The 2012-13 offseason is less than a week old, and the Royals have already made more than just a ripple in the water.
It has been well-known around baseball that the Angels have been looking to dump salary this offseason in order to be able to re-sign Zack Greinke. They had two starting pitchers with high salaries that they were more than willing to part ways with in order to do so: Ervin Santana ($13 million option) and Dan Haren ($15.5 million option).
No sooner than word got out that Santana was available, the Royals swooped in and made their move to acquire him.
For next to nothing.
What the Royals get:
RHP Ervin Santana: age 29 (turns 30 in December), 8 years, 96-80, 4.33 ERA, 6.2 IP/start, 7.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.300 WHIP, 10.6 WAR, 2008 All-Star, Cy Young candidate in 2008, no-hitter in 2011.
Ervin Santana is a good, not great, pitcher. 2012 was a rough season for him, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while giving up a league leading 39 homeruns. His velocity (~91 mph) was down a tick from his normal standards, but his K and BB rate stayed fairly consistent (6.7 K/9, 3 BB/9) to his career numbers.
Santana did finish 2012 strong- going 5-2 with a 3.91 ERA in his last 10 starts.
The homerun rate, although very high, isn’t really alarming. Usually when a pitcher’s homerun rate spikes, it’s likely due to a little bad luck where flyballs turn themselves in to longballs. Kauffman Stadium is generally regarded as a pitcher’s park, so Santana’s flyball:homerun ratio should revert back to normal. An overwhelming positive about the acquisition is that Santana has a track record of success pitching in the American League.
Santana has the ability to be a front-of-the-rotation starter and has shown that he can eat up innings for this pitching staff (600+ innings combined in the last 3 seasons).
Prior to executing the trade, the Angels picked up Santana’s $13 million option, which now belongs to the Royals. To lighten the load, the Angels also sent $1 million to Kansas City, lessening Santana’s payroll hit to $12 million for 2013.
What the Royals gave:
Cash and LHP Brandon Sisk: age 27, zero big league service time. 2012: Triple-A Omaha (50 games, 67.1 IP, 3-2, 8 saves, 2.54 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, 73 K, 32 BB)
At 27, Brandon Sisk is basically a non-prospect. It was likely that the Royals were going to leave him unprotected for December’s Rule IV draft – meaning that he was more than expendable. A reliever, Sisk will likely go into Spring Training next season as a strong bullpen candidate for the Halos.
The Royals are the clear winners of this trade, regardless of how Santana’s 2013 season goes. They got a legitimate starting pitcher for practically nothing.
This was a great start to the offseason, but more has to be done. Acquiring Santana was a good move, but it can’t be the biggest move Dayton Moore makes this offseason.
“We’re not done. We’re going to try to continue to upgrade our rotation through trades that make sense, continue to work internally to evaluate our young pitchers, perhaps one or two of our guys in the bullpen and we’re certainly going to explore free agency.” – Dayton Moore
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve been waiting all offseason for this: the first of what we hope will be many victories for the Royals. And on a nationally televised game, Kansas City did not disappoint.
The Royals got off to a very quick start. After Alex Gordon grounded out to begin the game, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler recorded three consecutive singles – loading the bases for Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy then proceeded to knock a single into center, bringing Cain and Hosmer around to score (2-0 KC).
Another run was put on the board in the top of the 2nd when Humberto Quintero scored on LoCain’s sacrifice fly to RF (3-0 KC).
Leading off the top of the 5th inning, Eric Hosmer kept the runs coming by sending Dan Haren’s pitch over the wall in right-center, furthering the lead to 4-0. Mike Moustakas must have thought that was pretty cool, since he lead off the 6th inning with a long-ball to right, making the score now 5-0.
The Angels were able to put 2 runs on the board in the bottom of the 7th, one on a double by Bobby Abreu and another on a groundout by Vernon Wells.
Chris Getz was able to add another run in the top of the 8th when he stole third base, causing an overthrow by Angels catcher Bobby Wilson. Getz went home on the error, 6-2 Boys in Blue.
Bobby Abreu brought Kendrys Morales home in the 9th with a sac fly, making the score 6-3. But Vernon Wells grounded into a 5-4-3 double-play to end the game.
Luke Hochevar was solid yesterday, going 6.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 ER, 2BBs, while recording 4 Ks, with 3 of those Ks coming from the bottom of the 5th where he struck out the side (Abreu, Wells, and Callaspo). Oh yeah, he also was able to keep Albert Pujols from hurting the Royals for the second day in a row.
Pujols did manage to get a double off of Hoch in the bottom of the 4th, but that was negated when Albert tried to score on Morales’ single to LF. Alex Gordon came up throwing and nailed Pujols at the plate. So sorry, Albert.
Lefty Tim Collins followed Hochevar, allowing 2 runs to score in the 7th (both charged to Hochevar). He ended the inning by striking out Callaspo.
Holland pitched a scoreless 8th which included striking out Pujols.
Jonathan Broxton came into the 9th with a 6-2 lead. He surrendered a leadoff double to Morales, followed by a bunt single by Torii Hunter – making it runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. Bobby Abreu hit a sac fly to LF, bringing in Morales. Gordo’s throw to second kept Hunter at first, which was paramount, keeping the double-play in order. Vernon wells proceeded to hit a sharp grounder to Moose, inducing the game ending double-play.
The Royals and Angels will finish the three game series today in Anaheim at 2:35 pm CT. It’ll be new Royals lefty Jonathan Sanchez vs. Ervin Santana.
Through 7 innings, this one was an absolute pitcher’s duel. Bruce Chen and Aaron Crow were matching Jered Weaver pitch for pitch.
On the flip side, the Royals hitters just looked lost against Weaver and the Angels. The top four in the oder (Gordon, Cain, Hosmer, and Butler) went a combined 0 for 16 with 10 Ks (Gordon and Cain – 3, Hosmer and Butler – 2), leaving 6 runners on base.
The Royals managed only 4 hits last night – one apiece by Francoeur, Betancourt, Pena, and Escobar – and only had one real scoring chance which was nullified by Weaver picking off Francoeur at 2B in the top of the 7th.
Bruce pitched 6 terrific innings throwing 75 pitches, striking out 4, allowing only 3 hits, and getting 2 inning-ending double plays.
Aaron Crow entered to begin the 7th inning, where he proceeded to strike out Howie Kendrick, Albert Pujols, and Torii Hunter in order. But he struggled in the top of the 8th. After retiring Vernon Wells to begin the inning, Crow gave up three straight singles to Morales, Trumbo, and Ianetta before Yost pulled him in favor of Greg Holland.
Holland gave up an infield single to Peter Bourjos, allowing a run to score (1-0) and the bases to stay loaded. The next hitter was Erick Aybar, who ripped a liner down the RF line for a bases clearing triple, making the score 4-0. The Angels would manage to score one more run in the inning on a soft single to right by Hunter, moving the score to 5-0.
On a positive note, the Royals were able to keep Albert Pujols’ Angels debut a quiet one by allowing him to only reach base once on an intentional walk. He ended the game 0 for 3 with a K.
Jered Weaver was just too much for the Royals lineup tonight, going 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits while striking out 10 and walking 0. Lefty Scott Downs pitched a scoreless 9th to end the game.
Game 2 of the series pits two righties – Luke Hochevar (KC) vs. Dan Haren (LAA). Game time is 3:05 pm CT.
Finally. After a long and tortuous winter (not really, actually), Opening Day is here – although it’ll be like the fourth different Opening Day this season. The Royals will officially take the field for the first time this season tonight in Anaheim against the newly-rich Angels. These are the respective lineups:
1. Alex Gordon (L/R) LF
2. Lorenzo Cain (R/R) CF
3. Eric Hosmer (L/L) 1B
4. Billy Butler (R/R) DH
5. Jeff Francoeur (R/R) RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt (R/R) 2B
7. Mike Moustakas (L/R) 3B
8. Brayan Pena (S/R) C
9. Alcides Escobar (R/R) SS
Pitcher – Bruce Chen LHP
1. Erick Aybar (S/R) SS
2. Howie Kendrick (R/R) 2B
3. Albert Pujols (R/R) 1B
4. Torii Hunter (R/R) RF
5. Vernon Wells (R/R) LF
6. Kendrys Morales (S/R) DH
7. Mark Trumbo (R/R) 3B
8. Chris Ianetta (R/R) C
9. Peter Bourjos (R/R) CF
Picher – Jered Weaver RHP
Tonight, “Our Time” officially begins.
Broxton Will Close
Even though I don’t understand why, Ned Yost has announced that Jonathan Broxton will be the team’s closer to start the season.
“It’s not going to be a tandem. Broxton is coming in if we have a save situation in the ninth inning. If we have a save situation in the eighth inning, Holland is coming in, and then we’re going to turn it over to Broxton.” – Ned Yost
I really don’t see the reason in naming a closer right now, particularly because nobody really stole the job this Spring. But, then again, I’m not the biggest advocate for the closer position. If the situation calls for a certain type of pitcher, then you bring in that pitcher. But that’s a different story for a different day.
Yuni Gets the Nod at Second
Yuniesky Betancourt will get the Opening Day start at 2B for the Royals tonight. You may wonder why Yost is choosing to start Yuni, a right-handed hitter, over Chris Getz, a left-handed hitter, against right-hander Jered Weaver.
Well, the reason is simple.
Aside from Alex Gordon, Yuni has the highest career AVG against Jered Weaver at .286 (12 for 42).
When it comes to who plays when at second to begin the season, it looks like Ned is going to play more toward the numbers of a particular matchup rather than just simply playing the lefty/righty card.
Red Right Hands
The Angels starting lineup leans a little heavy on the right side. And by a little heavy, I mean they have ansolutely zero left-handed hitters in their lineup (they have two switch-hitters in Aybar and Morales).
Which means that Royals left-hander Bruce Chen is going to have his hands full tonight.
Chen is known as a “crafty lefty”, meaning that he has to rely more on movement, location, and deception rather than pure stuff – which Bruce does very well. He utilizes a few different arm slots in order to add as much deception to the pitch as he possibly can.
He doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters (career 6.8 K/9), so Bruce has to pitch more to contact. Deception (and Jamie Moyer-like speed) allows him to get hitters out on their front foot and either roll their wrists over to induce a groundball or cause them to be under the ball and pop it up.
Bruce has a tough task tonight, especially now that the Halos have Pujols in the 3-spot and Kendrys Morales has made his way back from two years of injuries. I wouldn’t expect to see many lefties throwing tonight for the Royals.