The All-Star festivities have officially come and gone in Kansas City.
FanFest was an overwhelming success.
Talk about sensory overload…
Upon going up the escalator to the show room at Bartle Hall, when you see the banners hanging from the ceiling, authentic baseball memorabilia on walls and tables, Cal Ripken and Barry Larkin instructing a local high school baseball team on proper fielding techniques, everybody thinking and talking about baseball, and nearly 80% of the fans attending wearing Royals gear, you knew you were in baseball heaven.
If you didn’t do anything else baseball related during All-Star week in Kansas City, I hope you at least took a few hours to venture downtown, take a stroll through Barney Allis Plaza on your way to FanFest. It was a living, breathing baseball museum with every ounce of baseball history covered from head-to-toe. And for $30 a ticket, you got way more than what you paid for.
The All-Star Future’s Game drew a record crowd.
40,000+ attended the Future’s Game most likely due to the presence of future Royals Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Yordano Ventura. If that doesn’t make Dayton Moore call-up Myers and/or Odorizzi, I don’t know what will.
It goes to show you though, if you put an exciting product on the field, the stadium will be filled almost every single night. This is a baseball town. We just haven’t had many teams to rally behind in the past 10+ years.
The Homerun Derby… was everything a Royals fan could have ever wanted (outside of seeing Billy Butler send a few BP fastballs into the fountains).
Oh, what a night it was.
The Homerun Derby is, and always will be, an exciting affair. And this year’s was no exception.
We all know the story. Robinson Cano, the captain for the American League’s half of the Derby, stated publicly that he would assuredly select a Royal to participate – which happened to Billy Butler. Then Robby snubbed him.
Robinson Cano drew the biggest collective “boooooooooo” I have ever had the priviledge of hearing. I also have never heard a louder crowd collectively cheer for one person as they did when they called for Billy Butler. My wife and I, watching from home, couldn’t help but laugh, smile, and throw in a few cheers and “boos” of our own during Cano’s failed hacks. Watching him hit pop-up after pop-up into the outfield literally made my week. In all, Robinson was a glorious 0-fer – hitting absolutely zero homeruns. That itself made it all so, so sweet.
Outside of Cano, the fans were treated to a great show by Mark Trumbo and Derby champ Prince Fielder. Trumbo, who Cano supposedly picked over Butler, hit possibly the most impressive homerun I have ever seen when he launched a ball onto the roof of the Royals Hall of Fame in left field – some 475+ ft. Equally impressive was the amount of balls Prince was able to send into the fountains deep in right center.
The All-Star Game was a lopsided affair.
Justin Verlander got rocked. How often have you ever been able to hear that?
The NL was able to talley five runs off of him in the first inning thanks to a Pablo Sandoval bases-loaded triple (the first such occurance in All-Star Game history).
Another Giant earned the All-Star Game’s top honor. Former Royals great Melky Cabrera won the All-Star Game MVP award thanks to his two-run homerun. It was great to see Melky make his first All-Star team and win the MVP award in Kansas City, but it makes the Jonathan Sanchez trade sting that much more…
But without a doubt, the most memorable moment of the game didn’t come when Bryce Harper lost a flyball in left field. Or when Derek Jeter and Ryan Braun chummed it up on the field in the midst of Braun’s triple. Or when Robinson Cano was booed yet again. Or even when Billy Butler finally got his first AB in the 7th inning (although that was a close 2nd).
For me, it was when Chipper Jones took his first at-bat ever in Kansas City. Before Tuesday, the long-time veteran had played in every single stadium in the league except for Kauffman Stadium. He hit a choppy groundball between first and second that was “just” out of Ian Kinsler’s reach for a basehit. You could see Chipper smiling at Kinsler when he reached first base. Any other day, Kinsler makes that play.
- Both CF Lorenzo Cain and 2B Chris Getz have been activated from the DL and placed on the active roster. RHP Nate Adcock and INF/U Irving Falu were the roster casualities, as both were sent back down to Omaha.
- After having a solid showing at the Future’s Game, Wil Myers went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI in the Triple-A All-Stars game as the PCL beat the International League 3-0. Wil was named the games’ MVP.
- Yordano Ventura, who started the Future’s Game for the World Team, was promoted from Single-A Kane County to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
- Joining Ventura in Double-A is lefty Mike Montgomery. In his second season at Omaha, Monty seems to have regressed significantly. In 17 starts (91.2 IP), he’s 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA with just 67 K to 43 BB and a 1.67 WHIP.
- Taking Montgomery’s spot in Omaha’s rotation will be another promising young lefty: Chris Dwyer. Through 16 starts and 85.2 IP this season for the Naturals, the 24-year old hasn’t faired much better than Montgomery. He was 5-8 with a 5.25 ERA, 71 K to 44 BB, and had a WHIP of 1.43. Dwyer’s promotion may have more to do with the Rule 5 Draft this offseason more than anything. In order to protect Dwyer from of the Rule 5 Draft, the Royals will have to place him on the 40-man roster sometime between now and the draft. If the Royals opt not to do so, they risk losing him to any team that decides he’s worth a spot on their 25-man roster for all of 2013. Note: In 2011, Baseball America ranked Dwyer as the 83rd best prospect in the game.
Overall, Kansas City showed Major League Baseball and its fans a great time and was a more than gracious host to thousands of visitors. Here’s top hoping it doesn’t take another 39 years to have another one of these.
The Royals, now losers of seven straight, are sitting at 3-9 after being swept at home in two consecutive series by Cleveland and Detroit. The series against the Tigers, even though it was still a sweep, was leaps and bounds better than the series against the Tribe. Each team recieved solid outings from their starter who were able to keep the games close throughout. The Tigers just have a knack for late-inning rallies, which were too much for the Royals to overcome.
Game One : 3-2 Detroit
- Verlander vs. Duffy
- It’s too bad that Danny Duffy was saddled with the loss, because before he left the game in the 7th, he was matching Justin Verlander pitch for pitch. Danny’s day ended after 6.2 innings, throwing 106 pitches (74 strikes), giving up only 3 runs while recording 7 K’s versus only 1 BB. For those in the know, Duffy is generally known for his high pitch-counts that usually warrant an exit after about 5 innings pitched. His pennence for throwing a lot of pitches usually comes from him getting in a lot of 3-2 counts, his ability to make hitters foul pitches off, and, of course, the dreaded walk. But Danny seems to have turned over a new leaf this season. He’s near the top of the league in K’s thus far with 15, and has only surrendered 5 BB.
- Verlander went all 9 innings for Detroit, striking out 9 while walking 2, not including his Alcides Escobar HBP in the 9th. He threw 131 pitches, 85 of which were for strikes. He got himself into trouble in the bottom of the 9th and almost cost himself the win. He gave up 1 run, moving the score to 3-2. He then walked Mitch Maier and hit Escobar to load the bases. The next hitter, Alex Gordon, worked Verlander to a 3-2 count. But Verlander got Gordon to watch a 100 MPH fastball at the knees to end the game.
- C’mon Alex… You have to be hacking in that situation. Inexcusable.
Game Two: 3-1 Detroit
- Bruce Chen gave the Royals a great start as well, going 7 IP with 7 K’s, 0 BB, and 2 ER while throwing 108 pitches (78 S, 30 B). Once again, the Royals get a quality start, but still get the loss.
- Billy Butler was the only Royal to get more than 1 hit on the night (he had 3 hits total).
- The Tigers broke the 1-1 tie by scoring 2 runs in the top of the 8th inning on back-to-back RBI to center field singles by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
- Royals pitchers combined for 10 K’s and 0 BB’s on the night.
Game Three: 4-3 Detroit
- The Royals got their first lead of the series on a two-run shot to left by Alcides Escobar (1) in the bottom of the 3rd against Max Scherzer (2-1 KC). The Royals put another run on the board thanks to a RBI double by Humberto Quintero, building a 3-1 lead.
- Jonathan Sanchez managed to last just 5 innings thanks to 97 pitches and 3 BB – one of which came around to score. He did manage to record 3 K while surrendering only 2 ER and 4 hits.
- Top of the 7th Inning:
- With the infield shift on and Gerald Laird on first base, Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball right at where the second basemen would have been. Miggy successfully beat the shift for a base hit, in which Laird was able to advance to third.
- Jose Mijares’ next pitch was a slider in the dirt that made it’s way passed Quintero. With Laird charging home, Quintero got a good bounce and was able to toss the ball back to Mijares at the plate but his throw was to the field side of home plate. The throw made Mijares reach across his body, away from the plate, to make the catch. Given the advantage, Laird was able to beat the play by a fraction of a second. Miggy moved up to second base as well. 3-3 game.
- Prince Fielder became the second Tiger of the inning to beat the shift. With Alcides Escobar shifted over on the other side of second base, Prince delivered a single into center field that brought in Cabrera and gave the Detroit a 4-3 lead.
- With runners on first and second in the bottom of the 9th, Alcides Escobar hit a sharp grounder down the third base line. With the Tigers playing a “no doubles” defense, Cabrera made the stop, stepped on third for the first out and tossed it to first to complete the double play. If Miggy doesn’t make this play, and with Jason Bourgeois on first, this could have easily ended the game in the Royals favor.
- With Yunieksy Betancourt batting 2nd last night, Ned Yost has now used six different hitters in the 2-spot of the lineup: Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Chris Getz, Jeff Francoeur, Jason Bourgeois, and Yuniesky Betancourt. Keep in mind, it’s still very, very early (we’re only 12 games in everybody…). Yost is trying to find out what lineup combination is going to work this season. He’s trying so many different hitters in the 2-spot because the Royals lack a true lead-off type hitter.
- Billy Butler celebrated his 26th birthday last night by going 2-for-3. He extended his hitting streak to 8 games and has had multiple hits in 3 straight (and in 6 of his last 8).
- The Tigers have had a knack for being better-late-than-never this season. In innings 1-6 this season, the Tigers have scored 32 runs. From the 7th inning on, they’ve put up 30 runs.
Benches Clear Again, Bullpeners Get In Their Cardio
In the bottom of the 7th, Max Scherzer came up and in on leadoff-man Humberto Quintero. Scherzer’s pitch nailed Quintero on his left elbow, causing Quintero to slam his bat to the ground out of frustration. Well, apparently, Gerald Laird doesn’t like it when things fall too close to his toes, as he took great exception to Quintero. The two began jawing at each other, causing both benches and bullpens to spill out onto the field.
In the end, no punches were thrown, no pushes were made, and nobody was tossed.
Quintero said after the game, “I didn’t get mad because I got hit; I got mad because it hurt a little bit — that’s why I threw the bat. This is part of the game. We’ve known each other for a long time, so we both apologized. It’s nothing personal. Everything is cool; it’s not a big deal.”
Both Laird and Quintero said they spoke with one another after the incident, stating there was no bad blood between the two.
“I don’t like to have the bat thrown down at my feet like that,” Laird said. “We talked about it, and it’s fine.”
Speaking of Benches…
Major League Baseball has handed down a 5-game suspension to Indians pitcher Jeanmar Gomez for beaning Mike Moustakas on Saturday. The incident lead to the second-bench clearing of the game. The shoving match between the two teams lead to the ejections of Gomez, third basemen Jack Hannahan, and manager Manny Acta. Both Gomez and Acta were fined undisclosed amounts, while Hannahan was fined $500 for his involvement.
Indians closer Chris Perez also received a fine, but for his involvement in the brawl (I use that term loosely here), but for a tweet he sent out after the game that night.
MLB said that the closer’s tweet “crossed the line, and fined Perez $750.
The Royals and Indians have to see each other 15 more times this season, and I doubt the Royals are going to let Cleveland get in the last punch…or push.
Toronto Blue Jays (6-6) @ Kansas City Royals (3-9)
The Royals will look to end their 10-game home stand on a positive note when they face-off for four games against Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The starters for the series are as follows:
- Friday, April 20: TOR Kyle Drabek (2-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. KC Luke Hochevar (1-1, 7.84 ERA) @ 7:10 pm
- Saturday, April 21: TOR Drew Hutchison (0-0, 0.00 ERA) @ vs. KC Luis Mendoza (0-2, 5.59 ERA) @ 6:10 pm
- Sunday, April 22: TOR Ricky Romero (2-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. KC Danny Duffy (1-1, 2.13 ERA) @ 1:10 pm
- Monday, April 23: TOR Brandon Morrow (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (0-1, 2.00 ERA) @ 7:10 pm
Entering the series, the Blue Jays are 6-6 and currently in fourth place in the AL East, but are only 1.5 games behind the first-place Orioles.
The Royals, now 3-9, are in last place in the AL Central and are 6 games back of the Tigers.
Yesterday, Joey Votto became the third 1B this offseason to sign for more than $200 million. Pujols was the first, landing a 10-year $254mil. deal with the Angels; Prince followed suit after being lured to Detroit by a 9-year $213mil. contract.
Votto’s deal: 10 years (12 years if you include his current contract), $225million. This is the 4th richest deal in baseball history, and will keep Joey a Red through the 2023 season.
Joey has been one of the most underrated players in baseball, even after winning to 2010 NL MVP award. He’s been one of the best overall players in the league since his first full-season in 2008, both offensively and defensively (2011 NL Gold Glove, 2x All-Star – ’10,’11). He’s a career .313/.405/.550 hitter, averaging 31 HR, 105 RBI, and 40 2B per season.
So the Reds decided to end the trade speculation now and lock Votto up essentially for the remainder of his career.
For 10 years.
The Reds clearly aren’t the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, or Cubs – meaning that they most likely won’t be able to handout another deal of this magnitude, or anything remotely close to it, during Votto’s tenure. The Reds essentially handcuffed themselves.
So now, a new question begs:
Given the recent lurative deals first basement have been receiving, will the Royals be able to keep Eric Hosmer in Kansas City after 2017?
To many – scouts, executives, and fans alike – Eric Hosmer has all the tools to be a legitimate superstar: raw ability, confidence, humbleness, likeability, media presence, etc. He has shown the ability to hit for average, with HR and gap power to all fields and has the potential to contend for a Gold Glove every year. He’s Mark Teixeira with about half of the K’s – and we all know what kind of deal he got to become a Yankee. Joey Votto may even be a better comparison for Hoz.
Hosmer’s value extends off the field as well. At just 22 years old, he’s already viewed by his teammates as a team leader. So finding another guy who could step in and fill the roles that Hosmer does already could prove to be next to impossible, despite the fact that the Royals still boast one of the top Minor League systems in all of baseball. He’s potentially a once-in-a-generation type of player.
If Hosmer pans out (meaning he’s consistantly hitting around .300/25/100), he’ll no doubt be in line for a big pay day by the time his current contract. He may even have a “C” on his uniform by that time. Will the Royals be able to shell out enough money to keep Hosmer a Royal for life?
The current market trends say “You’re kidding, right?”
Player contracts are at an all-time high, with guys like Jayson Werth and Matt Cain landing $100 million+ deals. Getting a 9-figure deal appears to be the new black in baseball. It seems like every team wants to have at least one guy earning top dollar, be it justified or not.
The largest deals ever handed out by the Royals belong to Mike Sweeney and Gil Meche (both $55 million). Hosmer’s new deal would almost undoubtedly have to exceed that. Afterall, Hosmer is a Scott Boras client.
In my opinion, if a Hosmer deal were to happen anytime in the not-so-distant future, it would have to be because Hosmer wants to be in Kansas City. Because if he hits the free agent market seeking the highest deal possible, he’ll most likely end up on one of the coasts.
Say Hosmer has a terrific sophomore season, do the Royals approach him about a long-term extension? And if so, what would be a reasonable offer?
Let’s hope, for Kansas City’s sake, that Dayton Moore is already drawing up the parameters of a deal for Hosmer in some dark room at Kauffman Stadium that Hoz won’t be able to refuse.
*Hat tip to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports for breaking the news via Twitter (@TBrownYahoo)*
The Detroit Tigers have signed 1B Prince Fielder to a… wait for it… 9 year contract worth $214 million, officially making themselves a “mystery team”. Scott Boras worked his magic again this offseason, getting a team that already has a mashing All-World 1B in Miguel Cabrera and a veteran DH in V-Mart (Yes, out for the year. But he’ll be back, mind you), to commit $20+ million a year to a third player (Cabrera and Verlander being the first two).
Wow. Just… wow. So much for the Royals and Indians taking advantage of the Martinez injury.
And for 9 years? Does the Tigers’ brass really think both Prince and Miggy’s body types will hold up for that long?
For the 2013 season: Where do you play Fielder, Cabrera, and V-Mart? Fielder can only be a 1B/DH due to his…ahem… large figure. Cabrera began his career as a LF, then a 3B with the Marlins. But he only lasted two weeks as the 3B in Detroit before Jim Leyland shifted him over to 1B. And at this stage in his career, Miggy’s gotten a little too slow to play either LF or 3B (though I would love to see him field bunts for the foreseeable future). V-Mart’s knees will never be 100% ever again, which means he’ll be relegated to a DH/1B/occasional catcher after he returns from injury next year. There’s a reason the Tigers normally carry 3 catchers on their 25-man roster.
The Tigers’ offense and rotation could be pretty scary this year. But then again, Fielder may not adjust to the AL very well (Adam Dunn, anyone?). As Royals fans, we can only hope.