Thursday, December 9, 2010
Royals add two more on-base machines
In the space of 24 lovely hours, the Royals have signed both Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera.
This year, the American League's on-base percentage was .327. That figure is actually a little misleading, because it includes pitchers hitting in interleague road games. But we'll stick with .327 because it's close enough for our purposes.
Jeff Francoeur had a .300 OBP in 2010.
By my count, before this week Dayton Moore had acquired 15 players who were expected to play significant roles for the Royals and had significant track records as major leaguers.
Here are their career on-base percentages before joining the Royals: .343, .304, .325, .275, .272, .302, .318, .322, .331, .369, .340, .324, .323, .361, .311.
This is generous. That .369 is Jason Kendall's, most of which was gained when he could still hit. His OBP was .320 in the three seasons before Moore signed him to a two-year contract. With the exception of Gregor Blanco -- like Francoeur and Cabrera, an ex-Brave -- not a single one of Moore's favored hitters had demonstrated any particular ability to reach base.
Jeff Francoeur's career on-base percentage?
.328 (.319 over the last three seasons)
Dayton Moore seems to get amateur baseball players. The Royals have so many outstanding prospects in their farm system right now, you almost have to think that they actually know what they're doing.
It's not at all clear that Moore gets anything else. He certainly doesn't seem to get that the first necessary step in scoring runs is having runners.
After years of flailing among the league's OBP trailers, the Royals actually posted the league's eighth-best OBP last season. But that improvement was driven largely by Billy Butler and David DeJesus, both of whom were in the organization before Moore arrived. All Moore did was wind them up and let them play. Today, DeJesus is an Athletic and Butler's going to start getting expensive in a year or two.
Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera wasn't much better than new teammate Francoeur, compiling a .317 OBP last season.
Again, the farm system is stocked. But as the Rays have demonstrated, even with a well-stocked farm system you've still got to make a few canny trades and free-agent signings if you're going to reach the next level. And with the exception of Joakim Soria, along with (arguably) Alberto Callaspo and Bruce Chen, there simply aren't any examples of Dayton Moore knowing which professional players can help his club.
Matt over at Fangraphs pointed this out, but it’s worth pointing out again. The three least valuable players by FanGraphs WAR from 2008 through 2010 are Jose Guillen, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jeff Francoeur. Dayton Moore signed the first to the richest everyday player contract in Royals history, traded for the second when the Mariners were at their wits’ end and just signed the third to a $2.5 million contract.* The man knows how to acquire ludicrously bad hitters.
*Interesting, I think, that the three worst in Baseball Reference WAR are Jeff Francoeur, Mark Teahen and Jose Guillen — also three Royals, though it’s not quite the same because Moore inherited Teahen. Francoeur is actually sixth on the worst list, ahead of Ryan Spilborghs and Wes Helms.
Moore just doesn't get it. He's built a fantastic farm system, deserves a great deal of credit for doing that, and has a long career in baseball ahead of him. But he's probably never going to run a team that wins 90 games, because he lacks a fundamental understanding of how baseball games are actually won.