Tag Archive | "Anaheim"

Royals/Angels: Three To Walk With

The Royals took two out of three against the Angels and now stand at 20-17, a game and a half back of the division leading Detroit Tigers. In the midst of a nine game road trip, the Royals will now head to Oakland to take on the A’s in a three game set. Here are three things we can take away from the series in Los Angeles (read: Anaheim).

1. Alex Gordon is raking: After going 6/13 with a double against the Angels, Alex Gordon has now posted a scorching hot  .357/.362/.571 line in 58 plate appearances in May.

2. Jeremy Guthrie is who we thought he was: We couldn’t have expected Jeremy Guthrie to win every start, but he certainly fun to watch, having gone nearly a half season’s worth of starts without registering a loss. It appears Guthrie has begun to regress to his career averages, but he’s still going to be a solid starter who will be able to eat innings and will pitch well enough to the Royals in the game and give them a chance to win.

3. It’s time to panic for Mike Moustakas: Struggling mightily coming into the series, Moustakas’ woes continued as he went 1/14 against the Angels, lowering his line to a meager .194/.266/.339 in 139 plate appearances this season. Moustakas hasn’t shown any signs to suggest that he’s going to figure it out anytime soon and the Royals front office should be thinking about other options at third base, if they aren’t already. I assume the front office would prefer to promote from within, so they might consider giving Anthony Seratelli a shot. Seratelli has put up a solid .326/.423/.516 in 111 plate appearances at AAA Omaha this season.

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Yahoo Sports: Wainwright Is Not Pujols


COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals have come to terms with ace pitcher Adam Wainwright on a five-year extension that makes the term “lifetime Cardinal” a real possibility just two years after they failed to do the same with Albert Pujols. Doing so shows that general manager John Mozeliak understood that this deal made a lot more sense than the potential investment in the team’s former first baseman would have.

Editor’s Note: I have joined Yahoo Sports as a contributor to the St. Louis Cardinals beat.  You will find my content there on a regular basis, as well as the first few paragraphs and a link to it here on I-70 Baseball.  This is my debut for them…

Just like many fans, I was extremely disappointed when the Cardinals were unable to come to terms with Pujols and he eventually found himself playing in Anaheim. The dust has settled on that deal and clarity has shown that many factors made sense for the team to allow its franchise superstar to leave.

This spring, many fans became concerned that history would repeat itself as the team and Wainwright entered negotiations. The feeling that, for the second time in a span of three years, a foundation piece of the organization would play for another franchise seemed to be developing into reality. The Cardinals and Wainwright announced during a March 28 press conference that the right-hander has been signed to a five-year extension through 2018.

Why was Wainwright retained and Pujols was not?

Read more by clicking here…

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Checking the Bottom Line on the Greinke Trade

It’s not yet time to close the books on the Zack Greinke trade of a year and a half ago. That day won’t come for a long time.

But now is a great time to check the bottom line, to begin to gauge who is coming out better on the trade – the Royals or Brewers.

It will be years before we can judge just what the Royals let get away in Greinke, what they got in return in Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress, and what the Brewers got in trading away Greinke on Sunday. But we can take a first look now that Greinke’s time in Milwaukee is finished.

By one standard, the Brewers came away from the trade as the decided victors. After all, they did reach the NL Championship series with Greinke, while the Royals haven’t sniffed the playoffs in a generation. After all, in the end, you play to win the World Series. The Brewers did what they could to make a run at it.

But taking a bit more of a long-term perspective, the balance tips currently in favor of the Royals.

While the Brewers have plummeted to fourth in the NL Central (nine games below .500 at the time of the trade), the Royals’ “process” sputters along. The Brewers found themselves in such need of help at a host of positions that it made sense to pack Greinke off rather than attempt to re-sign him.

Meanwhile the Royals are plugging into the process the pieces acquired a year and a half ago.

So the Greinke Adventure in Milwaukee lasted just a year and a half. But how good really was Greinke in Milwaukee?

At the time of the trade that sent him to Anaheim, his ERA of 3.44 this year was just 20th in the National League. His WHIP of 1.20 was also just 20th. His nine wins were tied for 16th. His WAR this year was 2.3, good for 15th among pitchers.

And while the Brewers made a run in the playoffs in 2011, you could argue Greinke was even worse that year than this. Last year his ERA, 3.83, was 34th in the NL. His WHIP of 1.20 was 15th. His WAR was just 1.4, 52nd in the league. His 16 wins did at least tie him for 6th in the NL.

But when the Brewers needed Greinke most, he was far from the star they traded for. His ERA in one playoff game against Arizona ? 7.20. And in two games, one a win and one a loss, in the NLCS versus St. Louis, his ERA was 6.17.

Greinke failed to make the All-Star Game in either season as a Brewer. He was not a fan favorite. He was not popular with teammates. He was not a leader.

In short, Greinke hasn’t been the Greinke of 2009 since, well, since 2009. That season stands out more and more as a statistical anomaly. A one-hit wonder who keeps cranking out tunes, but just can’t quite capture the sound of his Cy Young season.

The Brewers dealt away the shortstop of their future – Alcides Escobar – to get Greinke. So this year they were so in need of a shortstop that that’s essentially what they traded Greinke to get. They got Jean Segura, with a total of one game in the bigs to his credit. He’s currently getting his legs under him at Double A.

Meanwhile, Alcides Escobar may not be an All Star, but he should be. Just three years older than Segura, Escobar has established himself as one of the top fielders and hitters at the position in the American League.

Added recently to the Royals otherwise dismal lineup is Lorenzo Cain. The man who could soften the blow of the Melky Cabrera/Jonathan Sanchez disaster has rebounded from injury to flash some tremendous potential. So far he’s provided some pop with the bat. And when he’s fully healthy, he should be a dynamic fielder in center and a dangerous base runner too.

The Brewers also acquired from the Angels in Sunday’s trade two 23-year-old pitchers who were laboring unspectacularly in Double AA for the Angels.

In contrast, the Royals got in the 2010 Greinke trade 22-year-old Jake Odorizzi, who has asserted himself this year as one of the best pitching prospects in all the minor leagues.

And one final wild card in the equation is Jeremy Jeffress, who is still just 24 and is working to harness the talent that made him a first round draft choice in 2006.

Escobar and Cain are under team control through 2017. If “the process” is to finally succeed, they will be key components of it. Odorizzi will almost certainly be in the KC rotation next season. Jeffress might be back in KC before it’s all over too.

A year ago, the Brewers looked like they made the right move to get Greinke. But the more time passes, the more it looks like the Royals will come out the winners in that trade.

Check back in about a decade to see the final result. But right now, it looks like Dayton Moore is the winner in this trade.

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Three To Watch: Royals invade Oakland

The Kansas City Royals opened their 2012 campaign sending a message that they truly do believe in the “Our Time” slogan.

They headed out west to open this season and took two of three from an Angels team that many are picking to win their division.  The contained the mighty Albert Pujols, unleashed Eric Hosmer season two, and survived Bruce Chen and Yuniesky Betancourt showcasing their best.  The team might be over achieving, but they are certainly fun to watch.

Now they head to Oakland to round out the road trip before heading home to the loving arms of their fan base.  Here are three things that need to happen in Oakland for this team to further its early success.

Taking the next step
We have been hearing the propaganda for some time now about this team.  The youth movement has arrived.  These players were brought up through a winning system.  It’s “Our Time”.

If all of that is true, this team needs to show it’s fans that they can step into the spotlight against a team of lesser talent and perform like it.  They took two of three from Anaheim and there is no reason to believe they will not do the same with the Athletics.  However, it may be time to see this team buckle down and get mean.  Returning to Kansas City with a 5-1 record would send a message that they are truly ready to take this league by storm.

Can the dominator get on track?
I know, small sample size.  I get it.  But if this team is going to be successful, Alex Gordon needs to set the table.

I was informed by KC Royalman today that Gordon has never produced more than two hits in his first thirteen at bats in any season.  A slow start does not ruin a season, nor does a three game series without a hit mean that he is a horrible ball player.  He may be feeling the pressure to prove that he deserves the recent contract.   Either way, he is the table setter for this team in 2012 and they will need him to get on track before getting to far into 2012.

The Cuban Missile crisis
Royals fans will get their first look at the man known as The Cuban Missile, Yoenis Cespedes.  The young outfielder from Cuba has hit three home runs in his first four major league games, knocked in seven runs, has four hits total (all extra base hits) and has struck out seven times.

He is a superstar in the making and has been impressive up until now.  If the Royals can figure out how to keep his hits from clearing the fences and keep his production down, it will go a long way towards the confidence of a young pitching staff.

Cespedes has yet to walk and has shown no patience at the plate.  Ned Yost will need to prepare his young hurlers to deal with him accordingly and they might just learn something along the way.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Looking At The Rookies – AL

Royals fans are no strangers to watching rookies this season. Many teams are starting to give young players a chance to prove themselves but there are a few players that have been hanging around all season that are starting to turn heads.

Aaron Crow

As we enter the end of the season and look forward to the playoffs for some teams and towards 2012 for others, it is time that the rookies of this season start getting some recognition and find the spotlight falling on them.

Here are three offensive players and three pitchers in the American League that qualify for the Jackie Robinson Award given to the top rookie in each league. If you are not watching these guys by now, it is time to start.

The offensive rookies in the American League are a bit more clear cut. The Royals own Eric Hosmer is putting together a solid season with a balanced attack and showing Royals fans that first base is a position they can get behind. Angels fans would tell you that first base is definitely the position of the future for them as well as Mark Trumbo is killing the ball in Anaheim. Toronto, on the other hand, has a catcher that is showing the he can handle the bat as well, and J.P. Arencibia is getting noticed quickly.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Sorry Royals fans, it is hard to argue with what Mark Trumbo is doing for the Angels. He leads the American League rookies in Games Played and At Bats but there is a reason for that. His .261 batting average and .301 on base percentage leave some room for improvement, but his power numbers are nothing to sneeze at. With 20 doubles, 22 home runs, 63 runs batted in, and a .495 slugging percentage have him well in place to grab the Jackie Robinson Award in the American League this year.

The Runner Up
Royals fans can relax a little bit as Eric Hosmer is not too far behind Trumbo. Hosmer is posting a .282 batting average while knocking 10 home runs and driving in 47 runs batted in. Add in 19 doubles and a total of 93 hits and you can bet that the future has arrived in Kansas City and the future looks bright.

He Deserves A Look
Toronto’s young backstop, J.P. Arencibia may not be hitting for a good average, his is only .216, but what he is hitting is going a long way. He is second to Trumbo for the most home runs by a rookie in the American League with 18 and pairs that with 52 runs batted in. The drop off from there is tremendous, however, as he only posts 13 doubles and 3 triples, leaving him with a .452 slugging percentage. His on base percentage plunges below .300 and he is striking out at an alarming rate. The Blue Jays have a solid power hitter on their hands, they just hope he can learn some patience.

If it seems the offensive rookies are a bit sparse in the American League, the pitching prospects across the league are enough to get any baseball fan excited about the future. The Royals put their share of pitchers into any conversation with Aaron Crow, Danny Duffy, and Tim Collins. Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova are both posting double digit wins for the Rays and Yankees, respectively. Jordan Walden, meanwhile, is closing games at a solid pace for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Up north in Seattle, Michael Pineda is racking up the innings, and strikeouts, at a rapid pace.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Speaking of Michael Pineda, he is running away with this category in 2011. He leads all rookies with 130 innings pitched and 133 strikeouts. He has only walked 43 batters and given up 12 home runs. He is posting a 3.53 earned run average and has won 9 games for a team that is struggling to win games as it is. Pineda is showing some dominance at times and not showing any signs of slowing down, at least until his pitching arm falls off.

The Runner Up
It is Jordan Walden of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that is equally as impressive as Pineda. Walden has posted 25 saves in 32 chances, posted a 3 wins, 3 losses record. Over the course of 45 innings pitched, he has struck out 48 hitters and only walked 18. With only one home run allowed and a 2.80 earned run average, the Angels have a closer they can count on for a long time to come.

He Deserves A Look
Call me old fashioned, but I still like a pitcher that wins games without giving up a ton of runs, even if he is not striking out everyone he faces. For that reason, take a look at the Rays’ pitcher Jeremy Hellickson who has won 10 games over 7 losses while posting a 3.15 earned run average. He is going deep into games with 122.2 innings pitched and has struck out 79 hitters while walking 45. He will not bring home any hardware, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Around the league there are pitchers and hitters that will look to capitalize on solid rookie seasons and avoid the Sophomore Slump. While these players are showcasing themselves around the American League, it is important to take a look at one player that is not on this list that will mean something more to our i70baseball fans. Here is our honorable mention.

i70baseball Honorable Mention
The honorable mention here goes to a player that is pitching impressively despite not being in a key role, which will keep him out of discussions based on stats. Aaron Crow may be the closer of the future in Kansas City after pitching his way to an earned run average below 2.00 and striking out 49 hitters in 51.1 innings pitched. Crow has allowed five home runs this season. He has scattered 37 hits over his innings of work and taken the mound 43 times. Crow will keep fans excited to see the bullpen doors swing open in Kansas City for many future seasons.

As the season comes to an end, keep an eye on these seven players and their impact on their teams and the league when the dust settles. One of these players will take home a Jackie Robinson Award and etch their name into the history books. The rest will attempt to build on a solid rookie campaign and make a career out of it. Time will tell how well these names will become known.

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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