Overall, I'd call this a solid game. Sure, it ended in a tie, the enemy of all baseball fans. But there were a lot of positives here as well. Jose Guillen hit a home run and Mark Teahen hit a triple and took a walk. Both of them leave tomorrow for their perspective WBC camps. Brian Bannister pitched two perfect innings, giving up 0 hits but striking out none. The Royals pitchers gave up only 5 hits all game. The pitchers also gave up 7 walks, but it was against 9 strikeouts. The Royals hitters drew 4 walks against 7 strikeouts. The Royals hitters also hit 2 home runs (Guillen, Gload) to extend their HR streak to 4 games.
Hitter of the Game
Today the hitter of the game award goes to Coco Crisp. It may seem counter intuitive to give a player who went without a hit the hitter of the game award, but Coco drew three of the Royals four walks today. Coco batted leadoff and while he didn't come around to score any runs, if he keeps his mindset of taking walks and can hit around .290 he should score many runs this season. I'm really starting to believe in Coco, maybe all he needs is another opportunity and he'll return to his pre-Boston form.
Pitcher of the Game
Today the pitcher of the game award will go to my favorite NRI, Lenny DiNardo. In Lenny's last appearance before he departs to pitch for team Italy in the WBC, he pitched two innings, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out four. If Lenny puts up decent numbers in the WBC and then returns and can pick up where he left off, DM will have a hard time keeping him off of this roster.
The Royals and the Angels will face off tomorrow at 2:05 central time, with Gil Meche getting the nod for the boys in blue. Following Meche will be Brandon Duckworth, Henry Barrera, Tim Hamulack, Carlos Rosa, Joel Peralta, and Roman Colon. Dustin Moseley will start for the Halos.
How Juan Cruz changes everything:
When Dayton Moore took over the Royals in June of 2006, he inherited a baseball organization that while boasting a proud history, was in shambles. From the point that he first took the reigns until today, nearly every move that Dayton made was to build for the future or to fill a much needed gap. With the Juan Cruz signing, Dayton sacrificed a piece of the future for an ML player that is largely a luxury. In my opinion, this shows that Dayton has taken a measured look and he belives the Royals are ready to compete in the Central this year. If Dayton thinks we are ready to win the Central. So do I.
So how much does Juan Cruz improve our bullpen? Tremendously. We all saw last year what having a set up man with strikeout potential can do. A quality set up man turns into another closer, and essentially turns the ball game into a 7 inning affair. The Royals now have 2 quality set up men on their roster, essentially (on paper) turning ball games into 6 inning affairs. And while it is an impossibility for both of these pitchers to pitch every night, there is a good chance they will see a lot of innings in games the Royals are winning, and most likely will be used exclusively in games the Royals are winning.
How good is Juan Cruz? Well, in 2007 Cruz pitched in 61 innings, posting a 3.10 ERA, good for a 152 ERA+. He had 81 strikeouts against 32 walks while allowing 45 hits, good for a 1.262 WHIP. In 2008, Cruz's numbers improved. He pitched 51.2 innings, posting a 2.61 ERA and a 176 ERA+. Cruz struck out 71 batters against 31 walks, allowing just 24 hits, good for a 1.258 WHIP. Both of these years came in the hitter friendly confines of Chase Field.
By comparison, only Joakim Soria (189-2007, 266-2008) and David Riske (191-2007) have had as good of an ERA+ in a comparable amount of innings as Cruz had last year. Juan Cruz will step into the 2009 season as the team's best reliever not named Joakim.
All the Royals had to give up was a 2nd round draft pick and $2.25 million this year, $3.25 million next year, and a $4 million option or a $500,000 buyout for 2011. Cruz will make John Bale and Yasuhiko Yabuta money to perform on a much higher level. Cruz looks like a steal next to Kyle Farnsworth.
The one unknown is the draft pick the Royals gave up. The pick is the 12th pick in the 2nd round, which is the 58th pick overall. Let's take a quick look at the 58th overall pick in the draft for the last ten years.
2008: Tyson Ross, college pitcher selected by the Oakland Athletics. He posted a 1.09 WHIP in 19.1 innings of A ball last season.
2007: Jon Bachanov, high school pitcher selected by the LA Angels (of Anaheim). Bachanov underwent Tommy John surgery before he threw an inning for the Angels and has yet to pitch for their organization.
2006: Ryan Adams, high school 3rd baseman selected by the Baltimore Orioles. Ryan played in 119 games in A ball last season, posting an 829 OPS while hitting .308 and knocking out 11 home runs.
2005: Ryan Mount, high school SS selected by the LA Angels (of Anaheim). Mount saw action in 82 games last year, all in high A ball. Mount .290 with 16 home runs, posting a 849 OPS.
2004: Blake Johnson, (yes, that Blake Johnson) high school pitcher selected by the LA Dodgers. Johnson started 25 games in AA last season, going 10-9 while posting a 4.85 ERA.
2003: Scott Baker, college pitcher selected by the Minnesota Twins. Baker made 28 starts for the Twins last season, going 11-4 while posting a 3.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
2002: Zach Segovia, high school pitcher selected by the Philadelphia Phillies. Segovia has 1 MLB start in his career, in 2007 when he went 5 innings, earning the loss. Segovia gave up 5 runs on 8 hits while walking 1 and striking out 2. 2008 found Segovia bouncing around between 6 teams between rookie ball and AA.
2001: Matt Harrington, independent league pitcher selected by the San Diego Padres. Harrington was selected with the 7th overall pick the year previous, but did not sign. He did not sign with the Padres either. He was selected 3 more times before finally signing with the Yankees in 2004. Harrington has bounced around independent leagues but hasn't amounted to anything for an MLB organization.
2000: Dominic Rich, college infielder selected by the Toronto Blue Jays. Rich last saw action in 2005 when he played in 3 games in high A ball for the St. Louis Cardinals. Rich has been out of baseball since.
1999: Wes Obermuller, college pitcher selected by the Kansas City Royals. Wes split time between AAA and the majors last year, starting 7 and pitching in 18 games for the Florida Marlins. Wes earned a 2-3 record with a 6.56 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP.
Well, looking over the #58 pick for the last 10 drafts and I feel more comfortable than ever. Granted, past the first pick or so the draft is a complete crap shoot and a lot of MLB talent went right before or right after the #58 pick in many of these drafts. That being said, maybe there's something unlucky about 58, because the only player I'd rather have at this point than Juan Cruz is Scott Baker. That being said, Ross, Bachanov, and Adams are all still developing and could each turn into superstars.
This sums up my excitement for the signing of Juan Cruz. Our major league team improves, and we don't have to give up too much. Oh, as a side note, we DFA'd Esteban German for Cruz's space on the 40 man. Maybe DM will get something for German and make the Cruz signing look even better.
As always, thanks for reading.