Results tagged ‘ Tim Collins ’
A few notes before we begin…
- The Royals’ 10 consecutive home losses to start the season matched something that hasn’t been done in the Major Leagues for 99 years.
- During the 10-game homestand, the Royals were outscored 64-37.
- If you take out that dreadful Cleveland series, the the differential is much smaller: 32-18. Not awful… But still nowhere close to what this team is capable of.
- Kansas City has had the lead at one point in exactly 4 of those games.
- In 13 double-play situations, Billy Butler has grounded int0 4 (31%) thus far. The league average is 11%.
- As a team, the Royals have grounded into 19 double-plays, good for 18% of their opportunities. Again, the league average is 11%.
- 12 of the double-plays came in the seven games against Detroit and Toronto.
- As a team, the Royals have grounded into 19 double-plays, good for 18% of their opportunities. Again, the league average is 11%.
- The team was a meager 5-for-40 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the Tornto series.
- For the series, Escobar had 7 hits (including a 4-for-4 night) while Moustakas collected 6. Billy Butler, who was riding an 8-game hitting streak coming into the series, went 0-fer.
- The Royals haven’t won a game since Lorenzo Cain was placed on the DL. Coincidence? Not that Cain was a world-beater in his 5 games, but his defense has been sorely missed in center field.
- The team’s Pythagorean W-L is 6-10, suggesting that the Royals have been a bit more unlucky than not. The guys over at FanGraphs even think that the Royals are better than what their record shows.
It’s been extremely hard to listen to the guys at 610 Sports radio talk about the Royals for the past week and a half - let alone think, read, watch, and write about them on a daily basis. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to write about a team that’s losing games in every which way imagineable – from hitting to pitching to base running (the team’s defense has been it’s lone bright-spot throughout this whole skid. Just watch Mike Moustakas).
Let’s just forget about the Cleveland series for right now and focus on the series’ against Detroit and Toronto.
In the three losses to Detroit, the scores were 3-2, 3-1, 4-3. In each game of the series, the Royals had chances to score the tying/winning runs late in the game, but failed to do so thanks to a bases-loaded, full-count, 3-2 100 MPH fastball by Justin Verlander in game one and a dumb-luck, game-ending double-play by Miguel Cabrera that would have otherwise been a game-winning extra base hit in game three. In game two, the Tigers broke a 1-1 tie by getting two base knocks against the shift in the top of the 8th by Miggy and Prince. The Cats also scored on a wild pitch by Jose Mijares.
In the four-game sweep by the Jays, the finals were 4-3, 9-5, 5-3, 4-1. Greg Holland imploded in game one (and was placed on the DL directly after), just got plain beat in game two, Danny Duffy reverted back to his old ways in game three by surrendering 5 BB and a 4-run inning, and the offense couldn’t sole Brandon Morrow in the finale.
Now in both series’, the Royals got good enough starting pitching to win four of the seven games. And the offense was great at starting rallies when the games were on the line, but were awful at “getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in”. The Royals have a wOBA of .333 with the bases empty (4th in the league). But with runners in scoring position, the team has a wOBA of just .275, ahead of only Oakland. And to make matters worse, they’re hitting .242 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
So the Royals really haven’t had many problems getting men on, even in clutch situations. They just have not been able to get that clutch hit to fall, that sac fly to leave the infield, or that sac bunt to roll down the correct line.
Now it may be as simple as “these guys are still young” or “they’re trying too hard”. They’re definitely pressing – no doubt about it. The Royals aren’t losing because of a lack of effort – Hosmer is hitting homers and laying down bunts for base hits, Gordon is still going hard for every fly ball, Moustakas and Escobar continue to wow with both the stick the leather, Billy has been Billy, Yuni has been maybe the most consistent hitter, Chen has given nothing but quality starts, Hochevar took a groundball off the ankle and didn’t miss a start, Duffy has shown he can go more than five innings, and Crow and Collins have been solid from the ‘pen.
But, regardless of all of what I just said, the Royals had a winless homestand, sit at 3-13, and are sitting at the bottom of baseball’s barrel. This team is capable of winning – and they’ll get off the schneid at some point.
Maybe this is all because the Royals started their homestand on Friday the 13th…?
Maybe “Our Time” has gotten to their heads.
Or maybe this team just needs a change of scenery.
Nobody should expect this team to go out and win eleven in a row and just forget this losing streak ever happened. It’s going to take winning series’ and a few short winning streaks to come out of this hole.
This team is young, but they’re capable.
Here’s to the optimist in us all. Cheers!
On a particularly cold night in Oakland, Tommy Milone looked more like Tommy Glavine. The rookie, making his 1st start as an A (made 5 starts with the Nationals in 2011), went 8 scoreless (93 pitches) and surrendered only 3 hits and 3 walks and had 0 Ks. Needless to say, the Royals’ hitters just couldn’t figure him out.
The Royals’ 3 hits all came in the first three innings of the game:
- Jason Bourgeois lead the game off (inplace of Alex Gordon) with a double to deep center which would have been a triple if not for a hustling Yoenis Cespedes. His leadoff double was quickly erased. Lorenzo Cain hit a flyball to right that normally would have been difficult enough for a runner to advance to third, but A’s right fielder Josh Reddick threw a laser to third and nailed Bourgeois with a perfect throw.
- Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to left field with 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Brayan Pena proceeded to groundout to end the inning.
- Alcides Escobar hit a double down the right field line to leadoff the 3rd, but never was able to advance past second thanks to a Chris Getz infield pop-up, a Bourgeois grouder to short, and a Lorenzo Cain fly ball to center.
- Chris Getz’s at-bat was probably the biggest missed opportunity of the night. He had Escobar on second with nobody out. He tried to lay down a SAC bunt and failed. In turn, he hit a harmless pop-up. All he needed to do was move Escobar over to third, and he would have likely scored on Bourgeois groundball. Situational hitting is probably the biggest asset that Getz brings to the roster and he failed to come through last night.
The only other baserunners the Royals had on the evening were the product of walks - 3 by Milone and 1 by Grant Balfour.
- Eric Hosmer walked to leadoff the 4th and moved to second base on a Billy Butler groundball out. With Jeff Francoeur at the plate, just as Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler were discussing Hosmer’s speed, Hosmer took off for third base and was thrown out by catcher Kurt Suzuki. Frenchy would go on to draw a walk from Milone as well. So instead of having two-on with one out and a runner on scoring position, the Royals had Frenchy on first with two down. Until Frenchy was caught trying to steal second. Inning over, threat neutralized.
- Hoz drew another walk in the 7th, but nothing came of it. Pinch-hitter Mitch Maier walked in the 9th.
Poor basrunning just killed the Royals last night. Three times (!) a scoring threat was killed on the basepaths. But if we have to lose the game, we lost it our way: being aggressive baserunners. The offense wasn’t doing much, so Ned Yost tried to get the team to manufacture runs. It just didn’t workout this time. The Royals also went down in order four times – innings 1, 5, 6, and 8.
On the other side of the ball, Luis Mendoza had an impressive season debut. He did struggle a little with his command, as it seemed like his sinker was floating too far inside to every A’s left-handed hitter. He ended up going 5.2 innings, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 Ks. But he also had 4 BBs.
The A’s one run against Mendoza came in the bottom of the 2nd. With 2-out and runners on the corners, third baseman Josh Dolnaldson hit a sharp grounder to right field, bring home the runner from third base. Other than that, aside from a few walks, Mendoza didn’t run into much trouble against the Athletics lineup.
Lefties Tim Collins and Jose Mijares pitched 2.1 innings collectively to finish the game for KC, each giving up one hit, and recording one K (Collins also walked one).
Too Much Tinkering?
Manager Ned Yost threw out a unique lineup last night in Oakland. He decided to give Gordon and Moustakas – both left-handed hitters- the night off against LHP Tommy Milone. In place of Gordon and Moose were Jason Bourgeois in LF and Yuni at 3B. On top of that, Chris Getz was in the lineup at 2B – meaning that all three of the Royals’ super-utility players were on the field at the same time. So this is what the lineup looked like last night:
1. Jason Bourgeois LF
2. Lorenzo Cain CF
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt 3B
7. Brayan Pena C
8. Alcides Escobar SS
9. Chris Getz 2B
It’s game number four, and already Ned is giving two guys – who probably weren’t too happy about it – the game off. And, not to mention, this was the Royals’ fourth different lineup in four days. The end result: 0 runs, 3 hits. Yost may be playing around with this lineup a little too much. Just let Gordon and Moose go out there and take their hacks.
- Royals (2-2) @ A’s (2-3)
- Royals LHP Danny Duffy vs. A’s RHP Graham Godfrey
- 9:05 pm CT
We’ve been waiting all offseason for this: the first of what we hope will be many victories for the Royals. And on a nationally televised game, Kansas City did not disappoint.
The Royals got off to a very quick start. After Alex Gordon grounded out to begin the game, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler recorded three consecutive singles – loading the bases for Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy then proceeded to knock a single into center, bringing Cain and Hosmer around to score (2-0 KC).
Another run was put on the board in the top of the 2nd when Humberto Quintero scored on LoCain’s sacrifice fly to RF (3-0 KC).
Leading off the top of the 5th inning, Eric Hosmer kept the runs coming by sending Dan Haren’s pitch over the wall in right-center, furthering the lead to 4-0. Mike Moustakas must have thought that was pretty cool, since he lead off the 6th inning with a long-ball to right, making the score now 5-0.
The Angels were able to put 2 runs on the board in the bottom of the 7th, one on a double by Bobby Abreu and another on a groundout by Vernon Wells.
Chris Getz was able to add another run in the top of the 8th when he stole third base, causing an overthrow by Angels catcher Bobby Wilson. Getz went home on the error, 6-2 Boys in Blue.
Bobby Abreu brought Kendrys Morales home in the 9th with a sac fly, making the score 6-3. But Vernon Wells grounded into a 5-4-3 double-play to end the game.
Luke Hochevar was solid yesterday, going 6.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 ER, 2BBs, while recording 4 Ks, with 3 of those Ks coming from the bottom of the 5th where he struck out the side (Abreu, Wells, and Callaspo). Oh yeah, he also was able to keep Albert Pujols from hurting the Royals for the second day in a row.
Pujols did manage to get a double off of Hoch in the bottom of the 4th, but that was negated when Albert tried to score on Morales’ single to LF. Alex Gordon came up throwing and nailed Pujols at the plate. So sorry, Albert.
Lefty Tim Collins followed Hochevar, allowing 2 runs to score in the 7th (both charged to Hochevar). He ended the inning by striking out Callaspo.
Holland pitched a scoreless 8th which included striking out Pujols.
Jonathan Broxton came into the 9th with a 6-2 lead. He surrendered a leadoff double to Morales, followed by a bunt single by Torii Hunter – making it runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. Bobby Abreu hit a sac fly to LF, bringing in Morales. Gordo’s throw to second kept Hunter at first, which was paramount, keeping the double-play in order. Vernon wells proceeded to hit a sharp grounder to Moose, inducing the game ending double-play.
The Royals and Angels will finish the three game series today in Anaheim at 2:35 pm CT. It’ll be new Royals lefty Jonathan Sanchez vs. Ervin Santana.
With a 7-6 victory over the Padres last night, the Royals wrapped up Spring Training at 16-15. Hey, take it for what it is. Yeah, it’s only Spring Training. But you have to start somewhere, right?
The Royals 2012 Spring Training was… interesting. We saw injuries (both significant and not), position battles/tinkering, rotation and bullpen shuffles, promotions, demotions, trades, off-the-chart performances, contract extensions, etc.
So here’s a quick recap of it all:
- Significant Injuries
- Manny Pina C: Feb. 22 - torn right meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
- Salvador Perez C: Mar. 14 – torn left meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
- Joakim Soria RHP: Mar. 19 – Tommy John surgery (right elbow), 15 Day DL – will miss 2012
- Slightly Less Significant Injuries
- Blake Wood RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow (ulner nerve), 15 Day DL
- Felipe Paulino RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow/forearm, 15 Day DL
Each one of the injuries required reactionary moves from the club. The injuries to Pina and Perez forced the Royals to look for a veteran, defense-first catcher; leading to the acquisition of Humberto Quintero. Soria’s injury opened up the closer role to one or all of Holland, Broxton, and Crow. It also opened up a full-time spot in the bullpen for a fresh face. Blake Wood’s spot became up for grabs, but he was a fringe bullpen guy to begin with. The loss of Felipe opened up two rotation spots for Mendoza and Duffy, as well as the long-relief spot for Everett Teaford.
- Position Battles
- Second base
- Injuries aside, the combo of Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt winning the 2B job over Johnny Giavotella was the biggest shock of the Spring. Virtually everyone, myself included, basically gave Gio the job before the Royals arrived in Surprise. But, to their credit, Getz and Yuni outperformed Gio and currently present better options defensively for KC.
- Fifth Starter
- The first three rotation spots were a given: Chen, Hochevar, and Sanchez. The last two spots were up for grabs, but Paulno and Duffy basically had dibs on the spots. But the performance of Luis Mendoza changed all of that. He was without a dout the best pitcher in Royals camp, forcing the Royals to give him a rotation spot. And once Paulino went to the DL, Duffy had the fifth spot locked up.
- Lefty Relievers
- No lefty had a bullpen spot given to them coming into Sporing Training, although Jose Mijares was close. Every bullpen should have at least one lefty, but two would be more ideal, and three would be perfect; and that’s what the Royals wound up with. Jose Mijares, Tim Collins, and Everett Teaford comprise the left-side of the bullpen – beating out other lefties Tommy Hottovy and Francisely Bueno. Mijares and Collins will serve as middle relief/situational lefties, while Teaford will be the swing-man/spot-starter
- Second base
- Eric Hosmer: Right Fielder
- Say what? That can’t be right, can it? Yep. It happened. A few times, actually. In order to maximize offense against NL teams, the Royals tinkered around with Eric Hosmer in RF (and Jeff Francoeur in CF) so they could have both Hoz and Billy Butler in the lineup. Hosmer is a good enough athlete that playing RF shouldn’t be difficult at all for him. He has a terrific arm and good enough speed that I thought he could have been an everyday right fielder in the minors (this was all before we had Frenchy, Wil Myers was still a catcher, and Kila Ka’aihue was mashing in Omaha).
- 12 Man Shuffle
- Rotation (5)
- Chen L, Hochevar R, Sanchez L, Mendoza R, Duffy L
- No, Montgomery won’t be opening the season in Kansas City. Neither will Felipe Paulino, but not for the same reasons. Monty didn’t perform well in his few outings, and Paulino was sent to the DL, which opened up spots for Mendoza and Duffy.
- Chen L, Hochevar R, Sanchez L, Mendoza R, Duffy L
- Bullpen (7)
- Holland R, Broxton R, Crow R, Herrera R, Mijares L, Collins L, Teaford L
- Without Soria, the roles in back-end of the bullpen are up in the air. Holland and Broxton are the clear front-runners for the closing position, with Aaron Crow not far behind.
- The most notable surprise here was Kelvin Herrera taking a spot away from Louis Coleman. Herrera had a great Spring, and Coleman scuffed a bit as roster cuts loomed. Herrera has the potential to be a closer someday. Luckily for him, someday may come soon.
- Holland R, Broxton R, Crow R, Herrera R, Mijares L, Collins L, Teaford L
- Rotation (5)
- Notable Promotions
- Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
- See above.
- Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
- Notable Demotions
- Johnny Giavotella 2B, Louis Coleman RHP, Jarrod Dyson OF, Sean O’Sullivan RHP
- If you’ve been reading, you already know why Gio and Sweet Lou were demoted to Omaha.
- Jarrod Dyson became expendable with the acquistion of OF/U Jason Bourgeois. Dyson has the speed and defensive tools down, but he really needs to learn how to keep his flyball rates down so he can appropriately use his speed (similar to Juan pierre). Afterall, you can’t hustle out a pop-up.
- The demotion of Sean O’Sullivan is no surprise. But in order to do so (since SOS was out of minor league options), the Royals had to place him on waivers – making him available to the rest of the league. Since nobody placed a claim on him, the Royals were able to send him to Triple A.
- Johnny Giavotella 2B, Louis Coleman RHP, Jarrod Dyson OF, Sean O’Sullivan RHP
- LHP Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL (KC) for C Humberto Quintero and OF/U Jason Bourgeois (HOU)
- Chapman is a solid C+ to B- lefty reliever who would have been a welcome addition to the Royals in the future, but he (along with an unknown) helped the Royals land two veterans who can help the team this season.
- Quintero is a career backup, but has seen enough playing time throughout his career that you pretty much know what you’llget out of him. Solid defense, below-average-but-acceptable offense. He’ll compliment Brayan Pena, as they’ll likely be splitting time at the catcher position until Sal Perez returns.
- Jason Bourgeois is capable of playing all three OF positions, as well as some 2B and 3B. So, needless to say, his versatility is his biggest tool. And although he isn’t as fast as Dyson, he provides extra speed off the bench.
- OF Greg Golson (KC) for cash considerations (CWS)
- The Royals made an inter-divisional trade by shipping Golson to the White Sox for cash. Golson is a quick OF capable of filling in at each spot, but his bat has never really been there. He was a non-roster invitee this Spring, so nothing was really lost. He never really had a shot to make the roster anyway.
- LHP Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL (KC) for C Humberto Quintero and OF/U Jason Bourgeois (HOU)
- Performance Reviews
- Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler each hit over .360 this Spring, with Hosmer leading the league in RBI. If they can carry their performances into the season, the Royals may have one of the best 1-4 hitters in baseball in 2012.
- Hopefully, since Mike Moustakas is a notorious “slow starter”, he got all of that out of the way this Spring. He only his .240, but came around a little bit as ST came to an end.
- Bruce Chen and Jonathan Sanchez had rough Springs, as did Danny Duffy (even though he did show flashes of dominance).
- Luke Hochevar showed that he may have gotten his career on the right track, and Luis Mendoza made Royals fans, scouts, and coaches a believer.
The season begins tomorrow night in Anaheim against Prince Albert and the Angels at 9:05 CT. It’ll be Bruce Chen vs. Jered Weaver.
Here’s to hoping the Royals can make this a fun, interesting, and competitive season! Do your part and get out to The K!
It’s set. That’s it. No take backs, do overs, quitsies, or anti-quitsies. Triple stamped it, no erasies, touch blue make it true. (Dumb & Dumber, for the layperson)
The Royals have officially set their 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster. And aside from maybe one or two guys, it’s pretty much what we all should have expected it to be. So they’ll break camp with 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.
Catchers (2): Brayan Pena, Humberto Quintero
- C’mon… Did you really expect Cody Clark to make the team? Quintero is a proven catch and throw guy, who will give the Royals solid defense when he’s behind the plate 3-4 days a week.
Infielders (6): Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Chris Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas
- The demotion of Johnny Giavotella (and thus the presence of Chris Getz) was the only real surprise here. Yuni and Getz will share the 2B/Utility role until Gio earns another look. Other than that, after the Yuni signing, you could have pegged everyone else from the get go.
Outfielders (5): Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bourgeois, Mitch Maier
- The addition of the speedy and versatile Bourgeois made light-hitting Jarrod Dyson expendable. Bourgeois mashed lefties in 2011 (.395 AVG), and spent significant time at all 3 OF positions, as well as a few games at 2B. He also can play at 3B if needed.
- Lorenzo Cain has been off the charts this Spring, leading the league in what seems to be almost every offensive category. I don’t think we’ll see any loss of production from Melky to Zo in CF.
Starters (5): Bruce Chen-L, Luke Hochevar-R, Jonathan Sanchez-L, Luis Mendoza-R, Danny Duffy-L
- Flip Paulino going to the DL really set up the rotation. If it weren’t for his injury, Duffy would have most likely been reassigned to Triple A.
- Luis Mendoza has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this Spring, essentially forcing the Royals to give him a spot in the rotation.
Bullpen (7): Greg Holland-R, Jonathan Broxton-R, Jose Mijares-L, Aaron Crow-R, Tim Collins- L, Everett Teaford-L, Kelvin Herrera-R
- Once again, Paulino’s injury helped someone else make the roster: Everett Teaford. By all accounts, Teaford earned his spot on the team, but without Paulino or Mendoza in the bullpen, Teaford becomes the long reliever / spot-starter.
- Kelvin Herrera was the true dark horse here. Louis Coleman had the job locked down until he allowed runs in 5 of his last 6 appearances, basically handing the job over to Herrera. Kelvin has been dominant so far, even earning himself 2 Saves this Spring.
Disabled List (5): Salvador Perez (60 day), Manny Pina (60 day), Joakim Soria (IR), Felipe Paulino (15 day), Blake Wood (15 day)
- How disappointing… The loss of Sal Perez stings the most. Given the severity of his injury, he most likely won’t be able to return to the team until after the All-Star break.
- Losing Soria, although it may appear huge on the surface, doesn’t really affect the Royals as much as people may think. Yes, he is a proven performer, but he plays a position that is way overvalued. He got knocked around in ST, looking an awful lot like he did at the beginning of 2011.
And incase you’re wondering where everyone else who was left in camp went, here you go:
Reassigned to Triple A Omaha (2): Louis Coleman-R, Jeremy Jeffress-R
Reassigned to Minor League Camp (4): Tommy Hottovy-L, Francisely Bueno-L, Max Ramirez-C, Kevin Kouzmanoff-3B
This flurry of moves leaves the Royals with 26 healthy players in camp. But you can only break Spring Training with 25 players on your active roster, so one guy has to go. And that man is…
SOS is out of minor league options. So in order for the Royals to rid him for good, they’ll have to place him on waivers, meaning any other team can claim him for themselves. O’Sullivan will be the starter for tonight’s game against the White Sox, basically auditioning for any team who might think about claiming him.
Surprises from Surprise
- Chris Getz/Yuni combo over Johnny Giavotella
- Kelvin Herrera over Louis Coleman
If you haven’t heard yet, another Royal has succumb to the injury bug: Felipe Paulino. The Royals have sent the righty to the 15-day DL with a sore right elbow/forearm. Although an injury is always a cause for concern, the shift of Paulino to the DL falls more on the side of precaution and seriousness; and the last thing you want is a pitcher who continues to throw despite a sore throwing arm (I’m talking to you, Joakim…).
And although this may seem like bad news for the time being, Paulino’s injury rids the fuzziness from the picture that is the Royals’ pitching staff.
With Flip^ out of the picture for the near future, both Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy will open the season as the no. 4 and 5 pitchers, respectively. Before the injury, it was unclear as to who had the upper hand between Paulino, Mendoza, and Duffy. To me, Mendoza was the most obvious lock for the rotation out of the three. If Paulino won the 5th spot, Duffy would have most likely opened 2012 in Omaha. If Duffy won the spot, Paulino would have either been shifted to the bullpen or placed on waivers (which thankfully, for right now, isn’t the case).
^Im introducing this as Felipe’s nickname, btw. It’s mine. I was the first.
The injury also helps the Royals balance out their rotation in the sense of lefties and righties.
1. Bruce Chen LHP
2. Luke Hochevar RHP
3. Jonathan Sanchez LHP
4. Luis Mendoza RHP
5. Danny Duffy LHP
Balancing lefties and righties in your rotation may be arbitrary to some, but to deeper baseball minds, it’s an advantage that some teams don’t have the priviledge to take advantage of. For any given series, Royals’ opponents won’t most likely see a starter throwing from the same side as the day before (unless it’s back-toback lefties), meaning they’ll have to play more of a guessing game with their lineup rather than just using practically the same lineup for the entire series.
Not only does Flip’s injury help the Royals settle their starting rotation, it also helps clear up some of the foggy spots in the bullpen.
Now, the Royals will most likely carry 12 pitchers. 5 of those spots are reserved for the starters, and of the 7 spots left for the ‘pen, 4 of them are most likely already locked up by righties Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Jonathan Broxton and lefty Jose Mijares. Meaning that as many as 6 guys are fighting for those last 3 spots: lefties Tim Collins, Everett Teaford, Tommy Hottovy – and righties Louis Coleman, Kelvin Herrera, and Jeremy Jeffress.
It orginally seemed that if Danny Duffy made the rotation, the loser between Mendoza and Paulino would shift to the bullpen and serve as the long reliever / spot starter. But with the current state of affairs, it appears that lefty Everett Teaford (who has looked great so far) has that position secured – allowing the Royals to lock in at least 2 lefties for the bullpen. I would guess that of the final 2 spots up for grabs, the Royals will take a long look at possibly keeping another lefty for the ‘pen; thus giving them even more flexability to work matchups appropriately.
I’m sure all of you are with me in wishing Flip a speedy recovery. But for right now, when it comes to the Royals, there is a little bit less weighing on my mind.
Both Felipe Paulino and Aaron Crow tossed two scoreless innings, with Crow earning the W, before handing the ball off to the bullpen. Paulino got out of both the 1st and 2nd inning with the aid of two double-play groundballs. This was his first appearance in a game this Spring due to a left-hamstring strain he suffered earlier in camp. Crow walked one in the 4th, but erased it by inducing a double-play.
Jose Mijares, Louis Coleman, Brandon Sisk, Tommy Hottovy, and Jeremy Jeffress all threw an inning apiece, with all of them recording a K except for Hottovy, and all of them giving up a hit except for Sisk.
Hottovy is the most interesting potential bullpen possibility. The hometown lefty, just a few years removed from reconstructive-elbow surgery, has transitioned to a sidearm slot, leading Ned Yost to refer to him as a “left-handed Louis Coleman“. He had a stint with Boston last year, so he has big league experience. He’s currently battling with Tim Collins, Jose Mijares, and Everett Teaford for what is presumed to be the two lefty slots in the ‘pen.
Max Ramirez has done it again. He and Yuni both went yard. Yuni’s solo-shot in the 4th off of lefty Josh Outman sparked a 4-run inning. Ramirez had a pinch-hit HR in the top of the 8th, adding one more run to build the lead to 5-0.
The Royals had 10 hits in all, with Yuni and Zo Cain each collecting 2 each. And of the 10 hits, 5 were for extra bases (3 2Bs: Gordon, Butler, Cain. 2HR: Yuni, Ramirez).
Billy Butler got his second start at 1B this Spring, and the Royals were errorless. Just saying.
Here’s the boxscore via NBC Sports
|2B: KC 3, A. Gordon (1), B. Butler (1), L. Cain (3). Col 2, H. Gomez (1), N. Arenado (2).|
|HR: KC 2, Y. Betancourt (1), M. Ramirez (3).|
|Scoring Position: KC - for . Col - for .|
|Caught Stealing: KC 1, L. Cain (1).|
|Attendance – 6,773|
In order to make this process a little easier on me (which didn’t really help at all), my reliever rankings are based on who I project could be potential 8th and/or 9th inning guys.
10. Tyler Sample RHP (Wilmington) age 22
As of right now, Tyler Sample is trying to work his way through the Royals’ system as a starter. After a good showing in 2009, he’s been dipping ever since; and 2011 was his worst season yet. He went 7-12 in 27 games (22 starts), averaging less than 6 innings per start, serving up a 5.25 ERA and 10.1 H/9.
Once a top 20 organizational prospect, control issues have caused Sample’s stock to fall a bit. His career 1.42 K:BB ratio (289:204 incase you were wondering) as a starter has lead me, along with fellow Royals blogger Landon Keefer at Royal Revival, to believe that Tyler would greatly benefit from a shift to the bullpen.
Sample has a huge frame, standing tall at 6’7″ and weighs in at a cool 245-250. Not many guys with similar frames find long-term success as a starter simply due to the fact that the size of a starter’s workload takes a bigger tole on bigger pitchers. So with Sample coming out of the bullpen, he’ll be able to hone in on just a few batters and really let his arm do the talking.
Grade: C+. Tyler is still young and learning how to pitch, so I’m sure he’ll get more reps as a starter. But if he begins to struggle early on this season, I fully expect the Royals to make the switch. He should start the season in Kane County.
9. Jeremy Jeffress RHP (Kansas City/Omaha/Northwest Arkansas) age 24
I’ll admit that I was pretty excited to see Jeremy Jeffress’ name included in the Royals’ haul of the Zack Greinke trade. After all, the guy was a Top 50 prospect who could throw upwards of 100 mph and had the capabilities of one day being a part of the KC rotation. He had been racking up K after K in the Brewers system and had all the potential in the world.
But Jeffress came to the Royals with some baggage.
Back in 2007, he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for marijuana. But that wasn’t his first failed test. Apparently he had failed before, but the MLB doesn’t suspend first-time failures if they tested positive for marijuana. In June of 2009, Jeremy again failed a drug test, technically his third offense, and was served with a 100 game suspension. If he fails one more test, he will be banned for life, no questions asked.
Jeremy also suffers from another problem: control. Although he does have a career 10 K/9 in the minors, he also averages 5.7 BB/9. The ability to be consistent has been his kryptonite. He made the Royals bullpen out of Spring Training last season. But in 15.1 IP for the Royals, he gave up 11 BBs to 13 Ks, which averages out to 7.6 K/9 to 6.5 BB/9. He was then demoted to Omaha, and it didn’t get any prettier from there. He was sent to Omaha to be transitioned back into a starter, but only managed to get in 3 starts before being shifted back to the bullpen. His 7.12 ERA and 6.8 BB/9 in only 24 IP earned him another demotion; this time to NW Arkansas.
He was inserted into the Natural’s rotation, going 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 IP (9 games 8 starts). Yet he still could not figure out the strike zone, and his BB numbers finally eclipsed his Ks (22 BB, 20 K). No doubt, a discouraging sign.
Grade: C-. Jeffress has the potential to grade as high as a B+ reliever in my opinion. He just has to somehow figure out what the hell is going on out there. Right now, he’s just a thrower. He wants to go to the mound and throw every single pitch at 99-100 mph, hoping he’ll gas every batter he faces. He needs to learn how to pitch, bottom line (very similar in stuff and inconsistencies to Edwin Jackson). Once he does that, he has the stuff of a potential closer. But until then, he’s just a guy moving in the wrong direction.
8. Brandon Sisk LHP (Northwest Arkansas/Omaha) age 25
Despite all of the famed lefties in the Royals’ glowing farm system, Brandon Sisk is the lone lefty on this list. Sisk split last season between AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha and put up fairly good numbers at both levels. In Arkansas, he had a 3.77 ERA in 28.2 IP with a 4:1 K:BB ratio and a 1.047 WHIP (BB+H/IP) (which is exactly what you would want out of any pitcher). He earned a promotion to Omaha and threw even better. In 32 IP, he had a 1.41 ERA, a WHIP of 1.0, and 2 Saves. His K:BB ratio struggled, as he had 30K’s to 16 BB’s (1.88:1 ratio). But other than that, he had a solid season.
That solid season earned Sisk a non-roster invite to Spring Training 2012. He has an outside shot of making the Opening Day roster this season. I expect him to start the year in Omaha and could make his big league debut this summer.
Grade: C. He reminds me a lot of Jeremy Affeldt. He’ll never have a “true” role in the bullpen, meaning he could serve as sort of a Utility reliever.
7. Patrick Keating RHP (Northwest Arkansas) age 24
At 6’0″, 220 lbs., Patrick Keating is built like a stocky-power reliever a la Greg Holland. His fastball consistently sits in the mid-90′s and possesses an above-average slider- a great complimentary pitch that every reliever needs.
After being drafted by the Royals out of the U of Florida in 2009, Patrick has been used exclusively as a reliever. Keating had a solid 2010 campaign in Wilmington and NW Arkansas with 101 Ks in 71 IP and a 2.28 ERA, and has a minor league career average of 12.2 K/9 to 3.2 BB/9.
2011 was a rough season for Pat, as he got knocked around a bit in his first full season at the Double A level. In 38 IP, he had an ERA of 6.16 and a WHIP of 1.421. His strikeout numbers fell a bit to 10.4 K/9, but he was able to lower his number of free passes to 2.8 BB/9. He suffered a shoulder injury in mid-June which consequently lead to a stint on the DL. The injury no doubt had a role to play in Keating’s numbers last season.
Grade: C+. I think Keating, barring anymore injuries, could open up the season in Omaha. He looks the part of a serviceable major league reliever who could possibly come in late/close games (31 career saves). He’s been a K machine this far, so he has that going for him.
6. Louis Coleman RHP (Omaha/Kansas City) age 25
Out off all of the rookies that made their Royals debut last season, Louis Coleman’s rookie season appears to be the one that is most commonly overlooked. In 59 2/3 innings in 48 appearances in 2011, he struck out 64 while walking 26, had an ERA of 2.87, and had the 5th best Inherited Runners Scored% in the MLB at 12.8%.
Coleman doesn’t possess an overpowering fastball. But given his sidearm angle, his slider is just vicious. His Swinging Strike rate was 22%, compared to the league average of 15%. Most of that can be contributed to Coleman’s extreme release point, as he’s able to hide the ball longer more than most pitchers and seems way too far in on right-handed hitters and way too far outside on left-handed hitters.
Grade: C+. Although I doubt Sweet Lou will ever become a closer, he has the ability to shutdown opposing hitters. Down the road he may be more of a specialist pitcher, entering the game in situations that call for a righty-righty matchup. But he shows a great ability to make hitters miss, and that can never be overlooked.
5. Yordano Ventura RHP (Kane County) age 20
Yordano Ventura is a 5’11″, 150 lbs. (when wet) starter right now in the Royals system. In his first full season as a starter in 2011, he made 19 starts, went 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA, giving up 82 hits in 84.1 innings pitched, with 88Ks and 24BBs. While this was no make or break season, given it was his first one as a full-time starter, I think Ventura is destined for a future in the bullpen.
Ventura is a max effort pitcher, often able to get his fastball in the 95-99 mph range. Given his body and delivery type, he would have an extremely hard time making it to the bigs as a starter. Being in the bullpen would allow him to pitch to his true style, dialing up fastballs for one inning 3-4 times a week, thus allowing his arm to last as long as it possibly can. He needs to develop a quality second pitch if he wants to move up quickly though.
Grade: C+. Ventura has drawn many comparisons to Pedro Martinez, given their similar size and arm strength. But odds are he’ll be a bullpen fixture sometime soon. If that does happen, he could be this year’s Kelvin Herrera.
4. Kelvin Herrera RHP (Wilmington/Northwest Arkansas/Omaha/Kansas City) age 22
Up until 2011, Herrera had been used exclusively as a starter and spent 3 straight seasons in Single A (2008-10). He was shifted to the bullpen this past season, and what a difference it made. He skyrocketed through the entire system, making stops at all of the Royals’ upper-level minor league teams, and eventually made it all the way to Kauffman for a few cups of coffee at the big league level.
Given his time as a starter, he has the ability to throw 3 pitches that are at or around the major league level, including a fastball that consistently flirts with 100 mph, an above average change-up, and a curveball that could one day be another plus-pitch.
Herrera will get a shot to make the Royals 25-man roster out of Spring Training as a middle-relief/set-up reliever.
Grade: B. It’s extremely hard to judge any reliever’s potential. But given how fast he rose through the Royals’ system, I have little doubt that he’ll be successful. He definitely has the stuff of a future closer.
3. Jonathan Broxton RHP (Los Angeles Dodgers/Albuquerque) age 27
Even though he’s only 27, it seems like Broxton has been around forever. The 6’4″, nearly 300 lbs. hurler had a rough 2011 season as a member of the Dodgers. He began the season as the closer for LA, but was placed on the DL due to pain in his right elbow. Before being placed on the DL in May, Brox racked up a 5.68 ERA and only 7 Saves. He made a few rehab starts in Triple-A before being shut down again. Hopeful to return to the team in September, Broxton tested his elbow by throwing from a mound. When it was clear his arm wasn’t ready, he was shutdown again for the remainder of the season and became a free agent after the season ended.
Brox has pretty decent career numbers thus far, compiling 84 Saves in 117 official chances (roughly 72% Saves converted) in 2+ seasons as the Dodgers full-time closer. Not a great conversion rate by any means. Just decent. But his career ERA of 3.19 is a plus, and along with that comes 503 K’s in 392 innings and the fact that he’s only given up 25 HRs in 7 pro seasons. Before 2011, it seemed like Broxton was in line for a big payday as he was heading into free agency for the first time, but his elbow derailed that dream for at least another season.
After a hunting trip with Ned Yost, Jeff Francoeur, and Jeff Foxworthy in his native Georgia, Broxton was convinced to sign a one-year, $4 mil. deal with the Royals. He’s in line to be a 7th/8th inning guy, along with Greg Holland, setting the table for Joakim Soria.
Grade: B. Broxton is a 2-time All-Star and a pure-power pitcher. His fastball has consistently sat in the upper-90′s throughout his career, but also possesses a power slider to complement it. This, to me, looks like a show-case season for Broxton, who’s looking to prove he can still effectively close games. If the Royals are out of contention by the trade deadline, expect to see him in a different uniform to end the season.
2. Greg Holland RHP (Omaha/Kansas City) age 26
Greg Holland was one of the most effective relievers in all of baseball last season. Over 60 innings, Greg had an ERA of 1.80, 74 K’s to 19 BB’s, and had an MLB best 6.1 Inherited Runners Scored % in his first full season in Kansas City.
Holland has been a K’s machine throughout his baseball career, so that number never caught anyone off guard. But the fact that he allowed just 37 hits in 60 innings (.175 AVG) and only 2 of 33 inherited runners to score leads many to believe, myself included, that the Royals could shift him into the Closer role if something were to happen to Soria (converted 4 of 6 save opportunities and recorded 18 holds in 2011).
Grade: B. Holland definitely has closer potential, given his ability to locate his high-90′s fastball, an 11.1 K/9 ratio, and the ice water that apparently runs through his veins.
1. Joakim Soria RHP (Kansas City) age 27
Joakim Soria has been arguably one of the best Royals relievers of the last 20 years outside of Jeff Montgomery and the late Dan Quisenberry. Over his 5 year career, Soria has compiled a 13-15 record, 160 Saves, a 2.40 ERA, and 341 K’s (3.92:1 K:BB ratio) in 315 Innings Pitched.
Although he has been a top-tier, lights out closer thus far in his career, 2011 was undoubtedly his worst season to date. He blew 5 of his first 12 save opportunities, and was eventually replaced by Aaron Crow as the team’s closer for a few games. During that stretch however, the Royals didn’t play a single game that required a closer, and Soria resumed his familiar role about a week later.
There have been rumors and talk about the Royals shifting Soria to the rotation ever since he came to KC. Soria definitely has the skill-set to be a quality starter, as he possess 3 plus-picthes (FB, Curve, Change) and the cool, calm, and collected demeanor necessary to be a starter. Just after he was selected by the Royals in the Rule V draft in 2006, he threw a perfect game in the Winter League. So it goes without saying, he’s more than capable of making the switch.
But for now, Joakim is the team’s closer for 2012 and beyond.
Grade: B+. If he didn’t basically implode last season, I would have given him at least an A-. Given the shelf life of closers anymore and how they’re not as big of a commodity as they once were, Soria needs to come back in a big way in 2012 and re-prove himself to the Royals Faithful.
Other names to watch: Tim Collins, Ryan Verdugo, Kendal Volz, Blaine Hardy, Buddy Baumann, Michel Mariot, Bryan Paukovitz
Last season, the AL Central was dominated by two teams. The first half of the season, it was all the Cleveland Indians. After they flamed out, the Tigers took over – winning the division by 15 games. The Twins and White Sox both took unexpected plunges after they placed first and second in the division respectively in 2010. All the while, the Royals were busy promoting talent from their #1 ranked farm system
Before the All-Star Break, the Royals took their lumps, going 37-54 and getting outscored 449-402. During this time, rookies Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Louis Coleman, Nate Adcock, Everett Teaford, and Tim Collins were getting their feet wet at the Major League level, while fellow rookie Aaron Crow was busy earning a spot on the AL All-Star roster. Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy were forming (at least offensively) the best OF in all of baseball. Billy Butler was still a doubles machine, but wasn’t putting up the power numbers that the fans and organization were looking for (until that unforgettable series in Boston). Matt Treanor and Brayan Pena were doubling up behind the plate, Escobar’s bat was ice cold then red-hot while his glove was consistently pure gold, and Chris Getz was… well… Chris Getz. The rotation got knocked around quite a bit. As did Vin Mazzaro …
Post All-Star break, the Royals went an unimpressive 34-37. They did, however, outscore their opponents 328-313. With August came the debuts of Johnny Giavotella and Salvador Prerez. Gio put up lower numbers than expected, while Perez dominated behind the plate as well as in the batter’s box. The Royals’ highlight of the second-half was their 7-game winning streak in mid-September against the hapless Twins and White Sox. Regardless, this showed me something: these young guys, this entire roster, played like they were in the middle of the pennant race. Every game was exciting. Nobody seemed like they were going through the motions of a lost season, because this season was anything but. It was a stepping stone, building block, spring board… however you want to put it. And they knew it, too.
So with that all said, this is how I see the most winnable division in baseball shaking down in 2012:
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins
I think that the Tigers’ pitching staff will be what allows them to just squeak by the Royals this year, as it is just that much better than those of their division foes. Offensively, the Royals should have one of the top 10 offenses in the league (#8 according to Buster Olney). I don’t buy into the hype of the Indians’ pitching staff. The White Sox are selling off their top pieces left and right, and the Twins are in the middle of a re-building process.
2012 is going to be a huge step in the right direction for Kansas City, and may possibly invigorate a hungry fan-base for a strong run for a division title in 2013.
Now I know there isn’t much of a guessing game going on this offseason as to who is going to be on the Royals 25-man roster, which I see as a HUGE step in the right direction for this franchise. As of now, all of the positions in the field are virtually filled (even though Gio is pretty much a shoe-in at 2B). The rotation appears to be mostly set for the time being, and the bullpen has just maybe one or two question marks. So this is how I see it shaking down:
C: Salvador Perez R/R
1B: Eric Hosmer L/L
2B: Johnny Giavotella R/R
SS: Alcides Escobar R/R
3B: Mike Moustakas L/R
LF: Alex Gordon L/R
CF: Lorenzo Cain R/R
RF: Jeff Francoeur R/R
DH: Billy Butler R/R
Bench: Brayan Pena (C) S/R, Yuniesky Betancourt (SS/2B/3B) R/R, Jarrod Dyson (OF) L/R
This is solid. If this group of players can stay consistently healthy like they did last season, I assume they’ll form a top 10 offense and average to slightly above-average defense. And with Doug Sisson for another season as the First Base Coach, it’s pretty reasonable to expect 20 SB’s from Escobar, Frenchy, Gordon, Cain, and possibly Gio.The only question marks I can see here are at 2B and fourth OF’er.
Gio didn’t have the greatest debut last season (.247/.273/.376 in 46 games while working a Yuni like 6 BB’s) and still has minor league options left. Plus he is recovering from off-season hip surgery, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Chris Getz is still hanging around like that annoying gnat that buzzes by your ear every 30 seconds in the summer that you’ll never be able to swat. He has some value as a good situational hitter and solid pinch runner, but his defense is sub-par and he hardly has the range to backup at SS, nor the arm strength to backup 3B. Like Gio, though, he does have a minor league option left. Then we have Yuni… Ah, Yuni. The enigma that Dayton rid us of last offseason, only to bring him right back to where he belongs. (Now if we can only sign Greinke next winter, we will have pulled off the best trade of all-time!) Yuni was brought in to be a “Utility” infielder who could spell Moose against tough lefties and occasionally get the nod at SS and 2B. With the exception of a handfull of games in his rookie season at 2B, Yuni has experience exclusively at SS. Which means he’s compiled a grand total of…. 0 innings at 3B. But he does possess a little bit of pop in his bat, which is a major plus since Yost claims he will be doing more in-game situational substitutions this year. In the end, however, my money is on Giavotella, with Yuni serving off the bench as needed, and Getzy playing a utility role in Omaha. Gio is that “gritty” type of player that Ned Yost just drools over (see: Jason Kendall).
For the fourth OF position, it’s going to be a tough decision. On the one hand, you have the incumbent: Mitch Maier. Mitch has been a model citizen for this franchise. He steps up when his number is called, and keeps his mouth shut and chin up when it’s not. He can play all three outfield positions well, serves as the emergency catcher (he played catcher in college), and has even taken practice reps at 1B and 3B. Oh and don’t forget about his stint as a reliever! (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=17333401) He is the type of bench players that managers dream of. On the other hand, you have Jarrod Dyson. He has the speed to change games, especially in the late innings of those close ballgames we have all become accustomed to over the past few seasons. He has the ability to turn a single or a walk into a double, and there is little opposing teams can do to stop him. He is capable of playing all outfield positions, but is best served in CF given his extreme speed and lack of arm strength (think Coco Crisp weakness). He has limited power; but like I said, his speed changes everything. And with basecloggers like Butler, Pena, and Yuni, you have to have someone who can be their ghostrunner. This is why I’d go with Dyson over Maier. It’s one of the tougher roster decisions to make, and that’s a good thing. The tougher it is to decide who your bench players are, the better your starters must be.
1. Bruce Chen L
2. Luke Hochevar R
3. Jonathan Sanchez L
4. Felipe Paulino R
5. Danny Duffy L
Barring any major trades, FA signings, or a miraculous Spring Training, this will be our starting rotation heading into the season. Overall, it’s respectable (mostly because of the addition of Sanchez and the retention of Chen). Hochevar has to continue to progress like he did after the All-Star break last season, where he became a groundball machine. If he stumbles back into his old form though, expect this to be his last season in Royal blue. Sanchez needs to prove he was worth being the only major upgrade to the rotation this offseason by proving he’s totally healthy and improving his 2:1 K:BB ratio. Bruce should be Bruce, and will allow us all to scream “C’MON CHEN!” for another summer. Duffy needs to show that he has learned how to make it past 5 innings without throwing 100+ pitches. Granted, he seemed to get his strikes fouled off more than any other pitcher this past season. But he still walked 51 batters in 20 starts, so his command needs some improvement. Paulino was solid, if un-spectacular. He proved that he could be a contribution to a winning team though, which is a step in the right direction for KC. If the Royals do add another impact starter or if one of Crow/Mendoza/Montgomery prove they’re up to the task, Paulino could be easily moved into the bullpen as the long reliever.
CL: Joakim Soria R
SU: Greg Holland R
SU: Jonathan Broxton R
MR: Louis Coleman R
MR: Tim Collins L
MR: Blake Wood R
MR/LOOGY: Jose Mijares L
LR/MR/SU/Spot-Starter: Aaron Crow R
I would say of this group Soria, Holland, Broxton, Coleman, Collins, and Wood are sure shots to be in the ‘pen. All of them but Soria and Broxton had solid seasons last year and help shape a young, terrific bullpen. Broxton is more of an unknown in this situation due to an elbow injury that kept him out of action for all but 14 games last season. But coming into last year, he had been to two straight All-Star games. This was a low-risk, high-reward signing for Dayton Moore and helped add to a scary-good bullpen. Jose Mijares was claimed by KC after the Twins DFA’d him last month. Over his career he has averaged less than one-inning/appearance, which is why I think this is a good pick-up for us. He’s a typical LOOGY (Lefty-One-Out-Guy), a la Jimmy Gobble that one year. He has a career ERA of 3.16, a 2:1 ratio, and has held opponents to a .243 AVG. Not spectacular. Yet prototypical. He and Broxton should enjoy many-a-barbecue nights in the bullpen. I left Crow off my “sure shots” list for one reason: if he’s a starter in the Spring, yet doesn’t earn a rotation spot, he may be sent to Omaha where he can start every fifth day and begin to stretch his arm out again. If that does happen, then either Everett Teaford (L) or Nate Adcock (R) fills out the long reliever role. But as for now, he is the best option for this “Utility” bullpen role.
Grand Total: 12 hitters, 13 pitchers
Yost has been talking about going with a 13-man pitching staff coming into this season so he could play a more National League brand of baseball, subbing multiple pitchers in an inning or even pulling off the famous “double-switch”. So with this roster set-up, he’ll be able to get his way and have just enough bench to scrape by.