Tagged: Aaron Crow

Winter Meetings Recap: Day One

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, taking place this year in Nashville, is possibly the most exciting/frantic/nerve-racking four day period of the offseason. General managers, scouts, and agents alike will be calling, texting, and talking one another’s ear off in hopes of finding the right fit- to either make a trade or sign a free agent.

When it comes to the Royals and Dayton Moore, there are no questions as to what the Royals want, who they’re willing to part with, and how roughly how much money they have to make a deal happen. The Royals want relatively young, controllable, cost-effective starting pitching; are willing to listen to offers involving practically any player outside of Salvador Perez, and have a “soft cap” of around $70 million for 2013.

Starting pitching is going to set the price this winter, whether it be through the free agent or trade market. Zack Greinke is looking to become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history, Anibal Sanchez is said to be looking for a multi-year contract worth roughly $15-20 million per year, Scott Feldman landed a one-year, $6 million deal, and two-years, $26 million wasn’t enough for the Royals to land Ryan Dempster (not yet, at least).

So who do the Royals deem worthy of pursuit?

R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

So far, we’ve heard about the Royals interest in a few of the game’s better starting pitchers: James Shields (Rays), Jon Lester (Red Sox) and R.A. Dickey (Mets).

James Shields has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the past three or so seasons, but he’s owed $11 million in 2013 and has a $12 million team option for 2014. So barring an extension, he’d be hitting the free agent market after 2014. He also turns 32 later this month. In return, the Rays are looking for immediate offensive production and have been asking about top prospect Wil Myers and DH Billy Butler. The Rays are also said to be open to dealing Jeremy Hellickson in a potential deal and would listen on lefties David Price and Matt Moore.

Jon Lester, who is coming off a down season (9-14, 4.82 ERA), is in the same boat as Shields: he’ll be making roughly $12 million in 2013 and has a team option of $13 million for 2014 (which can be voided by Lester if he finishes first or second in Cy Young voting). He’ll be 29 in January. The Red Sox are in a transition period, where they intend to compete while restructruring their roster. Of course, they too would like to add Wil Myers’ bat to their lineup, but could use help at nearly every position outside of second base and center field.

R.A. Dickey, who is 38 years young, is coming off a career year where he went 20-6 with a 3.73 ERA en route to winning the NL Cy Young award. While R.A. would immediately become the Royals’ ace, he won’t be had for next to nothing. The Mets are likely trying to command a significant haul for Dickey. Given his age, they’re going to have a hard time doing so. The Mets are said to be looking for a catcher, outfielders, and bullpen arms. The Royals won’t dangle Perez, nor would they Wil Myers. I could see them building a deal around Aaron Crow + prospect help however.

The team is still reportedly interested in right-hander Bud Norris of the Astros. He’s young (27), controllable (first-time arbitration this offseason), relatively inexpensive, would not cost the team much in terms of big league talent, nor would he command a top prospect like Myers.

Other rumored trade partners are the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. Both organizations are said to have serious interest in Billy Butler. The Mariners have the starting pitching depth (Jason Vargas, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer) along with secondary players (possibly 2B Dustin Ackley or SS/2B Nick Franklin) to spin a deal for the 26-year old slugger. Outside The Orioles on the other hand don’t really have enough pitching depth that they would be able to pull from in order to land Butler.

I’m not high on trading Butler for prospects unless the Royals are able to land another starting pitcher – either through trade

In contrast, with Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francoeur all officially on board for next season, the Dayton Moore will be looking to ship one or all of them in order to free up payroll. Hochevar is on schedule for around $4 million through arbitration, Chen is due $4.5 million this season, while Frenchy is due $7.5 million.

Finding takers for Hoch and Chen, although difficult, would presumably be easier to do than finding a taker for Frenchy. But if the Royals were able to move any of said contracts, it could severely impact their ability to attain starting pitching, allowing them to potentially go after free agents like Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Loshe, Ryan Dempster, or Edwin Jackson.

Other free agents the Royals are considering that possibly fall within their price range: Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, Jair Jurrjens, Brett Myers, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Karstens. None of the aforementioned pitchers would demand a large multi-year deal, which fits perfectly within the realm of what Dayton Moore is trying to do.

Utility Depth

The Royals are also reportedly seeking a veteran infielder who can play shortstop. Apparently they don’t think current utility guys Tony Abreu and Irving Falu fit the bill defensively at short, going so far as to say that if Alcides Escobar were to miss significant playing time they’d likely promote either Christian Colon or Alex McClure from the minors to fill the position. Veterans free agents like Ronny Cedeno, Alex Gonzalez, and Ryan Theriot all profile for the role.

Former Royals

  • Joakim Soria, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, has agreed to a two-year deal reportedly worth $8-9 million with the Texas Rangers. He’ll still be rehabing when Opening Day 2013 comes around, but when he comes back he’ll serve as the set-up man for closer Joe Nathan. The Angels, Red Sox, and Reds were also reportedly in on Soria.
  • Mitch Maier has officially agreed to a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
  • The Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers are said to the top contenders for the services of one Donald Zackary Greinke. Zack is said to possibly command as much as 7-years and $185 million on the open market. The Braves have been rumored to have interest in him as well.

Royals Turn it Up to Eleven

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.
  • 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!

Greg Holland Heads to the DL

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Greg Holland now has more to worry about than opposing hitters.

On Saturday, the Royals decided to place Holland on the 15-Day DL for what they’re calling a “left rib stress reaction”. It isn’t being termed as a fracture at the moment, which could mean much worse news for Holland and the Royals.

A stint on the DL might be just what the doctor ordered, as Holland has been a shell of his former self thus far. In 7 appearances, he’s given up 8 ER (11.37 ERA), 13 hits (.408 AVG against), 10 K, 7 BB (3 IBB) and 2.68 WHIP. No matter what team you’re on, your “8th or 9th inning guy” should never have numbers like this. Yet another pitcher falling curse to a specified bullpen role…

Given his injury, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Holland has been giving maximum effort. But for some reason, he just hasn’t been able to keep any of his pitches away from opposing bats.

Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress has been summoned from Triple A Omaha to take Holland’s spot on the roster. In 6 appearances this season for the Storm Chasers, Jeffress has been solid: 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 4 hits, 8 K. Yeah, he is still battling with the free-bases bug (evidenced by his 6 BB), but he has the ability to crank it up to 97-99 mph on any given pitch.

Aaron Crow will take Holland’s place as the de facto late-inning reliever alongside Broxton.

Duffy Dominates Despite Drizzle

See what I did there?

Mother Nature tried her best to keep the Royals and A’s off the field last night in Oakland, evidenced by a 43-minute rain delay to begin the game. She eventually got her way in the middle of the Royals’ half of the 8th inning, forcing the umpires to shut it down for the night – but not before Danny Duffy put in the best and most dominating performance of his young career.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

In front of a crowd filled with friends and family (he hails from Lompoc, Ca.), Danny put on a show. Duffy was straight dealing last night to the tune of 6 innings, 8 K, 4 BB, and 1 hit. That one hit came from A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington in the bottom of the 3rd – a one-out double to center. Duffy then proceeded to pick him off at second base.

Duffy spread out 4 walks in his 6 innings, none of which wound up hurting him at all. He threw 109 pitches in his 6 innings (62 S 47 B), going an inning longer than his average last season of 5.1 innings per start. His high pitch count can be credited to his 8 Ks as much as his 4 BBs.

For his career, Duffy is now 3-0 in Oakland.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with (the Coliseum). This year, I think I’m going to be pretty consistent everywhere we go. I’m pretty excited.” – Duffy told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

Aaron Crow was brought in to pitch the 7th, striking out Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson before getting Collin Cowgill to line out to RF. He was credited with the save due to the rainout of the final two innings.

The Royals hitters were outshined by Duffy’s season debut, but they had a decent night as well. They were able to tag A’s starter Graham Godfrey for 6 hits and 2 runs through 6 innings. Kansas City’s 2 runs off of Godfrey came in the 4th inning:

  • Butler lead the inning off with a two-bagger to left.
  • Frenchy followed suit with a soft single to right field. Butler moves up to third.
  • Moose mashed a deep double over the head of CF Yoenis Cedpedes, driving in Butler and moving Frenchy to third. 1-0 KC.
  • Pinch-hitting for Cain (more on that down below), Mitch Maier pops op to short. One down.
  • Humberto Quintero hits a SAC fly to right field, Frenchy scores from third. Moose advances to third. 2-o KC. Two down.
  • Getz flies out to left. Three down, side retired.

Kansas City tabbed their third and final run in the 7th inning off of A’s lefty Jerry Blevins. The first batter he faced, Mitch Maier (1), sent a fastball over the fence in right. 3-0 Royals.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

Game Notes

  • Alex Gordon had another 0-fer last night, but showed signs that he’s about to break out of his slump. He had two hard, solidly (if that’s even a word) hit balls that, unfortunately for him, were right at Oakland defenders. He walked in his first AB to lead the game off. In the 3rd, he hit a solid line drive to right, but Collin Cowgill made a good read and made the catch. He also hit a hard groundball in the 5th to second baseman Jemile Weeks, who made a good play to get a hustling Gordon at first.
  • Lorenzo Cain left the game with a groin injury after the 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, he made a terrific running grab in deep deep center to rob Daric Barton of an extra-base hit and a possible RBI. Cain then nailed the cut-off man, who relayed to Hosmer to double-up the baserunner. Cain apparently suffered the injury when he ran into the wall after making the grab. Yost said it was a Grade 1 groin strain, which is good news for the Royals. Mitch Maier pinch-hit for him in the 4th. Mitch was scheduled to get the start in today’s game anway, so Cain will get today and Thursday, an off day, to recover in time for the Home Opener on Friday afternoon.
  • Aaron Crow recorded his first career save, pitching a perfect 7th inning.
  • With Danny Duffy not allowing a single run last night, the Royals’ starters have given up only 5 earned runs in 29 innings pitched, which translates to a sparkling 1.55 ERA – the best in baseball.
  • Billy Butler was caught stealing (1) by A’s catcher Anthony Recker on a failed hit-and-run attempt with Jeff Francoeur striking out at the plate. Chris Getz was picked off (1) by lefty Jerry Blevins and was tagged out trying to advance to second on the play (1).
  • After Eric Hosmer lost his bat on a swinging strike in the top of the 8th inning, home plate umpire Jim Joyce called for the Oakland ground crew to roll out the tarps. Just a bit over an hour later, Joyce called the game at 11:07 pm PT (1:07 am CT). The rain caused a total delay of 1 hour and 49 minutes. The final score was 3-0, Kansas City over Oakland.

The series finale will take place this afternoon at 2:35 pm CT, with Bruce Chen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) taking the hill for Kansas City (3-2). He’ll face off against Oakland (2-4) RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25 ERA). The series is tied at 1-1.

Today’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals

1. Alex Gordon LF

2. Alcides Escobar SS

3. Eric Hosmer 1B

4. Billy Butler DH

5. Jeff Francoeur RF

6. Mike Moustakas 3B

7. Mitch Maier CF

8. Brayan Pena C

9. Chris Getz 2B

LHP Bruce Chen

Oakland Athletics

1. Jemile Weeks 2B

2. Cliff Pennington SS

3. Josh Reddick RF

4. Yoenis Cespedes CF

5. Johnny Gomes DH

6. Kurt Suzuki C

7. Josh Donaldson 3B

8. Daric Barton 1B

9. Collin Cowgill RF

RHP Brandon McCarthy

Royals Win 7-3, Take the Series

There was no rest for the Royals on Sunday, but they didn’t really seem to need it anyway.

Offense

The Royals cmae out swinging in the 1st inning against Ervin Santana (0-1). After an Alex Gordon groundout to start the game, Santana plunked Alcides Escobar. Alcides stole second in retalitation, and came around to score after he made a terrific read on Eric Hosmer’s bloop single to LF, putting KC up 1-0. Billy Butler (1) one-upped Hosmer by sending a Santana pitch to the deepest part of the park where Peter Bourjos nearly robbed him of a HR. Billy’s blast made the score 3-0. The Angels got a run off starter Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the frame on an Albert Pujols groundball -Albert’s lone RBI in the series (3-1 KC).

The Halos got another run in the bottom of the 3rd by Torii Hunter, bringing in Erick Aybar (3-2 KC).

The Royals had a great scoring opportunity that was nullified by a Lorenzo Cain baserunning gaffe. With Butler on 2B and Cain on 1B, Humberto Quintero lined a single into right. We all know that Torii Hunter has a great arm, and so does Billy apparently. Billy stopped at 3B, and apparently Cain wasn’t paying attention. Hunter’s throw came to the infield, who recognized right away that Cain was stuck in no-man’s land and was promptly tagged out – ending the inning. At the time, this was a gleaming mental mistake that could have cost the Royals a big inning.

Photo Credit: Reed Saxon / AP

In the top of the 5th, with Chris Getz on base, Eric Hosmer (2) continued his hot hitting by sending an Ervin Santana cutter about five rows deep in the RF seats (5-2 KC). That was hosmer’s 2nd HR in as many days. He’d end the day with 3 RBI.

The Royals kept things going in the 6th. Francoeur led the inning off with a single and advanced to 2B on a wild pitch two batter later. That batter, Lorenzo Cain, would reach 1B on an error by Angels 3B Mark Trumbo (3). Humberto Quintero then sent a flyball to CF, which was deep enough for Frenchy to move up to third. The Angels proceeded to pull Santana and brought in Hisanori Takahashi to face Getz. Getz hit a ball up the middle which, after it was deflected by Takahashi, made its way to 2B Howie Kendrick. But by that time, all of the baserunners had advanced, bringing home Francoeur (6-2 KC).

The top of the 7th brought in another Royals run on a double down the LF line by Billy, which brought Hosmer around to score, stretching the lead to five runs (7-2).

Things got a little hairy in the 8th for the Royals. Kelvin Herrera served up a leadoff HR to Vernon Wells (1), shrinking the score to 7-3. After retiring Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo singled to CF. The Royals then swapped Herrera for Aaron Crow, who struck out the next hitter (Bourjos) and retired Erick Aybar on a groundball back to the mound.

The Angels threatened again in the 9th, but were unable to force anymore runs across the plate.

Pitching

Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez was “effectively wild” yesterday, throwing 99 pitches through 5 innings. He got off to a rough start in the bottom of the 1st after the offense gave him a 3-0 lead to work with. After a one-out single by Howie Kendrick, Sanchez threw a wild pitch to Pujols which popped up behind catcher Humberto Quintero. That little bit of air time allowed Kendrick to move from 1B to 3B on the miscue. Pujols went on to drive in the run with a groundball out to Moustakas. Sanchez proceeded to walk the next batter Torii Hunter. Hunter was able to move up to 2B on an errant pickoff throw over to Hosmer at 1B, which Hoz never had a chance at catching. Sanchez was charged with the error (1), Kansas City’s lone error of the day. It didn’t hurt the team however, as Sanchez struck out Vernon Wells to end the frame.

Photo Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

Trouble reared it’s ugly head again in the Angels’ half of the 3rd when Sanchez struck out leadoff man Erick Aybar. But the third-strike made it’s way passed Quintero, allowing Aybar to reach 1B. Howie Kendrick then doubled, moving Aybar to 3B. In what proved to be a great move, although unintentional, Sanchez walked Prince Albert to load the bases. He then got Hunter to groundout to Hosmer, which allowed each runner to advance (3-2 KC). Sanchez then struck out Wells swinging and induced a Kendrys Morales groundball to short.

The 4th inning was the only inning that Sanchez was able to retire in order. He allowed 2 hits in the 5th to Aybar and Pujols, but nothing came of it and he left the game wil a line of 5 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, 99 pitchs (59 S, 40 B).

Yost brought in lefty Jose Mijares to pitch the 6th, faced 4 hitters, giving up one hit and striking out 2.

Kelvin Herrera came into the game in the 7th, giving up a leadoff single before inducing a Howie Kendrick 6-4-3 double play. Pujols doubled to left, but Torii Hunter hit an ending-inning groundball to 3B. He stayed in the game to start the 8th, giving up a HR to Wells, a groundout, a Trumbo single, and a Chris Ianetta double before being pulled for Aaron Crow. His final line was 1.1 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 0 K, 0 BB.

Crow came in and retired the next two batters to end the inning without a blemish. Ned left him in to begin the 9th inning, where Crow ran into some trouble. He gave up a leadoff single to Kendrick and a walk to Pujols before being pulled for closer Jonathan Broxton. Line: 0.2 IP, 1 hit, o ER, 1 K, 1 BB.

Broxton was thrown into a two-on, nobody-out situation and did not disappoint. He stranded the two baserunners by striking out the side to end the game, which included Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales; earning his first save as a member of the Royals. Broxton appeared to be back to his old self, dialing fastballs in the upper 90’s.

Game Summary

Sanchez gave the Royals another strong outing from the rotation. He only lasted 5 innings and was a bit wild at times (2 wild pitches and 1 error on a pickoff attempt), but he maintained the early lead that the offense provided him with. You’ll notice now that Ned isn’t leaving struggling pitchers out there to take their lumps like he did in 2011. If he senses trouble, he’s got someone in the bullpen ready to go.

The bullpen had a solid day as well, combining for 4 innings and only 1 ER, striking out 6 and surrendering 1 walk. Kelvin Herrera had a balk, however. But it didn’t lead to any Angels runs.

Alex Gordon had another hitless game, and has yet to record his first hit on the season. He would have had one if it weren’t for a terrific diving stop by Albert Pujols down the RF line. Moose and Cain went hitless as well, but they both recorded a hit on Saturday, giving them identical averages at .091.

Hosmer and Butler had a HR and 3 RBI apiece, Humberto Quintero hit his third double in 2 games and Chris Getz earned an RBI – both going 2 for 4 on the day. Frenchy and Escobar also had one hit each. Both Hosmer and Escobar had a stolen base. The Royals were 4 for 10 with RISP (runners in scoring position).

The Royals won the series 2 games to 1, and very well could have been 3-0 to start the season if it weren’t for one bad inning on Opening Day.

Game MVP

Eric Hosmer: 2 for 5, 3 runs, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB. Hosmer had a complete game and helped the Royals get off to a great start with a RBI single in the 1st, as well as his two-out, two-run blast in the 5th.

Noteworthies

  • Ned Yost has said that he may give LF Alex Gordon a night off in the opening game of the A’s series tonight, citing Alex’s 0 for 13 with 6 K start to the season. I see no reason to panic here. We’re three games in. If Alex had an 0 for 13 stretch in mid-June, nobody may have even noticed. There’s no reason to fret about Alex; he’ll come around. Either Mitch Maier or Jason Bourgeois will get the start in left tonight if Yost does indeed sit Gordon.
  • If Gordon is infact out of the lineup tonight, who hits in the leadoff spot? It would almost have to be either Lorenzo Cain (.091 AVG)  Alcides Escobar, who is hitting .300 thus far and was in the second spot in the order last night, or Chris Getz. All three have great speed and are threats to steal if they get one. My money would be on either Getz or Escobar for tonight.

The Royals begin a 3 game series against the Oakland A’s tonight in the “lovely” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Game time is 9:05 pm CT. It’ll be the Royals’ righty Luis Mendoza vs. A’s rookie lefty Tommy Milone.

Game 1 of 162 – Angels 5 Royals 0

Through 7 innings, this one was an absolute pitcher’s duel. Bruce Chen and Aaron Crow were matching Jered Weaver pitch for pitch.

Photo Credit: Mark Terrill / AP

On the flip side, the Royals hitters just looked lost against Weaver and the Angels. The top four in the oder (Gordon, Cain, Hosmer, and Butler) went a combined 0 for 16 with 10 Ks (Gordon and Cain – 3, Hosmer and Butler – 2), leaving 6 runners on base.

The Royals managed only 4 hits last night – one apiece by Francoeur, Betancourt, Pena, and Escobar – and only had one real scoring chance which was nullified by Weaver picking off Francoeur at 2B in the top of the 7th.

Bruce pitched 6 terrific innings throwing 75 pitches, striking out 4, allowing only 3 hits, and getting 2 inning-ending double plays.

Aaron Crow entered to begin the 7th inning, where he proceeded to strike out Howie Kendrick, Albert Pujols, and Torii Hunter in order. But he struggled in the top of the 8th. After retiring Vernon Wells to begin the inning, Crow gave up three straight singles to Morales, Trumbo, and Ianetta before Yost pulled him in favor of Greg Holland.

Holland gave up an infield single to Peter Bourjos, allowing a run to score (1-0) and the bases to stay loaded. The next hitter was Erick Aybar, who ripped a liner down the RF line for a bases clearing triple, making the score 4-0. The Angels would manage to score one more run in the inning on a soft single to right by Hunter, moving the score to 5-0.

On a positive note, the Royals were able to keep Albert Pujols’ Angels debut a quiet one by allowing him to only reach base once on an intentional walk. He ended the game 0 for 3 with a K.

Photo Credit: Mark Terrill / AP

Jered Weaver was just too much for the Royals lineup tonight, going 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits while striking out 10 and walking 0. Lefty Scott Downs pitched a scoreless 9th to end the game.

Game 2 of the series pits two righties – Luke Hochevar (KC) vs. Dan Haren (LAA). Game time is 3:05 pm CT.

2012 Spring Training Recap

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

      Photo Credit: Rob Tringali / Getty Images

      • 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
  • Eric Hosmer: Right Fielder

    Photo Credit: John Sleezer

    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Notable Promotions
    • Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
      • See above.
  • 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.
  • Trades
    • 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.
  • Performance Reviews

    Mark Kartozian - US Presswire

    • 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.
  • Extensions
    • Dayton Moore was hard at work this offseason, signing three key Royals to long-term contract extensions.
      • Salvador Perez through 2016 with club options for ’17, ’18, and ’19
      • Alcides Escobar through 2015 with club options for ’16 and ’17
      • Alex Gordon through 2015 with a player option for 2016

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!