Saturday, February 28, 2009

No More Germans? Juan Cruz, Royal?

Spend a day or two away from the internet, and all of a sudden things start happening on the Kansas City sports scene.

First, I get a phone call informing me that the Chiefs traded their second-round draft pick for Mike Vrabel. Oh, and Matt Cassel. This marks the fourth* straight move the Clark & Co. have made that have left me ecstatic. While I am not of a mind that Cassel is a sure thing, I love that they now have a young quarterback with the knowledge that they did not have to use their third pick overall on a quarterback, none of whom I was crazy about in the first place. Now they can spend that pick on a left tackle or Michael Crabtree (I personally have my fingers crossed for Crabtree), which I think are of better value than, say, Matthew Stafford**.

*It might even be the fifth straight if Carl Peterson was actually forced out. Obviously, I was elated when the Chiefs signed the GM candidate I wanted, fired Herm Edwards, signed the head coach I wanted, and got the best quarterback that was likely to be available this offseason.

**Now Stafford may be a great pro, but it should be noted that Georgia was ranked #1 to start the season, had one of the best running backs in the country, and managed to end up a very distant third best team in their own conference--one that had a down year, at that. Not finishing the year a consensus Top 10 team seems like an utter failure to me, and Stafford is the face of that disappointment, whether it is fair or not. And, sure two of their three losses were to Florida and Alabama, but the third was to Georgia Tech at home. For a team of Georgia's pedigree, that should not have happened.

Then I'm screwing around on the internet, trying to convince myself that Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li will be worth seeing for its hilarious shittiness, when I find out that the Royals signed Juan Cruz for a paltry two-year, $6 million contract with a club option for a third year.

Even with the loss of the second round draft pick, I really like this signing. With the assumption that Type B free agent Mark Grudzielanek signs somewhere eventually, the Royals will still have a first round draft pick and a compensatory sandwich pick. Cruz signed for $2.5 million less than Farnsworth but was easily the better pitcher last year. Cruz's K/9 was an astonishing 12.37 last year, and he has seemed to really put things together these last three seasons. Since his abysmal 2005, his ERA+ has jumped each season, starting with a solid 113 in 2006 only to jump up to 152 and 176 in the past two seasons. If Cruz is not the set-up man for Soria, I would be shocked.

This also solidifies my thinking that the Royals were maintaining a unified front in insisting that they were not going to have payroll pass the $70 million mark while Moore would secretly have the flexibility to pursue other free agents if the price were right. The Royals activity after the payroll jumped up to $70 million seemed to indicate as much.

I don't think anyone foresaw the market shifting so seismically, so I am ready to forgive the price tag on the Farnsworth signing now that the following things have taken place:
  • the Royals made a legitimate run at Orlando Hudson
  • the Royals signed Juan Cruz who was arguably the best middle reliever on the market this offseason
To make things even better, I think it can now be said that the bullpen is a strength again. Cruz was dominant last year. We all know what we have in Joakim Soria. When he was healthy, Ron Mahay was lights out last year. Trey Hillman seems to realize that Jimmy Gobble is a LOOGY and only a LOOGY. There will be little to no pressure on Kyle Farnsworth, and the Royals have no shortage of more than serviceable guys that they can trot out there from the stable of guys like Doug Waechter, Robinson Tejeda, or John Bale.

This does mean of course that someone was cut loose. Esteban German was the odd man out and was designated for assignment. Honestly, as much as people complain about TPJ, German was the first likely cut in the event of a signing like this. Hell, he'd probably have gotten cut loose anyway. Maybe German could have thrived under a different situation in which he played every day. The fact of the matter is that German was entirely redundant. He is basically a less talented Alberto Callaspo, who may or may not start at second. If Callaspo is coming off the bench, then what is German doing on the team? German should not be manning a position on the field. His positional flexibility (all of which he was terrible at, by the way) was negated by the fact that both Willie Bloomquist and Mark Teahen can play all of the positions Esty could and they could do so better. He had no place on the roster and did not do anything particularly well.

Say what you will about TPJ's bat, but at least he is a great defensive replacement. There was a 'great' in that last sentence. There is no 'great' to be inserted into anything on Esteban German's resume.


Clint said...

Esteban German is "great" at flipping the bat when he thinks he hit a home run.

Old Man Duggan said...

That is true. But he's nowhere near great at anything we would like him to be 'great' at.