Tagged: Luis Mendoza

Royals Swept by Tribe, But May Have Found a True Rival

The Indians dominated the Royals’ first home series of the 2012 season, sweeping all three games of the series and outscoring KC 32-19. And with the exception of one game (game 2), it wasn’t even close.

Game Notes

  • Game One: Loss, 8-3 Cleveland
    • Jarrod Dyson starts in CF, leadoff spot. Frenchy batted in the second spot in the order, with Gordon moving down to the no. 5 spot.
    • Luke Hochevar surrenders 7 runs on 8 hits in the top of the 1st inning. He then settled down, allowing just one hit after the 1st.
      • Luke left the game after the 4th inning. He took a Carlos Santana line-drive off his left ankle. The ball hit his ankle so squarely that it ricocheted 90 degrees, right at first baseman Eric Hosmer – who picked it up for the out. Luke wasn’t able to put any pressure on his left ankle as he was helped off the field. Hoch has been listed as day-to-day, and will most likely miss his next start.
    • Everett Teaford pitched 4 scoreless innings after Hoch’s injury, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 3. He has the upper-hand when it comes to filling in for Hochevar while he’s recovering.
    • Kelvin Herrera hit 101 on the radar gun. He was able to balance that out with an 88 mph changeup. Closer material.
    • Jarrod Dyson made an awful read on Jason Kipnis’ 1st inning triple, chasing the ball over his back shoulder. With speed like his, getting burned like that is unacceptable.
    • Even though the Royals outhit the Indians 12-11, they grounded into 3 double plays.
  • Game Two: Loss, 11-9 Cleveland
    • Scoreless until the top of the 3rd:
      • After a run scored on a single by Asdrubal Cabrera, pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hit Shin-Soo Choo with a fastball in the back of the right leg. (Some history: in 2011, Sanchez hit Choo with a pitch that broke his thumb and wrecked his season). Unhappy, Choo turns around and starts barking at Sanchez, with Indians 3B Jack Hannahan rushing over to get in Sanchez’s face. Both benches and bullpens cleared, causing the umpire to issue warnings to both teams.
      • With Sanchez struggling with his command, the Tribe were able to post 5 runs that inning – causing Yost to go to his bullpen early for the second day in a row. Enter Tim Collins. Sanchez gave up 4 BB and 5 runs in 2.2 IP.
    • In the bottom of the 3rd…:
      • Indians hurler Jeanmar Gomez threw a first-pitch fastball inside to Moustakas, which he was able to evade. But the next pitch plunked Moose in his lower back, prompting the home plate umpire to eject Gomez from the game. Once again, the becnhes cleared and Jack Hannahan stuck his nose in the middle of it all by trying to get in Moustakas’ face before being detained by the umpires – and eventually Ned Yost. In all, three were ejected: Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez, 3B Jack Hannahan, and manager Manny Acta.

        Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

      • The Royals went on to score 2 runs in that half of the inning, which included a RBI triple by Alcides Escobar.
    • Cleveland was able to tag Tim Collins for two HRs in the 5th, moving the score to 9-2. That’s when KC started chipping away at the lead
      • Bottom 5: Moose doubles to deep right, Yuni scores. Alcides Escobar then drives in Moose with an infield out. 9-4.
      • Bottom 6: Billy hits a RBI double to left-center, driving in Frenchy. After a Gordon fly ball out, Yuni reached on a throwing error, moving Butler to third base. With two outs and two on, Moustakas hit a deep fly ball to right that was initially caught by Choo before he ran into the outfield wall, causing him to drop the ball. Billy scores third, Yuni (who should have scored from first since there were two outs) moved up to third. 9-6.
      • Bottom 7: With two down and Dyson on second, Eric Hosmer sends on to deep left that was about three feet from being a HR. He wound up with at second base with a RBI double. Billy drove in Hoz with a single to center. 9-8.
      • Bottom 8: After seing four straight fastballs from reliever Vinnie Pestano, Yuni sent a 2-2 slider down the left field line for a solo HR – tying the game at 9-9.
    • Cleveland didn’t score again until the top of the 10th, when facing Greg Holland, the now-extremely-hated-and-booed Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run double off the wall in deep center that just cleared the glove of Jarrod Dyson. 11-9.
    • The Royals went down in order in the bottom half of the inning. Game over.
    • All of the Royals hitters in the starting lineup except for Alex Gordon had at least one hit, with Butler, Yuni, and Moose each getting two apiece.
    • There were a total of 15 different pitchers used throughout the game (KC – 7, CLE – 8). Jonathan Sanchez threw 75 pitches through 2.2 innings. Only 38 of them were strikes.
    • Jarrod Dyson walked to leadoff the bottom of the 9th, which usually has been a good thing for the Royals. With one out, Dyson attempted to steal second base off of rookie Jairo Asencio – who has a relatively quick delivery to home. Dyson was thrown out by catcher Carlos Santana. Hosmer then struck out to end the inning.
      • The whole point of having speed is not to steal a base every time you get on, but to also use it to distract the opposing pitcher. Everyone at The K that night knew that Dyson was going to attempt to steal second at some point. It was just a matter of when.
    • Shin-Soo Choo later said that he regretted how things went down in the 3rd inning and acknowledged that Sanchez most likely didn’t throw at him intentionally.

In between games 2 and 3, the Royals re-called reliever Louis Coleman from Omaha and optioned Jarrod Dyson back to Omaha.

  • Game Three: Loss, 13-7 Cleveland
    • Facing off against Ubaldo Jimenez, KC was able to get their first lead of the entire series in the bottom of the 2nd.
      • Moose and Pena both reached to leadoff the inning. With one down, Moose on 3rd and Pena on 1st, Escobar doubled to drive in Moustakas and move Brayan to 3rd. With two outs, Chriz Getz hit a single to right field that scored both Pena and Escobar. 3-0 KC.
    • Cleveland retaliated, scoring 6 in the top of the 3rd against Royals starter Luis Mendoza. 6-3 CLE.
      • Mendoza went 4 innings, surrendering 9 runs (5 earned), walking 4.
    • Louis Coleman gave up back-to-back HRs in the 8th to Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis in his season debut.
    • Mitch Maier made his second career relief appearance in the 9th inning of last night’s game. He gave up a one-out single that was quickly erased by an inning-ending 4-6-3 double-play.

      Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Even though the Royals were swept by the Tribe, they may have gained something they have severely lacked since the 1980’s New York Yankees: a rival. If you watched the game on Saturday night, you saw the real anger between the two teams. Shin-Soo Choo has become public enemy no. 1 in Kansas City, and I’m sure Jack Hannahan isn’t too far behind him.

The Royals and Indians may even have bad blood that boiled over from last season when Carlos Carrasco threw a fastball over the head of Billy Butler, causing Carrasco to be ejected from the game.

At any rate, the Royals are now 3-6 on the young season and will begin a three game series against the division leading 6-3 Detroit Tigers tonight. It will tout Detroit’s ace Justin Verlander (0-1, 2.20 ERA) against the Royals’ young lefty Danny Duffy (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three game series:

Monday: Justin Verlander vs. Danny Duffy

Tuesday: Drew Smyly (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-0, 1.64 ERA)

Wednesday: Max Scherzer (0-1, 10.38 ERA) vs. TBD (likely either Hochevar or Teaford)

All games begin at 7:10 pm CT.

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Oakland Blanks KC 1-0

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:

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

  • 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.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

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.

Tonight’s Matchup

  • Royals (2-2) @ A’s (2-3)
  • Royals LHP Danny Duffy vs. A’s RHP Graham Godfrey
  • 9:05 pm CT

2012 Spring Training Recap

With a 7-6 victory over the Padres last night, the Royals wrapped up Spring Training at 16-15. Hey, take it for what it is. Yeah, it’s only Spring Training. But you have to start somewhere, right?

The Royals 2012 Spring Training was… interesting. We saw injuries (both significant and not), position battles/tinkering, rotation and bullpen shuffles, promotions, demotions, trades, off-the-chart performances, contract extensions, etc.

So here’s a quick recap of it all:

  • Significant Injuries
    • Manny Pina C: Feb. 22 – torn right meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
    • Salvador Perez C: Mar. 14 – torn left meniscus (knee), 60 Day DL
    • Joakim Soria RHP: Mar. 19 – Tommy John surgery (right elbow), 15 Day DL – will miss 2012
  • Slightly Less Significant Injuries
    • Blake Wood RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow (ulner nerve), 15 Day DL
    • Felipe Paulino RHP: Mar. 26 – sore right elbow/forearm, 15 Day DL

Each one of the injuries required reactionary moves from the club. The injuries to Pina and Perez forced the Royals to look for a veteran, defense-first catcher; leading to the acquisition of Humberto Quintero. Soria’s injury opened up the closer role to one or all of Holland, Broxton, and Crow. It also opened up a full-time spot in the bullpen for a fresh face. Blake Wood’s spot became up for grabs, but he was a fringe bullpen guy to begin with. The loss of Felipe opened up two rotation spots for Mendoza and Duffy, as well as the long-relief spot for Everett Teaford.

  • Position Battles
    • Second base

      Photo Credit: Rob Tringali / Getty Images

      • Injuries aside, the combo of Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt winning the 2B job over Johnny Giavotella was the biggest shock of the Spring. Virtually everyone, myself included, basically gave Gio the job before the Royals arrived in Surprise. But, to their credit, Getz and Yuni outperformed Gio and currently present better options defensively for KC.
    • Fifth Starter
      • The first three rotation spots were a given: Chen, Hochevar, and Sanchez. The last two spots were up for grabs, but Paulno and Duffy basically had dibs on the spots. But the performance of Luis Mendoza changed all of that. He was without a dout the best pitcher in Royals camp, forcing the Royals to give him a rotation spot. And once Paulino went to the DL, Duffy had the fifth spot locked up.
    • Lefty Relievers
      • No lefty had a bullpen spot given to them coming into Sporing Training, although Jose Mijares was close. Every bullpen should have at least one lefty, but two would be more ideal, and three would be perfect; and that’s what the Royals wound up with. Jose Mijares, Tim Collins, and Everett Teaford comprise the left-side of the bullpen – beating out other lefties Tommy Hottovy and Francisely Bueno. Mijares and Collins will serve as middle relief/situational lefties, while Teaford will be the swing-man/spot-starter
  • Eric Hosmer: Right Fielder

    Photo Credit: John Sleezer

    • Say what? That can’t be right, can it? Yep. It happened. A few times, actually. In order to maximize offense against NL teams, the Royals tinkered around with Eric Hosmer in RF (and Jeff Francoeur in CF) so they could have both Hoz and Billy Butler in the lineup. Hosmer is a good enough athlete that playing RF shouldn’t be difficult at all for him. He has a terrific arm and good enough speed that I thought he could have been an everyday right fielder in the minors (this was all before we had Frenchy, Wil Myers was still a catcher, and Kila Ka’aihue was mashing in Omaha).
  • 12 Man Shuffle
    • Rotation (5)
      • Chen L, Hochevar R, Sanchez L, Mendoza R, Duffy L
        • No, Montgomery won’t be opening the season in Kansas City. Neither will Felipe Paulino, but not for the same reasons. Monty didn’t perform well in his few outings, and Paulino was sent to the DL, which opened up spots for Mendoza and Duffy.
    • Bullpen (7)
      • Holland R, Broxton R, Crow R, Herrera R, Mijares L, Collins L, Teaford L
        • Without Soria, the roles in back-end of the bullpen are up in the air. Holland and Broxton are the clear front-runners for the closing position, with Aaron Crow not far behind.
        • The most notable surprise here was Kelvin Herrera taking a spot away from Louis Coleman. Herrera had a great Spring, and Coleman scuffed a bit as roster cuts loomed. Herrera has the potential to be a closer someday. Luckily for him, someday may come soon.
  • Notable Promotions
    • Kelvin Herrera RHP, Everett Teaford LHP
      • See above.
  • Notable Demotions
    • Johnny Giavotella 2B, Louis Coleman RHP, Jarrod Dyson OF, Sean O’Sullivan RHP
      • If you’ve been reading, you already know why Gio and Sweet Lou were demoted to Omaha.
      • Jarrod Dyson became expendable with the acquistion of OF/U Jason Bourgeois. Dyson has the speed and defensive tools down, but he really needs to learn how to keep his flyball rates down so he can appropriately use his speed (similar to Juan pierre). Afterall, you can’t hustle out a pop-up.
      • The demotion of Sean O’Sullivan is no surprise. But in order to do so (since SOS was out of minor league options), the Royals had to place him on waivers – making him available to the rest of the league. Since nobody placed a claim on him, the Royals were able to send him to Triple A.
  • Trades
    • LHP Kevin Chapman and a PTBNL (KC) for C Humberto Quintero and OF/U Jason Bourgeois (HOU)
      • Chapman is a solid C+ to B- lefty reliever who would have been a welcome addition to the Royals in the future, but he (along with an unknown) helped the Royals land two veterans who can help the team this season.
      • Quintero is a career backup, but has seen enough playing time throughout his career that you pretty much know what you’llget out of him. Solid defense, below-average-but-acceptable offense. He’ll compliment Brayan Pena, as they’ll likely be splitting time at the catcher position until Sal Perez returns.
      • Jason Bourgeois is capable of playing all three OF positions, as well as some 2B and 3B. So, needless to say, his versatility is his biggest tool. And although he isn’t as fast as Dyson, he provides extra speed off the bench.
    • OF Greg Golson (KC) for cash considerations (CWS)
      • The Royals made an inter-divisional trade by shipping Golson to the White Sox for cash. Golson is a quick OF capable of filling in at each spot, but his bat has never really been there. He was a non-roster invitee this Spring, so nothing was really lost. He never really had a shot to make the roster anyway.
  • Performance Reviews

    Mark Kartozian - US Presswire

    • Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler each hit over .360 this Spring, with Hosmer leading the league in RBI. If they can carry their performances into the season, the Royals may have one of the best 1-4 hitters in baseball in 2012.
    • Hopefully, since Mike Moustakas is a notorious “slow starter”, he got all of that out of the way this Spring. He only his .240, but came around a little bit as ST came to an end.
    • Bruce Chen and Jonathan Sanchez had rough Springs, as did Danny Duffy (even though he did show flashes of dominance).
    • Luke Hochevar showed that he may have gotten his career on the right track, and Luis Mendoza made Royals fans, scouts, and coaches a believer.
  • Extensions
    • Dayton Moore was hard at work this offseason, signing three key Royals to long-term contract extensions.
      • Salvador Perez through 2016 with club options for ’17, ’18, and ’19
      • Alcides Escobar through 2015 with club options for ’16 and ’17
      • Alex Gordon through 2015 with a player option for 2016

The season begins tomorrow night in Anaheim against Prince Albert and the Angels at 9:05 CT. It’ll be Bruce Chen vs. Jered Weaver.

Here’s to hoping the Royals can make this a fun, interesting, and competitive season! Do your part and get out to The K!

Analyzing the 25-Man Roster

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

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

Catchers (2): Brayan Pena, Humberto Quintero

Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

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

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

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada / US Presswire

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

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

Photo Credit: James Guillory / US Presswire

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

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

Photo Credit: AP

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

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

Photo Credit: Chris Vleisides / Royals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean O’Sullivan.

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

Surprises from Surprise

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

Paulino’s Elbow Paints a Clearer Picture

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…).

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

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.

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

Johnny Be Gone

I think it’s safe to say “Um…. what?”

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

Photo Credit: KansasCity.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Long, Soria?

Photo Credit: RoyalsBlog.KansasCity.com

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

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

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

Two for One

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

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

Photo Credit: KansasCity.com

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

Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi / AP

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

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

Line(up) Dancing

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

vs. LHP

1. LF Gordon – L

2. CF Cain – R

3. 1B Hosmer – L

4. DH Butler – R

5. RF Francoeur – R

6. 3B Moustakas – L

7. 2B Betancourt – R

8. C Pena – S / Quintero – R

9. SS Escobar – R

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

vs. RHP

1. LF Gordon – L

2. 2B Getz – L

3. 1B Hosmer – L

4. DH Butler – R

5. 3B Moustakas – L

6. RF Francoeur – R

7. CF Cain – R

8. C Pena S / Quintero R

9. SS Escobar – R

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

Dark Horses

Coming into Spring Training this year, the Royals were pretty much set at every position, with a few exceptions: 2B, CF, #4 and #5 starters, and LH relievers. That may seem like a lot of positions to have uncertainty at, but a lot of them are truly position battles. In the darker days of this franchise, it used to be there was one clear-cut favorite for a position. And no matter how he did, all he had to do was basically show up every day and the job was his. The Royals have some legitimate position battles going on this Spring, and within these battles there is always at least one dark horse.

Catchers

If Salvador Perez hadn’t torn his left meniscus the other day, there wouldn’t be any questions as to who the two catchers on the roster would be coming out of camp. But now that it’s looking like Sal could be out until at least mid-June or later, a few new names have come up as the potential #2 to Brayan Pena.

Cody Clark – 30

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

At 30 years young, Cody Clark is hardly a young up-and-comer. He’s spent the last 2 seasons at Triple A Omaha, primarily as the backup catcher. He isn’t a great hitter, but his numbers are pretty much what you’d expect from a catcher (career .254/.320/.394). And although his arm isn’t much to brag about (33% career caught stealing), his glove is major league quality (career .992 Fld%), never committing more than 6 E in one season.

He is making his first start of the Spring today against Cleveland, ahead of Max Ramirez.

Max Ramirez – 27

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Max Ramirez is an offensive-first catcher, period. Once a top catching prospect for the Rangers, Max has done nothing but hit during his 8 seasons in the minors, with a line of .295/.389/.478 with 85 HR and 146 2B. His glove is average at best, and his arm is less than stellar (27% CS).

With Brayan Pena already on the roster, having two mostly offensive catchers might not make much sense. But if Max keeps hitting like he has been this Spring (7 for 15, 3 HR, 9 RBI) it’d be hard not to bring him on board.

Infield

Kevin Kouzmanoff – 30

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Kouz has been playing well this Spring, going 3 for 10 in 7 games played, including a walk-off double. He’s always had the ability to hit if given the chance. But the real reasons he’s here are the fact that he’s a vacuum over at 3B, and he’s a right-handed hitting alternative to Mike Moustakas against tough lefties.

If the Royals keep Johnny Giavotella and Yuni Betancourt (thus sending Chris Getz to Triple A), Kouz has a real shot at breaking camp with the Royals as the backup corner infielder.

Clint Robinson – 27

Clint Robinson

He may be a AAAA player, but right now he’s just a guy who’s never gotten a real chance to show his stuff. Clint profiles as a DH/1B, mostly due to his size (6’5″ 235) and raw power. He won the hitter’s triple crown in 2010 in Double A(.335/.410/.625 29 HR, 98 RBI, 41 2B, 58:86 BB:K ratio, and almost replicated those numbers again last year in Triple A (.326/.399/.533 23 HR, 100 RBI, 35 2B, 58:86 BB:K ratio). If he had been in almost any other organization, there’s no doubt that Robinson would have made his Major League debut by now. But since he’s been blocked by Billy Butler, Eric Homser, and Kila Ka’aihue, he has yet to see an at-bat in KC.

If he wants to make the team out of Spring, he’ll need to log more innings at one of the corner OF spots and prove he isn’t enough of a defensive liability to offset his bat. He could be a great left-handed power bat coming off the bench for Ned in 2012.

Outfield

David Lough – 26

Photo Credit: Minda Haas

Lough does everything right. He hits, runs, and fields well, while occasionally flashing a little bit of power. He’s been compared to David DeJesus, except that he runs much better. He’s already hit 2 triples this Spring, and has logged significant innings at all 3 OF spots. Lough could very well supplant Mitch Maier as the 4th OFer on this roster.

Rotation

Luis Mendoza RHP – 28

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Without a doubt, Luis Mendoza has been the Royals’ most outstanding pitcher this Spring. He’s 3-0 in 10.2 IP with a 0.84 ERA, 11:1 K:BB ratio, .135 AVG against, and 0.56 WHIP. He seemed to get is act together last year in Omaha, and was called up to Kansas City to make two starts in September, going 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 14.2 IP.

Mendoza is in an all out brawl with Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino for that 4th or 5th spot in the rotation. At this point, Mendoza is almost a near lock to make the team out of Spring Training. But  the question is whether he winds up as a part of the rotation or the bullpen.

Bullpen

Kelvin Herrera RHP – 22

Photo Credit: Chris Vleisides

After being converted from a starter to a reliever and pitching at almost every level in the organization last year, Herrera has an outside shot to start the season in KC. He’s got a true power arm, being able to hit the upper-90’s consistently. He currently sports a 1.50 ERA in 6 IP this Spring with 9 K to 2 BB and a .190 AVG against.

It might take an injury to one of Coleman, Holland, or Broxton for Herrera to make the 25-man roster this April, though anything can happen between now and then.

Tommy Hottovy LHP – 30

Tommy Hottovy

The hometown kid has been impressive in his short time as a Royal. He hasn’t surrendered a run in 4.2 IP thus far, giving up only 5 hits while striking out 5 and walking 0. Tommy has started games before earlier in his minor league career, though his TJ surgery probably put that part of his career in the rear view. But he is capable of going more than one or two innings.

Yost has stated that he wants more than just one lefty in the bullpen, and Tommy could be that guy given the fact that he could fill a number of bullpen roles (long reliever, middle reliever, situational lefty).