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Deconstructing The Process

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The weather is cooling here in Kansas City and there is no baseball being played. So step over here by this hot stove and warm your hands upon the pyre of rumors. Few of these logs will be around long and many are merely invented out of thin air, but occasionally there is some smoke and the discussions become reality. Today’s bit of wood comes from the great white north and therefore we have a bit of music to listen as we contemplate.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun dropped this nugget in his column yesterday:

The Kansas City Royals will start with Lorenzo Cain in centre, but with concerns about whether the 25-year-old (42 career starts) will hit has the Royals looking at Colby Rasmus of the Jays

My initial reaction on this rumor is “YES, YES, YES, YES, OH PLEASE YES!”

The gist of the column referenced above is the fact that the Blue Jays are looking at Heath Bell to be their closer. While it isn’t mentioned is who, if anybody the Royals have offered for Colby Rasmus, if the Jays need a closer then Joakim Soria should be floated.

Everyday players are more important than relief pitchers. This is an inescapable fact. It doesn’t matter how good Joakim Soria is, his 60 innings of work are never going to be as valuable as a decent everyday player. Colby Rasmus is not just a decent everyday player.

Rasmus has played three seasons at the Major League level. In his first as a 22 year old rookie he posted a line of .251/.307/.407 with 16 home runs and a fWAR of 2.8. It’s not something to go crazy over, but he played a solid defensive center field taboot. Rasmus really took a huge step his second season with the Cardinals by hitting .276/.361/.498 with 23 home runs and an fWAR of 4.3. If you’re wondering that’s a superior season to the one that Melky Cabrera posted as a Royal in 2011.

It seemed as if Rasmus was really starting to hit his stride and could be on the verge of becoming an elite player. Then things tumbled hard in 2012. Everything seemed to be off. His walk rate of 9.5% was the one thing that was even close to his output of 2010.

The most glaring thing that happened to Rasmus was Tony Larussa began to despise the kid and the media jumped on the bandwagon. Rumors swirled about Rasmus’ dad being too involved and telling the coachign staff what to do. I don’t know what exactly happened there, but I do know that Tony Larussa and subsequently his players are some of the most petulant children in the sport. Larussa had been trying to get rid of Colby Rasmus since the off-season and finally got his wish as he was traded to the Blue Jays late in the season.

Rasmus is a very talented player, and possibly one that comes with a bit of baggage and had a drop in production last year. I don’t believe that the problems are anywhere near as bad as the Cardinals organization made them out to be, and that rough season could provide just enough drop in value to make him somebody the Royals can acquire. He has the potential to be an elite center fielder, and you ALWAYS trade a relief pitcher for that if you can.

The other part of the equation here is Lorenzo Cain. I think the Royals would be ok with him in center. I believe he is a plus outfielder with the upside of an average to slightly above average bat. He’s the kind of player that will help a team be competitive. Rasmus is the kind of player that helps a team be dominant. So, I’m not concerned at all about Cain and I’m very happy to see the Royals looking to upgrade when they can.

I’m not convinced that Dayton Moore has the cajones to pull the trigger on a Soria for Rasmus trade, nor do I know if the Blue Jays would accept it. But I’ve been trying to convince my Cardinal fan buddy Kyle to take a Soria for Rasmus trade for 3 years now. I always thought it was a dream scenario, but it just might happen in reality. I really hope it does.

Edit: The Royals signed Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to a one-year contract. This seems really odd unless the Royals are really considering moving Joakim Soria. Sh&t just got real, yo.

 

 

Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

 

 

 

So, we’re about 10 days from the trade deadline, so why not handicap the Royals and the chances they’ll be moved in the next week and a half.

Kyle Farnsworth – 35%

Kerosene Kyle has been effective out of the pen this year and teams are always looking for relief.  He could get dealt for a grade C prospect.

Jose Guillen – 5%

It’s not that Dayton Moore won’t trade him.  It’s that he can’t trade him.

Alberto Callaspo – 20%

Reports on Tuesday had the Angels offering Sean O’Sullivan and a fringe prospect.  Once upon a time, O’Sullivan was the Angels fifth rated prospect, but has struggled since moving past Single-A.  I don’t blame Dayton – if the reports are true and he turned this offer down.  However, if that’s the best bounty Callaspo will bring, he’s not going anywhere.  Although the Angels seem like a fit.

Willie Bloomquist – 15%

He would return a PTBNL.  At most.

Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies – 0%

The rotation is thin with Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar on the DL.  There’s absolutely zero chance Dayton guts his rotation.

Joakim Soria – 5%

He’s signed at to a club-friendly deal and is a closer.  Both points matter a great deal to management.  Those Soria to New York rumors (and for Jesus Montero!) were so laughable, I’m not even sure they need to be addressed.

Bottom line: This is baseball’s silly season.  I get the feeling there are a few national writers who scour losing teams for quality players on low dollar contracts.  In other words, bargains.  And those writers immediately throw those names into the trade cauldron.  We get it… The Royals are the chum and the Yankees are the sharks.  It’s lazy and unprofessional and total B.S.  It’s like closing your eyes and throwing a dart and guessing where it will land.  So the Yankees covet Soria.  Really?  If I had to guess, I’d say there are 28 other teams who covet the guy.

Soria isn’t going anywhere. Yet.

David DeJesus – 20%

This is the one guy who the Royals are willing to part with (although no one on this team should be “untouchable”) and he’s the one who would net the greatest return, so his odds are the highest outside of Farnsworth.

I could see him headed to Tampa or the Giants.  And yes, I could see him in Boston.  The Royals will have to lower their asking price though.  No, he’s not a fourth outfielder, but he’s much more valuable to the Royals than he would be to say the Rays.  That’s not a knock on DeJesus, it’s just a fact.  And because that’s the case, teams aren’t going to want to give up a ton.  Although if Jeff Passan’s report that the Royals are seeking a major league ready prospect and a mid level prospect is accurate, that seems fair to me.

It will take a savvy GM to get a team to pony up what the Royals are looking for.  I don’t think we have that GM.

The Field – 15%

Overall, I think the odds that GMDM and the Royals make a trade is around 15%.  I just don’t see much happening at the deadline.

I hope I’m wrong.

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Really not much to analyze in a 13-1 beatdown.

– It was one of those nights when Anthony Lerew looked like a Triple-A pitcher and the Blue Jays looked like the team leading the AL in home runs and second in slugging.  The Jays were ripping Lerew all over the park.  It was the Laser Show prelude to the Lightening Show.

It was only a matter of time before someone lined one up the middle and off the pitcher.  Honestly, Lerew was throwing BP out there – he probably should have had the screen in front of him.  At the time, I thought that was the last thing the Jays wanted to do… Why knock out the pitcher who has nothing?  Turns out it didn’t hurt as Kanekoa Texeira wasn’t any better, allowing both inherited runners to score before allowing two more to plate in the third inning.

Early word on Lerew was a bruised rib cage and bicep.  I bet.  He’s feeling the pain right about now.

– Speaking of BP, that was exactly what Blake Wood was throwing.  That 95 mph on a string… No way a slugging team like the Jays doesn’t just crush the ball against a pitcher like Wood.  And crush him they did.  Bautista smoked a double off the Royals reliever and Lind hit a liner that bounced off the top of the wall for a home run.  In both instances, the hitters were sitting fastball.  In both instances, Wood obliged.

– If you were a major league player and your best chance at getting on base was to make like a fastpitch softball player and execute a swinging bunt, would you be embarrassed?  Just asking…

–  There was a Brayan Pena sighting as he entered the game in the eighth as a pinch runner for Jose Guillen with the Royals down by 10 at that point.  Love the strategic maneuvering.  Gotta keep Guillen fresh.  And it was muddy out there, too.  Gotta keep him safe.

–  If you love spectacular defensive plays, this was your game.  The Jays had Web Gems all around the infield on Tuesday.  And Alberto Callaspo turned in a couple of nifty plays to his left as well.

– The Blue Jays had 16 hits, while the Royals had 11.  Yet the Jays scored 13 runs, while the Royals could only muster a run.

Perhaps the difference was that the Jays had 10 extra base hits to the Royals one.

That seems to be the story of the Royals offense in a nutshell.

When I hear someone say Kevin Seitzer has done a great job with this team, I just shake my head.  Not that he’s done anything wrong or horrible… But he hasn’t done anything to really make a bit of difference with this offense.

The point of the offense is to score runs.  The end.  I could care less that the Royals are leading the league in batting average.  They’re second to last in walks and their 4.37 runs per game are 10th.  They rank seventh in OBP (at .335, which is actually a surprise given the lack of walks… And a good thing) and 11th in slugging at .402.

It’s not like Seitzer can teach guys power, so I’m not going to dock him points for the Royals team slugging percentage.  But when you depend on guys to string together three singles to score one run, it’s going to be difficult to get the runs across the plate.

I don’t normally post on back to back days, so I figured I would try something different today.  We don’t usually do a game or series preview here at Royals Authority, although I try to do a series preview on the podcast if you listen to that (and you should, its awesome, take my word for it).  But I figured I would try to do a game preview with hopefully some enlightening information.  If it works, and you enjoy it maybe it is something I will expand.

Tuesday, July 20th – Toronto Blue Jays @ Kansas City Royals

Game Time: 7:10

TV: Fox Sports Kansas City
Radio: 610 AM or any other Royals Radio Affiliate

Stadium Giveaway: Hot Dog Derby T-Shirt

Game Time Weather: 90° with 30% chance of precipitation and isolated thunderstorms

Pitching Matchup

Anthony Lerew – Lerew is a right hander drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of high school in the 11th round of the 2001 draft.  In his 5 starts this year for the Royals he has a 7.56 ERA, however he has an xFIP of only 4.99, so hopefully his real ERA can drop closer to his xFIP tonight. Lerew throws a fastball (90mph) a slider (71mph) and a changeup (81mph).  He has a low BB/9 of only 2.5 and a decently high SO/9 rate of 5.8, which is probably why his xFIP is so low.  However, he really needs to keep the ball in the park in order to be successful.

Jesse Litsch – Litsch is a right hander currently sporting a 6.54 ERA in his 6 starts this season.  He was drafted out of South Florida Community College in the 24th round of the 2004 draft.  His first couple of seasons in 2007 and 2008, he pitched pretty well for the Blue Jays putting up a 3.81 and 3.58 ERA respectively.  However after the 2008 season he got Tommy John surgery and hasn’t gotten back to his old form.  His forte is having good command and not issuing many free passes.  His 2.8 BB/9 ratio would be better than every royals starter other than Greinke and Lerew.  As is typical with a good command, low walk guy, he also doesn’t strike many guys out.  His SO/9 rate of 3.4 is worse than every Royals pitcher except Blake Wood.  His primary pitch has usually been his cut fastball, however according to Fangraphs he has only been throwing it around 20% of the time ratcher than the 40% he was throwing it before his surgery.  He throws a two seam with good movement and four seam fastball.  His fastball sits around 89mph and his changeup is around 81.  He also throws a slider and curveball.

The Teams

Team Wins Losses GB/GA wOBA Starters ERA Relief ERA
Royals 40 52 -11 .325 5.11 4.10
Blue Jays 47 46 -12 .329 4.34 3.93

Batters

The Blue Jays have been led at the plate by outfielder Jose Bautista who currently sports a line of  .236/.356/.537 with a league leading 25 home runs.  Vernon Wells has also been a solid starter for them after having a pretty rough 2009 season.  His line is .267/.317/.519 and he is currently 4th in the league in doubles.  Just last week the Blue Jays swung a trade for shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Atlanta Braves.  Since joining the Blue Jays he has gone 8 for 17 with two home runs including one last night against the Royals.

Miscellaneous

The Royals have played the Blue Jays 342 times and have an all-time record of 169-173 in those games.  They are 91-78 at home vs the Blue Jays

The Royals are 2-2 this season vs the Blue Jays.

Three former Royals are on the Blue Jays: Shawn Camp, Jose Bautista and John Buck.

Mitch Maier is the proud father of a baby girl.  Avalynne Maier was born last night.

Lineups

Royals:

Podsednik – LF
Kendall – C
Dejesus – CF
Butler – 1B
Guillen – DH
Callaspo – 3B
Maier – RF
Aviles – 2B
Betancourt – SS

Team Wins Losses GB/GA wOBA Starters ERA Relief ERA
Royals 40 52 12 0.325 5.11 4.1
Blue Jays 29 63 11 0.329 4.34 3.93

Kyle Davies has a strong game. The box score doesn’t look like he had a strong game, but he did.

Davies mixed his pitches on Tuesday. His totals broke down like this:

Fastball – 41
Change – 12
Slider – 12
Curve – 11
Cutter – 11

That’s a nice array of pitches Davies has developed. The change and curve come in at similar velocities, but have radically different breaks as you would expect. Same for his cutter and slider. Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, here’s how his pitch movement looks from the bird’s eye view:

He had some deception working on Tuesday. Of the 41 fastballs he threw, he didn’t get a single swing and miss. However, he got a total of eight swings and misses from his 46 other pitches. That’s good. Try and jump ahead with the fastball and then finish them off with one of four other pitches. For the most part, it worked.

(By the way, what’s up with Vernon Wells? I thought we wrote his career obit after last year. Two doubles and his seventh home run of the year? Wow.)

Davies has now had Game Scores of 50, 50 and 46 in his first three starts. Certainly, nothing great, but he’s been consistent. Isn’t that something we’d like from the number five starter? Of course. If Davies can throw six innings and give up three or four runs in every start, that’s absolutely something we’d take. Consistency has always been an issue with Davies, so we’ll see how he fares in his next several starts.

Another good thing Davies can take from this game was the fact he gained strength as the innings progressed. His final fastball was 92.2 mph. It was his fastest pitch of the night.

One other thing before we move on… Nice outing from Josh Rupe, who wriggled his way out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh with a strikeout and a double play. You absolutely have to go out of your way and make sure you tip your cap to the bullpen when they do well.

Weird game…

David DeJesus needs to discover the wonders of pine tar. By my count he’s released and helicoptered the bat four times. Unofficially.

Entering Tuesday’s game, Blue Jays starter Dana Eveland had faced a total of six left handed hitters (out of 51) in his two starts. Not really sure why that’s the case, because he’s been hittable from both sides of the plate throughout his career. Ever the one to spit in the face of trends, Trey Hillman kept DeJesus at the top of the lineup. That’s probably because with Scott Podsednik still absent, the Royals skipper has only 11 bats to choose from. And given the fact he’s not going to start Brayan Pena two nights in a row, Hillman’s only decision is if he’s going to play Wee Willie or not. Of course he’s going to play Wee Willie!

See how nearly everything about he lineup is a direct result of the Royals decision to carry 13 pitchers? Has anyone in the Royals front office notice how the roster is currently constructed? Are they aware of the impact it has on a nightly basis?

Then Bloomquist reached base five times. Five times! In addition to his three hits, he got on base once on an error and once via a walk. Unfortunately, Billy Butler couldn’t do anything with Wee Willie in front of him as he grounded into two double plays.

So the nightly Unbelievable Recap looks like this: Yuni Betancourt is hitting .333, Jose Guillen is hitting .368 and Jason Kendall has at least one hit in every game this season and is batting .360. And the Royals have won five of 14. Ugh.

Greinke tomorrow. Hope you have the MLB Network. It’s not on FSKC.