Tag Archive | "Acquisitions"

Royals Add Infield Insurance

The Kansas City Royals recent play has them a contender in both the AL Central and the race for a wild card spot. Now playing meaningful games in August and September for the first time in years, the Royals have made several moves recently to add depth to their team as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Emilio Bonifacio

Kansas City recently placed Miguel Tejada on the 60-day DL. The absence of Tejada coupled with Mike Moustakas nursing a sore left calf led the Royals to make two moves to bolster their infield depth.

First they acquired 12-year MLB veteran Jamey Carroll from the Twins and then they added super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays. Both players cost the Royals cash and/or a player to be named later.

Carroll is a light-hitting infielder who started 46 games for the Twins this year and did not hit a home run, while driving in nine runs. Offense is not Carroll’s game, but he does provide veteran leadership and he can fill in at multiple positions on the infield. He is a good defender, even at this time in his career.

Carroll started Tuesday’s game against the Marlins at third base and was 0-4 with one strike out. He also pinch hit in Monday’s game and was 0-2.

Bonifacio is also expected to have a utility role. Like Carroll, Bonifacio can fill in all over the infield. Unlike Carroll, Bonifacio has also logged time in the outfield and can play a corner spot or in center field. Bonifacio doesn’t hit for average (hit .218 with the Jays this year), but he does offer speed. He can steal bases when he gets regular at-bats and can also come into the game as a pinch runner, providing a threat on the bases in late-game situations.

These moves have gone under the radar in baseball circles. However, Royals’ GM Dayton Moore identified a need and got two players without giving up much in return. As the Royals enter the dog days of the season, these acquisitions could loom large. The young Royals have never been in contention and they can learn from veterans Carroll and Bonifacio who have experience on winning teams.

 

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What was the real point of the Rasmus trade?

It’s been two years since the St. Louis Cardinals suddenly dealt former uber-prospect Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays mid-season for a host of pieces in return. And in the two years since that deal, the value of what’s come of the trade is still very much undetermined. There are some that say the deal was what sealed the 2011 World Series win, while others feel it was a necessary move to salvage the remaining value of Rasmus’ quickly dipping stock at the time. Yet the truth of the matter probably lays somewhere in-between, and the absolute value of how the Cardinals have emerged is on the verge of being a potential loss in the long-term.

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At the beginning of the 2011 season, Rasmus was a troubled, yet still integral part of the future of the team. He was the former top prospect of the organization as little as two years prior, and was just a year removed from a 23 home run breakout effort. Yet, that seemed like decades ago by the time the trade of him away was necessitated. The triangle of issues created between Colby/Tony Rasmus, Tony LaRussa and ultimately John Mozeliak, pushed Rasmus away from being a coveted talent, and into the problem child bin, and regardless of talent, problem children don’t get the same returns as promising talents do. So Mozeliak made a July trade to send Rasmus away in exchange for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski, his stock had gotten to the point where it was just good to get anything back in return for him.

Of all of the acquisitions made in that deal, the then25-year-old lefty made the biggest difference in the club’s playoff and postseason run, and set up a solid basis of what to expect coming ahead. This was of particular importance as well, because he was the only part of the deal that had any guaranteed time with the team after 2011. Regardless of what Rasmus’ actual production was, he still carried a decent amount of name value and upside perception, so to come away from that deal with only a middle relief left-hander, that pitcher better surely become among the best at what he does. However, the year and a half since Rzepczynski has been a full-time Cardinal has been perhaps less fulfilling than any part of Rasmus’ on-field run.

Since the beginning of 2012, in 79 games, Rzepczynski has posted a 1-3 record, with a 4.77 ERA in 54.2 innings. His WHIP across that time has been a robust 1.44, and he has surrendered better than a hit per inning pitched. In fairness, he shouldered an inadequate amount of the load a year ago, as the only consistently available left-handed option, as the team went through a carousel of veteran flame outs around him. Yet, this season he’s struggled more than ever, posting a 7.88 ERA and surrendering a run in four of his nine appearances, with at least two in three of those efforts in an inning or less work. Overall, batters have hit .361 against him on the season, and that will not do in the leverage of the situations he’s called upon (or really any other either, at that), and yesterday, just a year and a half after being the promise received in return for promise dealt, Rzepczynski found himself headed towards a place he hadn’t been to since 2010: the minors.

In the first move to shake some life into the team’s lifeless bullpen, the club optioned him to Memphis in exchange for the 2011 organizational pitcher of the year, Seth Maness. This is a shocking move, whereas in it didn’t seem likely that the team would put itself voluntarily down to one left-handed reliever, but it also sends a message: get it done, or you’re replaceable. There’s a chance he won’t stay down for long, just enough time to rediscover what he lost along the way. There’s also the chance that he becomes a victim of the ever-emergent depth of arms converging on the Cardinals pitching staff from the minors. This is not a team to fall behind in fortune with, because there is always somebody who is pushing for a chance. It likely isn’t a death sentence for him, but it definitely will serve notice to anybody on the staff that is struggling.

All in all, looking back it’s tough to say what is what about the absolute outcome of the Rasmus/Blue Jays deal. What is clear is that something had to be done in the moment, and that the outcome of it did improve the team at the absolutely right moment. Despite popular opinion, it’s not THE move that won the World Series for the club; seasons like that don’t hinge on one moment. However, it did play a role in that moment, and with the after effect as it is shaking out around the only remaining part of the deal so soon after it was completed, perhaps it was the ultimate all-in maneuver for the moment.

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The Kansas City Royals “All-Terrible Acquisition Team”

The Kansas City Royals have certainly had some historically terrible acquisitions over the years

Anyone who has been a fan of the Royals for any extended period of time has seen it multiple times. The off-season acquisition of a player another team was dying to get rid of (usually a malcontent), being sold to the Royals fanbase as a game-changing pickup. Every team acquires players that don’t pan out. But no team seems to pick guys up that they pencil in as top/middle of the rotation starters, middle of the lineup bats, or closers that end up embarrassing themselves and the rest of us like the Kansas City Royals. Here, we take a look at the worst of the worst, position by position.

Use the buttons below to scroll through the worst acquisition at each position for the Royals.

<strong>Catcher: Benito Santiago (2004)</strong>

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Santiago came to town with about as much excitement for playing in Kansas City as Juan Gonzalez did at the same time. He made it 49 games before coming down with his own phantom injury, and was then shipped off to Pittsburgh after the 2004 season.

Runner Up: Jason Kendall (2010)

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Royals Surprise Everyone In April

The Royals were supposed to be the whipping children of the American League. The team, the fans, and every expert around the country stressed that this would be a team to watch in 2012 and 2013. The farm system was the most exciting thing about the entire franchise and it would be the youth movement in the next few years that would lead the Royals back to glory.

Then the season started and the rag-tag bunch of players showed they were fit to play now. They got production from players that the rest of the league laughed at when the Royals announced them as acquisitions. Pitchers threw far beyond their expectations. And the team won.

Jeff Francoeur has emerged as a leader of this team. Most thought that Frenchy was brought in as a stop gap veteran to help the young guys adjust. Francoeur stepped up in April and showed that he was brought in to help a team win. He leads the team with five home runs and twenty runs batted in and his .314 average has shown that he is ready to be the veteran leader that this team needs.

Alex Gordon had dominated. Gordon himself said that this would be the year he dominated. Fans everywhere rolled their eyes at a young player that was overstepping his bounds without anything to base the claim off of. Then the calendar flipped to opening day and Alex Gordon started playing baseball. When April came to a close, Gordon would lead the team with a .339 batting average and would start to realize his gap power potential as he leads the team with twelve doubles. He finds himself among the league leaders in runs scored (3rd, 20), hits (3rd, 27), doubles (2nd) and batting average (5th).

Before the season we looked at what the team needed to do in each month to ensure a solid season. Let’s take a look at what we said they needed to do and what they accomplished.

April Breakdown:

Total Games: 27 (14 – 13 record)

Home: 16 (11 – 5)

Road: 11 (3 – 8)

Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 15 (10 – 5)

Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 12 (4 – 8)

Vs teams in the AL Central: 16 (8 – 8)

Key Series:

March 31-April 3 vs Los Angeles

What we said going in: The Angels are being picked by many experts to win the AL West this year and will provide an immediate test for the Royals this season. That being said, the subtext that everyone in Kansas City is talking about revolves around the “Double Header” being billed on April 2nd. That night, following the game with the Angels, the Royals top two farm teams will do battle at Kauffman Stadium, allowing the fans in Kansas City to get a glimpse of the future that lays ahead of the franchise.

The Result: After dropping the home opener, the Royals ripped off three straight wins and showed the league very early on that they planned on being competitive. The futures game on April 2nd was all it was billed to be, but was overshadowed by a major league club that was fighting to be seen as the main attraction.

April 14-21 vs Seattle and Cleveland

What we said going in: This may be the key week to the early season for the Royals. Some people are wondering if the Royals are not as bad as many are predicting them. If the Royals are to put together a successful season in the win-loss column, it will have to be solidified with wins over teams that are honestly worse than they are. This week projects as a battle between three teams that many pick to be the worst in the American League and will give the Royals an opportunity to prove that they are more than just going through the motions in 2011.

The Result: If the Royals are one of the surprise teams in April, Cleveland is the top of that heap. We said the team needed to win against teams that were worse than them, but we had no idea just how good Cleveland would be to open the season. A split with the Indians in a four game set and taking three of four from the Mariners was just what we thought the team needed.

Key To a Hot Start:

What we said: The Royals do not need a hot start. The team needs to be patient and develop their young players. If they are to separate themselves from the lower half of the American League, they need to take advantage of games against Cleveland, Seattle, and Detroit. They will be tested early by the likes of Minnesota and Chicago and coming away with a .500 record against those teams will go a long way in to convincing fans that the team has improved.

The Result: This team finished the month above .500 but finished at 7-7 against the teams we said they needed to provide winning records against.

At the end of April:

What we said: If the Royals have 14+ wins… they have stepped up and shown that they are not to be considered with the worst teams. Fourteen wins is not out of reach in April, looking at the schedule. If they win each series with Cleveland, Seattle, and Detroit they will have won ten games. A single win against the Angels, White Sox, Twins, and Rangers will get them to fourteen wins and a record that is above .500.

What we’re saying now: Looks like a step in the right direction for the rebuilding Royals. A focus on patience with the farm system will go a long way into turning April 2011 into a successful 2012.

The Royals have surprised everyone and now will be judged on whether or not they can keep up. The team put a target on themselves by winning long before anyone expected them to. They finished the month on a down turn, but still are well within striking distance of making this a solid season.

Only time will tell.

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Monday Morning Links: Warming Up The Winter

It has become a staple around I-70 Baseball during the off-season to drop some links and spread some of our favorite sites out to you, our loyal readers.

This week the Cardinals hosted their Winter Warm Up, Albert Pujols laid out a deadline for his deal, and some minor acquisitions were made. Let’s check the links:

One of the newer blogs in the United Cardinal Bloggers checks in with his Two Cents on the Albert Pujols situation. Read friend of the site Dathan’s post by clicking here.

She may write for us at I-70, but I discovered her when she started working on the site she calls her own (along with her partners). This week, Angela Weinhold dug into her own archives for a story so vivid, it must be a dream.

Retro Simba takes a look at one of the newest Cardinals pitchers and takes a look at how effective he may or may not be for the redbirds. Read the insightful post here.

The Cardinal Nation Blog gathered up some pictures from this weekend’s winter warm up to display some Cardinal faces out to the rest of the world. Take a look at your redbirds by clicking here.

Dennis, known as gr33nazn on Twitter, brought one of the funniest and most entertaining pieces of the off-season. If you did not catch the post over at Pitchers Hit Eighth this weekend, do yourself a favor and click here.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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The Cloudy Future Of Brian Bannister

He was one of the first acquisitions when Dayton Moore took over as General Manager in 2006. The son of former Major League pitcher Floyd Bannister, also a former Kansas City Royal, Brian Bannister was a highly touted prospect in the Mets’ organization that Moore had targeted as a future key to the Royals success. Ambiorix Burgos was sent to New York in December of 2006 and by the following summer would find himself entrenched in the Royals rotation and finishing third in American League Rookie Of The Year voting.

Bannister roared on to the major league scene pitching in 27 games and posting a 12-9 record with a 3.87 earned run average and a 1.212 WHIP over 165 innings pitched. It would be the only season to date that would see his record be above .500, his earned run average below 4.00, and would be his second most innings pitched of his career behind 182 2/3 in 2008.

This season, Bannister’s name was tossed around the various rumor mills but to no avail. He was not moved at the deadline and finished 2010 with the Royals, compiling a 7-12 record, a 6.34 earned run average and a 1.629 WHIP over 127 2/3 innings pitched – all career worsts.

Bannister finds himself in the final arbitration eligible year of his career and has to be a bit nervous as to whether the Royals will offer arbitration or cut ties by not tendering him an offer. It is assumed that Moore will actively seek to trade him to another team that hopes a change of scenery can help the tall right handed pitcher regain the form from his rookie year.

In all honesty, a trade would be the most beneficial situation for the Royals as well. Obtaining something in return for a player that just cannot seem to put it all together while wearing powder blue would help the organization save a little bit of shame and help a still serviceable player hold his head high on his way out the door.

Who knows, maybe he will end up on the other end of I-70 before all is said and done?

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Potential Free Agent Acquisitions For St. Louis

What a disappointing season it has been. One of the most frustrating of recent memory, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb with that one. The roster has been battered with injuries and sub-par performances seem to be the norm with this team.

There’s no doubt Mozeliak will have his hands full this offseason, as it seems like the more games we play, the more needs we uncover. You know your team’s season is over when you start thinking about what needs to happen in the winter months, but unfortunately the season is over. It’s time to forget about the “mathematical possibilities” and start thinking about what this team is going to look like in 2011.

Upcoming Cardinal Free Agents

Jeff Suppan, SP
The only way he gets resigned is if the organization wants to bring him back for roster depth. His career as a starter in St. Louis are, without a doubt, over. Is he coming back? No.

Jake Westbrook, SP
I’m thinking the Cardinals could get him back for $7-9MM per year and I strongly believe they will do their absolute best to bring Jake back. He has proved to be a reliable, innings-eating starter. Is he coming back? Yes.

Brad Penny, SP
Considering his nagging injuries that have never really seemed to go away, Penny has become a very low-cost, veteran starting pitcher. He has said that he wants to resign with the team and that would happen for around $3-5MM per year. Is he coming back? Yes.

Pedro Feliz, 3B
There is no doubt in my mind that this will be his only season wearing a Cardinals uniform. Who knows, maybe it’s his last season all-together. Is he coming back? No.

Aaron Miles, INF
With veterans like Schumaker, Ryan, Lopez, and youngsters like Greene and Descalso, Miles is going to have a hard time fitting in. We all know Tony likes the guy, but it’s about time to get over that crush. Is he coming back? No.

Dennys Reyes, RP
The dude’s getting a little old, and his stats are really starting to inflate. His second half this season has been dreadful. Unless he signs a very cheap contract, I don’t see it happening. Is he coming back? No.

Randy Winn, OF
If LaRussa was making the Front Office decisions (let’s hope he isn’t), then Winn would sign a $60 million contract for the next five years. Is he coming back? No.

Felipe Lopez, INF
He brings instant depth, which is absolutely huge. Lopez has proved that he can handle nearly every position on the field (he even pitched in ’10) and that will really appeal to the club when they decide if they want to resign him for $1-2MM. Is he coming back? Yes.

Jason LaRue, C
This is just a real unfortunate situation for LaRue. Not only is he out for the season with an injury sustained when Johnny Cueto kicked him in the face, Jason is also 36-years-old. Catchers that are approaching 40 fast are not exactly in high-demand. And with the arrival of Bryan Anderson, and Pagnozzi and Hill in the Minors, there really isn’t a need for JLR. Is he coming back? No.

Mike MacDougal, RP
Ha! Well… not much to say here other than nope. Is he coming back? No.

Trevor Miller, RP
Miller’s case is a little different than everybody else. He has an option for 2011, so he can basically come back if he wishes. Now that he is 37-years-old, picking up the option seems extremely logical. Is he coming back? Yes.

Keep in mind that those are my predictions. I’m not holding out on you guys with any inside information, I’m just making simple predictions. If I am correct, we will be losing Jeff Suppan, Pedro Feliz, Aaron Miles, Dennys Reyes, Randy Winn, Jason LaRue, and Mike MacDougal to free agency. That obviously clears up some room on the roster, but here’s a view at what the depth chart looks like if my predictions are, in fact, correct. There obviously cannot be this many people on the roster at one time, I’m just previewing which players could contribute in 2011, and where.

Catcher – Yadier Molina, Bryan Anderson, Steven Hill*, Matt Pagnozzi*
First Base – Albert Pujols, Mark Hamilton*
Second Base – Skip Schumaker, Felipe Lopez, Daniel Descalso*
Third Base – David Freese, Felipe Lopez, Allen Craig*, Joe Mather*, Matt Carpenter*
Shortstop – Brendan Ryan, Felipe Lopez, Tyler Greene
Left Field – Matt Holliday, Nick Stavinoha, Joe Mather
Center Field – Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay
Right Field – Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Nick Stavinoha, Joe Mather

Starting Pitcher – Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Brad Penny, Lance Lynn*, P.J. Walters*, Blake Hawksworth, Brandon Dickson*, Kyle Lohse, Adam Ottavino, Evan MacLane*
Relief Pitcher – Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs, Ryan Franklin, Blake Hawksworth, Eduardo Sanchez*, Trevor Miller, Josh Kinney*, P.J. Walters*, Brandon Dickson*, Kyle Lohse, Adam Ottavino, Evan MacLane*

* denotes a Minor Leauge player that could make an appearance in St. Louis

Looking at all of that, I think there are three obvious holes that need to be filled. Third base is a no-brainier. I think it is unanimous that the Cardinals need help at the hot-corner. Freese will most likely be the Opening Day starter, and I have no problem with that, but the guy is way too fragile. It has been a problem throughout all of his career, and it has certainly hurt the team in 2010.

Another glaring weakness is the middle infield. Brendan Ryan, Skip Schumaker, and Felipe Lopez are not going to cut it. Looking back at the disappointing season I think fans are going to realize that the team simply did not have enough talent in the lineup to support a very impressive core. Billy Beane is a personal icon of mine, and I’ll take a page out of his book when I say that on-base percentage is the most important offensive stat. Schumaker, Ryan, and Lopez are the type of speedy infielders that typically have nice OBPs. Schumaker’s is .333 (31 points lower than his ’09 mark), Ryan’s is a horrid .282 (58 points lower than ’09), and Lopez’s is .311 (72 points lower than ’09). Cardinal Nation, I think that is pretty telling.

The only other area that I would like to see improve is right field. I know some of you have a crush on Jon Jay because he came to the big leagues and absolutely raked for a couple months, but if you look at the numbers you will see that he is starting to come back down to earth. In June and July Jay batted .442, which is pretty remarkable. Since then, he has an average of .244. Jon Jay is a very good, athletic outfield that shows a lot of promise. I really like the kid, but I’m not 100% sure we can rely on him as a starter. The Cardinals need to pursue a quality outfielder to platoon with Jay, or I’m afraid we’ll be scrambling at the trade deadline yet again.

My “Shopping List”

Willie Bloomquist, RF/SS/2B, 32 years old
This would definitely be interesting for the I-70 community, as Bloomquist is a former Kansas City Royal. He’s a veteran utility player that any manager would love to have. He has played all outfield and infield positions this season, so he would be able to help out the middle infield and Jon Jay. In Bloomquist’s lost four seasons, he has hit .270 while averaging 15 stolen bases. In 2008, he had a .377 OBP with Seattle.
Projected 2011 Salary: $1-2 million

Mark Ellis, 2B, 33 years old
I am a huge Mark Ellis advocate. If there is such a thing as playing the “Cardinal way”, Mark Ellis will demonstrate that more than anyone. He may be resigned, but the A’s have some young second basemen in there system so I would not be shocked if he’s let go. Ellis is a very good defender who is hitting .274 this season with Oakland. In his career Mark has averaged 14 home runs and 68 RBI (per 162 games), so he does have a little pop. Billy Beane has said that he has not made a decision on Ellis, and that he wants to wait until after the season.
Projected 2011 Salary: $5-7 million

Kaz Matsui, 2B, 34 years old
I know what you are thinking, but this actually isn’t as crazy as it sounds. He’s decent in the field but has had some very good offensive seasons. In 2004-2009 Kaz hit .271 with 57 RBI while stealing 28 bases (per 162). He’s coming off a very bad season in Houston, so he should come at a very low price. He’s your typical high-risk/high-reward type of infielder, but why not take a chance with him?
Projected 2011 Salary: $1-2 million

Cristian Guzman, SS, 32 years old
This past season it seemed like I heard Guzman’s name quite often as a guy that the Cardinals should acquire, so maybe he finally ends up in St. Louis in 2011. Like Matsui, he’s not great in the field, but has proved his worth at the plate. Guzman has led the league in triples three times and is a two-time All Star. Combining the past four seasons he’s hit .296, and in 2007 he had a .380 OBP. Per 162 games, Cristian averages 15 stolen bases and 54 RBI.
Projected 2011 Salary: $4-6 million

Adrian Beltre, 3B, 31 years old
How could I not include this one? Even though I don’t think there is anyway this move is made, I have to take a look at it. The main reason why I do not see this happening is because the organization loves David Freese. They think he is an All-Star caliber third baseman. If they truly believe that, why would they replace him? Not to mention, MLB Trade Rumors says Beltre will likely receive a $50M deal over four years. He’s had a great season and I would love to see him in St. Louis, but I would honestly be shocked to see it happen. Besides, his .342 BABIP this season indicates 2011 could be very disappointing.
Projected 2011 Salary: $11-13 million

Brandon Inge, 3B/C, 33 years old
How many times has Inge been a part of trade rumors involving the Cardinals? Detroit obviously doesn’t want him, and he’s fit into St. Louis perfectly, so what’s the harm? Inge has a pretty good glove and does just fine on offense. He’s having a .252 season with 11 home runs and 63 RBI. In 2006 and 2009 Inge hit 25+ home runs. The problem with Brandon is how often he strikes out.
Projected 2011 Salary: $6-7 million

Brad Hawpe, RF, 31 years old
Usually former Coors Field players make me cringe. If you don’t understand that, check out Carlos Gonzalez’s home and away stats for 2010. It’s a very simple fact that Colorado hitters can be a little overrated thanks to Coors. However, oddly enough, Hawpe’s numbers are that much better at home compared to on the road. In the past four seasons Hawpe has had at least 20 home runs and 80 RBI (including 29/116 in ’07). Even more impressive is his lifetime .373 OBP and two years of a SLG over 900.
Projected 2011 Salary: $4-5 million

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