In Defense Of Signing Pedro Feliz

Last week, Chris Cwik weighed in with his thoughts on the Royals signing Pedro Feliz, and suffice it to say, he wasn’t a big fan of the move. I have a somewhat different take on the signing.

First off, in a vacuum, yes, signing Feliz was a mistake if he logs meaningful at-bats. But to view any front office transaction in a vacuum, irrespective of any other forces at work, would be a mistake, a pattern of reaction of which we are all guilty. None of us can sit where we sit and expect to know all of the inner workings of a front office, Further, we need to be mindful that the Feliz signing was merely a minor league signing, which minimizes the impact Feliz could have on the Royals this season.

For Feliz to make the team, he would have to battle Mike Aviles and Wilson Betemit for a spot on the roster. Is the position winnable for Feliz? Sure, anything is possible. But while Aviles and Betemit are somewhat unremarkable overall, either one project as a worthy incumbent before prospect Mike Moustakas eventually takes over. This is where the Feliz signing might just manifest a stroke of shrewdness.

We have to consider the possibility that, by signing a player with Feliz’s history of defensive excellence simply means Moore wants Feliz to teach Moustakas a thing or two with the glove. Although Feliz’s UZR declined greatly last year, he was still among the eras best defensive thirrd baseman, and he may be able to bestow his knowledge upon younger players regarding positioning, technique, and footwork. Basically, Feliz may behave as a qualified coach, and on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, the cost of having a tutor for one of the organization’s top prospects may be a move which has some legitimate value. Additionally, a young player such as Moustakas, as well as Aviles and Betemit, might absorb the teachings of a current player with more appreciation than one might from a crusty old coach who remains in the organization merely out of team loyalty.

Of course there is no way to know right now if this was Moore’s intent, but I would be less inclined to believe Moore signed Feliz because he thought he has more to offer as an everyday ballplayer than several of the alternatives already in house. Despite what we all think about Moore – to whom I don’t hold any ties – we need to give him, at least in this case, some benefit of the doubt. Moore was part of building a dynasty in Atlanta, and has shown the ability to build a strong farm system with the Royals. Further, with the necessary talent, perhaps Moore is adept at preparing young players for major league success. We will see over the next couple of years whether Moore has assembled a foundation of future success not simply because he and his staff have drafted talented players but also building an environment in which those young players can thrive. Moore might still have things to learn about being a General Manager, but we should not assume he is simply ignorant.

Even In lieu of his less than stellar record and recent player acquisitions, I am going to go on record and say I don’t believe Dayton Moore thinks Pedro Feliz will be his starting third baseman on opening day, or, possibly, at any point of the season. Certainly, Moore realizes that his team isn’t mature enough or talented enough to win it all this year, but the signing of Feliz has potential to help the organization if Moustakas can pick something up from being around Feliz, even for just a month.

Given that there is essentially no opportunity cost to having Feliz hanging around spring training in March, this move very well could end up benefiting the organization without Feliz ever getting a single regular season at-bat for the Royals. If he ends up getting 500 plate appearances and burying better players in the minors, then we will certainly criticize the decision making process in Kansas City. Until that actually happens, though, perhaps we’re better off giving Moore the benefit of the doubt on signings like this.

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32 Responses to “In Defense Of Signing Pedro Feliz”

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  1. Steve says:

    Why people complain about minor league deals is one of life’s greatest mysteries.

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  2. Dan says:

    Interesting take, though I’m not really sure how much a player’s veteran presence really means, anyway. If they wanted Feliz strictly for his subconcious coaching abilities, it might have been more prudent to hire him as a coach … that way he doesn’t waste any time taking BP or anything else.

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  3. Dannation says:

    Dayton Moore and the Royals hierachy are puzzling.

    They have developed an impressive array of young talent, but yet they continually sign or trade for retreads like Francoeur, Feliz, etc. I suppose Moore would argue that these guys are placeholders until the young talent is ready, but can’t he find any better placeholders?

    They seem to love collecting low OBP guys.

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    • mister_rob says:

      Many of the same folks that like to bury Moore seem to think highly of Billy Beane. Well since the roid era ended, Beane has built offenses just as dreadful as the royals year after year. He seems to love collecting guys who hit 12 HRs a year
      He continually builds stellar young pitching staffs, and then surrounds them with kouzmanoff types

      At least the Royals are likely to have a couple guys hit 20+ HRs. The great billy Beane replaces Cust with a more expensive Matsui, who isnt really any better at anything. Then goes out and acquires a couple more 10-15 HR hitters (dejesus and willingham), and everybody is impressed. Its like he is in a contest to see how many #2 hitters he can fit in one lineup

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    • Any team that loses a LOT of games can develop an impressive array of young talent, it comes with the territory because then they get the best picks overall (top 5). Any of us could do that with the picks the Royals have gotten over the past dozen years and more.

      It is whether they can use those picks properly, identifying and selecting the BPA, and then developing them so they can contribute at the MLB level, is where they should get credit, or not.

      In his defense, it takes a while for his choices in affecting the draft takes effect, because of how long it takes for prospects to reach the majors once selected. His first draft sucked, taking Hochevar when Longoria, Kershaw and Lincecum were available, even Morrow, Stubbs, Scherzer, Colvin, Kennedy, Bard would have been better so far (and I just got tired of typing down names).

      But looking at his later picks, they look like pretty good picks overall.

      When rebuilding, I think GMs should get up to 5 years to implement their strategy, year 6 is the latest when things should start clicking together, and this is his sixth year. Like others, I have not been impressed with his moves in trades or signings. Just because he was a part of the Braves front office does not mean that he learned how to do what his superiors did, being GM involves a whole lot of skills.

      If KC does not improves in 2011 some and look competitive, that will be on his head, but with Greinke being traded, it looks like they are already looking ahead to 2012, so apparently Glass is not pushing him to be very competitive in 2011, for if he did (like Neukom putting pressure on Sabean and Bochy to be competitive in 2009), Moore would have never traded away Greinke.

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  4. LeviDavis says:

    I love what ifs. What IF Moore signed Feliz to find out where he hid all his pots of gold? That money would really help the Royals.

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  5. Chad says:

    The only defense needed for the Feliz signing is that it’s a minor league deal. He’s not even taking up a spot on the 40-man, much less making any real money. I understand questioning a lot of DM’s moves and “trusting the process,” but can’t we all just make fun of him for giving The Frenchy 3 million dollars to be the average short half of a platoon?

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  6. sweets says:

    I will never understand the logic behind giving Dayton Moore the benefit of the doubt.

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  7. Cidron says:

    Of course there is no way to know right now if this was Moore’s intent

    Yes there is.. if its rational, he didnt do it on purpose. I wonder… *checks to see of Feliz played at one time or another with the Braves*… nope, there goes that theory..

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  8. CircleChange11 says:

    Minor league deals don’t need defending.

    They’re all low risk, high reward type of moves. If it doesn’t work out, no sweat off the old sack.

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  9. hawkinscm says:

    “In lieu of” is the equivalent of saying “instead of.” Here, you use it to say “despite” or “notwithstanding.” Just a tip to improve your writing. Not intending to be overly critical.

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  10. mister_rob says:

    So here it is. Beane vs Dayton Moore. Moore became GM midway thru 2006. So since opening day 2007…..

    The royals have averaged 690 runs per year. The A’s 702
    THe Royals average opening day payroll has been 67.5. The A’s 62m
    Neither team has posted a winning record in those 4 years

    So I guess the difference between a terrible GM and a brilliant GM is the ability to score 12 more runs per year while spending 7% less

    Yes the pitching staff on oakland is better. And the farm system in KC is way better

    My summary – moore isnt as bad as you think, and Beane isnt as good as many of you think

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    • Patrick says:

      Oh rob… You really knocked down that straw man you put up, didn’t you?

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      • mister_rob says:

        Just tired of one GM getting blasted when he signs someone to a minor league deal, and another getting praised everytime he sneezes, when neither one was come close to winning anything in recent years with similar budgets

        If Beane doesnt have 2 or 3 roiders in the middle of his lineup, he cant find offense to save his life. The proof is in the pudding

        Just imagine if Dayon Moore traded Eithier for milton Bradley. Or traded Cargo for 3 months of Holliday. Or gave Ben Sheets 10mil guaranteed. Just imagine

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      • Jason B says:

        “My summary – moore isnt as bad as you think, and Beane isnt as good as many of you think.”

        I think you appended this response to the wrong article – it’s *IN DEFENSE OF* Moore, not bashing him…see? See there in the title?

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      • mister_rob says:

        My response was to all the sheep responding that have to make fun of everything Dayton moore does, as well as to the clown who wrote the 1st article bashing Moore for a minor league signing

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      • quincy0191 says:

        Why is it that when people agree with other people they’re sheep, and when one person has a different opinion they’re the one willing to think on their own? If I told you I didn’t believe in gravity, and called you all sheep for believing in it, that wouldn’t make me some kind of genius willing to question everything, it would make me an idiot because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

        The same thing applies here; Moore has done an excellent job building a farm system, but he has shown no ability to acquire talent any other way. A good GM needs to be able to do both of those things. Billy Beane meets that requirement, and while he has become a little too worshiped, that doesn’t mean that Moore is just as good, but less appreciated. From all the information we have right now, Moore is overall a worse GM. Good arguments can be made suggesting he’s one of the worst GMs in the game today, and decent arguments can be made that he’s actually not bad and gets a bum rap. The point is, though, that whatever range Moore fits into, it’s almost certain that Beane is a better GM, and people aren’t necessarily sheep for thinking that, or for being critical of Moore’s moves while supporting Beane’s.

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  11. Feliz says:

    Of course there is no way to know right now if this was Moore’s intent…

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  12. Nick says:

    heh… Royal fans and the stats community always loves to blast Dayton Moore, even when it is a meaningless minor league deal.

    Just remember, how Brian Sabean’s signing of Aubrey Huff was received by the “stats community” and all of the hysterical fans… Sometimes the GM sees something with his scouting abilities that you don’t see on the spreadsheets…Not to say Feliz is going to post 5 WAR, but he has a chance to surprise and provide value with his glove.

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    • That’s because the stat’s community wasn’t as stat oriented as they think they are.

      If they would have looked at Huff’s peripherals in 2009, they would have saw that his ratios didn’t change much at all, it just looked like an extreme case of poor BABIP. And when a hitter is distracted by something, in Huff’s case, being on a terrible team for the umpteenth time, never making the playoffs at all, you get a little cheesed off and lazy.

      His time in Detroit was just horrible too, he was actually just having a slightly down year until he got there and really sunk his season. Given that there was no injury involved with that decline and a career history of hitting, it looked like he either choked on the pressure of changing teams and trying to contribute to a pennant chase for the first time or something in Detroit just didn’t really click for him. In any case, again, horrible BABIP plagued him but his periperhals looked good still.

      I didn’t expect as good a year as he did, that was the best case scenario, but I did expect someone along the lines of his career, something in the low 800 OPS range, that was very reasonable given his peripherals had no degration in 2009.

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  13. Cidron says:

    Dayton Moore gets bashed because he was in charge, when…

    Signed or traded for Hideo Nomo, Brett Tomko, Kip Wells, Mike Jacobs, Kyle Farnsworth. Sidney Ponson, Jose Guillen, Yuniesky Betancourt, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Jeff Francoeur (and about a dozen more Atlanta Braves castoffs), and Gil Meche to his 5yr deal.

    Traded away Zack Grienke, David DeJesus,

    Not exactly a stellar resume for a GM imho. Cant say that the signings were “low risk, high upside” types… more like.. downside of career, or, dime-a-dozen types found in the bargain basement bin.

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    • Nick says:

      Just like Aubrey Huff was last year.


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      • quincy0191 says:

        Huff isn’t even close to the same player as Feliz, though. Even when Feliz was hitting fairly well, he got most of his value from his glove. Huff’s never been an excellent fielder, but he’s always had a quality bat, though that doesn’t necessarily show up every year. And when Huff is producing to his potential, he’s an excellent hitter. Feliz has never shown the kind of ability that Huff has.

        That’s not to mention the fact that predicting Huff to have as good a season as he did was done by just about nobody, probably including the Giants’ front office. Just because one low-risk signing paid off incredibly well doesn’t mean they all will, or even that you can predict which ones will and which won’t with a high degree of accuracy. Aubrey Huff hitting well last year means close to nothing for other low-risk signings; we already knew that some of them work out great, and having it happen again doesn’t change that.

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  14. hilarie says:

    The Huff thing pretty much exemplifies the exception that proves the rule. Sabean did the same thing over and over and over. Then one year it worked, and in that year the Giants won the World Series. The exception is (among Sabean apologists) now touted as proof that the method works. There are things the guy does well: Trusting Dick Tidrow, who develops the pitching, for instance.

    I think focusing on Moore’s long string of crappy transactions turning out crappy is a valid way to evaluate his work as GM. Maybe not a good way to evaluate the Feliz move, and yes, you have to then weigh the farm system against the crap, which elevates Moore.

    Sabean signed Guillen after pursuing Dejesus up until the crash (would have been perfect for the yard). Guillen was as stupid a signing for Sabean as he was for Moore. Correct for pitching and Barry Bonds and then compare these two guys. Moore might come out on top. Giants farm is bare beyond Belt and Wheeler.

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    • First thing is that, as I noted above in a comment, Huff’s improvement could have been seen, very simple sabermetric analysis. They prefered to go younger with a longer term solution with LaRoche, but when he balked, Sabean does what he always does when someone balks and there is another solution, he moves on, quickly. Dusty Baker, Rod Beck, Rich Aurilia learned that.

      Second, Sabean did not sign Guillen, he got him in trade with KC for someone who flopped out finally at the AAA level, after doing very well in lower levels. People seem to think that was a huge mistake, but those people didn’t follow the Giants all that closely, they just look at the final numbers and assume the worse. He was contributing very well to Sept 24 for the Giants, .308/.353/.439/.793 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 34 games, 31 starts, but then his neck problems kicked in and he sucked for the last week of the season. He contributed that over a roughly 6 week period, followed by a 9 day meltdown. There was nothing wrong with that contribution, better than Freddie Lewis getting hot for two weeks, then riding that with 2 months of crappy hitting, and yet fans were still crying over losing him until his homophobic twitters.

      Lastly, as I noted above, results at the major league level is what counts. Do you even know what the Giants farm is “bare” after Belt and Wheeler? Because they graduated both Posey and Bumgarner last year after roughly two years to the majors, while the Royals prospects are still lingering down in the minors hoping to get their big chance some day. Because the team is built upon a great base of homegrown talent, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Runzler, Posey, Sandoval, Schierholtz, Ishikawa.

      Sabean has been rebuilding the Giants over the same period that Moore has been rebuilding the Royals, and didn’t even get as good picks as the Royals did, and won a championship. The clock is ticking Dayton…

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