A Royal MistakeFebruary 24th, 2010 by Lee Eldridge
Is that an oxymoron? A Royal Mistake?
Spring training has begun and I’m looking for reasons to be optimistic about the boys in blue. And it’s tough. Not to beat on a dead horse, but the Royals appear to jump from plan to plan every off-season. What was their plan last year? Improve their offense. Didn’t work so well. So what’s their plan this year? Improve their defense.
Which then leaves me baffled as to why Mark Teahen is now with the Chicago White Sox and Jose Guillen is still a Royal.
Jose Guillen is scheduled to make $12 million this year. He’s a liability as an outfielder and has now been relegated to DH. So you’d expect that he must be putting up some strong offensive numbers. Not so. Over the last two years he’s hitting .257 with 29 HRs. His SLG and OPS have been on a steady decline these last three years. (View Guillen’s stats here.)
Mark Teahen is scheduled to make about $3.5 million this year. While struggling at times in the outfield, Teahen showed his fine glove last year while getting extended playing time at third base as the replacement for the injured Alex Gordon. And compare his offensive numbers to Guillen over the last two years — Teahen hit .262 with 27 HRs (though he did have more at bats than Guillen). And his OBP, SLG and OPS are all similar to Guillen over the last three years. (View Teahen’s stats here.)
So let’s see, Teahen’s offensive numbers are very similar to Guillen, he’s significantly better defensively, has about one-fourth the salary, and is a positive presence in the locker room.
Can somebody explain this to me? Is it really a wonder that the Royals continue to struggle? The Royals can either have Jose Guillen on their team, or Mark Teahen and another $8.5 million to improve the club elsewhere.
The mistake with Mark Teahen was made a couple years ago when the Royals moved him to the outfield. Teahen is a good athlete, and the general thought was that he’d convert well to the outfield, while Alex Gordon was projected to be the future at third base. However, Teahen never quite conquered the outfield defensively (partly because the team kept moving him around) which caused him to struggle at the plate. And Gordon has been nothing more than a mediocre third baseman, both offensively and defensively. Gordon still has the potential to be better, but right now it’s still just potential.
I said it at the time — I would have preferred that they left Teahen at third, and put Gordon at first, where he could potentially be a gold glove first baseman. So today you’d be looking at the Royals with a better third basemen (Teahen over Gordon), much improved play at first base (Gordon over Butler), and a better bat at DH (Butler over Guillen). Improves the team significantly defensively without hurting the offense.
There’s also a trickle down effect with this lineup. Alberto Callaspo, one of our only offensive threats, appears to be getting squeezed out of playing time because Chris Getz is a better fielding second baseman than Callaspo. Remember the new plan is to improve the defense. But part of the reason that Callaspo’s defense is a concern is because of Butler’s limited range at first. With Gordon at first, you increase your range from first significantly, and can probably survive with Callaspo at second base. This team needs offense, and last year Callaspo was a doubles machine.
And you’d still have another $8.5 million to improve the club elsewhere.