Tagged: Mitch Maier

Winter Meetings Recap: Day One

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings, taking place this year in Nashville, is possibly the most exciting/frantic/nerve-racking four day period of the offseason. General managers, scouts, and agents alike will be calling, texting, and talking one another’s ear off in hopes of finding the right fit- to either make a trade or sign a free agent.

When it comes to the Royals and Dayton Moore, there are no questions as to what the Royals want, who they’re willing to part with, and how roughly how much money they have to make a deal happen. The Royals want relatively young, controllable, cost-effective starting pitching; are willing to listen to offers involving practically any player outside of Salvador Perez, and have a “soft cap” of around $70 million for 2013.

Starting pitching is going to set the price this winter, whether it be through the free agent or trade market. Zack Greinke is looking to become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history, Anibal Sanchez is said to be looking for a multi-year contract worth roughly $15-20 million per year, Scott Feldman landed a one-year, $6 million deal, and two-years, $26 million wasn’t enough for the Royals to land Ryan Dempster (not yet, at least).

So who do the Royals deem worthy of pursuit?

R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

So far, we’ve heard about the Royals interest in a few of the game’s better starting pitchers: James Shields (Rays), Jon Lester (Red Sox) and R.A. Dickey (Mets).

James Shields has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the past three or so seasons, but he’s owed $11 million in 2013 and has a $12 million team option for 2014. So barring an extension, he’d be hitting the free agent market after 2014. He also turns 32 later this month. In return, the Rays are looking for immediate offensive production and have been asking about top prospect Wil Myers and DH Billy Butler. The Rays are also said to be open to dealing Jeremy Hellickson in a potential deal and would listen on lefties David Price and Matt Moore.

Jon Lester, who is coming off a down season (9-14, 4.82 ERA), is in the same boat as Shields: he’ll be making roughly $12 million in 2013 and has a team option of $13 million for 2014 (which can be voided by Lester if he finishes first or second in Cy Young voting). He’ll be 29 in January. The Red Sox are in a transition period, where they intend to compete while restructruring their roster. Of course, they too would like to add Wil Myers’ bat to their lineup, but could use help at nearly every position outside of second base and center field.

R.A. Dickey, who is 38 years young, is coming off a career year where he went 20-6 with a 3.73 ERA en route to winning the NL Cy Young award. While R.A. would immediately become the Royals’ ace, he won’t be had for next to nothing. The Mets are likely trying to command a significant haul for Dickey. Given his age, they’re going to have a hard time doing so. The Mets are said to be looking for a catcher, outfielders, and bullpen arms. The Royals won’t dangle Perez, nor would they Wil Myers. I could see them building a deal around Aaron Crow + prospect help however.

The team is still reportedly interested in right-hander Bud Norris of the Astros. He’s young (27), controllable (first-time arbitration this offseason), relatively inexpensive, would not cost the team much in terms of big league talent, nor would he command a top prospect like Myers.

Other rumored trade partners are the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles. Both organizations are said to have serious interest in Billy Butler. The Mariners have the starting pitching depth (Jason Vargas, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Danny Hultzen, Brandon Maurer) along with secondary players (possibly 2B Dustin Ackley or SS/2B Nick Franklin) to spin a deal for the 26-year old slugger. Outside The Orioles on the other hand don’t really have enough pitching depth that they would be able to pull from in order to land Butler.

I’m not high on trading Butler for prospects unless the Royals are able to land another starting pitcher – either through trade

In contrast, with Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francoeur all officially on board for next season, the Dayton Moore will be looking to ship one or all of them in order to free up payroll. Hochevar is on schedule for around $4 million through arbitration, Chen is due $4.5 million this season, while Frenchy is due $7.5 million.

Finding takers for Hoch and Chen, although difficult, would presumably be easier to do than finding a taker for Frenchy. But if the Royals were able to move any of said contracts, it could severely impact their ability to attain starting pitching, allowing them to potentially go after free agents like Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Loshe, Ryan Dempster, or Edwin Jackson.

Other free agents the Royals are considering that possibly fall within their price range: Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, Jair Jurrjens, Brett Myers, Carlos Villanueva, and Jeff Karstens. None of the aforementioned pitchers would demand a large multi-year deal, which fits perfectly within the realm of what Dayton Moore is trying to do.

Utility Depth

The Royals are also reportedly seeking a veteran infielder who can play shortstop. Apparently they don’t think current utility guys Tony Abreu and Irving Falu fit the bill defensively at short, going so far as to say that if Alcides Escobar were to miss significant playing time they’d likely promote either Christian Colon or Alex McClure from the minors to fill the position. Veterans free agents like Ronny Cedeno, Alex Gonzalez, and Ryan Theriot all profile for the role.

Former Royals

  • Joakim Soria, who is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, has agreed to a two-year deal reportedly worth $8-9 million with the Texas Rangers. He’ll still be rehabing when Opening Day 2013 comes around, but when he comes back he’ll serve as the set-up man for closer Joe Nathan. The Angels, Red Sox, and Reds were also reportedly in on Soria.
  • Mitch Maier has officially agreed to a minor-league contract with the Boston Red Sox.
  • The Dodgers, Angels, and Rangers are said to the top contenders for the services of one Donald Zackary Greinke. Zack is said to possibly command as much as 7-years and $185 million on the open market. The Braves have been rumored to have interest in him as well.
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This Could Mean Something

The Royals parted ways with their longest tenured player on Wednesday afternoon when the designated Mitch Maier for assignment, thus clearing another spot on the 40-man roster – which now stands at 38 players.

Mitch has been a model citizen ever since he became a Royal. He was selected as a catcher in the 1st round of the 2003 draft by KC before the organization opted to convert him to a third basemen in 2004. After the Royals acquired third basemen Mark Teahen as a part of the Carlos Beltran deal in 2005, effectively blocking his path to the majors, Maier was then shifted to the outfield. Nobody ever heard a single gripe or complaint from Mitch – that’s just who he was. He made his debut for the Royals in 2006 and spent all of 2007 and part of 2008 in Omaha before seeing major playing time in Kansas City.

In parts of 6 seasons (360 games total) with the Royals, Mitch has amassed a slash line of .248/.327/.344 while filling in for the injured David DeJesus, Rick Ankiel, Jose Guillen, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednik, etc. His best season came in 2010, when he played in 117 games, hit .263/.333/.375 with 26 XBH (15 doubles, 6 tiples, 5 HRs) while driving in 39 runs and scoring 41.

2011’s outfield of Gordon, Melky, and Frenchy limited Mitch’s playing time to just 45 games. But he did manage to make his pitching debut in Fenway Park that season, pitching one scoreless inning in a lop-sided loss. He followed up his first outing with an identical performace this season in another lop-sided loss, this time against the Indians.

Bottom line: Mitch does his job.

With Gordon and Francoeur playing practically everyday, Jarrod Dyson and Jason Bourgeois currently platooning center, Lorenzo Cain coming back from various injuries, and Wil Myers due to be in Kansas City any day now, Mitch is basically the odd man out. At 30 years old, he’s hardly a young player hwo just needs a shot somewhere. He is what he is: a utility outfielder who does everything fundamentally well, but doesn’t excel at any one area of his game. But guys like that are just as valuable to a team as any other position player. Every team needs a role-player who can come off the bench at anytime and be ready. I have no doubt that a team, most likely an NL club, will take a chance on him.

Now let’s talk about the 40-man roster spot that has been vacated.

All of the players listed on a team’s 4-man roster are guaranteed Major League contracts, meaning they will begin earning at least the league’s minimum salary. In order for a player to be on your 25-man roster, he has to be on the 40-man roster. A few names that aren’t on the 40-man include…

Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi.

The Royals recently promoted pitchers Nate Adcock and Louis Coleman to Kansas City while optioning Vin Mazzaro back to Omaha. Both Adcock and Coleman are here to supplement the bullpen until after the All-Star break, with Adcock serving as a long reliever/spot-starter and Coleman as a 6th/7th inning arm. With both of them on board, the Royals are carrying 13 pitchers to 12 fielders (the normal split is 13 fielders and 12 pitchers).

After the break, one of Adcock and Coleman figures to be summoned back to Omaha along with one of Jason Bourgeois and Irving Falu – with both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz slated to come off the DL soon.

But with these two free spots on the roster, it’s hard not to think Wil Myers and either Jake Odorizzi are destined for Kauffman Stadium sooner rather than later.

Wil Myers has done everything to earn his roster spot but drive to Kansas City and knock on Dayton Moore’s office door himself. Since being called-up to Triple-A Omaha, Wil has absolutely… well, you all already know: .317/.398/.639, 26 XBH (8 doubles, 4 triples, 14 HRs), 42 RBI, 40 runs scored, and has shown increased presence at the plate with his 1.75:1 K:BB ratio in just 47 games. He’s playing virtually every day in center field, which is probably the position with the biggest offensive void in Kansas City.

Team officials have recently begun to acknowledge that it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep Myers in Omaha. So maybe when he makes the trip to Kansas City for the All-Star Future’s Game, Dayton Moore will give him a reason to stay beyond the break.

Hardly to be outshined and over-shadowed, Jake Odorizzi is making his case for a big league promotion as well. Since his promotion to Omaha, he’s been flat-out dominant: 5-0, 2.83 ERA, 3:1 K:BB ratio, and a 1.42 WHIP. The starting rotation has been the Royals Achille’s Heel this season, as they’re only getting fairly consistent production from Bruce Chen. Hochevar has been both dominant and ineffective, Jonathan Sanchez deserves to be cut and never spoken of again, Duffy and Paulino are TJ victims, Vin Mazzaro has been below-average, Luis Mendoza should only start in emergencies, Nate Adcock has proven to be a better bullpen arm, and Everett Teaford has been good enough to get by.

Clearly, this Odorizzi guy deserves to get his shot. Afterall, every one else seems to be getting second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances.

Although I’m extremely excited for all of the All-Star events being in Kansas City for the next week or so, I can’t wait until a week from now when the Royals lineup cards might include the names “Myers” and “Odorizzi”.

News and Notes From the Royals’ First Interleague Sweep in Three Years

Last night, the Royals wrapped up possibly their most exciting series this season with a second-straight walk-off win.

The hero this time was Brayan Pena. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, down 3-2, and runners on second (Maier) and first (Dyson), Ned Yost opted to sub-in the switch-hitting Pena in place of the right-handed hitting Humberto Quintero to face Milwaukee closer John Axford.

The move paid off when Pena hit a long single into left field. Mitch Maier scored easily on the play to tie the score at 3-3. Dyson’s speed allowed him to go first-to-third on the single; that’s when things got exciting.

“That’s what speed do.” Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

Brayan took a wide turn around first base, leading the cut-off man to throw to Rickie Weeks at second, thinking they could get Pena in a rundown. Seeing that the defense wasn’t paying him much attention, Dyson took off for home plate. Weeks bobbled the ball before firing the ball home, which skipped past Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Regardless of the throw, Dyson had the play beat as he dove head-first into home to score the winning run and complete the comeback.

Brewers’ closer John Axford was saddled with the loss after allowing the Royals back in the game for the second straight night. He loaded the bases the previous night before surrendering a walk to Mike Moustakas to end the game.

Promotions, Demotions, and the DL

  • Demoted: 2B Johnny Giavotella (Omaha), 1B Clint Robinson (Omaha), RHP Louis Coleman (Omaha)
    • The demotions of Johnny Giavotella and Clint Robinson were fairly easy to forecast. After tearing up Triple A pitching, Gio was unable to replicate his hitting ways. After hitting a meager .217/.260/.261 through 21 games, the team optioned him to Omaha to make room for Chris Getz’s return from the DL. Robinson went 0-for-4 in four pinch-hit appearances with two Ks. Everyone knew that his stay wasn’t going to be a long one. He was optioned back to Triple A Omaha before last night’s game.
    • Coleman was demoted to clear space for Jonathan Sanchez on the active roster. Lou will undoubtedly be back up sometime this summer, as he has a solid 3.15 ERA in 20 innings with the Royals this season.
  • Promoted: RHP Roman Colon (KC)
    • Roman Colon made his Royals debut way back in 2009. Since then, he’s played in Japan in 2010 and in the Dodgers system (2011). The righty reliever had a respectable 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings this season for the Storm Chasers before being summoned to the big league level.
  • Reinstated from the DL: 2B Chris Getz (KC), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (KC), LHP Everett Teaford (Omaha)
  • DL Shift: Danny Duffy (15-Day to 60-Day)

Frenchy and Yost Ejected

For those Jeff Francoeur fans who came out on Frenchy Quarter Night, he apologizes.

“I might have to invite them all out for a `Frenchy Quarter’ Wednesday.” – Jeff Francoeur

Photo Credit: Ed Zurga / Getty Images

In the bottom of the 2nd inning and the count 0-2, Shaun Marcum delivered what was a called strike three to Jeff Francoeur to record the strikeout. The only problem was that the pitch (and FoxTrax conferred) was well inside and off the plate. Francoeur immediately turned around to question home plate umpire Dan Iassogna’s call. It was all jaw between the two until Frenchy used his bat to demonstrate how far off the plate the pitch was. If a player uses a “prop” when arguing a call, he is immediately ejected – which is exactly what happened. Jeff was forced to watch the rest of the game from the clubhouse after being replaced in right by Mitch Maier. But he wasn’t lonely for too long…

In the top of the 4th, Nyjer Morgan laid down a bunt that bounced up and hit Morgan while he was in fair territory. According to the rulebook, if a batted ball hits an offensive player in fair territory, the afforementioned player is out. But umpire Dan Iassogna, once again, didn’t it that way. Instead of calling Morgan out, he ruled it a foul ball – extending the at-bat. Yost came out fired up and was ejected because of it.

Zack Attacked

Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner / AP

In his first return to Kauffman Stadium, Royals fans welcomed former ace Zack Greinke back to a myriad of both cheers and boos. Greinke expected to hear a little bit of both due to the fact that he won his Cy Young award during his time in KC and also because of the way he basically forced his way out of the organization.

The Royals got off to a quick start against Zack when Alex Gordon lead off the bottom of the 1st inning by smashing a 3-2 fastball into the fountains beyond the Pepsi Party Porch to give the Royals an early 1-0 lead. That was the only run Greinke gave up during seven innings, but was saddled with a no-decision when the Royals broke a 1-1 tie in the 8th on a Billy Butler RBI single.

His counterpart on the mound was Royals starter/long-reliever/swing-man/mop-up guy Luis Mendoza. Mendoza one-upped Greinke by carrying a no-hitter into the 7th inning, where he gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Braun and a walk to Aramis Ramirez before Yost decided to go to the ‘pen. Milwaukee’s lone run came around to score in the inning, which was charged to Mendoza.

Rehab Updates

The return of Salvador Perez is near, folks. He’s 13-for-35 with 7 RBI thus far during his rehab assigment in Omaha and he’s catching a full nine innings. Once Perez returns, the Royals have said they may carry three catchers in order to ease him back into playing everyday. Look for Sal to be back in Kansas City by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, CF Lorenzo Cain is off to Double-A Northwest Arkansas to begin a rehab assigment. Cain hasn’t played in a game since April 10th in Oakland when he injured his groin while running into the centerfield wall.

Top prospect John Lamb is expected to resume pitching at the beginning of July. The lefty underwent Tommy John sugery last June.

The Brewers Must Not Have Heard About Alex Gordon

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

Apparently the Brewers weren’t aware of this Alex Gordon guy who roams around left field for the Royals. You know, the 2012 AL Gold Glover and outfield assists leader. That guy.

Ryan Braun, who has fairly good speed, decided to test Gordon’s arm Tuesday night on a medium-depth flyball. Not only did Alex make a perfect throw to home to record the out, the play wasn’t even close. Braun was out by four or five steps.

“That fires me up more than anything, because it feels like you’re picking your pitcher up and the crowd loves it, the fans go crazy. It’s pretty cool.” – Alex Gordon after his fifth outfield assist of the season

Second Pick Signs

Sam Selman, the Vanderbily lefty whom the Royals selected with their second pick in the 2012 Draft, has agreed to sign with the Royals to the tune of $750,000.

The Royals have officially signed their first 11 picks of the draft and 28 of 40.

Interleague Play Continues

The Royals (27-34) will travel across I-70 to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Cardinals (33-31).

Friday @ 7:15 pm – RHP Vin Mazzaro (2-1) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (6-1)

Saturday @ 1:10 pm – LHP Bruce Chen (5-6) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (0-0)

Sunday @ 1:10 pm – RHP Luis Mendoza (2-3) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (5-7)

After that, the Royals will make their way to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros.

Royals News and Notes From the Weekend

*UPDATE*

Given the rainout last night, the Royals and Tigers will play just a two game series. The game will be made up on Sept. 24, a mutual off-day.

Duane Below will lose his start and will shift back to the bullpen for the series.

Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC Luke Hochevar vs. DET Rick Porcello

Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC Jonathan Sanchez vs. DET Justin Verlander

* * *

At 6-15, the Royals are tied with Minnesota for 4th place in the Central, but are only 5.5 games behind the 1st place Cleveland Indians (11-9).

Here’s a quick recap of what happened this weekend:

  • Before Friday night’s game, the Royals swapped centerfielders with the Storm Chasers by re-calling Jarrod Dyson and optioning Jason Bourgeois. Given the unfortunate Lorenzo Cain injury news, Yost figured that the team needed an infusion of speed. Dyson figures to get most of the playing time in center while Cain recovers from his hip injury. Mitch Maier will move back into his normal role as the fourth outfielder.

Alex Gordon robs Danny Valencia of a homerun. (Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

  • During the bottom of the 2nd inning on Friday, Alex Gordon robbed Danny Valencia of a lead-off HR. Despite his Gold Glove season in 2011, this was the first time Alex has taken a homerun away from anyone.“I’ve always wanted to rob a guy on a catch since I started playing in the outfield. That was my first one. Just brought it down and threw it back in. I acted like I’d done it before.” – Gordon told Bob Dutton of The Star.
  • After giving up four runs in four innings in Friday’s 8-7 win over the Twins, spot-starter Everett Teaford was optioned back to Tripole A Omaha, while right-hander Nate Adcock was summoned up from the same club. The move was made, not because of Teaford’s performance, but because the Royals’ bullpen needed a healthy arm who could fill the long-releif role. Given that starters generally get four days off between starts, shifting Teaford back to the bullpen after he replaced Duffy in the rotation would have put the Royals at a disadvantage. Therefore, Adcock was brought up from Omaha. Nate had been solid in Omaha before his call-up, going 3-1 in four starts with a 1.37 ERA.
  • The Royals and Twins were rained out on Saturday, causing the game to be rescheduled for Saturday June 30th at Target Field in Minnesota. It will be a day-night double-header.
  • Bruce Chen got lit up for six runs in 2.2 innings yesterday in the Royals’ 7-4 loss to the Twins. He may have been the victim of the small strike zone set by home plate umpire Larry Vanover, forcing him to use more of his pitches out and over the plate.
    • Nate Adcock took over for Bruce in the middle of the third inning and gave the team exactly what they needed: he went the rest of the way (5.1 innings), giving the rest of the bullpen another day off, and kept the Royals in the game by only giving up one run.
  • Mike Moustakas (3) hit his third homerun of this season yesterday off of Minnesota’s starter Jason Marquis. Moose has been one of the team’s hottest hitters over the past week, seeing his batting average go from .229 on April 21 to where it stands now at .315. He’s 12-for-27 (.444) during that stretch with 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K.
  • Billy Butler has been maybe just as hot as Moose. After going hitless in the four games against Toronto, Country Breakfast has been on a tear – going 10-for-23 (.435) in the Royals last five games with 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 4 R. He’s currently on a five-game hitting streak.
  • Alex Gordon has been on fire lately as well. He’s 8 for his last 21 (.381) with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and 7 R.
  • On the flip side, Eric Hosmer has seen his batting average drop below the Mendoza line (.188) and is hitless in his last 14 AB’s. He has no doubt seen a lot of hard luck this season, as many of the balls that he hit have just been at-him balls. Opposing infields have been putting shifts on when Hosmer steps in the box, forcing him to try to hit everything the other way, which is that much more difficult to do when you’re going through a slump.
    • Hosmer and the Royals received a major scare last night when Hosmer took a Glen Perkins fastball off his right-hand when he check-swung at a pitch. He laid on the ground for a moment to collect himself before getting up and finishing the AB. Hos finished the game at first and didn’t show any signs of pain.

Eric Hosmer holds his hand after being hit by a Glen Perkins pitch in the eighth inning on April 29. (Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

Coming Up:

The Royals will travel to Detroit for a three-game series against the Tigers.

The Tigers (11-11) are in quite a funk right now, losing 8 of their last 10 games while being outscored 67-33.

They are also currenlty dealing with the Delmon Young hate crime issue.

The Tigers swept the Royals nearly two weeks ago in Kansas City, but they only outscored the Royals 10-6. The Royals had the tying and/or go ahead run on base in the bottom of the 9th in two of the three games.

Here are the matchups for the series:

  @ 

Monday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) vs. DET – Duane Below (2-0, 0.00 ERA)

Don’t let Duane Below’s numbers deceive you. He is making his first start of the season – in place of Doug Fister. He’s only appeared in 5 games this season for a total of 12 innings.

Tuesday @ 6:05 CT: KC – Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. DET Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.45 ERA)

Rick Porcello has combined for just 7.2 innings and has given up 17 hits and 14 runs (13 ER) in his last two starts.

Wednesday @ 12:05 CT: KC – Luis Mendoza (1-2, 6.00 ERA) vs. DET Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.45 ERA)

Verlander hasn’t gone less than 6.0 IP in any of his starts this year, is averaging nearly a K per inning (37.1 IP, 35 K) and has only surrendered 8 BB and 1 HBP. On the otherhand, he hasn’t trown less than 102 pitches in each of his 5 starts and is averaging 111 pitches per outing. Verlander has been in a bases-loaded situation only once this season, which was in the bottom of the 9th against the Royals. He struck out Alex Gordon with a 100 mph fastball at the knees. This guy is filthy.

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.

Duffy Dominates Despite Drizzle

See what I did there?

Mother Nature tried her best to keep the Royals and A’s off the field last night in Oakland, evidenced by a 43-minute rain delay to begin the game. She eventually got her way in the middle of the Royals’ half of the 8th inning, forcing the umpires to shut it down for the night – but not before Danny Duffy put in the best and most dominating performance of his young career.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

In front of a crowd filled with friends and family (he hails from Lompoc, Ca.), Danny put on a show. Duffy was straight dealing last night to the tune of 6 innings, 8 K, 4 BB, and 1 hit. That one hit came from A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington in the bottom of the 3rd – a one-out double to center. Duffy then proceeded to pick him off at second base.

Duffy spread out 4 walks in his 6 innings, none of which wound up hurting him at all. He threw 109 pitches in his 6 innings (62 S 47 B), going an inning longer than his average last season of 5.1 innings per start. His high pitch count can be credited to his 8 Ks as much as his 4 BBs.

For his career, Duffy is now 3-0 in Oakland.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with (the Coliseum). This year, I think I’m going to be pretty consistent everywhere we go. I’m pretty excited.” – Duffy told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

Aaron Crow was brought in to pitch the 7th, striking out Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson before getting Collin Cowgill to line out to RF. He was credited with the save due to the rainout of the final two innings.

The Royals hitters were outshined by Duffy’s season debut, but they had a decent night as well. They were able to tag A’s starter Graham Godfrey for 6 hits and 2 runs through 6 innings. Kansas City’s 2 runs off of Godfrey came in the 4th inning:

  • Butler lead the inning off with a two-bagger to left.
  • Frenchy followed suit with a soft single to right field. Butler moves up to third.
  • Moose mashed a deep double over the head of CF Yoenis Cedpedes, driving in Butler and moving Frenchy to third. 1-0 KC.
  • Pinch-hitting for Cain (more on that down below), Mitch Maier pops op to short. One down.
  • Humberto Quintero hits a SAC fly to right field, Frenchy scores from third. Moose advances to third. 2-o KC. Two down.
  • Getz flies out to left. Three down, side retired.

Kansas City tabbed their third and final run in the 7th inning off of A’s lefty Jerry Blevins. The first batter he faced, Mitch Maier (1), sent a fastball over the fence in right. 3-0 Royals.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot / AP

Game Notes

  • Alex Gordon had another 0-fer last night, but showed signs that he’s about to break out of his slump. He had two hard, solidly (if that’s even a word) hit balls that, unfortunately for him, were right at Oakland defenders. He walked in his first AB to lead the game off. In the 3rd, he hit a solid line drive to right, but Collin Cowgill made a good read and made the catch. He also hit a hard groundball in the 5th to second baseman Jemile Weeks, who made a good play to get a hustling Gordon at first.
  • Lorenzo Cain left the game with a groin injury after the 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, he made a terrific running grab in deep deep center to rob Daric Barton of an extra-base hit and a possible RBI. Cain then nailed the cut-off man, who relayed to Hosmer to double-up the baserunner. Cain apparently suffered the injury when he ran into the wall after making the grab. Yost said it was a Grade 1 groin strain, which is good news for the Royals. Mitch Maier pinch-hit for him in the 4th. Mitch was scheduled to get the start in today’s game anway, so Cain will get today and Thursday, an off day, to recover in time for the Home Opener on Friday afternoon.
  • Aaron Crow recorded his first career save, pitching a perfect 7th inning.
  • With Danny Duffy not allowing a single run last night, the Royals’ starters have given up only 5 earned runs in 29 innings pitched, which translates to a sparkling 1.55 ERA – the best in baseball.
  • Billy Butler was caught stealing (1) by A’s catcher Anthony Recker on a failed hit-and-run attempt with Jeff Francoeur striking out at the plate. Chris Getz was picked off (1) by lefty Jerry Blevins and was tagged out trying to advance to second on the play (1).
  • After Eric Hosmer lost his bat on a swinging strike in the top of the 8th inning, home plate umpire Jim Joyce called for the Oakland ground crew to roll out the tarps. Just a bit over an hour later, Joyce called the game at 11:07 pm PT (1:07 am CT). The rain caused a total delay of 1 hour and 49 minutes. The final score was 3-0, Kansas City over Oakland.

The series finale will take place this afternoon at 2:35 pm CT, with Bruce Chen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) taking the hill for Kansas City (3-2). He’ll face off against Oakland (2-4) RHP Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25 ERA). The series is tied at 1-1.

Today’s lineups:

Kansas City Royals

1. Alex Gordon LF

2. Alcides Escobar SS

3. Eric Hosmer 1B

4. Billy Butler DH

5. Jeff Francoeur RF

6. Mike Moustakas 3B

7. Mitch Maier CF

8. Brayan Pena C

9. Chris Getz 2B

LHP Bruce Chen

Oakland Athletics

1. Jemile Weeks 2B

2. Cliff Pennington SS

3. Josh Reddick RF

4. Yoenis Cespedes CF

5. Johnny Gomes DH

6. Kurt Suzuki C

7. Josh Donaldson 3B

8. Daric Barton 1B

9. Collin Cowgill RF

RHP Brandon McCarthy

Projecting the Royals 25-man Roster (as of right now)

Now I know there isn’t much of a guessing game going on this offseason as to who is going to be on the Royals 25-man roster, which I see as a HUGE step in the right direction for this franchise. As of now, all of the positions in the field are virtually filled (even though Gio is pretty much a shoe-in at 2B). The rotation appears to be mostly set for the time being, and the bullpen has just maybe one or two question marks. So this is how I see it shaking down:

Fielders: B/T
C: Salvador Perez R/R
1B: Eric Hosmer L/L
2B: Johnny Giavotella R/R
SS: Alcides Escobar R/R
3B: Mike Moustakas L/R
LF: Alex Gordon L/R
CF: Lorenzo Cain R/R
RF: Jeff Francoeur R/R
DH: Billy Butler R/R

Bench: Brayan Pena (C) S/R, Yuniesky Betancourt (SS/2B/3B) R/R, Jarrod Dyson (OF) L/R

This is solid. If this group of players can stay consistently healthy like they did last season, I assume they’ll form a top 10 offense and average to slightly above-average defense. And with Doug Sisson for another season as the First Base Coach, it’s pretty reasonable to expect 20 SB’s from Escobar, Frenchy, Gordon, Cain, and possibly Gio.The only question marks I can see here are at 2B and fourth OF’er.

Gio didn’t have the greatest debut last season (.247/.273/.376 in 46 games while working a Yuni like 6 BB’s) and still has minor league options left. Plus he is recovering from off-season hip surgery, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Chris Getz is still hanging around like that annoying gnat that buzzes by your ear every 30 seconds in the summer that you’ll never be able to swat. He has some value as a good situational hitter and solid pinch runner, but his defense is sub-par and he hardly has the range to backup at SS, nor the arm strength to backup 3B. Like Gio, though, he does have a minor league option left. Then we have Yuni… Ah, Yuni. The enigma that Dayton rid us of last offseason, only to bring him right back to where he belongs. (Now if we can only sign Greinke next winter, we will have pulled off the best trade of all-time!) Yuni was brought in to be a “Utility” infielder who could spell Moose against tough lefties and occasionally get the nod at SS and 2B. With the exception of a handfull of games in his rookie season at 2B, Yuni has experience exclusively at SS. Which means he’s compiled a grand total of…. 0 innings at 3B. But he does possess a little bit of pop in his bat, which is a major plus since Yost claims he will be doing more in-game situational substitutions this year. In the end, however, my money is on Giavotella, with Yuni serving off the bench as needed, and Getzy playing a utility role in Omaha. Gio is that “gritty” type of player that Ned Yost just drools over (see: Jason Kendall).

For the fourth OF position, it’s going to be a tough decision. On the one hand, you have the incumbent: Mitch Maier. Mitch has been a model citizen for this franchise. He steps up when his number is called, and keeps his mouth shut and chin up when it’s not. He can play all three outfield positions well, serves as the emergency catcher (he played catcher in college), and has even taken practice reps at 1B and 3B. Oh and don’t forget about his stint as a reliever! (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=17333401) He is the type of bench players that managers dream of. On the other hand, you have Jarrod Dyson. He has the speed to change games, especially in the late innings of those close ballgames we have all become accustomed to over the past few seasons. He has the ability to turn a single or a walk into a double, and there is little opposing teams can do to stop him. He is capable of playing all outfield positions, but is best served in CF given his extreme speed and lack of arm strength (think Coco Crisp weakness). He has limited power; but like I said, his speed changes everything. And with basecloggers like Butler, Pena, and Yuni, you have to have someone who can be their ghostrunner. This is why I’d go with Dyson over Maier. It’s one of the tougher roster decisions to make, and that’s a good thing. The tougher it is to decide who your bench players are, the better your starters must be.

Rotation: T
1. Bruce Chen L
2. Luke Hochevar R
3. Jonathan Sanchez L
4. Felipe Paulino R
5. Danny Duffy L

Barring any major trades, FA signings, or a miraculous Spring Training, this will be our starting rotation heading into the season. Overall, it’s respectable (mostly because of the addition of Sanchez and the retention of Chen). Hochevar has to continue to progress like he did after the All-Star break last season, where he became a groundball machine. If he stumbles back into his old form though, expect this to be his last season in Royal blue. Sanchez needs to prove he was worth being the only major upgrade to the rotation this offseason by proving he’s totally healthy and improving his 2:1 K:BB ratio. Bruce should be Bruce, and will allow us all to scream “C’MON CHEN!” for another summer. Duffy needs to show that he has learned how to make it past 5 innings without throwing 100+ pitches. Granted, he seemed to get his strikes fouled off more than any other pitcher this past season. But he still walked 51 batters in 20 starts, so his command needs some improvement. Paulino was solid, if un-spectacular. He proved that he could be a contribution to a winning team though, which is a step in the right direction for KC. If the Royals do add another impact starter or if one of Crow/Mendoza/Montgomery prove they’re up to the task, Paulino could be easily moved into the bullpen as the long reliever.

Bullpen: T
CL: Joakim Soria R
SU: Greg Holland R
SU: Jonathan Broxton R
MR: Louis Coleman R
MR: Tim Collins L
MR: Blake Wood R
MR/LOOGY: Jose Mijares L
LR/MR/SU/Spot-Starter: Aaron Crow R

I would say of this group Soria, Holland, Broxton, Coleman, Collins, and Wood are sure shots to be in the ‘pen. All of them but Soria and Broxton had solid seasons last year and help shape a young, terrific bullpen. Broxton is more of an unknown in this situation due to an elbow injury that kept him out of action for all but 14 games last season. But coming into last year, he had been to two straight All-Star games. This was a low-risk, high-reward signing for Dayton Moore and helped add to a scary-good bullpen. Jose Mijares was claimed by KC after the Twins DFA’d him last month. Over his career he has averaged less than one-inning/appearance, which is why I think this is a good pick-up for us. He’s a typical LOOGY (Lefty-One-Out-Guy), a la Jimmy Gobble that one year. He has a career ERA of 3.16, a 2:1 ratio, and has held opponents to a .243 AVG. Not spectacular. Yet prototypical. He and Broxton should enjoy many-a-barbecue nights in the bullpen. I left Crow off my “sure shots” list for one reason: if he’s a starter in the Spring, yet doesn’t earn a rotation spot, he may be sent to Omaha where he can start every fifth day and begin to stretch his arm out again. If that does happen, then either Everett Teaford (L) or Nate Adcock (R) fills out the long reliever role. But as for now, he is the best option for this “Utility” bullpen role.

Grand Total: 12 hitters, 13 pitchers

Yost has been talking about going with a 13-man pitching staff coming into this season so he could play a more National League brand of baseball, subbing multiple pitchers in an inning or even pulling off the famous “double-switch”. So with this roster set-up, he’ll be able to get his way and have just enough bench to scrape by.