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.