Few untouchables on Royals' roster

Originally Published: June 23, 2004
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
The Kansas City Royals are last in the American League Central, but that beats living in a state of denial. They're 13th in the league in ERA and 11th in runs scored, and lousy pitching and bad offense don't cut it when you're 10 games out of first place. So general manager Allard Baird is doing the wise thing and refusing to wait until July to hold his June white sale.

Baird has no reason to consider moving pitchers Zack Greinke, Jimmy Gobble or Jeremy Affeldt, shortstop Angel Berroa or first baseman Ken Harvey, because they're the kind of young, affordable players who fit into the organizational plan. Just about everybody else is fair game.

"I'm talking. I'm listening. I'm exploring," Baird told Insider. "I'm seeing prospects on my travels and I'm listening to clubs. It's a matter of maximizing the moment, so to speak, in terms of what you get."

So far, so maximized. After releasing Curtis Leskanic last week, Baird sent reliever Jason Grimsley to Baltimore on Monday for pitcher Denny Bautista.

Give Kansas City the edge on this one. While Grimsley is still throwing 93-94 mph and can pitch three days in a row if necessary -- a handy attribute for a contender -- the Orioles aren't close to contending. Bautista pitched poorly in a cameo with Baltimore, but struck out 72 batters in 62 innings with the Orioles' Bowie farm club. He's still a prospect, so it's nonsensical to move him for a 36-year-old middle reliever.

"It's hard to figure out what the Orioles were doing," said an AL executive, who speculated that owner Peter Angelos probably isn't a happy guy these days given that he spent so much money on big-name acquisitions over the winter and Tampa Bay just blew past him in the East.

Baird, who believes teams will give up more talent to acquire help now than at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, should be a busy man over the next few weeks. Here's the rundown on Allard's inventory:

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer