Judging the Royals

Kendrys Morales: Sure, you love him now

Friday night the Royals beat the Cardinals 5-0. Kendrys Morales, Billy Butler’s replacement, went 3 for 4, raised his average over .300, hit two home runs, had five RBIs and took over the league lead in that category. There were 37,379 people in attendance and the ones that were wearing blue roared their approval.

Which made me wonder: 41 games into the 2015 season, signing Kendrys Morales seems like a pretty smart move—but what were people saying at the time the deal was made?

I went back and took a look. I visited several websites and looked at hundreds of comments left by baseball fans—hardly any of them liked the Morales signing. I’d say well over 90 percent of the people who cared enough to express an opinion thought it was a horrible move. What follows are a few examples of what baseball fans were saying when Dayton Moore signed Kendrys Morales:

"Couldnt disagree more, terrible signing"

"I just think this is a terrible signing, because Morales won't provide the Royals with any value whatsoever. He will perform very badly, and it will have been a waste."

"I just think the Royals should have been smart enough to realize how terrible he's going to be"

"I just have no faith in this guy"

"Another DH that clogs the base paths and had a horrible year. 31 years old yet Butler was only 28 and in my opinion is a way better hitter"

"This signing makes me sick"

"Dayton def misread the market which is ridiculous when your a GM of a professional team."

"royals won't even finish at .500 next year, book it"

"Terrible signing."

"Don't kid yourself and try to be positive. This is a horrible pickup and a huge waste of the little money that Glass allows Dayton to spend. This signing ruined the majority of KC fans day!!!"

"It doesn't make sense to me. Morales is defensively challenged, and looked very much like his offensive skills had fallen off a cliff. I know KC is expecting a bounce back year, but I'm not seeing it."

"Indefensible."

"This sucks"

"Just terrible. Borderline god awful"

"Worst free agency signing EVER"

"This kind of kills the "Dayton Moore has learned from his mistakes and is improving" argument"

"Dayton has re-announced his incompetent presence with authority"

A couple points worth remembering

Royals fans were saying those things after Dayton Moore took their team to the World Series. I wonder how negative they would have been if the Royals had lost that wild card game.

At this point in the season Kendrys Morales’ offensive numbers are significantly better than Billy Butler’s. And Kendrys runs much better than Billy. I watched every game Billy Butler played for five straight years and Morales has gone first-to-third and second-to-home on hits that would have only advanced Billy 90 feet.

If all you can do is look at numbers and assume that a player will continue to do whatever he’s been doing, you’re missing something. After hitting .212 in 2014 was there anyone saying Mike Moustakas was going to have what so far appears to be a breakout season? Predicting the future is risky business; but once in a while players make an adjustment and their game changes. Anyone who watched Mike working on hitting the ball to the opposite field during spring training could have predicted something would be different in 2015, but as far as I know, nobody—including me—thought Moustakas would be hitting .333 after 41 games.

This is why I don’t play General Manager

As the people who hated the Morales signing showed, predicting the future is kinda hard. I have enough trouble figuring out what has happened, much less what will happen. Small-market teams with a limited budget have to look for bargains and that includes bounce-back players: guys who played at a high level, then for one reason or another had a bad year, and are looking to bounce back. Pick the right guy and you have a talented, motivated player with something to prove. But if all you can do is look at the numbers and say he sucked last year so why would we want him, you’ll never sign that bargain-basement bounce-back guy. And I’m really glad I’m not the one who has to figure out which guys will bounce back and which guys actually are in an irreversible decline—and it doesn’t look like Kendrys Morales is in an irreversible decline.

Hundreds of people hated this signing enough to get on the internet and say so. I wonder how many of those people went back to publicly say they might have been wrong.

Throwback’s out in paperback

I wrote a book with Jason Kendall last year and this year it’s out in paperback. So if you were too cheap to buy the hardcover version, now’s your chance. I can highly recommend "Throwback" because:

Eventually some of the money you spend could come trickling back to me and…

You’ll learn a ton of baseball—I know I did.

The book has enough inside information that big league scouts have been seen carrying it around in their briefcases, college coaches have bought it for their teams and Wade Davis said some of the information in it helped him get through a jam when he was pitching in Anaheim.

Jason was brutally honest about the game played at the big league level; so much so that we got a bad review by a guy who said we’d destroyed his childhood illusions. Sorry, there is no Easter Bunny and big league ballplayers sometimes cheat or play dirty.

Throwback will tell you how.

More self-promotion

Monday I’m doing an on-line chat for KansasCity.com that could be a disaster. When I do sports-talk radio shows I generally have to explain to the person interviewing me that I don’t cover baseball in a traditional way. I don’t know much about other teams and I’m only vaguely aware that the Royals have minor league affiliates. I can’t tell you much about Alex Gordon’s contract negotiations.

But I can tell you how veterans try to intimidate rookies, why some managers prefer the safety squeeze over the suicide—it’s a CYA move—or when the pitcher is scuffing a baseball’s seams to get more movement on a breaking pitch.

If that kind of thing interests you, join in at noon on Monday.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @leejudge8.

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