Tagged: Cleveland Indians

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Four

Dayton Moore has officially checked out of the Winter Meetings in Nashville and is on his way back to Kansas City. While nothing of major significance took place for the Royals, groundwork for free agents and trade partners have been laid out. The Royals checked in on R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Zack WheelerJames Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jon Lester, Derek Holland, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and probably another 20 names that we were never made aware of.

Aiming for Anibal

Zack Greinke is still a free agent, meaning that Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, and basically every other available starting pitcher with top-of-the-rotation potential are still free agents as well.

Anibal Sanchez has been the Royals’ top free agent target throughout the Winter Meetings, but they’ll need to act fast after Greinke starts the domino effect if they want him on board. Many of the teams outside of the Greinke market, along with whoever loses the Battle for Zack (either the Dodgers or Rangers), have Anibal Sanchez at the top of their wish list.

It’s safe to say, Anibal isn’t going to come cheap.

Historically, the Royals have generally had to overpay free agents in order for them to come to Kansas City (ex: Meche- 5 years, $55 million; Guillen- 3 years, $36 million). Suffice it to say, Sanchez, or any other top free agent for that matter, won’t be here unless the Royals practically outbid everyone else.

Cross your fingers.

The Price Isn’t Right… Yet

James Shields

James Shields

The Royals are no longer discussing R.A. Dickey-for-Wil Myers with the Mets. But they did engage in some dialogue with them about possibly dealing Wil Myers for LHP Jon Niese and RHP prospect Zack Wheeler. Outside of Dickey and Johan Santana, Niese and Wheeler are probably the two most coveted pitchers within the Mets organization. If they were strictly talking Myers for them straight-up, Dayton was likely laughed out of the room. But Myers-plus could be interesting.

The Royals other major trade front still lies in Tampa Bay. The Rays are said to be wanting Myers + prospects for starter James Shields, which the Royals balked at. Shields is dominant and would automatically become the Royals’ ace.

And the Rays know that.

For them, it makes sense to hold on to Shields until the free agent market pieces begin to fall into place. Whoever loses out on Greinke/Sanchez/Lohse could turn their eyes toward Tampa, turning regular talks into a free-for-all.

Keeping Tabs on Dempster

Even though he turned down the Royals 2-year, $26 million offer, the Royals are still keeping tabs on righty Ryan Dempster. Given his age (35), the Royals think a two-year deal for $13 million a year is more than sufficient.

Adding a third year to the deal would peak Dempster’s interest and could be enough to sign him, but it doesn’t make sense for the Royals to pay $13 million to a 38 year old pitcher with a declining skill-set.

Regardless, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on – especially after Zack Greinke is off the market.

Mega Trade Talks Cooling

All of yesterday seemed to be spent speculating on a four-team mega trade between the Rangers/Rays, Diamond backs, Indians, and Royals/Mariners, with the main focus being Arizona trading Justin Upton for a starting shortstop – possibly Asdrubal Cabrera or Elvis Andrus/Jurickson Profar.

As of now, with the Gaylord Opryhouse Hotel in Nashville nearing emptiness, talks have cooled.

The whole deal is shrouded in mystery. Were the Royals/Mariners/Rays actually included in talks? Was it all speculation?

The Rangers covet Justin Upton, and if they don’t re-up Josh Hamilton, he’s their guy. Deals are still on the table, but it isn’t for certain exactly which, or even how many, teams are involved.

Rule 5 Draft

Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft took place in Nashville this morning. The Royals didn’t lose any players in the major league portion, but lost five players in the minor league portion of the draft.

  • Triple A Phase
    • Padres: Diego Goris 3B, Federico Castandeda RHP
    • Pirates: Ethan Hollingsworth RHP
    • Phillies: Brendan Lafferty LHP
    • Reds: Ryan Dennick LHP

The Royals opted to pass on all of their selections, as taking a player in the Major League Phase would have required them to open a spot on their already full 40-man roster. They would also have to keep said player on their 25-man roster for all of 2013 if they didn’t want to risk losing the player to their former team for $25,ooo. All players selected in the Major League Phase requires the selecting team to pay $50,000 to the team the player was previously on.

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Winter Meetings Recap: Day Three

Happy Holland Days

Derek Holland

Derek Holland

The Texas Rangers are going all-out in their efforts to land free agent Zack Greinke.

In an effort to clear payroll and a spot in the starting rotation, they are fielding calls on left-hander Derek Holland.Only 26 years old, the Rangers signed him to a 5-year, $28 million extension this March, making him extremely valuable to both the Rangers and a potential trade partner. He wouldn’t command Wil Myers, but would have to bring top prospects like Jake Odorizzi or John Lamb back to Texas in return. In 2012, Holland went 12-7 in 27 starts with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with a 7:3 K:BB ratio – good for a WAR of 1.7. The Brewers and Twins are also calling Texas GM Jon Daniels about the lefty.

Super Trade in the Works?

The Rangers are also trying desperately add Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton in exchange for a starting shortstop, but Texas is unwilling to surrender either one of Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, leading them to explore a mulit-team deal, in which the Royals are said to be included in. The other team said to be included is the Cleveland Indians, who are shopping shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and could be dealt to Arizona in this scenario.

Of course, all of this is barring whther or not Josh Hamilton re-signs with the Rangers. If Hamilton goes back to Texas, this deal is likely off the table.

Here’s how it could shake down as of right now:

  • Rangers get: OF Justin Upton + other(s)
  • Dbacks get: SS Asdrubal Cabrera + other(s)
  • Indians get: RHP Trevor Bauer/LHP Tyler Skaggs + other(s)
  • Royals get: LHP Derek Holland + other(s)

Is this deal likely to happen? Probably not. Trades like this generally fall apart due to the number of teams involved. The Royals would have to give up a number of prospects if everything goes through, being as they aren’t currently open to dealing an everyday player or Wil Myers in almost any trade.

There are other reports that the Rays are in on the deal with the Rangers making their way out of it. In that scenario, the Royals could wind-up with either James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson.

Thinking Local

Royals, among others are in on Shaun Marcum. He had a 3.70 ERA last season for the Brewers, but was only able to make 21 starts before missing the rest of the season due to an elbow issue.

Free agent pitchers with elbow issues are likely going to sign incentive laden one-year deals. Given the fact that Marcum will be 31 by the time the 2013 season rolls around, the Royals could get him on the cheap if he really wants to pitch in Kansas City – which is his hometown incase you haven’t heard that before from everyone who writes about the Royals for the past six months.

Teams are wary of Marcum because his fastball velocity, which usually sits anywhere between 86-89 mph, has dipped down to around 81-83 mph. He underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2008, and there is the fear that he may require undergoing the procedure for a second time.

Let’s Stay in Touch

Anibal Sanchez

Anibal Sanchez

Although they likely won’t be able to afford either one of them, the Royals are reportedly keeping in touch with free agent RHPs Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.

Both Sanchez and Loshe are seeking mulit-year deals in excess of $15 million per season. Until Zack Greinke decides where he wants to pitch for the next 5+ years, it’s unlikely that either Sanchez or Loshe sign a deal. Greinke is going to set the market for free agent starting pitchers this offseason and will likely drive up the price of many of the remaining available top starters.

The Royals are also keeping tabs on RHP Ryan Dempster. It’s been reported that they offered Dempster a two-year, $26 million contract last week, only to have Dempster turn it down because he’s looking for a three year deal. Right now, Dayton Moore is unwilling to give the extra year that Dempster is holding out for. The Brewers and Red Sox are also showing interest.

Not Even Close

That’s how former Royals closer Joakim Soria characterizes the Royals offer to him.

Incase you haven’t heard, Soria and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal.

Soria knows that the Royals have a great bullpen and acknowledges that the team has greater needs right now. He went on to thank the fans and organization for the six years he spent here.

Roster Shuffle

Fresh off the Ervin Santana trade, the Royals opted to continue shaking up the 40-man roster.

The team made a pair of waiver claims: RHP Guillermo Moscoso from the Rockies and catcher Brett Hayes from the Marlins. In order to make room on the 40-man, RHP Blake Wood was claimed off waivers by the Indians while OF Jason Bourgeois, LHP Tommy Hottovy, and RHP Jeremy Jeffress were each designated for assignment.

Guillermo Moscoso (age 29, 11-12, 4.16 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.303 WHIP, 1.8 WAR in parts of 4 seasons) is somewhat of a journeyman. Originally signed out of Venezuela by the Tigers in 2001, then shipped to the Rangers in 2009 where he made his big league debut. Texas then sent him to Oakland in 2011 where he put together a solid season (21 starts: 8-10, 3.38 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.094 WHIP, 1.6 WAR). The A’s then dealt him to the Rockies last winter where he floundered in the thin Denver air (23 games, 3 starts: 3-2, 6.12 ERA) before being demoted to the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate.

Moscoso, who could fill the role of either a starter or long-reliever/spot-starter, represents another fly-ball pitcher who got torched by the long ball in Colorado who the Royals believe will have better luck in a more pitcher-friendly park (which they’ve done twice: Felipe Paulino and Jeremy Guthrie). Moscoso adds competition for  both the rotation and bullpen.

Brett Hayes (age 28, .217/.266/.361, 8 HR, 27 RBI, .992 Fld%, 26% caught stealing in parts of 4 seasons) is an insurance policy, much like how the team brought in Adam Moore last season. Hayes is defintely a defense-first catcher and was brought in so the Royals can avoid the awful mess they faced last spring when Sal Perez injured his knee. Purely a depth move here.

As for Bourgeois, Jeffress, and Hottovy, the Royals have 10 days to either release, trade, or place them on waivers.

The team also reinstated Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy from the 60-day DL, bringing the 40-man roster to capacity.

Trade Spec

It’s that time of year, folks. The time when you’ll see whispers turn to rumors and rumors get shot down. But every once in a while, one of those rumors will come to fruition.

This, my friends, is trade season.

The Royals have already begun their trading season by swapping one under-performing pitcher for another when they shipped Jonathan Sanchez to Colorado in exchange for veteran innings-eater Jeremy Guthrie (both of whom were traded this offseason to their former teams in exchange for an All-Star).

So with the July 31st trade deadline just over a week away, let’s look at those on the Royals’ roster whose names have been floating around the league.

Jonathan Broxton

You only haven’t heard Jonathan Broxton trade rumors if you don’t pay attention to baseball at all. The 28-year old heavy-weight champion of the big leagues is having a resurgent season on a team who currently has no true, over-riding need for a top-tier closer. Now is Broxton truely a top-tier guy at his position? Absolutley not. But it’s hard to argue with the results: 34 games, 1-2, 22 of 26 saves converted, 2.34 ERA, 1 HR surrendered.

But Broxton does have his demons that us Royals fans have become accustomed to. Of his 26 save chances, Broxton has faced the minimum of three batters a total of 8 times and has given up 34 hits in 34.1 IP. So needless to say, he’s hardly unhittable. But he gets the job done, and that’s the bottom line when it comes to closers.

Being that he is the best available closer in a trade thus far, teams in a playoff/wild card push who are in need of late-inning bullpen help should be all over Broxton here in the coming days. He likely won’t command a whole heckuva lot in return in terms of major league-ready help, so the Royals just may wind up keeping Broxton and signing him to an extension this offseason.

There have been reports that both the Mets (who have the worst bullpen in baseball) and the Angels could be interested in acquiring Broxton, with the Mets possibly being the most aggressive.

Jeff Francoeur

Although he’s possibly the nicest guy and baseball and the next Sean Casey, Frenchy has likely run his course in Kansas City – most likely due to the fact that he’s blocking possibly the game’s hottest prospect, Wil Myers. Jeff has managed to hit just .247/.286/.375 while clubbing only 8 HR and driving in 27 runs in 91 games this season; hardly the production you want from your right fielder, which is typically a more offensive production-based position. On top of his limited production is the fact that he’s in the first year of a two-year, $13.5 million extension that he signed last season, meaning any team that acquires Francoeur is likely to be on the hook for the remainder of his contract.

Frenchy does have some trade value though. First off, he has an abslolute cannon for an arm. His 10 outfield assists this season are 2nd in all of baseball beind Jose Bautista’s 11, while his 107 career outfield assists ranks him 7th among all active outfielders behind Bobby Abreu (130), Manny Ramirez (129),  Vladimir Guerrero (126), Andruw Jones (124), Mark Kotsay (121) and Carlos Beltran (120). Secondly, he has historically proven to be an offensive threat against left-handed pitching. Finally, he’s a great clubhouse guy – just ask every single person on every team he’s ever been on.

If Francoeur ends up being traded, it will likley be to a team looking to platoon him in right field with a left-handed hitter, limiting to him regular bench duty. It’s been said that possibly the Indians and Reds are both looking for someone along the lines of Frenchy. Each of the Pirates, Yankees and Red Sox could all make sense as possible trade partners as well.

Alex Gordon

Please, no.

There have been a few reports stating that the Yankees are possibly kicking the tires on making a run at Alex Gordon – given that their left fielder Brett Gardner is out for the remainder of the season. But with the Dayton Moore looking for major-league ready starting pitching in return for any trade, unless the Yankees offer CC Sabathia, the Royals absolutley have to pass on this one. The Yankees have no young, legitimate, major-league ready starting pitchers within their system worth giving up Alex for.

And how would the Royals even replace Gordon? He’s their leadoff man who leads the league in doubles, a Gold Glove winning left fielder, smart baserunner, and is signed to an extremely club-friendly deal. Dealing Gordon would create a huge hole, both offensively and defensively.

Billy Butler

Please, please, no.

Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been calling the Royals about the slugger. Desperate to infuse some right-handed power in their lineup, the Pirates are considering using Butler at first base full-time – risking his defensive limitations – in order to pull away from their division foes. But their offer to the Royals, Triple-A lefty Justin Wilson (7-4, 4.25 ERA), is hardly enough to pry him from the loving arms of Kansas City.

Possibly the face of the organization, Billy is on pace for his most complete season to date. The 26-year old is mashing at .296/.364/.496 with 32 XBH (13 doubles, 19 HR) and 58 RBI while bouncing between being the lineups no. 3 and no. 4 hitter. Once again, trading Butler would just create another hole in the lineup.

Would You Rather…

Even with last night’s failed-comeback attempt in Houston, the Royals (29-36) are just a mere five games behind the first-place White Sox (35-32).

Since May 1st, the Royals are 22-20 – a .550 winning percentage. Now, over an entire season, a .550 win% comes out to an 89-73 season. The White Sox current .522 win% paces them at 84-78. If the Royals didn’t have that dreaded 12-game-should-never-be-spoken-of-again-losing streak, we could be talking about being in first place in a weak, weeeaaaak AL Central.

But, it is what it is.

     Team                        Record     Games Back    Last 10 Games

  1. Chicago White Sox            35-32                0                         3-7
  2. Cleveland Indians             34-32                0.5                     4-6
  3. Detroit Tigers                    32-34                2.5                      7-3
  4. Kansas City Royals     29-36              5.0                    5-5
  5. Minnesota Twins              26-39                8.0                     5-5

The Royals have 19 games to go until the All-Star break: a pair of three-game series’ at home against the Cards (34-33) and the Rays (37-29), a pair four-game series’ in Minnesota (26-39) and Toronto (34-33) , and a three-game series’ in Detroit (32-34).

Now… say the Royals win at least 10 of the 19 games, which would put them at a record of at least 39-45. And say they are still within five games or less of the division lead.

And also say you’re Dayton Moore.

Do you pull the trigger on acquiring a veteran starter/veteran starter in a contract year in exchange for an impact prospect(s)?

OR

Do you stand pat with what you have and promote from within?

Which would you rather do?

(I’m going to be using a lot of unnescessay-nonsensical dashes now, so bear with me.)

Let’s take a look at this. The Royals, realistically, have been building for 2013,’14, and ’15 – when their now-young nucleus should be complete and ready for winning. By then, Hosmer should be an MVP candidate, Moustakas should be one of the top power-hitting 3B in the AL, Gordon and Butler should be battled-tested and grizzled veterans, Escobar should have a few Gold Gloves, Wil Myers should be coming into his own in right field, and Perez should be handling a rotation filled out by Duffy, Odorizzi, Montgomery, Lamb, and enter free agent signing here.

I don’t know about you, but I would love it if this complete pipe-dream of a team were all together at the same time in Kansas City competing for a division title and battling in the post-season come the next three-to-four years. And ideally, they should and will be.

Say you choose this option. In doing-so, you acknowledge that, although your team may be winning and playing average-to-good baseball, you don’t believe that this team is capable of winning a championship right now. The fan-base may be upset and players may regret buying all-in early on in the season just to see their hard-work go unrewarded. Afterall, your minor league wins, numbers, stats, rankings, what have you… don’t mean squat when it comes to winning at the big league level.

In turn, however, you didn’t mortgage your future for unknown and maybe long-shots at winning your division, league, and the World Series.

But what if we have a shot at it now? What if 2012 really is “Our Time”?

Would you kick around the idea of shipping off some of our prized prospects a la (God forbid) Wil Myers or Mike Montgomery for a frontline starter in order to make a playoff push? Or even dealing veterans like Jeff Francoeur, Jonathan Sanchez, Jonathan Broxton, or the increasingly sexy Yuni Betancourt for a mid-rotation starter?

Say you choose this option and you deal one-to-two top prospects for a top-of-the-rotation-type guy. Typically these guys are only available when they are at our nearing the end of their current contract – meaning you’re dealing years of control and potential for a right here, right now, what have you done for me lately pitcher; all the while knowing that you don’t have much more than a snowball’s chance of keeping him long-term (much like how the Brewers got CC Sabathia in 2008). It’s basically an all-or-nothing shot.

You could also, as an alternative, deal a replacable veteran for something less in return. Maybe it’s a mid-rotation starter or a power bullpen arm (like the Royals need another one…). The deal would open a void in your roster which would potentially be filled by the likes of prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, Christian Colon, David Lough, Derrick Robinson, etc. – all of which are unproven commodities. There’s no guarantee that any one of these prospects would step right in to their big league role and succeed immediately. A deal like this could possibly net the Royals a loss in terms of production, but a surplus in terms of experience.

So, Mr./Mrs. GMDM, what’s your call? Do you stand pat and keep building? Or do you take a chance and make a deal?

Go Crazy, Folks.

The carbon dioxide levels in Kansas City reached dangerous levels last night after the Royals faithful let out its collective breath.

The Royals finally, finally, got their fourth win of the season the tune of 8-2.

The top four of the Kansas City lineup inflicted nearly all of the damage to the Tribe by going a combined 9-for-17 (.529) with 7 runs scored, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB and only 1 K. Here are the individual breakdowns:

Eric Hosmer celebrates with Billy Butler after Butler hit a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

1. Chris Getz: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K

2. Alex Gordon: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR (3), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K

3. Billy Butler: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR (4), 3 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K

4. Eric Hosmer: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 0 K

Moustakas went 0-for-2 but worked 2 BBs and Alcides Escobar, who went 1-for-4 with a double, scored on Billy Butler’s 2nd HR of the night.

This was a great game all-around by the Royals, and it was a great way to bust out of their 12-game funk.

The Royals got out of the gate quickly against Ubaldo Jimenez thanks to the two-run HR in the 1st by Butler. Hosmer’s two-run opposite-filed bomb in the 5th moved the score to 4-0.

Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) had a solid night as well, going 6.1 IP, giving up 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 K, and 3 BB, and looked nothing like he did the last time he faced the Indians. The Indians scored one in the 6th and one in the 7th off of Hoch, but a heads up play by Jeff Francoeur and the Royals’ defense in the 6th inning limited the damage to just one run.

Tommy Hottovy, who made his Royals debut after being called up from Omaha (taking the spot of Jeremy Jeffress) replaced Hoch in the 7th and earned his first hold of the season, giving up one hit and one run (charged to Hochevar). He also hit a batter (Casey Kotchman) and struck out Michael Brantley.

Aaron Crow replaced Hottovy to finish the 7th. He also threw the 8th, retiring the Indians in order – earning his third hold of 2012.

With the score at 4-2, the Royals offense went off in the top of the 8th by scoring 4 runs off of rookie Jairo Asencio. The first three runs came around to score on Gordon’s three-run shot to center. The Royals then went back-to-back when Billy Butler went yard, moving the score to 8-2.

Jose Mijares pitched a perfect 9th inning to closeout the victory.

Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas, celebrate their 8-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

The Royals were all smiles when they took the field for mandatory victory high-fives after the final out. Afterall, why wouldn’t they be?

The monkey is off their back, but now the real work has begun. One game doesn’t mean much right now to the 4-14 Royals who currently sit six games back of the Indians, White Sox, and Tigers.

The first step back into relevancy: win this Cleveland series.

It’ll be Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.92 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-1, 4.86 ERA).

Speaking of Luis…

With Felipe Paulino scheduled to come off the DL any day now, Luis Mendoza’s days in the starting rotation may be numbered. Mendoza has really struggled this season after being arguably the league’s top pitcher during spring training. He will undoubtedly have to have a terrific performance today against Cleveland if he has any hopes of remaining a major league starter.

Cain’s Recovery Hits a Snag

Lorenzo Cain, who was excpected to come off the DL tomorrow, will have to wait to make his long-awaited return to the Royals lineup. During a re-hab assignment game with Double A NW Arkansas, Cain strained his left hip-flexor while going after a routine fly ball.

“We don’t think it’s a long-term thing,” Moore said, “but I think it’s going to be more than a few days.”

Duffy Will Miss His Next Start

With a sore left-elbow, the Royals are going to take the cautious route with Danny Duffy by skipping his spot in the rotation. The tightness Duffy is feeling is described as minor, so nobody needs to fret.

Lefty Everett Teaford is expected to get the start in Duffy’s place.

Twelve Down, Two Goats, One Game

Now, like a lot of fans these days, let me go on the record: I am not a coaching basher – especially when it comes to baseball. Managers and their respective staff really effect only a handful of games a season. The rest is up to the team that they put on the field.

The Royals played hard last night, but once again came up just one run short in a 4-3 loss to the dreaded Cleveland Indians.

Mitch Maier hits an RBI double during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

Mitch Maier was the player of the game, going 3-for-4 and driving in the Royals’ first 2 runs of the game. He also made a terrific running catch in the bottom of the 8th to rob Travis Hafner of an extra-base hit with the bases juiced.

The goat of the game?

Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez of the Kansas City Royals reacts after loading the bases during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

Was it Jonathan Sanchez? He lasted all of 4.2 innings, giving up 4 ER while throwing 115 pitches (59 balls to 56 strikes). Now he did manage 5 Ks, but he also tied a career high by walking 7. And on top of that, all 4 of the Indians runs were the products of a Sanchez walk: He hit Jason Kipnis in the 1st, who came around to score on a sac fly. He walked three straight in the 5th, all of whom scored on a Jack Hannahan double. But no, he wasn’t the goat.

Was it Alex Gordon? Alex had another 0-fer night, but he did manage one walk and zero strikeouts. But in the top of the 4th, with the one run already across the plate and the bases loaded, Alex grounded out to first basemen Casey Kotchman to end the threat. That out was definitely a rally-killer in what could have been a potentially huge inning for the Royals. A base hit would have scored two and put KC ahead 3-1 at the time. But, with all that said, Alex, too, was not the goat.

The goat, or should I say goats, of the game are…. (insert drumroll here)

Manager Ned Yost and Third Base Coach Eddie Rodriguez!

Ned Yost has begun to make me wonder exactly what his vision for this bullpen is. As he stated to begin the year, he expects this team to win. He won’t manage like he did last season when he let players like Escobar, Moustakas, Giavotella, Hochevar and Duffy take their lumps in order to build this team for the future. So, in essence, if a player is struggling (especially a pitcher), he needs to be removed from the game in order to give your team the best chance to win.

Well, Ned blew it. It’s no secret that Jonathan Sanchez is “effectively wild” – meaning that he will strike out his fair share of hitters, but he’ll also walk way more hitters than the average pitcher. This effective wildness will also drive up the pitcher’s pitch count in a hurry. Through his first 4 innings last night, Sanchez had hit a batter (which came around to score), struck out 4, walked 4, and given up 3 hits. He walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 2nd before getting an infield fly and a 6-4-3 double-play to get himself out of the jam.

 

Yost had to know after that inning that Sanchez likely wasn’t going to be that lucky if he puts the team in that position again.

Sanchez started off the 5th by walking Asdrubal Cabrera on four straight pitches before getting his nemesis Shin-Soo Choo to strike out. He followed that up by walking Carlos Santana on a full count. The same went for Cleveland DH Travis Hafner. So there he stands with one out, bases loaded, and a tie ball game.

At this time, Sanchez was already right sround or over 100 pitches.

The next hitter, Shelley Duncan, skied a sac fly deep enough to center where Mitch’s only throw could have been to the cut-off man. Run scores, lead gone.

Now, it makes sense to me that if you have a pitcher who is clearly struggling with his command and has thrown 100+ pitches through 4.2 innings a change has to be made if you have any hope of walking away from the inning with just the one run given up.

But Ned decided against logic here by leaving Sanchez in the fire. And what happened? Jack “All-Up-In-Your-Face” Hannahan hit pitch no. 115 into center field for a two-run double. 4-1 Cleveland.

So then, after all the bad that could have happened did, Yost sauntered out to the mound to bring in Tim Collins.

The bullpen combined for 3.1 IP, 2 BB, 2 K, and 0 ER.

There are no ways of knowing if the runs would have scored if Ned had pulled Sanchez earlier – and hindsight is 20/10.

The other goat is third base coach Eddie Rodriguez.

For the recod, I’ve always been a fan of Easy Eddie. But last night, he made a very poor judgment call that cost the Royals a run – and perhaps the game.

In the top of the 8th, with one out, Hosmer on third and Moustakas on first, Mitch Maier roped a double down the right field line. Of course, Hosmer scored easily. Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo didn’t really seem to be hustling to the ball, which took a bounce of the concrete base of the wall. Moose was running hard and got to third just as Choo was in making his throw to the cut-off man.

Between the how hard the ball was hit, the lack of giddy-up by Choo, and the fact that Moustakas got a great read on contact, one could make the case that Moose could have made it home safely.

Keep in mind this team had lost 11 in a row at this point in time.

Eddie decided to play it safe, stopping Moose at third base. It definitely would have been a close play at the plate, but wih a team that has lost 11 straight games and has struggled immensely to score runs, you have to send the runner home in this situation. Have to.

With the score 4-2, and two-outs, Alcides Escobar hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher to end the inning – stranding Moustakas at third.

The Royals did manage to score a run in the 9th, but couldn’t muster anything more than the one run.

I’m not here calling for Eddie and Ned’s heads. And I know they take every loss just as personal as the players do, and Ned usually places the blame on his shoulders anyway (warranted or not).

But this loss truly belongs to the both of them. With a team riding a skid like this, they have to be making better team decisions than that.

Catcher Humberto Quintero reacts after being hit in the "groin" by a foul tip during the sixth against Cleveland.(Photo Credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

This loss really hurt.