Baseball is a performance driven business and as such it was really no surprise that the Kansas City Royals let hitting coach Kevin Seitzer go following the 2012 season. Eric Hosmer regressed, Mike Moustakas didn’t improve as much as the club had hoped and Jeff Francoeur ran out of pixie dust, so of course, the team fired the man in charge of their development (or in Francoeur’s case, salvation). While I agree with manager Ned Yost that I’d like to see our power hitters pull the ball more, there’s no way you can blame the 2012 Royals’ failures on Seitzer. What’s more, the factors that are most responsible are still in place.
First, we’ll start with the announcement that was made the same day, Luke Hochevar will likely be returning. If any one player could be blamed for the Royals failures over the last six years, it may just be Hochevar. The 29 year-old right hander has never been even a league average pitcher, and in 2012 he was far from it. With an ERA+ of 72, Hochevar was arguably the worst starter in the major leagues this year, but Dayton Moore and Ned Yost still think he’ll figure it out.
Even more absurdly, Jeff Francoeur, the player mentioned most prevalently in the press conference announcing the firing of Seitzer, will by all account be given a chance to start in right field again in 2013. Francoeur’s -1.3 WAR was the worst in the majors in 2012, barely edging out Eric Hosmer. While Francoeur does bring a great arm, in the field he was subpar, and at the plate he was simply atrocious.
Most importantly if you have the worst pitcher in baseball and the worst position player in baseball, and you choose to bring both players back, does that make you the worst general manager in baseball? Dayton Moore is brilliant at building a farm system, but his ability to handle a major league roster is no longer in question. He has made it clear he is absolutely terrible at it. Want proof? Just look at last year’s offseason:
November 23, 2011 Signed Bruce Chen to a 2 year/$9 million contract- Chen went 11-14 with a 5.07 ERA and finished with a WAA of -1.6
December 20, 2011 Signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a 1 year/$2 million contract- Yuni hit .228 with a .656 SLG % and finished with a WAA of -1.9
Yes, you can clearly point to Jonathan Broxton or Jeremy Guthrie as Moore’s better moves, but the Moore spent over $20 million this season on Bruce Chen, Jonathan Sanchez, Luke Hochevar, Jeff Fancoeur and Yuniesky Betancourt. $20 million!!! Those five players combined to cost the Royals 13 wins in the Wins Above Average category. They had a combined WAR of just below 0. Good thing we fired the hitting coach.