Royals Outpost

The heart-felt musings of a Kansas City Royals fan who isn't always right, or logical, but does always care.

6.1.06

Free Agent Pool Drains, KC Lineup at a Glance

The last of the starter-quality free agents are finding homes here in the first days of January. Certain guys were able to sit on their hands while teams with needs at their respective position scrapped for their first choice, then settled for Plan B when they lost out. Preston Wilson received a one-year pact for a cool four million bucks from Houston, after the Astros were unable to woo Burnitz away from the Pirates. That same Pittsburgh team finally surrendered to sanity and brought Joe Randa back for a second stint as the third baseman after they fell short of signing Bill Mueller, giving him a one-year deal for 2.8 million. And in perhaps a last gasp for his career, Bret Boone accepted a minor league deal to compete with Kaz Matsui for playing time at second base for the Mets. After last year's dramatic drop in productivity, Boone will be playing to dispel steroid murmurs amongst his critics, myself include.

What does this have to do with the Royals? Preston Wilson fell under the heading of slugging outfielder, same as Reggie Sanders, and is considerably younger. However, Wilson has a pair of bad knees, and strikes out 120 times or so per full year. Boone was one of the players on a short list of candidates for the second base opening, before Grudzielanek's plus-sized last name filled it and then some. And I don't think you guys need me to explain Randa's significance to loyal Royal supporters.

There are still some bargains to be had, but it's unlikely that our team will be exploring any of them. The money's gone, the roster has been patched up as best we could this particular off-season. There are a few decisions that have been made I'm not entirely convinced of (I think Mark Bellhorn would have been a comparable option at 2B, except with more power and a much lesser pricetag), but knowing the Royals, it sure could have been a lot worse. I think I punched my ticket to purgatory with how much vulgarity I let loose with when I heard we'd signed Jose Lima last off-season..

With the MLB-related news trickling in in the winter weeks, and Royals info at more of a busted faucet drip, the blogger mind tends to wander a bit. I think I'll simply allow myself to brainstorm for the time being, since nothing prudent is surfacing in the ol' hat rack.

The offense has obviously been redeemed by a handful of intermediate signings, but people are too easily caught up in the individual upgrade, and don't look in to how the change will effect the dynamic of the lineup. Reggie Sanders, Angel Berroa, and David DeJesus are all nimble enough, but it would be a surprise to see any of them steal more than 15 bases. I know, the stolen base is an archaeic and crude approach to generating runs in the eyes of most any self-respecting sabermetrician, but today, stolen base totals double as a vague evaluation of a player's baserunning ability, and hey, just the general ability to score from second on a hard-hit single.

Good baserunning may strike you as more of a luxury than a necessity for a successful offense, but looking at who we have to smack extra-base hits, we're gonna need more than a few plays at the plate to go our way. Mike Sweeney is the long-time slugger, but he's never eclipsed the 30-homer plateau, and his health has been waning for several years, despite his off-season exploits. Reggie Sanders has hit 30 homers on multiple occasions, but at age 38 and in a new 'Circuit, it's a stretch to count on him for more than 20. Emil Brown should chip in with another 15 or so, and Mientkiewicz might match that given the proper number of at-bats, but any configuration of the hitters will result in a below-average home run output. We do have a fair amount of guys who could ring up 30 or so doubles, but lacking as much as we do in power and speed, our offense will rely far too much on good fortune. The improvement over 2005 will be apparent, but not overwhelming.

I know it's a sudden and heart-wrenching separation, but your underdog hero didn't have the stamina to go the distance on this one. Hopefully I'll be able to get my fingers on ice and wrapped, do some long type a couple days from now, and hopefully take my turn in the blog-tation five days from now. The pun is a terrible one, but you could say I'm day-to-day. Tuh-hee, tuh-hee..

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