Tagged: Kansas City Royals

Blue Jays inquire about Greinke, Gordon: Toronto Sun

Well, this is interesting.  According to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun, the Jays have inquired about Royals superstar pitcher Zach Greinke and former first overall pick Alex Gordon.

The Blue Jays have inquired about the availability of Kansas City right-hander Zack Greinke.

With Cliff Lee the top free agent on the market, Greinke would
appeal to also-rans in the Lee sweepstakes such as the Texas Rangers,
Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.

The Royals are looking for two “can’t-miss prospects” as a starting
point in talks on the 2009 American League Cy Young award winner.

Grienke, 26, was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts this season and will make $13 million US next year.

The Jays have also discussed obtaining Alex Gordon, a former No. 1
draft pick. Gordon started as the Royals third baseman before being
demoted to triple-A Omaha in May to play the outfield. A left-handed
hitter, Gordon batted .215 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 74 games
with the Royals. He hit .315 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 68 games
at Omaha.

Although, I love the idea of the Jays acquiring Greinke, I think it’s important not to jump on this.  The Royals want at least two front-line prospects for Greinke which means the Jays would likely have to part with Kyle Drabek who would be under control of the Jays until at least 2016.  Greinke, on the other hand, is owed $27-million over the next two years and then is a free agent.  I also find it hard to believe that the Royals would part with Greinke at any point this offseason.  If he’s traded, it will likely be some point during the season or next offseason, depending on how the Royals play this year.  Since the Jays probably won’t realistically be contenders in the next two years, i feel like it would be a bad move, unless Alex Anthopoulous plans to acquire him and then flip him before the deadline if the Jays aren’t contending.

Now Alex Gordon is a different story.  Gordon is a former 1st overall pick who has not panned out, but he has shown flashes of brilliance at times.  Alex Anthopolous could probably wrestle him out of KC for very little.  I have a feeling Gordon could be a very good defensive first-basemen and I believe that’s where he’d play if the Jays got him.  I don’t know what evidence I have to go on, but I really think Gordon is a prime late-bloomer candidate who could do well from a change of scenery.

On the DeJesus-Mazzaro trade

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The other day, the Oakland
Athletics
and Kansas City Royals
pulled off the first major trade of the 2010-11 offseason.  Headed to Oakland is long-time Royals
outfielder David DeJesus, who was in
the midst of a career year before a thumb injury stopped his season in its
tracks.  The Royals snag two pitchers in
highly-touted Vin Mazzaro and minor-league
lefty Justin Marks.

David-DeJesus-2.jpg

On the surface, this looks like a trade of necessity for
both clubs.  The Royals exercised their
2011 option on DeJesus on October 2nd and will make
$6.0-million.  Given that this is a
reasonable amount for a potentially above-average outfielder, the Royals likely
thought it was better to exercise the option and try to get something in a
trade, than let Dejesus go via free agency.

 

The A’s seem quite focused on playing to their spacious park
and instead of spending money on big, cumbersome slugging outfielders; they are
attempting to create an athletic core of players with moderate power and
above-average range.  Ryan Sweeney, Dejesus, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Conor
Jackson
are all under contract or in control for next year and are all very
similar players; athletic fielders, solid contact hitters, average to below
average power.  Overall, DeJesus is
definitely a player who’ll fit in nicely in Oakland for 2011.  He’ll likely jet via free agency after next
season.

 alg_mazzaro2.jpg

That’s what makes this deal perplexing.  Clearly the A’s are a team that sees
themselves contending next year, and certainly they could in the unpredictable
AL West, but DeJesus is a 31-year-old injury-plagued player with one year left
on a deal.  Mazzaro, on the other hand is
a potential stud.

 

His numbers in the majors aren’t terrifically impressive,
but they aren’t bad either; he got significantly better last year over his ’09
rookie performance.  His minor-league
number were solid and has all the makeup of a pitcher who could eventually be a
top-of-the-rotation talent.

 

Marks, like Mazzaro, is a former third-round pick, however
he has yet to show anything at the minor-league level that would lead me to
believe he’s a major-league player.

 

Overall, I think the A’s didn’t need DeJesus enough to give
up a pitcher like Mazzaro.  On the other
hand, they are probably the best equipped organization to give up some pitching
talent given the wealth of it they possess.

2010 Kansas City Royals

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royals.gif2009 Record: 65-97, 4th AL Central

2009 Prediction: 75-87, 4th AL Central

2010 Prediction: 4th AL Central

 

Impact Player: Brett Butler

Impact Pitcher: Zack Greinke

Top Prospect Player:
C Wil Myers

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Mike Montgomery

 

Manager: Trey Hillman, 3rd Season
(140-184, .432)

 

Significant
Acquisition
: C Jason Kendall, OF
Scott Podsednik, OF Rick Ankiel, 3B Josh Fields, INF Chris Getz,
INF Wilson Betemit, OF Brian Anderson

Significant Losses:
C Miguel Olivo, C John Buck, 3B Mark Teahen, 1B Mike Jacobs,
OF Coco Crisp, OF Josh Anderson, RHP Jamey Wright, LHP John Bale,
RHP Sidney Ponson, LHP Lenny DiNardo, LHP Horacio Ramirez, RHP Doug
Waechter

 

The Kansas City Royals are one of pro-sports’ most futile
franchises.  Since the 1994 lockout, the
Royals have had one winning season in 15 years. 
That one year was in 2003 when they won a modest 83 games.  That run of futility is matched by only the
Pittsburgh Pirates who have not had a single winning season since 1992.  When the Royals won those 83 games in ’03,
people called them a team on the rise and every year people have said ‘this is
the year they turn it around…this is the year they start to turn the
corner.’  However, since that year,
Kansas City has lost 100 or more games 3 times and 90 or more games 5 times;
the only exception being an 87-loss year in 2008.  Again, people were optimistic and a terrific
start in 2009 cemented the Royals as a team on the rise…again.  And then reality set in.  The Royals finished their year with 97 losses
and a tie for the second-worst record in the American League.  Is this the year the fortunes of this
seemingly doomed franchise start to turn, or will they continue on a track that
saw them lose an average of 95 games in the 00’s, more than any other team?

 

Pitching

zack-greinke.jpg

The one thing the Royals organization can hang their hat on
is ace pitcher Zack Greinke.  Greinke joined Bret Saberhagen and David Cone
as the only pitchers in Royals’ history to win the Cy Young and did so with an
utterly dominant year.  He led the league
with a 2.16 ERA and posted 16 wins on a bad team.  Greinke pretty much guarantees that the
Royals will win at least 20 games this season. 
As for the other 142 games? 
That’s a different story.  Gil Meche has number 2 starter ability
and should be motivated in a contract year, the one question has always been
his health which was an issue last season. 
Meche was limited to only 129 innings of work and posted only 6 wins.  A healthy Meche will go a long way in helping
this team approach .500.  After those
two, there’s a startling lack of depth.  Luke Hochevar is a complete
enigma.  He pitched a few of the best and
most dominating performances of any Royal last year (including a 13 K outing
against the Rangers), but also threw a number of disasters.  If he can ever find consistency, he might be
an elite pitcher.  However, that’s a huge if. 
The final two spots will likely go to two of three pitchers: Kyle Davies, Brian Bannister, or Robinson
Tejeda
.  Tejeda was the only one who put
up decent numbers in ’09 (3.54 ERA and 87 K in 73.2 IP), but he was used mainly
in a mid-relief and long-man role.  The
Royals may be leaning toward using him in that role again.  Youngsters Carlos Rosa, Dusty Hughes,
Anthony Lerew, and Victor Marte could also get a look, but
they all have a better shot at cracking the team in the bullpen.

 

How many losing teams can boast that they have one of top
five starters and one of the top five
relievers in the game?  Perhaps only the
Royals.  Joakim Soria is one of the only closers in the game who can say he
has four very good pitches, and that is part of the reason he’s so
successful.  As soon as hitters adjust to
him, he adjusts back.  Soria has posted
72 saves in the past two season, including 30 last year to go along with a 2.21
ERA.  He’s one of the few closers with
real staying power.  GM Dayton Moore
traded away some great young setup arms (Leo
Nunez
to Florida for Mike Jacobs
and Ramon Ramirez to Boston for Coco Crisp) and replaced them with
veteran free agents.  Not only did those
free agents flop, but neither Jacobs nor Crisp are still with the team.  Kyle
Farnsworth
and Juan Cruz
combined for a 5.23 ERA in ’09 and in order for the Royals to effectively
bridge the gap to Soria, they need those two to be back in form.  Roman
Colon
returns and could have been worse in middle relief, especially since
he hadn’t pitched since 2006.  Brad Thompson was picked up off waivers
from St. Louis and could fill a spot and the rest of the bullpen will be made
up of AAA-arms with one of the starters moving to long relief.  Hughes may be the only real lefthanded option
so will likely be in the ‘pen if anywhere.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Zack
Greinke

26

R/R

Gil
Meche

31/2

R/R

Luke
Hochevar

26/7

R/R

Kyle
Davies

26/7

R/R

Brian
Bannister

29

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Joakim
Soria

25/6

R/R

Kyle
Farnsworth

34

R/R

Juan
Cruz

31

R/R

Brad
Thompson*

28

R/R

Roman
Colon

30/1

R/R

Dusty
Hughes

27/8

L/L

Robinson
Tejeda

28

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Victor
Marte

29

R/R

Anthony
Lerew

27

L/R

Carlos
Rosa

25

R/R

Jorge
Campillo*

31/2

R/R

Bryan Bullington*          

29

R/R

Philip
Humber*

27

R/R

 

 

Lineup

billybutler.jpg

The Royals finished second-to-last in the AL in runs scored
in 2009 and when you’re a team who’s thin on pitching, that’s a problem.  The outfield will be occupied by three
30-something veterans in 2010 and the Royals are hoping they can form the
leadership branch of the team.  David DeJesus is the only holdover of
the group and he will be moved to rightfield, which is not a position he’s used
to.  DeJesus, however, is a fine fielder
so he should make the adjustment easily. 
He had a terrific year in ’09 finishing with a .281 average and 71
RBI.  Centerfield will be manned by
former pitching standout Rick Ankiel
who comes over from the other Missouri team. 
Ankiel’s feel good story turned sour when it was revealed that he was
buying steroids in his comeback season of 2007 and his numbers dropped off
dramatically in 2009 when he hit only 11 HR and drove in just 38 for St.
Louis.  In leftfield is the consistent Scott Podsednik who comes over from the
White Sox.  Podsednik is good for a solid
average (.304 last year, .277 for his career) and a ton of steals (30 last
year), but won’t bring you much power; although he did have a .412 slugging
percentage in ’09, his highest since 2003. 
Jose Guillen might get some
time in the corner spots but will be relegated mainly to DH where he’ll hope to
rebound after an awful ’09 that saw his slugging percentage fall to .367.

 

Billy Butler
anchors a young infield at first and is blossoming into a very good
player.  He hit 21 HR and drove in 93
last year while hitting .301.  His
defense, once considered a liability is steadily improving.  Alex
Gordon
will be given the job at the other corner and the Royals are hoping
this is the year he finally breaks out. 
After showing flashes of brilliance last year, Gordon got hurt and never
really recovered.  If he really struggles
or gets hurt again, Josh Fields who
was acquired from the White Sox could end up the starter.  Yuniesky
Betancourt
will be the opening day short stop after a terrible year that
saw him shipped out of Seattle after being one of their more promising young
players.  He also seemed to forget how to
field the ball, something he used to be very good at.  Chris
Getz
was also acquired from teh White Sox in the same trade as Fields and
could get the nod at second.  Alberto Callaspo‘s bat is too good to
leave out of the lineup (.300, 11, 73) but is so bad defensively that the
Royals sought someone else.  Callaspo may
end up challenging Guillen for at-bats at DH and the team has also tossed
around the idea of trying him in the outfield. 
Last year’s catching platoon of John
Buck
and Miguel Olivo helped the
Royals put up some great offensive numbers from the catcher position posting 31
HR and 101 RBI combined, but the team let them both go in order to improve
their defense.  Very few are convinced,
however, that Jason Kendall is the
answer.  He can call a game, but his
defensive skills have badly eroded.  He’s
also among the worst hitters in the game.

 

On the bench, the Royals actually have some depth led by
Fields, Callaspo and super-utility man Willie
Bloomquist
who can outrun anyone on this team, even at 32 years old.  He can also play just about anywhere.  Utility-infielder Wilson Betemit was given a minor-league contract and could make a
since addition to the bench if someone gets hurt, and the backup catcher will
be Brayan Pena who slugged at .442
last season with 6 HR in a short stint. 
He may challenge Kendall for the starting job if he continues to put up
those kinds of numbers.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Scott
Podsednik*
(CF)

34

L/L

RF

David
DeJesus
(LF)

30

L/L

1B

Billy
Butler
(DH)

24

R/R

DH

Jose
Guillen
(RF)

33/4

R/R

3B

Alex
Gordon

26

L/R

CF

Rick
Ankiel*

30/1

L/L

SS

Yuniesky
Betancourt

28

R/R

2B

Chris
Getz*

26/7

L/R

C

Jason
Kendall*

35/6

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

3B

Josh
Fields*
(1B, DH)

27

R/R

INF

Alberto
Callaspo
(2B, 3B, 1B)

27

S/R

UTIL

Willie
Bloomquist
(2B, RF, LF, CF, SS, 3B)

32

R/R

C

Brayan
Pena

28

S/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Wilson
Betemit*
(3B, 1B, 2B, SS)

28

S/R

OF

Mitch
Maier
(CF, RF)

27/8

L/R

OF

Brian
Anderson*
(CF, LF)

28

R/R

1B

Kila
Ka’aihue

26

L/R

C

Manuel
Pina

22/3

R/R

SS

Mike
Aviles

29

R/R

C

Edwin
Bellorin*

28

R/R

 

How good the Royals are this year completely depends on how
far Greinke, Soria and Butler can carry them. 
There just are not a whole lot of other pieces in place right now.  Players like Alex Gordon and Luke Hochevar
have to live up to their billing for this team to truly become a team on the
rise.  Until that happens, it’ll be
battle to stay out of last place.  The
one saving grace for KC is their division, the only one they’d even be an
afterthought in.

Final Prediction:
68-94, 4th AL Central

Minor League Roundup

The last couple years I’ve been getting into watching Minor League Baseball more regularly…or at least following it.  It’s a lot of fun to watch the players who will be impact major leaguers in a few years.

In this entry I’ll analyze the best players in each league at the AAA level to this point in mid-May.

International League

Nolan Reimold.jpgThe best player in the IL right now by far is Orioles’ prospect outfielder Nolan Reimold.  He was just called up to the big club a few days ago and has played 3 games.  In the IL, Reimold was leading that circuit with a .394 average and sat 2nd in home runs with 9 and 5th in RBI with 27.  The Orioles drafted him in the 2nd Round (61st overall) in the soon-to-be historic 2005 draft and although he’s a late bloomer at 25-years-old (partly due to injury problems), he seems to be developing into a decent player.  He might also be a better defensive right fielder than Nick Markakis…which is difficult to do.  Yet another strong outfielding prospect for the Orioles.  One would have to think with the lack of pitching on their current team that some of that outfield depth could be used to acquire more pitching.  Then again, the Orioles have some serious pitching prospects too.  It won’t be long before there’s yet another perrennial contender in the AL East.   
Kris Medlen.jpg
The best pitcher in the IL so far is a bit of a surprise.  23-year-old Kris Medlen was a 10th round draft pick in 2006 by the Atlanta Braves and has done nothing but tie up hitters since entering pro baseball.  Between all minor league levels since being drafted, Medlen is 15-9 with a 2.42 ERA and was converted from a closer to a starter just last season.  In 2009, Medlen is 5-0 with a ridiculous 1.19 ERA and has 44 Ks in 37.1 innings of work.  Medlen was a shortstop in college but the Braves saw something special in the righthander and suddenly he’s one of their top pitching prospects.  Like Reimold, Medlen has just been called up to the major league team.  He’s set to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.  Medlen isn’t big, coming in at a pint-sized 5’10” and 180lbs, but he has a deceptive delivery and great life and movement on all of his pitches.  The Braves may have something special with him and Tommy Hanson coming up through the system.

Pacific Coast League

Jake Fox.jpgJake Fox has been the best hitter in the PCL so far this year.  Fox is a career minor-leaguer who will be 27 in a month and a half.  Fox was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cubs in 2003 and is an atrocious defensive outfielder.  He’s okay at First Base, but he would likely benefit from being traded to an organization where he could play DH.  He has tremendous power and is becoming a smart hitter; the Cubs simply have no place to play him.  He’s another Micah Hoffpauir.  You can’t dispute his numbers in the PCL this year though.  Before his callup, he was hitting .429 with 16 HR and 46 RBI, leading the PCL in all three categories.  If he gets traded to an AL team, he might be the next Jack Cust.
hochevar.jpg
In the Major Leagues, Zack Greinke has been unreal posting insane numbers.  In the PCL, it’s another member of the Royals organization that’s dominating at a surreal pace.  Luke Hochevar, who has seen some time at the Major League level going 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA in 22 starts with KC last year is dominating in AAA this season.  Just before he was called up last week, Hochevar was 5-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 6 AAA starts.  Another reason why the Royals have a bright future.

’09 Preview — Kansas City Royals

Royals.gif2008 Record: 75-87 4th AL Central
2009 Prediction: 4th AL Central

Impact Player: Alex Gordon
Impact Pitcher: Zack Greinke
Top Prospect: Mike Moustakas, SS

Significant Acquisitions: OF Coco Crisp, 1B Mike Jacobs, P Kyle Farnsworth, P Doug Waechter, INF Willie Bloomquist
Significant Losses: 2B Mark Grudzielanek, OF Joey Gathright, P Brett Tomko, P Ramon Ramirez, P Leo Nunez

For the first time since 2003, the Kansas City Royals didn’t finish in last place in the AL Central.  Their 75-87 record was also their best since that year.  Their young players are getting better and if they manage to keep them you might see a winner in KC soon…but not in ’09.  Although they will play better and be more competitive, their record won’t be any better; neither will their standing, the AL Central is just too competitive this year.  There are people who believe that the Royals could be this year’s Rays; I’m not sure they’re ready.

Pitching
The Royals have one of the youngest rotations in baseball and they have some great arms.  Zack Greinke is back after signing a four-year extension in the off-season.  Greinke had a breakthrough year last year going 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA, finally living up to his lofty potential.  It appears his troubles with anxiety and depression are finally behind him.  Veteran Gil Meche returns after going 14-11 with an ERA of 3.98.  The third spot should go to Brian Bannister who will look to rebound after going 9-16 a year ago.  If he can be back in his ’07 form (12-7, 3.87 ERA) the Royals should have three very good starters at the top of their rotation.  After those three, Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies should round out the starters; they are both a year older and are projected to be top-of-the-rotation-type arms in the coming years.  If someone gets injured or flops in spring training, lefty Horacio Ramirez is also around, but is coming off a year where injuries allowed him only 24 innings, as is Brandon Duckworth who started seven games last year.

When it comes to the Royals’ bullpen, a lot rides on the arm of of 25-year-old Joakim Soria.  Soria established himself as one of the premier closers in the league last year nabbing 42 saves in 45 opportunities and posting a ridiculous 1.60 ERA; not bad for a former Rule-5 Draft pick.  Bridging the gap to Soria was a bit of a problem last year and the team’s main options in setup were traded away; Ramon Ramirez to the Red Sox for Coco Crisp and Leo Nunez to the Marlins for Mike Jacobs.  A pair of veterans were signed to help alleviate that issue in Kyle Farnsworth and Doug Waechter.  Farnsworth struggled in ’08 posting a 4.48 ERA in both New York and Detroit, but Waechter was solid in Florida posting a 3.69 ERA in 49 games.  Veteran journeyman left-handers Ron Mahay and John Bale are back and both showed some ability last year but are 38 and 35 respectively.  Joel Peralta, Robinson Tejeda, and Duckworth should round out the ‘pen from the right side.  Horacio Ramirez and Jimmy Gobble could also be options.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Zack Greinke (R/25)
  • Gil Meche (R/30)
  • Brian Bannister (R/28)
  • Luke Hochevar (R/25)
  • Kyle Davies (R/25)

Bullpen

  • Joakim Soria (R/25) — CLOSER
  • Kyle Farnsworth (R/33)
  • Doug Waechter (R/28)
  • Ron Mahay (L/38)
  • Robinson Tejeda (R/27)
  • John Bale (L/35)
  • Joel Peralta (R/33)

Lineup
This team could scare some people this year.  Their lineup isn’t as bad as you might have come to expect from the Royals.  KC finished 6th in the AL in batting average last year but were second-to-last in home runs.  With some up-and-coming power hitters in the mix, that should improve this year.  In the outfield, the Royals made a drastic improvement over the departed Joey Gathright by trading for former Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp as their new Centerfielder.  It’ll be interesting to see whether the hot-headed Crisp will take well to playing for a team with such a long history of losing.  Face-of-the-franchise David DeJesus is back in Left after another solid season and slugger Jose Guillen returns in Right after driving in 97 runs a year ago.  In the infield, there are some true blue-chip youngsters to look out for.  This could be the year Alex Gordon (3B) steps up and becomes one of the best pure hitters in the game, I expect big things from this kid and so do the Royals.  Think David Wright with more plate coverage.  Mike Aviles showed promise last year at Short after driving in 51 runs and hitting .325 in 102 games and light-hitting Alberto Callaspo hit .305 in 74 games and plays outstanding defense and could start at second if Willie Bloomquist doesn’t take the job.  New at First this year should be Mike Jacobs whose bat will keep him in the lineup even if he struggles defensively.  He might also split time at DH with Billy Butler allowing the Royals to utilize the defensive ability of Ross Gload at First.  Catching duties should belong to Miguel Olivo or John Buck, although Buck is running out of chances because of his lack of offensive ability.

On the bench will be Gload, the backup catcher, the loser for the job at second and Tony Pena Jr.  The fourth outfielder should be Canadian Mark Teahen who can also play third, first, and even spot at second if needed.  Gload can also play the outfield.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)
 
CF  Coco Crisp (S/29)
  LF  David DeJesus (L/29)
  3B  Alex Gordon (L/25)
  RF  Jose Guillen (R/33)
  1B  Mike Jacobs (L/28)
  DH  Billy Butler (R/23)
  SS  Mike Aviles (R/28)
   C   Miguel Olivo (R/30)
  2B  Alberto Callaspo (S/26)

Bench
 INF  Willie Bloomquist (R/31)
  1B  Ross Gload (L/33)
   C  John Buck (R/28)
UTIL Mark Teahen (L/27)
  SS Tony Pena Jr. (R/28)

Outlook
The Royals are very slowly getting better.  Their pitching staff has some promise and a future ace in Greinke and their bullpen has a top-notch closer in Soria.  Alex Gordon could be an MVP someday and there are a stable of young players ready to go under the major-league spotlight soon.  GM Dayton Moore has done a good job developing young players and sticking to a plan that has worked for the Rays, but the Royals won’t make the same strides as the Rays did last year.  Next year, maybe.  Final Prediction: 75-87, 4th AL Central.