. He has 22 stolen bases. With one CS.

The Royals need offense, now and for the future. They need guys to get on base so that the young boomers they already have (Hosmer, Gordon, Butler and hopefully Perez and Moose) can knock them in. Investing in old players like Jamey Carroll or Miguel Tejada is a waste of money. Investing in guys who can’t get on base very well but can field is also foolish. Especially when you have talent down on the farm.

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