|Dusty Hughes: The|
Royals had bigger
problems, but they
didn't recognize it.
The Kansas City Royals have Joakim Soria, which means they have the single best relief pitcher in the American League Central. But a dominant closer does not a strong bullpen make, and the rest of the bullpen was essentially an atrocity.
Late this winter, the Royals signed Jeff Francis, once the ace of the Colorado Rockies and now a rehab project, as a free agent — a totally defensible move, since the Royals' projected rotation after the Zach Grienke trade was even more an atrocity than the bullpen. They needed a spot on the 40-man roster.
They waived Dusty Hughes, arguably their second-best reliever in 2010 and certainly no worse than their third most effective bullpenner. They dumped him even though
- He has options left;
- They now have no established lefty relievers on the 40-man roster;
- They were keeping the worthless likes of Kanekoa Texeira and Jesse Chavez around.
Hughes isn't a great pitcher; he may not make the Twins roster. But he was — and remains — better than the options on hand for the Royals. They had four or five bigger problems in their bullpen than him last season.
And now — wait for it — the Royals are scraping for lefty arms for the bullpen. Of course they are.
Even sillier than valuing Chavez over Hughes is that they were/are seriously considering the likes of Danny Duffy for a relief role. Duffy is one of the reasons the Royals farm system is about as highly regarded as any in the game — not just currently, but ever. It's not a surprise that he's not quite ripe for the majors yet; he has less than 40 innings in Double A, none in Triple A. But when he is, there is no way that the Royals should be assigning him to LOOGY duties.
It's fairly simple, really. When Duffy's ready for the majors, start him. If he's not ready, leave him in the minors and start him there. Don't waste him in the bullpen.
Handling his development properly would be a lot easier if they had kept Hughes around. But the Dayton Moore regime has never been very astute at roster management, and this is just another example.