Tag Archive | "Change Of Scenery"

I come to praise the Shields-Davis trade, not to bury it

If there’s a fan base pessimistic about everything, it’s the Kansas City Royals fan base. Not being in the playoffs since 1985 and not having a winning season since 2003 does that to you. And with all the other misfortunes the Royals experienced over the years, you can’t blame fans for being pessimistic.

Shields and Davis

So when the Royals traded top prospect Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and infielder Patrick Leonard for Tampa Rays starters James Shields and Wade Davis, a lot of Royals fans, bloggers and pundits panned the trade. They claimed the Royals gave up too many prospects and traded potential long-term success for short-term gain. They believed the trade smacked of desperation, a cynical move by General Manager Dayton Moore to try to keep his job.

But what were the Royals supposed to do? Look, the Rays weren’t about to give up David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard. And I doubt adding someone like Eric Hosmer and/or Billy Butler to the deal would change things. The Rays aren’t rebuilding and they have no reason to give up Price and Hellickson. The Rays had room to give up Shields and Davis and still keep their strong, young, starting rotation.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed the Royals gave up Odorizzi. But Odorizzi projects as a number three or four starter, like Davis. And Davis has four years of Major League experience and is a free agent until 2016. If Davis works out as a starter, he could be the key success to the trade. And if he doesn’t fare well as a starter, he can go to the bullpen, where he succeeded with the Rays in 2012.

Making Montgomery a part of the trade made sense. This is the guy some thought would be a part of the Royals 2012 rotation. Instead, Montgomery ended up in AA Northwest Arkansas and struggled there. It’s likely he wouldn’t be with the Royals anytime soon and a change of scenery might do him some good.

The Royals only get two years of Shields, but if he pitches as expected, the Royals have an ace they haven’t had since Zack Greinke. If you’re into statistics, Baseball Reference says Greinke is statistically similar to Shields, who’s going to make $9MM in 2013. Greinke will make $19MM in 2013.

Heck, the Royals will pay Ervin Santana $12MM in 2013 and he’s projected as the number two or three starter. Looking at it that way, Shields is a bargain, even if the Royals pick up Shield’s $12MM 2014 option. If the Royals do well in 2013 and 2014, perhaps Shields signs a multi-year deal with the team. It could happen.

And think about what the Royals didn’t have to give up. Players like Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and pitching prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yornado Ventura. The Major League team is still intact and when Duffy and Paulino return, they will be a part of the starting rotation.

But what about Jeff Francoeur? Yes, he had a terrible 2012 and it might be a stretch if he crawls back to being league average next year. But even if Myers stayed with the Royals, it’s likely he wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster. Despite what some think, the Royals needed front line starting pitching over a right fielder like Myers. And if worse comes to worst, there’s always David Lough or Jarrod Dyson, right? And by the time Francoeur leaves, there’s a chance Bubba Starling will take his place.

Sure, the Royals could have gone the free agent route and got a Anibal Sanchez, Shaun Marcum or Ryan Dempster. But would the Royals sign them for $9MM a year like they got Shields? And honestly, Shields is a better pitcher than Sanchez, Marcum or Dempster. If anything, the Royals might have been better off trying to sign Sanchez, Marcum and Dempster over Santana or Guthrie.

It’s true losing prospects like Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard hurts, but remember, they’re prospects, not proven Major League commodities. Of course, Shields could blow out his elbow and Davis might be the second coming of Luke Hochevar. But baseball is a game of risk and the Royals aren’t going to win by playing it safe and relying solely on their prospects.

Remember all the bold moves the Detroit Tigers took last year? They made it to the World Series. Sure, it’s a long shot the Royals will be in the World Series next year, especially with the Tigers in the division. But the Royals have to make bold moves if they want to succeed.

And don’t forget this trade brings the Royals payroll up to $80MM. Love him or hate him, David Glass is spending money and Dayton Moore is making an effort to improve the team.

It won’t take long to see if this trade works out for the Royals. If it blows up, Moore will be gone and the team could be wandering in the baseball wilderness for several more years. But if it succeeds, it could be the start of a new era of winning baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

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Jeremy Guthrie: For real, or a mirage?

When the Colorado Rockies traded for starting Jeremy Guthrie last February, they expected him to be a reliable innings-eating pitcher with a deceptive fastball, a good slider and change up. The right-handed Guthrie was the Opening Day starter for the Baltimore Orioles the last three seasons and Guthrie was the Opening Day starter for the Rockies. By July 20, Guthrie’s 2012 season was a bust and the Rockies sent him to the Kansas City Royals for the disappointing lefty Jonathan Sanchez.

The 2012 season started out well with an Opening Day win against the Huston Astros. But the Rockies lost 13 of the 19 games Guthrie pitched in and he ended up with a 6.35 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9 over 90.2 innings. In late April and early May, Guthrie also missed 15 games with a right shoulder injury. By June 20, the Rockies sent the struggling Guthrie to the bullpen as their long reliever, going with a four-man rotation. Guthrie rejoined the rotation July 4, but the Rockies lost three of the last four games Guthrie started before being dealt to the Royals.

In his first three starts with the Royals, Guthrie looked like a right-handed version of Sanchez, giving up 14 earned runs over 16.1 innings, 12 strikeouts and five walks, being pegged as the losing pitcher in all three games.

But the last two starts reveal a different Jeremy Guthrie. In a combined 15 innings, Guthrie hasn’t given up a run, earned or unearned and thrown 14 strikeouts and given up just two walks. And the teams he pitched against were the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s, both teams who are in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Since the trade, Guthrie has a 4.02 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9 over 31.3 innings. Meanwhile, Sanchez has a 9.53 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and a 7.4 BB/9 over 11.1 innings. So far, it looks like the Royals got the better end of the deal.

So why the turnaround? A big part of it is Guthrie’s change of scenery. When Guthrie pitched at Coors Field, he had a 7.84 ERA and a 5.1 K/9 over 12 games in 59.2 innings pitched. When he was away from Coors Field, Guthrie had a 3.75 ERA and a 5.3 K/9 over 12 games and 62.1 innings pitched. Guthrie also gave up 15 homers at Coors Field compared to nine homers in other ballparks. And did I mention Guthrie is a flyball pitcher? That’s not a good thing in the rarefied air of Coors Field.

Kauffman Stadium is more of a pitcher’s ballpark and with the Royals good defensive outfield, Guthrie can afford to be a flyball pitcher. Lately, the Royals offense is improving, so that gives Guthrie and the starting rotation better run support.

Another factor is Guthrie’s attitude when joining the Royals. Sanchez always acted like he didn’t want to be with the Royals and his performance showed it. But Guthrie says the Royals were one of the three teams he would like pitch for and so far he’s displaying a good attitude.

But two good starts doesn’t mean Guthrie will continue his good run. And Guthrie isn’t going to turn the Royals 2012 season around by himself. These are the Royals we’re talking about, and starting pitching is still the weak link of the team.

Guthrie will be a free agent at the end of the year. If he has a good rest of the season, he could command more than his current $8.2 million salary. Would the Royals be willing or able to sign him, or will Guthrie go somewhere else for a bigger paycheck? And the Royals may believe they have better and more affordable in-house options and let Guthrie walk.

For a trade that seemed to be a wash about a month ago, Jeremy Guthrie is becoming a pleasant surprise. And with yesterday’s news of former Royal outfielder Melky Cabrera being suspended for 50 games for testing positive for testosterone, the Sanchez/Cabrera trade doesn’t seem too bad, especially with getting Guthrie out of the deal.

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The Great Giveaway: Royals Past Attempts to Trade for Pitching Net Nada

Jonathan Sanchez recently gave up five runs before he could record an out. I didn’t think anyone could pitch that poorly.

But the next night, Ryan Verdugo did Sanchez one better (or worse) by surrendering six runs in just 1 2/3 innings.

The most horrifying fact of all is that both pitchers were acquired by trading Melky Cabrera to the Giants. That fact doesn’t need to be belabored, as every Royals fan is well aware of it.

So while Cabrera makes a run at an MVP award, the Royals go once again in search of starting pitching.

Dayton Moore needs no one to tell him that he must move to acquire pitching. He knows it. In fact he’s known it, and has been trying to do just that, for about three years now.

Prior to 2010, Moore made a few questionable moves to acquire position players, even trading away a few promising pitchers. But for the past three years, it’s been all about pitching, and he’s made several attempts to trade position players to get pitchers.

But while the Cabrera-for-Sanchez deal is horrifying in its result, the other attempts by Moore to trade for pitching have been nearly as disappointing. Consider the following other former Royals who were dealt for pitching since 2009:

Wilson Betemit: currently hitting .259 for Baltimore with 10 homers and 32 RBIs.

Betemit was traded for two minor leaguers, one a pitcher – Antonio Cruz, who has pitched a total of 18 games at A ball in the Royals’ organization.

Alberto Callaspo: hit .288 with 6 homers and 46 RBIs last season as the Angels’ starting third baseman. He’s still starting, with a little better power numbers this year.

Callaspo netted the Royals Will Smith and Sean O’Sullivan. The Royals have utilized Smith to save their mangled big league staff, but they gave up on O’Sullivan. They dealt him to Toronto for cash. Perhaps he needed the change of scenery. He’s been great for the Blue Jays’ Triple A club thus far.

David DeJesus: started most of the season for the A’s last year, batting .240 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs. This year he’s started full time for the Cubs.

DeJesus brought in a potential starter in Vin Mazzaro. But Mazzaro has suffered some beatings of historic proportions and isn’t trusted much at the big league level. The trade also brought Justin Marks, an average starter at Double A.

Kila Ka’aihue: has split the season between Oakland and the A’s Triple A club. His big league production has been marginal.

The trade of Ka’aihue netted a 25-year-old minor leaguer named Ethan Hollingsworth. He’s set no worlds on fire to date.

Mike Aviles: batted well at the end of 2011 for the Red Sox and continues to succeed as Boston’s starting shortstop. He’s hitting .263 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs.

Aviles supposedly brought the Royals a utility infielder – Yamaico Navarro. Aviles should have been kept in that role with the Royals. Navarro hasn’t done anything yet. The trade did bring the Royals a pitcher in Kendal Volz, who has been solid at the Single A and Double A levels.

Scott Podsednik: has played little, bouncing around with several teams.

The Royals got pitcher Elisaul Pimentel and catcher Lucas May. The Royals gave up on May, and Pimentel is 23 and still laboring along in the minors

Rick Ankiel: chipping in for the first place Washington Nationals.

Perhaps the only good move was when the Royals got Tim Collins as part of a package deal for Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth.

So Moore can’t be accused of not trying. But for seven big league position players of varying quality, the Royals have gained Tim Collins and some spare parts and minor leaguers. The return has been nothing short of disastrous.

The Royals have tried trading average position players – players who they deemed easily replaceable – and hoped to acquire quality pitchers.

But it appears the exchange rate for a quality pitcher is much higher than expected.

What the Royals have proved is that you must actually trade excellent position players to get passable starters.

They will need to think long and hard about as they attempt to improve their rotation for next year. Do they have the stomach to trade Eric Hosmer, or Wil Myers or some other potential star in hopes of finally acquiring quality starters.

Unfortunately, that may be just what it will take.

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The Hot Corner In The NL Central

Aside from Aramis Ramirez no other NL Central third basemen surpassed the 100 games played mark. Only David Freese sniffed the 100 game mark in 2011, falling just short at with 97. Though it’s tough basing everything off of a post season run Freese showed the kind of hitter he can be in the postseason. It is dangerous evaluating off of postseason hype, but Freese should have had this breakthrough in seasons prior. Assuming health, which for him could be a big gamble, he can put it all together and be a .280-25-100-90 work horse on the hot corner.

As it stands now Freese is more of less in a class by himself among the NL Central third basemen. Not quite at the Ramirez and Rolen level, but well above the likes of what takes the field for the Astros, Cubs, and Pirates. Here is who he be measured against moving into 2012.

 

Ian Stewart split the 2011 season between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs, totaling two stints in each spot. He batted .156 with six doubles in 48 games with the Rockies and hit .275 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 45 games in the Minor Leagues. A change of scenery might help Stewart, who hit 25 home runs in 2009 and was considered a rising star but never gained a solid footing in the Majors.

Reds third baseman Scott Rolen was limited to 252 at-bats in 2011, hitting .242 with five homers, one stolen base, 36 RBIs and 34 runs scored.  Rolen continues to deal with injuries and shoulder problems which again cut short a season. The 36-year-old has only reached 350 at-bats once in the past four campaigns and is a significant injury risk for 2012. When healthy he is one of the game’s best at the hot corner and his defense alone will keep him on the field.

For the Astros Jimmy Paredes hit .286 with a pair of homers, five stolen bases, 18 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 168 at-bats during his rookie season. Paredes didn’t distinguish himself in his initial Major League action but he didn’t look out of place either. The 22-year-old didn’t hit for a lot of power in the Minors so his upside for 2012 isn’t very high from a power perspective but Paredes has shown he can hit for average. Which for the Astros happens to be the case for most of the roster.

Aramis Ramirez completed his sixth season with at least 30 doubles and 25 homers. He got off to a slow start, hitting two home runs in the first two months of the season. Ramirez has a career .261 average in April and playing in Miller Park early in the year could help him boost those numbers. Ramirez has a lifetime .270 average and .503 slugging percentage at Miller Park, hitting 15 homers and 25 doubles there.

Pedro Alvarez was a big disappointment in 2011, as he hit four homers, stole one base, drove in 10 runs and scored eight times while hitting .191 in 235 at-bats.  Alvarez entered 2011 as a budding prospect but got off to a slow start and was eventually sent to the Minors. He didn’t show much more after returning to the Bucs in September and is a major question mark heading into 2012.  The addition of Casey McGehee gives the Pirates another option at third base, though the club has insisted that Pedro Alvarez will get the first crack at holding onto the starting role.

Our towns David Freese missed time early in the season due to a broken hand but produced reasonable numbers when healthy. In only 97 games in 2011 Freese hit .297 with 10 homers, 55 RBIs, 41 runs scored and one stolen base.  He set a postseason record with 21 RBIs, which has everyone drooling about a possible breakout campaign in 2012. From time to time he still shows he has room to grown defensively but a full offseason and being healthy going into 2012 should help.

By the time 2012 is said and done here is how I see things shaking out amongst the NL Central three baggers.

  1. Aramis Ramirez
  2. Scott Rolen
  3. David Freese
  4. Ian Stewart
  5. Jimmy Paredes
  6. Pedro Alvarez

Looking ahead: There is still a lot to prove for Freese in 2012. The NL Central already has an established senior class of third basemen in Aramis Ramirez and Scott Rolen. Rolen’s defense, for now, keeps him ahead of Freese and Ramirez’s ability to do it year in and year out keeps him atop the class at this point. If Freese can stay healthy enough to play 145+ games and sure up his defense even a little look for him to overtake Rolen amonth the pecking order of NL third basemen.

Follow Derek on Twitter @SportsbyWeeze

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Series Preview: Bay Area Trip

Joe White from Cards Droppings continues to breakdown the upcoming Cardinals series as they arrive. Here is his thoughts on the Cardinals trip to the Bay Area to face the Giants.


After a rough opening week, the Cardinals head west on an extended road trip. Over the next ten days, the team travels to San Francisco, Arizona and Los Angeles. For the sake of the Cardinal hitters, one would think that it may be beneficial to have a change of scenery. After managing only eight extra base hits (to go along with 10 DP’s) against the golden arms of the Pirates and the Giants, the team has to face the defending World Series champion and pitchers that actually will have an ERA under 5.00 this year. It’s going to be a tough task for the team, as it’s the Giants’ home opener and they’ll be getting their World Series rings. Hopefully this provides a little extra motivation for the Redbirds as well. AT&T Park (the Giants’ home park) is tough place to hit, and it’s even tougher when the opposing team has a staff as talented as San Francisco. Luckily, the Cardinals will miss two time Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum and talented second year pitcher Madison Bumgarner. There is no word yet on whether or not Matt Holliday will be back with the team, but the hope here is that he’ll be able to play. Having his bat in the lineup against the two lefties we’ll see this series could prove pivotal.

The Giants have a very talented team, as evidenced by their World Series title last year. Rookie of the Year Buster Posey anchors the team’s offense. He’s an outstanding catcher and an even better hitter. They have another rookie this year, 1B Brandon Belt. He’s struggled a little bit to start the season, but the Giants deemed him talented enough to move Aubrey Huff back to the outfield. Pablo Sandoval at third base has lost over forty pounds and he’s out to prove that he’s still very capable of becoming a superstar.

San Francisco has had a bit of hard luck to start off the year, with injuries to closer Brian Wilson and postseason hero Cody Ross. Wilson is back with the team now, and will be available to close. Ross is still several weeks away. They, like the Cardinals, have started off the 2011 campaign with a 2-4 record. Let’s hope, for the Cardinals’ sake, that we’re catching them at a good time.

Take a look at Joe’s game by game breakdown by clicking 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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Royals Continue Roster Overhaul

The Royals, who defined the term “seller” at the 2010 trade deadline, made one more deal before baseball’s waiver trade deadline was enforced. The Royals send outfielder Rick Ankiel and pitcher Kyle Farnsworth to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for pitcher Jesse Chavez, outfielder Gregor Blanco and pitcher Tim Collins.

Jesse Chavez

The story of Rick Ankiel has been told countless times, but it may need to include the underlying theme of injuries. A promising young pitcher that reinvented himself as an outfielder, Ankiel has struggled ever since to stay healthy. A change of scenery was supposed to revitalize the career of the lifetime Cardinal but an early season injury sidelined him. The trade deadline brought deals to the Royals and an injury to David DeJesus. Rick Ankiel suddenly found himself back in center field, recovered from injury and contributing to the team. Now, he finds himself traded for the first time and on his way to Atlanta.

Farnsworth is a twelve year veteran of major league baseball, having spent time with the Cubs, Tigers, Braves, Yankees, and Royals. A reliever who is enjoying a solid year for the Royals, he looks to join a Braves bullpen that can utilize him down the stretch run of a playoff caliber season. Farnsworth has pitched in 44 2/3 innings over 37 games this season. His earned run average checks in at 2.42 with only 12 walks and 36 strikeouts. He joins the Braves for the second time in his career halfway through a season. In 2005, Farnsworth went to the Braves in a July trade that sent Roman Colon and Zach Miner to the Tigers in exchange for him. He would go on to finish 18 games and save 10 for the Braves in 2005.

Jesse Chavez is no stranger to the trade game in baseball. The often dealt player has found himself traded four times and has spent

Gregor Blanco

three years in major league baseball. Most recently, in November of 2009, Chavez was traded by the Pirates to the Rays for Akinori Iwamura then dealt just over a month later by the Rays to the Braves for Rafael Soriano. This season in Atlanta, he has posted a high earned run average of 5.89, but kept a low walks per nine innings at 2.9 and a fairly high strikeouts per nine innings at 7.1. Six home runs over 36 innings does not add to a lot of confidence.

Gregor Blanco may have come to the Royals in a trade for Rick Ankiel, but his purpose may be to replace Scott Posednik. A speedy outfielder with a good batting eye, Blanco has posted a .310 batting average in Atlanta in 36 games in 2010. He has also drawn eight walks and posted an on base percentage of .394. Don’t expect power from Blanco, but he will provide a solid bat and find himself on base more times than not.

Tim Collins

Minor league pitcher Tim Collins finds himself in his second trade this month. Collins was sent to the Braves from Toronto in the deal that put Yunel Escobar in a Blue Jays uniform. The young relief pitcher has been in the minor leagues since 2007 and has shown dominant stuff at times. In 2010, he has totaled 11 saves in 41 appearances over 51 innings pitched. In those 51 innings, he has struck out 87 and walked only nineteen. That calculates to a 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings for the young reliever. With a WHIP under one at .980, Collins may find himself competing for a major league job in Royals spring training in 2011.

Overall, this trade made some sense for the club. They were two players that were not in the long term plans for a club that is rebuilding and they landed two guys with major league experience and one with significant upside.

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