Filling relief holes soon unlikely
Royals being patient in quest for right-handed setup men
LAS VEGAS -- The Royals might wind up the Winter Meetings on Thursday without finalizing any additions to the bullpen.
"I don't know if we'll be in a complete position to announce things at the end of the Meetings but, hopefully, [by] early next week," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We're narrowing in on some things that, hopefully, we'll be able to do."
"I do know this," Moore said at mid-afternoon on Tuesday. "We won't solve our bullpen issues in the next couple of days. I don't feel like that'll happen. But I know we're moving in a direction that'll make us better, and I'm optimistic that we'll be able to not necessarily complete our bullpen but improve our bullpen -- certainly sooner than later."
Moore did not dispute the names of free-agent relievers who have been subject of speculation, including Kyle Farnsworth, Brandon Lyon, Russ Springer and Juan Cruz.
He'd like to sign one or two of the above, but nothing is imminent.
Meantime, manager Trey Hillman was considering right-handers already in the fold.
"If we fall short on those guys, then we've got to go with what we have," he said.
"I'm not scared about going with what we have but if a guy has a little bit of a history, it sure helps. And if you run into a problem in Spring Training that's unforeseen, then you've got a little bit of a fallback plan rather than scrambling and saying, 'God, what are we going to do now?' "
Hillman, preferring an optimistic approach to right-handed pitchers already in hand, sorted through some names.
"Not counting anybody out, but I like the possibility of us replacing Nunez and Ramirez with the guys we have -- a better [Yasuhiko] Yabuta in his second year, an improved Robinson Tejeda to add on to what he did, the re-emergence of a [Joel] Peralta, the help of a [Brandon] Duckworth. I like some of what we got," he said.
|"In a way, it's important for our game, because really it's people sitting around discussing things, and they're talking baseball."|
-- Royals GM|
on the trade rumors
"People look at it and say, 'Hey, those guys got a plethora of left-handers,' " Hillman said. "I wouldn't call it a plethora but we've got a few."
There's the belief that pitching coach Bob McClure can work some magic on developing right-handed setup men like he did last season with Ramirez, who came from the Colorado Rockies last spring with modest credentials but became such an effective reliever that the Royals were able to trade him to Boston for center fielder Coco Crisp.
"Ramon Ramirez got us Coco Crisp, who could potentially be the best center fielder in the American League, according to some reports, and a switch-hitting leadoff guy," Hillman said. "A year later, that was a really good deal that really paid off for us."
Looking ahead, Moore wasn't certain if the Royals, with the 11th pick, would select anyone in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday. And he did not anticipate that the Royals would non-tender any player on Friday's deadline to tender 2009 contracts.
Earlier on Tuesday, Moore dismissed a rumor that he was discussing a trade of pitcher Zack Greinke for Atlanta outfielder Jeff Francoeur.
"We're working toward putting the best team we can on the field for next year," Moore said. "Being able to compete is predicated on the success of our pitching staff, and we feel Zack Greinke is one of the best young pitchers in the game and he's a very important part of our team."
Moore said the false rumors are distracting for him and the players involved but that he understood there was some value.
"In a way, it's important for our game," Moore said. "Because really it's people sitting around discussing things, and they're talking baseball."
It was mentioned that the Royals were linked to speculation about Chicago White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye.
"I understand why, because he's obviously [a former] Royal, but we like our outfield, the production of our outfield, the way it is at this point in time," Moore said.
Could there be anything at all for the Royals on the trade front?
"It's unpredictable," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.