Tag Archive | "Bust"

Royals Weekly Rundown

After a strong start to 2013, the Kansas City Royals ended last week losing a three in a row to the injury plagued New York Yankees.  The Royals finished the week losing six of seven and find themselves two games behind the first place Indians with a record of 18-16.

In the first edition of Royals Weekend Rundown, let’s recap the week that was shall we?

Spring Training 2009 vs texas

Best of the Week:  Alex Gordon

Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer deserve some credit for getting the monkey off their backs and belting their first home runs of the season (Moustakas hit three this week).  This still doesn’t top Gordon’s monstrous week in which he slugged three homers, scored five runs, drove in eight, and hit .393.

Ned Yost made perhaps his best move as Royals skipper by moving Gordon to the three-hole to generate more run production.  Right now he’s hitting .400 with a 1.108 OPS in that spot.

While the production is over a small sample size, its a testament to Gordon’s growth as a ballplayer and the Royal’s patience the last few years.  Look at the numbers from the two halves of his career to date:

2007-2010:  .244 Avg. / 45 HR / 161 RBI / .320 OBP / .404 SLG

2011-2013:  .301 Avg. / 43 HR / 187 RBI / .365 OBP / .482 SLG

Gordon has gone from the brink of receiving the dreaded “bust” and demotion to making a name for himself as a cornerstone player for the club.  If he keeps this up for another two months, I would be shocked if he isn’t selected to his first All Star team.

Worst of the Week:  Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar

One could argue that this should go to the entire Royals offense except for the aforementioned Alex Gordon.  The team hit an abysmal .233 this week averaging around four runs per game.

While Escobar and Butler don’t deserve all the blame, they stand out because they hit first and fourth in the order respectively and hit a combined .105 (6-for-57) this week.  No need to worry, I expect both will bounce back soon in the next couple weeks against weaker pitching.

The Road Ahead:  Go West Young Men…

Monday night marks the first of a 10-game road West Coast road trip starting in Anaheim against the soul-searching Angels.  The Halos begin the series with a record of 14-23 and have at least found some rhythm on offense.  However, their pitching staff is still a mess.  Kansas City will face Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, and Barry Enright who are a combined 1-10 and could help the Royals heat up.  After the three game stint in Anaheim, the Royals head to Oakland for a three game set with the A’s.

Probable Pitchers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Monday at 9:05 CT:  Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.38 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-6, 5.66 ERA)

Tuesday at 9:05 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-0, 2.28 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (1-3, 4.26 ERA)

Wednesday at 9:05 CT:  Wade Davis (2-3, 5.86 ERA) vs. Barry Enright (0-1, 11.37 ERA)

Follow Adam Rozwadowski on Twitter @adam_roz

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Kozmamania T-Shirts Available

The St. Louis Cardinals have seen their share of injuries this off-season.  The one that appears to have the most impact currently will be at shortstop.

shirtFronti70

Rafael Furcal, the Cardinals starting shortstop, is out for the season after requiring Tommy John surgery to repair an elbow injury that dates back to late last season.  An offseason and Spring of market investigation for a replacement has yielded no results to date, leaving general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny to react the same way they did last season, with Pete Kozma.

Kozma, an enigma of a ballplayer, had all but been given up on due to his (lack of) performance at the minor league level.  A first round draft pick that seemed to be a bust, Kozma was the reason that Furcal arrived in St. Louis in the first place.  But when Furcal went down last season, the Cardinals were left with very little choice and handed the position to the struggling prospect.

What happened was something no one expected: he succeeded.  Kozma found a glimpse of his potential on the biggest stage possible and performed well during the final month of the season and in the post-season for the Cardinals.  As the Cardinals prepare to break camp, Kozma is prepared to be the starting shortstop once again.

Friend of the site Sam Feldman helped i70baseball immortalize Kozma and the feelings surrounding him with a t-shirt that is now available on TeeSpring.com.  The shirt, which embodies both the spirit of the fans that have an extreme feeling of support for the young shortstop as well as a sarcastic feel for those that feel the hype is a bit too high, is available for a limited time at the price of $15 per shirt.

Kozmamania has hit St. Louis.  Get your shirt today.

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Pete Kozma suddenly critical to St. Louis Cardinals success

In a season when the St. Louis Cardinals traded a former first-round draft pick who turned out to be a bust, another first-round prospect on the verge of that same level has sparked the team in September and could push it into the playoffs.

The Cardinals selected shortstop Pete Kozma with the 18th pick in the 2007 draft. He spent the next four years tooling around the Cardinals minor league system with little success, never hitting above .258. He even got a call up to the big club in 2011 and played in 17 games, but he hit a measly .176 with one RBI. Those are the type of numbers that get people to call a first-round pick a bust.

Then came Aug. 31, 2012.

The Cardinals called up Kozma for the second time in his career the day after regular shortstop Rafeal Furcal went on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Kozma played in only five of the team’s first nine games after his call up, but he has played in all but one game since Sept. 10.

That’s because this time around he is hitting .306 with two homeruns, three triples, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored. In fact, he’s been the most productive hitter in the Cardinals lineup in September other than catcher Yadier Molina.

But, the great part of Kozma’s month is that he’s playing simply to help the team win ballgames instead of worrying about stats. He nearly single-handedly kept the Cardinals within striking distance of the Washington Nationals on Saturday night, going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. He also made a spectacular diving play at shortstop in the ninth inning.

Contrast Kozma’s performance this year with the Cardinals 2005 first-round draft pick, a middle infielder who was supposed to be the team’s starting second baseman: Tyler Greene.

People inside and outside the organization said Greene had potential to be an everyday starter, and maybe former manager Tony La Russa’s managing style didn’t mesh with Greene’s playing style. Maybe those people just didn’t want to admit the Cardinals missed on Greene.

Greene had great speed. He was caught stealing just twice and had 25 stolen bases in his four-year career with the Cardinals. But he simply couldn’t hit big-league pitching. He never hit better than .222 and was hitting .218 when the Cardinals sent him to the Houston Astros in July. He has hit .236 in 35 games for the Astros.

Perhaps the Greene experience and Kozma’s meddling minor-league numbers caused people to brace themselves and declare Kozma as the next Cardinals draft pick to wash out. That could certainly still happen. He is working under a small, albeit good, sample size.

Kozma is currently filling a role similar to the one Ronnie Belliard filled for the 2006 club. Belliard came to the Cardinals at the trading deadline from the Cleveland Indians after seven full seasons in which he hit a combined .268 and surpassed 12 homeruns in a season just once.

Belliard hit just .237 for the Cardinals during the 2006 regular season, but he came up with key hits and was a large factor in the team’s postseason success. He hit .462 in the Division Series against the San Diego Padres and made several wonderful plays at second base to save runs.

All of this could change and Kozma could go hitless the rest of the season, but the Cardinals would likely be neck-and-neck with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second wild-card spot if not for Kozma’s contributions.

This could also be a flash in the pan, Kozma’s few moments to shine before he falls back into the shadows and becomes the mediocre hitter he was in the minor leagues. But for now he’s getting key hits and playing terrific defense, and players similar to Kozma are vital to teams’ success in the postseason.

He could also have his name immortalized on the back of championship T-shirts if he helps the Cardinals pull off a fantastic ending to another baseball season.

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Naturally Speaking: Dwyer Realizing His Full Potential

Just when this season looked like a bust for Northwest Arkansas pitcher Chris Dwyer, he sets a record for K’s in his latest of several excellent outings.

Photo courtesy of John Owen

Dwyer struck out 10 Arkansas Travelers in just six innings last Friday, tying a Naturals record. It was the latest of his victories in four consecutive outings. After languishing for the first three months of the season, Dwyer has suddenly become a killer.

Less than a month ago, Dwyer looked anything like the 83rd best prospect in America. In fact on July 20 he had plummeted to a 2-9 record with an embarrassing 6.96 ERA. He probably wouldn’t have ranked as the 83rd best prospect in the state of Arkansas at that moment.

But something seems to have clicked. In his last four starts he has pitched at least six innings in each outing, and has surrendered more than one earned run only once. His strikeout totals in those four starts: 5,9,5,10.

Dwyer took his lumps earlier in the summer, but he allowed the experience to make him better.

“Obviously you’re going to have some rough outings, but you just have to learn from that,” said Dwyer. “You just have to stick with it and work on it between starts.”

Dwyer said even when he was struggling it wasn’t because his stuff was lacking. “It’s more walks than getting hit hard,” Dwyer said about his poor performances. “Getting behind in the count hurts. When you’re down 3-0 or 3-1, you just can’t really get to your best pitches.”

Dwyer believes his curveball is his best pitch. He said when he isn’t locating his fastball as well as he’d like, it limits the effectiveness of his curve.

“For me it’s so important to get my fastball down and command it – not getting it up or out of the zone,” Dwyer said.

“The fastball is the key to everyone’s game. Once you command that, then you can work off that. I try to get to my curveball. So once I command my fastball I can use my curve more.”

Dwyer’s success might have the Royals top brass considering giving him a late-season promotion to Omaha. But the 21-year-old Bostonian isn’t waiting by the phone.

“I don’t really worry about that. If it happens, it happens. I just stay focused on the season here, focused on the playoffs. Whatever they want to do is up to them.

Dwyer said his team is motivated by the prospect of making the playoffs and competing for a second consecutive Texas League crown. The Royals have placed high value on letting prospects experience minor-league postseason battles. So it seems likely that Dwyer will stay with Northwest Arkansas through the end of the season.

Dwyer is well aware of his status as a top-ranked prospect, and he acknowledges that brings added pressure to the game. But he said it is important that he not place unrealistic expectations on himself.

“I try not to pay attention (to the hype),” Dwyer said.” My job is to go out and take the ball every fifth day, throw strikes, and do my best. If you think about that other stuff, it just gets in your head. I just try to do my best every day.”

Dwyer does, however, acknowledge that he’s enjoyed being one of several Royals prospects garnering national attention.

“It is fun, and I try to enjoy it, but obviously going out and getting a win for your team is the most important thing.”

Dwyer has seen several of his peers move up the organizational ladder, even some who have graduated to the big leagues. He says that is both fun and motivational.

“It’s fun to be a part of a group, moving up together. We root for each other, see each other every day, practicing and playing the games. And hopefully, someday, we can do it for Kansas City.”

One player who moved up recently garnered particular praise from Dwyer – catcher Salvador Perez, now the everyday catcher at Omaha.

“He’s an unreal catcher,” Dwyer said of his former teammate. “He just gets it and he understands the hitters and he just knows how to catch. It’s awesome, being that young and that good. He deserves every opportunity he’s getting, and hopefully, someday soon, he’ll be up there catching for the Royals.”

Dwyer said Perez is the total package defensively, with a bat that’s improving.

“He’s smart and he has got a really good arm, and he’s big, and he’s good with his glove. He’s just got everything.

“He’s starting to really hit – he’s hitting better this year than he ever has. So if you get a hitting catcher with that defensive ability it’s just awesome.”

Dwyer may soon throw to his friend Perez again, be it in Omaha this year or next, or quite possibly in KC next season. But it didn’t look like that would happen anytime soon, if ever, just a month ago. Dwyer’s rebound from bust to phenom is one of many things giving Royals fans hope for the future.

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Forgettable Trades in KC History

In light of the most recent Royals transaction, I have compiled a collection of some of the worst Royals trades in history. This isn’t a comment on how the Grienke trade is already a bust. We won’t know for sure until 4-5 years down the road.

Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain probably overachieved last season, but Alcides Escobar is an instant upgrade at short even if he did hit 40 points lower than Betancourt. Two young speedy defenders along with two projectable arms under team control for the next five plus years.

It should be intriguing to see how Greinke performs in Milwaukee. Greinke facing pitchers should be fun to watch, and playoff stretch could likely spike his numbers and value. Whatever happens this deal was made by two teams with completely different mentalities.

The Royals continue to mortgage off major league talent to supply what might be the greatest farm system in history. The Brewers on the other hand has traded in the franchises future for one last shot at the title with Prince Fielder at first.

Hopefully we can look back 5-10 years from now and the result of the Greinke trade won’t look like any of these.

12/20/2005

Royals receive: P Ricardo Rodriguez

Braves receive: OF Matt Diaz

Matt Diaz isn’t quite as significant as some of the outfielders to come, but none the less Diaz has put up solid numbers in his five seasons since being dealt to Atlanta. Diaz hit .305, 73 2B, 41 HR, and 180 RBI, good enough for a 5.9 WAR in his time as a Brave.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez never saw time in the big leagues.

7/25/2001

Royals receive: SS Neifi Perez

A’s receive: OF Jermaine Dye

The main piece in this three way deal was Jermaine Dye. Dye went on to play in parts of four seasons for Oakland. He only played two full seasons as an Athletic posting similar numbers in 2002 (.252, 24 HR, 86 RBI) and 2004 (.265, 23 HR, 80 RBI).

In Colorado Neifi Perez had been a capable performer, actually winning a Gold Glove the year before coming to Kansas City. As a Royal though, Perez played two pretty awful years of shortstop. When all was said and done he played well below replacement level, -1.9 WAR as a Royal.

1/8/2008

Royals receive: C A.J. Hinch, SS Angel Berroa, P Roberto Hernandez

A’s receive: 2B Mark Ellis, OF Johnny Damon

Damon was a rising star, in his sixth and final season as a Royal he hit .327, 42 2B, 10 3B, 16 HR, 88 RBI, and 46 SB. Damon played one subpar season in Oakland before signing with the Red Sox in the off-season.

Mark Ellis went on to be the everyday second baseman for the A’s for the next eight seasons. He placed eight in the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award and in his career has put up numbers like this; .268, 193 2B, 85 HR, 418 RBI.

A.J. Hinch and Roberto Hernandez were both in Kansas City for two forgettable seasons. Berroa won the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award, going for .287, 28 2B, 17 HR, 71 RBI, and 21 SB. Berroa would never come close to duplicating his rookie campaign.

4/2/1999

Royals receive: P Chris Fussell

Orioles receive: 1B Jeff Conine

Conine was originally drafted by the Royals in the 58th round of the 1987 MLB Draft. Kansas City was forced to surrender him to the Marlins in their expansion draft. After five successful seasons in Florida, along with a 1997 World Series Championship, the Royals nabbed Conine again for the 1998 campaign.

His return to Kansas City resulted in a subpar season, with only 309 at-bats, causing the Royals to deal him to Baltimore for a 22 year old pitching prospect, Chris Fussell.

With Baltimore, Conine hit .289, 136 2B, 75 HR, and 376 RBI. Conine made his way back to Florida just in time to cash in on his second World Series Championship in 2003.

Fussell started 17 for Kansas City in two seasons before exiting the league. In his 126 innings Fussell managed a 6.79 ERA.

3/27/1987

Royals receive: P Mauro Gozzo, P Rick Anderson, C Ed Hearn

Mets receive: P David Cone, OF Chris Jelic

4/6/1995

Royals receive: IF Chris Stynes, IF Tony Medrano, P David Sinnes

Blue Jays receive: David Cone

I have combined the two David Cone trades, because they were equally bad. Cone made his first All-star appearance in 1988, while finishing third in the Cy Young voting and tenth in the MVP voting. In seven years with the Mets, Cone went 81-51 with a 3.13 ERA, including 15 shutouts. Cone won the 1994 Cy Young and then was dealt to Toronto. Cone went 9-6 with a 3.38 ERA before he was traded to the Yankees.

In return, the Royals got 162 combined at-bats from Ed Hearn and Chris Stynes, 47 innings pitched from Rick Anderson, and 17 combined minor league seasons from Medrano and Sinnes.

2/5/1983

Royals receive: OF Leon Roberts

Blue Jays receive: 1B Cecil Fielder

The Royals acquired ‘Big Daddy’ Fielder in the Secondary 1982 MLB Draft. In his rookie season, at the age of 18, Fielder stroked .322, 28 2B, 20 HR, and 68 RBI in only 273 at-bats.

Kansas City felt they could leverage the young slugger for a veteran presence in the outfield, trading him to Toronto for Leon Roberts. Fielder played parts of four seasons with Toronto before spending a year in Japan. Fielder’s reintroduction to MLB in Detroit was a smash. In his ten years with Toronto and Detroit Fielder blasted 250 homers, and knocked in 762 RBIs.

Leon Roberts, an aging outfielder, came to the Royals in 1983. By ’84, he was out of the league recording 258 at-bats with Kansas City, hitting .252 with 8 HR and 27 RBIs.

12/7/1973

Royals receive: P Lindy McDaniel

Yankees receive: OF Lou Pinella, P Ken Wright

The Royals got the 38 year old relief pitcher, Lindy McDaniel, who threw 184.2 innings in two seasons with Kansas City. His WAR as a Royal was 0.9.

Ken Wright only threw 5.2 innings in New York, but Piniella went on to play 11 seasons as an outfielder for the Yankees. After being an All-star in Kansas City, Piniella hit .295, 178 2B, 57 HR, 417 RBI, and 8.5 WAR in New York. Two seasons after retiring as a Yankee, Piniella took the reins in New York as manager. Piniella enjoyed a 23 year managerial career, winning the 1990 World Series with the Reds.

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Zito for Greinke

The Giants are in the playoffs, but starting pitcher Barry Zito is not at the center of this team’s success. Zito is what some would call a bust after signing his massive contract a few years ago and only producing average numbers at best while taking home a greater than average check. Zito is not at the end of his career but he has struggled throughout the last few years. The Giants have more or less moved on without Zito and without getting rid of him. He still wears the uniform, collects the checks, and takes a start from time to time, but the team does not turn to him in a time of need.

Zito is a classic example of a guy who needs a change of address. Staying with Giants will most likely end with Zito leaving the league too soon on a sour note. The Giants and Zito both need to understand that they cannot stay in this partnership.

The Royals have a young talented pitcher who has already realized he needs a change of address in Zack Greinke.

A Zito-for-Greinke swap does not make sense when you first hear it, but if you add in a few players from the Giants and a few dollars, the deal starts to look good. The Royals could add Zito to the front of the rotation for a year or two as the rest of the young pitching staff matures. Zito would also be on a team in Kansas City where the pressure to win would be lessened. All of these things could add up to a great turnaround for Mr. Zito. Zito plus a few prospects and a bag of cash would balance the scale in the favor of this trade in this writer’s mind.

Bringing back a pitcher who can fill Greinke’s slot in the lineup has to be priority number one in any trade. The Royals have the ability to swap for a bad remaining contract since Greinke has a few years left on his deal. The team could also spend some of their free agent money on a deal like this one. A star for star swap is something that you never see anymore in baseball. It seems like every trade these days is based on money or off the field problems. A Zito for Greinke deal would follow in these footsteps with the Giants getting rid of a bad contract and the Royals getting rid of a player who is not happy.

The Giants would probably make this deal in a heartbeat since it seems like the team has all but given up on Zito. The only concern for any team picking up Greinke would be the stress factor on a winning team in a bigger market. Greinke almost left baseball once because of a social disorder, so it safe to say that a big market team might help to bring these issues back into play.

This deal and others like it are more likely in fantasy baseball, but the Royals need to start thinking outside the box if they are going to finally turn this thing around.

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Guillen Traded To Giants

The Kansas City Royals have traded Jose Guillen to the Giants. The trade has long been rumored as the number one possibility and today the rumors became truth. Guillen should be in uniform for the Giants tonight as they start a series with the Padres.

The Royals will get back a player to be named later and will be paying cash to the Giants to offset some of Guillen’s remaining contract. The move comes as a get out of town trade for the Royals. They did not have a place for Guillen in the organization any longer and all trade attempts for any real value had already fallen apart. The Royals get Guillen out of the city and get a few dollars off the books. The move will allow the Royals to let some of their young talent take the field on an everyday basis for the rest of the season.

Guillen overall was a bust in Kansas City making $11 million a season and never really putting up the numbers that were expected of him. Guillen will be joining his 10th team when takes the field for the Giants.

The Giants are getting a little bit of pop added to their lineup for a hopeful late season playoff run and are really not giving up much of anything. The Giants also are not tied to Guillen past this season so any personality problems should not be that big of an issue because Guillen will not be in town long enough to really get on anyone’s nerves.

The deal is a good deal for both teams. Each side was able to get into a place that would seem to make both teams better on paper.

I personally am glad that the drama is over in Kansas City because I was tired of hearing about Guillen.

The early rumors indicate that the Player To Be Named Later in this deal is a player from the Giant’s major league roster that will have to clear waivers before they can send him to Kansas City. Check back here at I-70 Baseball for details as they emerge.

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