Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Well, Alex Gordon has been sent to Omaha to learn to be a first baseman and outfielder while Alberto Callaspo has become the full time third baseman.  Once this whole situation sunk in for me, the first thought that came to my mind other than “What the heck are they doing with Gordon?” was “At what point does Alberto Callaspo truly become a Royal?”  It seems like an odd question considering Callaspo officially became a Royal on April 4th 2008 when he pinch hit for Tony Pena Jr. in the 8th inning against the Twins.

While technically at that point he was a Royal, ever since then he’s seemed like a visitor, a temporary part of the team, a guy who had some potential but represented a stop-gap. Even the Royals seem to have treated him like he was not very important to the team.  He was always rumored in trades, including heavily during this year’s Spring Training.

You would think that after 253 games, back to back .300+ hitting seasons and being one of the most productive offensive players on an offensively anemic team he’d be more than just a figurative Royal in my mind; he’d be a bonafied team stud.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Callaspo, but he just hasn’t seemed like a true Royal.  For some reason it just hasn’t happened yet…until now.

It might have something to do with the fact that he wasn’t a part of the Royals minor league system.  He was acquired via trade for pitcher Billy Buckner.  It was a pretty heavily debated move at the time if I remember correctly.  Regardless, there wasn’t time to develop an affinity for him while watching his stats in the minor league.  He wasn’t one of our guys – he was thrust upon us.

The other part of the equation is that he hasn’t really been given a full time position.  He has played primarily at second base, logging 203 of those 253 games there.  But even with that many games at a single position, he hasn’t exactly been installed as the true starter and trusted in that role.  In 2008, Mark Grudzielanek was the full-time second baseman at the beginning of the season; however he had an ankle injury late in the season and the position ended up going to Callaspo nearly by default.

Before the 2009 season, the Royals attempted to make Mark Teahen a second baseman.  That experiment lasted 3 games until Jose Guillen had to go on the DL with a hip injury.  Again, the Royals reluctantly put Callaspo back at second base, this time however he started 142 games at the position.

Then, before the 2010 season, the Royals traded Mark Teahen for Chris Getz: a fast, light-hitting, decent fielding second baseman.  The Royals made no secret of the fact that they were shopping Callaspo. They were openly looking for potential trade partners but they either didn’t find one or didn’t get an offer they liked.  And in what’s looking like a pattern, Getz goes on the DL and Callaspo heads to his old position once more.

Finally, in what seems like a drastic move, the Royals send Gordon to Omaha in order to learn to be a 1B or an OF and finally give Callaspo a full time position, but this time it was at third base.  The club has seemingly placed their full faith in Alberto Callaspo.  So after acquiring Callaspo, moving him around the diamond, trying to get rid of him and attempting to replace him twice in the last two years, Callaspo seems to have worn down the organization.  They have finally decided that his bat is worth having in the lineup, and  they had to find a place to put him.

Alberto Callaspo is in his third season with the Royals, and he is continuing to produce offensive numbers.  He has finally been given a full time job at third base, and more importantly, seemst to have the full faith of the organization behind him.  It finally feels like he’s a Royal, well at least to me.  Welcome home Alberto, welcome home.

Nick hosts a podcast about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and welcomes feedback via Twitter (@brokenbatsingle) and e-mail (brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com)

I have been doing research for a far different column than the one you are getting today.    My original column idea was based on the belief that the Royals, as they have so many times before, would go to Tampa Bay and get their heads handed to them in the four game series.    What happened this weekend, while not earth shattering, was enough to forestall my original idea – at least until Thursday – and instead review a number of comings, goings and happenings since the team left Kansas City.

After taking an 11-1 drubbing on Thursday night, the Royals rebounded to hold one of the hottest teams in baseball to just five runs over the next three games.   Of course, in typical Royals’ fashion, they somehow managed to lose one of those three games and, of course, that game happened to be pitched by Zack Greinke.

Yesterday, Greinke was simply awesome, taking just 87 pitches to fly through eight innings.   In that time, Zack walked no one, struck out six and hung one curveball to Evan Longoria and lost because of it.   As Tampa manager Joe Maddon observed, ‘Grenke could have thrown 15 innings on Sunday’ and I have to agree.  

Greinke threw more than 12 pitches in an inning just once on Sunday, was still throwing ninety-three miles per hour on his last pitch and only threw twenty balls out of the strike zone all day.   For that, Zack was rewarded with his second complete game 1-0 loss in less than a year.     Did you know there had not been a 1-0 game in the American League all year?    I don’t know if Zack Greinke drinks, but this is the kind of stuff that will make a guy start.

The much maligned bullpen had a nice weekend, too:  allowing three runs in 12.1 innings of work.     If you discount the cameo appearance by Victor Marte (how much do you make being in the majors for 24 hours?) and an irrelevant Kyle Farnsworth sighting, the reliever allowed just one run when it mattered and that was by Joakim Soria.   Does that mean all is well out in the pen?  I doubt it, but a little success can’t hurt.

That said, the organization felt good enough about the bullpen to ship off a pitcher who many of us on stage and screen have been clamoring for:  Carlos Rosa.   Greg Schaum had a nice rundown of the trade here.   One organizational stance seemed to be that ‘Rosa does not have an out-pitch and the lowest strike percentage in AAA’.       Okay, I can see that, and the player acquired is twenty year old Rey Navarro who was a former third round pick with a metric ton of upside,  but you have to wonder if a team struggling to hold leads should really be trading away a guy who can throw 97 mph.   By the way, what exactly do Brad Thompson, Bruce Chen, Kyle Farnsworth, etc. have that IS considered an ‘out-pitch’.

What can we really read into the Rosa trade?   Well, it is certainly possible that it is ‘Dayton Moore I’m tired of hearing everyone talk about Rosa’ move, but we can hope it is:

  • that the organization is looking towards the future (which plays nicely into by original idea for a column)
  • that Blake Wood is progressing nicely in Omaha and took Rosa’s place as the ‘power arm of the future’
  • that the likes of a Ferderico Casteneda, Greg Holland and Louis Coleman (to name a few) are soon to be better potential relievers than Rosa
  • Rey Navarro is the next Omar Vizquel and we have robbed Arizona once more

Frankly, I will settle for Wood being the primary setup man in Kansas City by June 15th and worry about the rest of the above later.   However, if Navarro becomes Vizquel and Chris Getz turns into Brian Roberts, we’ll all have a Merry Christmas.

Speaking of Chris Getz (who I still like, but am slowly getting a bad feeling that he is going to ‘do all the little things’ and end up hitting .227.), he was activated on Friday which moved Alex Gordon to the bench and, by Sunday, all the way to Omaha.  

Since 2007, I have been in the camp of thinking that what Gordon needed to learn about hitting could only be taught at the major league level.  That said, at this point, I don’t have much of a problem with Alex being sent to Omaha.   It worked for Mark Teahen once – well, it worked for three months better than the next two years, but it did cause improvement.     Playing everyday at this point and hopefully feasting on lesser pitching is probably a better plan for Gordon than having him see sporadic time in the majors.

There is a school of thought that the organization is already looking at Gordon moving to first and Butler to DH as soon as Jose Guillen is off the roster.   Have they given up on Alex?  I don’t think so, but the Royals have certainly changed their way of thinking when it comes to him.

Mike Aviles replaces Gordon on the roster and would seem to be a better fit should Trey Hillman actually deviate from his set lineup…ever.   Aviles played shortstop every day his last week in Omaha, which I’m hoping means he is ready to handle the left side of the infield.   Given that Yuniesky Betancourt is gradually regressing into himself, it would be nice to see Mike get three or even for starts per week spread between second, short and third.    It is very possible that Aviles, once Guillen cools off, is the second best bat on the team next to Billy Butler, and it would be a shame to see Hillman just let him rot on the bench.

Speaking of comings and goings, the Royals have (or are about to) sell the rights of Roman Colon to Korea.    What’s the IRS form number for selling a human to another country?   While this may be an opportunity for Colon to throw more, I have to believe Kansas City to Omaha to Korea is not the ideal career path.

The Royals move on to Chicago tonight and we will see a struggling Gil Meche pitch against a struggling Jake Peavy.   Gil, who is so out of sync that he is worried about when he takes the ball out of his glove during his delivery, really needs to have a good start or this season is going to go from wounded duck status to actual awfulness.

Episode #016 – Nick reviews the series with the Rays and previews the series with the White Sox.  He discusses the Rosa trade, the Gordon demotion, the Aviles promotion and even praises the bullpen.  All of that plus Around the Minors and Heroes and Goats.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs016.mp3|titles=BBS

Music featured in this episode:

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Are You Real

Florence + The Machine – Kiss With A Fist

Air – Kelly Watch The Stars

How to Get the Podcast:

Click here to be taken to the site to download directly.

Subscribe via iTunes

Subscribe via Zune

Podcast RSS Feed

The bullpen wasn’t the story on Thursday.  Kind of difficult when the starter coughs up nine runs on 11 hits in just under three innings.

How do you think Luke Hochevar reacted when he saw who is right fielder was?  Here’s another thing I can’t figure… Conventional wisdom holds that when you have a player with a history of leg issues, you keep them off the artificial turf.  At this point, I just shake my head, give a Frank White-like chuckle and say, “That’s Trey Hillman.”

Anyway, if you’re following me on Twitter, you may recall a Tweet from last week about my good fortune.  I was knocking around a used bookstore in Westport, where I discovered a no less than five copies of The Bill James Baseball Abstracts from 1983 to 1988.  (Missing is the 1986 edition, featuring a recap of the Royals World Series title.  Damnit.)  So, I’ve been revisiting these books and decided I’d start with the oldest and work my way forward.

It’s surprising how relevant this material remains after almost 30 years.  I’m going to probably glean three or four posts from this… At least.  Here’s number one…

In his section recapping the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, James ponders the importance of bullpens and exactly how often a game is decided in the late innings.  That Brewers team had future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers in the back of the bullpen for most of the season.  (He missed most of September with an injury.)  James discovered that the Brewers actually lost some ground the longer the game progressed.  Through six innings, the Brewers were ahead 90 times and behind on only 50 occasions (with 23 ties) giving them a +40.  As James pointed out, had the Brewers split the ties, they would have finished with over 100 wins.  They did not and actually lost ground after the sixth inning.  Their final record was 95 wins and 67 losses, giving them a +28.  Looking at their position following every inning, we come up with a graph that looks like this:

The Brewers were a good offensive team, jumping out to early leads – they were ahead 65 times after the second inning and 80 times after the third – and had a bullpen that generally held those leads.

The ’82 Brewers were a playoff team.  The ’10 Royals most assuredly are not.  Fortunately, James studied a bad team to see how they fared in the later innings. In this case, the ’82 Reds ahead 60 times and behind in 89 contests (with 13 ties) through six innings, which gave them a -29.  They finished with 61 wins and 101 losses for a final score of -40.  That year, Cincinnati’s bullpen wasn’t very good, but neither was their rotation.

There’s an interesting dip from the fifth to the sixth inning, but that wasn’t the fault of the bullpen.  Reds starters threw an average of 6 innings per start.  Don’t get me wrong… The ’82 Cincinnati bullpen wasn’t that good, but they weren’t horrible either.

Remember, James did this exercise to see if he could determine when games were decided.  And his study at this point was admittedly cursory.

I just think the graphs are interesting.  On the surface, it certainly looks as though the majority of games are decided by the sixth inning.

That leads us to the Royals.  Here’s their chart:

This boggles the mind.  The Royals are playing over their heads offensively but they should at least be above .500 for April.

Here are the raw numbers.

This isn’t anything new. To those of us who have followed this disaster of a team, it’s quite obvious.  As the bats begin their drift to hibernation (and make no mistake – they’re headed for an extended drought) the graph will shift south in the early innings and the Royals will lose their positive marks.

I suspect by the end of the year, the 2010 Royals graph will look really close to the 1982 Reds.  At least by then, the bullpen is largely irrelevant.

The Royals’ bullpen took another loss yesterday afternoon.   How bad has it gotten?   Well, there are at least two guys, maybe three, that enter the game with a greater sense of impending doom than Kyle Farnworth.   Keep in mind, I sat next to a scout last year that actually laughed at Kyle Farnsworth, so I do not take a Farnsworth appearance lightly.

We can make some legitimate arguments over when and how Trey Hillman might use Joakim Soria and I might offer that Hillman has (rightfully) gotten so paranoid about his relievers that he might be pulling them too often.   The Josh Rupe appearance on Tuesday night comes to mind:  perhaps giving Rupe at least one more hitter to settle in might have made sense.   After all, if you have seven guys out there you don’t trust, how many do you really want to see on one night?

At any rate, it seems more obvious everyday that this group of relief pitchers simply is not good enough.   You can match them up anyway you want, assign whatever roles you can think of, and the fact is they are an implosion waiting to happen.   Realistically, what are the Royals’ options?  

  • Bryan Bullington- The former number one pick has tossed 22 innings in Omaha thus far, struck out 15 and walked just 4 batters.   Opponents are hitting just .187 against the 6’6″ righthander and he carries a WHIP of just .083.   Last year, working exclusively in relief for Las Vegas, Bullington struck out 43 in 38 innings and walked only 7 on his way to a 3.52 earned run average (not bad considering the home park).   Sure, Bullington has been a failure on the big league level, but he has had some success (albeit in AAA) working as a reliever.
  • Anthony Lerew – I kind of like Lerew, if only because he got two late season starts in an emergency last year and had to face the Yankees and Red Sox and held his own.   The club gave him a pretty good look in the spring and decided against keeping him on the roster – but then, do we trust the organization’s talent evaluation at this point?   Currently, Anthony has a 3.15ERA in 20 innings, having struck out 14 and walked 6.   Opponents are hitting .247 against him and Lerew’s WHIP of 1.20 is decent considering he has been used mainly as a starter.
  • Blake Wood - The twenty-four year old throws hard with good sinking action and made a run at the big league roster this spring.   After being a starter most of his minor league career, Wood has been moved into the pen – something that was mentioned even back when he was drafted.     He gave up one run in his first Omaha appearnce this year and two in his second.   After that, Wood held the opposition scoreless in his next five appearances (six innings), allowing just three hits along the way.  He was tagged for a two runs, just one earned, his last time out when he allowed no hits, but walked two in two innings of work.   Blake has posted a WHIP of 1.09 and opponents are batting just .211.   The organization likes Wood and expects him to be in the big leagues at some point this year:  tomorrow would be fine with me.
  • Carlos Rosa - The organization seems to have soured on Rosa and gave him a surprisingly brief look in spring training.   He has posted a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 innings for Omaha this year, with a warning flag of seven walks to go with his nine strikeouts.   Still, Rosa throws 97 easily and often and has been okay in two very brief major league stints in the past two years.   Last year, his first as a full-time reliever, Carlos struck out 80 and walked 32 in 71 innings of AAA work.   It is hard to see where there is not room for Rosa in a bullpen that is willing to tolerate Kyle Farnsworth and Robinson Tejeda.
  • Matt Herges - You have to love baseball to be forty years old and pitching in Omaha, which is exactly Herges’ situation.   He pitches off his changeup and was cuffed around pretty good in the spring.   Matt has had little success in Omaha, either, allowing AAA hitters to hit .394.     Still, last year in the majors, Herges held hitters to a .246 average over 35 innings, striking out 26 and walking 8.   If the Royals are scared to go to a pen full of young pitchers, than Herges (who has an out in his contract if not called up anyway) might be worth a look.   At this point, I’m willing to settle on simply different, if not better.

You may be looking for Chris Hayes to be on this list, but he started the year on the disabled list and has given up 11 hits in 5 innings since coming back.   We will have to revisit this submarining reliever in a few months.   Victor Marte is also on the Omaha roster, but something sticks in my head that he may be hurt right now.   Anyway, Marte reminds me too much of Roman Colon (who is also back in Omaha) to discuss any further.   Adam Bostick was on the roster and made a bit of an impression in spring training, but he recently drew a 50 game substance abuse suspension.

So, there are your basic options in Omaha, but there are a few more in AA Northwest Arkansas who could reasonably make the leap to Kansas City.

  • Edgar Osuna – The Braves did not think he was worth the $25,000 Rule 5 buy-back cost and the Royals were able to keep him.   In four starts spanning 23 innings, the lefty has allowed just 21 hits and 2 earned runs.   There have been SEVEN unearned runs in Osuna’s starts, by the way – who’s playing defense in AA?  Osuna has struck out 20 and walked only 2 as he has held hitters to a .236 average.   Having almost made the team in the spring, Osuna has to be on the club’s mind for bullpen help – or at least he should be.
  • Federico Castaneda – Just got the call-up to Omaha thanks to striking out 11, walking 1 and allowing only 4 hits in 9.2 innings of AA work.   He pitched a scoreless inning in his Omaha debut.   After an eight game stint in the rookie leagues, the twenty-six year old threw 27 innings in AA last year.  He struck out 27 and allowed just 20 hits in that stretch.   With all the retread relievers clogging the Omaha roster, that the organization promoted Castaneda would seem to indicate they are thinking he can help them sooner rather than later in the bigs.
  • Blaine Hardy – Has not allowed a run in 15 innings and only seven hits, but he pitched in Low-A Burlington last season.  Blaine is already on the fast track, but calling on him now would really be fast tracking.
  • Louis Coleman – Just drafted last summer, Coleman is already in AA and holding his own.   The Royals drafted him with the idea that he could move quickly as a reliever.   Like Hardy, Louis is probably someone we should revisit in June.
  • Aaron Crow – He has hit a bit of a flat spot recently and with just 12 strikeouts in 21 innings, plus 10 walks, needs more time.   Besides, it is one thing to rush Blaine Hardy, entirely another to rush Aaron Crow.

There are some other intriguing names in Northwest Arkansas, too (Brandon Sisk, Rowdy Hardy, Everett Teaford), but realistically those mentioned above would seem to be actual options in the near term.

Overall, there is some potential to make things better in the Royals’ pen.   At minimum, bringing up the likes of a Wood, Osuna and Rosa would at least give those two experience so next year’s bullpen would be at least be better.   At this point, you have to wonder what the Royals’ think they have to lose by making more changes?

Episode #015 – Special guest Adam stops in to talk about the Mariners series, whats up with Gil, can bad managers become good, moving to the National League and Maier vs Ankiel.  All of that, plus a preview of the Rays series.

Follow along with twitter @brokenbatsingle or email at brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs015.mp3|titles=BBS

Music featured in this episode:

Wood Brothers – Loaded

Gil Evans – Cry of Hungar

How to get the podcast:

Click here to be taken to the site to download the episode directly

Subscribe via iTunes

Podcast RSS Feed

Subscribe via Zune

What can you say anymore?

The bullpen stinks.  How’s that?  Oh, we’ve already said that…

The latest transgression was a doozy.

Zack Greinke, after a couple of wobbly starts, threw just a brilliant game.  Six hits through seven innings where he seemed to gain strength as the game progressed.

I thought the Mariners got their best swings at Greinke in the first.  That was when Ichiro led off with a deep fly to center and Franklin Gutierrez went the other way deep to right.  Both balls had warning track power, and fortunately both balls died in the gloves of the outfield.

The Mariners, like almost every other team this year, were laying Greinke’s slider.  They swung at that pitch just under 32% of the time.  He made up for that by getting swings 78% on both his curve (which just had some wicked break last night) and his change.  While I say the curve had wicked break, it was up in the zone enough that the Mariners were able to foul that pitch off (or pop it up.)  His money pitch was the change.  He threw it nine times, got two swinging strikes and only one batter put it in play all night.  And all of them were strikes.

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers, here’s how Greinke’s pitch selection looked last night:

You know what Greinke’s issue was last night?  Foul balls.  The Mariners fouled off 29 of his 119 pitches.  If just a handful of those pitches are put in play, his pitch count stays manageable and he is in the game in the eighth before he hands the ball to Soria in the ninth.

The Mariners aren’t a good offensive team at this point in the season.  They battled, though.  They didn’t always get good swings and were off balance most of the night, but they were difficult to put away.  I’m fairly certain that was the game plan.  Why wouldn’t it be?  Work the count by any means so you can get to the Royals bullpen.

So on to that bullpen…

It’s fairly clear at this point SABR Trey is just kind of an automatic kind of guy when it comes to his bullpen.  He desperately needs guys to have roles, so he can look at a chart in the dugout, apply the situation, and make the decision.  The problem is, he doesn’t have anyone to cover the “2-0 lead in the top of the eighth” situation.

The latest reliever who has garnered Trey’s affections is Josh Rupe.  He is the candidate for the simple fact he made three appearances in four days when he first joined the club and didn’t surrender a run.  I’ll admit, he did look good in those appearances.  However, you have to be leery of such decisions given the fact the Royals felt he wasn’t good enough to make the team out of spring training.

Then again, SABR Trey changes his favorite set-up reliever like a 13 year old girl who can’t decide which Jonas Brother they like.  (Is that a relevant pop culture reference?  I ask because my knowledge of such things pretty much ended in 1995.  The first draft of this article had a Hanson reference.)

Rupe looks good to start, getting Adam Wilson to strike out.  Then Ichiro reaches on a bunt single.  We’re still OK, but Rupe gets freaked out by Ichiro on first. (His run is really inconsequential.  I mean, you don’t want him to score, but he’s not the tying or lead run.)  Predictably, focus is lost and Chone Figgins walks on four pitches.  In my mind, that was just unforgivable.  Figgins is LOST at the plate.  The man is in a horrific slump, hitting .183/.322/.239 in his first 21 games.  He’ll certainly take a walk though.

After Rupe loads the bases, SABR Trey decides to go to his bullpen.  I know we’ve had just a ton of debate about when to use Soria.  Apparently, I’ve taken some heat from a certain corner of the interweb for advocating his use in the seventh inning.  (I’m a realist.  That’s not going to happen.  The conclusion drawn from that article was incorrect, anyway.  Hillmanesque in the way it missed the mark.)

However, if there’s ever a time to use your closer, your best pitcher out of the bullpen, it’s with the bases loaded and one out after your Cy Young award winning pitcher throws his best start of the year.

Instead, we got Robinson Tejeda.

Worst loss of the year.

All through Spring Training there was a lot of belly aching about the fifth slot in the rotation.  It wasn’t  unique to the Royals, nearly every team had some sort of issue surrounding the final starting pitcher.  I heard multiple people in the media act outraged that Kyle Davies was going to be a starting pitcher for the Royals.  We kept hearing how he didn’t deserve it, and he hadn’t earned it and that he frankly wasn’t any good.  My opinion from the beginning was that Davies was a perfectly fine fifth starter (I also thought Tejada was a fine option too, oops).  Especially considering there weren’t many other viable options.

Fast forward to last night when Davies threw an absolutely brilliant game.  He threw five and a third no-hit innings until an Ichiro Suzuki infield single.  He ended up completing the sixth inning and the few fans in attendance on a cold and rainy night gave him the best ovation they could.

After the game (when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to write an article about no-hitters), I began to ponder the fifth starter.  So I gathered up the statistics from the AL fifth starters to see where Davies ranked.*  I put the numbers into a heat chart to get a better visual representation of where each starter ranked in each particular category.

*For this excercise, a fifth starter is the guy who got the very first fifth start of his team this season.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that the fifth starters have been pretty good.  Only five of them have an ERA above 4.00 and I am pretty sure Bonderman will end up with better than a 6.79.  Davies lies pretty much right in the middle in terms of ERA, however is just 0.05 points behind the only other guy with 4 starts.  Three of his four starts have been Quality Starts, which tie him for the lead.

However, it is Kyle Davies walk rate which really seems to be the impetus for his success.  It is obvious to anyone watching Davies pitch that he has some really excellent pitches, but it is command which makes the difference.  In 2008 when he put up a very respectable 4.06 ERA in 22 starts, he had a BB/9 rate of 3.4.  In 2009 he started losing his command and his BB/9 rose to 4.8 and with it rose his ERA to 5.27.  If Davies can continue to limit the walks he hands out, his success should continue.

Looking at that list, how many of those guys would you trade Davies straight up for?  I see two maybe three guys that I would rather have.  The fifth spot in the rotation is merely a matter of perspective.  Compared to the rest of the AL, Davies is a respectable if not elite 5th starter.  It’s always interesting to discuss and break down the final rotation spot during Spring Training, but as usual the chatter was a little overblown.

Team Name QS GS IP K/9 BB/9 ERA
Twins Francisco Liriano 3 3 21 7.29 3.86 1.29
Yankees Phil Hughes 1 2 12.1 11.68 5.11 2.19
Indians Mitch Talbot 2 3 20 2.70 3.60 2.25
Rays Wade Davis 1 3 17 6.88 5.82 2.65
Red Sox Clay Bucholz 1 3 16.2 9.72 3.78 2.70
Angels Matt Palmer 0 1 13.2 5.27 7.24 3.29
Mariners Jason Vargas 3 4 25 6.84 2.16 3.60
Royals Kyle Davies 3 4 24.2 6.20 3.30 3.65
Athletics Gio Gonzalez 2 4 22 7.77 4.91 3.68
Blue Jays Dana Eveland 2 4 21.2 5.00 4.20 4.57
Orioles David Hernandez 2 4 22.1 5.64 4.03 4.84
Rangers Mattt Harrison 2 4 23 5.90 3.10 5.72
White Sox Freddy Garcia 2 3 17 6.35 5.29 5.82
Tigers Jeremy Bonderman 1 4 20.2 7.40 3.90 6.79

Another series, another salvage of the final game.     Just a note for those that admire the grittiness of the Royals for hanging in:  teams that continually salvage the final game of a series end up with a 54-108 record.   Anyway, a lot did happen this weekend as the Royals dropped two of three to the Twins, so let’s get right to it.

The End of the Luis Mendoza Era

Okay, maybe not.   Mendoza, who was designated for assignment, will likely clear waivers, pitch in Omaha and likely end up back in Kansas City in the seemingly never ending cycle of never giving up on pitchers who have never shown any reason to warrant such consideration.

At any rate, Craig covered the designation of Mendoza and the release of Juan Cruz expertly was it happened last Friday, so I won’t waste a lot of time with it here other than to say that the release of Cruz was unexpected.    Outside of Joakim Soria, one can make a pretty good case for the release of everyone else in the bullpen, but Cruz did have a better track record (at least prior to coming to KC) than the others and was/is getting paid over three million this year.

That said, Trey Hillman had pretty much viewed Cruz as the pitcher of last resort most of the year and Juan had done little to change that mindset.  Perhaps this move was a ‘statement’ to the fans by Dayton Moore or a ‘wake-up call’ to the other members of the staff of maybe, simply, Hillman and Moore were tired of watching Cruz allow inherited runners to score.    I cannot say that releasing Cruz was a bad move, just a surprising one.

As far as the recall of Brad Thompson and Bruce Chen, it seems to point that the club wants veteran guys that it believes will throw strikes.   I assumed we would see Thompson at some point this year and he’s worth a look, but Bruce Chen?  Again? 

Gil Meche and the Mystery of Control

We have seen Gil have a three start stretch where he really struggles, but nothing like the first three starts of 2010.   Currently, Meche is averaging a walk per inning and sporting a robust 11.37 earned run average (most of it deserved).  You can analyze all the peripherals inside and out, but the simple fact is that Gil currently cannot consistently throw strikes.

Trey Hillman ‘does not see any mechanical or physical issue’ and my untrained eye sees Gil throwing hard with good movement (maybe he’s falling off to the first base side a bit?), so you have to pretty much just pray that Meche is still rounding into form from a sluggish and sporadic spring.  

One ray of hope is that Meche was pretty awful in April of 2008 (7.22 ERA, 15 walks in 34 innings) and was the ‘Meche of old’ the rest of that season.    Of course, he could simply be ruined, too.

An Ugly Saturday

Sure, it was an exciting 12 inning 9-7 loss for the Royals in the mist and rain, but this was not a pretty game.   Kansas City was tagged with three errors (one on a blown pop-up and another that cost them a double play).   The Royals also missed another pop-up and blew another double play that were not called errors.    Glad we focused on defense in the off-season.

Luke Hochevar pitched well early, but gradually (with some defensive ‘help’) let the Twins grind their way back into the game, but left with a two run lead with two outs in the seventh.   John Parrish came on to walk two hitters and surrender a Justin Morneau (he’s pretty good, by the way) home run.   After a great start, Parrish is suddenly looking like…well, a Royals reliever.

Kudos to Trey Hillman, by the way, for going to Soria at home in a tie game and letting him pitch two innings.   In doing so, he gave the Royals a two inning window to score a run while the one reliever the team can count on was shutting down the opponent.   The Royals, of course, did not score, but still it was worth a shot.

By the time umpire Greg Gibson had decided he was too wet and cold to be bothered to do his job correctly, the Royals had collected 18 hits and 5 walks, which was not enough to keep pace with the Twins.    An unearned run off Bruce Chen in the 11th was answered, but two more courtesy of an ineffective Robinson Tejeda in the 12th was too much.

As bad as Gibson’s call was – it may have been the worst I have ever seen – how many of you really thought the Royals were coming back in this one? 

Getz and the Roster

Chris Getz is about to begin a rehab stint in Omaha with all indications being that the Royals will activate him as early as Friday.   After watching Alberto Callaspo play second base, can you blame them?

The discussion in the Kansas City Star was that the Getz activation might signal an Alex Gordon demotion to the minors.  Like me, Dayton Moore may have grown weary of watching Gordon pull outside pitches on the ground to the second baseman, so the move actually might make sense.

With Jose Guillen hitting and Alberto Callaspo doing the same (although both have played similar defense – Jose has just played his without actually taking the field), there is no regular spot in the lineup for Alex.   As much as Kansas City needs another bench player, you probably do not want Gordon playing two times per week. 

All things being equal, I would advocate activating Getz, sending Gordon to Omaha (unless he goes 8 for 16 this week), paring the bullpen down to seven pitchers (I don’t care who goes, I really don’t) and putting Wilson Betemit on the bench.   Betemit is a veteran guy, can play everywhere and has a little pop.  It makes more sense to have Betemit playing sporadically than to have Gordon cooling his heels on the bench.

The Salvage

Brian Bannister had a nice outing, the bullpen was shaky but just good enough and Jose Guillen went yard again as the Royals came away with the win on Sunday.    Kansas City committed two more errors, but did just enough to overcome those on Sunday.

We also learned that Josh Fields is out for the year with hip surgery.   It was hard to see where Fields fit on this roster so missing 2010 is probably good for everyone involved.  

Ever Onward

The Seattle Mariners come to town for three games starting tonight.    Felix Hernandez versus Kyle Davies:  who could ask for a better matchup?

Episode #014 – Nick reviews the Twins series, discusses the release of Juan Cruz, what happens when Getz is ready for action and what to do with Gil Meche.  All of that, plus a preview of the Mariners series.  He also goes around the minor league system and this weeks Heroes and Goats.

Follow along with twitter @brokenbatsingle or email at brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

:http://www.livekc.com/podcasts/bbs014.mp3|titles=BBS

Music featured in this episode:

Ghostland Observatory – Sad Sad City

The Stooges – Dirt

Okkervil River – Kansas City

How to Get the Podcast:

Click here to be taken to the site to download directly.

Subscribe via iTunes

Subscribe via Zune

Podcast RSS Feed

%d bloggers like this: