Tagged: Yuniesky Betancourt

Royals Sign Miguel Tejada

The Royals made very odd and thought provoking news when it was announced that they had reached an agreement with free agent and former AL MVP Miguel Tejada.

Miguel Tejada

Miguel Tejada

The deal, of the minor league variety, is worth $1.1 million and comes with up to $400K in bonuses. Although he isn’t on the 40-man roster yet, he will be as soon as a spot opens up.

Tejada stated:

“I’m very pleased with this. The contract with the Royals is a done deal. I’m going to try to help this team and their younger players. I’m so happy because this is what I was aiming for, a chance to get back to the majors.”

Tejada spent last season with the Orioles Triple-A affiliate. In 36 games, he hit .259/.325/.296 with 5 doubles and 18 RBI and got a majority of his defensive reps at third base. His last experience at the major league level came back in 2011 with the Giants. He managed to play in 91 games that season, but looked nothing like a former MVP or six-time All-Star. He managed to hit a meager .239/.270/.326 and split most of his defensive time between third base and shortstop.

At 38 years old, Miguel Tejada is instantly the oldest player within this organization at any level.

Dayton Moore has been saying that he has been looking for a backup shortstop this offseason who is more glove friendly at the position than Irving Falu and Tony Abreu. Is Miguel Tejada, a 38 year old former shortstop converted to third base because he’s gotten too slow for the position, the answer?

Being a career .285/.336/.457 hitter with 304 HR, 463 doubles, and 1282 RBI, I can’t find enough reason to believe, even at 38, that Miguel Tejada can’t hit at the major league level. I’m sure he could even fill-in a few times a week at second and third base and be at least adequate. But when it comes to being a glove-first shortstop, which is what GMDM said he was looking for to backup Escobar, Tejada has never been and never will be. This move smells an awful lot like the move the team pulled off last winter when they decided to bring back Yuniesky Betancourt on a one-year deal to serve as the “utility” guy.

Not only did Yuni bomb in the field, he became a clubhouse cancer due to his lack of time in the starting lineup. His bat had just enough pop in it to keep him playing every few days, while his defense was nothing short of extremely awful. He only filled in at shortstop once and third base  for the Royals in 2012. He made an error.

Miguel Tejada is a great clubhouse guy with a lot of fun energey and brings a ton of experience to this team. He could even provide this team with some power off the bench. I’m not meaning to rag on this signing, as it could hold value. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at the present time.

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 Ship Broxton to Cincy

It’s finally official.

The Royals have finally done something that the fanbase can approve of outside of ridding themselves of Jeff Francoeur and calling up Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi.

Around 2:30 pm CT, the Royals shipped closer Jonathan Broxton – aka Big Buffet (a tip of the hat to Sean Thornton for that one) – to the Cincinnati Reds for Double-A RHP J.C. Sulbaran and Triple-A LHP Donnie Joseph.

Trading Jonathan Broxton was inevitable. He’s on a one-year, $4 million deal, was sheduled to be a free agent after the season, and was putting up admirable numbers. He had 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA through 36 IP. But to say his outings were uneventful would be a bold-faced lie. But with Aroldis Chapman nailing games down in Cincy, it seems like Broxton will be serve as a right-handed set-up man to complement the Reds’ left-handed set-upper Sean Marshall.

JC Sulbaran, 22, is a 6’2″, 220 lbs., starting pitcher who pitched for the Netherlands in the last World Baseball Classic. Scouts say he projects as a potential middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who has two plus-pitches: a low-90’s fastball with good movement and a solid curveball. He has struggled a bit this year in Double-A to the tune of a 7-7 record in 19 starts with an ERA of 4.04. He has managed to strikeout 111 hitters in 104.2 IP, but has also surrendered 54 free passes. Coming into the season, J.C. was the Reds no. 12 prospect according to Baseball America.

  • Fun fact: Sulbaran was Eric Hosmer’s highschool teammate.

Donnie Joseph is a 6’3″, 24 year old lefty reliever who has split time at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. He possesses a plus-slider and a low-90’s fastball, both of which could get him to the mound in Kansas City sooner rather than later. Through 44 appearances this season (52.1 IP), Donnie is 8-3 with a 1.72 ERA and 18 saves with a 4:1 K:BB ratio and an impressive 0.994 WHIP. He was ranked by Baseball America as 27th best prospect in the Reds organization coming into the season.

All in all, getting two prospects with potential for a half-season from Broxton is a steal. Right now, at 41-60, the Royals currently don’t have the need for a legitimate closer. I’m assuming a trio of Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera will get the majority of save opportunites from here on out.

Stay tuned for any more potential moves – hopefully involving Jeff Francoeur and Yuniesky Betancourt (both of whom are out the the lineup tonight).

Second Half Preview

At 37-47, the Royals had a less than stellar “first half” of the 2012 season. They’re currently in 4th place in the AL Central and 9.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox (47-38).

In what has been a notoriously weak division, the Royals have had many chances to control their own fate within the division. But thanks to a 12-game never-to-be-spoken-of-again losing streak, crippling injuries, terribly inconsistent starting pitching, and slumping bats, the Royals have yet to take that leap into contention. Currently, they’re on-pace for a 71-91 record.

Returning From the DL

The Royals are getting to key players back tonight to kickoff this half of the season. Both Lorenzo Cain and Chris Getz are scheduled to be in the lineup tonight as the Royals take on the White Sox.

Lorenzo Cain has been out since April 10th when he strained his left groin after running into the center field wall in Oakland. He was close to returning to the lineup in late April before he tore his left hip flexor during a rehab assignment with Northwest Arkansas, causing him to extend his stay on the DL until this past Monday.

Chris Getz has been able to see a little more playing time than Cain, even though he’s only played in 36 of the team’s 84 games (partly due to platooning with Yuni). Getz strained his left leg back in mid-June in the 1st inning of that glorious 15-inning win in St. Louis. In his place, the Royals have used Betancourt, Falu, and Giavotella. Before this stint on the DL, Getz was having a fairly good season – .290/.327/.380, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 8 RBI, 12 R, 6 SB (1 CS), and just 9 K to 6 BB. His ability to situationaly hit and steal bases will be welcome additions to a lineup starving to manufacture runs.

The Trade Deadline

The Royals are “sellers” now. Let’s just get that point out there from the get-go. Barring a miraculous winning streak, they’ll be battling it out with the Twins to say who can stay out of the AL Central cellar. But the Royals may have a few attractive trade pieces that could: a) bring value back in return; b) clear the way for a more deserving player; and c) invigorate the fan-base in what could be a long second half.

  • Jonathan Broxton: Brox is performing well this season. He’s recorded 21-f0r-24 in converting saves and has a 1.99 ERA in 31 appearances. The former two-time All-Star was one of five players up for the final roster spot on the AL All-Star roster this season – so there’s no doubt as to whether Broxton has regained his form. He’s signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season – where in which the Royals will not be able to collect a compensation pick if he opts to sign elsewhere. His value right now is as high as it will ever be, although relievers anymore don’t often fetch a premium return. The Royals bullpen likely would be able to pick up the slack left by Broxton, with one of Crow, Holland, or Herrera shifting to the closer role. The New York Mets have been mentioned as a possible trade partner, though the Royals are looking for Major League-eady help in return. Me thinks: NY Mets (46-40), Toronto (43-43), or Boston (43-43).
  • Jeff Francoeur: It’s time for the Dayton Moore to seriously think about life after Frenchy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Francoeur. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse and I have no doubts in his work ethic at all. He gives all he’s got with every pitch of every game. But he’s hitting just .251/.289/.378 this season, knocking in only 25 runs while managing to hit just 7 homeruns thus far – which is not exactly what you want from a guy who’s trypically the no.5 hitter in the lineup everyday. But the main, loudest, biggest, over riding reason to rid our lineup of Frenchy: he’s blocking Wil Myers. Moving Francoeur won’t be easy. He’s currently in the first year of a two-year, $14 million deal, which is sure to keep trade partners at a minimum. The Royals would have to likely eat most of his contract if they want to move him. Teams in the playoff hunt looking for a lefty-mashing platoon partner will likely fill-up the Francoeur market. He won’t likely command a huge return. Me thinks: Boston (43-43), Pittsburgh (48-37), LA Dodgers (47-40), Cincinnati (47-38), or Miami (41-44).
  • Yuniesky Betancourt: Outside of his defensive shortcomings, Yuni has been serviceable this season at second base. He’s been platooning there most of the season with a combination of Getz, Falu, and Giavotella and has even played a few games at third. Although his defense isn’t anything to write home about, he does have the ability to play second base almost every day while filling in at both shortstop and third, thus increasing his value to teams with injuries or teams looking for versatility off the bench. The Royals have an adequate replacement for Yuni in Irving Falu, so losing him won’t necessarily create any holes. He’s hitting just .242 and doesn’t take many walks, but he also doesn’t strikeout a ton and has adequate power (6 HR and 31 RBI in 165 AB). He’s only signed through 2012, so moving his contract won’t be an issue. Practically every team could use a versitile bench guy with some pop. Yuni may be able to be flipped for a reliever. Me thinks: San Francisco (46-40), Tampa Bay (45-41), Atlanta (46-39), or Texas (52-34).
  • Jose Mijares: The Royals signed Mijares this offseason to a one-year deal after he was non-tendered by the Twins, and the lefty has been worth every penny thus far. In 41 appearances, covering just 33.1 innings, Jose has recorded 32 K to just 7 BB while surrendering just 6 earned runs (1.62 ERA). Given his IP vs. appearances, it’s easy to see that he’s a lefty specialist – a bullpen piece that nearly every big league manager covets. He’s able to be under team control for the next five years due to arbitration, which could be attractive to willing trade partners. A LOOGY by trade, he could be had fairly easily. Me thinks: Any team in playoff contention.

Rising Stars

Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi have been dominant at the Triple-A level this season. Having said that, both are likely to see some playing time in Kansas City this season. The question is when.

Jeff Francoeur is still on the roster and Lorenzo Cain is going to be given every opportunity to show what he can do in center field – effectively blocking Myers’ path. At sone point though, his number will be called; whether it be from a trade, injury, or as a September call-up.

Odorizzi, on the other hand, will likely get the nod for the starting rotation soon. Other than Bruce Chen and maybe Luke Hochevar, nobody in the current starting rotation should be blocking Izzy’s path to Kansas City. The Royals’ rotation is atrocious right now, and giving Odorizzi a shot to prove himself can only make it better.

Then you have guys like LHPs Will Smith and Ryan Verdugo, OFers David Lough and Derrick Robinson, and 2B Johnny Giavotella who all have potential and could make an impact in Kansas City in the coming months.

Finally Having the Optimal Lineup

For the first time this season, the Royals will debut the batting order they thought they would have coming out of Spring Training. But then Salvador Perez went to the DL, followed by Lorenzo Cain and then Chris Getz. But now that all three are back and presumably healthy, the Royals’ lineup should look a lot like this:

  1. LF Gordon L
  2. SS Escobar R
  3. 1B Hosmer L
  4. DH Butler R
  5. 3B Moustakas L
  6. RF Francoeur R
  7. C Perez R
  8. 2B Getz L / Betancourt R
  9. CF Cain R

If KC had this lineup to begin the season, we might be thinking about the trade deadline a little differently.

Jonathan Sanchez Drama

Okay, drama might not be the right word. For now, at least. But it is baffling to me that the Royals are still letting Jonathan Sanchez trot out to the mound every fifth day while he’s still surrendering more walks than strikeouts. “That’s just the way I pitch,” was Sanchez’s rebuttle when asked about his high walk totals.

That may be the way he pitches, but that’s not the way any team wins. The guy’s body language stinks – which you’ve probably heard Rex Hudler say once or twice before. He has all the demeanor of a guy who either doesn’t love baseball or doesn’t want to be here.

Either way, he’s gotta go.

I know we gave up Melky for him, and gosh does that look bad right about now. But at the time, most of us probably would have made the same deal that Dayton did.

He’s a free agent at the end of 2012, and the Royals can’t possibly be contemplating bring him back for 2013 and beyond. But with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 ERA while giving up an average of 7.4 BB/9 to just 5.4 K/9 (not to mention a WHIP of nearly 2.00), trading him for anything but a bag of peanuts is likely out of the question.

Shape up, or ship out.

The Curious Case of Johnny Giavotella

During the 5th inning of the Storm Chaser’s Wednesday night game in Sacramento, Johnny Giavotella was pulled from the game for “a good reason”. Being pulled for a “good reason” can mean one of three things: he’s being promoted, traded to a team who needs him, or he’s become a father.

Well the third option was basically crossed off the list immediately by the Royals Twitterverse.

So it had to be a trade….right?

Let’s look at the Royals’ situation:

  • The team currently has two second basemen on the active roster: Chris Getz and Irving Falu.
  • Once Yuniesky Betancourt comes off the DL (probably sometime next week), presumably Falu will be optioned back down to Omaha.
  • Chris Getz is performing very well at the moment, hitting .306/.353/.452 with 7 XBH, 6 RBI, 5 SB and has commited only 1 error thus far. He’s been a solid clutch hitter and has a .333 BAbip (batting average on balls in play).

On Thursday morning, Dayton Moore was on 610 Sports Radio with Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler where he gave an intriguing interview. Immediately, they asked him about what was going on with the Giavotella situation. Dayton stated that they were working out a way to get Johnny up to the big league club, they just had to “cross some T’s and dot some I’s”.

Now, when a GM has to “cross T’s and dot I’s”, it usually means some sort of roster shake-up is in the works.

Hours went by between the interview and the actual move; and during that time, Twitter blew up with trade speculation*. There were Getz and Hochevar rumors, Getz and Sanchez rumors, Getz, Hochevar, Francoeur rumors, etc etc etc…

*I’ll admit that I contributed to the madness…

In essence, a potential Chris Getz trade made the most sense. Getz’s value is most likely at an all-time high right now and Giavotella was clearly ready to come back to Kansas City, evidenced by his .331/.408/.504, 5 HR, and 25 RBI through 31 games with Omaha.

But the move that the Royals made yesterday just doesn’t add up…

Royals DH Johnny Giavotella sends a line drive to center field in the first inning against the Red Sox. He reached base on an error by center fielder Marlon Byrd. (Photo Credit: John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star)

The team ended all of the Twitter speculation yesterday afternoon by sending picther Jonathan Sanchez to the 15-day DL with biceps tendonitis; thus calling up Johnny Giavotella to take his spot on the 25-man roster.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong: if a pitcher is placed on the DL, doesn’t a team normally replace him with another pitcher to take his spot on the roster? I would have loved to see the Royals promote Mike Montgomery to take over for Sanchez and get a taste of the big leagues.

With Giavotella, the Royals now have three second basemen on the active roster (Getz, Giavotella, and Falu). You don’t call up guys like Gio to platoon with Chris Getz at second. He is an everyday type of guy and is billed, right now at least, as the second basemen of the future. So it makes absolutely no sense to call him up right now.

So what happens when Yuni comes off the DL sometime in the near future? Like Gio, he’s right-handed and was Chris Getz’s platoon partner at second. Do you shop Yuni? Do you shop Getz? Because, out of the three of them, Yuni is the only guy who can really fill in at multiple positions. Getz technically can and has filled in at short and third, so he could serve that role for the team. Giavotella is strictly a second basemen and has put in a ton of work at improving his defense there, so playing him anywhere else would be doing him a real disservice.

Maybe the Royals are in talks with the Brewers about sending Yuni back to Milwaukee…?

If not, then somebody please explain to me what just happened.

Royals Turn it Up to Eleven

A few notes before we begin…

  • The Royals’ 10 consecutive home losses to start the season matched something that hasn’t been done in the Major Leagues for 99 years.
  • During the 10-game homestand, the Royals were outscored 64-37.
    • If you take out that dreadful Cleveland series, the the differential is much smaller: 32-18. Not awful… But still nowhere close to what this team is capable of.
    • Kansas City has had the lead at one point in exactly 4 of those games.
  • In 13 double-play situations, Billy Butler has grounded int0 4 (31%) thus far. The league average is 11%.
    • As a team, the Royals have grounded into 19 double-plays, good for 18% of their opportunities. Again, the league average is 11%.
      • 12 of the double-plays came in the seven games against Detroit and Toronto.
  • The team was a meager 5-for-40 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the Tornto series.
    • For the series, Escobar had 7 hits (including a 4-for-4 night) while Moustakas collected 6. Billy Butler, who was riding an 8-game hitting streak coming into the series, went 0-fer.
  • The Royals haven’t won a game since Lorenzo Cain was placed on the DL. Coincidence? Not that Cain was a world-beater in his 5 games, but his defense has been sorely missed in center field.
  • The team’s Pythagorean W-L is 6-10, suggesting that the Royals have been a bit more unlucky than not. The guys over at FanGraphs even think that the Royals are better than what their record shows.

It’s been extremely hard to listen to the guys at 610 Sports radio talk about the Royals for the past week and a half – let alone think, read, watch, and write about them on a daily basis. I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to write about a team that’s losing games in every which way imagineable – from hitting to pitching to base running (the team’s defense has been it’s lone bright-spot throughout this whole skid. Just watch Mike Moustakas).

Let’s just forget about the Cleveland series for right now and focus on the series’ against Detroit and Toronto.

In the three losses to Detroit, the scores were 3-2, 3-1, 4-3. In each game of the series, the Royals had chances to score the tying/winning runs late in the game, but failed to do so thanks to a bases-loaded, full-count, 3-2 100 MPH fastball by Justin Verlander in game one and a dumb-luck, game-ending double-play by Miguel Cabrera that would have otherwise been a game-winning extra base hit in game three. In game two, the Tigers broke a 1-1 tie by getting two base knocks against the shift in the top of the 8th by Miggy and Prince. The Cats also scored on a wild pitch by Jose Mijares.

In the four-game sweep by the Jays, the finals were 4-3, 9-5, 5-3, 4-1. Greg Holland imploded in game one (and was placed on the DL directly after), just got plain beat in game two, Danny Duffy reverted back to his old ways in game three by surrendering 5 BB and a 4-run inning, and the offense couldn’t sole Brandon Morrow in the finale.

Now in both series’, the Royals got good enough starting pitching to win four of the seven games. And the offense was great at starting rallies when the games were on the line, but were awful at “getting them on, getting them over, and getting them in”. The Royals have a wOBA of .333 with the bases empty (4th in the league). But with runners in scoring position, the team has a wOBA of just .275, ahead of only Oakland. And to make matters worse, they’re hitting .242 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

So the Royals really haven’t had many problems getting men on, even in clutch situations. They just have not been able to get that clutch hit to fall, that sac fly to leave the infield, or that sac bunt to roll down the correct line.

Now it may be as simple as “these guys are still young” or “they’re trying too hard”. They’re definitely pressing – no doubt about it. The Royals aren’t losing because of a lack of effort – Hosmer is hitting homers and laying down bunts for base hits, Gordon is still going hard for every fly ball, Moustakas and Escobar continue to wow with both the stick the leather, Billy has been Billy, Yuni has been maybe the most consistent hitter, Chen has given nothing but quality starts, Hochevar took a groundball off the ankle and didn’t miss a start, Duffy has shown he can go more than five innings, and Crow and Collins have been solid from the ‘pen.

But, regardless of all of what I just said, the Royals had a winless homestand, sit at 3-13, and are sitting at the bottom of baseball’s barrel. This team is capable of winning – and they’ll get off the schneid at some point.

Maybe this is all because the Royals started their homestand on Friday the 13th…?

Maybe “Our Time” has gotten to their heads.

Or maybe this team just needs a change of scenery.

Nobody should expect this team to go out and win eleven in a row and just forget this losing streak ever happened. It’s going to take winning series’ and a few short winning streaks to come out of this hole.

This team is young, but they’re capable.

Here’s to the optimist in us all. Cheers!

Series Recap: Royals v. Tigers

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

Photo Credit: John Sleezer

  • 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.

Series Noteworthies

  • 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

Photo Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP

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.

Coming Up

   

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.