The End of an Era: Mike Jacobs Released

In yet another victory for Kansas City GM Dayton Moore’s “Process,” the Royals released DH/1B Mike Jacobs on Thursday. Mike Jacobs is perhaps most indicative of what has been wrong with many of Dayton Moore’s moves. Jacobs had nearly every telltale sign of being a player to avoid. He was near or at his peak, at age 28 when acquired last year, and was about to receive a relatively large contract in arbitration due to his lofty power numbers. He couldn’t play defense. His fielding percentage was poor, and his UZR was downright atrocious. He couldn’t get on base. Jacobs did one thing well, and that was hit home runs.

Indeed, a player with a .266 ISO can be an interesting player. Perhaps you give up nothing of value, hope you can teach him how to take a walk, and you might have a decent DH on your hands. Possibly. Still, a team in the financial situation of the Royals cannot afford a three million dollar or more reclamation project to sit on their roster, especially when players like Ryan Shealy and Kila Ka’aihue were blocked by this move.

The acquisition of Jacobs is certainly not a franchise crippling move in itself. Leo Nunez, the piece that went to Florida in exchange for Jacobs, is not a good pitcher, despite his upcoming promotion to the closer role upon the departure of Matt Lindstrom. Also, even with a good player in Jacobs’s spot in the lineup, the Royals were not going to reach the playoffs. So why do we make such a big deal out of moves like this one?

The problem is that moves like this, when repeated (Kyle Farnsworth signing for multimillion dollars and multiple years, Jose Guillen’s contract, etc.) are the type of things, that when piled on top of each other, can mire a franchise in mediocrity (or worse) for years. Recently, the Royals have seemed entirely dependent on The Process, as Moore calls it. He has banned bloggers, most prominently Rany Jazayerli, from Kauffman Stadium. Moore seemed to be entirely resistant to any sort of contradictory thoughts to his Process.

This is why the end of the Mike Jacobs era could be significant. By releasing Jacobs, it is an admittance of the mistake of acquiring him in the first place. Is Dayton Moore all of a sudden going to be reading the gospel of The Fielding Bible and quoting UZR and wOBA? Doubtful. But perhaps clearer heads can prevail. If the Royals are ready to admit that what they have done in the past hasn’t worked, it is the first step to finding the correct path in the future.

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Moore does seem ready to realize mistakes, and then cut his losses and part with a player (See Tomko, Gload, Jacobs, HoRam, etc. but not Guillen). But the problem is that he doesn’t seem to learn from these mistakes. Poor decisions have tended to be repeated and multiplied. He’s completely unaware of fielding metrics. Well, he knows they exist, but doesn’t know what they are. He appears to be uninterested in adding any significant statistical analysis to his front office.