Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Juan Cruz Changes Everything..

Dayton Moore made a statement today, one with more meaning than a lot of people realize.  But first, let's take a look at the game.  

The Game

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.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Zack Attack

I am feeling very under the weather, so it'll be an extremely short post tonight.

Hitter of the Game

Ryan Shealy earns today's hitter of the game award.  Ryan hit an opposite field 3 run home run and he was also hit by a pitch, coming around to score on a fielder's choice by Chris Lubanski.  Hopefully he continues to hit homeruns this year.

Pitcher of the Game

I could make the argument for any of the pitchers except for Hamulack to receive the award tonight, but I'll stick with Greinke.  Zack pitched two perfect innings today, getting 3 groundball outs, a strike out, a pop out and a fly out to centerfield.  Hopefully we see a lot more of this during the year.


The Royals had a great overall game today, including a lot of situational hitting.  Then again, Miguel Olivo tried to steal home, so there's still plenty to work on.  The Royals hitters struck out 8 times and only drew 3 walks (Butler, Ka'aihue, and J.R. House).  Meanwhile, the pitchers struck out 5 and only walked 2.  The Royals have had at least one homerun in their first 3 games this spring.  We'll see how long that lasts.

Thanks for reading, expect a much better post tomorrow, right now I need to get to my medicine cabinet and then get to bed!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mitch Maier and the Royal's first win of 2009..

Today marks the Royals first official unofficial win of 2009.  They played a solid game and beat Texas 7-2.  

Mitch Maier

Mitch Maier was drafted in the first round of the 2003 rule IV draft.  He will most likely start the season in the AAA outfield again this year.  To most people, this makes Mitch a disappointment.  While it is underwhelming that Mitch has not broken into the Royals lineup as the defensive centerfielder and top of the order hitter that most had hoped he would turned into, I feel like the sheer fact that he made it through the Allard Baird era and still has a chance at becoming a major leaguer is a positive in itself.  Mitch, like Mark Teahen, has been jerked around from position to position, in an attempt to create equal depth amongst our hitting prospects in the minors.  Unlike Teahen, he was at least allowed to learn new positions at the minor league level.

Mitch was drafted out of the University of Toledo after a junior year that saw him post a line of .448/.525/.691, all while stealing 29 bases (and being caught just 5 times) and drawing 31 walks against 9 strikeouts in 194 at bats.  Mitch did all this while playing catcher.

After Mitch was drafted in 2003, he played catcher for the first year of his pro career, hitting .350/.403/.507 in 51 games for the AZ Royals.  In 2004, Mitch would be converted to a 3rd baseman.  He spent the next season splitting time between Burlington and Wilmington.  2004 saw the Royals trade Carlos Beltran for Mark Teahen, John Buck, and Mike Wood.  Because Allard Baird was stupid, he immediately converted Maier to an outfielder because Teahen was a third baseman.  Luckily, Maier's work ethic and athleticism has allowed him to excel there, being ranked as the Royals best defensive outfielder in 2007 by Baseball America.

Like Shane Costa, Maier has gone on to show that he has mastered AAA, including hitting .316/.366/.470 for the O Royals in 85 games last season.  Maier also saw some time in KC hitting .286/.316/.319 for the Royals.  While Maier is not a power hitter by any means, he will probably end up with enough muscle to hit around 10 home runs in a full season.  He doesn't draw many walks, but can keep his OBP above .350 as long as he is able to hit at least .290.  Maier's main asset is his superb defense.  He is a capable centerfielder with a good arm and great instincts.  Maier also has plenty of experience in both of the corner of positions, making him as a perfect candidate as a 4th outfielder.

Maier's upside is probably that of a 4th outfielder who sticks around for a season or two and is able to work his way into the lineup as a starter.  Ryan Spilborghs comes to mind as a comparison as far as career path.  Maier will most likely break spring training once again as an O Royal, but come a midseason trade, an injury, or a poor performance, he would be a wonderful replacement stashed in AAA.

The Game

Kyle Davies got off to a great start, including striking out Josh Hamilton on three pitches.  He loaded the bases in the 2nd but managed to get out of it unscathed.  Coco Crisp and John Buck both hit home runs, and Ross Gload hit a 3 run triple.  The Royals pitchers struck out ten and walked just there as their batters walked four times and struck out 8 times.  Josh Hamilton had the only Rangers home run, his second in as many games, with a solo shot off of Joel Peralta in the 5th inning.  The full box score can be found here.

The Prospects

While neither Jose Duarte nor Kila Ka'aihue started, they managed a hit each.  Duarte picked up a run and Kila picked up an RBI.  Julio Pimental and Carlos Rosa both had scoreless outings.  Pimental went two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.  Rosa went one inning, giving up two hits and also striking out two.

Hitter of the Game

Coco Crisp earns hitter of the game honors today.  Coco had a solid game, notching two hits in three at bats, including a long solo shot to centerfield off of Derek Holland.

Pitcher of the Game

Pitcher of the game honors go to Julio Pimental today.  Julio was throwing fire during his two innings, striking out two and allowing just one hit.

Tomorrow's Game

Tomorrow the Royals take on the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale Stadium at 2:05 p.m. central time.  Randy Johnson will take the mound for the Giants.  Zack Greinke gets the nod for the Royals.  He will be followed by Robinson Tejada, Devon Lowery, Joakim Soria, and Jamey Wright.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jose Lima's Brother and Mark "Gold Glove" Teahen..

Well, as the night draws to a close, it takes with it the excitement of opening day of the Cactus League.  

The Game

I was only able to hear about the first 4 or so innings of the game today before I had to go to work, and boy did it start off lousy. The Royals managed to give up 6 runs in the first inning, half of them coming due to Teahen's errant throw on a botched double play.  The good guys did manage to scrape a run in the 2nd inning off of a Billy Butler solo shot with 1 out against Anna Benson's husband.  However, they gave up 3 more runs in the bottom of the 2nd including back to back home runs followed by a triple, all off of Brandon Duckworth.  The Royals did manage to get back 4 runs in the 3rd inning, 3 of them coming off of a monster home run by Mike Jacobs to right field.  There was no more scoring until the 7th inning when the Rangers pushed 1 run over the plate.  They got 2 more in the 8th before the Royals added 2 more in the top of the 9th.  Add it all up and you get a 12-7 win by the Rangers.  Not exactly what you're looking for in the first game of Spring Training, but much better than 12-0.  The Royals muscled up today and hit 4 home runs (Butler, Jacobs, Olivo, Maier) as well as draw 6 walks, and for that, I am proud. 

Mark Teahen

On the first ball hit near him Mark Teahen tried to flip to the SS covering 2B for an attempt at a double play.  The only problem was that he threw the ball into LF instead.  It took all I could not to immediately give up on him as a middle infielder at that point in time.  Granted, I couldn't actually see the throw and it may have not been as bad as it sounded, so I decided to give Mark the benefit of the doubt and withhold judgement.  Then, a few plays later Mark dives for a ball and it goes under his glove.  At that point I was frustrated.  Then Mark makes a poor throw on a double play attempt and booted an easy ground ball for another error.  Other than that, he did just fine in the field.  I'm not ready to give up on him as a 2nd baseman just yet, because as he pointed out, the year Grudz won a gold glove he made 3 errors in his first Spring Training game.  Let's hope Mark gets it together though.

Jose Lima's brother?

Teahen wasn't alone in his quest for suckiness, however, as Horacio Ramirez was nipping at his heels the whole ride there.  Horacio faced 10 batters in 2/3 of an inning, recording one strikeout and giving up 6 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits including a home run to Hank Blalock.  Sure, Horacio wasn't helped out by his defense, but by all accounts he was leaving everything up in the strike zone, which in Arizona in Spring Training is a big no-no.  We'll see how he bounces back next start, however.

Olivo Injury

Miguel Olivo took a foul tip off the back of his right hand.  Olivo stayed in the game, also hitting a home run.  He caught four innings total.  X-rays after the game were negative, and he isn't expected to miss any time.

Batter of the Game

I originally wanted to give the batter of the game to Billy Butler, seeing as he was the only Royal with 2 hits, including a HR.  However, I decided Mike Jacobs would be the better choice, as he had a monster 3 run shot, and hopefully this love will get him to listen to me when I tell him it's okay to walk.  (to first base, that is)  So congratulations, Mike, you're the official RRC batter of the game.

Pitcher of the Game

This choice was easy for me, half because he was the only pitcher to go two innings without giving up a run, and secondly because I'm really rooting for him to make this team.  The first RRC pitcher of the game goes to Lenny DiNardo, he of the Italian heritage.  Lenny pitched two scoreless innings, including 1 hit and striking out the last two batters he faced.  Not bad for your first action in spring training, though at this point, most people argue the pitchers are ahead of the hitters. (Though that didn't seem the case today, for either squad)

Tomorrow's Game

Tomorrow the Royals play host to the Rangers (they were the visitors today.)  The game is scheduled to start at 2:05 CT, and will be broadcast on 610 AM KCSP again.  Kyle Davies gets the nod against Kevin Millwood.  Also scheduled to pitch for the Royals are Heath Phillips, Julio Pimental, Tim Hamulack, Matt Wright, and Carlos Rosa.  I'm much more excited for the pitching tomorrow than I was today.  Kyle Davies, Matt Wright, Julio Pimental, and Carlos Rosa are all young players who I hope do well.  Matt Wright deserved a shot in September last year, in my opinion, but was unable to get it.

Anyway, as always, thanks for reading.  Look for another update tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cactus League Opener Eve

Hey guys, short post tonight.

BA top 100 prospect list came out today as everyone already knows.  I'll probably comment further in the future, but in case you didn't read it elsewhere, 3 royals were in top 100, including Mike Moustakas at 13.  Also in top 100 are Hosmer at 25 and Dan Cortes at 90.  I'll go into better detail probably tomorrow or Thursday, but Cortes is probably a little high.  Also, from what I've read Melville and Duffy barely missed the list and landed in the top 100-125 somewhere.

Another piece of news that came out today was the lineup for the cactus league opener tomorrow.  The Rangers decided Anna Benson's husband was going to start, so Hillman saw it fit to tweak his lineup.  Anyway, here it is:

Coco Crisp - CF
Mike Aviles - SS
David DeJesus - LF
Mike Jacobs - DH
Billy Butler - 1B
Alex Gordon - 3B
Mark Teahen - 2B
Miguel Olivo - C
Willie Bloomquist - RF

Obviously this is a very similar lineup to opening day, with the exception of Bloomquist for the injured Jose Guillen in right.  One thing I was wondering about today is who is going to get the majority of time at SS once Mike Aviles leaves for the WBC on Sunday.  One would think it would be Bloomquist, but I'm afraid it will be TPJ.  Ugh.  I really like the lineup like this, except for Jose in RF and further up the order.  The more I read about Coco and the more I look at his stats the more excited I get about him.  Add in the fact that he hustles and loves the game and he is quickly turning into my 2nd favorite player.  A Mark Teahen sidekick, of sorts.

The pitching should look something like this:

Horacio Ramirez
Brandon Duckworth
Henry Barrera
Yasuhiko Yabuta

As I stated previously I think it's good that Horacio is starting, as it will give us the most opportunity to see if he is qualified for the rotation.  I am also very excited to see Lenny DiNardo pitch.  I'm really pulling for him to make the club possibly as a long reliever out of the pen.  Henry is really the only prospect who will pitch, so of course I'll have to pay attention to him.

Well, as I said, short post tonight.  I'll continue the look at our 40 man tomorrow probably, along with a breakdown of the game.  Thanks for reading, leave a comment if you wish.

Monday, February 23, 2009

That'll Cost-ya -- My thoughts on Shane, and his Major League potential

Little Royals news today, but I'll hit the main points anyway:

  • Mike Jacobs took a "personal day" and did not participate in any drills
  • Jose Guillen swung a little in the batting cage but did not swing at live pitching, he did participate in drills for the whole day, however.
That is essentially all of the news that there is for the day.  Also, we have detailed information about Orlando Hudson's contract.  That breakdown can be found here.  It's just more proof that the more creative you can be, the better the chance you have of signing a player for a good deal.  On another note Orlando Cabrera is still available, and his asking price is down to 5.5 million supposedly.  DMGM.. Make it happen!

Also, I'd like to point out that an anonymous commenter left an excellent link that I was previously unaware to.  This page has a pretty good breakdown of the play-by-play for the intrasquad game I went over yesterday.  Thanks for this little treat anonymous!

Since today was pretty slow news-wise, I figured I'd start on my breakdown of our 40 man roster, one player at a time.  Today's player will be Shane Costa.  Costa is a pretty good example of a tweener.  He is a tweener for his position (not enough offense for a corner OF position, not enough defense for CF), and he is a tweener for his abilities, (is he a 4th OF, career AAAA player, or can he break into a starting lineup?)  

Shane was a 3 year player at Cal State Fullerton before being drafted in the 2003 draft as the 42nd overall player selected.  A few of the big name players selected closely after him are: Ryan Sweeney, Scott Baker, Andre Ethier, Jamie D'Antona, Tom Gorzelanny, and JoJo Reyes.  After being drafted Shane spent some time in Rookie ball, posting a 1024 OPS in 88 at bats.  Shane even saw 3 games worth of high A ball in his inaugural season.  Shane continued to rocket through the system, similar to many players during the Allard Baird era, reaching AA in his third year with the organization at the age of 23.  In 79 games Costa posted a 797 OPS with 24 walks and only 23 strikeouts.  Costa saw 4 games in AAA at the end of the year.  The very next year Costa would spend 73 games in the major leagues, batting .274 and posting a 709 OPS in 237 at bats.  This would prove to be Costa's best chance of sticking in the majors to date.  Shane also played 55 games in AAA that year, batting .342.

2007 would bring Shane another opportunity to play in the major leagues, this time did not go so well, however.  In 103 at bats with the Royals, Shane hit .223, posting an abysmal 558 OPS.  (Tony Pena, by comparison, posted a 640 OPS in 2007)  Shane still knew how to destroy minor league pitching, however, hitting .326/.402/.502 in 233 at bats.  

Last season saw Shane in AAA for the entirety of the 75 games he played in.  Fighting through injuries he hit .295 with just 39 strikeouts and 10 home runs.  Shane remains an option as a 4th OF for the Major League club this season, however that would probably require Mark Teahen winning the 2nd base job outright.  Most likely, Costa will start out again in AAA, providing depth in case of injury.  Costa has clearly mastered AAA, but may not have the abilities to move on to the next level.

While Costa has been written off by many as a AAAA player, he reminds me a lot of a former Royal who, while doing well in his time with the Royals, was traded for peanuts and went on to put up excellent numbers with his new club.  Like Costa, this player also played LF, and although not great defensively, he hits for a high average and is not prone to striking out.  He does not hit many home runs and does not walk a lot, but he manages to be a productive player.  The player?  Matt Diaz.  While their major league numbers are significantly different, I think their minor league numbers are very indicative of how similar these players are.

In 760 games Matt Diaz has a career minor league line of .313/.360/.488, for an OPS of 848.  Shane Costa has a line of .311/.373/.474, for an OPS of 847, in 416 minor league games.  While Diaz hits for slightly  more power, Costa clearly has the advantage in OBP, which is the more important advantage, in my opinion.  Costa also strikes out less and walks more.  Costa has 160 strikeouts to 131 walks in his minor league career, while Diaz has 471 Ks and 154 BB, in almost twice the games.

The point of this write-up, aside from providing insight and giving me a topic during a non-newsy day, is also to point out that some players just need a chance.  No one would argue that Matt Diaz is an all star or belongs in the hall of fame, or even that he will start a majority of the games in LF for the Braves this year.  But he has had an OPS plus of 114 and 124 in 2006 and 2007, which would have been the best on the Royals for both of those seasons.  I'm not saying Costa will live up to the few good years Diaz has had for the Braves, but I am saying that for the major league minimum, Costa could easily be on the same level as Jose Guillen as far as OPS+ goes.  While this isn't an end-all be-all stat, it certainly shows that the 13 million spent on Jose Guillen could be more wisely spent, perhaps on another above replacement player level middle infielder.

Well, I'll end the rant here, this post wasn't as well organized as I'd have liked, and most likely I will tweak my "player profile" posts in the future to be better organized and have better flow.  As always, leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On the Intrasquad game and the next Shane Victorino..

Today kicked off the unofficial official start of Spring Training, at least in my opinion.  I'm speaking about the intrasquad game, of course.  Only after the game do we get lineups, so let's take a look at Team A now:

CF Coco Crisp
SS Mike Aviles
LF David DeJesus
DH Ross Gload
1B Billy Butler
 C John Buck
2B Willie Bloomquist
3B Esteban German
RF Derrick Robinson
DH John Suomi

Notice anything different about this lineup?  Two DH's.  Which is a great idea, in my opinion.  It is important to get as many players as many at bats as possible during Spring Training.  I think the top three in this lineup is how the opening day lineup probably shakes out, barring injuries.  While it's not ideal from a stats standpoint, a stats standpoint also says that the difference between the best lineup and the worst lineup is about 10 runs a season.  Also I'm glad to see that they're using Ross Gload at DH, I hope he doesn't spend a single inning in the field this spring, we know very well his abilities in the field, it is much more important to see how Butler/Jacobs/Shealy perform.  Onto Team B:

CF Mitch Maier
SS Tony Pena Jr.
1B Mike Jacobs
DH Ryan Shealy
3B Alex Gordon
 C Miguel Olivo
2B Mark Teahen
DH Alberto Callaspo
LF Chris Lubanski
RF Jose Duarte

My first thought on this team is that I love the outfield.  It has a lot of youth and possibly future callups this year in it.  Mitch Maier and Chris Lubanski are both two of the hardest working prospects in our upper minors.  They are also two of the bigger disappointments of the Allard Baird era.  (Along with Colt Griffin, Mike Stodolka.. etc. etc. etc.)  This outfield also contains one of the sleeper prospects that I really believe in. And as you will come to find out through my writings I'm a HUGE fan of this sleeper prospect. He is easily my favorite position player in the minors.  And he reminds me of one of my favorite position players who isn't a Royal, Shane Victorino.  He is... Jose Duarte!  Both Shane and Jose play excellent defense with great throwing arms.  They both are keen to getting on base via the walk and stealing bases at a good rate.  Shane has more power than Jose but Jose has improved his power numbers every step of the way.  His ISO Slugging percentage in '06 was 76, in '07 was 79 and last year jumped up to 100.  ISO slugging is simply Slugging percentage minus Batting Average, and is a good indicator of raw power.  It is a stat I enjoy utilizing.  

Anyway, on to the rest of the team.  I am glad they are playing Teahen at 2B from the get-go, but am afraid they are not committed enough to allowing him to succeed.  I watched a media clip from today where Trey Hillman was talking about how he had to remind Teahen to get some time in the OF after he was through at 2B.  I understand that Teahen needs to work all around the diamond because that is most likely where he will be playing, but in my opinion, Teahen should spend all of his time at 2B right now, because if he is unable to be a starter there, he is not going to be a starter anywhere on the field.  His defense in the OF and at the corner INF positions is good enough to get him by as a utility player without the extra work in spring training.  Mark needs to focus on 2B and 2B alone for the remainder of ST.

On another note, former Jayhawk and Rangers 3B prospect Travis Metcalf won the HR derby today, beating J.R. House in the finals.  The derby was a competition between three Rangers and three Royals.  From the Royals there was Corey Smith and Kila Ka'aihue along with House.  The Rangers supplied German Duran and last year's first round pick Justin Smoak as well as the winner, Metcalf.

Wednesday will kick off the official start to Spring Training, or at least to the Cactus League season.  The game will be between the Royals and the Rangers, and scheduled to start is Horacio Ramirez.  I imagine this selection is because whoever pitches first, will likely be able to pitch the most.  While the pick does suck on one hand because I'm not a big Horacio fan, it is also a wise pick that I respect because it will allow for the best evaluation of his abilities.  Also slotted for some innings are Brandon Duckworth and Lenny DiNardo for two innings (or 30 pitches) each.  Following them will be an inning each from Henry Barrera, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and Franquelis Osoria.  This info is all from the KC Star.  

According to this schedule, the Royals have 34 Cactus League games this spring.  This includes split squad games.  I plan on doing a small writeup for each game, as long as I am able to find information or at least a box score.  I also plan on naming a player of the game and possibly doing a small writeup on my thoughts for each of one of the players on the Royals 40 man roster (including a few days where I do two players, so the numbers match up.)  Well see how it takes off, however I am very much enjoying putting my thoughts on paper (so to speak) with this blog so far.

Well, as always, thanks for reading.  Leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Incentive Away From Contention?

Well, it's Saturday, which means that the first intrasquad game of spring training is tomorrow!  According to The Star,  the Royals have announced who will be pitching in the opener.  Jamey Wright, Julio Pimental, Devon Lowery and Heath Phillips will pitch two innings each and Henry Barrera will pitch one inning.  I am most excited to hear about how Julio, Devon and Henry do.  Barrera has the potential to be this year's Ram-Ram, in my opinion.  Now if only we could get a lineup for tomorrow's game!

Speaking of tomorrow's lineup, the one thing we do know is that Jose Guillen won't be in it.  Originally slated as the DH, Jose won't be playing due to a sore shoulder along with his sore toe.  I understand that Spring Training has only just begun and it takes players a while to get into the swing of things, but if he has a sore shoulder from overthrowing in the first few days of camp, that leads me to believe that he hadn't kept a very strict throwing regiment over the winter.  In fact, now that I think about it, I don't recall hearing about JoGui playing winterball at all.  I may be mistaken though.  More controversial news to come from Guillen is that he used to work out with the now infamous Angel Presinal, the same trainer that is banned from all MLB clubhouses and was allegedly working out with Alex Rodriguez. Although Jose claims that it hasn't been within the last three years and that it never involved PED's.  I think it's very discomforting that this steroid issue continues to grow despite the big congressional hearing which everyone thought was the pinnacle of the situation. 

Buster Olney recently wrote a new post, much of it centering on Greinke, and also the Royals improvement this offseason.  No new information really, except for this interesting little tidbit:  

"The Royals actually had a higher offer in a base salary for Orlando Hudson than theDodgers' winning offer -- $4.6 million, more than a million more than L.A.'s winning offer of $3.38 million. But Hudson can make more with the Dodgers if he realizes all of the incentive clauses, and there was a feeling all along within the Royals organization that Hudson's preference was to sign with L.A. and remain in the NL West as he tries to position himself for another run at free agency."

Well, this is somewhat depressing.  All the Royals had to do was add incentives, and we could have had an almost-all-star caliber second baseman and leadoff hitter.  We could have easily tweaked those incentives so that the Cabrera wouldn't have gotten paid unless we were within so many games of the division lead.  While this is the Royals I have come to expect, I wish that we could have pulled this one out.  I genuinely believe it could have turned us into a legitimate contender for the central pennant.

In the Star today was an excellent write-up about my second favorite Royal.  Coco Crisp is the type of "gritty" player that I enjoy being a fan of.  (As opposed to the "sucky" "gritty" player, like Ross Gload.)  While Coco still needs to try and improve his walk rate, if he can get back to his the stat lines he had in his years with Cleveland (or even head in that direction) it will make the loss of Ramon Ramirez hurt even less.  The best part about players like Coco Crisp and Mark Teahen is that you always know you are getting 100% effort from them.  This is clearly not the case with players like Angel Berroa, Neifi Perez and even some current Royals.  Coco has a lot of work to do to get back to the production that he has had in the past, but on a team like Kansas City where the pressure is much more similar to Cleveland than to Boston, maybe he has a chance.

On there is a small write-up about Derrick Robinson's first few days of his first trip to major league Spring Training.  While it's clear this is just a "see what you're in for if you work hard" maneuver, I think it is a good idea.  Derrick will be closely working with both Coco Crisp and David DeJesus.  Derrick was the "Willie Wilson Award" winner for last year, which I was previously unaware of until reading this article.  The "Willie Wilson Award" is given out to the best baserunner in the minor league system.  I think this is an excellent idea.  Awarding good baserunning and creating incentives for players to work on it is a somewhat new concept.  The Royals should be doing more things like this, trying to create improvement of their minor leaguers' game in anyway possible.  Creating 5 tool players should be their goal.  

Last thing for the day, for those of you that aren't familiar, I'm a big Paul DePodesta fan.  Paul first came to my attention when he was a predominant figure in "Moneyball" as an assistant to Billy Beane.  He has since moved on to be the Dodgers GM from '04 to '05 and is now a special assistant to GM Kevin Towers of the Padres.  I was on the Paul DePodesta bandwagon (I think I was driving it actually) when the Royals were searching for a GM.  In fact, if DM ever gets fired I really hope Paul gets the job, I think he is an excellent talent and understands statistical correlation in baseball better than almost anyone.  (At least better than anyone who actually has a resume that could land them a GM job.)  Anyway, Paul has a blog that I enjoy reading very much and I thought I might pass that link on to everyone.  That link is Http:// so if you get the chance, take a look.  I wish there were more front end personell blogs similar to this with wonderful insight and sometimes even breaking news.  As always, thanks for reading, and please leave a comment if you have a question or want me to cover a specific topic.  Thanks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lefty Necessity?

Short Friday post today.  Well, the news came out that Orlando Hudson has signed with the Dodgers.  Still waiting on news on the contract, but I imagine it will only make me more depressed that we failed unable to sign him.  So far everything seems to be clicking right along in spring training.  On the injury front, Jose Guillen is still a few days away from full participation and John Bale has yet to throw.  On another note, Mike Aviles will be playing for team Puerto Rico in the fast approaching World Baseball Classic.  

No news on Andy Marte, though I read a report that the Twins were interested in him.  (They did just ink Joe Crede tonight though, so that interest may or may not be diminished.)  On to something that bugs me.  Why is it assumed that you need a lefty in your rotation?  More and more I'm getting the feeling that Horacio Ramirez is essentially guaranteed the #4 spot in the rotation simply because he is a southpaw.  I simply do not understand this thinking.  I understand the thought process that you want to mix up your pitchers from day to day so hitters don't get accustomed to the same type of pitching.  (Though I think this theory is much more applicable for in game situations, i.e. Joel Zumaya after Tim Wakefield.)  I think it is much more important to put the best rotation together possible, regardless of handedness.

That being said, I think this rotation would best suit the Royals, at least for the beginning of the year:

Gil Meche
Zack Greinke
Kyle Davies
Brian Bannister
Luke Hochevar

I imagine it will look more like this, however:

Gil Meche
Zack Greinke
Brian Bannister
Horacio Ramirez
Kyle Davies

Which I am OK with, I would just rather see Luke start to make more of an impact, considering he was the #1 pick in the draft in '06.  

I think I'll end my short post on that note.  If anyone has any questions or would like me to cover any certain topics leave a comment and I'll be sure to look it over.  Thanks.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jose Guillen M.D.

Happy Thursday.  Today was a bit slow news-wise as ST goes, but there was definitely some pertinent things that happened.  First off, the Royals added a middle infielder.  Dayton Moore claimed Tug Hulett off of waivers from the Mariners, and subsequently DFA'd RP Neal Musser.  I see this overall as an improvement of the team.  Hulett is younger than Musser and besides Musser will probably accept a re-assignment to AAA Omaha anyway.

You may remember Hulett's name from last offseason, when he was sent from Texas to the Mariners for 1B Ben Broussard.  Broussard went on to be released by the Rangers before June, and so I'm sure the Mariner's didn't have much problem letting go of Tug.  Hulett isn't much of a power hitter, although he did hit 14 homers last year for PCL Tacoma on his way to a .518 slugging percentage.  He's prone to strike outs (204 in 253 games in his last two years between AAA and the majors) but he also is willing to walk (118 in that same time period).  Hulett will turn 26 before the season starts, but has never really had a shot in the big leagues.  Overall, I definitely rate this as a positive move, Hulett could very well end up being a serviceable big league 2nd baseman with a .280/.350/.450 line in his prime with maybe 10 home runs.  He could also flounder in AAA and we could never hear from him again.  Either way, moves like this make me excited that DM isn't just passing over the details, he is actively searching to improve his team in any way possible.  As a sidenote, "Tug's" actually name is "Timothy"... interesting.

Musser was going to turn 29 before the season was over and while he has posted a career 4.18 ERA in the majors that goes along with a 1.83 WHIP, strong proof that his ERA was not sustainable.  Musser is a lefty, so even if he doesn't accept an assignment to AAA I imagine he will stick on someone's 40 man.  His stuff is passable, his strikeout rate of 7.7 batters per 9 in the minors is very good and is HR/9 of 0.7 is excellent.  I don't have information for his splits in the minors but he has done much better vs. righties in his big league career (granted in 25 innings).  He has a .262/.368/.431 vs righties and a .385/.442/.692 vs lefties.  Neither is very good, and definitely does not show that he has LOOGY potential.  However, he really hasn't had much of a chance in the ML yet and may very well end up sticking somewhere.

On to the Orlando Hudson front.  As each day passes, it looks more and more like the Dodgers are going to wind up with a 50% off deal on O-Dawg.  While this may stunt the growth of Blake DeWitt for a season, it would allow the Dodgers to plug in another big league hitter into their lineup.  Also as each day passes I get more and more frustrated that we haven't seen O-Dawg's press conference announcing him as a Royal.  Hudson would fit in so well as a leadoff or #2 hitter for the Royals and fills a position of need.  Even in his sub 100 OPS+ days in Toronto he could still talk a walk and hit for some decent power.  And as always, he is easily one of the three best defensive 2nd baseman in the majors.  

Another piece of news from today: Jose Guillen is performing minor surgery on himself.  How this happens, I don't know.  This is nearly as bad as Tracy McGrady announcing through his website that he would have season-ending surgery on his knee before even discussing the matter with his coaching staff.  That being said, at least TMac didn't break out a steak knife and do the dirty himself.  I will always have beef with Guillen, as I feel like he doesn't care about the team at all.  That being said, he is a Royal and I do root for him.  I would imagine that Nick Swartz SHOULD take some flak for this.  After all, the players' health is his job.  However, Nick Swartz has been around for a long time, and I doubt anything comes of this.  Shouldn't someone be responsible for explaining to the players the implications of something like this?  What if his toe gets infected and he misses half the season?  aye aye, anyway enough of JoGui for now.

Andy Marte was DFA'd today. While I realize there is very little room on the Royals 40 man for another corner infielder-type, I think it is important to improve your roster with every chance you get, even if that improvement is small.  Who would you rather have as a backup infielder? Ross Gload, who is capable of playing 1B and the corner OF spots or Marte who can play 3B or 1B and is 7 years younger.  Gload is a proven commodity.  And it is also proven that Hillman (and Buddy Bell for that matter) way overuse him.  Why not bring in Marte and allow him to work with Kevin Seitzer to work on getting his swing back.  After all Marte was rated the number 11 prospect in baseball by Baseball America as recently as 2006.  Another important factor to consider is that if Mark Teahen is traded or released, this team has no 3B to back up Gordon.  Sure, German can handle the position, but at this point there's no guarantee he makes the roster out of spring training.  Besides, watching him throw from 3B is like watching David Eckstein throw.. from anywhere.  Anyway, I feel like ditching Gload for Marte would be a net positive for the Royals roster.

Well that's about all of the information I found useful for today.  As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I have been considering a sports-related blog for a little over a year now, and finally decided to take the leap.  While I say sports-related I mostly mean a culmination of my thoughts about the Kansas City Royals.  However, from time to time I may write a short post concerning my angst of another team I follow.  But the Royals always have been and always will be my favorite sports team, and as such they will receive 90% of my attention.  

Let's get to a short description of this blog.  I do not claim to be a professional writer by any means.  I do my best to make my writings easy to understand and lighthearted.  That being said, I am also a very passionate Royals fan and as such I am not afraid to speak my mind.  Hopefully, reading this blog will leave you with a better understanding of my thoughts about the Royals.  My intentions are to help organize my thoughts and to spread knowledge and passion for the greatest sport on earth.
Before I go further, a little about me. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Kansas City Royals as well as Mark Teahen. I have lived in Kansas City my whole life, and as such have never lived to see a Kansas City Royals team make the playoffs.  The average wins for a Royals team in my life team is 72.2.  However, The Royals have only finished with more than 72 wins 3 times in the last 10 years, so the majority of the time I have followed this team closely they have been awful.  That being said, I have always stood by them.  I wish not to talk about the losing past of this franchise nearly as much as the hopeful future.  On another note I also have a wide interest in other sports.  I closely follow the NBA, the NHL, the English Premier League, the NFL and the MLS.  Well I'm sure I will delve into my background a bit more in the future, but for now I will move onto my thoughts so far into Spring Training.
Spring Training only officially started last week, and already we have news that Alberto Callaspo is again not doing his part to stay out of the news off the field.  Alberto is once again having visa problems in his attempt to travel from Venezuela to the U.S.  I understand the difficulty of international travel, but I would think he would find it more important to arrive in camp early this year, if he cares about winning the 2nd base job, which I think he has a legitimate chance of doing.  Last year Callaspo being late to camp was annoying, this year it makes me think the level of commitment needed to succeed at the big league level may not be there at all.  
Another frustrating report out of spring training is that according to Ken Rosenthal (Hudson Interested in KC) Orlando Hudson WANTS to play for the Royals.  First off, when was the last time an above-average caliber major league starter WANTED to play for the Royals?  Longer than I can remember.  Secondly, not only does a good player WANT to come to Kansas City to play, but it is actually at a position of need.  Granted, that is probably a large part of why Hudson wants to play for the Royals, it is relevant because it should indicate reciprocated interest by the Royals.  The problem is the Royals aren't willing to open their pocketbook!  By most accounts Hudson would sign for between 4 and 5 million dollars on either a 1 or 2 year deal.  Granted, this may not be the case, but not being an insider I must go by the information supplied to me by people in the know.  This is frustrating because 4.5 million dollars just isn't very much money in today's sports world.  I understand that owners are very afraid the down economy will hurt them (just take a look at the report out today that up to 15 NBA teams will borrow around 10 million dollars each this year to help counter their operating losses).  However, the Royals just signed Kyle Farnsworth for around the same money Orlando Hudson allegedly wants.  If ever there was an offseason to spend like the Royals have been spending the last 3 years, it is this one, and the Royals just stand pat instead of trying to sign an impact player.  

Signing an impact player this offseason would be better than in years past in two ways.  First off, that impact player is going to sign for much less than in the past.  Adam Dunn signed for 2 years 20 million dollars this offseason to learn a new position.  Jose Guillen signed for 3 years 36 million dollars last offseason and refused to play a position that he did not want to.  Desire to play baseball aside, Adam Dunn is twice the hitter that Jose Guillen is, and their defenses are very similar too.  Secondly, not only can an impact player be had for much cheaper this offseason than in years past, but the impact of that player could be worth more wins in a down division this year.  Imagine what a AL Central pennant and playoff appearance would do for this franchise.  The money spent on Free Agency would be made back twice over.  Players are an investment, after all.

Just a short note, Ken Griffey Junior has reportedly signed with the Mariners, presumably to finish his career there.  I wish him well, he has had an awesome career, and despite being so great is probably one of the most underrated players of all time due to some unfortunate injuries.
To wrap it up I will say thank you to anyone who enjoys this experiment, hopefully there will be many more to come in the future.