Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

Browsing Posts tagged Jose Guillen

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.

All-Star Break time… The artificial midpoint in the baseball season.  We’re fairly close, I guess – the Royals have played 88 games this season – just seven past the midpoint.  That means it’s time for my annual exercise where I grade the team.  Hitters today, pitchers and management on Friday.

We’ll travel around the horn…

Jason Kendall
.271/.333/.320
WAR: 0.8

Despite my persistent Kendall bashing, our backstop (is there anyone else on this team who catches?) has gone on a mini hot streak of late.  Since June 23, he’s raised his OBP 18 points and even had a game where he hit two doubles.  Two!  That’s help raise his slugging almost level with his on base percentage.

Look, we knew Kendall would get most of the reps behind the plate, but this is insane.  The old man has been behind the plate for 92% of all Royal defensive innings.  Poor Brayan Pena has to be wondering what he has to do to get some time… Steal Kendall’s cup?

I guess my problem isn’t with Kendall per se, but with an organization that seems to think he has some value.

Fun fact:  Since Ned Yost took over as manager, Kendall is 2-8 in stolen base attempts.  Hmmm… A 25% success rate is… Not good.

GRADE: D
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Billy Butler
.322/.389/.483
WAR: 2.8

Butler leads this team in OPS (.873), OPS+ (137)

The downside of Butler’s season is his continued insistence on hitting balls on the ground.  Over 46% of all of Butler’s batted balls have been grounders.  That wouldn’t be so bad, but the guy isn’t exactly a speed merchant. When he puts the ball on the ground, he’s batting just .219.  When he hits a fly ball, his average is .295.  On line drives?  Try .857.

We’ve said it time and again – for Butler to become the dominant hitter we think (and hope) he can become, he’s going to have to alter his approach and try to drive more balls in the air.  He’s obviously mastered the art of hitting the double, now he needs to turn a few of those doubles into home runs.  The scary thing is, he’s improved his contact rate from last season and has bumped it to above 90%.  He’s a hitting machine with room for improvement.  Excellent.

It’s going to only get more difficult for Butler.  The dude has zero protection in the Royals lineup.  He already has nine walks this month (one intentional) after walking just eight times all of June.  That’s what happens when you have a singles hitter batting fifth.

Defensively, it seems like he’s better.  His UZR is a fat, round 0.  That may not sound like much, but given his negative rates the last two seasons, I’ll take it.  According to the Fielding Bible’s Plus/Minus rating, Butler is a 0 here as well.  Again, improved on his negative numbers from the last two seasons.  The Fielding Bible data says he’s a +3 at ground balls to his right, which in the past has been one of the weaker links of his fielding.

GRADE: A-
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Mike Aviles
.305/.332/.386
WAR: 0.7

Aviles has done well in his return from Tommy John surgery.  The Royals were being cautious in sending him to Omaha early in the season, although many of us thought they were looking to bury him.  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.  The Royals are a better offensive team with Aviles in the lineup.

One thing still missing – his power.  He hit 10 home runs and 27 doubles as a rookie in 441 plate appearances.  In 220 plate appearances this year (almost exactly half… Yay!) he’s down to just two home runs and nine doubles.  As you would expect, his ISO is roughly half his final total of 2008.  He currently has a .081 ISO compared to his .155 ISO in 2008.    As a result, his slugging percentage is a full 100 points lower from ’08.

Defensively, he’s shown some decent range at second and looks comfortable turning the double play from that side of the bag.  I look forward to the day he can shift back to shortstop, though… For obvious reasons.

GRADE: B-
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Yuniesky Betancourt
.258/.282/.391
WAR: 0.2

Don’t buy into the school of thought rolling around the Royals that Yuni “isn’t really that bad.”  Admit it.  You’ve probably said those exact words at least once this year.  That’s probably because Yuni has gotten a timely hit or two, something he absolutely never did last summer.  Then ask yourself this:  Why do you remember the timely Betancourt hits?  It’s because you have such low expectations, you expect him to fail and you’re surprised on those rare occasions where he manages to come through.

Stop it.  He still sucks.
Offensively, he’s fifth from the bottom in on base percentage and jsut outside the bottom ten in OPS+ (his OPS+ of 81 has him tied for 11th) The good news:  He’s no longer the worst everyday player in baseball.  In fact, he’s not even the worst everyday player on the Royals. (We’re mailing Jason Kendall his “prize.”)  Defensively, the guy is still a train wreck.  For every difficult ball he catches, he let’s three under his glove.

GRADE:  D-
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Alberto Callaspo
.274/.307/.418
WAR: 0.9

Callaspo is not having a good year.  In trying to figure out where it’s going wrong for him, I found three things:

1- He’s striking out more than he’s walking for the first time since arriving in Kansas City.  His SO/BB ratio from the previous two seasons was 0.92.  This year, he has a 1.6 SO/BB ratio.

2- Part of his on base struggles are poor luck.  He has a .276 BABIP, down from a .316 BABIP the previous two seasons.

That’s really about it.  He’s swinging the same number of times and making the same rate of contact.  He’s hitting slightly fewer line drives, but it’s not enough of a difference to explain his lower batting average or on base percentage.

Defensively, he’s doing fine at third.  Callaspo has converted 88% of all fielded balls into at least one out as a third baseman.  League average is 87%.  I can live with that – especially if he can get his bat going.

I think Callaspo will have a much better second half.

GRADE: C
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Scott Podsednik
.301/.347/.369
WAR: 1.2

I wrote a piece at Baseball Prospectus last week, where Pods was mentioned as a fantasy asset.  I know.  It sounds just as weird to write that as it is to say it.

Still, the guy is hitting for a fine average, getting on base and stealing bases almost like it’s the mid-1980’s all over again.  Color me shocked that he’s coming extremely close to duplicating his 2009 season where he finished at .304/.353/.412 with 30 steals.  Hell, he’s just five steals away from last year’s total, so you know he’s going to fly right by that.

Having sung his praises, there are still a few issues.  Namely his base running.  While he’s  stolen 25 bases, he’s been caught a league high 11 times.  That’s a 69% success rate, which means in the big picture, his running is hurting the team.  He’s been picked off three times and made a couple of other outs on the bases.

His .341 BABIP is extremely high, so don’t be thinking he’s going to finish the season above .300.  This means his OBP will drop as well, especially because he still won’t take a walk.

This grade may seem low, but I just can’t overlook the number of outs he gives away on the bases.

GRADE: C
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Mitch Maier
.251/.328/.367
WAR: 0.8

To those media types who call David DeJesus a fourth outfielder… This is your fourth outfielder.

I’m glad Maier is getting another chance.  He doesn’t do anything really well, but he doesn’t seem to hurt the team, either.  He’s shown improvement from last year, but it’s not a huge – or even really noticeable – improvement.

He leads the team with a 10% walk rate, so that gets a thumbs up from me.

GRADE: C+
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David DeJesus
.326/.395/.460
WAR: 3.1

He should have been the Royals All-Star.  And that he wasn’t on that “Fan Choice” ballot of trickery would be an outrage if I could only muster the requisite emotion to care.

Hands down, the MVP of this team in 2010.

GRADE: A
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Jose Guillen
.279/.340/.467
WAR: 1.5

Since June 1, Guillen has a grand total of seven extra base hits and eight walks.  That may be the craziest stat I’ll find all season.

Even with the power outage, Guillen is the third best hitter on the team this year.

GRADE: B-
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On to the bench, in order of number of plate appearances:

Chris Getz
.232/.301/.268
WAR: -0.2

I know some have hopes for Getz to turn into a serviceable bat to go along with a decent glove, but I just don’t see it.  He makes enough contact, but he’s just not good enough to make solid contact.

GRADE: D
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Willie Bloomquist
.229/.270/.361
WAR: 0.1

My least favorite moment of 2010 was probably when I learned Bloomquist was DHing against the White Sox last weekend.  The justification (Wee Willie was 13-33 against starter Mark Buehrle in his career) was borderline insane.  Although it is just like the Royals to determine their lineup against a sample size so minute to call it “small” would be overstating it.

To be fair, Bloomquist’s .239 BABIP suggests he’s been the victim of some really bad luck.  And I’m extremely pleased one year after giving Wee Willie 468 plate appearances the Royals seem to figured out how to use him.  He’s on pace for around 175 plate appearances this year.  Much better.

GRADE: D
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Rick Ankiel
.210/.275/.419
WAR: -0.1

So Guillen had blood clots, almost died, and the Royals decided they needed to sign Ankiel.  Ugh.

You know all the Lebron bashing happening right now… How Jordan would never have joined another team and played second fiddle to another established star… How Lebron will never be an alpha dog because he made this decision?  That’s kind of how I feel about Ankiel turning down an opportunity to play for the Yankees when the Royals promised him center field. It told me everything I needed to know about Ankiel.

Yeah, I’m still sore about that.

Ankiel is another dud in the Royals attempts to sign a veteran with the intent of dealing him at the trade deadline.  Not to wish continued injury on someone, but I don’t think he needs to come back.  The Royals are a better team with him not in the lineup.

GRADE: D-
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Wilson Betemit
.389/.441/.722
WAR: 0.9

Those are some impressive numbers, but he’s done that in what is basically two and a half weeks of regular work.

The hope is the Royals realize Betemit can handle the DH duties and finally jettison Guillen.  (Yes, I know Guillen has no value, but I’m just ready for his time in KC to end.  Sometimes, it’s just better to move on… Quickly.)

Still, it’s nice to see the Braves pipeline actually you know… work.  Even for a little bit.

Grade: A-

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Alex Gordon
.194/.342/.323
WAR: -0.3

2009 was supposed to be the key year.  Then it was 2010.

Now it’s 2011.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it’s for another team.

Although I will hold out hope the Royals can trade Podsednik and make room for Gordon on the roster before August.  I’d like to see at least two months of Gordon everyday.  Please.

GRADE: I
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Brayan Pena
.172/.286/.207
WAR: -0.2

Who?  This grade is more a reflection of Hillman and Yost.

GRADE: D

As always, thanks for reading all the way through.  Now it’s your turn to weigh in on the comments.  Too harsh? Not harsh enough?  Or just right?   Fire away…

The Royals did not have an enjoyable weekend in Chicago and probably tempered some of the talk of contention that was swirling about the club for much of the week.   That was to be expected given that Kansas City has not one, but three teams in front of them to begin with, and a fair amount of history working against them as well.  

Simply put, the list of teams who approached the All-Star Break with records like the Royals and who were as far back as this team was and then actually did end up playing in the post-season is very, very short.   Without doing any research whatsoever, I am pretty confident the few teams that did manage the feat did not have to accomplish the act without their numbers one, two and three starting pitchers.

That said, had the Royals swept Chicago this weekend instead of being obliterated, I would have still written this column. 

You see, I can make a case for nottrading every player on this team, save one.   It is easy to make a case to keep David DeJesus.   It is plausible to make an argument to stick with Scott Podsednik and, if one tries hard enough, you can even come up with reasons to hang onto Kyle Farnsworth.      The one player for whom I cannot generate an argument to keep is Jose Guillen.

In Guillen, the Royals have a 34 year old with a history of injuries and tempestuous behavior who will be a free agent at season’s end.   While Jose is hitting a solid .279/.340/.467, which is actually a cut above his career line of .272/.323/.442.    You could make a case that a team desperate for power should hang onto the one guy on the team on pace to hit almost thirty home runs, this year.    Despite the home runs, however, Guillen’s slugging percentage is just .007 higher than that of David DeJesus, a player widely condemned for ‘not having any pop’, and is sixteen points behind Billy Butler.

Certainly, the value of the home run goes beyond just pure slugging percentage and without a doubt, Guillen currently is the player on the roster most likely to hit one.     It is noteworthy, however, that seven of Jose’s homers came in the month of April.   That is a big month and Guillen is known to have big months now and then.    More precisely, he has one big month per year.

In June of 2008, Guillen also hit seven home runs.   He never topped four dingers in any other month that season.   During the 2007 season, Jose hit six homers in May, but no more than four any other month.   In 2006, like his injury plagued 2009 campaign, Guillen did not have the ‘big’ month.    Back in 2005, however, Guillen did hit six home runs in April and five more in both June and August, while in 2004 he hit six or more homers in a month three times.

Unless you are willing to believe that Guillen has reverted to the form he exhibited when he was 28 years old, then the odds are against Jose hitting more than four home runs in any of the remaining months of this season.   One other home run tidbit:  Guillen has not hit more than three home runs in September since 2003.

No matter what you think of Jose Guillen and what he brings to the Kansas City Royals, I have one simple question.    If Omaha was the AAA affiliate of some other organization and that organization offered you Kila Kaa’ihue for Jose Guillen, would you make that deal?

If you cannot get past the Royals’ front office constant harping on Kaa’ihue’s supposed ‘slider bat speed’ comments, then would you trade Jose Guillen for a guy who:

  • Owns a .278/.421/.510 line in 239 AAA games (with 46 home runs)
  • Despite a dismal first six seasons in the minors, still owns a career .390 on-base percentage
  • Posted batting lines of .314/.456/.628 in 2008, .252/.392/.433 in 2009 and .306/.463/.584 thus far in 2010?

Of course, no team is going to offer one of the better hitters in AAA baseball (even if he is twenty-six years old) for a three month rental of Jose Guillen.    They won’t do it even if the Royals pay most, if not all of Guillen’s remaining salary.   The thing is, they don’t have to offer such a player for the trade to make sense for Kansas City.

One way or another, the money due Guillen is out the door and whether the Royals are paying him to play in KC or somewhere else is pretty irrelevant.   What is relevant is how Kila Kaa’ihue figures into the club’s future.

The Royals are not going to contend with Jose Guillen or Kila Kaa’ihue at designated hitter in 2010, but they might (with some breaks) contend with Kaa’ihue in the lineup in 2011…..maybe.    Right now, none of us, not Dayton Moore, not Ned Yost, not me, not my kids and not even Kila Kaa’ihue know if he can be a big league hitter.

Should the Royals be so desperate to win 76 games instead of 72 that they stick with Jose Guillen in August and September?  Or should they get Kaa’ihue 250 to 300 at-bats from here on out to discover if he can be an on-base machine with decent power in the majors?  (I envision a Nick Johns0n type minus the constant injuries, by the way).

Best case scenario is that Kila hits in the majors as he has the last three years in the minors.   Worst case, he falls flat and the Royals have the entire off-season to find someone to man the designated hitter position in 2011.     Better to have Kila hit .185/.250/.310 in August and September of 2010 for a club that might threaten to reach 80 wins than to have him do it in April and May of 2011 for a team that has a shot at contending for the A.L. Central.

Given Guillen’s recent ‘minor’ injury, whatever market there was for him has faded considerably and almost certainly has taken most National League clubs out of the picture.   That said, the Royals don’t have to trade Jose Guillen for a good AAA hitter, they just have to trade him.     What they get in return is really just a bonus to getting Kila Kaa’ihue on the big league roster and in the everyday lineup.

So again I ask the question:  would you trade Jose Guillen for Kila Kaa’ihue?

A few quick thoughts as we head out the door for a long holiday weekend…

Apparently, the Missouri Department of Transportation destroyed a tree along I-70 that was planted to honor Dan Quisenberry.  This, as these things do, has created quite an uproar.  First, we need a little clarification.

– Quisenberry had a tree planted to honor his memory?  Seriously?  When did this happen?  Am I the only person in Kansas City – other than MODOT employees – who did not know this?

– There are just a ton of green spaces in Kansas City.  Why would they plant a tree like this along an interstate right-of-way?  Were all the trees in the parking lot at the Independence Center claimed?

Quiz loved gardening.  He kept plants and assorted green things in the bullpen.  I think he grew tomatoes or something out there. I guess that’s why he has had a tree.  It’s a nice thing for someone to do, but why wouldn’t they have planted the thing on the grounds of the stadium?

–  Obviously, now is the ideal time for the Royals to step up and do something nice to honor Quiz.  I’m not talking about a statue or retiring his number… Instead, maybe they could plant a tree in the space between the fountains and the stairs in right field.  Maybe at the top.  That way, they could have a plaque (you know, so it won’t get bulldozed in the next round of stadium renovations in 2030) and it would be where everyone in the stadium could see it.

Sounds good to me.

– The Royals head to the West Coast and will make an appearance on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.  That’s a rare event, but I don’t need to tell you.

Although I do love how the game is on July 4.  This has to be the lowest rated Sunday Night game of the year, regardless of the teams.

–  Now that almost everyone with access to the internet has weighed in on Jose Guillen’s comments (or should it be outburst?  Or rant?) let me throw out my two cents and say I agree with Clark.

There.

Otherwise, I should probably add I’m glad Guillen decided to shoot his mouth off.  It’s been a relatively quiet 18 months.

However at this point, Guillen carries a lame duck status.  He has three months left here – hopefully less.  Anything he says carries little or no weight.

Move along… There’s nothing to see.

– Alex Gordon and Kila Ka’aihue were named to the PCL All-Star team.  I have no clue who those guys are.

– Kyle Davies last start where he gave up fewer than four runs came on May 22.  Over his last 30 innings, covering six starts he has an 8.70 ERA and batters are hitting .306/.400/.508 against him.  That includes a start against the Astros, for crying out loud.  Oh, I should probably add that during this time he has struck out 15 while allowing 19 walks.

I like to see how many swinging strikes a pitcher gets as a percentage of all strikes thrown.  The best pitchers miss the most bats, generally speaking.  Since his start at the end of May, Davies has gotten a swing and a miss in just 7% of all strikes.  That’s abysmal.  Even more alarming, only 16% of his strikes have been called.

In other words, hitters are just making a ton of contact against Davies.  He’s fooling no one.

Except maybe management.

– Have a great – and safe – holiday.

The Royals enjoyed a nice, if not a little more thrilling than necessary, win last night over the White Sox to take the series.    It was one of those ‘go figure’ games in which Kansas City plated seven runs despite resting two of their three best hitters (DeJesus and Aviles) and batting major league journeyman Wilson Betemit fifth.  

They also saw a cruising Zack Greinke, having tossed just 87 pitches over seven innings of one-run ball, give up five straight hits in the top of the eighth inning.   Seriously, can anyone remember five runs being scored without the benefit of a home run in a shorter period of time?

We also saw Jose Guillen, YES JOSE GUILLEN, make a great running catch in the top of ninth that ended with him crashing into the wall.   Truly, it was a great catch which capped off a night that saw Jose being booed early in the game, only to be cheered as he slammed a three run homer later.   A typical Jose Guillen kind of night.   Speaking of which….

It is no longer quiet on the Jose Guillen front.   Jeffrey Flanagan at Fox Sports posted a story last night with a boatload of quotes from the Royals’ quotemaster.   I had just been thinking the other day how Guillen had said so very little this year and pretty much just gone about his business.   Well, no more.

I am not going to go into the comments themselves as they are either of the ‘Jose being Jose’ variety or, frankly, dead-on right.    You also are treated to the standard organizational cover provided by Ned Yost, who is quick to point out that ‘Jose always plays hard’.     I will leave the reaction to the commenters on all of this.     What is noteworthy about this outburst is what it might do to the Royals’ chances of trading Guillen.

Now, it is fashionable amongst Royals fans and observers to discount all Guillen trade speculation as a ‘waste of time’ as their ‘is absolutely no way anyone will want Jose’.   Maybe, maybe not.   It is very easy to dismiss all trade speculation as wrong and make yourself look astute, given that 99% of what is written or heard never comes true.   That said, in a world where the Rays have tried Pat Burrell and Hank Blalock at DH, only to release both of them, and where the New York Yankees’ primary designated hitter is hitting less than .200, I find it hard to believe there is not some market out there for Guillen.  

After all, we are talking about a guy who is posting a .281/.342/.472/.814 line, which would be good for a tie for 30th in baseball among all outfielders (I know, ‘outfielder’ is a stretch).   That mark ties him with Andres Torres, Carlos Gonzalez and Jonny Gomes: not exactly elite company, but still three regulars on teams that believe they are contenders.

With the Royals reportedly willing to take on a chunk of Guillen’s remaining salary and hoping (or at least they should be hoping) to merely clear a roster spot for Kila Kaaihue and not so concerned about what they might get in return for Jose, I thought a trade was a real possibility.   Thought being the operative word here.

You see, Guillen was posting numbers in line with some of his better seasons and was quietly going along with the team’s wish of playing him mostly at designated hitter, despite his own personal distaste for the idea.   Aside from a ‘blister issue’, Guillen had been relatively healthy as well.   Everything was adding up to making Guillen marketable in July until he decided to open his mouth.

Again, there is a lot that Jose is quoted as saying in Flanagan’s article that I flat-out agree with.   The Royals are fundamentally bad, they have lacked leadership and they do act like babies at times:  there is really no denying any of that.   Still, did you have to come out and say it thirty-one days before the trade deadline, Jose?

These quotes might well be every bit as damaging as Reggie Sanders’ conveniently exploding hamstrings that kept the Royals from trading him for Melky Cabrera twice.   

The Royals needed to trade Guillen this summer, if only to finally force management into giving Kaaihue a couple hundred at-bats to either prove or disprove he belongs in the majors.   I am okay with letting Alex Gordon spend the summer in Omaha perhaps realizing that half of fair territory lies to the left of second base, but I am not willing to enter next spring with the same debate that has raged over Kaaihue since 2008.

Truth is, the only way we avoid that debate is to have a rival general manager give Dayton Moore enough in return for Guillen so that Moore’s ego will be soothed sufficiently to allow him to portray the deal as ‘value for value’.  Truth is, Jose’s untimely comments might well have scuttled any such hope.

flickr/lambachialpha

This whole Jeckyll and Hyde thing with Brian Bannister cracks me up.  The day and night splits… It’s something that’s been going on for a long, long time.  Just for fun, here are his career splits:

Night – 5.43 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 1.68 SO/BB
Day – 3.87 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.00 SO/BB

And his splits from this year:

Night – 7.66 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 1.65 SO/BB
Day – 2.37 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.25 SO/BB

I love it that people (i.e. reporters) feel the need to get to the bottom of this anomaly.  Just because Bannister is a smart guy, he’s supposed to have the answers.  Hilarious.

I’m not a smart guy, but here’s my guess at the answer:

It’s a strange coincidence.  You know, sometimes things just happen.  Did you know that Bannister has been much better at home this year than on the road?  Look at this:

Home – 3.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.56 SO/BB
Road – 7.30 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 1.47 SO/BB

So he struggles at night, yet he was at home where he’s thrived this year.  Someone needs to figure this out!

This is just a bunch of noise.  Pick your split to fit your game story.  I suppose if Bannister had dominated the White Sox, we would have read something about how he likes sleeping in his own bed.

Look, Bannister is a back of the rotation starter.  His xFIP is 4.62, which is right in line with his career mark of 4.82.  He generally allows a bunch of base runners and has difficulty keeping them from crossing the plate.  A full 31% of all runners are scoring against him this year.  And that’s among the best rate of his career.

Last year, he kept the ball down and enjoyed some success.  This year, he’s elevating a bit more and has been touched for about three home runs for every two games. That’s not good.  Not good at all.  His strikeouts are down.  His walks are up.  He’s not having a good year.  Yet, he’s having a Brian Bannister kind of year.

He’ll have good starts.  He’ll have bad starts.  Some will come during the day.  Some will happen at night.  Based on his skill set, he’ll have more bad than good – no matter the time of day.  Not by a ton.  But a few to make a difference.  Enough to keep him in the back of a rotation.

Let’s quit trying to pinpoint Bannister’s issues with meaningless splits.

– Speaking of meaningless splits, did you know the Royals are something like 1-10 this year on Saturday.  Did you know if Bannister starts a night game on Saturday on the road, the universe could explode?

– Kendall Watch:  Fair is fair, so I’m obligated to point out Kendall has strung together a handful of decent offensive games and is now hitting .222/.301/.259 as a number two hitter.  Maybe I should give him a break since his OBP is above .300.  Plus, he only has one fewer extra base hit than Jose Guillen since June 3.

– Apparently, Guillen’s power has been suffering due to a blister on his foot.  So he’s been playing more outfield.  Makes sense.

– Blake Wood is getting a swing and a miss in around 7% of all strikes thrown.  Yet he enticed Paul Konerko to flail at three pitches last night.  That was kind of fun.

The Royals get the day off following a defeat of Stephen Strasburg and a day when even I was interested in soccer.

Brian Bannister vs. Stephen Strasburg

After getting national publicity for his brain, Brian Bannister bounced back from two horrific starts to hold the Nationals scoreless through six innings and out duel rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg.   It was not exactly a pretty game as Bannister had Jason Kendall bouncing all over behind the plate to block pitches and the Royals actually got out of an inning with runners on first and third, no one out and Billy Butler boxing a ground ball.   There was some curious baserunning by the Nationals, who themselves were not very good defensively either, but in the end a 1-0 win is always nice.  

Kudos to Ned Yost for staying with Robinson Tejeda in the 8th inning after he took just eight pitches to get through a 1-2-3 7th inning.   It’s not that I don’t like Blake Wood, it is simply my tendency to refer back to an old baseball saying: ‘the more pitchers you use, the more likely you are to find one that doesn’t have it that day.’

Aviles Gets a Rest

While I liked Yost’s handling of the bullpen yesterday, this ‘need’ to rest Mike Aviles is just getting stupid.   Against a crazy tough righthander like Strasburg, I can see the logic of wanting to get a left-handed bat in the lineup – even if it is in the person of Chris Getz, but do you really bench the guy who has the THIRD HIGHEST AVERAGE VERSUS RIGHTHANDED PITCHING IN BASEBALL?

Aviles is currently hitting .362 against righties, trailing only Robinson Cano and Josh Hamilton.

Is the club/organization/manager so absolutely certain that Mike’s arm is going to actually fly off when he uncorks a throw from short that they cannot sit Yuniesky Betancourt to get Getz in the lineup?   Perhaps there is a fear that Aviles playing his natural position of short will start to remind people just how good he played in the field there in 2008.     Such an occurrence would further point out that the Betancourt (even with him playing tolerable baseball this year) was a panic trade by a general manager who was miffed that Aviles hid an injury from them early in 2009.

And yes, if the above paragraph did not confirm it for you, I do own a Mike Aviles jersey.

Jose Guillen to the Yankees?

Okay, nobody go running to MLBTradeRumors for the source on this as I am just theorizing here, but what about Guillen to the Yanks?  

First off, New York has not settled on designated hitter so far this year, using twelve players there and none for more than twenty starts.   Combined they are hitting .239/.363/.395 with most of that on-base number coming from Nick Johnson’s bizarre ability to walk without hitting a lick.   As usual, Johnson is injured once more, further creating a hole in the lineup.

Money is not generally an issue with the Yankees, but let’s say that there are enough variables when it comes to Jose Guillen that the Royals have to pick up half or a little more of his remaining salary.   Right now, Jose is due about $6.6 million, so the Royals might pick up say..$4 million.

In return, the Yankees could send Chad Huffman back to the Royals.   Huffman has shown some power, but was waived by San Diego this spring and picked up by the Yanks after that.   As such, it is not like the New York organization would have any real attachment to Huffman.    In essence, New York would give up $2 million and a player they barely know to get four months of Guillen.   Probably a decent risk on their part.

On the Royals’ side, I don’t have much expectation that Huffman will be anything, but that’s not really the point of trading Guillen, is it?   This deal finally opens a spot for Kila Kaaihue to play.

Unless the organization is so paranoid and insecure to be proven wrong about another Allard Baird guy (as Mike Aviles did to them in 2008 and again this spring), there is absolutely no reason at all to make a move with the sole purposed of opening an everyday lineup spot for Kaaihue.   I swear I have written this line a thousand time already:  play Kaaihue and find out if he can produce instead of just wondering and blathering crap like ‘slider bat speed’.

 Colon Signed?

Reports are swirling that the Royals have or are on the verge of signing their first round pick, Christian Colon.   I could care less what the signing number is as long as the shortstop is truly signed.   Scouts outside the organization speculate that Colon could reach the majors as early as next year, so getting him signed and playing is critical.

These same reports indicate that Colon will start at High A Wilmington once he passes a physical (again, assuming an agreement actually is in place).   My guess is the Royals would love to see him play well for the Blue Rocks and move him up for a month of work in AA Northwest Arkansas.

Time For a Moustakas Promotion?

Mike Moustakas is hitting .359/.426/.718 for Northwest Arkansas.  He has eighteen home runs and twenty-two walks versus just thirty-four strikeouts.  Exactly what are we waiting for him to prove at this level?

Since the Royals demoted Alex Gordon, moved him to the outfield and handed Alberto Callaspo the third base job, Callaspo has hit .264/.279/.389.   That is not panic mode territory, especially for a player who hit so well last season, but it certainly is no reason to delay moving Moustakas another step closer to the majors, either.

And Just for Fun…

Royals lineup on September 5, 2011:

DeJesus LF, Aviles 2B, Butler 1B, Kaaihue DH, Gordon RF, Moustakas 3B, Colon SS, Kendall C (because it is just freaking inevitable) and Robinson or Lough or Maier CF

The Ned Yost Bump is officially over.  Part of it is the team’s natural regression.  They aren’t a .500 team.  They just aren’t.  It was nice of them to win 17 of Yost’s first 32 games in charge or whatever, but that wasn’t going to last.  They’ve now rolled off five straight losses to teams from the National League East.  I thought the Royals kicked NL ass.  Guess not anymore.

– I was mildly impressed by Anthony Lerew on Tuesday.  He gave up a couple of solo home runs (which apparently is how the Royals plan to handle the Nats in this series) but worked out of his only real rough patch in the fourth by allowing only one run. I wouldn’t want him making 30 odd starts for this team, but he did a nice job in a spot start.

He threw 71% of his fastballs for strikes which was setting up a few swing and misses on his change.  He mixed in a handful of sliders, but otherwise he relied on his fastball/change combo.  His fastest pitch on the night was his second to last offering – a 93 mph fastball to Alberto Gonzalez that was fouled off.  Mix a rain delay in, and it was a good start for Lerew.

The Royals have been lucky.  They’ve received some quality starts from Bruce Chen and Lerew while Luke Hochevar and Gil Meche have been on the DL.  OK… I’ll point out the obvious:  Chen and Lerew have outpitched the guys they replaced.

That’s what you would call a bonus.

– Kendall Watch: In 77 plate appearances since assuming the number two spot in the lineup on June 3, Jason Kendall is hitting .176/.237/.191. The 12 RBI are nice, but he’s made three outs on the bases during this time and scored only three runs.

If Ned Yost wants me to turn against him, his diabolical plan is working.

There is just no reason for him to a) play Kendall every freaking day and b) hit him second.  Enough.

– Jose Guillen picked up a pair of hits on Tuesday and has now hit in 17 consecutive games.  If you follow the Royals PR people and the beat writers on Twitter, they’re always quick to point out these hitting streaks.  For some reason, that’s annoying me these days.

Look, I appreciate that Guillen has raised his batting average almost 30 points this month.  It’s great that he’s getting on base at a .385 clip during this streak.  However THE STREAK glosses over a very important fact:

Guillen’s power has once again disappeared.  Vanished.

Yes, he’s swinging a hot bat.  A hot singles bat.  This month he’s collected just five extra base hits – two doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs.  His last extra base hit was back on June 11.  His last home run was June 6.

So while it’s great that Guillen is stringing together a bunch of hits, we need to keep this in perspective.  Something is sapping his power.  I’m thinking he won’t start on Wednesday (day game, Strasburg pitching… all that) but playing in the field for five consecutive days is going to take a toll as well.  Is it a coincidence that his power took a vacation when Guillen started playing in the field?  I don’t know about that, but in this case, the numbers don’t lie.

I still think the impending Guillen Winter is going to be particularly harsh.  I figure once his streak ends, he’ll go completely into the tank.  If there are any trade offers out there after the Royals have “showcased” him in right, they have to pull the trigger.  Take whatever you can get and move on.

– Wednesday is Strasburg day.  I’m looking forward to this game.  I’ve watched a couple of Strasburg’s starts and the hype is justified.  It will be interesting to see how the Royals fare.  Let’s keep expectations low.

The Royals are trying to trade Jose Guillen.

Sure, the rumors are currently swirling around a far better player with a chance to still be a valuable contributor when the Royals might contend in a year or two:  David DeJesus.   It makes sense to test the market, given DeJesus’ contract status and potential value right now.   However, here is a quote from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe via MLBTradeRumors with regard to this:

“The Red Sox, Yankees and Padres are possible bidders, but the Royals are asking for more in return than is acceptable to suitors.”

Again, DeJesus has always been an ‘average-plus’ player who happens to be having the best season of his career.   While he is beginning to cost the Royals real money (in baseball terms), his contract is not so onerous that it demands a trade at all costs.   The Royals should be asking for a lot, not only because DeJesus has actual value, but because is might just trigger a team to move onto cheaper alternatives in the outfield.

Of course, all of us who follow the Royals would pretty much fall all over ourselves to trade any outfielder not named David and while the front office is probably not quite as eager, they are certainly willing to talk.   Que the Jose Guillen hype machine, a.k.a Ned Yost, via the Kansas City Star:

“You watch him play out there and it is a legitimate comparision to any other right fielder out there.  There’s no difference.  I’m going to start playing him more when we get home in the outfield.   He’s proven to me he can do it.”

In other words, ‘attention National League, Jose Guillen can still play in the outfield’.  

Come mid-July, Guillen is going to be owed something less than six million dollars and has no real future with the Kansas City Royals.   Whether Dayton Moore is ever willing to give Kila Kaaihue a chance or not, nowhere in  his ‘things to do so we can have a parade in the Plaza’ notebook is there anything about having a 35 year old Jose Guillen being the Royals’ designated hitter (or right fielder) in 2011.

Given the preceding paragraph, there is absolutely no reason NOT to trade Jose Guillen.    Start the conversation with David DeJesus and when your demands for one of the opposing club’s best position player prospects, plus a major league ready bullpen arm with upside, prove to be too much, switch the conversation to Guillen.   Sure, we will kick in a fair portion of his remaining salary and sure, we will be happy to accept one of your failed prospects in need of a change of scenery in return.

It all seems quite logical, doesn’t it?

It won’t happen.

Dayton Moore will not let it happen unless he ‘gets value in return’.     We need look no further than Ron Mahay to know that.

There were offers out there last summer for Ron Mahay.  Not good offers, not even close to good offers, but offers nonetheless.   Moore’s comment at the time was something along the lines of ‘we are not going to trade just to trade – we have to get value for value’.    Many in our writing community echoed the sentiments with a ‘what’s the point?’ sort of argument.   I don’t buy it.

Ron Mahay was an aging veteran in the last half-season of his contract on a team going nowhere.   I don’t care if the return was something along the lines of Anthony Seratelli or Ed Lucas (sorry guys, you are good organizational soldiers, but you know what I mean), you make the deal.   Once in a great while, players like that turn into Mike Aviles.  If nothing else, we would have gotten a better look at a Dusty Hughes, Victor Marte or the like and found out it in late 2009 what it took two months (and exposure to Bryan Bullington, Luis Mendoza and Roman Colon) in 2010 to realize.

The casual fan may view trades of veterans for marginal return as business as usual for the Royals.  They will grumble and moan, but it won’t effect whether they show up in August or not.  It sure as heck won’t matter if Kansas City is in first place on June 1, 2012.

It is not a fire sale, nor is it an admittance of failure by the general manager, to dump veterans for less than what you perceive to be their value, in order to free up playing time for younger players you simply need to figure out.   A fire sale would be giving up on Alex Gordon and trading David DeJesus for a 27 year old AA first baseman.   Smart trading with an eye towards the future and, dare we say it, THE PROCESS, includes moving Guillen for something and likely doing the same with Scott Podsednik (given Rick Ankiel’s ability to destroy whatever trade value he may have once had).    You can throw Willie Bloomquist in there, too.

You see, the Royals have Gordon to replace Podsednik, Kaaihue to replace Guillen and Irving Falu to take Bloomquist’s role.  It is possible that all three may fail badly in the majors and the Royals finish in fifth place instead of fourth.   At least, we will all know at that point.

Make the moves, Mr. Moore.   Stop trying to prove to us that you are the smartest kid on the block.   If you want us to trust the process, than you have to trust it yourself.

Well that was certainly interesting.

A lineup that not only features Jason Kendall hitting second… But Chris Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt and Wilson Betemit in the lower third.  Somehow, they scrape together nine runs.  Nine runs!

Then somehow, Bruce Chen kept the Royals in the game with a masterful six innings.  Somewhere Zack Greinke is asking his teammates why they can’t score eight runs while he’s on the mound.

Before the game, I thought that lineup was awful.  Literally the worst combination you could possibly arrive at given the players.  No Billy Butler?  No Mike Aviles?  While I’m certain if you handed in that lineup card 100 times, they would struggle to score more than five runs in 95 of those games, Ned Yost struck gold last night.

That’s why they play the game.

A couple of quick thoughts from the second craziest game of the year.

– Although my self-proclaimed Gauntlet of Suck (Getz, Betancourt, Podsednik and Kendall – number 8, 9, 1 & 2… get it?) was a combined 3-18 with two walks, they each scored a run, which was useful.

– Jose Guillen is still on his current tear… three hits, one of which was a triple.  Just be prepared for the upcoming Guillen Winter, which should start in about a week.

– This is not a team that will hit many back to back home runs.  The combination of Mitch Maier and Betemit isn’t even close to the most unlikely duo.  I’d go with Getz and Wee Willie.  Or Pods and Kendall.

–  What can you say about Betemit offensive performance last night.  Two home runs, the last of which was the difference in the game.  Plus, he drew a walk.  Overall, he saw a team high 30 pitches last night – no small feat against the Twins pitching staff.

– According to Brooks Baseball, Chen relied on his change-up and slider last night while mixing equal parts of a two seam and four seam fastball.  He was also dropping his arm angle from time to time, which made things extremely difficult for the Twins hitters.  His final line won’t look impressive, but if Yost had pulled him after six, it would have looked completely different.  It didn’t help that Robinson Tejeda gave up hits to his first two hitters he faced, which allowed both his inherited runners to score.

– That ninth inning was a thrill ride, wasn’t it?  Mauer and Morneau are just awesome.  That’s all.  Swinging at the first pitch – because they know that’s how you attack Soria – and they both rap run scoring base hits.  Thankfully Cuddyer isn’t in the same class as his first pitch swing ended as a long fly ball out.

Whew.