Why is there so much negative talk about Kansas City acquiring Mike Jacobs? The move makes sense. Fine, Jacobs' on-base percentage is low, but against right-handers (where KC's record was below-average) his numbers are not terrible (.315 OBP with 25 homers). Where are you going to find that type of production for $3 million?
-- Steven A., Toms River, N.J.
General manager Dayton Moore would love to hear that, because he's been criticized widely by the media and fans, primarily because of the on-base percentage point. Jacobs' mark was just .299 last season for the Marlins. Your statistics are correct, and, for his career against right-handers, Jacobs has a .329 OBP with 66 of his 80 homers.
In games started by right-handed pitchers last season, the Royals' record was just 39-63, compared to 36-24 vs. lefties. They batted just .260 against righties, as opposed to .286 against lefties. A left-handed power hitter like Jacobs was seen by Moore as a logical antidote. If Jacobs starts pounding homers and knocking in runs, nobody's going to care much about his on-base percentage.
By the way, despite Jose Guillen's, umm, rambunctious season, his 20 home runs and 97 RBIs were nice numbers. You didn't hear too many folks whining about his .300 OBP.
With the White Sox considering trading Jermaine Dye, do you see the Royals making a trade for him?
-- Anthony, Kansas City
After missing out on some of Dye's biggest years, it would be anticlimactic to bring him back, especially at the cost of younger players. He'd be an expensive addition, with an $11.5 million contract. Dye also has a no-trade clause for six clubs (don't know if the Royals are one of them) and a $12 million mutual option for 2010. Dye is still a dangerous hitter, obviously, with 34 homers and 96 RBIs last season. With Nick Swisher dealt to the Yankees, the crush in the White Sox outfield was eased, so Dye might not be so available. Even if the Royals were to decide they could afford Dye's salary, the young talent demanded by Sox general manager Kenny Williams probably would be too costly.
With Zack Greinke and Gil Meche at the top of the rotation, who will the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 guys be?
-- Ryan V., Lee's Summit, Mo.
Well, we're waiting to see what starting pitcher the Royals might get in a trade or through free agency. But, disregarding that possibility, I'd put Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies in those three spots. Davies looked great in September, Bannister just had a rough sophomore season and Hochevar showed promising tools as a rookie. There's no one ready to move up from the Minors immediately.
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Despite his excellent hitting numbers this past year, everything I'm reading says Alberto Callaspo has no chance at being an everyday player. What's your take on his future?
-- Drew E., Albany, N.Y.
With Mark Grudzielanek out with an injury, Callaspo was the regular second baseman for the last six weeks of the 2008 season. In that time, the switch-hitter batted .319 and had an 18-game hit streak. For the season, he had a .305 average, no home runs and 16 RBIs in 74 games and 213 at-bats. Excellent at putting the ball in play, he struck out just 14 times and drew 19 walks for a .361 on-base percentage. He went on the disabled list and missed 48 games.
Don't rule out Callaspo entirely because he can hit, although without power. He lacks running speed and that translates to limited range on defense. He can catch the ball and didn't make an error in his 46 games at second base in 2008. It's no secret, though, that the Royals are hunting for a more seasoned middle infielder, preferably a wide-ranging shortstop who would enable them to move Mike Aviles to second. Callaspo has been playing shortstop in Venezuela to increase his versatility. His future looks like that of a top-grade utility player.
Since Aviles was not considered for the Rookie of the Award because of his lack of at-bats, would he then be considered a rookie next season according to the rules?
-- Scott A., Independence, Mo.
Aviles, who finished fourth in the American League rookie voting, was not ineligible for that award because he lacked at-bats. You're probably thinking of his ineligibility for the batting championship because he didn't have the necessary 502 plate appearances to qualify. He won't be considered a rookie next season, because the rule is a rookie cannot have more than 130 at-bats in the previous season.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.