Organizational Rankings: #29 – Kansas City

Given what we’ve written about the Royals over the last year, it’s not surprising to find them hanging out near the bottom of these rankings. If there’s any surprise at all, it may be that they aren’t dead last, since they make more moves that make us shake our heads than any other team in baseball. Put simply, the Royals are the anti-FanGraphs team. They just don’t think about baseball the same way we do.

We think Yuniesky Betancourt is basically worthless; they go out of their way to trade for him. We think that Scott Podsednik has no business playing center field; they give him the job with no questions asked and offer up the lead-off spot as well. We think they should be rebuilding; they sign Jason Kendall. The disconnect here is Grand Canyon-esque.

The management is bad enough to offset almost all of the good. Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, David DeJesus – there are pieces here that should be the core of a good young team. But they’ve been surrounded by chaff, and expensive chaff at that. There are some good young players on the way, but not enough. By the time those guys get to KC – if they get there before Moore trades them for something else without value – Greinke’s contract will be expiring, Butler will be expensive, and they’ll be faced with another necessary rebuilding process, because there isn’t enough talent in the organization to contend either now or in the future.

All jokes aside, there is a process in place in Kansas City, but the problem is that it just doesn’t work anymore. It may have worked in the 1980s before Bill James and Pete Palmer started challenging people to think differently, but it doesn’t work anymore. The Royals are behind the curve, and they’ve got a lot of catching up to do before they can contend again. Moore may believe in his process, but he shouldn’t. The Royals are bad now, they’re going to be bad next year, and they’ll be bad until someone injects some new thought into that front office.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


27 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #29 – Kansas City”

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  1. geo says:

    Podsednik will not be playing center; the Royals have said he will play left. They have promised Rick Ankiel center field, which is specifically why Ankiel signed with them.

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  2. Will says:

    Well stated. The Royals face a number of huge problems. In addition to being stat-averse (and forget just not being down with advanced metrics, they are blowing the basic stuff like understanding the market, how to structure salaries, etc.) they’re also trying to do something that just isn’t all that unique anymore. It isn’t 1995 or even 2003, where you had a number of teams essentially ignoring the draft and under-valuing their prospects. The days of the old “veteran rental for actually interesting minor league talent” are long gone. We joke about the Astros, but it really seems like 10 or 15 years ago, half the teams were like the Astros of the last few years. It’s almost like Moore is a new office manager who is convinced thats acting like he’ll have an edge because he uses email.

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  3. Dan Lewis says:

    To the Royals, Bill James is — truly — the player to whom his name is linked in the article, above.

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  4. Big Hatt says:

    I’m a lifelong Royals fan, so lord knows I’d love to agree with something, anything, you wrote. (sigh)

    I have to say, if I can detach myself from being angry for a second, that its pretty crazy Dayton Moore and his cronies can be so far behind the 8-ball in this day and age. I mean, its just weird. Its like our owner wasn’t satisfied with any of the modern-day GM candidates so he used a time machine to bring one back from the 80s (or earlier). Moore looks like he’s living in a totally different world.

    Its hard to be ignorant of the changes in the game if you’re a casual fan. For a professional GM to have his head buried that far in the sand is bizarre. When Moore finally gets fired he’ll probably try to open a K-Mart or sell crystal Pepsi.

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  5. Big Hatt says:

    that should read I’d love to “disagree” with something, anything you said. Disagree. Not agree. Unfortunately I agreed with basically all of it.

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  6. Bannister19 says:

    Pretty bad article with almost no basis to anything you say.

    1. Scott Podsednick will not be playing center field. There are 3 or 4 other CF on the roster that can play it better than him, and they will play there.

    2. By CHONE Projections, we’re projected to have, i think it was, the 6th best rotation in the MLB? (Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star)

    3. We easily have a top 15 farm system by any measurement, and often, especially just about every ranking for the ’10 season, puts the Royals to have a top 10 farm system.

    3b. In just about every top 100 prospects list, Royals are usually up top with a couple other organizations for most prospects in the list. Aaron Crow, Mike Moustakes, Noel Arguelles pretty much make most of them. With Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, and Eric Hosmer looming some.

    4. I think we can all agree Betancourt sucks, but as it seems so far we didn’t lost anything with Cortes (It’s not like he’s done good this spring either — even we bashed him), as well as there were reasons why he was traded. Nevertheless, Betancourt is a better option at Short than Willie Bloomquist, who isn’t an every day starter, no matter what. But trust me, Every Royals fan, Dayton Moore, and Trey Hillman are praying for Aviles’ swift recovery by May, or earlier.

    5. Taken from what I posted earlier about Jason Kendall and some exec calling him a downgrade from Olivo:

    “On the Kendall issue, overall he might have been a downgrade considering he can’t hit, but the organization took a “On Base and Defense” approach. Kendall fits that motto, though not in a Joe Mauer type of way, but compared to Miguel Olivo, he’s just incomparable in both skills.

    That added to the fact that some veteran presence, mainly for Wil Myers, was needed.

    Nevertheless, the money was too much, I think everyone will agree on that, and that’s why it’s considered a bad signing, but not a downgrade over Miguel Olivo’s ridiculous ball-blocking skills (when you have Hochevar and Farnsworth throwing, you need a wall back there), and his constant sub 300 obp.”

    6. You say Dayton Moore will trade players before they have a chance to come up? Who has he traded? [I put an X next to their name if they right before or right after the trade were arrested] [I put a Y if they suck] (X)(Y)Burgos for Bannister?..(Y)Buckner for Callapso..(X)(Y)Cortes for (Y)Betancourt..Teahan for Getz and Fields..(Y)Berroa for Juan Rivera

    Then you have the Nunez for (Y)Jacobs and Ramirez for Coco trades looming around. Both questionable obviously. The Ramirez-Coco trade was the better one of the two but ended up the worse…Leo had a good year when traded but it’s not like he’s had much prior success before 08, and it’s not like he did much good in the NL.

    You give Dayton Moore and the Royals no credit for turning a farm that was 24th when he took over for top 10. You give them no credit for building one of the best Latin America scouting systems in baseball. You didn’t give him much credit for one of the damn best extensions baseball has seen in Greinke. You don’t get them any credit for Rule 5′ing Joakim Soria (hell you didn’t even mention his name..in an article about the overall team..no sense huh?)..You didn’t get Dayton any credit for the extension he got Soria at. (But I mean, Considering the Astros are 30, I’m sure you loved Kerry Wood’s contract, he fits in well with FanGraphs thinking)..You failed to mention Noel Arguelles but you like to mention Scott Podsednick (in a totally misguided attack). You gave him no credit in the Teahan trade.

    Giving the Royals 29th is a joke. Sure, in the end of the day, unless the team can prove otherwise, they aren’t very good. But hell above the Nationals, Pirates, and Indians at the very least. Padres fall in around there as well.

    I mean it’s obvious in every article you write about Kansas City that you and FanGraphs are no fans — but before actually publishing it on the site, you should try to maybe..not be so biased due to your personal “hate” for Dayton and the organization.

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    • TomG says:

      Re #3: Except for the most respected in the business, Baseball America, which ranks the Royals 17th. But I have a feeling they’re also biased against the Royals for keeping them two spots out of the Top 15.

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      • Bannister19 says:

        Keith Law is pretty respected, at #9.

        BaseballProspectus is just as respected as BA, at #10.

        I have not seen BA’s 2010 list..Their 2009 list has us at #11…

        I just looked through BA archives, and I see nothing about any 2010 rankings as well, so I’m not sure where you got that from.

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      • TomG says:

        The 2010 Prospect Handbook.

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      • Bannister19 says:

        Ah, I don’t have a copy of it. Nevertheless, BA has Mike Montgomery at 39, Aaron Crow at 40, Mike Moustakes at 80, and Noel Arguelles at 100.

        Thats a little questionable considering in their top 10 list, BA has Wil Myers ranked above Mike Moustakes, and Noel Arguelles isn’t in the top 10, yet Wil isn’t present in their top 100.

        Assuming a mistake somewhere along the lines, with 5 prospects in the top 100, only the Cubs, Indians, and Rays can go along with that.

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      • matt w says:

        But if you rank Myers above Arguelles, it pushes Arguelles out of the top 100. So it’s four either way.

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      • Omar says:

        Keith Law is a guy who, while I love, is a major asshole who sometimes just says shit to get people to attend his chats and bitch to him.

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      • sympathique says:

        Bannister 19, you are making Royals fans look stupid. We’re not stupid. The Royals front office is stupid. I want everyone to know that Bannister 19 is not representative of the Royals fan base, and certainly not represetnative of Brian Bannister.

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    • JH says:

      “That added to the fact that some veteran presence, mainly for Wil Myers, was needed.”

      I’m very curious what kind of conversations you think Jason Kendall and Wil Myers will have with Kendall in Kansas City and Myers in the Midwest League. That’s a whole lot of money to pay for the occasional phone call.

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    • Omar says:

      Dude, they acquired BOTH Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankeil in the same offseason. I think that right there is enough to deem the management awful. Their farm system, while it has some bright spots, it doesn’t have anywhere near enough of them, and the bright spots aren’t anywhere near bright enough. A “top 15 farm,” if they had one, isn’t really good enough for a team who has such dreadful major league talent (outside of Zack Greinke), they’d need more of a top three farm. Most of the elite teams don’t exactly need a top flight farm, just one that produces enough pieces for them to trade for reasonably priced major league talent, and enough elite prospects to keep giving them cost controlled major league talent. Furthermore, guys like Hosmer, Moustakas, and Crow are far from guaranteed success. A lot of the mechanics “experts” think that Crow’s throwing mechanics are worse than Mark Prior’s…so I’d wait a bit before touting the farm.

      Everyone with two eyes and passing knowledge of baseball, knows that the Royals blow. They’ve made improvements, but they’ve really only gotten marginally less shitty. The Nationals, Indians, and the Pirates to a lesser extent at least have a solid core of major league talent to build upon and seemingly competent management. The Royals have Greinke and then 24 players with varying degrees of uselessness. FWIW, I’m sure the Nationals or Pirates are next.

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      • sympathique says:

        You just had to go too far:

        “The Royals have Greinke and then 24 players with varying degrees of uselessness”

        DeJesus, Butler, Gordon, Soria, Meche, Bannister and Callaspo are all varying degrees of useless? I guess stats don’t count then.

        Please don’t respond to Bannister19′s utter stupidity with counter-stupidity.

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      • Omar says:

        I was talking to someone who thought the Royals were a better organization than the Indians, I thought hyberbole was acceptable, that being said:

        Soria is a beast, I can’t believe I forgot him. However, he’s a closer on a team that doesn’t have a chance in hell at competing for the next three years. He should really be the type of player that they look to trade, as much as the “over valued commodities” have been dwindling in recent years, closers are still as overvalued as it gets. The Twins just lost one of the best for the season, and they have a very very real shot at doing something this year. Perhaps they would be in the market for Soria. There’s plenty of other competitors whose bullpen is shaky at the back end that would gladly overpay the Royals for Soria. The same goes for DeJesus, Butler, Meche, and probably Gordon. They’d be better off dealing them to contenders, or teams that think they can contend, for low floor prospects so that they can get on the long road back to credibility.

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  7. DrBGiantsfan says:

    When you are drafting as high as KC has been in the last few seasons, whattheheck, make that forever, do high school players really have higher ceilings than college players available that high? I mean, why take Mike Moustakas, as good as he might be, ahead of Matt Wieters? Why take Eric Hosmer, who is already a first baseman in high school, ahead of Buster Posey, Gordon Beckham, Yonder Alonso or Justin Smoak? When you are as pathetic for as long as KC has been, and are drafting in the top 10 you have to take the high ceiling college player who is going to help you within 1-2 years, then turn to the higher ceiling HS players and get them signed in rounds 2-10. Just my opinion.

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  8. Chris says:

    Is Bannister19 Brian Bannister? I would believe it. He’s exactly the type of player that would be on FanGraphs. Whoever you are, well said. However, you can’t defend the Kendall signing by saying he fit with the high OBP philosophy. The guy can’t do anything unless he’s behind the plate.

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    • sympathique says:

      Brian Bannister is much more intelligent than Bannister19. Bannister19′s arguments were the pathetic ramblings of a homer who doesn’t want to recognize that his team, his front office and his organization sucks. Brian Bannister understands meaningful stats. He knows how shitty and backwards his organization is.

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  9. Jim says:

    Good to see the organizational rankings back for 2010, Dave and co. Looking forward to the rest of them, especially as I’m going to be doing a similar series of my own on another website, and I’m in the process of formulating my own list. In doing so, I decided to pick the bottom ten teams in MLB and before even seeing these, decided it was between the Royals and Astros.

    However, I think I’m going with the Royals as the worst on my list–and mostly because of the argument that beyond Zack Greinke and Billy Butler(and to a sligtly lesser extent, Gordon and Soria), there isn’t a lot there. The minor league system isn’t horrible, but there are no guarantees, and the point made further up about taking high ceiling high school players instead of high ceiling college players who could be of more immediate help is spot on. I’m not sure why Dayton Moore and his scouting department are doing that.

    Add to that the feeling that, other than the anomalous 2003 season, it’s been a long time since the Royals fielded a team that could go out and win(or have a chance at winning), and that’s my reason for putting them at the bottome(and while the same thing could be said for the Pirates, they appear to have gotten the message the last 2 or so years with their new team owner, team president, and GM trying to turn the page). Not so for the Royals as of yet.

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    • Jim says:

      And, just for clarification in my above post, the following:

      …”I decided to pick the bottom ten teams in MLB and before even seeing these, decided it was between the Royals and Astros.”

      should read like this:

      …”I decided to start with the bottom ten teams in MLB and choose the worst from those ten. And even before seeing this list, I decided the honor of worst organization was either the Royals and Astros.”

      Sorry, I didn’t really proofread my initial post and realized it was poorly written after submitting it. :)

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      • Jim says:

        That is to say:

        “the honor of worst organization would either go to the Royals or Astros.”

        Geez, I’ll quite while I’m slightly coherent. ;)

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  10. james213 says:

    I believe that the farm system for the Royals is top 10. I think the Hosmer and Moustakas are still top 100 talents. I think that Montgomery and Crow are top 50 type of guys for me. And while Myers and Arguelles would not be top 100 guys they plus Melville, Lamb and Duffy are close. So I do think that they have a very good system, however it would be better for a team like the Red Sox or Yankees because they are far away and high risk high reward. When these talents make roster Grienke, DeJesus, Soria, and Butler will not be the cheap effective pieces that they are now. If they continue to spend on drafting and drafting well they will turn it around, but at this point their current assets are going to mature before their future assets make it up so we are talking about 4 years or so away.

    To say they are definitely better than the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians is futile. The Indians are superior with several talents in the majors like superstars Sizemore and Choo in the outfield as well as Cabrera at SS and young talents like LaPorta, Valbuena, and others, plus their system is better than the Royals by almost any measure. The Pirates may actually not be as good, only McCutchen stands out as a star on their team, but Doumit, Duke, Maholm, Ohlendorf, Hanrahan, Jones, and Meeks give them some good younger talent, their minor league system is probably not as good, but they are committed to rebuilding as the Astros and Royals are not. That is the point. The Nationals are tough, they don’t seem committed to rebuilding however they have more major league talent now and Strasburg in the minors which is hard to ignore. I could see them behind the Royals, but arguing whether you are the second worst team or the third worst team is dumb.

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    • JH says:

      The discussion of whether the Royals are a top-15 organization is besides the point, though when you think about it the fact that they’ve had a top-3 draft pick in 4 of the last 6 drafts and there’s an argument that they’re not an upper-half system is kind if hilarious.

      What’s important is that A) the organization is floundering as one of the worst teams in MLB despite having a VERY solid core of young talent already in the majors, including possibly the best pitcher alive, B) no matter what you think of their top prospects, they’re not on the verge of graduating a ton of talent to the majors to complement what’s already there, and C) their GM has given us absolutely no confidence that he has any idea how to surround a good core of young talent with complementary pieces. The consensus #1 farm system in baseball wouldn’t move the Royals all that much higher up the ladder until there’s reason to believe Dayton Moore’s capable of building a contending team around those prospects.

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