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Old 12-03-2002, 01:00 AM  
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Royals sign four more minor-league free agents & formal Royals sign elsewhere

Royals sign four more minor-league free agents

By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Tue, Dec. 03, 2002

The Frontier League is coming to Kansas City, Kan., but the man for whom its most valuable player trophy is named is among the Royals' latest off-season signings.

Morgan Burkhart, 30, won the award three times while playing for the Richmond (Ind.) Roosters in the late 1990s. He is a switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter who also led Central Missouri State to the NCAA Division II national title in 1994.

Burkhart, who played last year in Japan, was one of four minor-league free agents signed Monday by the Royals.

The others were San Diego infielder Julius Matos, Milwaukee left-hander Jimmy Osting and a former Royal, infielder Mendy Lopez, who played last season in the Pittsburgh organization.

Matos, 27, is the most-likely candidate among the four to make the major-league roster. He batted .238 last season in 76 games for the Padres after hitting .312 in 50 games at Class AAA Portland.

Matos could emerge as the team's starting second baseman or serve as a backup for both middle-infield positions. He played primarily shortstop in the minors but split time at second and third once he joined the Padres.

Lopez, 29, projects as a full-time backup if he makes the team. He batted .252 last season as a shortstop in 101 games at Class AAA Nashville before going hitless in three at-bats for the Pirates.

Lopez played in the Royals' organization during 1992-99 and batted .257 in 81 games for the major-league club in 1998-99. He has experience at second and third in addition to shortstop.

Osting, 25, was 0-2 last season in three starts for the Brewers after going 5-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 22 starts for Class AAA Indianapolis.

All four players will join third baseman Jarrod Patterson and right-hander Jason Turman as non-roster invitees to spring camp. Patterson and Turman signed last week.

Burkhart became the first position player from the Frontier League to reach the majors in 2000 when he batted .288 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 25 games for Boston.

He spent most of 2001 at Class AAA Pawtucket before getting released. A shoulder injury limited him to 42 games last season with Japan's Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.

Burkhart batted .394 with 70 RBIs in 60 games in leading Central Missouri to its 1994 title. He was also 7-1 as a pitcher.

Signing elsewhere

Several former Royals have signed recently with other teams: first baseman Dave McCarty with Oakland; first baseman Chan Perry with Pittsburgh; outfielder Donzell McDonald with Atlanta; and infielder Jed Hansen with Milwaukee.
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Old 12-03-2002, 01:02 AM   #2
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In a related story:


Royals sign three minor-league free agents

By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Sat, Nov. 30, 2002

The Royals have jumped into the spirit of the holiday shopping season by signing three minor-league free agents.

Third baseman Jarrod Patterson, 29, spent the last two years in the Detroit organization. He batted .295 last season at Class AAA Toledo, Ohio, with 34 doubles, six triples, 13 homers and 70 RBIs in 117 games.

Right-hander Jason Turman, 27, is a former Seattle prospect who pitched last season in Japan. He was 7-5 with a 2.26 ERA in 2001 at Class AAA Tacoma, Wash.

Right-hander Andres de la Cruz, 22, is a former Yankees prospect who hasn't pitched since 2000 because of arm trouble. He has never pitched above Class A.

Patterson could turn into a significant acquisition because he might be the starting third baseman if the Royals trade Joe Randa.

A left-handed hitter, Patterson batted .268 in 13 games with the Tigers in 2001 after compiling a combined .322 average at Toledo and Class AA Erie, Pa. He did not get a late-season call-up in 2002.

Turman is a 6-foot-10 candidate for a middle-relief job. He struck out 85 and walked 26 in 76 innings in 2001 at Tacoma but opted to play last season in Japan after being released by the Mariners.

He spent most of last summer pitching for the Shonan Searex, a minor-league team, before going 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in nine games for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

The Royals signed de la Cruz after clocking his fastball in the mid-90s in the Dominican Republic. He was topping out in the high 80s when released by the Yankees. He is likely to open the season in the minors.

Randa's salary rises if traded

Any team looking to acquire Randa must be prepared to shell out $5.5 million next season because his contract contains a clause that increases his salary by $1 million if he gets traded.

If Randa stays with the Royals, he gets $4.5 million in concluding a two-year extension signed before the 2001 season.

Randa's name surfaced recently among Yankees officials, who aren't interested in retaining free agent Robin Ventura at his 2002 salary of $8.5 million.

The Yankees want Ventura, 35, to accept a cut to about $5 million. If he balks, they are likely to seek a replacement. Randa and Mets third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo are believed to be their top preferences.

Unwelcome news

The Royals weren't helped in their quest to hold on to free-agent right-hander Paul Byrd when St. Louis signed pitcher Woody Williams to a two-year contract for $14.9 million.

"That's a marker (on the market)," said Muzzy Jackson, the Royals' assistant general manager for player personnel. "It's something we'll have to deal with."

The Royals are still awaiting word from Byrd and his agent, Bo McKinnis, on their multiyear contract offer -- believed to be valued at less than $4 million a season.

Greinke zeroing in

Right-hander Zack Greinke lowered his ERA to 2.33 by working five scoreless innings in his latest outing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Greinke, 19, was the Royals' first-round pick in last June's amateur draft. He has 10 strikeouts and two walks in 191/3 innings and has limited opponents to a .191 batting average. At this point, he is likely to open next season at Class A Wilmington, Del.

Rockies sign Pellow

First baseman Kit Pellow, 29, is heading to the Colorado Rockies after seven often-frustrating seasons in the Royals' organization.

Pellow led Class AAA Omaha in RBIs in each of the last four years but never got a summons to the majors until last August. He was released in October after batting .238 with one homer and five RBIs in 29 games.

Perhaps the thin air at Coors Field can help Pellow duplicate his minor-league hitting prowess; he averaged 25 homers and 81 RBIs per season after joining the Royals as their 22nd-round pick in the 1996 draft. He also has a .276 career average in 803 minor-league games.

At least three other former Royals have signed with other clubs: right-handed starter Chris Fussell, 26, with Atlanta; and infielder Donnie Sadler, 27, and left-handed reliever Brian Shouse, 34, with Texas.
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Old 12-04-2002, 12:57 PM   #3
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Well Gentlemen,or ladies, lets be BRUTALLY honset. We are Never going to be worth a piss in the bucket with current ownership. He has proven that already. "Youth movement" my ass. Nobody wants to go watch a buch of just out of college kids play. SPEND some money. Get some PLAYERS, not these pretend to bes we have now. You have to spend money, to make money. I remember going to games in the 80s and EARLY 90s and the place was packed EVERY game. It could be that way again. Nobody wants to watch a loser 80 times a year at home. Hell we can hear that on the radio for free. One solution is to quit trading all the good layers off. Look at all the talent the Royals have supplied the league, its crazy. A few years back we were named minor league team(or something like that) of the year. Where are thoes guys now? Youth Movement huh? So I guess I can buy my Playoff tickets in ...lets say the year...2028?
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Old 12-04-2002, 02:24 PM   #4
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