Home > Dayton Moore > The Rise and Fall of the Dayton Empire, Part VIII

The Rise and Fall of the Dayton Empire, Part VIII

We last left you at the conclusion of the 2009 season which was just as bad as it could be. The team was expected to be improved and then to make the end of the season even more disappointed, they were better for the first month or so. Greinke’s Cy Young was about the only thing that made the season worth watching into the last days. But the off-season had arrived and it was time to put the bad taste of the season away.

Teahen, Getz and Fields...those were the days

The first big move of the off-season was the trade of Mark Teahen to the Chicago White Sox for Josh Fields and Chris Getz. The thought was that the Royals could get a little more athletic with Getz and a little more powerful with Fields. Getz had a below average rookie year in 2009, but he had a lot of supporters among people in the know as someone who would never be a big power threat, but could turn out to be a bit of a Brian Roberts-lite type player. He played good defense at second base, had some speed and actually used that speed well. Fields had a nice rookie season in 2007 hitting 23 homers in just 100 games, but had been ineffective since then.

The next strike of the winter came a few days later, but nobody really realized it was a big strike until the middle of the 2010 season. When Dayton Moore signed Wilson Betemit to a minor league deal, I don’t think anybody really batted an eye. I had always been a Betemit fan for some reason. I think growing up watching the Braves on TBS, I must have heard them singing Betemit’s praises and it stuck with me because I’ve always believed that if given a chance he could hit, walk and drive the ball. That’s a story for another edition, though.

Brothers from another mother

The big decisions of note that were made by Dayton Moore were the decisions on John Buck and Miguel Olivo. It always seemed a bit curious why they were both on the roster, but they did combine to give the Royals fantastic offensive production from a position that very few teams had offense. Moore was on record saying that the offense was nice and all, but the defense just wasn’t up to par. And he was right about that. Too many passed balls and wild pitches. Though there was something to be said for the relationship that Greinke had developed with Olivo. So Miguel Olivo’s option was declined and John Buck was not offered arbitration. It looked like the Royals would go with Brayan Pena and a free agent who was defensively minded.

Sadly for the Royals and their fans alike, Dayton Moore signed Jason Kendall to a two-year contract on December 11. The move was widely panned by just about everybody for multiple reasons, but the biggest being the second year. Many in the blogsophere were big proponents of Pena getting a chance to catch at least four or five days per week. Personally, I didn’t see the big concerns with his defense, but that may have been a result of watching Miguel Olivo “catch” for the last two years. At first the prevailing thought was that Kendall would catch five or six games per week and Pena would get at least get eight to ten starts per month. We all know how that turned out.

Toward the end of the month, the Royals signed Brian Anderson, who had been with the Red Sox, to a major league contract to be their center fielder. I liked this move. Anderson hadn’t really hit yet, but he was good defensively and could provide some power potential at the bottom of the order. A bit later, the Royals signed Scott Podsednik to a one year deal to presumably play either left or center and hit at the top of the order. He was coming off a nice season with the White Sox which would have been tough to duplicate, but the money was a pittance, so it was a nice risk by Moore.

The head scratcher of the off-season came a couple of weeks later when Rick Ankiel was signed to a one-year deal. Signing Ankiel wasn’t so much the head scratcher as the Royals were very short on power. I actually like the idea of Dayton going out and signing players who had been productive, but had down years and are still young. Buying low is where a team like the Royals should be, at this point anyway. It’s the one thing Allard Baird did better than Dayton Moore. The problem wasn’t Ankiel. It was the plan of the off-season, or lack thereof. To make matters worse, Ankiel was promised the CF job, so it looked like David DeJesus would be moving to right with Podsednik in left and Ankiel in center. An all lefty outfield was panned a bit, but the Royals downplayed it. Add Ankiel to the Brian Anderson signing and Mitch Maier already on the roster plus supposedly fast rising prospects like Lough and Parrazz and it was just a bit confusing.

That was pretty much the end of the Royals wheeling and dealing until just before the season started when they inexplicably traded for Luis Mendoza and then put him on the roster. The Royals bullpen had been suspect throughout the spring, but a guy like Mendoza certainly didn’t seem like the answer. If nothing else, the spring showed us that it might be interesting to watch in the 7th or 8th innings of the season before it was Soria time.

Also at the end of the spring, Brian Anderson was informed that he had not made the Major League roster. That’s right, the Royals had decided to go with an all left-handed starting outfield and a left-handed reserve in Mitch Maier. We were told that Willie Bloomquist’s presence on the roster was the right-handed outfield backup, but that just made fan reaction worse.

The other interesting subplot to Anderson not making the roster was that he informed the Royals that he would no longer be playing outfield. He was going to convert to a pitcher. I’m not sure that others saw this as much of a big deal, but for some reason it really bothered me. I was appalled that the Royals had given Anderson $700,000 to an outfielder which he would make in AAA or the majors and he decided that he was going to take that money and go to rookie ball to pitch. It rubbed me the wrong way and I’m still annoyed by it.

All drama aside, the off-season and spring training was over. There was not much optimism moving into 2010, but it would be nice to see Greinke’s follow-up. For a really bad team, 2010 had the makings of an exciting season on an individual level. Butler had broken out in 2009, Gordon was returning from an injury plagued season, Soria was always fun, DeJesus was always consistent. It’d be fun to see and hear about the growth of the guys on the farm system. 2009 had been disappointing for some of the top guys, but there was still time to get things together for them. In spite of the veteran presence on the team and the lack of real youth, it did feel like there was a plan in place to turn the team over to the prospects at some point in the near future. It wasn’t going to make 2010 feel any better, but for the first time since the mid-90s it sort of didn’t feel like the team was spinning their wheels. What would 2010 bring?

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