Sorry for being a few days behind on this post, but I figure these roster moves are still worth noting.
Yuniesky Betancourt was DFA’d and Jose Mijares was claimed off the waiver wire by the Giants.
In turn, IF Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno were both promoted from Omaha to Kansas City. In a correspondence, SS Christian Colon was promoted from NW Arkansas to Omaha to take Abreu’s spot.
The two subtractions from the big league roster are a little odd. Let’s start with the Yuni move.
Coming into the season, Yuniseky Betancourt was signed to a one-year deal knowing that he would serve as the team’s utility infielder. A decent spring, Gio’s demotion, and the fact that Chris Getz is a left-handed hitter lead to Yuni becoming the right-handed half of the second base platoon. He was even the starter at second on Opening Day. Over the season, Yuni has had his ups and downs. On the plus side, he had a little bit of pop (7 HR in 215 AB) and seemed to come through in clutch situations. He also played passable defense at both second and third base (5 E, .975 Fld%) for a role-player. But that’s about it.
Yuni didn’t strikeout a ton (25 K), but his ability to take a walk was laughable (9 BB in 228 PA). His slash line of .228/.256/.400 was worthy of demotion, he had little-to-no speed, and continually ran into outs on the basepaths. But even with all of these fireable offenses, Yuni felt that he deserved more playing time – and that’s why the Royals opted to part ways with him.
“…and Yuni did a great job for us, but he was a guy that wanted more playing time. He would get upset when he didn’t, but Getz was playing good. There were just situations. We’re trying to win the ballgame, and we’re going to put the best team on the field every day.” “…We’ve got to make sure that if we’re going to change our culture, we have 25 guys who are invested in what we’re trying to do.” – Yost on Yuni
Thus, the team designated Betancourt for assignment after Sunday’s win over Cleveland. The Royals have 10 days to trade (if another team claims him), release, or demote him. I could see a team that has suffered an injury or needs a right-handed hitting platoon partner at either 2B, SS, or 3B take a chance on claiming Yuni.
The next day, a puzzling roster move took place when the Royals let Jose Mijares go to the Giants on a waiver claim. There are a lot of confusing pieces to this one:
- Why would KC want to part with a relatively young (27), productive (51 G, 38.2 IP, 2-2, 2.56 ERA, 11 holds in 51 appearances), and affordable/controllable (arbitration eligible through 2014) lefty from the ‘pen?
- More importantly, why would they let him go for virtually nothing?
The real answer lies in Mijares’ future earning potential. The Royals signed Mijares to a one-year, $925K deal this past offseason after he was non-tendered by the Twins. Expectations were relatively low coming into the season for Jose, even after he made the team out of spring training, mostly due to his 2011 numbers: 58 G, 49 IP, 0-2, 4.59 ERA, 1.694 WHIP, and a 1:1 K:BB ratio. But given his success thus far in 2012, he’s likely to command a sizable raise next season (club officials reportedly believe he could earn up to $2.5 million in arbitration for 2013).
The team reportedly couldn’t find any takers for Mijares before the July 31st trade deadline and didn’t believe that he would be a part of this team moving forward.
“If we could have (traded him), we would have. We just need to see some other guys. We have multiple people in our organization who think Bueno can be just as effective against left-handers and get right-handers out as well.” – Dayton Moore on Jose Mijares
Now on the additions: Utility infielder Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno.
With Yuni out of the picture, the Royals were in need of a utility infielder who could fill in at second, third, and short any given day. Instead of recalling Irving Falu, the Royals opted to give 27 year old career minor leaguer Tony Abreu a chance. Abreu has seen time in the big leagues before (65 combined games for the Dodgers in ’07 and ’09, and 81 games for the Diamondbacks in ’10), so he won’t be seeing big league pitching for the first time.
Abreu, a switch-hitting utility infielder, has been hitting extremely well in Omaha while primarily playing shortstop. In 103 games, he hit .322/.347/.839 with 50 XBH (36 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR), 60 R, 73 RBI, and 7 SB (although he did have 69 K to 14 BB). His OBP is definitely aided by his high batting average, but his 50 extra-base hits through 103 games is definitely noteworthy.
Tony saw action in the first three games after his promotion, going 3-for-10 with 2 doubles, a run scored and a run batted in while both third and short.
Francisley Bueno was recalled from Omaha after Mijares was claimed by San Francisco. Bueno has already seen time in Kansas City this season, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs in 4.2 IP (3 appearances), good for a 3.86 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP. He’s been better for Omaha in 2012; in 35 games (55.2 IP), Bueno has a 2.75 ERA, 54 K to 15 BB, and a 1.042 WHIP with 6 saves.
At 31, Bueno isn’t a young prospect who needs to get his feet wet at the big league level. But he’s performed well for the Royals’ organization this year and deserves as much of a chance as anybody. if it weren’t for his left-handedness, I’m not sure he gets the call here. But given that he is a lefty, as is Mijares, Bueno will get a shot to stick on the roster.
Lastly, even though it wasn’t a big league promotion, SS Christian Colon – the no. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft – was promoted from Double-A NW Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha after the Storm Chaser’s everyday SS (Abreu) was called up to Kansas City.
Colon, who many see as a second basemen/utility player in the future, was hitting .289/.364/.392 with 5 HR, 27 RBI, and 12 SB in 73 games for the Naturals this season. Given he’s 23 years old, most feel that Colon should have been at Omaha to start the season since the Royals selected him with the intention that he would be on the fast track to Kansas City. Colon will serve as the everyday SS in Omaha given the fact that Johnny Giavotella (who is raking, by the way) is holding his own at second base.
Personally, I would like to see Colon in Kansas City sometime this season, and he’ll likely be a September call-up.
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.
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:
- LF Gordon L
- SS Escobar R
- 1B Hosmer L
- DH Butler R
- 3B Moustakas L
- RF Francoeur R
- C Perez R
- 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
- 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.
On a particularly cold night in Oakland, Tommy Milone looked more like Tommy Glavine. The rookie, making his 1st start as an A (made 5 starts with the Nationals in 2011), went 8 scoreless (93 pitches) and surrendered only 3 hits and 3 walks and had 0 Ks. Needless to say, the Royals’ hitters just couldn’t figure him out.
The Royals’ 3 hits all came in the first three innings of the game:
- Jason Bourgeois lead the game off (inplace of Alex Gordon) with a double to deep center which would have been a triple if not for a hustling Yoenis Cespedes. His leadoff double was quickly erased. Lorenzo Cain hit a flyball to right that normally would have been difficult enough for a runner to advance to third, but A’s right fielder Josh Reddick threw a laser to third and nailed Bourgeois with a perfect throw.
- Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to left field with 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Brayan Pena proceeded to groundout to end the inning.
- Alcides Escobar hit a double down the right field line to leadoff the 3rd, but never was able to advance past second thanks to a Chris Getz infield pop-up, a Bourgeois grouder to short, and a Lorenzo Cain fly ball to center.
- Chris Getz’s at-bat was probably the biggest missed opportunity of the night. He had Escobar on second with nobody out. He tried to lay down a SAC bunt and failed. In turn, he hit a harmless pop-up. All he needed to do was move Escobar over to third, and he would have likely scored on Bourgeois groundball. Situational hitting is probably the biggest asset that Getz brings to the roster and he failed to come through last night.
The only other baserunners the Royals had on the evening were the product of walks – 3 by Milone and 1 by Grant Balfour.
- Eric Hosmer walked to leadoff the 4th and moved to second base on a Billy Butler groundball out. With Jeff Francoeur at the plate, just as Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler were discussing Hosmer’s speed, Hosmer took off for third base and was thrown out by catcher Kurt Suzuki. Frenchy would go on to draw a walk from Milone as well. So instead of having two-on with one out and a runner on scoring position, the Royals had Frenchy on first with two down. Until Frenchy was caught trying to steal second. Inning over, threat neutralized.
- Hoz drew another walk in the 7th, but nothing came of it. Pinch-hitter Mitch Maier walked in the 9th.
Poor basrunning just killed the Royals last night. Three times (!) a scoring threat was killed on the basepaths. But if we have to lose the game, we lost it our way: being aggressive baserunners. The offense wasn’t doing much, so Ned Yost tried to get the team to manufacture runs. It just didn’t workout this time. The Royals also went down in order four times – innings 1, 5, 6, and 8.
On the other side of the ball, Luis Mendoza had an impressive season debut. He did struggle a little with his command, as it seemed like his sinker was floating too far inside to every A’s left-handed hitter. He ended up going 5.2 innings, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 Ks. But he also had 4 BBs.
The A’s one run against Mendoza came in the bottom of the 2nd. With 2-out and runners on the corners, third baseman Josh Dolnaldson hit a sharp grounder to right field, bring home the runner from third base. Other than that, aside from a few walks, Mendoza didn’t run into much trouble against the Athletics lineup.
Lefties Tim Collins and Jose Mijares pitched 2.1 innings collectively to finish the game for KC, each giving up one hit, and recording one K (Collins also walked one).
Too Much Tinkering?
Manager Ned Yost threw out a unique lineup last night in Oakland. He decided to give Gordon and Moustakas – both left-handed hitters- the night off against LHP Tommy Milone. In place of Gordon and Moose were Jason Bourgeois in LF and Yuni at 3B. On top of that, Chris Getz was in the lineup at 2B – meaning that all three of the Royals’ super-utility players were on the field at the same time. So this is what the lineup looked like last night:
1. Jason Bourgeois LF
2. Lorenzo Cain CF
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt 3B
7. Brayan Pena C
8. Alcides Escobar SS
9. Chris Getz 2B
It’s game number four, and already Ned is giving two guys – who probably weren’t too happy about it – the game off. And, not to mention, this was the Royals’ fourth different lineup in four days. The end result: 0 runs, 3 hits. Yost may be playing around with this lineup a little too much. Just let Gordon and Moose go out there and take their hacks.
- Royals (2-2) @ A’s (2-3)
- Royals LHP Danny Duffy vs. A’s RHP Graham Godfrey
- 9:05 pm CT
There was no rest for the Royals on Sunday, but they didn’t really seem to need it anyway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
- 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
- Second base
- Eric Hosmer: Right Fielder
- 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.
- Chen L, Hochevar R, Sanchez L, Mendoza R, Duffy L
- 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.
- Holland R, Broxton R, Crow R, Herrera R, Mijares L, Collins L, Teaford L
- Rotation (5)
- Notable Promotions
- Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
- See above.
- Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
- 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.
- Johnny Giavotella 2B, Louis Coleman RHP, Jarrod Dyson OF, Sean O’Sullivan RHP
- 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.
- LHP Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL (KC) for C Humberto Quintero and OF/U Jason Bourgeois (HOU)
- Performance Reviews
- 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.
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!
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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…
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
If you haven’t heard yet, another Royal has succumb to the injury bug: Felipe Paulino. The Royals have sent the righty to the 15-day DL with a sore right elbow/forearm. Although an injury is always a cause for concern, the shift of Paulino to the DL falls more on the side of precaution and seriousness; and the last thing you want is a pitcher who continues to throw despite a sore throwing arm (I’m talking to you, Joakim…).
And although this may seem like bad news for the time being, Paulino’s injury rids the fuzziness from the picture that is the Royals’ pitching staff.
With Flip^ out of the picture for the near future, both Luis Mendoza and Danny Duffy will open the season as the no. 4 and 5 pitchers, respectively. Before the injury, it was unclear as to who had the upper hand between Paulino, Mendoza, and Duffy. To me, Mendoza was the most obvious lock for the rotation out of the three. If Paulino won the 5th spot, Duffy would have most likely opened 2012 in Omaha. If Duffy won the spot, Paulino would have either been shifted to the bullpen or placed on waivers (which thankfully, for right now, isn’t the case).
^Im introducing this as Felipe’s nickname, btw. It’s mine. I was the first.
The injury also helps the Royals balance out their rotation in the sense of lefties and righties.
1. Bruce Chen LHP
2. Luke Hochevar RHP
3. Jonathan Sanchez LHP
4. Luis Mendoza RHP
5. Danny Duffy LHP
Balancing lefties and righties in your rotation may be arbitrary to some, but to deeper baseball minds, it’s an advantage that some teams don’t have the priviledge to take advantage of. For any given series, Royals’ opponents won’t most likely see a starter throwing from the same side as the day before (unless it’s back-toback lefties), meaning they’ll have to play more of a guessing game with their lineup rather than just using practically the same lineup for the entire series.
Not only does Flip’s injury help the Royals settle their starting rotation, it also helps clear up some of the foggy spots in the bullpen.
Now, the Royals will most likely carry 12 pitchers. 5 of those spots are reserved for the starters, and of the 7 spots left for the ‘pen, 4 of them are most likely already locked up by righties Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Jonathan Broxton and lefty Jose Mijares. Meaning that as many as 6 guys are fighting for those last 3 spots: lefties Tim Collins, Everett Teaford, Tommy Hottovy – and righties Louis Coleman, Kelvin Herrera, and Jeremy Jeffress.
It orginally seemed that if Danny Duffy made the rotation, the loser between Mendoza and Paulino would shift to the bullpen and serve as the long reliever / spot starter. But with the current state of affairs, it appears that lefty Everett Teaford (who has looked great so far) has that position secured – allowing the Royals to lock in at least 2 lefties for the bullpen. I would guess that of the final 2 spots up for grabs, the Royals will take a long look at possibly keeping another lefty for the ‘pen; thus giving them even more flexability to work matchups appropriately.
I’m sure all of you are with me in wishing Flip a speedy recovery. But for right now, when it comes to the Royals, there is a little bit less weighing on my mind.