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Old 11-08-2005, 10:15 AM  
dirk digler dirk digler is offline
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JoePo: Baird needs to spend wisely

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...s/13108330.htm

Baird needs to spend wisely

Royals have $22 million for free agents

JOE POSNANSKI

Well, this is new. Royals general manager Allard Baird has a little bit of money to spend. In fact, he has more than a little bit. He has about $22 million. That’s probably somewhere in the middle of the pack among baseball teams.

But for the Royals, it’s like striking oil. For the last couple of weeks, Baird has been talking to player agents and trying to convince them that yes, he really has money to spend, really really, and he really wants to spend it on players, really. He says this, of course, to the agents who pick up the phone. The others see “Kansas City Royals” on their caller ID and send it right to voice mail.

But it’s true. Baird and the Royals do have money to spend. And not only that, they want to spend the money. Royals owner David Glass apparently has been called cheap one time too many. He wants a $50 million payroll. And he wants results.

There are, as I see it, only two problems with the new spend-happy Royals.

1. This is a terrible year to have money to spend.

2. The Royals have not been good at spending money.

Let’s take the second part first. I will now list for you the free agents for whom Baird, in his career as Royals GM, has paid $1.5 million or more.

■ Juan Gonzalez ($4 million): Had 127 at-bats and was gone for the season.

■ Brian Anderson ($3.2 million): Went 6-12 with 5.64 ERA. Blew out his arm.

■ Scott Sullivan ($2.6 million): Went 3-4 with 4.77 ERA. Missed entire 2005 season.

■ Jose Lima ($2.5 million): Went 5-16 with record-high 6.99 ERA.

■ Benito Santiago ($2.1 million): Had 175 at-bats and was gone for the season.

■ Chuck Knoblauch ($2 million): Hit .210 in 300 at-bats before getting hurt.

■ Albie Lopez ($1.5 million): Went 4-2 with 12.71 ERA before being released.

That’s it. That’s the whole list. This does not include the acquisition by trade of Eli Marrero ($3.2 million) who hit .159 in 88 at-bats before being mercifully traded again.

So, that’s seven free agents, and every last one of them was a disaster. Now, to be fair, the Royals knew each of these guys was a risk. They couldn’t afford the higher-end free agents. They gambled. And Baird is not lucky at the blackjack table.

“Money isn’t the only answer, obviously,” Baird says. “But when you do have more money to spend, the risk factor involved is a lot less. We have more money this year.”

And that takes us back to the first problem. This is a terrible free-agent year. It’s so bad that A.J. Burnett — a guy who lost his last six games and then walked out on his team — is considered by many to be the top free-agent pitcher in this class.

Brian Giles, who will be 35 years old and hit 15 homers last year, might be the top free-agent power hitter in this class.

In other words, it will be tough for the Royals, no matter how much money they are willing to spend, to drastically improve this club with free-agent talent. But, Baird understands that he has a job to do and some money to spend.

“There are some players in this class that can help us,” he says. He and assistant general manager Muzzy Jackson have already contacted 38 free agents. They intend, Baird says, to “be in on everybody.” So that means they will try to get Rafael Furcal to play second base, even though the word is that the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets are in on the bidding. They will try for Giles, who was third in the National League last year in on-base percentage.

The Royals have Jacque Jones, Reggie Sanders, Paul Byrd, Jarrod Washburn, Jeromy Burnitz, Mark Grudzielanek and a whole bunch of other guys on their list. None of those guys screams “pennant clincher,” but hey, these are the best available.

“Every free agent out there can expect to get at least one call from us,” Baird says.

There is another possibility, too. The Royals could make trades and take on some salary. This might be a better option, if they can find teams willing to deal. The only trouble is that, unlike previous years, it seems like there are a lot of teams out there with money to spend this offseason. There are suddenly teams like Milwaukee and Toronto that feel they might be a couple of players away from being contenders.

So, the Royals are ready to spend right now. They want starting pitchers. They want a corner outfielder with some power. They want a second baseman. They want a veteran backup catcher. They want a lot of things.

I would hope the Royals play this thing smart. I would hope they remember defense. This team desperately needs defense — particularly outfielders who can run. I would hope they would not sign a bunch of old guys who can’t even remember their primes. Nobody wants Sammy Sosa. I would hope they would not spend big money for some third-tier pitcher. It would be smarter to just give Mike Wood a starting job. I would hope they would not sign any more designated-hitter candidates. There are no vacancies.

In other words, I would hope the Royals would sign players who fit into the plan — get a little speed, a little defense, a guy who can get on base, a solid veteran pitcher or two who can eat up some innings and take some pressure off the kids.

But right now, the Royals are like a kid who just got his first paycheck. That money is burning holes in some pockets. The free-agent signing period begins Nov. 11, and the Royals have money, and Baird says the Royals will be making offers right at the starting gun.

“We’re not waiting,” Baird says. “We’re ready to move right now. When I look at the limited talent in this free-agent class and the number of teams that want to spend money, I think it’s like that game of musical chairs. You know at the end, somebody is going to be without a seat.”

“And,” Baird says, “I don’t want that somebody to be us.”
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:21 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting this. It pretty much reflects the discussion on the other thread, and this is a more appropriate place for it.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:24 AM   #3
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:24 AM   #4
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I have a VERY bad feeling about who Allard might end up overpaying for in free agency. As JoPo points out, his track record is beyond horrible.

The 2 or 3 starting players worth signing won't play for KC no matter how much cake Baird throws at them, and the scrubs that actually would sign there will be no better than the scrubs they already have.

This means another 100+ loss season and finally Glass will be forced to do what he should have done 2 years ago, fire the dumbass.


Oh well, at least Gordon and Butler have done well in the Arizona Fall League.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakesthecat
I have a VERY bad feeling about who Allard might end up overpaying for in free agency. As JoPo points out, his track record is beyond horrible.

The 2 or 3 starting players worth signing won't play for KC no matter how much cake Baird throws at them, and the scrubs that actually would sign there will be no better than the scrubs they already have.

This means another 100+ loss season and finally Glass will be forced to do what he should have done 2 years ago, fire the dumbass.


Oh well, at least Gordon and Butler have done well in the Arizona Fall League.
Yes.

It's not what we do or don't have, relative to cash, it's how it's used. Baird has been an absoulte bust in using what he does have. To answer that any other way would be turning a blind eye to the obvious.

Unless we find some pitching (starters), we are destined for another 100 loss season. I'd kill to have a legit #2 as our #1. Geezus, we haven't had an ace since Appier left.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:51 AM   #6
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Paul Konerko? Alternate with Sweeney at DH?

This would have a double benefit, taking him from a division rival.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiEd
Paul Konerko? Alternate with Sweeney at DH?

This would have a double benefit, taking him from a division rival.
We've got 1B/DH types coming out our ears. Plus, he'll be too expensive.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siberian khatru
Thanks for posting this. It pretty much reflects the discussion on the other thread, and this is a more appropriate place for it.
Your welcome.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiEd
Paul Konerko? Alternate with Sweeney at DH?

This would have a double benefit, taking him from a division rival.
NO.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakesthecat
I have a VERY bad feeling about who Allard might end up overpaying for in free agency. As JoPo points out, his track record is beyond horrible.

The 2 or 3 starting players worth signing won't play for KC no matter how much cake Baird throws at them, and the scrubs that actually would sign there will be no better than the scrubs they already have.

This means another 100+ loss season and finally Glass will be forced to do what he should have done 2 years ago, fire the dumbass.


Oh well, at least Gordon and Butler have done well in the Arizona Fall League.
This is exactly why I'd rather they bank the $22 million this year, and save it to the sign players we already have (that are worth signing) to long term deals.
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Old 11-08-2005, 10:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siberian khatru
We've got 1B/DH types coming out our ears. Plus, he'll be too expensive.

I understand your point completely. However, are any of those types any good other than Mike Sweeney? I am asking, because for the first time in over 30 years I pretty much quit them this year.
I would rather see them over pay for a guy that plays the whole year and produces than what they did with the seven mentioned above while trying to find a bargain. Just my thoughts.
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Old 11-08-2005, 11:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiEd
Paul Konerko? Alternate with Sweeney at DH?

This would have a double benefit, taking him from a division rival.
I think the Angels will lock him up, plus I don't see the need.
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Old 11-08-2005, 11:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiEd
I understand your point completely. However, are any of those types any good other than Mike Sweeney? I am asking, because for the first time in over 30 years I pretty much quit them this year.
I would rather see them over pay for a guy that plays the whole year and produces than what they did with the seven mentioned above while trying to find a bargain. Just my thoughts.
Justin Huber has the potential to be a beast. A true middle of the order, power bat. There's talk of Gordon playing first too since that's where he's at in the AFL, but if he doesn't end up at third, it makes more sense to me that he'd be in the outfield.

God willing, Harvey will be playing for the T-Bones next season.
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Old 11-08-2005, 11:05 AM   #14
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I think the Angels will lock him up, plus I don't see the need.

Well at least he will be out of the division that way.
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Old 11-08-2005, 11:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HemiEd
I understand your point completely. However, are any of those types any good other than Mike Sweeney? I am asking, because for the first time in over 30 years I pretty much quit them this year.
I would rather see them over pay for a guy that plays the whole year and produces than what they did with the seven mentioned above while trying to find a bargain. Just my thoughts.
We've got to stick with Alex Gordon and Justin Huber (and Billy Butler is probably best-suited to DH) and hope they pan out.
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