Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teahen the Obstinate, Tidbits

Despite all conventional wisdom pointing towards this experiment at second not working, Mark Teahen is playing the part of the contrarian. On the field.

Now, when the Royals first announced that they were going to be working Teahen out at second, I was open to the idea because his bat is above average at second. I also was less than crazy about having Wee Willie Bloomquist and Callaspo the Abuser be the lone candidates for the position, as the bat of one and off-field issues of the other worry me. So if Teahen and his bat (and stability) could play even remotely serviceably, I was game.

Now, his play in the field could generously be referred to as an adventure. From what I gather, his play at second is getting less bad as he tries to acclimate to the position, but I would hardly say that I am brimming over with confidence when I think of Teahen manning second.

The craziest thing about this situation is that he played horribly at second and then went to play for Team Canada in the WBC. After the overwhelming folly that marked his initial foray in the world of the second baseman, I had pretty much dismissed the possibility of him working out there since he was not going to be getting any time at second with Team Canada.

Of course, here we sit, going into action on March 29th, and Mark Teahen is leading all regulars in Spring Training in slugging percentage, with a shocking 1.000 through 47 plate appearances. His on-base percentage sits at a robust .553, good for third amongst players with at least 40 PAs. His batting average is .500 placing him behind only Milton Bradley and Chris Shelton of players with at least 39 PAs. He has fewer home runs than only seven players (Mike Jacobs is one of those players).

When Royals fans see these numbers, visions of 2006 come to mind. The promise that young Mark Teahen showed looks like it may possibly be fulfulled.

Obviously, these are Cactus League numbers. Anyone who needs a reminder of what that means need look no further than Dee Brown's monster spring of a few years ago (2004, I think). Numbers--especially the inflated offensive numbers--from Spring Training largely mean nothing. It is doubtful that Mark Teahen's HR/2B ratio stays at 2.5 for the entirety of the regular season. It is encouraging to see a player like Teahen to flash this hot streak, especially since we all have seen one in the past.

The most shocking part of this assault on every baseball currently found in the State of Arizona is that it came after it seemed all but certain that he would be playing the role of super utility player. Each day he continues his tear makes it harder and harder for the Royals to not award him the starting spot at second, and maybe for the fly-ball pitchers in the rotation, it won't cost them too much. There would certainly be a learning curve which would likely see Teahen getting more and more competent as time (and repetitions) go by.

Consider my fingers crossed.

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While it might make more sense to save this for its own post, it can be excruciating as a fan of a team like the Royals to read tidbits like Ken Rosenthal's article from the 25th, which states that:

Free-agent right-hander Pedro Martinez is reaching out to prospective suitors, but finding little interest in his $5 million-plus asking price.

The Royals, before signing free-agent right-hander Sidney Ponson to a minor-league contract, rejected an overture from Martinez because they were unable to afford him, major-league sources say.

Martinez contacted the Royals through two of the team's Dominican players, right fielder Jose Guillen and catcher Miguel Olivo. He also knows Royals special assistant Luis Silverio, who was the third-base coach for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, and another of the team's special assistants, Rene Francisco.

On MLB Trade Rumors, Dierkes ponders whether Pedro would have been a better signing than Bloomquist and Horacio Ramirez. I am not sure that thinking is entirely fair. I don't think Ramirez was a good signing. In fact, I think it might have been the worst of Dayton Moore's offseason, but he wasn't committed $5 million in guaranteed money that Pedro's asking for. Bloomquist is at the very least a utility player with a serviceable glove at many positions. Pedro is optimistically good for 130 innings pitched, a mark he has not reached since 2006.

In fairness to Dierkes, he surely doesn't spend hours a day thinking about the Royals. It is surely frustrating that it was Pedro reaching out to the Royals in this situation, but I do think that we as fans tend to hold on to notions of a return to dominance that simply doesn't seem likely in Pedro's case.

At a $5 million price tag in this market, Pedro Martinez simply does not make sense unless that $5 million is only reached after incentives are met. His 5.61 ERA in 109 innings pitched last season doesn't play well in my book. I think his relevance for this season is largely driven by East Coast Bias and inattention to the past three seasons and not by realistic expectations.

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Lastly, I'd like to thank Will McDonald over at Royals Review for yet another shout out. Each one absolutely blows this blog up. It is interesting to know that Royals Review also has spent a fair share of his life in Austin and has also studied English. Thanks, Will.

2 comments:

Ray W said...

But wouldn't $5m on Pedro be better then what we spent on HoRam and drum roll please.............
Kyle Farnsworth

Jeff Parker said...

Looks to me like Pedro knew KC has been overpaying so he took a shot and KC resisted. He's not getting 5 mil anywhere else and KC was smart enough not to bite.