Friday, December 10, 2010

Late edition: Frenchy to save clubhouse -- Royals follow two paths at winter meetings -- one makes sense the other makes losers

A quick message from grading hell:

The Royals' position at the winter meetings is lop-sided.

On one side, they are operating from a familiar mindset. One way to make baseball decisions is based on numbers and/or scouting. I don't think those two are mutually exclusive. You can play Billy Beane ball and look for bargains using modern Sabermath techniques. And, you can factor in what your scouts say as a check on the numbers. This makes sense and builds better ballclubs with less money.

This is the logical approach to signing players at the winter meetings.

It is not the Royals' approach. Their approach across time has been to use the science of psychology to make decisions. Pick a player (preferably from Atlanta) who had a lousy year and hope he will come to Kansas City, rebound from his funk, and become the player he once was. Or hope he will turn around the chemistry of the clubhouse, teaching the rookies and misfits you already have the psychology of winning, even if he is, himself, contributing little on the field to the cause.

I'm trying to think of a time when this has worked for the Royals.
Then we have the other side of the Royals' approach to the winter meetings.

On the Zack Greinke trade track, so far the Royals have taken a more objective and more logical approach. They've done what Willie Nelson once said about himself. "I always knew my price and I stuck to it." Bravo. They've listened to offers and they've said no. Once Lee signs somewhere, the offers will sweeten.

If they trade Zack Greinke -- and I'm praying they don't -- they should come away with two players who are already major league starters (position or mound) and a prospect or two. Period. I hope that is their price. If it is, they will be turning over a new leaf.

Of course, if they evaluate the talent they are offered using the psychological model -- God help us, maybe 50 wins will be a challenge.

Let me add a link to don't-kill-the- Mellinger's column in the Star. He observes pretty much the same use of psychology to make baseball decisions in the Royals' front office, but I can't tell if he is being funny or if he is serious. Since he somehow couples this with the word hope, I'm guessing serious. Then again, I never thought I'd read a column in the newspaper that ended with "kind of sucks." Not even on the sports page.

Back to Grading Hell...


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