The Royals have announced that they have claimed catcher George Kottaras off of waivers from the Oakland A’s, who had designated him for assignment last week after the received catcher John Jaso from the Mariners as a part of the Michael Morse trade.
Kottaras, 29, played in 58 games last season for the Brewers before being dealt to Oakland in exchange for reliever Fautino De Los Santos. While with Oakland, he took part in 27 regular season games, as well as four playoff games.
He didn’t fare too well offensively last season, posting just a .211 batting average. But George does possess the ability to take a walk (.351 OBP in ’12) and has enough power to be a threat (36 doubles and 24 HR in 592 career AB).
In order to make room for Kottaras on the 40-man roster, the Royals opted to designate utility infielder Tony Abreu for assignment.
In 2012, Abreu hit .257/.284/.357 in 22 games; splitting time at second, third, short, and DH.
As it stands right now, Kottaras and Brett Hayes figure to be the primary options for backing up Salvador Perez, with Max Ramirez and Manny Pina figuring to get a few looks as well in spring training.
I sincerely apologize if anyone came by here yesterday or the day before looking for a post after the Royals gave away the series finale to the A’s. I was too gut-wrenched at the time. But I’ve had some time to think.
A 3-3 road trip – not too shabby. The mantra is “Go .500 on the road, win at home”.
The Royals could have easily been 6-0 coming into today if it weren’t for one bad inning (Angels – game 1 of the series), base running blunders in a 1-0 game (A’s – game 1 of the series), and an ugly bottom of the 12th (A’s – game 3 of the series).
But here we are.
After going up 4-3, Ned Yost brought Jonathan Broxton in to closeout the game in the 12th inning. Brox got off to a great start, striking out Daric Barton. Seth Smith then hit a groundball to the glove side of Alcides Escobar. Esky fumbled the ball initially, picked it up, and made an offline throw to Hosmer at first. Hosmer, at the time, made a game saving play by diving away from the bag to stop the ball from rolling into the limitless amount of foul territory. Smith was safe, one on and one-out.
Broxton then walked Jemile Weeks on four pitches. Then Eric Sogard on six pitches. Bases jacked, one-out. The situation is tense, but still manageable.
Coco Crisp hit a groudball to Yuni’s glove side, pulling him away from second base. Given Crisp’s speed, the double-play possibility was eliminated. Yuni threw to first for the out, but the tying run still scored. Two outs, 4-4 ball game, runners on second and third.
The next pitch: a 95 mph fastball. Right into Yoenis Cespedes’ ribs, loading the bases.
Yost came out for a mound visit, but left Brox in the game. Hindsight is 20/20.
Johnny Gomes takes a Broxton fastball in the hip. Game over.
Back to back walks. Two pitches, two hit batters.
If Broxton were in any other position in this bullpen, he would have been yanked right after he loaded the bases, if not before. But it’s that closer title he’s been given that made Ned think that he should stay in there and stick it out. If any other reliever had given up three straight free passes like that, don’t you think Ned would made the switch?
Now it all wasn’t Broxton’s fault. The usual sure-handed Escobar made a costly error too. He makes that play 95% of the time. If he makes the play properly, it’s nobody on and two outs. And, more importantly, no pressure.
But in the end, Broxton deservedly took the loss.
Cain to the DL
Lorezno Cain made a terrific play on Tuesday, crashing into the wall in deep center while robbing the A’s of an RBI and extra bases. Cain hurt his groin when he hit the wall and was pulled from the game an inning later. It was a Grade 1 groin strain, the least severe. Cain got Wednesday’s game off, as well as Thursday due to the team’s day off. He planned to be ready for the home opener.
Lorenzo was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday due to a strained left groin.
It’s more of a precautionary move, due to the fact that Cain’s biggest asset is his speed and range in the outfield. The Royals want to take care of this issue now to make sure it won’t become a lingering issue. Jarrod Dyson was called up from Triple A Omaha to take Cain’s spot on the roster. Dyson was hitting .364 in Omaha thus far (12 for 33) with 6 SB.
The Royals have a plethora of options to fill the center field void left by Cain: left-handed hitters Mitch Maier and Jarrod Dyson, and right-handed hitting Jason Bourgeois.
Gordon Gets Off the Schneid
Alex Gordon broke his season-long hitless streak on Wednesday in a big way.
In his second AB of the game, Alex hit a RBI single into center field – hit first hit of the season. But Alex didn’t let up much after that.
Gordon (1) sent a Brian Fuentes sinker over the wall in center field, which tied the game at 3-3.
Alex ended the game going 2 for 5 with a single, HR, BB, 0 K, and 2 RBI.
He also made a great diving catch to end the bottom of the 5th, robbing Josh Reddick of a base hit and possible RBI – keeping the game at 3-2 Oakland.
Catcher Salvador Perez is making progress on the road to recovery. After a sucessful surgery four weeks ago, Sal was able to ditch the crutches and walk freely through the Royals clubhouse.
Felipe Paulino, who was sent to the DL because of a strained right forearm, is progressing as well. He began throwing off of a mound in a bullpen workout a few days ago. He was able to throw live batting practice on Thursday, stating, “I feel good, strong, I want to help this team now.” He should be sent out on a few minor league rehab assignments some time soon.
Weather permitting, the Royals will play their first game at The K in 2012 today at 3:10 CT against the division rival Cleveland Indians. The Indians are 1-4 thus far on the season, being outscored 31-20 through five games. The Royals (3-3) have outscored their opponents 18-16.
The starters will be Cleveland’s Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84 ERA).
The forecast for today’s game is mostly cloudy, mid-60’s, with about a 20% chance of rain.
Damon Lands in Cleveland
Speaking of the Tribe, they have struck a one-year deal with 38 year old outfielder, and former Royal, Johnny Damon. After he’s added to the team’s 40-man roster, the left-handed Damon figures to platoon with right-handed Shelley Duncan in left field.
Johnny, who is coming off a good season with Tampa (.261/.326, 29 2B, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 19 SB), is only 277 hits away from 3,000 for his career. He figures to reduce that number greatly this season in Cleveland.
Given the absence of Grady Sizemore for another 8-12 weeks (what else is new?), the Indians found themselves needing more offense production from their outfield; hence the Damon deal.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
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
On a particularly cold night in Oakland, Tommy Milone looked more like Tommy Glavine. The rookie, making his 1st start as an A (made 5 starts with the Nationals in 2011), went 8 scoreless (93 pitches) and surrendered only 3 hits and 3 walks and had 0 Ks. Needless to say, the Royals’ hitters just couldn’t figure him out.
The Royals’ 3 hits all came in the first three innings of the game:
- Jason Bourgeois lead the game off (inplace of Alex Gordon) with a double to deep center which would have been a triple if not for a hustling Yoenis Cespedes. His leadoff double was quickly erased. Lorenzo Cain hit a flyball to right that normally would have been difficult enough for a runner to advance to third, but A’s right fielder Josh Reddick threw a laser to third and nailed Bourgeois with a perfect throw.
- Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to left field with 2 outs in the top of the 2nd. Brayan Pena proceeded to groundout to end the inning.
- Alcides Escobar hit a double down the right field line to leadoff the 3rd, but never was able to advance past second thanks to a Chris Getz infield pop-up, a Bourgeois grouder to short, and a Lorenzo Cain fly ball to center.
- Chris Getz’s at-bat was probably the biggest missed opportunity of the night. He had Escobar on second with nobody out. He tried to lay down a SAC bunt and failed. In turn, he hit a harmless pop-up. All he needed to do was move Escobar over to third, and he would have likely scored on Bourgeois groundball. Situational hitting is probably the biggest asset that Getz brings to the roster and he failed to come through last night.
The only other baserunners the Royals had on the evening were the product of walks – 3 by Milone and 1 by Grant Balfour.
- Eric Hosmer walked to leadoff the 4th and moved to second base on a Billy Butler groundball out. With Jeff Francoeur at the plate, just as Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler were discussing Hosmer’s speed, Hosmer took off for third base and was thrown out by catcher Kurt Suzuki. Frenchy would go on to draw a walk from Milone as well. So instead of having two-on with one out and a runner on scoring position, the Royals had Frenchy on first with two down. Until Frenchy was caught trying to steal second. Inning over, threat neutralized.
- Hoz drew another walk in the 7th, but nothing came of it. Pinch-hitter Mitch Maier walked in the 9th.
Poor basrunning just killed the Royals last night. Three times (!) a scoring threat was killed on the basepaths. But if we have to lose the game, we lost it our way: being aggressive baserunners. The offense wasn’t doing much, so Ned Yost tried to get the team to manufacture runs. It just didn’t workout this time. The Royals also went down in order four times – innings 1, 5, 6, and 8.
On the other side of the ball, Luis Mendoza had an impressive season debut. He did struggle a little with his command, as it seemed like his sinker was floating too far inside to every A’s left-handed hitter. He ended up going 5.2 innings, giving up just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 Ks. But he also had 4 BBs.
The A’s one run against Mendoza came in the bottom of the 2nd. With 2-out and runners on the corners, third baseman Josh Dolnaldson hit a sharp grounder to right field, bring home the runner from third base. Other than that, aside from a few walks, Mendoza didn’t run into much trouble against the Athletics lineup.
Lefties Tim Collins and Jose Mijares pitched 2.1 innings collectively to finish the game for KC, each giving up one hit, and recording one K (Collins also walked one).
Too Much Tinkering?
Manager Ned Yost threw out a unique lineup last night in Oakland. He decided to give Gordon and Moustakas – both left-handed hitters- the night off against LHP Tommy Milone. In place of Gordon and Moose were Jason Bourgeois in LF and Yuni at 3B. On top of that, Chris Getz was in the lineup at 2B – meaning that all three of the Royals’ super-utility players were on the field at the same time. So this is what the lineup looked like last night:
1. Jason Bourgeois LF
2. Lorenzo Cain CF
3. Eric Hosmer 1B
4. Billy Butler DH
5. Jeff Francoeur RF
6. Yuniesky Betancourt 3B
7. Brayan Pena C
8. Alcides Escobar SS
9. Chris Getz 2B
It’s game number four, and already Ned is giving two guys – who probably weren’t too happy about it – the game off. And, not to mention, this was the Royals’ fourth different lineup in four days. The end result: 0 runs, 3 hits. Yost may be playing around with this lineup a little too much. Just let Gordon and Moose go out there and take their hacks.
- Royals (2-2) @ A’s (2-3)
- Royals LHP Danny Duffy vs. A’s RHP Graham Godfrey
- 9:05 pm CT
According to ESPN and Baseball America’s Jerry Crasnick, the Royals have signed 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal that includes an invite to Spring Training. Kouz will make $1M if he makes the big league roster. The deal also includes $300K in performance incentives. He can choose to opt-out of the contract if he isn’t in the majors by May 1st.
Kevin Kouzmanoff’s career started off with a bang in 2006 with the Cleveland Indians. On the very first pitch he had ever seen at the big league level, Kouz hit a grand slam – being the first player ever to do so. In the succeeding offseason, he was dealt along with pitcher Andrew Brown to San Diego for 2B Josh Barfield.
He had the best 3 seasons of his career thus far with the Padres (2007-09). During his time with the Friars, he had a relatively pedestrian average (.263) and a poor OBP (.309). (It should be noted that Kouzmanoff strikes out a ton and takes walks like Miguel Olivo) But his value was in his power (59 HR) and his glove (.966 Fld%). In 2009, he set a MLB record for Fld% by a 3B in a single season by committing only 3 errors in 309 chances (.990 Fld%). In the following offseason though, Kouz was again traded – this time to Oakland (along with 2B Eric Sogard for OF’s Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham). This was the beginning of a downward trend for the 3B.
In 143 games with Oakland in 2010, Kouz had a sickly slash line (.247/.283/.396), but still managed to produce a 1.2 WAR (mostly due to 32 doubles, 16 HR, and a .968 Fld%). In 2011, he played in 46 games with the A’s before he was shipped in August to Colorado for a PTBNL/cash. Ouch.
He managed to take part in 27 games with the Rockies at the tail-end of the 2011 season before being outrighted from the 40-man roster and thus electing free agency.
And that brings us to today.
This is most likely an insurance signing for Mike Moustakas. I would say, with how the everything currently looks, Kevin has a very small chance of breaking Spring Training as a part of the 25-man roster. But he does have value as a Defense-First, Power-Second, all-others-last role player. It’s another low-risk, low-cost signing by GMDM. And it, in all likelihood, won’t matter much.