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.

Ruben Amaro is workin’ out and gettin’ ready to coach first base

Ruben Amaro Jr.
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One of the weirder stories of the offseason was Ruben Amaro going from the Phillies front office to the Red Sox, where he’ll coach first base. That kind of transition is almost unheard of but it’s happening with old Rube.

Today Pete Abraham of the Globe has a story about how Amaro is preparing for the role. And how, while it may look weird on paper, the move actually makes a lot more sense than you might suspect given the Red Sox’ coaching staff and Amaro’s own background. It’s good stuff. Go check it out.

On a personal note, it serves as a signal to me to keep my eyes peeled for reports about Amaro from Fort Myers once camp gets started:

Amaro has been working out in recent weeks with his nephew Andrew, a Phillies prospect, to get ready for throwing batting practice and hitting fungoes.

Could we be so lucky as to get the first-ever Best Shape of His Life report for a coach? God, I hope so!

It’s pretty stupid that athletes can’t endorse beer

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner celebrates after pitching the Giants to a 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) ORG XMIT: PAGP102
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One of the more amusing things to spin out of the Super Bowl were Peyton Manning’s little Budweiser endorsements in his postgame interviews. It was hilarious, really, to see him shoehorn in references to going and cracking a crisp cool Budweiser multiple times. It was more hilarious when a Budweiser representative tweeted that Manning was not paid to do that. Of course, Manning owns an interest in alcohol distributorships so talking about The King of Beers was in his best financial interest all the same.

After that happened people asked whether or not Manning would face discipline about this from the NFL, as players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages. This seemed crazy to me. I had no idea that they were actually banned from doing so. Then I realized that, huh, I can’t for the life of me remember seeing beer commercials with active athletes, so I guess maybe it’s not so crazy. Ken Rosenthal later tweeted that Major League Baseball has a similar ban in place. No alcohol endorsements for ballplayers.

Why?

I mean, I can fully anticipate why the leagues would say athletes can’t do it. Think of the children! Role models! Messages about fitness! All that jazz. I suspect a more significant reason is that the leagues and their partners — mostly Anheuser-Busch/InBev — would prefer not to allow high-profile athletes to shill for a competitor. How bad would it look for Alex Rodriguez to do spots for Arrogant Bastard Ale when there are Budweiser signs hanging in 81% of the league’s ballparks? Actually, such ads would look WONDERFUL, but you know what I mean here.

That aside, it does strike me as crazy hypocritical that the leagues can rake in as much as they do from these companies while prohibiting players from getting in on the action. If it is kids they’re worried about, how can they deny that they endorse beer to children every bit as effectively and possibly more so than any one athlete can by virtue of putting it alongside the brands that are the NFL and MLB? Personally I don’t put much stock in a think-of-the-children argument when it comes to beer — it’s everywhere already and everyone does a good job of pushing the “drink responsibly” message — but if those are the leagues’ terms, they probably need to ask themselves how much of a distinction any one athlete and the entire league endorsing this stuff really is.

That aside, sports and beer — often sponsored by active players — have a long, long history together:

Musial

And the picture at the top of this post certainly shows us that Major League Baseball has no issues whatsoever in having its players endorse Budweiser in a practical sense.

Why can’t they get paid for doing it?

The Orioles signed Rafael Palmeiro’s son

Rafael Palmeiro
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Last summer we posted about Rafael Palmeiro coming out of retirement to play for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The reason: to play a game with his boy Patrick. In that game the elder Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. His son, who is now 26, went 2-for-4 with a grand slam.

Did that serve as an audition for Patrick? Possibly, as Jon Meloi of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles just signed him to a minor league deal.

As Meloi notes, it’s certainly just an organizational depth move, as Patrick is no prospect. And it’s actually likely something of a coincidence that it’s the Orioles who signed him, as Palmeiro doesn’t have any real contacts with the Orioles baseball operations people, all of whom are different folks now than back in his day.

This may not be the last of the Palmeiros, by the way. Peter Gammons tweeted this morning that Patrick’s younger brother, Preston, is a first baseman at North Carolina State who could be drafted this june. Gammons says he has a swing “remarkably similar to dad.”

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.