Royals' Moore lacks vision, should lack job

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Disastrous.

It’s the word I used to describe the Royals’ offseason at the time that
they made their one positive move. It is likely that getting Zack
Greinke signed to a four-year deal likely will benefit the Royals’
long-term future more than the rest of the moves combined will take
away from it. Still, it didn’t have to be like this.

Let’s review. Here are all the notable moves the team made over the winter:

10/30/2008 – Acquired first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Marlins for RHP Leo Nunez.

Jacobs went on to avoid arbitration by signing for $3.275 million.
Nunez, who had a 2.98 ERA in 48 1/3 innings in 2008, is making
$415,000.

11/19/2008 – Acquired outfielder Coco Crisp from the Red Sox for RHP Ramon Ramirez.

Crisp arrived sporting a $5.75 million salary in the final
guaranteed year of his contract. The Royals have the choice of keeping
him $8 million in 2010 or buying him out for $500,000. Ramirez, who had
a 2.64 ERA in 71 2/3 innings in 2008, is making $441,000.

Neither trade was necessarily awful in isolation. Jacobs was coming
off a 32-homer season, and Crisp had the potential to really improve
the Royals’ defense. The salaries were perfectly reasonable for both
veterans. The big problem was that the Royals had to decimate their
bullpen depth to get him.

12/11/2008 – Signed LHP Horacio Ramirez to a one-year, $1.8 million contract.

The first of two completely unreasonable moves. One could actually
justify giving Ramirez a major league deal to pitch in relief, but the
Royals signed him to start and gave him a rotation spot even after he
performed as poorly as any player in the Cactus League. Fortunately,
they did replace him after just one turn through the rotation, cutting
their losses.

12/11/2008 – Signed RHP Doug Waechter to a one-year, $640,000 contract.

Waechter has been limited to three relief appearances this season by an elbow injury.

12/13/2008 – Signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth to a two-year, $9.25 million contract with a club option for 2011.

The second horrific move. The market for average relievers had
already been set when Bob Howry jumped on a one-year, $2.75 million
offer from the Giants. It never became clear what team the Royals
competed against to sign Farnsworth.

12/16/2008 – Re-signed LHP John Bale to a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

Bale was rarely healthy and only moderately effective during his
first two seasons with the Royals. Kansas City did make him take a
modest paycut, but it was still $1.2 million that could have been
better spent elsewhere. Bale has allowed five runs in nine innings
while healthy this season.

1/9/2009 – Signed infielder-outfielder Willie Bloomquist to a two-year, $3.1 million contract.

The Royals could no longer afford a real replacement for Mark
Grudzielanek as a result of their other moves. Throwing $1.5 million
per season at a 25th man, though, that was doable.

1/26/2009 – Agreed to terms with RHP Zack Greinke on a four-year, $38 million contract.

The shining star.

2/10/2009 – Signed RHP Jamey Wright to a minor league contract.

Just in case the rest of the moves didn’t pan out. Which they
haven’t, of course, and which is why Wright is likely going to throw
70+ innings for a major league team for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

2/28/2009 – Signed RHP Juan Cruz to a two-year, $6 million contract
with a club option for 2011; forfeited 2009 second-round pick.

It was hard to argue with this one. Cruz would have done better
financially if not for the draft pick issue, and the Royals were able
to get him without surrendering their first-rounder. Unfortunately,
it’s another move that hasn’t really worked out, as Cruz has struggled
mightily over the last few weeks and is currently sporting a 5.46 ERA.

3/09/09 – Released infielder Esteban German.

3/18/09 – Released LHP Jimmy Gobble.

The Royals could have non-tendered both in December, but they kept
them and ended up surrendering termination pay in March. That’s another
$425,000 completely wasted.

It’s not pretty going line by line, and the big picture is even
worse. Jacobs and Crisp may have salaries totaling $9.025 million this
year, but the Royals are paying so much more for them, since it was the
losses of Nunez and Ramirez that led to the Farnsworth and Cruz
signings. Those two relievers are making $6.5 million this season and
$7.75 million in 2010. Nunez and Ramirez are earning $850,000 this year
and probably won’t clear $3 million next year in their first seasons of
arbitration eligibility. The Royals had both under control through
2012. Odds are that none of the four aforementioned acquisitions will
still be around in 2011.

And Moore made the moves so quickly. He wouldn’t have had to overpay
to bring quality free agents to Kansas City. Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu,
Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera… they would have taken Moore’s money.
The Royals had interest in Hudson and Cabrera, but they were already
out of cash by the time their prices had come down. It turned out that
Moore had as much to spend as all but a few teams, yet he badly misread
the market and didn’t get a single bargain.

So, was disaster too strong? Probably once the Greinke signing got
done. While so little has worked out, nothing here rivals the Jose
Guillen signing in handcuffing the Royals’ fortunes for the long-term.
Still, I think it’s enough to put together a legitimate case for
dismissing Moore. He hasn’t rebuilt the minor league system as hoped,
and for a small-market GM, he’s thrown a ridiculous amount of money
down the drain. The Royals have a deserving replacement in the fold in
Mike Arbuckle, who was very well regarded for his work in Philadelphia.
It’s time they try someone new.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.