Tagged: Jonathan Broxton

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).

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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.

Billy Butler Will Represent the Royals at the All-Star Game

Before the Royals’ game in Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, in what proved to be a very emotional moment, manager Ned Yost announced to the entire clubhouse that Billy Butler was chosen to represent Kansas City in the 83rd All-Star Game.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, who is the acting manager for the A.L. team and hand-picked the reserves for his squad, opted to go with Butler over other Royals because he gives him a strong bat off the bench; stating, “Butler’s having an outstanding year. I felt like he was deserving. Also, he gives me a bat off the bench.”

This will be Billy’s first All-Star Game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time to a more deserving guy. So far on the season, Big Bill has been arguably the Royals’ most consistent hitter. He’s batting a solid .297/.365/.512 with 29 XBH (13 doubles, 16 HR), 30 R, a 2:1 K:BB ratio, and a WAR of 1.2. He’s homering every 17.7 AB’s and is 14th in the American League with an OPS (OBP+Slugging) of .877 (ahead of Adam Dunn, Joe Mauer, Prince Fielder, and Curtis Granderson).

Billy Butler may also be in line to take part in the State Farm Home Run Derby. A.L. Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano stated in June that he’d be willing to select a hometown player to be a member of his team for the derby, and Billy Butler fits the description. Right now, with his 16 HRs thus far, Billy is on pace to tie Steve Balboni’s dubious franchise record of 36 HRs in a season. He’s also on pace for a career-high 119 RBI. There is some legitimate concern that participating in the HR Derby could have a negative impact on Bill’s swing, but a local fan may get no greater joy from all of the All-Star festivities than to say they watched one of their own send a few deep into the fountains.

Now, Billy won’t be the lone Royal at the game. Manager Ned Yost will be in uniform as one of the coaches on Ron Washington’s staff, while trainer Nick Kenney will be there as well.

Another Royal has a chance to make the team as well. Closer Jonathan Broxton was selected – along with Yu Darvish (TEX), Ernesto Frieri (LAA), Jason Hammel (BAL), and Jake Peavy (CHW) – as one of five American Leaguers up for the Final Vote, in which fans decide who gets to be the final player selected to be on the roster. On the season, Broxton is 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 30 appearances and has recorded 20 saves in 23 total chances. His 20 saves place him at 3rd place in the American League behind Baltimore’s Jim Johnson (23), Cleveland’s Chris Perez (23), and Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney (22). So if you want another Royal on the roster, you have until 3 pm Thursday to place your vote. You can do so at Royals.com or MLB.com.

This will be Kansas City’s second time hosting the All-Star Game, but the last time was all the way back in 1973 – when names like Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan, Ron Santo, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, Don Sutton, Willie Mays, and Willie Stargell represented the National League, while the A.L. team included the likes of Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Bert Blyleven, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Nolan Ryan, Carl Yastrzemski, and three Royals (Amos Otis, John Mayberry, and Cookie Rojas).

Tuesday Recap: The Draft, Verdugo, and Another Shutout

Tuesday was a busy day for the Boys in Blue.

The Draft: Rounds 2-15

Apparently Kyle Zimmer wasn’t enough for the Royals. One day after taking Zimmer 5th overall, the Royals selected a total of seven pitchers in rounds 2-15 (3 college, 4 high school).

The Royals took Vanderbilt lefty Sal Selmon in the 2nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Photo Credit: Karl B. DeBlaker

They started the day by taking Vanderbilt lefty Sam Selman with pick no. 66. Selman,21, hasn’t been a front-line starter for the Commodores, but he’s a guy that Royals scouts saw get better as the season went on. The Royals took Louisiana high school lefty Colin Rodgers, 18, with their 3rd round pick, their first selection from the high school ranks. Rodgers is currently commited to play baseball at Auburn. He possesses a plus-curveball that normally sits between 75-78 with a sharp break. The Royals addressed their biggest organizational need by selecting three pitchers with their first three picks.

Kansas City finally selected their first position player in round four by selecting Stanford infielder Kenny Diekroeger with the 133rd overall pick. Diekroeger was selected out of high school in the 2nd round by Tampa Bay in the 2009 draft. Opting rather to attend Stanford, Kenny turned down a signing-bonus of $2 million from the Rays. He saw his numbers dip a little bit during his time at Stanford, but Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg still sees great potential – “We think this guy has plus-plus makeup. We’re anxious to get a wood bat in his hand. We think he has a ton of upside.” – Goldberg to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. During his time at Stanford, Kenny played third base his freshman year before shifting over to shortstop for his sophomore season. He then shifted across the infield again during his junior season by moving over to second base.

They didn’t waste any time picking up their second position player in the next round, drafting catcher Chad Johnson. No, not that Chad Johnson. This Chad Johnson is a high school catcher out of Illinois. The left-handed hitting catcher’s clame to fame is hitting a homerun into the right field seats of Busch Stadium.

Rounds 6-15 went as follows:

6. Zach Lovvorn RHP, Oxford HS (Alabama)

7. Fred Ford 1B/OF, Jefferson Community College (Missouri)

8. Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado OF, Pendleton HS (Florida)

9. Daniel Stumpf LHP, San Jacinto Junior College (Texas)

10. Alexis Rivera OF/1B, Montverde Academy (Florida)

11. Zeb Sneed RHP, Northwest Nazarene Junior College (Idaho)

12. Jackson Williford 2B, Ramona High School (California)

13. Hunter Haynes LHP, Mexico High School (Missouri)

14. Mike Morin C, University of Utah

15. Dylan Sons LHP, Halifax County High School (Virginia)

The draft concludes today with rounds 16-40 taking place via conference call.

Verdugo Promoted, Smith Optioned

Ryan Verdugo

After another rocky outing, the Royals decided to option lefty Will Smith back to Omaha and promote lefty Ryan Verdugo.

Will Smith sandwiched one quality outing with two sub-par starts. He was 1-2 in those three starts, allowing 14 runs in 14 innings pitched.

Verdugo was 3-1 in 11 starts for Omaha and sported a 3.61 ERA. Although he’s been a exclusively a starter this season, he’ll serve his time in Knasas City as a member of the bullpen – likely as a long-reliever.

Verdugo may not be in Kansas City for long, as manager Ned Yost anticipates the Royals adding a position player to the roster before Friday when the Royals travel to Pittsburgh to continue their road portion of interleague schedule. In the mean time, he’ll wear #62 – the number he wore for the Royals in spring training.

The Royals acquired Ryan Verdugo last November, along with lefty Jonathan Sanchez, from the Giants in the Melky Cabrera trade.

Speaking of Interleague Play…

When the Royals travel to Pittsburgh this Friday, don’t expect to see Eric Hosmer roaming the right-side of the infield.

Instead, you’ll be seeing Hoz snagging flyballs in right field.

In an effort to maximize offense, the Royals plan to use Billy Butler at first base. In turn, Hosmer will be in right field, thus shifting Jeff Francoeur to center field and Jarrod Dyson to the bench.

Hosmer got a handful of innings in the outfield this spring in preparation for interleague play.

Pitching and Defense Does it Again

Bruce Chen pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins. Photo Credit: John Sleezer

For the third time in the past five games, the Royals have shutout their opponent.

It all got started last Friday when Felipe Paulino, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Broxton combined for a three-hit shutout over the A’s (final 2-0). They matched that 2-0 victory over the A’s by earning another 2-0 shutout over them that following Sunday. The bullpen combination of Herrera, Holland, and Broxton worked just as well this time behind starter Vin Mazzaro.

Then last night came. Bruce Chen pitched a masterful seven innings  against the Twins. He surrendering only four hits, striking out five, and walking zero. Greg Holland followed suit by striking out the side in the eighth. Broxton came in to close the ninth in typical Jonathan Broxton fashion (one hit, one walk, tying and winning runs on base).

The only offense the Royals got (and needed, apparently) came in the bottom of the second. With two outs, after reaching on a fielder’s choice, Eric Hosmer swiped second base off of Twins starter Francisco Liriano. The move paid off when Brayan Pena brought Hosmer home on a single to left field.

The Royals will look to take the series  2-1 tonight at The K. Felipe Paulino (3-1, 1.70 ERA) will take the hill for the Royals. he’ll be pitted against the recenelty promoted Twins righty Nick Blackburn (1-4, 8.37 ERA).

Etc.

  • The Royals are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have outscored their opponents 42-34 in that stretch.
    • Jonathan Broxton has recorded a save in six of the last ten games.
  • They have won their last three series’, and have won six of their last nine series’.
  • Six Royals are listed among the leaders in the balloting for the All-Star game: SS Alcides Escobar (4th), DH Billy Butler (4th), 3B Mike Moustakas (5th), 2B Chris Getz (5th), OF Jeff Francoeur (10th), and OF Alex Gordon (13th).
  • The Royals are averaging nearly 23,000 fans at home this season thus far. At this point last season, they were averaging just over 17,600 fans per home game.

Thoughts on Broxton’s Meltdown, LoCain’s Groin, Gordon’s Big Day, etc.

I sincerely apologize if anyone came by here yesterday or the day before looking for a post after the Royals gave away the series finale to the A’s. I was too gut-wrenched at the time. But I’ve had some time to think.

A 3-3 road trip – not too shabby. The mantra is “Go .500 on the road, win at home”.

The Royals could have easily been 6-0 coming into today if it weren’t for one bad inning (Angels – game 1 of the series), base running blunders in a 1-0 game (A’s – game 1 of the series), and an ugly bottom of the 12th (A’s – game 3 of the series).

But here we are.

Broxton’s Beans

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

After going up 4-3, Ned Yost brought Jonathan Broxton in to closeout the game in the 12th inning. Brox got off to a great start, striking out Daric Barton. Seth Smith then hit a groundball to the glove side of Alcides Escobar. Esky fumbled the ball initially, picked it up, and made an offline throw to Hosmer at first. Hosmer, at the time, made a game saving play by diving away from the bag to stop the ball from rolling into the limitless amount of foul territory. Smith was safe, one on and one-out.

Broxton then walked Jemile Weeks on four pitches. Then Eric Sogard on six pitches. Bases jacked, one-out. The situation is tense, but still manageable.

Coco Crisp hit a groudball to Yuni’s glove side, pulling him away from second base. Given Crisp’s speed, the double-play possibility was eliminated. Yuni threw to first for the out, but the tying run still scored. Two outs, 4-4 ball game, runners on second and third.

The next pitch: a 95 mph fastball. Right into Yoenis Cespedes’ ribs, loading the bases.

Yost came out for a mound visit, but left Brox in the game. Hindsight is 20/20.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Johnny Gomes takes a Broxton fastball in the hip. Game over.

Back to back walks. Two pitches, two hit batters.

If Broxton were in any other position in this bullpen, he would have been yanked right after he loaded the bases, if not before. But it’s that closer title he’s been given that made Ned think that he should stay in there and stick it out. If any other reliever had given up three straight free passes like that, don’t you think Ned would made the switch?

Now it all wasn’t Broxton’s fault. The usual sure-handed Escobar made a costly error too. He makes that play 95% of the time. If he makes the play properly, it’s nobody on and two outs. And, more importantly, no pressure.

But in the end, Broxton deservedly took the loss.

Cain to the DL

Lorezno Cain made a terrific play on Tuesday, crashing into the wall in deep center while robbing the A’s of an RBI and extra bases. Cain hurt his groin when he hit the wall and was pulled from the game an inning later. It was a Grade 1 groin strain, the least severe. Cain got Wednesday’s game off, as well as Thursday due to the team’s day off. He planned to be ready for the home opener.

Lorenzo was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday due to a strained left groin.

It’s more of a precautionary move, due to the fact that Cain’s biggest asset is his speed and range in the outfield. The Royals want to take care of this issue now to make sure it won’t become a lingering issue. Jarrod Dyson was called up from Triple A Omaha to take Cain’s spot on the roster. Dyson was hitting .364 in Omaha thus far (12 for 33) with 6 SB.

The Royals have a plethora of options to fill the center field void left by Cain: left-handed hitters Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson, and right-handed hitting Jason Bourgeois.

Gordon Gets Off the Schneid

Photo Credit: Eric Risberg / AP

Alex Gordon broke his season-long hitless streak on Wednesday in a big way.

In his second AB of the game, Alex hit a RBI single into center field – hit first hit of the season. But Alex didn’t let up much after that.

Gordon (1) sent a Brian Fuentes sinker over the wall in center field, which tied the game at 3-3.

Alex ended the game going 2 for 5 with a single, HR, BB, 0 K, and 2 RBI.

He also made a great diving catch to end the bottom of the 5th, robbing Josh Reddick of a base hit and possible RBI – keeping the game at 3-2 Oakland.

Recovery Updates

Catcher Salvador Perez is making progress on the road to recovery. After a sucessful surgery four weeks ago, Sal was able to ditch the crutches and walk freely through the Royals clubhouse.

Felipe Paulino, who was sent to the DL because of a strained right forearm, is progressing as well. He began throwing off of a mound in a bullpen workout a few days ago. He was able to throw live batting practice on Thursday, stating, “I feel good, strong, I want to help this team now.” He should be sent out on a few minor league rehab assignments some time soon.

Home Opener

Weather permitting, the Royals will play their first game at The K in 2012 today at 3:10 CT against the division rival Cleveland Indians. The Indians are 1-4 thus far on the season, being outscored 31-20 through five games. The Royals (3-3) have outscored their opponents 18-16.

The starters will be Cleveland’s Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84 ERA).

The forecast for today’s game is mostly cloudy, mid-60’s, with about a 20% chance of rain.

Damon Lands in Cleveland

Speaking of the Tribe, they have struck a one-year deal with 38 year old outfielder, and former Royal, Johnny Damon. After he’s added to the team’s 40-man roster, the left-handed Damon figures to platoon with right-handed Shelley Duncan in left field.

Johnny, who is coming off a good season with Tampa (.261/.326, 29 2B, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 19 SB), is only 277 hits away from 3,000 for his career. He figures to reduce that number greatly this season in Cleveland.

Given the absence of Grady Sizemore for another 8-12 weeks (what else is new?), the Indians found themselves needing more offense production from their outfield; hence the Damon deal.

Royals Win 7-3, Take the Series

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

Offense

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Reed Saxon / AP

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

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

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

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

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

Pitching

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

Photo Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Game MVP

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

Noteworthies

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

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