Leftridge: Royals’ Offseason Soldiers On, Apparent Satan Pact Maker Hochevar Avoids Axe

So they haven’t signed Zack Greinke. The fact of the matter is, they probably won’t.

Get over it.

And to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, who, upon the announcement of Jeremy Guthrie’s signing tweeted, “Royals signing of Jeremy Guthrie ridiculous….now paying Ervin Santana & Guthrie combined $18m in ’13…why not Greinke, Sanchez or Lohse?”

 YOU sir, are a complete idiot. For a baseball analyst, you clearly do not understand how baseball works, and quite honestly, that baffles me.

The Royals weren’t “one pitcher away” from making World Series reservations. Their rotation—top to bottom—was one of the most abysmal in the league, requiring multiple upgrades… see: Santana, Ervin and the newly inked Guthrie. So as much as I’d like to see Zack back, I don’t want him followed by Luke Hochevar (edit: too late on this one!), Bruce Chen and the rest of the Barnyard Bunch.

Building a winning ball club in smaller market is all about finding value where you can, and making peanut butter cookies with high risk/high reward moves. Jim Bowden doesn’t get this, but Dayton Moore does—or at least we’re hoping. So far, he’s had a busy off season.


Welcome back, Jer-Jer!

In my last Twitter piece, I spoke about the pickup of former California Angels of Los Angeles, Anaheim pitcher Ervin Santana (in short: I liked the move), so we’ll pick up with the subsequent moves, beginning with the biggest—the signing of Jeremy Guthrie.

 Guthrie signed to 3-year/$25 million dollar contract: When the Royals acquired Guthrie last season from the Colorado Rockies for the abhorrent Jonathan Sanchez, I deemed the move a shit-swap. In hindsight, that was harsh, and thankfully, it appears that I was way wrong. Sure, Guthrie’s numbers in Colorado were bad—Sanchez bad, really—but if ever there were a poster-child for the Misery of Altitude, that poster would have a giant picture of Guthrie (with a forlorn looking Mike Hampton frowning in the background). Outside of the decidedly unfriendly confines of Coors, the one-time Baltimore Orioles ace recaptured his magic, going 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA. This unequivocally made him the Royals’ best starter—and frankly, would have made him a really great starter on almost ANY team.

He’s an arm-trouble-free 34, has had a history of extended success, and, even though the idea of TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT is alarming to some, it’s unbelievable only to those unfamiliar with current baseball economics. If Guthrie can duplicate last year’s successful second-half, I honestly think that this contract is fantastic. Plus, with his first year coming in at a very reasonable $5 mil, the contract is structured to allow for more spending. I’d give this move 3.5 stars.

 40-Man Roster Moves: In order to clear space for players who the Royals need to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft (former super-prospect pitchers Mike Montgomery, John Lamb and Chris Dwyer along with trade acquisitions Justin Marks and Donnie Joseph) the Royals needed to sever some ties—and sever they did.

Last Tuesday, they said goodbye to recent scrap-heap pickup Chris Volstad, longtime signature of futility Vin Mazzaro (EDIT: since traded to the Red Sox), pitcher Ryan Verdugo (a byproduct of the infamous Jonathan Sanchez/Melky Cabrera swap), perennial Calvin Pickering Award winner Clint Robinson (went the way of Mazzaro), super-speedster Derrick Robinson and catchers Adam Moore and Brayan Pena.

The two biggest surprises were undoubtedly the designations of Pena and D. Robinson. Pena, simply because he’d been a long-term backup at an extremely important position and had (very occasional) pop, and Robinson because he was a pretty highly-touted prospect with lots of speed.

 As per usual, there’s a 10-day period in which designated players can be traded, released, or reassigned to the minors.

To be honest, I’d be surprised if many of the aforementioned players were outright released.

I’d give this move an INCOMPLETE, because, well, I’m not sure how you grade this sort of thing. Moves needed to be made, and mostly, these were understandable dealings bred from necessity. The Derrick Robinson move was a bit of a head-scratcher, simply because he’s young and still really fast. He couldn’t hit right-handed pitching, though, and was blocked by a better version of himself named Lorenzo Cain (which would all be outstanding if Cain could just stay healthy).

The bottom line is, most of these guys—the younger ones, at least—will probably head to Omaha. The rest will be missed.

 Kind of. But not really.

Felipe Paulino fall down, goes boom, signs contract.

 Royals Sign Felipe Paulino: I’ll admit that the initial signing of Paulino confused me. Here was a pitcher—a god-awful, cocksucker of a disappointment, really—who the Royals initially picked up from the lowly Houston Astros. Yes, THOSE Houston Astros. But as is sometimes the case, a change of scenery seemed to do the big right-hander well. The once promising prospect followed a decent 2011 campaign with a VERY promising ’12 beginning, to the tune of 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in 7 starts. This was AFTER missing the start of the season with an elbow injury, a malady that was unfortunately indicative of more serious issues. In early July, he underwent ulnar collateral ligament replacement, aka “the Tommy John Special.” With recovery time typically being 12-14 months, he won’t see the rotation again until July of 2013. So essentially, the Royals just paid a guy $1.75 million to pitch on a restricted pitch-count for half a season.

And again, I know that FEELS weird, but that’s the way baseball works these days. If he’s forever broken, the Royals are only out $2 million. If he’s as good as he has shown he can be, however, the Royals just ensured that they’ve bartered irreplaceable good will with a 29-year-old, potentially dominant starting pitcher.

 Good risk, and I give this move an 8 out of 10.

Chris Getz Signed for $1 million: Look, “Getzy” seems like a really nice guy, and I know his versatility, speed and professionalism make him a terrific commodity, but this guy has as much promise as a paraplegic rodeo clown. “Crippled” Chris, as he is known to no one but me, may be a priceless clubhouse delight-cake, but he will NEVER be the long-term solution for a contending team. Why the Royals continually attempt to force him into a regular spot at the Mild Corner puzzles me, but I suppose it really shouldn’t. They are still the Royals, now until infinity, and I give this move a D+.

 Royals Bid on Ryan Dempster: Reports say that the Royals offered a 2-year, $26 million contract to the former Cub/Ranger. Cranger? Sure. Anyway, I fucking LOVE this… not because I have a baseball-boner for Dempster—he’s good but not great—but because, after the Guthrie signing and the assorted other riff-raff, the Royals proved they were willing to spend at least $13 million more on another starting pitcher. And for Dempster, I would have taken that. I wouldn’t have offered much more, however, and I’m glad they didn’t, but it’s nice to see their hand every once in a while. Nice move, Dayton, even if it didn’t pan out. I give this a 9 out of Incomplete.

 Royals Want RA Dickey: This was recent news, like, yesterday, and if you thought me jacking off to Ryan Dempster was disturbing, Jesus, you ain’t seen nothin’. Word around the hot stove is that the Royals are/were one of the primary teams in on the bidding of the 2012 reigning NL Cy Young winner. Do I give a shit that he’s as old as my dad? Nope. He’s a knuckleballer, and a knuckleballer needn’t be fleet of foot nor void of salted, peppered beard. I don’t CARE that Dickey in all likelihood rocks an AOL email address. Dude won the Cy Young. Oh, AND he’s smart and articulate and would likely be the most entertaining Royal since Kevin Appier, which would simply be a nice bonus in a landscape mostly lacking in personality.

I would LOVE to see Dickey on a two-year deal, and if that means the Royals had to give him $15 million per, I’m, completely okay with that. Again, this move is an “incomplete,” but just the fact they’re in on this kind of discussion warrants a 9.5 from the judges.

And so there we stand, on the precipice of the General Manager’s Winter Meetings, a time wherein a bunch of rich white guys in pinstriped suits with the colored dress shirts that have the white collar feast upon the fresh blood of Dominican children. This is a time where magic is born, souls are consumed, and hopefully, the Kansas City Royals walk away with the other general manager ghouls saying, “That Dayton Moore, now THAT’S a guy who can eat some flesh and eek out some deals.


Before we knew just how awful it would be

[THIS JUST IN: Royals reach agreement with RHP Luke Hochevar. Look, I don’t care if we signed him to a contract worth $30,000 and offered him a plump Christmas goose, I HATE this move. Really, truly awful. Hochevar is everything that’s wrong with this organization– their issue with drafting quality players, their inability to cut ties when those ties should have been hacked to bits years ago– and he has no business still being on a major league ball club. It troubles me that, for all of their talk of progression and making decisions based off of building a perennial contender, they just can’t get rid of this big-eared albatross. On a scale of 1-to-horrific orphanage fire, I give this 37 hangnailed-thumbs down.]


As always, I can be found on Twitter @StanfordWhistle.

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8 Responses to Leftridge: Royals’ Offseason Soldiers On, Apparent Satan Pact Maker Hochevar Avoids Axe

  1. Brian Rush says:

    Has there ever been a Royals pitcher more frustrating than Hochevar?

    • Brandon Leftridge says:

      That’s a very good question… and a tough one, too.

      Albie Lopez? He was AWFUL, though his expectations were never quite as high as Luke’s.

      Jonathan Sanchez was also a big disappointment– to me, at least.

      Storm and Mark Davis– historical busts. Big ones.

      Other that that, I’m not sure. And he was undoubtedly the biggest home-grown pitching failure.

      (Oh wait– Colt Griffin, Jeff Granger… I’m shorting out here, but I feel like there are definitely others)

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    Dayton Moore reminds me of St Louis wunderkind, Lee Thomas.

    Or even Scott Pioli.

    Dave Glass is a fish-out-of-water Bill Giles.

    I understand Stolfus & Goode can be had if the Royals want to “horse trade” with the rounder league up in Jamesport.

    • I feel that Moore has already made a more positive impact than Pioli, actually. Not by leaps and bounds, but he’s made a handful of good moves (Greinke trade, Sanchez for Guthrie) to Pioli’s virtual nothingness.

      Re: your last comment, that’s a great movie waiting to be made. I’m serious. Kind of, “Kingpin” meets “The Natural.” I love it and it needs to happen.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        More an observations of “wunderkinds” after they leave the nest rather than a comparison.

        My friend’s dad owned that place in Beaver where they put his hand in the ball return. I passed the bowling alley in Blue Ball many times.

        The Amish do have a wicked sense of humor. You drive through Amish country on PA Rte 34o. Beginning in Blue Ball then through Bird-In-Hand, Mount Joy, Intercourse and finally you get to Paradise.

        Yeah, you could use the rounders games and mix in the Amish teaming up with the Pagans gang in the meth trade.

      • Rodney Jameson says:

        Two things that would go great together, Calvin Pickering and The Natural. Pickering’s name just evokes some sort of eerie Negro League Star atmosphere. They should go get them crazy guys who did those big hits Nutty Professor Klumps and Madeas Family Reunion and make a black version of The Natural about Calvin Pickering. Get him a tshirt and a pick axe to hold for the photo shoots.

  3. Rick Nichols says:

    There was a time, albeit 25 to 40 years ago, when the Royals were capably developing their own pitchers and didn’t have to go shopping for three or four starters during the off-season year after year or, worse yet, make a visit to the “scrap heap” to see what the other clubs had gotten rid of while doing some “housecleaning”. So what’s gone wrong with this process, because the Royals have habitually drafted pitchers in the early rounds and yet so few of them ever make it to the show, much less have a real impact once they’re on the big league team?

    • Rodney Jameson says:

      You asked whats wrong with the Royals process of drafting and developing good pitchers. I think one thing nobody really talks about is that when we’re talking decades, the talent evaluators change because some of them get retired and some of them die (#many evaluators of talent are senior citizens).

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