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Saturday, December 24, 2005

A-Mays-ing

Take a gander at the following 2005 park-adjusted statistics for two American League pitchers:

Player

SO%

BB%

HB%

HR%

G:F

DER

06Pay

Plyr_A

12.7%

6.1%

0.8%

4.6%

0.67

.732

$4 mill

Plry_B

8.3%

5.9%

0.4%

3.5%

1.46

.681

$1 mill.

AL average

15.9%

7.8%

1.0%

2.8%

1.25

.696

---


Pitcher_A strikes out quite a few more batters than Pitcher_B. That's good. In all other categories, Pitcher_B is more alluring: He walks a few less, hits fewer batters, induces many more groundballs and, not surprisingly, gives up significantly fewer home runs. Pitcher_A received a bigger boost from the defense behind him though it should be noted that his flyball ways probably had a significant impact on those figures.

Going forward, factor in the Royals' infield defense which projects to be improved next season and ask yourself which pitcher you would rather have pitch in Kauffman Stadium in 2006.

Obviously the two pitchers in this scenario are Scott Elarton and Joe Mays. Given the weak outfield defense the Royals will likely receive from the corners and the fact that Mays could possibly nudge up his strikeouts due an additional year of recovery from Tommy John surgery, I'd take Mays.

As I've written before, Royals fans should hope that the veteran pitching acquistions by the Royals post ERAs close to league average. That's the upside of the Redman-Elarton-Mays triad. The downside is ugly. The likely outcome of a collective mid-5.00 ERA is an improvement from last season but is hardly what the Royals have in mind with these acquisitions.

I still like Redman the best of the three but I like Mays' chances to post a better ERA than Elarton. At the very least, he gives the team another option, additional depth. Hopes for real improvement still are carried by the arms of Greinke, Hernandez, Affeldt, Bautista and Howell. But if those guys aren't ready to produce this season, at least there are semi-competent placeholders who can keep them in the minors for a while longer.

My fear is that Elarton will bomb Jose Lima style. At $1 million (plus incentives) for one year, Mays can be easily shoved aside. But with $8 million committed to Elarton, the Royals will leave him out there to stink it up like they did with Lima and Brian Anderson before him.

Given the dollars and the possible upside, I think the acquisition of Joe Mays is has the kind of risk/reward ratio that Allard Baird should strive for. It's almost the antithesis of the Elarton signing.

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