Tag Archive | "Eight Seasons"

The Hall Of Very Good Adds Two Members

On Monday, July 29, The Hall of Very Good™ opened its proverbial doors to two new members…two-time National League MVP, Atlanta Braves legend Dale Murphy and former Pittburgh Pirates World Series hero Steve Blass.
DaleMurphy
“Thank you for the honor of being selected to The Hall of Very Good!” Murphy said.  “It’s great going into this the second class of inductees and also fun to go in with a great person like Steve Blass.”
“I am flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Dale Murphy.  I think he epitomizes everything a Major Leaguer should be,” Blass added.  “I’m very flattered to be involved with something that has Dale Murphy’s name on it.”
Murphy is considered one of the nicest, most even tempered men ever to play Major League baseball.
Armed with both size and speed, the right-handed slugger was a five-tool outfielder who has the distinction of being one of the most productive and decorated players of the 1980s, having led the Majors in both home runs and RBI during the decade.
“The way I remember it, Dale Murphy’s opposite-field power was a big part of his MVP seasons of 1982 and 1983, when he hit 36 home runs both years. This was back before nearly every hitter crowded the plate and had muscled up and could easily hit one out the other way,” ESPN.com’s SweetSpot blogger Dave Schoenfield said.  “Baseball in the ‘80s will be remembered in part for the drug scandals, but Murphy represents the best of the decade: A class act and a great player.”
At the time of his retirement, Murphy’s 398 home runs ranked 19th all-time.  His back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983 made him one of only four outfielders to win in consecutive years and, at the time, the youngest.
Blass is one of the great mysteries in the history of Major League Baseball.
After his first eight seasons in the bigs, the right-hander put up an impressive 100-67 record with a 3.24 ERA and an amazing 56 complete games.  During the 1971 World Series, he made history with a spectacular Game Seven performance.  Now the Pittsburgh Pirates undisputed ace, he finished second to Steve Carlton for the 1972 Cy Young Award.  By the time 1973 rolled around, Blass had, plain and simple, lost the ability to throw strikes.  He was out of the league a year later.
“It may be said that (Steve Blass) was like the girl with the curl: when he was good, he was very, very good, and when he was bad he was horrid,” John Thorn, Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball said.  “But Blass was a national hero for a moment, and how many ballplayers can say that?”
Today, he is an inspiration to many, has garnered the respect of many of his former peers on the diamond and one of the game’s best color commentators.
Murphy and Blass join the inaugural member of The Hall of Very Good™, 2012 inductee, former pitcher Tommy John.
“Murphy should be in Cooperstown,” John said.  “Blass was a very good pitcher.”
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You can read more about the induction of Dale Murphy and Steve Blass into The Hall of Very Good™ by visiting http://hallofverygood.com or by following The Hall on Facebook (http://facebook.com/hallofverygood) or Twitter (http://twitter.com/hovg).
ABOUT DALE MURPHY
PLAYING CAREER:  Atlanta Braves (1976–1990), Philadelphia Phillies (1990–1992) and Colorado Rockies (1993).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career batting average of .265 with 2111 hits, 398 home runs and 1266 RBI.  Back-to-back National League MVP in 1982 and 1983.  Hit 20-plus home runs 12 times, 30-plus six times and 40 or more…once.  Knocked in 100 runs five times and scored 100 runs four times.  From 1982 to 1985…hit .293, averaging 36 home runs and 110 RBI.  Shares Major League record for most seasons leading the league in games played by an outfielder with six.  Five-time Gold Glove Award winner (1982-1986) and seven-time All-Star (1980 and 1982-1987).  Had his number retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1994. 
ABOUT STEVE BLASS
PLAYING CAREER:  Pittsburgh Pirates (1964, 1966-1974).
ACHIEVEMENTS:  Career win-loss record of 103-76 with 57 complete games, an ERA of 3.63 and 896 strikeouts.  Went 18-6 in 1968 with a 2.12 ERA with seven shutouts.  In 1969, won 16 with a career-high 147 strikeouts.  From 1969 to 1972, he won 60 games.  Notched a career-high 19 victories in 1972 and finished second in Cy Young Award voting.  1971 World Series Champion.  Member of 1972 National League All-Star team.

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Santana settling in with Royals

This year has been tough on Royals starting pitchers and Tuesday night was a prime example. Ervin Santana pitched a seven inning gem, but after an eighth inning bullpen meltdown, Kansas City lost 4-3 to the Indians. Another hard-luck no-decision for a Royals starter.

ErvinSantana

James Shields‘ struggle to earn a win has been well documented. His last win came on April 30, despite a 2.72 ERA for the season.

Santana’s ERA is actually better than Shields’ at 2.64 and he has also found it difficult to earn wins (he’s 5-5 on the season). Both pitchers have received little run support, with the Royals averaging 3.33 runs per game in Shields’ starts and 3.46 in Santana’s starts.

When you look at the numbers, however, both have pitched extremely well. While the Shields trade this off-season drew all the headlines, the acquisition of Santana has been just as vital for the Royals success this year.The Royals acquired Santana in an October 31, 2012 trade with the Angels in exchange for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander from the Dominican Republic has been a workhorse for the Royals all season. In every one of his 14 starts this year, Santana pitched at least six innings. Slotted in the second spot in the Kansas City rotation, Santana has delivered sparkling numbers this season.

Santana’s 2.64 ERA is the fifth best in the American League, as is his 0.98 WHIP. Santana got off to a great start to the season, going 3-1 in April despite losing his first outing.

May was a rough month for Santana as he lost four straight games during one stretch. He had trouble with the home run ball giving up four homers in a start against the Angels on May 23 and three homers against the Cardinals on May 28. His record dropped to 3-5 at the end of May and his ERA jumped to 3.33.

But that bad stretch was short-lived as Santana has been dominant in June. In four June starts, Santana has allowed just three runs and brought his record back to 5-5.

In eight seasons with the Angels, Santana was 96-80, with a 4.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. His best year was 2008 when he was an All Star selection and went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA.

Santana had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2012 with the Angels, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while allowing a career worst 39 home runs. But the Royals believed in his talent and so far this season he is rewarding the confidence that the organization showed him.

Santana’s hits per nine innings are down from his time with the Angels and his strikeout to walk rate is up to a career-best 5.13 after it was just 2.18 in 2012.

It has been a bit of an up and down year for Santana, but if he can build on his stellar June, and has a bit more luck, the wins will come.

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Felix Hernandez megadeal should actually help St. Louis Cardinals in Adam Wainwright negotiations

The St. Louis Cardinals enter spring training this week with another star player entering the final year of his contract just two years after the Albert Pujols contract circus. But the Cardinals suddenly have leverage in these negotiations they never got with Pujols.

AlbertPujolsAdamWainwright

Adam Wainwright will be a free agent at the end of the season if he and the Cardinals can’t agree on a long-term contract before the end of the season. This sounds similar to the Pujols situation, but the Cardinals should suddenly be more optimistic this time around thanks to an American League team on the West Coast.

The Seattle Mariners are close to signing pitcher Felix Hernandez to a huge contract that could range from five to seven years and $135 million to $175 million. Either way, Hernandez is going to be a very rich man, but he probably helped the Cardinals in negotiations with their own ace pitcher.

Hernandez could make somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million to $27 million annually, which is close to the price tag many people figured it would take to keep Wainwright in St. Louis beyond this season. However, the Cardinals have a few good reasons not to pay Wainwright that much money, or at least not for that long.

See, Hernandez is just 26 years old even though he’s pitched in the big leagues for eight seasons, but he has never had a major arm injury. Wainwright is 31 years old, missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and struggled at times in 2012 to regain his dominant form.

The bigger concern for the Cardinals was when the San Francisco Giants signed righthanded pitcher Matt Cain to a six-year, $127.5-million contract extension before the beginning of the 2012 season. Cain was 27 years old at the time he signed the deal, but he also had a career record of 69-73.

Granted, the deal worked out last year as Cain led the Giants to a World Series title with a 16-5 record and a perfect game along the way, but Wainwright still looked like the better pitcher at the time.

Maybe it’s been good for the Cardinals to let negotiations with Wainwright drag on into the final year. The constant questions about the contract won’t be pleasant if they don’t get a deal done before the season begins, but the Cardinals would’ve certainly had to pay more for Wainwright if they had signed him to an extension two years ago, and probably even last year. There was a chance Wainwright could have made between $25-30 million per year up until the Hernandez deal.

Wainwright could still shoot for that type of money as a free agent in the offseason if he has a Cy Young Award-caliber 2013 season, but teams will likely be much more unwilling to give a 31-year-old pitcher with a history of arm problems more money than a 26-year-old pitcher who has never spent an appreciable amount of time on the disabled list.

Of course, time will determine if the Mariners made the right decision to sign their righthanded star pitcher. Hernandez could have a Cain-type season, or he could turn into Barry Zito, who hasn’t pitched above .500 since the Giants signed him to a $126-million deal in 2007.

No matter the long-term outcome, news of the Hernandez deal should make Cardinals fans more optimistic their team’s own righthanded star pitcher will take the mound at Busch Stadium in a Cardinals uniform to open the 2014 season, and God-willing, several more seasons beyond that.

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A New Era Begins At First

When the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals begin defense of the title they won in one of the most exciting postseasons in recent memory, it might be easy to focus on who isn’t around anymore. They’ve had to replace the winningest manager in franchise history, Tony La Russa, as well as one of the greatest players to ever wear a Cardinals uniform, Albert Pujols.

If you were searching for the ideal replacement for Albert Pujols, then move along, because you won’t find it. There is only one Pujols, and he’s gone.  Albert Pujols had manned this position full time for the past eight seasons. But he is now with the Los Angeles Angels, and Lance Berkman moves from the outfield to a spot where, at 36, he’s better suited for. Berkman earned NL comeback player of the year honors by hitting .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBI last season. When he needs a day off, Carlos Beltran and even Yadier Molina will be there to help.

Brian LaHair, Cubs. The long-time Minor Leaguer was last up in the bigs back in ’08 with the Mariners. In his latest go-round, the 28-year-old has made an impression on manager Mike Quade, batting a blistering .500 with a .950 slugging percentage. While too old to be considered a prospect, LaHair launched 38 homers and drove in 109 for Triple-A Iowa this season and could provide some decent power returns over the final few weeks of the season.

Joey Votto, Reds. Votto is still one of the best players in the National League, and obviously the best first baseman in the league. His 14.2 fWAR over the last two years leads all NL first basemen, and the reigning 2010 MVP isn’t just one of the best in the NL, but in all of baseball. Votto will be heading to free agency after 2013, but he’ll be 30 at that point in time, and probably won’t get as crazy of a deal as Fielder and Pujols. But he should still get a solid contract, if not from the Reds, then from another team that needs a first baseman.

Carlos Lee, Astros. Lee’s behemoth contract comes to an end after this season, but after a pair of down years, Lee had a really good campaign in 2011, though one that wasn’t worth his eight figure salary. He hit .275/.342/.446, and walked nearly as much as he struck out. He won’t be getting $18.5 million in 2013 from another team, but he’s a guy that could actually hang on for a few more years like Jim Thome has, as a DH that occasionally plays first base.

Mat Gamel, Brewers. Milwaukee still doesn’t have a replacement for Prince Fielder at first, and it’s generally believed that Gamel will be taking over there this season. He’s no longer a young, studly prospect at 26 years-old, and in his only extended tour in the majors in 2009, he OPSed .760 in 148 plate appearances. He’s spent parts of the last four seasons at AAA Nashville, and has hit well there, tallying a .310/.372/.540 line there last year with 28 homers. Milwaukee needs to find out what they’ve got with him, and 2012 would be the best opportunity for him and the Brewers to see what they have here.

Garrett Jones, Pirates. Jones’s splits last year were startling: he had a .460 OPS against lefties, and an .808 OPS against righties. If Pittsburgh plans on starting him, they’ll need a platoon partner. One option would be former top third base prospect Pedro Alvarez….who has the same deficiency against lefties that Jones has. It could be a rough year for the Pirates if they roll with Jones as their starter.

Lance Berkman, Cardinals. Berkman will be taking over at first base for the Cardinals this season following the departure of Albert Pujols after a fantastic 2011 season that saw him OPS .959, hit 31 homers (his highest total since 2007), and accrue 5.0 fWAR. His defensive inadequacies should be masked at first base, and if his health holds up, Berkman could be a great replacement for Pujols (though not nearly as good overall as the former MVP). But remember, injuries have been an issue for Berkman lately, missing 66 games in 2009 and 2010.

By the time 2012 is said and done here is how I see things shaking out amongst the NL Central second basemen

  1. Joey Votto
  2. Lance Berkman
  3. Carlos Lee
  4. Garrett Jones
  5. Bryan LaHair
  6. Mat Gamel


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Why Yadier Molina Is The Cornerstone Of The Cardinals

In Baseball, everyone knows that offense wins innings; defense wins games, and pitching wins championships. However, what about the man behind the mask? The catcher is part of both defense and pitching. From working with the pitching staff on a personal and professional basis, to calling every pitch, the catcher makes sure that pitching stays on course, and if things go awry, they right the ship and reset the course. Catching is one of the most overlooked positions in Baseball, and it is the most crucial to a championship ring.

So where does Yadier Molina fit into all of this? He is considered the best of the current generation at the catching position, and his defensive skills are almost impeccable. At 28, his fielding percentage over the past eight seasons is .993 behind the plate, and his average caught stealing percentage is 44 percent. This season, he had the fewest stolen base attempts against him in the majors at 46. His arm, his defensive skills, and his awareness behind the plate are outstanding, and it is present almost every game. Granted, his caught stealing percentage was only 29 percent this past season, but when the league average is around 20 percent, his numbers have come down from godlike to above average. In 2005, he threw out 64 percent of would be base stealers, one of the highest percentages ever. His skills are so refined behind the plate, that when his knee was bothering him in the World Series, he sat back on one knee, and just picked bouncing balls like a shortstop. His defensive play is what puts him in the same class with greats like Thurman Munson, Yogi Berra, and Ivan Rodriguez.

What is impressive is even though his defensive numbers are so stellar; his hitting has become another great weapon in his arsenal He batted .305 last season, with 14 home runs, 32 doubles, and 65 RBI, all career bests. His offense continues to shine, and on the biggest stage, his average gets even better. In his 3 World Series appearances, he is batting .341 with 4 doubles and 10 RBI. Since his rookie season in 2004, his bat continues to improve, and how he will grow and improve next season is continuing to build up.

The numbers might give a good look at how good a player is on the field, but they never show the intangibles. The trust, the respect, and the presence felt by teammates in the clubhouse and on the field can never be measured by statistics. Last season, when you would watch a game, you might see Molina look to the dugout twice in a game for a possible defensive shift. Other than those occasional glances, he was the leader on the field. He called every pitch, he called every snap-throw, and he made sure the defense knew how to play each hitter. When he deals with a struggling pitcher, his tone and reaction is different depending on the pitcher. With guys like Lance Lynn and Chris Carpenter, he is a calm, soothing presence that comes out to relax the pitcher and make sure he is free of tension before the next pitch. With others, like Jason Motte, he has to pump them up and get the adrenaline flowing for them to focus and put everything behind the ball. These are some things that cannot be measured with mathematics, and they are some of the biggest focal points of being a battery mate as a catcher.

With these amazing numbers and intangible qualities, how do you not build a team around a catcher with all five tools? With Albert Pujols gone, it seems like the pressure will be on the shoulders of veteran leaders like Molina, however. Rising stars like David Freese and Allen Craig, along with new Cardinals Outfielder Carlos Beltran; Molina’s job becomes a lot easier at the plate. His defensive play will always be a cornerstone of the Cardinals organization, and it is the how aggressive his nature is. He is one of the many faces of the Cardinals, and he will continue to grow to one of the big names in baseball.

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Royals Re-Sign Lisson, Add RHP Castro

Royals re-sign Lisson, add RHP Castro
Lisson is Naturals’ franchise runs, homers, RBI leader

SPRINGDALE, AR – Baseball America reports that the Kansas City Royals have re-signed Naturals’ infielder Mario Lisson and also added reliever Yeliar Castro on minor league contracts for the 2012 season.

The 27-year old Lisson spent all of 2011 with the Naturals after being sidelined for the 2010 season with injury, appearing in 89 games and batting a career-best .293 with 15 homers, also a career-best, and 45 RBI’s.

A Natural for all of 2008 and part of 2009 as well, the Caracas, Venezuela resident has hit more regular season home runs (31) than any other player that has suited up for Northwest Arkansas. Lisson also sits atop the Naturals’ franchise leaders in games played (255), doubles (48), RBI’s (127), and runs scored (135). Originally signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent in April 2002, Lisson owns a career .258 batting average with 78 homers, 389 RBI’s, and 159 stolen bases in 761 games over eight seasons.

Castro is a 23-year old right-hander from Panama City, Panama who has spent the first seven seasons of his professional career in the Atlanta Braves’ organization. In 2011, Castro missed some time with injury and posted a 2-0 record and a 4.15 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 39 innings over 28 appearances (one start) split between Double-A Mississippi, Advanced Class-A Lynchburg, and the Braves’ Gulf Coast League rookie club in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent out of Panama in July 2004, Castro has made a total of 29 Double-A appearances for Mississippi over the past season and has yet to appear at the Triple-A level. Primarily a reliever, Castro owns a career 21-20 record with a 4.71 ERA in 125 appearances, including 25 starts.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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Top 10 Royals Outfielder Seasons

There is no doubt that Alex Gordon‘s 2011 campaign ranks among the best seasons by Royals outfielders. Being the Royals addict that I am, I wanted to find out exactly where I think it ranks. Here is what I consider the top ten:

10. Danny Tartabull ∙ 1991 ∙ RF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
132 .316 .397 .593 171

Tartabull is the only right fielder to slip onto the list (Al Cowens ’77 and Jermaine Dye ’00 were in the running). This is the best purely offensive season a Royals outfielder has ever had, but his lack of speed and defensive range cut harshly into Tartabull’s overall value. He also only played 132 games. But when the bat was in his hands, Tartabull was a force in this last of his five years in KC. If you did not give him anything to hit, he would gladly take a walk or 65. If you gave him something to hit, look out: 33 doubles, 31 homers, and a league-leading .593 slugging percentage. His 171 OPS+ is third in Royals history and tops among outfielders.

9. Amos Otis ∙ 1971 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts
147 .301 .345 .443 124 52/60

In his second year with the Royals, Otis lead the league with 52 stolen bases, went to the All-Star game, garnered some MVP votes, and took home a gold glove.

8. Willie Wilson ∙ 1982 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
136 .332 .365 .431 118

Greased Lightning takes up an impressive three of the top eight seasons. Rate-wise, this was his best hitting season, putting up career highs in average, on-base percentage and slugging. His .332 average was tops in the majors.

7. Willie Wilson ∙ 1979 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts Total Zone runs above avg
154 .315 .351 .420 106 83/95 21

Wilson was not especially impressive with the bat this year, but had the best defensive year in Royals history by Total Zone runs and set the team steals record (at an 87% success rate) to put together an overall fantastic season.

6. Carlos Beltran ∙ 2001 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
155 .306 .362 .514 122

After a rookie of the year campaign in ’99 and a disappointing ’00, Beltran bounced back in a big way in ’01 and has not looked back since in what could end up a Hall of Fame career. As good as he was overall in ’99, his hitting was close to average. Beltran put it all together in ’01: average, walks, power, stolen bases and tremendous defense. He was caught stealing ONCE in 32 attempts.

5. Johnny Damon ∙ 2000 ∙ CF/LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ WPA
159 .327 .382 .495 118 4.6

Damon’s last year in KC was also his best, including league-leading totals in stolen bases (46) and runs (136) and a career high OPS+. He came through in the right spots too: his win probability added matched Amos Otis’s 1978 for best total for a Royals outfielder.

4. Alex Gordon ∙ 2011 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
151 .303 .376 .502 141

The season that inspired this list ends up all the way down at four. It has been a schizophrenic season for the Royals marked by a ton of losing but also excitement about several individual performances. And as good as Cabrera, Francoeur, Hosmer and others have been, Alex has been in another dimension. He really never slumped, steadily dominating in both halves of innings. He has been the best left fielder in the AL and given the Royals their best season by a position player since, well, the next spot on this list…

3. Carlos Beltran ∙ 2003 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
141 .307 .389 .522 132

The surprising team success in 2003 is largely considered a fluke, but Beltran’s superlative contributions to the team were very real.

2. Amos Otis ∙ 1978 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ WPA
141 .298 .380 .525 150 4.6

Game-for-game, I would take this season ever so slightly as the best ever by a Royals outfielder. It was the best by win probability added (4.6). But Otis missed a handful of games, giving the slight advantage to…

1. Willie Wilson ∙ 1980 ∙ LF/CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts
161 .326 .357 .421 113 79/89

This incredible season is overshadowed by George Brett’s 1980, the best year a Royals player ever had. Wilson deserves more recognition for his ’80 season though. It is probably the best by a Royals position player other than Brett’s best years. Willie’s team records set in 1980 for plate appearances (745) and hits (230) still stand, and his stolen bases and runs scored (133) are both second in franchise history. Willie did not walk a lot, but he did not need to when he was putting up as many hits and stealing as many bases as he was in 1980. On top of all those hits, Willie reached base on errors 17 times, a reflection of how terrifying his speed was to the opposition.

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Where Are They Now: David DeJesus

In late 2003, the Royals would call upon their fourth round pick from the 2000 Amateur Baseball Draft to make his debut in the outfield. By the following year, the team would trade their All Star center fielder, Carlos Beltran, and give the keys to the outfield to David DeJesus.

DeJesus would respond with a 2004 rookie season that would end with him finishing sixth in the American League voting for the Jackie Robinson Award. DeJesus had arrived on the scene in Kansas City and fans and team executives alike were excited to see one of the franchises’ top prospects come to the Major League level.

DeJesus would develop into a consistent hitter with occasional power that showed good plate discipline. Over eight seasons in a Royals jersey, posting a .289 batting average and .360 on base percentage. In 2008 he would post a career high in runs batted in with 73 and follow that up with a career high in home runs with 13 in 2009.

The following year in 2010 would see the Royals make a firm move to adjust their roster for the future. While the farm system began to take hold as one of the best in the nation, the club started trading some of their established stars to strengthen it even further. The outfield was targeted and DeJesus’ name starting floating around through rumor mills everywhere. That is, until he tore a tendon in his thumb.

The torn tendon would ensure that DeJesus would finish the 2010 season as a Kansas City Royal. It would not, however, ensure that he would make it to the end of the calendar year. On November 10, 2010, the Royals would send DeJesus to a Oakland club that was trying to put together a winning roster. Justin Marks and Vin Mazarro would find themselves on the way to Kansas City to begin the 2011 season with a club many predict to finish last.

DeJesus, meanwhile, finds himself projected as the starting right fielder for the Oakland Athletics and on a ball club that even the most devoted experts cannot put a firm prediction on. The team has pieces in place that will make them competitive but the decision on if they will be competitive enough is yet to be made. DeJesus projects to have a solid season, given the hope that he bounces back from his injury quickly and effectively.

He was a fan favorite in Kansas City and I would anticipate a very warm welcome when he returns to Kauffmann stadium on May 6th this season. He represents a prospect that came through an organization before the team was fully ready to have someone of his caliber lead the team. Oakland gets a 31 year old outfielder that can help solidify and lead a team to a positive season.

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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A Historical Look At Royals Trades

Nearly two weeks into the off-season, the only stories coming out of Kansas City are trade based. When GM Dayton Moore shipped off another talented outfielder to Oakland, many Royals fans naturally felt a chill down their spine. Knee-jerk reactions take the mind to beloved outfielders Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon making a similar departure for little in return. Only time will tell if the swap for two young, live arms will prove to be beneficial.

The biggest story is about a trade which may, or may not be made. Moore has been open about listening to potential deals for ace Zack Greinke. Instead of debating whether trading Greinke would be the right move for the franchise, let’s take a historical look at trades which had lasting effects on the Royals.

The Cedric Tallis Era

12-16-1968

Houston Astros received: C – John Jones

Kansas City Royals received: C- Buck Martinez, IF – Mickey Sinnerud, C-Tommie Smith

Buck Martinez was the only player who stuck in the big leagues from the deal with the Astros. Martinez was drafted by the Phildelphia Phillies in the second round of the 1967 draft. A year later he was selected by Houston in the 1968 Rule 5 Draft.

Before Martinez suited up with Houston he was dealt to Kansas City, for catching prospect John Jones. Jones hit .153 in three minor league seasons. Martinez went on to play eight seasons in Kansas City spanning 1969-77. Martinez played in only 361 games, but was a backstop during Whitey Herzog’s run during the 70’s.

6-13-1970

St. Louis Cardinals received: OF-Fred Rico

Kansas City Royals received: 2B- Cookie Rojas

The only time Rico saw in the MLB was with Kansas City. His brief stint only lasted 12 games. Rojas traveled west on I-70 23 games into the 1970 season. Rojas went on to an eight year career in Kansas City, from 1970-77. Rojas was a four time All-star as a Royal and hit .268, 139 2B, 25 HR, 332 RBI, and 46 SB in his Kansas City tenure

12-2-1971

Houston Astros received: P – Jim York, P – Lance Clemons

Kansas City Royals received: 1B – John Mayberry, 3B – Dave Garngaard

Jim York threw 174 innings with a 4.19 ERA in relief for Houston. The Astros dealt Lance Clemons five months later to St. Louis. Even though Garngaard never made it out of the minors, the Royals struck gold on Mayberry.

The first baseman played six seasons as a Royal, hitting .261/.374/.448, 139 2B, 143 HR, 552 RBI and 16 SB. Mayberry was a mainstay at first until a playoff spat with manager Whitey Herzog ultimately resulted in a trade to Toronto. Twice Mayberry was an All-Star with the Royals and finished second in the 1975 MVP voting. In his six years with Kansas City Mayberry compiled a WAR of 20.2.

11-30-1972

Cincinnati Reds received: OF – Richie Scheinblum, P – Roger Nelson

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Hal McRae, P – Wayne Simpson

The Royals purchased Riche Scheinblum from Texas in 1971. He enjoyed his only All-Star season with the Royals in 1972. After he was dealt to the Reds he played only 29 games before being traded to the California Angels in June of 1973. Roger Nelson played his final two MLB seasons in Cinicinnati. He went 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 28 starts for the Reds, good enough for a WAR of 0.7.

Wayne Simpson finished fourth in the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award for the Reds. He posted 14-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 119 SO in his rookie campaign. He made 16 forgettable starts for the Royals and was ultimately dealt to the Pirates in 1974 for LHP Jim Foor.

Hal McRae became a fan favorite for the next 15 years. McRae was a three-time All-star and won a Silver Slugger in 1982. McRae was around for the Royals first taste of success during the 70s and was part of the pinnacle of the Royals franchise, the 1985 World Series Championship. With the Royals, McRae hit .293, 449 2B, 63 3B, 169 HR, 1,012 RBI, and 105 SB, with a 27.1 WAR.

12-7-1973

New York Yankees received: OF – Lou Piniella, P – Ken Wright

Kansas City Royals received: P – Lindy McDaniel

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.

The Joe Burke Era

9-23-1981

Seattle Mariners received: 3B – Manny Castillo

Kansas City Royals received: PTBNL – P – Buddy Black

Manny Castillo played two seasons in Seattle. The third baseman hit .242, 3 HR, 72 RBI, and an abysmal -2.2 WAR.

Buddy Black blossomed in his seven years with the Royals. He started 216 games, going 56-57 with a 3.73 ERA. He posted a 12.3 WAR as a Royal and was part of the 1985 rotation which led the Royals to the promise land. Black went on to a 15 year career for four different squads. Black broke back into the big leagues as a manager in 2007. He has managed the San Deigo Padres for four years, posting his best record in 2010, 90-72.

The John Schuerholz Era

6-7-1983

Cincinnati Reds received: P – Bob Tufts

Kansas City Royals received: P – Charlie Leibrandt

Leibrandt debuted with the Royals in 1984 posting solid numbers. His breakout season came during the 1985 campaign, ultimately finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting. Leibrandt went 76-61 with a 3.20 ERA in six seasons with Kansas City. He played well enough to amass a 21.4 WAR in his time as a Royal. Tufts never played in the MLB again after his 6.2 inning stint as a Royal in 1983.

12-20-1983

Toronto Blue Jays received: 1B – Willie Aikens

Kansas City Royals received: 2B – Jorge Orta

Willie Aikens played four solid seasons for Kansas City, but after being traded to Toronto Aikens hit only .205 in 254 at-bats. Jorge Orta finished out his last four seasons with the Royals. Orta hit .277, with 62 2B, 24 HR, 145 RBI. He was also a part of one of the most famous plays in franchise history. His groundball to Jack Clark in Game Six of the 1985 World Series resulted in “The Call.”

5-17-1985

St. Louis Cardinals received: OF – John Morris

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Lonnie Smith

Lonnie Smith was an All-star with the Cardinals in 1982, but with the introduction of speedy rookie Vince Coleman made Smith the odd man out. The Cards dealt Smith to the Royals for prospect John Morris. Morris played five seasons in St. Louis, never getting more than 157 at-bats in a season.

Smith went on show his talents in Kansas City. In the same season he was saved, he dealt out supreme revenge by helping the Royals beat his former squad in the World Series. Smith played three seasons with Kansas City, producing .270, 55 2B, 12 3B, 17 HR, 93 RBI, and 75 SB.

12-20-1986

Seattle Mariners received: OF – Mike Kingery, P – Scott Bankhead, P – Steve Shields

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Danny Tartabull, P – Rick Lueken

Out of the group of players the Royals gave up, the most successful was Scott Bankhead. Bankhead played five seasons in Seattle, being a main part of the rotation for three seasons. He was 33-31, with a 4.16 ERA in 568.2 innings of work.

In return the Royals got outfielder Danny Tartabull in his prime. During his five seasons in Kansas City Tartabull hit .290, 141 2B, 124 HR, and 425 RBI. His most impressive season was his last as a Royal. In 1991, the All-star hit .316, 35 2B, 31 HR, and 100 RBI, before signing with the Yankees in 1992.

3-27-1987

New York Mets received: P – David Cone, OF – Chris Jelic

Kansas City Royals received: P – Mauro Gozzo, P – Rick Anderson, C – Ed Hearn

After the Royals dealt the fizzling pitching prospect to New York he exploded. David Cone broke out in 1988, making his first All-star appearance 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.

In return, the Royals got 35 at-bats from Ed Hearn and 47 innings pitched from Rick Anderson.

The Herk Robinson Era

4-6-1996

Toronto Blue Jays received: P – David Cone

Kansas City Royals received: IF – Chris Stynes, IF – Tony Medrano, P – David Sinnes

Later in his career Cone re-signed with the Royals. After winning the 1994 Cy Young Award, Kansas City dealt Cone again, this time north of the border. Cone started only 17 games for Toronto, going 9-6 with a 3.38 ERA before he was traded to the Yankees.

In return, the Royals got 127 at-bats from Chris Stynes and 17 combined minor league seasons from Medrano and Sinnes.

It’s hard to decide if the Royals got less the first or second time they traded Cone.

3-27-1998

Atlanta Braves received: IF – Keith Lockhart, OF – Michael Tucker

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Jermaine Dye, P – Jaime Walker

The Royals gave up a mediocre infielder, Keith Lockhart, and former first round draft pick in Michael Tucker. Lockhart played five seasons in Atlanta, while Tucker only lasted two.

Jermaine Dye turned into a Gold Glover and All-star in Kansas City. In his five seasons as a Royal, Dye hit .284, 118 2B, 85 HR, and 329 RBI. In his career Dye broke 100 RBIs in a season only four times, three of which he played as a Royal.

7-31-1999

Oakland A’s received: P – Kevin Appier

Kansas City Royals received: P – Jeff D’Amico, P – Blake Stein, P – Brad Rigby

Kevin Appier was a first round draft pick in 1987 by the Royals. The All-star logged 11 seasons with Kansas City and was a Royals’ lifer until he was shipped to Oakland. Appier only threw two seasons in Oakland, going 22-16 with a 4.84 ERA. After his time in Kansas City, Appier never pitched the same.

The most notable player the Royals received was pitcher Blake Stein. Stein played four seasons with Kansas City and threw 355.2 innings, with a 5.01 ERA.

The Allard Baird Era

1-8-2001

Oakland A’s received: IF – Mark Ellis, OF – Johnny Damon, P – Cory Lidle

Tampa Bay Devil Rays received: OF – Ben Grieve

Kansas City Royals received: C – AJ Hinch, SS – Angel Berroa, P – Roberto Hernandez

The biggest pieces at the time of the trade were Ben Grieve and Johnny Damon. In 1998, Grieve was an All-star and won the Rookie of the Year. In his last season in Oakland Grieve hit .279, 40 2B, 27 HR, 104 RBI. 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.

After being dealt to Tampa Grieve was never the same. He played three seasons as a Devil Ray, only hitting 34 homers. 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. An overall breakdown of how many wins each player in the trade was worth looks like this:

Oakland: 30.4 WAR Total

Tampa: 2.0 WAR Total

KC: 5.2 WAR Total

7-25-2001

Oakland A’s received: OF – Jermaine Dye

Colorado Rockies received: P – Todd Belitz, OF – Mario Encarnacion, 2B – Jose Ortiz

Kansas City Royals received: SS – Neifi Perez

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.

Oakland: 2.5 WAR Total

Colorado: -0.1 WAR Total

KC: -1.9 WAR Total

6-24-2004

Oakland A’s received: P – Octavio Dotel

Houston Astros received: OF – Carlos Beltran

Kansas City Royals received: C – John Buck, 3B – Mark Teahen, P – Mike Wood

Carlos Beltran was the 1999 Rookie of the Year and an All-star as a Royal. Even though he only played half a season with the Astros, he helped Houston push the NLCS to seven games against the Cardinals. Beltran hit 23 HR, 53 RBI, and 28 SB, in 90 games. During the 2004 playoffs Beltran went off for 8 HR, 14 RBI, 6 SB, while hitting .435

The Royals received solid return in reliable players like Mark Teahen and John Buck. Despite producing eye-popping numbers like Beltran, Teahen (five years) and Buck (six years) supplied steady play from two pivotal positions.

Oakland: 1.4 WAR Total

Houston: 3.5 WAR Total

KC: 4.2 WAR Total

7-30-2004

New York Mets received: 3B/OF – Jose Bautista

Kansas City Royals received: 1B – Justin Huber

Jose Bautista never got an at-bat with the Mets. After being traded to the Mets he was shipped to the Pirates and ultimately to the Blue Jays. Most would have considered this trade as two ‘no-names’ until Bautista went off in 2010 for 54 bombs and 124 RBIs, good enough for his first All-star appearance and Silver Slugger.

Justin Huber hit .204 in only 98 at-bats in Kansas City.

The Dayton Moore Era

6-20-2006

Tampa Bay Rays received: P – JP Howell

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Joey Gathright

J.P. Howell was a first round draft pick of the Royals in 2004. He started every game he appeared in with the Royals and his first two seasons in Tampa. It wasn’t until the Rays converted the starter into a reliever that Howell posted ERAs of 2.22 and 2.84 in 2008-09 respectively.

Gathright played three seasons for the Royals. He hit .273, with 40 SB, but never many produced runs. He scored 103 runs while driving in 69.

12-14-2007

Arizona Diamondbacks received: P – Billy Buckner

Kansas City Royals received: IF – Alberto Callaspo

Alberto Callaspo provided the Royals with a versatile infielder and consistent bat in the line-up. Callaspo logged three seasons with Kansas City, hitting .293, 68 2B, 13 3B, 19 HR, and 132 RBI. He saw time at second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and designated hitter as a Royal.

Billy Buckner was a second round pick by the Royals in the 2004 MLB Draft. In his three seasons with Arizona, Buckner has started 16 games, posting a 6.56 ERA.

10-30-2008

Florida Marlins received: P – Leo Nunez

Kansas City Royals received: 1B – Mike Jacobs

Dayton Moore was desperately searching for some left-handed pop to complement Billy Butler. He decided on Mike Jacobs. Jacobs disappointed in his only Royals season, hitting .228, with 19 HR and 61 RBI.

To get Jacobs, the Marlins received their closer of the future, Leo Nunez. In his two seasons with Florida, Nunez has racked up 56 saves, with a 3.77 ERA.

11-19-2008

Boston Red Sox received: P – Ramon Ramirez

Kansas City Royals received: OF – Coco Crisp

A month later, Moore tried a similar deal with the Red Sox, another reliever for a stop-gap veteran. Coco Crisp hit only .228 in 180 at-bats before suffering a season-ending injury. This also ended his Royals tenure.

Moore gave up Ramon Ramirez, a live armed reliever. Ramirez threw 112 innings in his two seasons with Boston, posting a 3.46 ERA. At the 2010 trade deadline, Boston dealt Ramirez to San Francisco. Ramirez appeared in all three playoff series leading to the Giants World Series Championship.

Posted in Classic, RoyalsComments (3)

25th ANNIVERSARY: The White Rat

The man at the helm for St. Louis in 1985 was the inestimable Dorrel Norman Elvert “Whitey” Herzog, AKA ‘The White Rat,’ and inventor of ‘Whiteyball.’ Herzog had ties to Kansas City as well, having managed the Royals from 1975-1979, winning consecutive AL West titles from 76-78 but losing to the Yankees each year in the ALCS.

Who is Whitey Herzog? He was a left-handed outfielder and first baseman drafted by the Yankees in 1949. He never played for New York, but he did appear in parts of eight seasons for the Washington Senators (now Minnesota Twins), Kansas City (now Oakland) A’s, Baltimore, and Detroit. He was a career .257 hitter with 25 HR. After leaving the game as a player Herzog became a coach, first with the A’s, then with the Mets.

He was the third base coach for the 1966 Mets, but after that season he moved into player development and became very successful, feeding young talent to the Mets for their 1969 and 1973 NL Champion teams. He thought he had a shot at becoming the Mets manager in 1972, but was passed over by Mets chairman of the board M. Donald Grant; Yogi Berra was hired instead. Herzog left the team, signing a 2-year contract to manage the Texas Rangers.

His time with the Rangers is rather hilariously recounted in Seasons In Hell by Mike Shropshire, a former beat writer for the Fort Worth Press and Star-Telegram. Herzog replaced Ted Williams at the helm and presided over most of the 1973 season, watching the worst Texas Ranger team to play at Arlington (57-105, of which he saw all but the last 24 games). Herzog was unceremoniously dumped in favor of Billy Martin.

He managed the California Angels for 6 games in 1974 on an interim basis before being hired by the Royals for the 1975 season. After the 1979 season, he was offered the Cardinals job, replacing Kenny Boyer. Herzog managed the 1980 team for 73 games before turning it over to Red Schoendienst so Herzog could become the General Manager.

As GM he completely re-did the Cardinal roster. He jettisioned Ted Simmons, Ken Reitz and Bobby Bonds, replacing them with Darrell Porter, Tommy Herr, and Dane Iorg. He moved Ken Oberkfell from second to third. He kept Bob Forsch and Silvio Martinez but revamped the rest of the Cardinal starting rotation. The team responded, going from 74-88 in 1980 to 59-43 in 1981. One of the great injustices of the last 30 years was that ‘split season’. St Louis and Cincinnati finished the entire schedule with the best records in their respective divisions, yet neither team qualified for that year’s post-season tournament.

Following the 1981 season Herzog made his signature trade as GM in St Louis. He acquired Ozzie Smith from San Diego for Garry Templeton. Templeton had hit first or second in the lineup in 1981, and had been a major cog in the Cardinal attack for years, but was also charitably called a ‘head case.’ Ozzie had no bat whatsoever, but boy, could he play shortstop. With Smith in the fold, the Cardinals became the best team in the National League. After losing 3 of their first 4 games, the Cardinals ripped off 12 straight wins and were on their way to the World Series championship.

Herzog’s Cardinals hiccuped in 1983. By this time he had returned to the dugout full time. They were leading the NL East on 15 June when the other signature trade of his time in St. Louis occurred. The Cardinals shipped Keith Hernandez to the Mets for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. This one did not work out nearly as well as the Smith/Templeton trade. St Louis stumbled down the stretch, finishing under .500. They were 6 games better in 1984, but still finished in third place.

Two things happened that off-season that directly aided St Louis’ resurgence. The team traded for Jack Clark, giving them a legitimate power threat in the middle of the order. They also traded for John Tudor. Both the Cardinals and Tudor survived a slow start to become the best team (and second best pitcher) in the National League.

The 1985 team epitomized what became known as ‘Whiteyball’ – teams built on solid defense, speed, pitching, and just enough power. St. Louis led the National League in stolen bases as a team from 1982-1988. They barely hit more home runs than Roger Maris most of those same seasons (67-83-75-87-58-94-71, respectively), but won 3 NL Pennants and 1 World Series. Rival clubs would routinely water down the infield in a vain attempt to slow down the Cardinal running game; St. Louis usually responded by running over those teams.

Herzog would return the the World Series in 1987 but lose again in 7 games, a Series notable as the first one in which the home team won every game. His last hurrah as the Cardinal manager was the 1989 season. That team scratched and clawed all season, rising to within a 1/2 game of the East-leading Cubs on September 8 1989. The following day they could not protect a 2-1 lead in the eighth (aided by a Lonnie Smith error in left field on Dwight Smith’s single), lost 3-2 in 10 innings, then went 0-5-1 in their next six games to fall out of contention for good. Herzog resigned as manager a third of the way through the 1990 season.

Many in St Louis still look back fondly at those 1980s teams, teams Herzog put together and managed. It was the best period of sustained Cardinal excellence (in terms of NL Pennants) since the 1960s, but done in a way that reminded many an older fan of the 1940s ‘Swifties’ teams. Whitey Herzog casts a long shadow around the Gateway City, as every manager (including Tony LaRussa) has discovered.

Herzog was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010, and his number retired by the Club following his induction.

For more on Whitey Herzog we suggest You’re Missin’ a Great Game by Herzog and Jonathan Pitts, and Peter Golenbock’s The Spirit of St. Louis.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, I-70 World SeriesComments (0)


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