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