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Of Bowden, Dennys, and The Big Contact

  • I know I've done quite a bit of complaining about Jim Bowden's complete disregard for Washington Nationals teams beyond 2005, but if the man's going to keep giving me material, I'm going to keep writing about it. There's nothing inherently wrong with signing Gary Bennett to be a team's backup catcher, because if you were to place Bennett's name on the Baseball Reference page of Paul Bako, Eddie Perez, Brent Mayne, or Mike Redmond, nobody would ever know the difference. Backup catchers come a dime a dozen, and outside of the really good backups like Gregg Zaun, they're all the same player.

    But Bowden decided to give Bennett a guaranteed $750,000 for next season, which is roughly $450,000 more than necessary for the reasons mentioned above. Heck, in all likelihood he would've taken a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training from Washington without asking any questions. It's deals like this one (and those of Cristian Guzman and Vinny Castilla) that are going to add up over time, and might be the reason they won't be able to sign a more prominent free agent a few years from now.

    There are a lot of good people who will be or already are fans of the Nationals, and they deserve a better-run team than this. By forfeiting draft choices to sign Guzman and Castilla, he's jeopardized the team's chances down the road while throwing away money in the process.

    By the way, speaking of Washington Nationals fans, some DC baseball bloggers have already sprung into action. The most notable one I've found is the Washington Baseball Blog, which is written by a guy named John. There's quite a bit of solid writing and insight over there. If John keeps this up, I like his chances to be the Nats' leading blogger.

  • The Padres agreed with Dennys Reyes on a one-year deal, ending my private hope that Reyes would come back for at least one more year as a Royal. The Padres are seemingly trying to bring the 2004 KC pitching staff to California (Reyes, Rudy Seanez, Darrell May, and Ryan Bukvich) which probably wouldn't work out so well for them either, but Reyes is still a quality acquisition. In an edition of Rob & Rany on the Royals this past season, Rany Jazayerli made the case for Reyes to be brought back, writing that (and I'm paraphrasing) Reyes just needs to lop off one walk per nine innings pitched to be an extremely valuable member of a pitching staff. I don't think Reyes has any chance of doing such a thing because he's already 27 years old and has thrown 476 innings in the majors, making his chances of suddenly finding his control slim at best.

    However, he still has plenty of value as long as he isn't making a ton of money. Despite his control problems, Reyes has always done a pretty good job of missing bats (career 8.30 K/9 rate) and keeping the ball in the park (10.3 innings/home run), two of the most important traits for a pitcher to have. Pitching in Petco Park should only help his ERA. He's going to help the Padres as long as Brad Baker doesn't get held back because of his presence.

  • Every Monday, Royals beat writer Dick Kaegel answers a few e-mail questions from fans. Although I've heard some pretty harsh words about Kaegel's tendency to write "fluff" articles and not be insightful at all, I've never really had a problem with any of his stuff. That is until I read this question and answer in yesterday's Royals mailbag:

    With Mike Sweeney set at first base, have there been any rumors about trading Ken Harvey?-- Dave Y., Wilmore, Ky.

    No. Harvey hasn't yet produced the power numbers the Royals expect but they like his potential to improve in that area. He's also a good first baseman, and, with Sweeney's history of back problems, Harvey is a good option. In fact, he might see more duty at first with Sweeney DHing more.
    Somewhere, Calvin Pickering is crying. I have a really hard time believing that Allard Baird hasn't been working the phones trying to move Harvey's clumsy butt to a team like Tampa or Pittsburgh that might want a first baseman. All I know is that if the Royals still believe Harvey's going to hit for more power, they're going to be very disappointed. My reason behind that statement is something I referenced a few months ago in Voices from the Basement, a something I still find really funny about Harvey:

    GB/FB RATIO
    ---------------
    20032.49
    20042.34
    ---------------
    CAREER2.43

    That stat places him in the company of players such as Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre, and Ichiro!, guys who could probably walk around the bases faster than Harv could run around them. His power potential has been maxed out whether the Royals want to believe it or not, and they'd be well-advised to ship him out before the rest of the league catches on.
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