By Jeff Montgomery
In an era where Major League Baseball contracts normally spark discussions based on the significant number of commas and zeros associated with the deals, lately we have heard more and more talk about the 5-year contract Salvador Perez signed in 2012 which lacked the commas and zeros one would expect to see in a contract for an All-Star and Gold Glover.
It is very likely that Salvador Perez was one of the happiest guys on Earth when he signed the $7 million dollar deal back in 2012 (he actually seems to be one of the happiest guys on Earth every day). Many were critical of his decision to trade the long-term earning potential for the financial security his contract provided him and his family at that time which was very early in his career. Remember, he made his Major League debut in August of 2011. To Sal’s credit, there has been very little discussion or distractions during the past few seasons about his contract other than a small amount of press it received last summer. He has also performed on the field without allowing the contract to be any issue at all.
Now, as Perez is about to begin the last guaranteed season of his 5-year deal, there has been some discussion that a restructuring or extension of his deal could occur soon and for good reason. It is important to remember that Perez has only accumulated a little over 4 years of Major League service and would not qualify to become a free agent until after the 2017 season if the Royals would not exercise their options on his contract. It is also important to point out that Salvador’s salary during the 2012-2014 seasons was significantly more than he would have made without salary arbitration rights which provided the incentive for him to sign the contract.
One only needs to look across the state to the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina to find a very comparable player at the catcher’s position. The two have been compared on numerous occasions as potentially the best in their respective leagues when looking at their entire skill sets. However, when looking at their contracts, there is no comparison. Perez signed his 5-year/$7 million deal on 2/27/12 and three days later on 3/01/12 Molina signed a 5-year/$75 million extension with the Cardinals.
There is no doubt that Yadier Molina is an elite player but it is obvious that he is not worth ten times more than Salvador Perez, which is why it makes sense for the Royals to extend Perez’s contract beyond the 2019 season when the current options will have exercised.
Teams have to be very cautious about precedents that are set when renegotiating or restructuring contracts to avoid an epidemic of players asking to redo their deals. And, contracts need to work for both parties to make good business sense. I think everyone would agree that Sal’s deal has made good sense for both him and the Royals. I also think that everyone would agree that an extension of his contract would make good sense for both him and the Royals.
By Jeff Montgomery
It didn’t take long for the Champaign on my clothing to dry after the Royals defeated the Mets to win their second World Series Championship for people to start asking the two most asked questions of the off season: 1) Will we be able to sign Ben Zobrist? and 2) Can we afford to keep Alex Gordon?
My response was “I think we have about a 51% chance of signing Zobrist and about a 2% chance of keeping Alex.” I was obviously wrong on Zobrist as he signed early in the off-season with the Chicago Cubs and I hope I am also wrong on keeping Alex Gordon.
My reasoning on Zobrist was that he seemed to be such a good fit for Kansas City. Not just the Royals, but for our city too. He’s one of the most down to earth super stars one could ever have the pleasure to get to know. And yes, his new daughter’s middle name is Royal. However, based on his incredible post-season performance, he elevated his market value to a level that was simply out of reach for the Royals. Plus, he was able to reunite with his first Major League manager in Joe Madden.
Based on his career performance, I thought Alex Gordon’s value had already been established at a level that would be too rich for the Royals to contend for his services. I felt that at least one high revenue team would make it an easy decision for Alex to part ways with the team that drafted and developed him into one of the games best left fielders.
At the time of this writing, Alex has still not signed a new contract so there is a chance that he will be back as a Royal under a new long-term deal. Regardless, it is important to trust that Dayton Moore and his baseball operations department will do everything necessary to make sure the Royals have an outfield that will cover the spacious grounds of Kauffman Stadium.
One thing we have learned about Dayton Moore is that it is not his style to make comments on negotiations with potential signees. Another thing we have learned is that he has a pretty good idea of what it takes to field a team that is right for the Royals and one that will play hard and compete for 9 innings each and every game.
By Jeff Montgomery
Although many Royals fans were shocked by the fact the Royals did not tender Greg Holland a contract for 2016, it really should come as no surprise. It is highly unlikely that Holland will be able to pitch competitively next season based on the timing of his elbow surgery at the end of last season. However, it is very likely that he will be able to pitch at a very high level in the 2017 season.
As everyone knows, the Royals have to be very efficient with their payroll and they have been about as good as any team over the past several years which has allowed them to ascend to the top of the baseball world. Tendering a contract to Greg Holland would have meant they would essentially be paying him an enormous amount of money to rehabilitate his elbow during the 2016 season. Since Holland would be eligible for his third and final year of salary arbitration he would have been in line for upwards of $10 million next season and able to become a free agent at the end of the year since his time on the Disable List counts toward his service time. Holland has 5 years and 28 days of Major League service to date and the full season in 2016 would give him the 6 years required to be eligible for free agency.
Greg Holland was the first player drafted by the Royals during Dayton Moore's tenure to make it to the Major Leagues and he has made tremendous contributions to teams rise to the top. He was even instrumental in helping the Royals win their first Divisional Pennant since 1985 this season despite the fact that he pitched with an injured elbow the entire season.
With Wade Davis under contract for one more season it would certainly make sense to attempt to sign Greg Holland to a multi year contract and allow him to heal and rehabilitate his arm under the Royals watch. If the Royals are unable to retain Wade Davis after the 2016 season Holland could step back into his famiar role as the Royals closer. If the Royals are able to retain Davis after 2016 and also have Holland under contract it would certainly be fun to watch as you would have two of the best in the business working together again.
By Jeff Montgomery
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling good about your own baseball team’s chances of winning a big game or series. Especially if you have been around that team and watched them play every game of the long baseball season.
I feel good about the Royals chances of winning the World Series for a number of reasons but the biggest reason is they are a more talented team. Talent almost always prevails. The Mets are a very talented team as well but most everyone in baseball would agree that from top to bottom of the roster, the Royals have the advantage.
The one department everyone agrees the Mets are superior is starting pitching. That department could be a difference maker which could put the Mets over the top but I don’t think it will because I have seen the Royals hitters perform better against harder throwing pitchers with great stuff than the average pitcher with the ability to change speeds effectively. As long as Royals hitters stay within themselves and use the entire field, especially the middle of the field, they should be able to offset the Mets great young arms.
Although the Royals are not likely going to win any slugfests with the Mets, I really like the depth and length they have in their lineup. From top to bottom of the batting order there are no easy outs and any part of the order is capable of starting or prolonging a rally by keeping the line moving.
Once again, the bullpens could be a huge factor in the outcome of this Series. For the past two years all of baseball has witnessed the benefit of having the bullpen depth the Royals have displayed. There have been very few games over this period which the Royals have lost games when the bullpens have been matched up in the second half of games. Is short series like we have seen the past two post-seasons, bullpens can have an enormous impact on outcomes and it should play into the Royals favor again for the World Series.
Team defense is very difficult to measure but as most people know, the Royals defense is one of, if not the best at saving runs in baseball. The defense makes its pitchers better and shows up on a nightly basis. I think both Kauffman Stadium and Citi Field are venues that will allow the Royals defense to shine and give them an advantage.
The final reason I feel good about winning is the Kauffman Stadium advantage. Going back to the crazy Wild Card play-in game last year, the Kauffman crowd has proven to be the extra advantage the Royals have needed to win some games in improbable fashion. Having been to every post-season game the past two years, there is no comparison to the noise, energy, and electricity created at Kauffman and any other ballpark in MLB. This includes two closed roof domes which housed playoff baseball this year in Houston and Toronto.
Not one individual was mentioned in my reasoning for the Royals to win the 2015 World Series but if I were asked to name one person that can have the most impact on the outcome I would have to say it
will be Johnny Cueto. If the Johnny Cueto that pitched Game 5 of the ALDS shows up for Game 2 and Game 6 of the World Series, the Royals will very likely win it all. If not, it could be a different story.
By Jeff Montgomery
Johnny Cueto knew what was on the line when he took the hill for the final and deciding game of the American League Division Series on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium against the Houston Astros and he delivered his best game as a pitcher for the Royals.
There are countless statistics available that everyone has either cussed or discussed over the past few months since the Cueto trade, one that was supposed to solidify the defending American League Champion Royals’ starting rotation. These are statistics that were based on his performance as a Royal and many comparisons were made to his performance as a Red and there were significant concerns on whether or not the Royals had just given up three left-handed pitching prospects for a guy that was potentially damaged goods.
Although there were a handful of starts that Johnny demonstrated his ability to show why he was one of the most sought after rent-a-players on the market back in July, he had not convinced many that he was the right pitcher to provide the Royals’ rotation the Ace there were so desperately seeking.
That all changed on Wednesday night when he shut down the power laden Houston Astros for eight innings in one of the best pitching performances of this year’s post season. Cueto was not just pitching for the Royals or Johnny Cueto; he was pitching for future generations of Cuetos. He was pitching for the financial future of his children, his grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
It was a performance that will erase the opinion of many that he could not pitch effectively in the post season. It was his first post season victory. It seemed obvious that Cueto was on a mission in Game 5 to prove to everyone in the baseball world that he is an elite performer and one that could win the big game which he was acquired to do.
It has been said that the Toronto Blue Jays wanted Cueto more than David Price back in July because Price had not been the same pitcher in post season as he has been throughout his career during the regular season. That very fact may have forced the Royals to pay a little more for Cueto in order to complete the trade with the Cincinnati Reds back in July.
As for now, all is good in Royal Land. Thanks to Johnny Cueto.
By Jeff Montgomery
I remember driving back to the WHB offices after a Royals day game in mid-May of 2010 and hearing on the radio that Trey Hillman had been relieved of his duties as manager of the Royals after a 12-23 start. Upon arrival at the 810 studios I was asked to go on the air with Kevin Kietzman and Danny Clinkscale to discuss the managerial situation. As is the norm when a manager is let go, there are lots of emotions involved and players comment that it was not the manager’s fault and they wish they had performed better so their manager’s fate would have been better.
It was very interesting to learn that Hillman had been notified of his firing the day before but asked Dayton Moore to give him one more game so that he could possibly go out a winner which he did when Zack Greinke beat the Cleveland Indians 6-4 on May 13th to earn his first win of the season.
When Dayton Moore announced that Ned Yost was going to take over for Hillman the opinions on the hiring ranged about as much as could be expected. Those who remembered Ned’s last year as skipper in Milwaukee couldn’t believe he was getting another shot to manage in the big leagues. Those who remembered him as a coach for several years as a coach under Bobby Cox thought he was the perfect manager for the Royals.
The common thread between Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Kansas City were all organizations that had floundered near the bottom for years and needed someone to guide them through rebuilding to become contenders. The Braves accomplished this and more for a decade and a half and became a perennial playoff team. The Brewers accomplished the rebuilding portion of the task, but were not as successful as the Braves when measured by playoff appearances but they did develop an excellent crop of quality major league players.
The Royals were just a few years into the Dayton Moore era but were at a crucial point in development as some of the amateur talent that Moore and company had drafted were knocking on the door of the major leagues and the right manager was critical in providing the environment for the finishing touches to be added.
The second half of last season and the incredible October the Royals experienced confirmed to me that Ned Yost was the right manager to guide the current group of players through some difficult waters. His commitment to his roster and the way he has consistently backed his players paid off in a large way last year.
Although there were several who wanted to run Ned out of Kansas City when he replaced James Shields with Yordano Ventura during the Wild Card Game last fall, it very well may have been his commitment to his troops that allowed them to overcome enormous odds to win that game.
Now, as Ned Yost is about ready to surpass Whitey Herzog’s franchise record of 410 wins and become the manager with the most wins in Royals history, it is time for all those haters to concede that Yost was the right man for the job.
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.