Tagged: Joakim Soria

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.


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.

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!

Analyzing the 25-Man Roster

It’s set. That’s it. No take backs, do overs, quitsies, or anti-quitsies. Triple stamped it, no erasies, touch blue make it true. (Dumb & Dumber, for the layperson)

The Royals have officially set their 2012 Opening Day 25-man roster. And aside from maybe one or two guys, it’s pretty much what we all should have expected it to be. So they’ll break camp with 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.

Catchers (2): Brayan Pena, Humberto Quintero

Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

  • C’mon… Did you really expect Cody Clark to make the team? Quintero is a proven catch and throw guy, who will give the Royals solid defense when he’s behind the plate 3-4 days a week.

Infielders (6): Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Chris Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

  • The demotion of Johnny Giavotella (and thus the presence of Chris Getz) was the only real surprise here. Yuni and Getz will share the 2B/Utility role until Gio earns another look. Other than that, after the Yuni signing, you could have pegged everyone else from the get go.

Outfielders (5): Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bourgeois, Mitch Maier

Photo Credit: James Guillory / US Presswire

  • The addition of the speedy and versatile Bourgeois made light-hitting Jarrod Dyson expendable. Bourgeois mashed lefties in 2011 (.395 AVG), and spent significant time at all 3 OF positions, as well as a few games at 2B. He also can play at 3B if needed.
  • Lorenzo Cain has been off the charts this Spring, leading the league in what seems to be almost every offensive category. I don’t think we’ll see any loss of production from Melky to Zo in CF.

Starters (5): Bruce Chen-L, Luke Hochevar-R, Jonathan Sanchez-L, Luis Mendoza-R, Danny Duffy-L

Photo Credit: AP

  • Flip Paulino going to the DL really set up the rotation. If it weren’t for his injury, Duffy would have most likely been reassigned to Triple A.
  • Luis Mendoza has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball this Spring, essentially forcing the Royals to give him a spot in the rotation.

Bullpen (7): Greg Holland-R, Jonathan Broxton-R, Jose Mijares-L, Aaron Crow-R, Tim Collins- L, Everett Teaford-L, Kelvin Herrera-R

Photo Credit: Chris Vleisides / Royals

  • Once again, Paulino’s injury helped someone else make the roster: Everett Teaford. By all accounts, Teaford earned his spot on the team, but without Paulino or Mendoza in the bullpen, Teaford becomes the long reliever / spot-starter.
  • Kelvin Herrera was the true dark horse here. Louis Coleman had the job locked down until he allowed runs in 5 of his last 6 appearances, basically handing the job over to Herrera. Kelvin has been dominant so far, even earning himself 2 Saves this Spring.

Disabled List (5): Salvador Perez (60 day), Manny Pina (60 day), Joakim Soria (IR), Felipe Paulino (15 day), Blake Wood (15 day)

  • How disappointing… The loss of Sal Perez stings the most. Given the severity of his injury, he most likely won’t be able to return to the team until after the All-Star break.
  • Losing Soria, although it may appear huge on the surface, doesn’t really affect the Royals as much as people may think. Yes, he is a proven performer, but he plays a position that is way overvalued. He got knocked around in ST, looking an awful lot like he did at the beginning of 2011.

And incase you’re wondering where everyone else who was left in camp went, here you go:

Reassigned to Triple A Omaha (2): Louis Coleman-R, Jeremy Jeffress-R

Reassigned to Minor League Camp (4): Tommy Hottovy-L, Francisely Bueno-L, Max Ramirez-C, Kevin Kouzmanoff-3B

This flurry of moves leaves the Royals with 26 healthy players in camp. But you can only break Spring Training with 25 players on your active roster, so one guy has to go. And that man is…

Sean O’Sullivan.

SOS is out of minor league options. So in order for the Royals to rid him for good, they’ll have to place him on waivers, meaning any other team can claim him for themselves. O’Sullivan will be the starter for tonight’s game against the White Sox, basically auditioning for any team who might think about claiming him.

Surprises from Surprise

  • Chris Getz/Yuni combo over Johnny Giavotella
  • Kelvin Herrera over Louis Coleman

Spring Cleaning 3/27: Thoughts on Gio, Soria, the 5th Starter, and the Order

Johnny Be Gone

I think it’s safe to say “Um…. what?”

Even though the 2B job has been up for grabs this entire Spring, I’m sure we all assumed that this was going to be Johnny Giavotella’s job come Opening Day. Well, not so fast.

Photo Credit: KansasCity.com

After hitting just .250/.267/.318 through Sunday (11-44), Ned Yost decided that it was time to make a bold decision and send Gio to Triple A Omaha to get everyday work. He cited Gio’s defense as the main reason he was optioned to Omaha, stating in a Royals.com article, “Johnny was three days away from hitting .350. That wasn’t the issue. It was the defense. Johnny is a much better defender than he was at this time last year, but we had two better defensive options in Betancourt and Getz.”

Although I am not the biggest fan of sending Giavotella down, both Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt have been outperforming him this Spring, albeit not by a landslide. But offensive production isn’t the key here. It’s defense. Both Getz and Yuni are superior defenders to Gio, and both give the Royals versatility, as they can both play 2B, SS, and 3B.

Getz possesses better speed, is a terrific situational hitter/bunter, and adds another bat from the left side. Yuni has pop from the right side of the plate and is earning a nice paycheck, so the option of him not landing on the roster was never there.

Yost figures not to “platoon” Yuni and Getz and 2B, but to play them in a situational basis, albeit Getz will most likey play against RHPs, and Yuni against LHPs. When either one is not playing, they will serve as the backup/situational infielder.

The great thing I see about Gio being sent to Omaha is that the Royals now are in a position to play who has been truly the best at a given position. If you want to play, you have to earn it – which is a far cry from the organization’s former ways.

Though if Johnny gets off to a hot start in Triple A, I have no doubt that he’ll be back in Kansas City before long.

Also optioned to Triple A were OF Jarrod Dyson (due to the arrival of Jason Bourgeois), and RHP Vin Mazzaro. RHP Zach Miner, C Cody Clark, and IFs Tony Abreu and Irving Falu were all reassigned to Minor League camp.

So Long, Soria?

Photo Credit: RoyalsBlog.KansasCity.com

With Joakim Soria opting to undergo his second Tommy John surgery in the coming week, has he thrown his last pitch as a Royal?

The typical recovery time from TJ surgery is anywhere between 10-14 months, give or take. So if all goes according to plan, Soria won’t begin throwing again until around this time next year, meaning he may not even pitch at all next season (2013).The Royals hold two club options for Soria: one for 2013, and one for 2014. If the Royals decide to pick up said options, they would owe him $8 million in 2013, and $8.75 million in 2014. If the Royals decide not to pick up Soria’s options, they can choose to buy them out for $700K. If they do in fact buyout his options, Soria will become a Free Agent.

With the emergence of Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, and the presence of Jonathan Broxton, the Royals have a very difficult decision to make in the coming year. Do you keep Soria and pay him $8 million+, or do you buyout his options and hope you can re-sign him to a friendlier deal? It all depends on how Soria’s elbow takes to it’s second Tommy John surgery in 10 years.

Two for One

As we all know, the first 3 spots in the Royals starting rotation have been locked down since before the first ball was thrown this Spring: Chen, Hochevar, and Sanchez. And given his recent spurts of domination, Danny Duffy appears to have solidified his spot in the rotation as well, giving the Royals 3 lefties in the rotation.

And so it has all come down to two pitchers for one spot: incumbent Felipe Paulino vs. Luis Mendoza (both RHPs).

Photo Credit: KansasCity.com

Paulino came to the Royals last season from Colorado and didn’t disappoint, becoming one of the teams’ more reliable staters. But Felipe has been knocked around a bit in 2012, to the tune of a 7.71 ERA in 11.2 IP, with 9 Ks to 5 BBs and a .348 AVG against.

Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / AP

Luis Mendoza was the PCL Pitcher of the Year in 2011, which earned him a stint in KC last September. Up to this point, Luis has been arguably the best pitcher in Royals camp this Spring, going 4-0 in 16.2 IP, with a 0.54 ERA (!), 16:3 K:BB ratio, while managing to keep opposing hitters below the infamous Mendoza Line (.180).

Right now, it appears that the job is Mendoza’s to lose, with Paulino heading to the bullpen to serve as a long reliever/spot starter for the time being. Neither Paulino nor Mendoza have any options remaining, so neither can be sent to Triple A without clearing waivers first, which in all likelihood would not happen.

Line(up) Dancing

All along, Yost has said that he wanted to have Gordon at the top of the order, with Johnny Giavotella hitting in the 2 slot. But with the recent demotion of Gio to Omaha, who will Ned slide into the no.2 slot? Here are a few looks:

vs. LHP

1. LF Gordon – L

2. CF Cain – R

3. 1B Hosmer – L

4. DH Butler – R

5. RF Francoeur – R

6. 3B Moustakas – L

7. 2B Betancourt – R

8. C Pena – S / Quintero – R

9. SS Escobar – R

Versus LHPs, Lorenzo Cain to me is the obvious choice here. He’s been tearing up opposing pitchers this spring, leading the team in AVG, OBP, SLG%, OPS, RS, H, 2B, HR, TB, and XBH. And right behind him in a lot of those categories is leadoff hitter Alex Gordon. So with Gordon’s high OBP, that means that he has a good chance to be on base with a competent Cain hitting right behind him. Cain also has above-average speed, so teaming him up at the top of the order with Gordon potentially creates a matchup nightmare.

vs. RHP

1. LF Gordon – L

2. 2B Getz – L

3. 1B Hosmer – L

4. DH Butler – R

5. 3B Moustakas – L

6. RF Francoeur – R

7. CF Cain – R

8. C Pena S / Quintero R

9. SS Escobar – R

Versus RHPs, Chris Getz fits into the 2 slot perfectly, giving the Royals three left-handed hitters at the top of the order against righties. Plus, as I said earlier, Getz is a great situational hitter, which could allow the Royals offense to get off to a quick start if Gordon gets on ahead of him, i.e. hit-and-runs, sacrifice/slap bunts.

Joakim “The Dream” Gives the Royals a Nightmare

As if Salvador Perez’s injury wasn’t enough, now we get news that Joakim Soria may miss some significant time, and quite possibly the entire 2012 season.

Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat
"Of course I'm worried. Since I had my Tommy John surgery I haven't had anything like that."- Joakim Soria on his injury Sunday against the Indians.

Soria was throwing in the 5th inning of Sunday’s win over the Indians when he started to feel some pain in his right elbow. He proceeded to throw another pitch before signaling to Ned Yost and trainer Nick Kenney to come out to the mound, where they all mutually agreed that his elbow was of more concern than the next pitch.

Yost and Soria both stated after the game that the pain was of great concern. Yost said, “”When guys start to have problems, the first thing that goes is their command a lot of times, and Jack was throwing the ball with good velocity, but he just wasn’t the Jack that we’ve known — where he’s been able to get out and extend on his pitches.”

Joakim definitely hasn’t been pitching like the All-Star he once was. We all know about his struggles at the beginning of last season, and now they have seemed to carry over into Spring Training. In just 3.1 IP, Soria’s been knocked around to the tune of 10 hits (.556 AVG against), 7 runs (all earned), and a whopping 3.30 WHIP.

An MRI on Monday revealed a potentially serious issue: damage to Soria’s ulnar collateral ligament. The very same ligament that forced him to have Tommy John surgery back in 2003.

So if Soria has to undergo his second Tommy John surgery, he will most definitely be out for the season.

But unlike with the Salvador Perez injury, the Royals have other options who could fill in for Soria and possibly not miss a beat. Actually… They have 3 potential replacements.

Greg Holland, Jonathan Broxton, and Aaron Crow, with Holland and Broxton serving as two obvious front-runners for the position.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Holland had a stellar 2011 season, and was possibly the best pitcher on the roster last year. He had a 1.80 ERA in 60 IP while recording 74 K’s, a .175 AVG against, a 0.933 WHIP, 18 Holds, 4 Saves, and a 2.6 WAR. He has all of the intangibles of a big league closer.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Broxton has the track record on his side. He’s a 2-time All-Star closer, who recorded 58 Saves in 2009-10 and has a career 11.5 K/9 rate for his career. He’s an intimidating figure on the mound, given his 6’4″ 300 lbs. frame and the fact that he has the ability to dial up his fastball to 100 MPH. But he’s coming off an injury that sidelined him for pretty much all of 2011 and has to prove that he’s ready to take the reigns once again.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Crow was “technically” the closer for about a week in 2011 after Soria was briefly demoted from the position. But Crow never saw a save opportunity before Soria was reinstated to his rightful position. Even though he was a rookie who had never pitched above Double A up until last season, Crow earned a spot on the AL All-Star roster. His season tailed off after the All-Star break a bit, but he still had an overall exceptional season. In 57 games (62 IP), Crow had a 2.76 ERA with 65 K to 31 BB and a 2.1 WAR.

So, IF Soria is out for the season, who would you like to see assume the closer’s role? Greg Holland, Jonathan Broxton, or Aaron Crow?

Some Bold (and Some Not So Bold) Predictions

1. Alex Gordon will have a 20/20 season.

After putting up 23/17 in 2011, I think 20/20 is fully within Gordo’s reach. Especially if he spends most of 2012 at the top of the order.

2. Jonathan Broxton will not finish the season in a Royals uniform.

A one-year free agent deal, coming off an injury riddled season, and pitching in the 7th/8th inning… All recipes for a former closer looking to re-establish his value. Title contenders with closer needs will be all over Broxton come the trade deadline. Now I’m not saying the Royals won’t be in contention though. This will be a crowded bullpen coming out of ST, and this trade will alleviate the roster a bit to give a chance to someone like Kelvin Herrera.

3. Mike Montgomery will make his big league debut before June.

This is probably the biggest guarantee of the predictions. Monty is the Royals’ top pitching prospect, going into his second season at Triple-A Omaha. The Royals rotation stayed remarkably healthy last season, so Mike never really got a shot to move up. Early season injuries or struggles by Paulino or Duffy will undoubtedly lead to his call-up.

4. Billy Butler will finally realize his power potential, hitting at least 25 HRs and driving in at least 100 runs.

Billy Butler and the enigma of the homerun… When a guy is deemed the full-time DH, you expect him to hit along the lines of .275/25/100. Billy will easily hit well over .275, just as he does every season. But he will finally eclipse the 25 HR/100 RBI mark. His power came to life in the second half of 2011, hitting 13 HR an driving in 57 RBI. He’ll continue that hotstreak in 2012.

5. Wil Myers will be a September call-up.

Wil Myers will be 2012’s Lorenzo Cain. He’ll perform very well in Omaha, as will the rest of the team. But the Royals major league OFers will keep him there until September where he’ll get a few AB’s here and there, priming questions of whether or not he’ll replace Frenchy in RF in 2013.

6. Joakim Soria will return to his old self.

He’s ditched the cutter, which he claims he tried to use way too much. Without that cutter, Jack should and will return to his old form as one of the top closers in the league.

7. Salvador Perez will contend for a Gold Glove.

Fresh off his new contract, Sal Perez will have an inspiring season. He’s always been known for his defense, and in his first full season in KC, he’ll show everyone why the Royals locked him up.

8. Lorenzo Cain will move into the leadoff spot at some point during the season.

Cain will start the season somewhere in the 7-8-9 slots in the lineup. But at some point in 2012, Ned Yost will decide that Gordon’s bat truly belongs in the middle of his order. Lorenzo, to me, is the only other logical option for that spot. He’s prototypical: hits for average and occasional power, can work a walk, and will steal 20 or so bases.

9. Ned Yost will be the AL Manager of the Year.

Just like he twice in Milwaukee (2005 and 2007), Ned Yost will win the AL Manager of the Year award. The Royals will be markedly better than they were in previous seasons, thus earning Ned the distinction.

10. The Royals will be in the Wild Card race through September.

Call me crazy, but I really do believe this one is going to happen. The Royals have a top 10 offense, defense, running game, and bullpen. All that’s missing from that list is the starting pitching. If the rotation can come through, there aren’t any reasons to believe KC can’t compete all the way through the season.

What say you, Royals Nation?