Tagged: Jeff Francoeur

Winter Meetings Recap: Day Two

Tuesday was a much-ado-about-nothing type of day for GMDM and the Royals. No moves were made, but talks with a number of GMs and agents are still ongoing.

No Deal For Dickey

R.A. Dickey‘s name is still flying around the trade rumor mill, with the Royals being one of the teams still in the mix. The Mets appear to be willing to part with the Cy Young award winner, but are asking for premium talent in return – like Wil Myers.

Don’t get me wrong, Dickey is a great guy and fine pitcher. 2012 was a career year and he was the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff. But the guy is 38. No general manager in their right mind (I’m assuming) would give up a player of Wil Myers’ caliber for two years of an aging starting pitcher who gets by on basically a trick pitch. Granted, knuckleballers typically pitch well into their 40s (Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, etc.), and Dickey seems to have finally figured out how to get hitters to swing and miss. But Dickey will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and will more than likely test the waters of free agency. So giving up six years of Wil Myers, who projects to be a 25-30 HR-type hitter that should supplant Jeff Francoeur in right field sooner rather than later, for one year of R.A. Dickey doesn’t make much, if any, sense.

Royals officials have since gone as far to say that they definitely will not involve Wil Myers in any deal for R.A. Dickey.

There is another rumor being floated around that the Royals countered the Met’s offer by requesting Dickey in exchange for Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi. Again, this is a rumor. No official reports have come out that I have seen confirming the offer, but it may be a fair deal for both sides.

Other teams with interest in acquiring Dickey are the Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays.

Still in on Anibal?

The Royals are still in on starter Anibal Sanchez. It’s been said that Anibal is looking for a multi-year deal worth roughly $15-20 million annually and is considered to be well out of the David Glass’ price range. But the Royals are being noted as one of the more active teams during the Winter Meetings thus far.

Former A’s Pitcher Drawing More Interest

The Royals are also one of a handful of teams with serious interest in signing Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy will come considerably cheaper than Sanchez, as a one or two-year deal for him seems likely right now. He went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts for the A’s last season before his season ended after he was struck in the head by a line drive – causing him to undergo successful brain surgery. Other teams in on McCarthy include the A’s, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Rangers.

In any case, if you have a Twitter account, you should definitely give him a follow.

Who Knew?

In a live chat yesterday, Royals beat writer Bob Dutton mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles have mild interest in acquiring right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals likely wouldn’t get much in return for Frenchy and would probably have to throw in a few million in order to make the deal fair.

As far as I’m concerned, no matter what the Royals get in return, Dayton Moore needs to pull the trigger on this one. Immediately.

Power Ball

Ned Yost wants the Royals to take a new approach at the plate next season.

“I think Salvador Perez can hit 20-25 homeruns. I think Hosmer can hit 30. Moose can hit 30. Gordy can hit 30. I think Cain can hit 20. I think eventualy Wil Myers can hit 30 homers. We’ve got guys who can do this. Billy Butler could hit 40 – he’s got that kind of pop. I want us to open up our offense a little more and start using the long ball to our advantage”. – manager Ned Yost

In short: More power (somewhere I can here Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunting…).

The main reason the Royals opted to part ways with former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is that he preached that hitters to hit gap-to-gap and up the middle rather than swinging for the fences.

Enter Jack Maloof and Andre David. While both will be hitting coaches, Maloof will hold the official position while David will serve as an assistant. Both were previously hitting instructors within the Royals’ minor league system.

Yost went on to say, “I would rather strike out than hit the ball deep to the center field wall and have it caught – unless there’s a man on third base. I’d rather open up the offense a little bit. I’d rather start taking some good swipes at the ball and try to put the ball in the stands because I think we’ve got guys who can do it.”

The Recognition Continues

2012 was a banner year for Big Bill, as he was a first-time All-Star, a first-time Silver Slugger award winner for his role as the team’s DH, and was selected as the Royals’ player of the year for the third time. He also played in a career-high 161 games.

Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion finished second in the balloting.

The only other Royal to win the award was Hal McRae, who did it three times (1976, 1980, 1982).

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 Ship Broxton to Cincy

It’s finally official.

The Royals have finally done something that the fanbase can approve of outside of ridding themselves of Jeff Francoeur and calling up Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi.

Around 2:30 pm CT, the Royals shipped closer Jonathan Broxton – aka Big Buffet (a tip of the hat to Sean Thornton for that one) – to the Cincinnati Reds for Double-A RHP J.C. Sulbaran and Triple-A LHP Donnie Joseph.

Trading Jonathan Broxton was inevitable. He’s on a one-year, $4 million deal, was sheduled to be a free agent after the season, and was putting up admirable numbers. He had 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA through 36 IP. But to say his outings were uneventful would be a bold-faced lie. But with Aroldis Chapman nailing games down in Cincy, it seems like Broxton will be serve as a right-handed set-up man to complement the Reds’ left-handed set-upper Sean Marshall.

JC Sulbaran, 22, is a 6’2″, 220 lbs., starting pitcher who pitched for the Netherlands in the last World Baseball Classic. Scouts say he projects as a potential middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who has two plus-pitches: a low-90’s fastball with good movement and a solid curveball. He has struggled a bit this year in Double-A to the tune of a 7-7 record in 19 starts with an ERA of 4.04. He has managed to strikeout 111 hitters in 104.2 IP, but has also surrendered 54 free passes. Coming into the season, J.C. was the Reds no. 12 prospect according to Baseball America.

  • Fun fact: Sulbaran was Eric Hosmer’s highschool teammate.

Donnie Joseph is a 6’3″, 24 year old lefty reliever who has split time at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. He possesses a plus-slider and a low-90’s fastball, both of which could get him to the mound in Kansas City sooner rather than later. Through 44 appearances this season (52.1 IP), Donnie is 8-3 with a 1.72 ERA and 18 saves with a 4:1 K:BB ratio and an impressive 0.994 WHIP. He was ranked by Baseball America as 27th best prospect in the Reds organization coming into the season.

All in all, getting two prospects with potential for a half-season from Broxton is a steal. Right now, at 41-60, the Royals currently don’t have the need for a legitimate closer. I’m assuming a trio of Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera will get the majority of save opportunites from here on out.

Stay tuned for any more potential moves – hopefully involving Jeff Francoeur and Yuniesky Betancourt (both of whom are out the the lineup tonight).

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.

Second Half Preview

At 37-47, the Royals had a less than stellar “first half” of the 2012 season. They’re currently in 4th place in the AL Central and 9.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox (47-38).

In what has been a notoriously weak division, the Royals have had many chances to control their own fate within the division. But thanks to a 12-game never-to-be-spoken-of-again losing streak, crippling injuries, terribly inconsistent starting pitching, and slumping bats, the Royals have yet to take that leap into contention. Currently, they’re on-pace for a 71-91 record.

Returning From the DL

The Royals are getting to key players back tonight to kickoff this half of the season. Both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz are scheduled to be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the White Sox.

Lorenzo Cain has been out since April 10th when he strained his left groin after running into the center field wall in Oakland. He was close to returning to the lineup in late April before he tore his left hip flexor during a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, causing him to extend his stay on the DL until this past Monday.

Chris Getz has been able to see a little more playing time than Cain, even though he’s only played in 36 of the team’s 84 games (partly due to platooning with Yuni). Getz strained his left leg back in mid-June in the 1st inning of that glorious 15-inning win in St. Louis. In his place, the Royals have used Betancourt, Falu, and Giavotella. Before this stint on the DL, Getz was having a fairly good season – .290/.327/.380, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 RBI, 12 R, 6 SB (1 CS), and just 9 K to 6 BB. His ability to situationaly hit and steal bases will be welcome additions to a lineup starving to manufacture runs.

The Trade Deadline

The Royals are “sellers” now. Let’s just get that point out there from the get-go. Barring a miraculous winning streak, they’ll be battling it out with the Twins to say who can stay out of the AL Central cellar. But the Royals may have a few attractive trade pieces that could: a) bring value back in return; b) clear the way for a more deserving player; and c) invigorate the fan-base in what could be a long second half.

  • Jonathan Broxton: Brox is performing well this season. He’s recorded 21-f0r-24 in converting saves and has a 1.99 ERA in 31 appearances. The former two-time All-Star was one of five players up for the final roster spot on the AL All-Star roster this season – so there’s no doubt as to whether Broxton has regained his form. He’s signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season – where in which the Royals will not be able to collect a compensation pick if he opts to sign elsewhere. His value right now is as high as it will ever be, although relievers anymore don’t often fetch a premium return. The Royals bullpen likely would be able to pick up the slack left by Broxton, with one of Crow, Holland, or Herrera shifting to the closer role. The New York Mets have been mentioned as a possible trade partner, though the Royals are looking for Major League-eady help in return. Me thinks: NY Mets (46-40), Toronto (43-43), or Boston (43-43).
  • Jeff Francoeur: It’s time for the Dayton Moore to seriously think about life after Frenchy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Francoeur. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and I have no doubts in his work ethic at all. He gives all he’s got with every pitch of every game. But he’s hitting just .251/.289/.378 this season, knocking in only 25 runs while managing to hit just 7 homeruns thus far – which is not exactly what you want from a guy who’s trypically the no.5 hitter in the lineup everyday. But the main, loudest, biggest, over riding reason to rid our lineup of Frenchy: he’s blocking Wil Myers. Moving Francoeur won’t be easy. He’s currently in the first year of a two-year, $14 million deal, which is sure to keep trade partners at a minimum. The Royals would have to likely eat most of his contract if they want to move him. Teams in the playoff hunt looking for a lefty-mashing platoon partner will likely fill-up the Francoeur market. He won’t likely command a huge return. Me thinks: Boston (43-43), Pittsburgh (48-37), LA Dodgers (47-40), Cincinnati (47-38), or Miami (41-44).
  • Yuniesky Betancourt: Outside of his defensive shortcomings, Yuni has been serviceable this season at second base. He’s been platooning there most of the season with a combination of Getz, Falu, and Giavotella and has even played a few games at third. Although his defense isn’t anything to write home about, he does have the ability to play second base almost every day while filling in at both shortstop and third, thus increasing his value to teams with injuries or teams looking for versatility off the bench. The Royals have an adequate replacement for Yuni in Irving Falu, so losing him won’t necessarily create any holes. He’s hitting just .242 and doesn’t take many walks, but he also doesn’t strikeout a ton and has adequate power (6 HR and 31 RBI in 165 AB). He’s only signed through 2012, so moving his contract won’t be an issue. Practically every team could use a versitile bench guy with some pop. Yuni may be able to be flipped for a reliever. Me thinks: San Francisco (46-40), Tampa Bay (45-41), Atlanta (46-39), or Texas (52-34).
  • Jose Mijares: The Royals signed Mijares this offseason to a one-year deal after he was non-tendered by the Twins, and the lefty has been worth every penny thus far. In 41 appearances, covering just 33.1 innings, Jose has recorded 32 K to just 7 BB while surrendering just 6 earned runs (1.62 ERA). Given his IP vs. appearances, it’s easy to see that he’s a lefty specialist – a bullpen piece that nearly every big league manager covets. He’s able to be under team control for the next five years due to arbitration, which could be attractive to willing trade partners. A LOOGY by trade, he could be had fairly easily. Me thinks: Any team in playoff contention.

Rising Stars

Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi have been dominant at the Triple-A level this season. Having said that, both are likely to see some playing time in Kansas City this season. The question is when.

Jeff Francoeur is still on the roster and Lorenzo Cain is going to be given every opportunity to show what he can do in center field – effectively blocking Myers’ path. At sone point though, his number will be called; whether it be from a trade, injury, or as a September call-up.

Odorizzi, on the other hand, will likely get the nod for the starting rotation soon. Other than Bruce Chen and maybe Luke Hochevar, nobody in the current starting rotation should be blocking Izzy’s path to Kansas City. The Royals’ rotation is atrocious right now, and giving Odorizzi a shot to prove himself can only make it better.

Then you have guys like LHPs Will Smith and Ryan Verdugo, OFers David Lough and Derrick Robinson, and 2B Johnny Giavotella who all have potential and could make an impact in Kansas City in the coming months.

Finally Having the Optimal Lineup

For the first time this season, the Royals will debut the batting order they thought they would have coming out of Spring Training. But then Salvador Perez went to the DL, followed by Lorenzo Cain and then Chris Getz. But now that all three are back and presumably healthy, the Royals’ lineup should look a lot like this:

  1. LF Gordon L
  2. SS Escobar R
  3. 1B Hosmer L
  4. DH Butler R
  5. 3B Moustakas L
  6. RF Francoeur R
  7. C Perez R
  8. 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
  9. CF Cain R

If KC had this lineup to begin the season, we might be thinking about the trade deadline a little differently.

Jonathan Sanchez Drama

Okay, drama might not be the right word. For now, at least. But it is baffling to me that the Royals are still letting Jonathan Sanchez trot out to the mound every fifth day while he’s still surrendering more walks than strikeouts. “That’s just the way I pitch,” was Sanchez’s rebuttle when asked about his high walk totals.

That may be the way he pitches, but that’s not the way any team wins. The guy’s body language stinks – which you’ve probably heard Rex Hudler say once or twice before. He has all the demeanor of a guy who either doesn’t love baseball or doesn’t want to be here.

Either way, he’s gotta go.

I know we gave up Melky for him, and gosh does that look bad right about now. But at the time, most of us probably would have made the same deal that Dayton did.

He’s a free agent at the end of 2012, and the Royals can’t possibly be contemplating bring him back for 2013 and beyond. But with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 ERA while giving up an average of 7.4 BB/9 to just 5.4 K/9 (not to mention a WHIP of nearly 2.00), trading him for anything but a bag of peanuts is likely out of the question.

Shape up, or ship out.

News and Notes From the Royals’ First Interleague Sweep in Three Years

Last night, the Royals wrapped up possibly their most exciting series this season with a second-straight walk-off win.

The hero this time was Brayan Pena. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, down 3-2, and runners on second (Maier) and first (Dyson), Ned Yost opted to sub-in the switch-hitting Pena in place of the right-handed hitting Humberto Quintero to face Milwaukee closer John Axford.

The move paid off when Pena hit a long single into left field. Mitch Maier scored easily on the play to tie the score at 3-3. Dyson’s speed allowed him to go first-to-third on the single; that’s when things got exciting.

“That’s what speed do.” Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

Brayan took a wide turn around first base, leading the cut-off man to throw to Rickie Weeks at second, thinking they could get Pena in a rundown. Seeing that the defense wasn’t paying him much attention, Dyson took off for home plate. Weeks bobbled the ball before firing the ball home, which skipped past Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Regardless of the throw, Dyson had the play beat as he dove head-first into home to score the winning run and complete the comeback.

Brewers’ closer John Axford was saddled with the loss after allowing the Royals back in the game for the second straight night. He loaded the bases the previous night before surrendering a walk to Mike Moustakas to end the game.

Promotions, Demotions, and the DL

  • Demoted: 2B Johnny Giavotella (Omaha), 1B Clint Robinson (Omaha), RHP Louis Coleman (Omaha)
    • The demotions of Johnny Giavotella and Clint Robinson were fairly easy to forecast. After tearing up Triple A pitching, Gio was unable to replicate his hitting ways. After hitting a meager .217/.260/.261 through 21 games, the team optioned him to Omaha to make room for Chris Getz’s return from the DL. Robinson went 0-for-4 in four pinch-hit appearances with two Ks. Everyone knew that his stay wasn’t going to be a long one. He was optioned back to Triple A Omaha before last night’s game.
    • Coleman was demoted to clear space for Jonathan Sanchez on the active roster. Lou will undoubtedly be back up sometime this summer, as he has a solid 3.15 ERA in 20 innings with the Royals this season.
  • Promoted: RHP Roman Colon (KC)
    • Roman Colon made his Royals debut way back in 2009. Since then, he’s played in Japan in 2010 and in the Dodgers system (2011). The righty reliever had a respectable 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings this season for the Storm Chasers before being summoned to the big league level.
  • Reinstated from the DL: 2B Chris Getz (KC), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (KC), LHP Everett Teaford (Omaha)
  • DL Shift: Danny Duffy (15-Day to 60-Day)

Frenchy and Yost Ejected

For those Jeff Francoeur fans who came out on Frenchy Quarter Night, he apologizes.

“I might have to invite them all out for a `Frenchy Quarter’ Wednesday.” – Jeff Francoeur

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

In the bottom of the 2nd inning and the count 0-2, Shaun Marcum delivered what was a called strike three to Jeff Francoeur to record the strikeout. The only problem was that the pitch (and FoxTrax conferred) was well inside and off the plate. Francoeur immediately turned around to question home plate umpire Dan Iassogna’s call. It was all jaw between the two until Frenchy used his bat to demonstrate how far off the plate the pitch was. If a player uses a “prop” when arguing a call, he is immediately ejected – which is exactly what happened. Jeff was forced to watch the rest of the game from the clubhouse after being replaced in right by Mitch Maier. But he wasn’t lonely for too long…

In the top of the 4th, Nyjer Morgan laid down a bunt that bounced up and hit Morgan while he was in fair territory. According to the rulebook, if a batted ball hits an offensive player in fair territory, the afforementioned player is out. But umpire Dan Iassogna, once again, didn’t it that way. Instead of calling Morgan out, he ruled it a foul ball – extending the at-bat. Yost came out fired up and was ejected because of it.

Zack Attacked

Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

In his first return to Kauffman Stadium, Royals fans welcomed former ace Zack Greinke back to a myriad of both cheers and boos. Greinke expected to hear a little bit of both due to the fact that he won his Cy Young award during his time in KC and also because of the way he basically forced his way out of the organization.

The Royals got off to a quick start against Zack when Alex Gordon lead off the bottom of the 1st inning by smashing a 3-2 fastball into the fountains beyond the Pepsi Party Porch to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead. That was the only run Greinke gave up during seven innings, but was saddled with a no-decision when the Royals broke a 1-1 tie in the 8th on a Billy Butler RBI single.

His counterpart on the mound was Royals starter/long-reliever/swing-man/mop-up guy Luis Mendoza. Mendoza one-upped Greinke by carrying a no-hitter into the 7th inning, where he gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Braun and a walk to Aramis Ramirez before Yost decided to go to the ‘pen. Milwaukee’s lone run came around to score in the inning, which was charged to Mendoza.

Rehab Updates

The return of Salvador Perez is near, folks. He’s 13-for-35 with 7 RBI thus far during his rehab assigment in Omaha and he’s catching a full nine innings. Once Perez returns, the Royals have said they may carry three catchers in order to ease him back into playing everyday. Look for Sal to be back in Kansas City by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, CF Lorenzo Cain is off to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to begin a rehab assigment. Cain hasn’t played in a game since April 10th in Oakland when he injured his groin while running into the centerfield wall.

Top prospect John Lamb is expected to resume pitching at the beginning of July. The lefty underwent Tommy John sugery last June.

The Brewers Must Not Have Heard About Alex Gordon

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Apparently the Brewers weren’t aware of this Alex Gordon guy who roams around left field for the Royals. You know, the 2012 AL Gold Glover and outfield assists leader. That guy.

Ryan Braun, who has fairly good speed, decided to test Gordon’s arm Tuesday night on a medium-depth flyball. Not only did Alex make a perfect throw to home to record the out, the play wasn’t even close. Braun was out by four or five steps.

“That fires me up more than anything, because it feels like you’re picking your pitcher up and the crowd loves it, the fans go crazy. It’s pretty cool.” – Alex Gordon after his fifth outfield assist of the season

Second Pick Signs

Sam Selman, the Vanderbily lefty whom the Royals selected with their second pick in the 2012 Draft, has agreed to sign with the Royals to the tune of $750,000.

The Royals have officially signed their first 11 picks of the draft and 28 of 40.

Interleague Play Continues

The Royals (27-34) will travel across I-70 to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Cardinals (33-31).

Friday @ 7:15 pm – RHP Vin Mazzaro (2-1) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (6-1)

Saturday @ 1:10 pm – LHP Bruce Chen (5-6) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (0-0)

Sunday @ 1:10 pm – RHP Luis Mendoza (2-3) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-7)

After that, the Royals will make their way to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros.

Royals Bleach the White Sox 9-1, Take the Series

With last night’s victory over the Chicago Red White Sox, the Royals are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are 10-6 in their last 16. IF, and that’s a very big if (get it?), this team can maintain a .600 clip, they could very well find themselves right back in the mix of things in the AL Central and Wild Card race. A .600 winning % equals out to roughly 97 wins a season. But in order for the Royals to win 97 games, they’d have to play much better than .600 baseball.

Regardless, winning 6 of your last 10 and taking two series’ in a row (not to mention taking 2 of 4 from the Yankees) is great news for this team. Let’s look at the series that was…

Dunn In

It looks like the Donkey is back on his old trail again. In the 1st inning of Friday night’s game, Dunn blasted a solo-shot to deep right off of Felipe Paulino to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead. The South Siders never looked back after that as they went on to win 5-0.

Paulino had a fairly decent performance in his second outing of the season. He gave up seven four runs (all earned) on seven hits while striking out six and walking one in 5.2 innings.

Holland Returns

After spending two weeks on the DL with a rib injury and taking part in a joint-effort no-hitter in a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, Greg Holland rejoined the big league team in Chicago and reassumed his role in the bullpen. To make room for Greg, Nate Adcock was reassigned back to Triple A Omaha.

Holland appeared in the final two games of the series against the White Sox, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings in late-relief. He recorded 4 K’s to 2 BB’s while surrendering a lone hit.

Hosmer Moves Down

In an effort to take a little pressure off his bat, Ned Yost has decided to shift Eric Hosmer from his usual all-important no. 4 slot in the lineup to the no. 6 slot on Saturday. Yost said the down shift was mostly due to the fact that the Royals were facing a left-handed starter that day (Chris Sale) and that Hosmer has been “fighting it a little bit”. AKA – he’s trying too hard.

Hosmer went 2-for-9 during his two games in the 6 slot with a run scored an a RBI. He managed to get up his batting average to .180. He’s batting just .163/.200/.233 in the month of May (7-for-43) with just 2 XBH (0 HR) and 4 RBI. He’s only managed to work two walks this month; on a positive note, he’s struck out only five times – meaning he’s making consistent contact. He’s just been really, really unlucky (evidenced by his .171 BAbip).

The team hopes that moving him down in the order will help Hosmer relax a little more at the plate and help change his mentality at the plate. instead of coming to the plate knowing that he’s the guy, he can go up there and just look for a base hit to help set the table.

Moose Takes a Seat

After playing in the first game of the series in Chicago, Mike Moustakas was held out of the final two games with what was termed as a sore hamstring. Mike also missed the final game of the series against Boston with the same issue. Utility-man Irving Falu filled in for Moose in each of those games, going 5-for-13 in the three games while playing comparable defense.

Mike is currently leading the Royals with a .308 AVG and has at least one hit in 7 of the 8 games he’s played this month.

Right now it looks like Moose will be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the Rangers in Arlington, TX.

Hochevar Rebounds

Luke Hochevar continued his season-long Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde act on Saturday night by shutting down Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and the Pale Hose for 7 solid innings. Hoch struck out five and walked one while giving up just three hits, earning his third win of the season.

The Royals’ offense backed him early by scoring three runs in the top of the first. The only “threat” the White Sox poised against Hochevar was in the bottom of the 2nd. With one down, Hoch walked A.J. Pierzynski and gave up a single to Alex Rios. But he got the next batter, Alexei Ramirez, to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

In his previous two outings, Hochevar had given up a total of 16 runs, 19 hits, and 4 BB in just 6.1 innings.

With the win, Hochevar (3-3) lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 7.20.

Royals Sign Doug Davis

Given the Royals’ recent injury problems, the team went out and signed veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis. Davis, at 36, is a 13-year veteran who has a 92-108 career record in 306 games spread throughout five different organizations. Doug was assigned to extended Spring Training in Arizona where he will workout in anticipation of being sent to Omaha.

This was strictly a veteran depth move – very similar to when the Royals inked Jeff Suppan last year.

Duffy Exits Early

After throwing just 13 pitches and recording two outs in the bottom of the 1st on Sunday afternoon, catcher Humberto Quintero signaled for Ned Yost and head trainer Nick Kinney to come out to the mound and check on Danny Duffy’s arm. Although there were no clear visual signs of discomfort, Quintero saw Duffy shake his out his arm after a pitch.

Yost came out and talked to Duffy, who revealed that he was experiencing soreness in his left elbow, prompting Ned to pull him from the game and call-in swing-man Luis Mendoza. Mendoza pitched terrifically, going 5.2 innings, giving up only one run and striking out seven.

If you recall, Duffy has already missed a start this season due to an elbow issue. Instead of sending him to the DL, the team merely skipped his turn in the rotation in hopes that it was only a minor issue.

After undergoing an MRI today in Kansas City, the Royals have decided to send Duffy to the 15-day DL and recall the recently optioned Nate Adcock to fill his roster spot.

Gio Comes Through

In the top of the 7th, the Royals were down 1-0 with Alcides Escobar on first, the White Sox brought in lefty Matt Thornton to face left-handed hitters Jarrod Dyson and Chris Getz. Thornton lead off his night by walking Dyson, which moved Escobar to second (agruably the team’s two fastest runners). In order to play the match-up game, Ned opted to pinch-hit the right-handed Johnny Giavotella for the lefty Chris Getz.

During Gio’s AB, Escobar and Dyson advanced a base on Thornton’s wild pitch.

Giavotella worked a great at-bat against Thorton and eventually sent a 1-2 fastball that was away down the right field line for a two-run double – his first hit of the season – Royals lead 2-1.

Frenchy Finally Goes Yard

The Royals extended their 2-1 lead in the 8th wneh Jeff Francoeur sent Nate Jone’s pitch to deep left field to the tune of a 400+ foot solo shot, his first of the season. This was his first homerun since September 23 of last season, which ironically was in U.S. Cellular Field.

Frenchy hit 20 HR last season and had 22 SB. He has yet to steal a base this season.

Hanging Six

The 3-1 lead was more than enough for the Royals to get the victory last night, but that didn’t stop them from adding six insurance runs in the top of the 9th.

The Royals sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the 9th, with both Alcides Escobar and Humberto Quintero batting twice in the inning. The runs scored on a passed ball (1), a bases loaded hit-by-pitch (1), an infield single (1), a fielder’s choice (1), a single to center (1), and a single to right (1).

To recap. that’s six runs on one mistake pitch, 3 singles, a hit batter, and a fielder’s choice.

The Royals forced Addison Reed and Eric Stults to throw 46 pitches combined in the inning.

Coming Up

The Royals will be in Arlington tonight to take on the AL-leading Texas Rangers in game one of a short two-game series.

The Royals (13-20) now stand just 4.5 games back of the first-place Cleveland Indians. The team has won four of their last five games and and have won or split each of their last five series (2 wins, 3 splits). The Royals boast a road record of 9-7.

The Rangers (23-12) have the best record in the American League and are sitting 5 games ahead of second place Oakland. Josh Hamilton is the hottest hitter in baseball, leading the entire league in batting average (.402), home runs (18), and RBI (44). They’re 6-4 in their last 10 and have a home record of 10-6.

Since 2005, the Rangers are 39-19 against the Royals.

Tonight’s game begins at 7:05 CT. It will be Bruce Chen (1-4, 4.83 ERA) for the Royals against Scott Feldman (0-0, 4.35 ERA) of the Rangers.