Royals must rebuild to win a World Series

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

Good for the Royals for committing to general manager Dayton Moore through 2014. But owner David Glass needs to extend the commitment even further and concede that the team will not win the AL Central anytime soon. The Royals should make like the Indians. Or even the Pirates.

Around the horn

  • The Phillies considered making a run at the A's Nomar Garciaparra but ultimately decided that he was not enough of an upgrade over Miguel Cairo as a right-handed hitting reserve. Cairo has only 18 at-bats with the Phillies this season, but Garciaparra has batted only .264-.299-.364 in 129 at-bats with the A's. He also is a higher-injury risk.
  • Indians corner infielder Andy Marte, passed over on waivers by the 29 other clubs in spring training, suddenly is a consideration in the team's plans for 2010. Marte, who turns 26 on Oct. 21, batted .327-.369-.593 at Triple-A and has continued to impress the club both offensively and defensively since his promotion to the majors. "Most guys would have packed it in and waited for the opportunity with their next organization," one team official says. "But this guy never gave in."
  • Teams that move high-salaried players rarely receive quality low-priced talent in return, but the Rays' trade of left-hander Scott Kazmir could prove to be an exception. The Rays view Sean Rodriguez as a potential 20-homer man and above-average defender at second base — or as a potential super-utility man if Ben Zobrist or Akinori Iwamura is at second. Rodriguez's strikeouts remain a concern, and the other two prospects the Rays acquired — Dobule-A lefty Alex Torres and Single-A third baseman Matt Sweeney — also are not sure things. Still, all three players have upside, and the Rays no longer need to worry about Kazmir justifying the $24 million remaining on his contract.
  • The Diamondbacks quietly added to their pool of young talent with their trades of right-hander Jon Garland and relievers Tony Pena and Jon Rauch. In fact, the D-Backs might even have acquired the future right side of their infield, obtaining first baseman Brandon Allen for Pena and reportedly getting second baseman Tony Abreu for Garland. The team also added a potential back-of-the-rotation starter, right-hander Kevin Mulvey, for Rauch. One rival executive, however, says the D-Backs should have gotten more than just Abreu when they agreed to absorb the rest of Garland's contract. That figure will be between $2.1 million and $3.6 million, depending upon whether the Dodgers exercise their end of Garland's $10 million mutual option or pay him a buyout.
  • OK, we all agree that Milton Bradley has been a huge disappointment, but speculation that the Cubs will try to move him this offseason probably is premature. Two things to consider about Bradley: He has a .436 on-base percentage in 69 games through June 10. And he has made 95 starts in the outfield, his highest total since 2004 and second-highest of his career.
  • Speaking of head cases, right-hander Vicente Padilla — surprise! — has been on remarkably good behavior with the Dodgers, even impressing club officials with his work habits. Padilla, of course, is a free agent at the end of the season. Alas, he is unlikely to sign a series of one-month contracts.
  • Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan is out for the year with a broken left hand, but the club intends for him to go to the Instructional League to work on his base-stealing technique — jumps, reads and preparation. Morgan stole 42 bases in 59 attempts this season, a 71.1-percent success rate that fell below the accepted 75 percent standard. Two Nats coaches — first base coach Marquis Grissom and special instructor Devon White — were accomplished base stealers.

    — Ken Rosenthal

  • Tear down, then build back up again. That means ending the pretense that the Royals can actually contend, even in a mediocre division. It means adding as much young talent as possible to the team's emerging core and asking the fans for even more patience. Believe it or not, the Royals are on the right track. They are spending on the draft, spending in Latin America, spending on infrastructure in scouting and player development. But they still engage in occasional flights of fancy, as if ownership is looking for a quick fix. The future core of this team consists of right-hander Zack Greinke, closer Joakim Soria, first baseman Billy Butler and third baseman Alex Gordon, plus a handful of elite prospects at the lower levels. The Royals lack position players at Double-A and Triple-A, and their everyday major leaguers are mostly ordinary. True, the team's 18-11 start was disrupted by a wave of injuries. But when the injuries happened, the club failed to adjust. Third baseman Mark Teahen should have been traded before the nonwaiver deadline and right-hander Gil Meche during the August waiver period. When assessing trade value, Teahen isn't Victor Martinez and Meche isn't Cliff Lee. But neither will be part of the Royals' next championship club, either. For years, Glass drew criticism for spending too little; such talk is no longer valid. But now Glass needs to take the final step — the hardest step, really. No more rebuilding halfway. Either make the total commitment to development or accept that mediocrity is your fate.

    White Flag Part II (cont.)

    What if a manager such as Charlie Manuel was running the White Sox instead of Ozzie Guillen? What if club officials simply had said, "OK, the Red Sox and Yankees kicked our butts, but we've got favorable pitching matchups this week against the Twins and six more games against the Tigers?" Yes, the White Sox are spooked by the Metrodome, but the Twins' pitchers in this series were right-hander Nick Blackburn, who had been 0-4 with a 7.04 ERA in August, righty Jeff Manship, who was making his first major-league start, and lefty Brian Duensing, who will be making his fourth major-league start Wednesday night. Yes, Blackburn beat the White Sox on Monday, and Manship pitched well against them on Tuesday. But after Guillen's torching of his players over the weekend, the team's demise became almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Guillen signaled it, general manager Ken Williams confirmed it: The White Sox are cooked.

    Wedge's future: An ownership call?

    One rival general manager says the only way the Indians will fire manager Eric Wedge at the end of the season is if ownership forces GM Mark Shapiro to make a change. Some good things are happening with the Indians, who are 21-16 since July 23. But then, some good things happened last season after the pressure lifted, and the team went 32-17 down the stretch to finish .500 Wedge does not deserve to be fired — Shapiro is more responsible for the Indians' 2009 collapse — but the manager faces two problems: The Indians' slow starts the past two years and a restless fan base that never has embraced him. If the Indians fire Wedge, good luck finding someone better. Wedge has remained a loyal, dutiful soldier through the Indians' trades of CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. His teams have never quit, and he would become the hot manager-in-waiting the moment he was unemployed.

    Angels' Abreu: Proving his point

    For a mere $5 million, the Angels last winter bought a free agent who is 11th in the American League in on-base percentage, tied for seventh in stolen bases and tied for 10th in RBIs. Outfielder Bobby Abreu, 35, will want a better contract when he hits the market against this offseason. But his agent, Peter Greenberg, says that Abreu is even happier as an Angel than his friends expected. Abreu and the Angels have expressed a mutual interest in extending their relationship beyond this season, Greenberg says. "We've had some discussions to try to bring him back there," Greenberg says. "At this point, we may just wait until the end of the year. We don't want it to be a distraction. "Hopefully he'll be able to sign with the Angels. But he definitely did what he wanted to do — take a one-year deal and show everyone they made a mistake passing on him."

    DHs: The coming squeeze

    Frank Thomas, Luis Gonzalez and Jim Edmonds never landed jobs last offseason, and the same squeeze figures to occur this offseason, particularly in the market for first basemen and designated hitters. There simply will not be enough jobs for a group that figures to include Jim Thome, Carlos Delgado and Jason Giambi; Aubrey Huff, Nick Johnson, Mike Sweeney and Hank Blalock. Vladimir Guerrero and Hideki Matsui also have served as DHs this season, while Gary Sheffield — ever the shrewd businessman — has shown that he can still play a passable left field. "I guarantee you right now that my arm strength is back to where it used to be," Sheffield says. So, overall, he believes he still can play? "It's beyond, 'I still can play.' I still can play at a high level," Sheffield says.

    Random Mets notes

  • Surgery to repair a torn hamstring tendon is a "last resort" for Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, according to Greenberg, who's his agent as well. For now, Reyes is still trying to rehabilitate the injury. Greenberg says there is "a drop-dead date" for surgery in late September to ensure that Reyes is ready for spring training.
  • Outfielder Jeff Francoeur says that manager Jerry Manuel told him to drive in runs, score runs and prevent runs and not worry about batting average. Manuel says that Francoeur's continued lack of plate discipline will be addressed later. "I had Carlos Lee (with the White Sox)," Manuel says. "He was that way, swinging at everything. When you get to know him, you'd say, 'Carlos, look at it this way, make some adjustments.' He was able to. I think Francoeur will be able to do it, too."
  • First baseman David Murphy is coming around, batting .323 in his last 17 games with nine doubles in his last 14. One teammate says he simply needs to learn how to adapt to the grind of a season. Murphy overanalyzes himself, constantly watching video, the teammate says. Rather than trust in his ability, he will tinker with his approach if something doesn't feel right either physically or mechanically.

    Random Pirates notes

  • The early returns indicate that the Pirates might get the same type of offensive production from second baseman Delwyn Young and shortstop Ronny Cedeno that they were getting from Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson — at a fraction of the cost.
  • The Pirates are also excited by the intensity of minor-league outfielder Jose Tabata, who is consistently running to first in 4.1-4.2 seconds. Tabata, 21, has hit only five home runs in 336 at-bats at Double-A and Triple-A, but club officials believe that the only players in their organization with greater power potential are first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones and Double-A third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
  • Speaking of Alvarez, he will play for Team USA rather than report to the Arizona Fall League. The gold-medal game for the World Cup is scheduled for Sept. 27. Once the competition concludes, the Pirates intend for Alvarez to begin an intensive conditioning program.
  • Tagged: Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Royals, Twins, Yankees, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Pirates, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Rays, Jon Garland, Carlos Lee, Jim Thome, CC Sabathia, Miguel Cairo, Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, Vicente Padilla, Jack Wilson, Aubrey Huff, Victor Martinez, Nick Johnson, Freddy Sanchez, Cliff Lee, Hideki Matsui, Jose Reyes, Zack Greinke, Andy Marte, Scott Kazmir, Mark Teahen, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Francoeur, Billy Butler, Tony Pena, Ben Zobrist, David Murphy, Alex Gordon, Joakim Soria, Garrett Jones, Tony Abreu, Nyjer Morgan, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Sean Rodriguez, Jeff Manship

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