Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Sorry State of the Royals

Yesterday the Royals released Joe Mays. Yes, that Joe Mays. One of the Royals "Veteran Signings" of the offseason.

I decided to take a closer look at their organization to see if there is any hope at all. There's not. The reason they singed veterans instead of giving jobs to young players, is that they have almost no young players ready for the majors. The average age of their starting lineup last night was 32 years and 10 months. Basically 33 years old. It's not a team that will be improving with more experience. And they don't have young players to make a difference.

Before I go on, they do have one young player recently brought up, Justin Huber (who had been acquired from the Mets). Huber was batting .301 with 7 home runs in 73 at bats in AAA. The Royals then called him up to the Majors. A smart decision, in theory. Not so smart though when you consider that the 23-year old has now been with the Royals for over 2 weeks, and has gotten 7 at bats. Is this a joke? Are they worried he might blow a game for them? Somebody should be fired for that alone (not to mention every other organizational decision).

They're top-10 list of prospects from Baseball America was not a very impressive group (Justin Huber was ranked #3). There's hope for Alex Gordon, last year's overall #2 pick in the draft who is performing well in AA. Then there is Billy Butler, a 20-year old AA outfielder with promise. They have a few other hitting prospects in AA, but other than that their system is very weak.

The only pitching prospect that was in the Royals top-10 was Luis Costa. The 20-year old is 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA in High-A ball. Of course Baseball America does miss people (somehow they left 21-year old Melky Cabrera off the Yankees top-10 list. If he's not one the top 10 Yankee prospects, I'd be very excited about the depth of the Yankees' system).

My personal standard for when searching for prospects I first narrow my search by age and level, using the following criteria:
AAA- Under Age 26
AA- Under Age 25
High-A- Under Age 24
Low-A- Under age 23

If a minor leaguer doesn't fit that age requirement, I don't look. Using that for the Royals, we have the following pitchers:
AAA- Three pitchers under age 26:
JP Howell, 23, 5.67 ERA in 5 starts
Bob Keppell, 23, 5.55 ERA in 8 starts
Brian Bass, 24, 7.59 ERA in 7 starts

AA- Three pitchers under age 25
Cody Smith, 24, 2.57 ERA in 13 relief appearances
Juan Cendeno, 22, no wins in 8 starts, 4.63 ERA, more walks than K's
Leo Nunez, 22, 4.08 ERA in 13 relief appearances

High-A 8 pitchers under 24
4 relief pitchers, none impressive
Luis Cota, 20, 7.52 ERA in 8 starts
Kyle Crist, 22, 4.50 ERA in 5 starts
Daniel Christiansen, 22, 4.91 ERA in 8 starts
Billy Buckner, 22, 2.31 ERA in 8 starts (but with a less than impressive 1.39 WHIP, especially considering he K's less than 1 batter per inning)

In Low-A they do have two starting pitchers who are throwing well, but they are in low-A, and aren't going to help the Royals any time soon.

They basically have absolutely no pitching help whatsover. Considering they have a bad starting staff in the majors, and a closer who has given up 9 earned runs in his last 5 innings of work, that's not a good sign.

How did this happen? In the 9 drafts starting in 1997, in 8 of them they have had a pick in the top 9 in the draft (2004 draft being the only year they didn't as Tony Pena somehow managed them to a winning record that season).

2005: #2 Overall, Alex Gordon. Still a top prospect
2003: #5 Overall, Christopher Lubanski. Batting .273 with 4 home runs in AA.
2002: #6 Overall, Zach Greinke. Went 5-17 last season with Royals, had mental breakdown in Spring Training.
2001: #9 Overall, Johnathan Griffin. I'm not sure he's in baseball anymore.
2000: #4 Overall, Mike Stodolka. Still in A-ball. Passed up on Rocco Baldelli who went #6.
1999: #7 Overall, Kyle Snyder. The 28-year old pitcher is in AAA with the Royals. Passed up #9 Barry Zito and #10 Ben Sheets.
1998: #4 Overall, Jeff Austin. 6.75 career ML ERA, now out of baseball. Passed up #5 JD Drew and #7 Austin Kearns.
1997: #7 Overall, Dan Reichert. 5.55 career ML ERA, now out of baseball. Passed up #10 Jon Garland.

Ouch! We know the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox don't exactly have the greatest draft histories, but they also don't get top-10 picks year after year (or any in the past many years).

Baseball America ranked their minor leagues 23rd of the 30 teams. I think we can all rank their ML roster #30 of the 30 ML teams.

If Kim Ng gets offered this job, which the Royals aren't smart enough to do anyway, she should turn it down. What can anybody do with a team that doesn't have Major League talent, Minor League talent, or money. They do not even have Major League players to trade that will get decent prospects back. Under great management they are probably 5-years away from being decent. Being an Asian-American woman, she probably wouldn't be allowed that much time. She's too good for this job.


Warren said...

I'm not sure what happened to Colt Griffin, but I remember the reaction when the Royals drafted him. He was the ultimate tools pitcher - the first HS pitcher ever to hit 100 on the gun. But he wasn't all that great, even in high school. What a shock that he didn't pan out.

Sully said...

Agreed, Ng is too good for this. 90% of the executives in baseball are too good for this. That's why there are rumors flying that the reason Baird hasn't been fired is because Glass can't convince anyone else to take the job. But hey, at least he pulls in $30 million-plus in revenue sharing every year.

And you've gotta love Buddy Bell's rationale for not starting Huber at first base: "that wouldn't be fair to Dougie." He's of course referring to Doug ".236/.317/.327" Mientkiewicz.

This is why the Royals are my personal crusade. I'd like to think that firing the GM would really help this franchise, but it would only scratch the surface of the problem. If Glass won't sell the team, he at least has to give his next GM free reign to blow up the entire organization and start over (and let him spend a little money).

That people still go to games there is literally unbelievable.

Sully said...

Oh, and even if they did draft Zito/Sheets/Garland, etc. in the first place, they probably would have just ruined their arms in the minors. They're not really known for keeping pitchers healthy.