Bob Dutton Rumors

Dutton On The Buckner/Callaspo Trade

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star recently snagged our Rumor Royalty honor for the Royals.  It’s a way to acknowledge the best beat writer for each team, the person who brings us the most hot stove material.  I do a Q&A with each writer, if they’re willing.  Click here and scroll to see all the entries in the Rumor Royalty series.

MLBTR: Do you think swapping a solid-looking starter in Billy Buckner for a young second baseman in Alberto Callaspo was a wise move by Dayton Moore?

Dutton: I think it was a reasonable gamble — but it was a gamble, no question about it. Callaspo’s off-field problems are well-documented, but he’ll get a new slate in Kansas City.

The Royals’ reasoning was this: They have no long-term replacement for second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who turns 38 at the end of June. Esteban German is a top utilityman but his production tends to fall off when given regular duty.  Callaspo was a top prospect throughout his minor-league career.

The Royals also believe Buckner tops out as a No. 4 starter. I’ve got to say that I didn’t see much in his limited big-league time, but I mean that in both ways. His stuff didn’t particularly impress me, but I really didn’t see him pitch a lot. Some folks I respect think he’s got a real chance.

From Arizona’s view, put Buckner on a young, talented team in a rotation that includes Webb, Haren and, probably, Johnson, and there’s a chance he really blossoms. Also, the D-Backs don’t need Callaspo even if he wasn’t a headache.

The question for the Royals, however, is whether it’s worth trading a young, back-of-the-rotation starter for a young second baseman with high-end potential. If you need a second baseman, I think it’s a no-brainer — until you factor in that the second baseman brings some baggage. That baggage makes it a gamble.

Dutton On DeJesus/Teahen Trade Value

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star took home the Rumor Royalty trophy for the Royals.  We did some Q&A as part of the series.  Click here to read the other parts of the Dutton Q&A.

MLBTR: What would you consider a reasonable trade return for David DeJesus?  Does he have more trade value than Mark Teahen?

Dutton:  DeJesus is a proven, reliable player who is under contract for favorable terms through 2011. In other words, he’s a long-term piece in the club’s plans. Not an All-Star but a good player capable of helping any club.

The Royals are willing to trade him because they have a reasonable alternative in Joey Gathright and have two solid CF prospects (Jose Duarte and Derrick Robinson) who played last year in A-ball. But the only way they trade DeJesus is if they get similar value in return — a young, proven, reliable player with a favorable contract.

That could be a No. 3 starter — someone closer to a No. 2 than a No. 4; a corner-position player with some pop; or a long-term fit at catcher. Personally, I don’t see that deal out there at the moment, but the Royals are willing to listen.

DeJesus should have more trade value, right now, than Teahen because he’s much more of a proven commodity. He also has that club-favorable contract. That said, Teahen has more upside. He can play first, third, left, right and even center. He showed an ability to drive the ball in 2006 before experiencing a power dive in 2007.

Teahen has the tools to be an All-Star, but lots of guys with tools never turn them into skills. This is a big year for Teahen. 

Dutton On Royals’ Strategy

I recently named the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton as Rumor Royalty for the Royals.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.

MLBTR: In general, the Royals are signing and entertaining free agents as if they expect to contend in 2008 (Miguel Olivo, Ron Mahay, Jose Guillen, Yasuhiko Yabuta).  What’s your take on this strategy?

Dutton: They’ve done all that and tried to do more. As I mentioned above, I think they had the top bid on Kuroda, and I’m pretty sure they had the top bid on Andruw Jones. They were also a serious contender to sign Torii Hunter before the Angels blew away all bidders.

The reason is simple: They’re trying to win. General manager Dayton Moore knew only winning in his time in Atlanta and, for now, he’s got the green light from owner David Glass to spend money. They’ll never be one of the top-spending clubs, but they figure to be closer to the middle than the bottom.

One reality is, right now, they have to overpay guys to come to Kansas City. And one problem, right now, is overpaying isn’t always enough to get the player. The Tigers went through the same lurching process a few years back before Dave Dombrowski got things rolling.

What happened in Detroit was some of their pricey signings paid off and, more importantly, their farm system began to produce in a big way. That’s what must happen for the Royals to succeed.

Gil Meche pitched well last year and needs to continue doing so. Jose Guillen needs to be a reliable run-producer. The Royals can’t afford to be wrong when they shell out big bucks. Not often, anyway.

But the bigger key is whether Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mark Teahen, David DeJesus, Tony Pena, etc., can become the cornerstone of a winning club, and whether the farm system can produce top talent at a much higher rate.

Dutton On Royals’ Free Agent Starter Search

I recently named the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton as Rumor Royalty for the Royals.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.

MLBTR: It seems pretty clear the Royals are going to sign a veteran starter.  They’ve been linked to Bartolo Colon, Jon Lieber, Kris Benson, and others who have signed elsewhere.  Who do you see as the best fit for this team?

Dutton: The guy they really wanted was Hiroki Kuroda, and I’m pretty sure they tendered the top bid before he signed with the Dodgers. They liked Carlos Silva but not at his asking price. That leaves, primarily, guys who are trying to recover from major injuries. In short, guys who really aren’t good fits for anyone.

Even so, I think the Royals will continue to try to sign one. I believe Colon is their top choice, but he’s asking for $8-9 million and is looking for a multi-year deal. I think he’s kidding himself. Maybe someone will bite, but I’ll be real surprised if the Royals do.

The Royals are like most every other team looking at these guys: they’re willing to build in lots of performance bonuses, but they’ll want to protect them by insisting on a low guarantee. What they can offer that others can’t, they believe, is the likelihood of greater patience.

These guys all need to pitch to rebuild their careers, and they’re likely to have some rough stretches. The Royals would probably be willing to stick with them longer than most other clubs. They also play in a fairly big ballpark, which is forgiving to fly-ball pitchers, and have pretty good infield defense to benefit ground-ball pitchers.

Rumor Royalty: Bob Dutton (Royals)

As originally described here, Rumor Royalty is an MLBTR series where I name the one journalist for each team who has done the most for us hot stove junkies.  If the writer is up for it, I ask that person questions for publication on the site.  You can see all of the entries in the series here.

I’d like to honor Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star as the best source for Royals hot stove buzz.  Here’s a link to the paper’s Royals page.  Bob was kind enough to answer four questions for MLBTR.  I’ll run them separately over the next few days.