Tuesday’s game was almost as epic as the Royals-Rangers tilt back on May 6. You know… The game officially known as “The Last Time Joakim Soria Blew a Save.”
Yuniesky Betancourt walked twice last night. That’s happened only eight times in his career. (He’s never walked three times in a game.) The last time he walked twice in a game? Try May 6 against the Rangers.
Please remember, Yuni is not the team leader in home runs. Jose Guillen is still two ahead of the Yunigma. However, Yuni is tied with Billy Butler for the team lead in RBI… If you’re into that sort of thing.
Feast or Famine With Alex Gordon
Typical night for Gordon. At least it felt that way. A single and a double against Cliff Lee drove in a total of three runs. That was good… Then he struck out three times, twice looking. That was bad.
You know my stance on strikeouts – they’re just another out – but those looking, called third strikes are beginning to try my patience. We’ve been over this before… Oftentimes, Gordon doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. Reputations are difficult to shake and he certainly has the reputation of a complainer… At least at the plate. Of all of Gordon’s third strikes, 36% of happen when the bat doesn’t leave his shoulder. That’s a high percentage. Major league average this season is 25%.
Plus, who is he? Nobody outside of Nebraska and Kansas City gives a damn about Alex Gordon. Not now, anyway. So when you’re up against a pitcher like Cliff Lee and you have two strikes on you, you damn well better expand that zone.
Of course, I’m probably picking the wrong time to go off on a “swing the bat, meat” tangent. Both his called third strikes on Tuesday were against left handed pitching. And he certainly showed what he could do against Lee, ripping a couple of hits. Go back to his at bat against Lee in the fifth. Two outs, two runners on and Lee tries to get him to chase a couple of cutters out of the zone and falls behind 2-0. Lee is struggling to get out of the inning, so he’s not going to screw around. Everyone knows this… And Gordon takes a strike down the heart of the plate. My first reaction was, I couldn’t believe that Gordon didn’t take a rip at that pitch. Typical Gordon… Missing his pitch in a hitter’s count.
These are situations he has to take advantage of if he’s going to be successful. When pitchers jump ahead of Gordon with the first strike, he’s hitting .138/.198/.150.
Then I thought Lee wouldn’t want to fall behind 3-1, so I figured Gordon would get another pitch to handle. He did – a fastball, belt high and on the outer half of the plate. Gordon really turned on the pitch and ripped it for a two-run double.
So maybe he knows what he’s doing after all…
I’m still rooting for Gordon. Probably more than anyone on this team. (And probably because I HAVE to. Gordon’s success means this franchise moves up the MLB food chain a notch or two.) So it was a typically crazy night… A couple of hits and a handful of strikeouts. Just another day in the development.
Yosting the Bullpen
Chew on this for a moment…
— Joakim Soria is having another dominating season.
— After a rough April (and a stint on the DL) Robinson Tejeda has been awesome.
— Kyle Farnsworth had an excellent season for the Royals.
— The Royals bullpen ERA is 4.64 – worst in the AL.
How is that remotely possible?
Step forward Jesse Chavez. Take a bow Victor Marte. Is that Brad Thompson in the corner? Hey, there’s Josh Rupe. Has anyone seen Luis Mendoza?
It’s really difficult to believe the Royals got solid seasons from three relievers, but the rest of the bullpen has been so putrid, it’s pulled the collective reliever ERA into the abyss.
I know the Royals won last night and I know at this point in the season we’re looking at the “young” guys, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to hang seven runs on Cliff Lee and then see Chavez cough up a lead in 16 pitches. Followed by a Blake Wood escape act in the eighth when he got Vladimir The Royal Killer to ground out with the bases loaded.
On Wilson Betemit
I know a couple of weeks ago, Fangraphs speculated that Betemit may price himself out of Kansas City on the back of a strong finish. I suppose anything is possible, but seriously… The notion that Betemit will break the Royals bank (or stretch the budget) is laughable.
He joined this team on a minor league contract last November. A minor league contract… It wasn’t even a split contract, promising a certain amount if he got called up. According to Cot’s, the most he’s ever made in a season is $1.3 million back in 2009. That contract was really just a carryover from the $1.165 million he made in his first year of arbitration eligibility. At that point, he had been a semi-regular for three years.
The point is, his last two contracts (before signing with the Royals) were reasonable, given his playing time, production and economics of the time.
He will certainly stand to make more than his $1.3 million. However, we’re talking about a guy who will have less than 350 plate appearances and wasn’t a regular until the team jettisoned Alberto Callaspo at the end of July. I figure he’ll earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million. And that’s my guess at an absolute ceiling. I know outsiders think of our team as cash poor, but that’s an acceptable contract.
Of course, there’s the other issue: Mike Moustakas. Hey, did you hear about his three home run, 11 RBI game? Of course you did. (Great game… Largely irrelevant in the big picture. It’s simply the cherry on top of the sundae that is his outstanding season.)
Does signing Wilson Betemit for next season block the promotion of Moustakas?
I don’t think it does.
Moustakas needs to open the 2011 season in Triple-A. For two reasons. One, the Royals need to make sure he picks up where he finished. This, in my mind, is a huge deal. We know he’s been raking all season, but the Royals need to make sure he remains sharp during the off season. (Rumors of him playing in the Dominican League are encouraging.) I’m not going to draw parallels between Moose and Gordon on the “rush a prospect” front… Every player is different. However, if the Royals are serious about this batch of prospects and aiming for 2014, they need to make absolutely certain Moustakas is ready.
Second, (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) is they need to take advantage of his service time. If this kid is truly this good, I’ll gladly take a half year of his production in 2011 in exchange for at least six full seasons. I’ve always kind of laughed at this kind of roster manipulation, but other teams are doing it. The Royals need to join this parade.
And that means no September call-up. I’m fine with that. Have him finish the season with Omaha, take some time to recharge and then play some winter ball. Sounds like a plan.
Back to Betemit… If the Royals follow this plan, they’ll need him to return. That takes the pressure off of everyone involved. Then, if Moose is abusing Triple-A pitching through the first three months of 2011, the Royals can flip Betemit and we can begin the new era.
It will be worth the wait.