Tagged: Ned Yost

Hochevar Moving to the ‘Pen, Moscoso Moving On

Luke Hochevar is no longer being considered for the no. 5 slot in the Royals’ rotation.

In just three outings this spring totaling all of 8.0 innings, Hoch has surrendered 6 runs (all earned), 9 hits (including 2 HR), and had a WHIP of 1.88.

Luke Hochevar's future with the Royals will be in the bullpen.

Luke Hochevar’s future with the Royals will be in the bullpen.

Mercifully, Hochevar’s time in the Royals’ rotation appears to be over. Manager Ned Yost has decided move the long-time starter to the bullpen, leaving the fifth rotation spot up for grabs between Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza. Yost said that, while they’re long shots, Will Smith and Yordano Ventura are still in the mix for the job as well.

Given his history as a starter and his ability to throw a mid-90’s fastball that’s coupled with a decent sinker/slider combo, Luke could serve as both a long-man in the bullpen (if need be) or a late-inning guy – depending on the situation. As of right now, I would envision Luke’s role in the ‘pen as either a 6th or 7th inning guy. The fact that he’s only pitched out of the bullpen three times in his career makes me wary of the thought of him pitching late in meaningful games.

It was time for a change. Actually, it is well past the time for a change. The Royals have been trying to move Hochevar all winter long, talking the most with the Colorado Rockies (Hoch is from Denver, by the way). It has been reported that the asking price for Hochevar is “quite a bit”, which is understandable given that this organization seems to be enamored with a pitcher who has a career 5.39 ERA, -0.3 WAR, and is still going through salary arbitration (he’s scheduled to make $4.56 million in 2013). But, as Ned and GMDM have beaten into the ground, Hoch has the “stuff” to be a quality starting pitcher.

He really does, though.

We’ve all seen him dominate. We’ve all also see him have a perfect game going into the 5th, 6th, or 7th inning before imploding and costing the team the game.

It’s time to ask Luke for just one good inning.

This move is similar to what the Rays did with Wade Davis last season. They’re both big-bodied pitchers who are capable of dialing it up if asked to go one inning at a time. Davis thrived in the bullpen last season (54 appearances, 70.1 IP, 2.43 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 1.4 WAR) before being traded to Kansas City with the intention of sliding him back into the rotation. If the Royals can get anything even remotely close to that from Hoch, they’ll be ecstatic.

“I think it makes us a better team. I think it makes us a stronger team. It gives us a better chance to win every day. With three weeks left, I want to get him acclimated to that role.” – Ned Yost on moving Hochevar to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)

Luke appears to be taking the move in stride and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“I’m willing to take the ball in any position that I can to help the club. That’s the bottom line. Whether it’s starting or in relief, whatever it is, my role is not important. What’s important is that when I take the ball, I’m helping the club.” – Hochevar on moving to the bullpen (Kansas City Star)

For now, it appears that the Royals are intent on keeping Luke in the organization. While he may very well be traded at some point, the Royals are no longer “showcasing” him as a starter.
Moscoso Let Go
The Royals have opted to relase right-hander Guillermo Moscoso. Yost stated that it was clear he was not going to make the team out of spring training, so this gives him an opportunity to join another team before the waiver wire becomes flooded with other players in the same boat. Moscoso is out of minor league options, so he would have had to be exposed to waivers prior to being sent down to the minors.
The Royals acquired the righty back in November on a waiver claim from the Rockies. He has the experience and ability to pitch in either the rotation or the bullpen.
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Winter Meetings Recap: Day Two

Tuesday was a much-ado-about-nothing type of day for GMDM and the Royals. No moves were made, but talks with a number of GMs and agents are still ongoing.

No Deal For Dickey

R.A. Dickey‘s name is still flying around the trade rumor mill, with the Royals being one of the teams still in the mix. The Mets appear to be willing to part with the Cy Young award winner, but are asking for premium talent in return – like Wil Myers.

Don’t get me wrong, Dickey is a great guy and fine pitcher. 2012 was a career year and he was the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff. But the guy is 38. No general manager in their right mind (I’m assuming) would give up a player of Wil Myers’ caliber for two years of an aging starting pitcher who gets by on basically a trick pitch. Granted, knuckleballers typically pitch well into their 40s (Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, etc.), and Dickey seems to have finally figured out how to get hitters to swing and miss. But Dickey will be in the final year of his deal in 2013 and will more than likely test the waters of free agency. So giving up six years of Wil Myers, who projects to be a 25-30 HR-type hitter that should supplant Jeff Francoeur in right field sooner rather than later, for one year of R.A. Dickey doesn’t make much, if any, sense.

Royals officials have since gone as far to say that they definitely will not involve Wil Myers in any deal for R.A. Dickey.

There is another rumor being floated around that the Royals countered the Met’s offer by requesting Dickey in exchange for Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi. Again, this is a rumor. No official reports have come out that I have seen confirming the offer, but it may be a fair deal for both sides.

Other teams with interest in acquiring Dickey are the Rangers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays.

Still in on Anibal?

The Royals are still in on starter Anibal Sanchez. It’s been said that Anibal is looking for a multi-year deal worth roughly $15-20 million annually and is considered to be well out of the David Glass’ price range. But the Royals are being noted as one of the more active teams during the Winter Meetings thus far.

Former A’s Pitcher Drawing More Interest

The Royals are also one of a handful of teams with serious interest in signing Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy will come considerably cheaper than Sanchez, as a one or two-year deal for him seems likely right now. He went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in 18 starts for the A’s last season before his season ended after he was struck in the head by a line drive – causing him to undergo successful brain surgery. Other teams in on McCarthy include the A’s, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Rangers.

In any case, if you have a Twitter account, you should definitely give him a follow.

Who Knew?

In a live chat yesterday, Royals beat writer Bob Dutton mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles have mild interest in acquiring right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals likely wouldn’t get much in return for Frenchy and would probably have to throw in a few million in order to make the deal fair.

As far as I’m concerned, no matter what the Royals get in return, Dayton Moore needs to pull the trigger on this one. Immediately.

Power Ball

Ned Yost wants the Royals to take a new approach at the plate next season.

“I think Salvador Perez can hit 20-25 homeruns. I think Hosmer can hit 30. Moose can hit 30. Gordy can hit 30. I think Cain can hit 20. I think eventualy Wil Myers can hit 30 homers. We’ve got guys who can do this. Billy Butler could hit 40 – he’s got that kind of pop. I want us to open up our offense a little more and start using the long ball to our advantage”. – manager Ned Yost

In short: More power (somewhere I can here Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor grunting…).

The main reason the Royals opted to part ways with former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer is that he preached that hitters to hit gap-to-gap and up the middle rather than swinging for the fences.

Enter Jack Maloof and Andre David. While both will be hitting coaches, Maloof will hold the official position while David will serve as an assistant. Both were previously hitting instructors within the Royals’ minor league system.

Yost went on to say, “I would rather strike out than hit the ball deep to the center field wall and have it caught – unless there’s a man on third base. I’d rather open up the offense a little bit. I’d rather start taking some good swipes at the ball and try to put the ball in the stands because I think we’ve got guys who can do it.”

The Recognition Continues

2012 was a banner year for Big Bill, as he was a first-time All-Star, a first-time Silver Slugger award winner for his role as the team’s DH, and was selected as the Royals’ player of the year for the third time. He also played in a career-high 161 games.

Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion finished second in the balloting.

The only other Royal to win the award was Hal McRae, who did it three times (1976, 1980, 1982).

Salvation is Nigh

The morning after the Omaha Storm Chasers fell to Reno in defense of their PCL title, the Royals promoted a handful a players from the Triple-A club.

Among them was a name Royals fans have been clamoring for: Jake Odorizzi.

Between Double-A and Triple-A this season, the righthander was solid: 15-5, 3.03 ERA, a 135/50 K/BB ratio, and a WHIP of 1.25 in 145.3 innings pitched (26 games, 25 starts). While Odorizzi was definitely deserving of a big league promotion, the move also comes with being added to the 40-man roster – meaning Jake will not be available to other ball clubs in the upcoming Rule 5 draft this winter.

Fans in Kansas City have been calling Odorizzi’s name for most of the season, given the inconcistent performances of starting pitchers Luke Hochevar, Jonathan Sanchez, Bruce Chen, and the season-ending injuries suffered by Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino. But Dayton Moore opted to keep Izzy in Triple-A through the remainder of their season to work on lowering his pitch count by using his pitches more effectively (he averaged only 5-6 innings per start this season) and compete for the PCL title.

Given the heavy workload he’s already had this season, Odorizzi figures to just get a taste of big league action this season. Ned Yost has said that he’ll be in the bullpen for the time being, but is slated to start Sunday’s home game against Cleveland if he isn’t needed before then. He’s been given number 49.

The others promoted to Kansas City are catcher Adam Moore, IF/U Irving Falu, LHP Tommy Hottovy, and RHP Nate Adcock. Noth Hottovy and Adcock figure to serve as extra bullpen depth, while Falu could see some playing time all over the field.

Adam Moore was claimed off of waivers this July after the Mariners DFA’d him. The 28 year old hasn’t wowed anyone during his time in the majors (68 games, .197/.231/.295, 13 XBH (5 HR), 17 RBI, 72 K, 8 BB), but his line of .296/.381/.443 and 11 XBH (3 HR) in 35 games with Omaha this season has earned Moore a look. The Royals now have four active catchers: Sal Perez, Brayan Pena, Manny Pina, and Moore.

Two Out, Three Up

Sorry for being a few days behind on this post, but I figure these roster moves are still worth noting.

Yuniesky Betancourt was DFA’d and Jose Mijares was claimed off the waiver wire by the Giants.

In turn, IF Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno were both promoted from Omaha to Kansas City. In a correspondence, SS Christian Colon was promoted from NW Arkansas to Omaha to take Abreu’s spot.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The two subtractions from the big league roster are a little odd. Let’s start with the Yuni move.

Coming into the season, Yuniseky Betancourt was signed to a one-year deal knowing that he would serve as the team’s utility infielder. A decent spring, Gio’s demotion, and the fact that Chris Getz is a left-handed hitter lead to Yuni becoming the right-handed half of the second base platoon. He was even the starter at second on Opening Day. Over the season, Yuni has had his ups and downs. On the plus side, he had a little bit of pop (7 HR in 215 AB) and seemed to come through in clutch situations. He also played passable defense at both second and third base (5 E, .975 Fld%) for a role-player. But that’s about it.

Yuni didn’t strikeout a ton (25 K), but his ability to take a walk was laughable (9 BB in 228 PA). His slash line of .228/.256/.400 was worthy of demotion, he had little-to-no speed, and continually ran into outs on the basepaths. But even with all of these fireable offenses, Yuni felt that he deserved more playing time – and that’s why the Royals opted to part ways with him.

“…and Yuni did a great job for us, but he was a guy that wanted more playing time. He would get upset when he didn’t, but Getz was playing good. There were just situations. We’re trying to win the ballgame, and we’re going to put the best team on the field every day.” “…We’ve got to make sure that if we’re going to change our culture, we have 25 guys who are invested in what we’re trying to do.” – Yost on Yuni

Thus, the team designated Betancourt for assignment after Sunday’s win over Cleveland. The Royals have 10 days to trade (if another team claims him), release, or demote him. I could see a team that has suffered an injury or needs a right-handed hitting platoon partner at either 2B, SS, or 3B take a chance on claiming Yuni.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The next day, a puzzling roster move took place when the Royals let Jose Mijares go to the Giants on a waiver claim. There are a lot of confusing pieces to this one:

  • Why would KC want to part with a relatively young (27), productive (51 G, 38.2 IP, 2-2, 2.56 ERA, 11 holds in 51 appearances), and affordable/controllable (arbitration eligible through 2014) lefty from the ‘pen?
  • More importantly, why would they let him go for virtually nothing?

The real answer lies in Mijares’ future earning potential. The Royals signed Mijares to a one-year, $925K deal this past offseason after he was non-tendered by the Twins. Expectations were relatively low coming into the season for Jose, even after he made the team out of spring training, mostly due to his 2011 numbers: 58 G, 49 IP, 0-2, 4.59 ERA, 1.694 WHIP, and a 1:1 K:BB ratio. But given his success thus far in 2012, he’s likely to command a sizable raise next season (club officials reportedly believe he could earn up to $2.5 million in arbitration for 2013).

The team reportedly couldn’t find any takers for Mijares before the July 31st trade deadline and didn’t believe that he would be a part of this team moving forward.

“If we could have (traded him), we would have. We just need to see some other guys. We have multiple people in our organization who think Bueno can be just as effective against left-handers and get right-handers out as well.” – Dayton Moore on Jose Mijares

Now on the additions: Utility infielder Tony Abreu and LHP Francisely Bueno.

With Yuni out of the picture, the Royals were in need of a utility infielder who could fill in at second, third, and short any given day. Instead of recalling Irving Falu, the Royals opted to give 27 year old career minor leaguer Tony Abreu a chance. Abreu has seen time in the big leagues before (65 combined games for the Dodgers in ’07 and ’09, and 81 games for the Diamondbacks in ’10), so he won’t be seeing big league pitching for the first time.

Abreu, a switch-hitting utility infielder, has been hitting extremely well in Omaha while primarily playing shortstop. In 103 games, he hit .322/.347/.839 with 50 XBH (36 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR), 60 R, 73 RBI, and 7 SB (although he did have 69 K to 14 BB). His OBP is definitely aided by his high batting average, but his 50 extra-base hits through 103 games is definitely noteworthy.

Tony saw action in the first three games after his promotion, going 3-for-10 with 2 doubles, a run scored and a run batted in while both third and short.

Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Knasas City Star

Francisley Bueno was recalled from Omaha after Mijares was claimed by San Francisco. Bueno has already seen time in Kansas City this season, allowing 5 hits and 2 runs in 4.2 IP (3 appearances), good for a 3.86 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP. He’s been better for Omaha in 2012; in 35 games (55.2 IP), Bueno has a 2.75 ERA, 54 K to 15 BB, and a 1.042 WHIP with 6 saves.

At 31, Bueno isn’t a young prospect who needs to get his feet wet at the big league level. But he’s performed well for the Royals’ organization this year and deserves as much of a chance as anybody. if it weren’t for his left-handedness, I’m not sure he gets the call here. But given that he is a lefty, as is Mijares, Bueno will get a shot to stick on the roster.

Lastly, even though it wasn’t a big league promotion, SS Christian Colon – the no. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft – was promoted from Double-A NW Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha after the Storm Chaser’s everyday SS (Abreu) was called up to Kansas City.

Colon, who many see as a second basemen/utility player in the future, was hitting .289/.364/.392 with 5 HR, 27 RBI, and 12 SB in 73 games for the Naturals this season. Given he’s 23 years old, most feel that Colon should have been at Omaha to start the season since the Royals selected him with the intention that he would be on the fast track to Kansas City. Colon will serve as the everyday SS in Omaha given the fact that Johnny Giavotella (who is raking, by the way) is holding his own at second base.

Personally, I would like to see Colon in Kansas City sometime this season, and he’ll likely be a September call-up.

Royals, Kendall Agree to Minor League Deal

The gritty and grizzled veteran  has decided to give baseball one more go-around before he retires his mitt for good.

The Royals announced today that they have signed the former All-Star to a minor league deal and will send him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas where he’ll be expected to aid in the development of the organization’s top pitcing prospects – namely the recently-demoted Mike Montgomery.

At 38 years old, Kendall is hardly a guy who is just fighting for a shot at the big leagues. He’s basically giving one last-ditch effort in order to salvage an already historic career.

Jason last played in the majors back in 2010 with the Royals before he had surgery in September of that same year on a torn rotator cuff. After attempting to come back in 2011, he re-injured his shoulder and had to undergo another surgical procedure – causing him to miss the entire season. His contract was not renewed after the season, leading him to become free agent.

The Royals opted to sign Kendall as more of a depth move than anything. An organization can never have too much depth at any position, and we here in Kansas City have seen what can happen when two of your catchers go down with significant injuries.

Jason has been with the organization throughout his time as a free agent, serving as an unofficial catching instructor.

“He doesn’t know if he can do it. He feels good. He’s been working hard. He’s taken his rehab to a point where he feels like he can play.” – Ned Yost on Jason Kendall

Through 15 seasons (1996-2010), Kendall owns a career slash line of .288/.366/.378. His 2085 games played ranks fifth all-time amongst all catchers, while his 189 career stolen bases ranks him first all-time at the position.

It’s Time To Go

*Update*

Jonathan Sanchez has been DFA’d. Jason Bourgeois was optioned to Triple-A Omaha.

That’s it. We’ve seen enough. Jonathan Sanchez, it’s time for you to go.

Jonathan Sanchez walks off the field after being relieved in the second inning. Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The Royals were down 5-0 to the Mariners last night before Sanchez recorded an out; yet, he was trotted out again to start the 2nd inning. Two runs and one out later, Yost decided he had finally, finally seen enough. He exited to an ovation worthy of Robinson Cano after throwing 50 pitches through 1.1 innings, giving up 7 hits and 7 earned runs. But hey, he only walked one.

At 1-6, Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t won a game since April 8th – his first start of the season. His 7.76 ERA ranks 2nd worst all-time in club history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched (#1: Chad Durbin – 8.21). For this season, he’s averaging 4.1 innings per start, 92 pitches per start, and 7.4 walks to 6.1 strikeouts. His longest start of the season? Six innings aginst Houston. His fewest pitches thrown? Fifty pitches through 1.1 innings last night. His best full month? April: 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 17 BB, 13 K.

His fastball velocity is noticeably down. In seasons passed, Sanchez’s fastball velocity normally sat in the 91-93 range with the ability to dial it up to 94-95 if needed. But now, he’s lucky if his fastball touches 90 mph. He’s constantly sitting somewhere in the Chen-esque 86-89 range. But that works for Bruce. He isn’t a strikeout guy, and he knows it, so he uses an economy of pitches and arm angles to get guys out. Sanchez used to be a stikeout pitcher when he was able to get the radar gun to flash numbers in the low-to-mid 90’s. But with a decrease in velocity, his approach never changed. His once unhittable fastball has become something of the past.

Do you really need any more information to decide whether or not this guy is worth a roster spot?

On top of that, his love for the game is constantly in question. Time and time again, Sanchez has looked completely apathetic on the mound. His apathy was further eveidenced when he told Kansas City reporters, when questioned about his high pitch and walk totals, “That’s just the way I pitch.”

In his last 5 starts, he’s given up 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 IP (Houston); 6 ER, 6 BB, 5.2 IP (St. Louis); 6 ER, 6 BB, 4.1 IP (Minnesota); 4 ER, 3 BB, 5.2 IP (Detroit); and 7 ER, 1 BB, 1.1 IP (Seattle) for a grand total of 26 ER and 20 BB in 23 IP.

Sanchez’s most recent outing caused the Royals to burn their bullpen again. Louis Coleman (2.2 IP) and Everett Teaford (5 IP) combined to finish out the game. Teaford was scheduled to start tonight’s game against Seattle, but 79 pitches and five innings of relief work will cause the Royals to scramble to fill that spot in the rotation.

Word is that the team will call-up either LHP Ryan Verdugo (the other piece of the Melky trade) or LHP Doug Davis to start the game, as well as RHP Vin Mazzaro to serve as the bullpen’s long reliever – now a key position in the Royals’ bullpen.

In accordance, a major roster move will likely need to be made. Could this possibly spell the end of Jonathan Sanchez’s time in Kansas City?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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