With the busy off-season around here, I think we are all looking forward to the holidays. Before we shut down and lock up Kauffman Stadium for the year (we reopen Jan. 2), I thought I’d clean up my desk and share a few odds and ends I found piling up.
HEALIN’ TEAHEN: Royals third baseman…or outfielder? Well, regardless of where he plants his cleats, Mark Teahen says he feels confident that he will be ready to join the team when the Royals hit the dirt in March. Teahen, who had surgery on his right shoulder Sept. 8 and has been rehabbing at his home in Peoria, Ariz., says his recovery is moving along on schedule and we could not be happier to hear it. Welcome back, Mark!
OFF-SEASON BLESSINGS: Mike Sweeney is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to raking in the prayers for a winning season. In an off-season trip to Rome, Sweeney and his family had the honor of not only meeting, but also receiving a blessing from, Pope Benedict XVI. Here’s Mike’s son, Michael James, receiving his blessing – “I would be honored to have others feel joy from seeing a little boy being blessed by the Pope,” Mike told us.
PITCHERS GALORE: Royals General Manager Dayton Moore stuffed three more pitchers into the Royals Christmas stocking on Wednesday, Dec. 20, signing right-hander David Riske to a one-year contract and right-handers Brandon Duckworth and Zach Day to Minor League deals. That makes several new arms – including Gil Meche, John Bale, Octavio Dotel, Ken Ray, Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria – the Royals will be turning to in 2007. Now the question that remains, is Moore done shopping yet?
MIDWEST TOUR: We are busy packing our bags for the annual Royals Caravan, which kicks off January 4 with a trip to Southeast Kansas. The Caravan will hit at least four states this year – Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas – making stops at more than 30 destinations. Bus riders include Manager Buddy Bell, GM Dayton Moore, Assistant GM Dean Taylor, players Mark Teahen, John Buck, Luke Hudson, David DeJesus and many more. Make sure and check the website in the next week or two for complete details.
FOUNTAIN MAKEOVER: Although the big stadium renovation isn’t scheduled to take place until after the 2007 season, things here at Kauffman haven’t been silent this winter. A host of upgrades –including a $1 million electrical upgrade and a repainted “sun roof” – will help freshen up “The K” for the new season. The most visual upgrade: a repainted outfield water spectacular display.
BERROA’S BUNDLE: The smile on shortstop Angel Berroa’s face grew this off-season as he and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed their first child, Angel Luis Berroa, in November. Little Baby Berroa is just one of several new additions to the Royals extended family this off-season. Congrats to everyone!
Well, I guess that’s all for now. Happy Holidays, Royals Nation! We’ll see you in January!
Yes, Nick Martinez, that’s your Mom with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. Oh, by the way, she and Dayton want to wish you a Merry Christmas!
For those who aren’t Nick Martinez, let me catch you up to speed.
Nick’s mom, Karla Martinez met Dayton at the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday, Dec. 19. Her son, a lifelong Royals fan and Kansas City native, is currently stationed in Sasebo, Japan, serving in law enforcement with the United States Navy. Nick, like many of our local troops, will not be making it home for the holidays this year.
So, for Nick and all those serving our country this winter, on behalf of the Royals Family, we want to thank you and wish you all a happy and safe holiday season!
Royals Broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre had no problems shaking it for the Salvation Army this morning – we mean shaking the bell, of course!
Standing outside of George Brett’s on the Plaza, Lefebvre helped raise money for the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. Inside the restaurant, Royals legends George Brett and Frank White entertained 610 Sports radio listeners with stories from their playing days and the 1985 World Series.
We welcomed Gil Meche to the team this morning with a packed press conference at Kauffman Stadium.
Meche seemed more than ready to compete for the role as the Royals ace starter. The Meche press conference came a day after the Royals celebrated the signing of Octavio Dotel as the team’s closer.
Which acquisition do you think is more important for the 2007 team?
Every year at the Winter Meetings, one of the last orders of business is the Rule 5 Draft, an event that leaves many of us – even those of us in baseball – scratching our heads and asking once again, “What exactly is the Rule 5 Draft?”
This question became even more relevant for us when we found out that the Royals selected right-hander Joakim Soria with the No. 2 pick of the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning.
Enter Dean Taylor, the Royals assistant general manager, with an insider’s perspective on interpreting the clause-filled rule.
“This draft is put into place to give players who have not had an opportunity to play at the Major League level a chance to possibly play with another club,” Taylor says. “It’s all about the evaluating and re-evaluating of players based on the needs of each individual club.”
It’s also about keeping teams from hoarding all their talent in their minor league systems, not to mention forcing each club to protect those on the 40-man roster.
On the most basic level, there are three phases of the Rule 5 draft: the Major League segment, Triple-A and Double-A. For the major league phase, a player falls into Rule 5 Draft eligibility if (a) he is on a minor league roster and signed his first contract prior to the 2002 Rule 5 Draft for players who were 18 or younger on June 5th, prior to signing their first contract or (b) prior to the 2003 Rule 5 Draft for players who were 19 or older on June 5th prior to signing their first contract. Clear as mud, right?
Here’s an example. Royals left-hander Andrew Sisco was a past Rule 5 selection for the Royals. He was picked by Kansas City from the Cubs roster in December 2004. Sisco, who went 2-5 with a 3.11 ERA as a rookie in 2005, needed to stay on the big league roster all season or be offered back to Chicago.
This year many teams, including the Royals, benefited from a recent rule change that included the addition of an extra year before a player becomes Rule 5 eligible. The change resulted in the protection of a handful of top Royals prospects – including pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Billy Buckner, and outfielder Chris Lubanski – without adding them to the 40-man roster.
“I have a feeling because of the added year in the eligibility requirements, there will be fewer players available in the major league phase,” Taylor adds the night before the draft. “Fewer guys need to be protected this year.”
A team is only able to pick up any of these eligible selections if it has an opening on the 40-man roster. The night before this year’s draft, the Royals were staring down a full 40-man roster, causing them to release right-hander Runelvys Hernandez in order to open a spot.
For teams with a selection, the Rule 5 Draft isn’t just a wide-open farmer’s market of talented ballplayers. There’s a kicker that forces each team to really consider their draft selection. Each Rule 5 pick must be kept at the major league level the entire following season or be offered back at a bargain price – half of the $50,000 selection price – to his former team.
When it is time for a team to select, Taylor breaks the evaluation down into two categories.
“There are generally two types of players a club is looking for. Sometimes a club is looking for a role player, someone to fill a specific spot such as backup catcher or a left-handed pitcher,” Taylor says, “but, more than not, a club is just hoping to find a diamond in the rough.”
The new question: Did the Royals find a Roberto Clemente (1954) or a Johan Santana (1999) "diamond in the rough" player with this year’s Rule 5 pick?
Nothing’s more exciting than making a big splash in the free agent pool on the last day of baseball’s Winter Meetings. That’s what happened with the Royals today as we landed an ace starter with the signing of free-agent right-hander Gil Meche.
The early-morning deal is being labeled the “stunner” of the week-long Winter Meetings, especially since we reportedly found ourselves battling two other teams – the Chicago Cubs and the Toronto Blue Jays – for Meche.
The five-year deal to the 28-year-old Meche caps an active week for us down in Florida. Earlier in the Meetings, we dealt reliever Ambiorix Burgos to the New York Mets for right-handed starter Brian Bannister and, during Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, we released Runelvys Hernandez before selecting right-hander Joakim Soria.
Any thoughts on the Royals’ aggressiveness at this year’s Winter Meetings?