Monday, March 3, 2008

Problems Arising With Miguel Olivo?

If you've seen today's Kansas City Star, you might have read the story about Miguel Olivo. The free agent catcher was signed December 27 by the Royals to come in and compete with John Buck for playing time.

Evidently, that was not what was communicated to Olivo via his agent, Martin Arburua, who had conversations with five or six teams, including the Tigers, after he was non-tendered by the Marlins during the offseason. But, in the end, he wound up coming to Kansas City because he thought he was going to have a good shot at being the Royals' primary catcher.

It was apparently a miscommunication, though, as shortly after pitchers and catchers reported to camp in Surprise, Ariz., new Royals manager Trey Hillman made it clear that Buck was Kansas City's No. 1 man behind the plate.

Olivo shrugged it off, saying that's not what he had been told, but that he would compete for his job and continue to work toward being the Royals' primary catcher.

"We'll work it out," Olivo said at the time. "In my mind, I'm the starting catcher because that's the way I've been my whole career."

Now, two weeks into Spring Training, today's story by Sam Mellinger appears in the Star, and it really doesn't sound like Olivo is content, despite the fact that he claims he's not angry, or bitter with his situation.

"If I'd have known it was going to be like that, the second catcher on the team, I would've (done) something else," Olivo said.

He came to Kansas City thinking that he was going to be the starter, and he could have been in an organization like Detroit's, so do you really think he'll continue to be happy if he's playing catcher twice a week, and DHing or playing left field other days?

For their part, Hillman and Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore have both stated that they never told Arburua anything about Olivo's playing time, or certainly not that he would be the starter. And both Hillman and Moore have also said that, just like with every position in Spring Training, Olivo and Buck are competing for playing time.

In front of the cameras and microphones, things have seemed fine. Olivo is a veteran, and he says that he'll deal with the situation, since there's really nothing he can do about it other than compete hard to earn the job. But you really have to wonder whether Olivo's blood is boiling deep down inside, and that he's regretting having signed with the Royals.

If so, I don't think this will be a healthy marriage in the long run, and it might be wise for the Royals to shop around for a team looking for a decent catcher, and see what kind of return they could get for Olivo when he's eligible to be traded on June 16. He batted .237 with 16 home runs and 60 runs batted in with the Marlins in 2007, and he's got a good arm and decent speed.

The Royals could always go with Matt Tupman as the backup to Buck, and unlike Olivo, Tupman would probably be thrilled at the aspect of making Kansas City's 25-man roster.

Tupman had an impressive offseason, playing in the Dominican Winter League for Tigres del Licey. The 28-year old Tupman batted .293 with 12 RBI during the regular season, and earned the chance to start for his team in the Caribbean Series. He helped his team win the championship with a 5-1 record by batting .353 in those games.

And, who knows, maybe Olivo will be the one to emerge as the starter. But Kansas City needs players who want to be on the team, no matter what their role is. And if John Buck is going to be starting again for the Royals in 2008, it might not be beneficial to have Olivo stewing on the bench.


Jeff said...

I hated the Olivo signing. I really thought Tupman was gonna get his shot this year. This organization really baffles me sometimes.

Michael A. Molde said...

I don't think the Olivo signing is the absolute worst. I mean, his OBP sucks, but he did hit 16 home runs last year, so he's not Jason LaRue. I wouldn't be surprised, actually, if Olivo beats out Buck for the starting job at some point in the next few months, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of these three gets traded. But, then again, it's kind of nice to have a little depth at catcher. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Thanks for leaving a comment, which is something I wish more people would do...

Antonio said...

You can't trade a free agent until sometime in June, I think the 15th.

Michael A. Molde said...

Oops. Now I feel like an idiot. I might have to edit the nature of this story. Thanks, antonio.


David said...

Regardless of when you can trade him, come mid-season, Olivo may be a very, very valuable trading chip. The Mets are going into their season with Brian Schneider as their starting catcher. You don't think they might want an upgrade or at least a righty half of the platoon? If they're desperate enough, Minaya might make an even dumber trade than Bannister for Burgos. After last year's debacle, the Mets need to win this year to cool down their fans. The Santana effect will only last so long if they're 58-53 at the deadline.

David said...

I also just thought about how great it would be if the Royals were 58-53 at the trading deadline. Different worlds.

Michael A. Molde said...

David, I'd take some Mets prospects for either Miguel Olivo or John Buck. I'd take a pitching prospect like Brant Rustich, Jon Niese, Nathan Vineyard, or Robert Parnell.

Not sure how desperate the Mets might be for a catcher, but let's hope KC has the depth at that position in June or July to be able to trade one of them.

And I'd take 58-53 at the All-Star break, too...

Antonio said...

If we're essentially out of the race this year at the deadline (which we will be of course), I hope they don't do like they did last year and hold together the bullpen or what have you just to eek out to 74 wins instead of 72 with more young prospects. I'm glad we're getting a pick out of Riske, but that pick will be 3-5 years away...we really could have used the minor leaguer in that instance. And it would have been nice to pick up a minor leaguer for Dotel opposed to a guy with one year left of options.

Scott said...

Olivo is gonna be dud and probably not have any trade value. That obp pretty much renders whatever power he has meaningless. He signed a 1 yr contract so I doubt they will be trading Buck who they have 3 more years.

Holden Cornfield said...

I'd rather see Tupman as the backup as well, just so our manager will not be tempted to do stupid things, like benching Buck when he's red hot, or playing Olivo at DH or LF at the expense of a real offensive threat like Huber.

BTW, good blog. I check it every day. Keep up the good work.

bluecop22 said...

Really worries me we have another malcontent in the dugout. Good Luck Trey

Nathan said...

I don't like the Olivo signing much, but it won't really hurt the team unless he plays DH or LF ahead of someone like Gathright or Huber, both of whom will be better hitters this year and have much better chances of helping a 2009 team. Having Olivo work out in LF and be prepared for the occasional spot start is fine. Making him a regular in LF or DH ahead of better players just because he's "been that way his whole career" would make me worry about the judgment of our shiny new front office.

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