Tag Archive | "Franchise History"

An ode to Country Breakfast

Lost in the roasting of Kansas City over the booing of Robinson Can0 was the sentiment that fans around baseball would not want to see Billy Butler compete in the Home Run Derby because they don’t even know who he is. If nothing else, after the heroic performance of the fans, at least no one can say that anymore. What’s more, it is about time. Time that Billy Butler get the recognition he deserves.

While the chances of Butler breaking Steve Balboni’s embarrassing home run record seem to be fading, he is nonetheless on pace to put together his most impressive season as  Royal. As of July 18, Butler was on pace for .300/32/100 while posting a career best 136 OPS in a lineup that has offered little in the way of protection. What’s more, Butler is well on his way to cementing his place as the best DH in Royals history and quite possibly the second best hitter in franchise history.

At 26 years old, Butler has already joined the Kansas City Royals all-time top ten in doubles (8th) and RBI (10th); he also has the fourth best career batting average (.297) and the fifth best OPS+ (121). Butler is under club control until 2015, and assuming he isn’t traded and maintains his pace of the last 2 ½ seasons, his totals will look something like this in October of 2015:

1510 hits- 6th

351 doubles- 5th

165 home runs- 5th

751 RBI- 6th

510 BB- 5th

Not overly impressive until you think about the fact that he would still only be 29 years old. Considering that Butler is limited to the American League in terms of value, he’s not the type of power hitter that demands a huge contract, and he seems to genuinely enjoy playing in Kansas City, he could very well be the type of player we didn’t think we would see again; a great hitter to play his whole career in Kansas City. It’s foolish to say you can accurately predict what is career would look like if he did, but it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t play at at least the same level from 26-33 as he has from 23-26. Let’s take a look at those numbers again, assuming he does:

2254 hits- 2nd

527 doubles- 2nd

249 home runs- 2nd

1123 RBI- 2nd

770 BB- 5th

The point of this is not to project Butler’s stats over an entire career, but it is pretty easy to see that he could make a run at some incredible milestones. Ten years ago we were sure that the economics of baseball would keep us from ever having a member of the 3,000 hit club play their entire career for the Kansas City Royals, Butler could. Here are the hit totals of some of the more recent members of the 3,000 hit club at 26 years old:

Billy Butler- 864

Rafael Palmeiro- 805

Tony Gwyn- 770

Craig Biggio- 624

Wade Boggs- 531

It seemed even less likely that we’d see another Royal get 600 doubles in a Royals uniform, but again, at age 26:

George Brett- 211

Billy Butler- 198

Barry Bonds- 184

Paul Molitor- 147

Every player that has reached either one of those milestones, and is eligible for induction, is in the Hall of Fame except for Rafael Palmeiro. Billy could reach both, even without the expected surge in his performance over the next 3-5 years.  I guess I am okay with the rest of baseball not realizing what a great hitter Billy Butler is, but it would sure be a shame if there was one baseball fan in Kansas City that didn’t.

While we sit around and worry about not being able to sign the Hosmer’s and Moustakas’ of the world, let’s make sure we are celebrating #Country Breakfast, and keeping him around. While we lament the loss of Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, and Jermaine Dye, let’s consider that Billy Butler is a better hitter than any of them were through age 26.

You can argue until you’re blue in the face about whether booing Can0 was classless or small-time. I really don’t care even if you’re right. In my eyes it showed an appreciation of Billy that is long overdue, and hopefully the beginning of a love affair that lasts the next 10-15 years.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (2)

2012 All Star Lineups

LINEUPS FOR THE 83rd ALL-STAR GAME ANNOUNCED

Aces Verlander of the Tigers and Cain of the Giants Earn Starting Honors

KANSAS CITY, MO – The 2012 All-Star Game managers, Tony La Russa and Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers, have announced their starting lineups for the 83rd Midsummer Classic, to be played on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.  The lineups were announced at this afternoon’s 2012 All-Star Game Press Conference.

La Russa’s National League lineup will be:

Player, Club

Bats

Pos.

Statistics (N.L. bests are bolded)

Carlos Gonzalez, COL

L

DH

.330, 61 R, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 11 SB, .389 OBP

Melky Cabrera, SF

S

CF

.353, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 119 H, .391 OBP

Ryan Braun, MIL

R

LF

.306, 24 HR, 61 RBI, 15 SB, .599 SLG

Joey Votto, CIN

L

1B

.348, 14 HR, 48 RBI, .471 OBP1.087 OPS

Carlos Beltran, STL

S

RF

.296, 20 HR, 65 RBI, .382 OBP

Buster Posey, SF

R

C

.289, 16 2B, 10 HR, 43 RBI

Pablo Sandoval, SF

S

3B

.307, 8 HR, 30 RBI, .362 OBP

Dan Uggla, ATL

R

2B

.221, 53 R, 12 HR, 45 RBI, .351 OBP

Rafael Furcal, STL

S

SS

.275, 54 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI

Matt Cain, SF

R

RHP

9-3, 2.62 ERA, 120.1 IP, 118 SO

Washington’s American League lineup will be:

Player, Club

Bats

Pos.

Statistics (A.L. bests are bolded)

Derek Jeter, NYY

R

SS

.308, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 111 H, .354 OBP

Robinson Cano, NYY

L

2B

.313, 57 R, 20 HR, 51 RBI, .578 SLG

JOSH HAMILTON, TEX

L

LF

.308, 27 HR75 RBI.635 SLG1.016 OPS

Jose Bautista, TOR

R

RF

.244, 59 R, 27 HR, 65 RBI, .540 SLG

Prince Fielder, DET

L

1B

.299, 15 HR, 63 RBI, .505 SLG

Adrian Beltre, TEX

R

3B

.326, 15 HR, 54 RBI, .524 SLG

David Ortiz, BOS

L

DH

.312, 62 R, 22 HR, 57 RBI, .607 SLG

MIKE NAPOLI, TEX

R

C

.228, 12 HR, 30 RBI, .340 OBP

Curtis Granderson, NYY

L

CF

.248, 61 R, 23 HR, 48 RBI

Justin Verlander, DET

R

RHP

9-5, 2.58 ERA, 5 CG, 132.2 IP128 SO

Cain, now a three-time N.L. All-Star, threw the first perfect game in Giants franchise history and the 22nd of all-time on June 13th against the Houston Astros.  His 14 strikeouts were tied for the most ever in a perfect game, matching Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.  The eighth-year hurler, who has a 3.29 career ERA, threw 21.1 innings without allowing an earned run in the 2010 Postseason, helping lift the Giants to the city of San Francisco’s first World Series Championship.  Cain became the sixth pitcher in Major League history to make three starts in a Postseason without allowing an earned run.  His streak of 21.1 innings without allowing an earned run to start his Postseason career is the sixth longest in Major League history.  The durable right-hander has made at least 31 starts in each full season of his career (2006-2011).

Verlander, now a five-time A.L. All-Star, was both the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and the 2011 A.L. Cy Young Award winner after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, becoming the 10th pitcher of all-time to win both in the same season and the first since Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in 1992.  The Old Dominion product was also the A.L. Rookie of the Year in 2006, when he helped Detroit reach the World Series for the first time since 1984.  Verlander becomes the first pitcher ever to win an MVP, a Cy Young, the Rookie of the Year Award and to start an All-Star Game in his career.  Don Newcombe won the three awards but never started the Midsummer Classic in his four All-Star appearances.  Verlander owns a career record of 116-62 with a 3.45 ERA and has thrown two no-hitters in his career.  The Virginia native will become the seventh different Tigers pitcher to start the All-Star Game (10th overall).

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, July 10th.  The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International’s independent feed.  Pregame ceremonies will begin at 8:00 p.m. (ET)/7:00 p.m. (CT).  ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game.  MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information, please visit allstargame.com or royals.com/2012.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Well, that was a bad week for the St. Louis Cardinals

The hits, or lack of hits, kept coming last week as the St. Louis Cardinals continued a rough stretch that included becoming the victim of the New York Mets first no-hitter in franchise history.

Aside from being no-hit by Mets pitcher Johan Santana Friday night, the Cardinals also sent Skip Schumaker back to the disabled list to join an all-star caliber cast that includes Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay on the offensive side, and Chris Carpenter and Kyle McClellan representing the pitching staff.

On the bright side, perhaps the only bright side of the week that saw the Cardinals go 2-6 in their last eight games, Allen Craig rejoined the team Friday. Although he obviously didn’t get a hit in his first game back, the Cardinals sorely need his presence in the lineup.

It’s not surprising that the Cardinals have fallen back to the back amid all of the injuries. Sure, every team has injuries throughout the long season, but no team is going to play first-place caliber baseball with six important players hurt.

However, the Cardinals are still capable of playing competitive baseball, and better baseball than they have of late.

The bullpen has been simply atrocious for much of the last three weeks. The Cardinals had the fourth-worst ERA in May at 4.72, and the bullpen’s ERA was even higher. The disturbing part of the bullpen’s performance is injuries cannot be used as an excuse. Aside from McClellan, the bullpen pitchers have remained healthy, they’ve just pitched terribly.

Now it’s to the point where guys such as Sam Freeman, Maikel Cleto and Brandon Dickson are trying to get important outs for the big league club, when in reality they should still be playing for the AAA Memphis Redbirds.

Even with the injuries to position players, the Cardinals put up four runs or more in every game last week before running into a buzz saw this weekend against the Mets. A team that consistently scores four runs or more should win a lot of ballgames, but the pitching staff has found numerous ways to give up more than four runs.

The struggles of middle relief pitchers have been particularly back-breaking. The Cardinals have shown all season they can fight back during a game even if they fall behind early.

For example, the Atlanta Braves scored three runs in the first inning and two more runs in the third inning Wednesday to take a 5-0 lead. The Cardinals fought back and tied the game at five in the six, but Marc Rzepczynski immediately gave up three runs to take away any momentum the Cardinals had built.

So, what’s the fix? Good question. The offense will be fine. A lineup that includes Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and David Freese will produce enough runs to remain competitive. However, as we said before the season started, the pitching staff is going to have to be strong for the Cardinals to compete for the division crown.

That happened at the beginning of the season. The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead almost every night, and the pitchers held the opponents in check the rest of the night. The game seemed easy back in April.

That certainly changed in May. Relief pitchers such as Rzepczynski, Fernando Salas and Mitchell Boggs will have to regain their 2011 and early 2012 form if the Cardinals are going to keep up with the Cincinnati Reds throughout the summer. The Memphis Redbirds pitching staff isn’t equipped to compete in the major leagues, and it is showing right now.

Hopefully the Cardinals beat up on the Houston Astros this coming week, but after that series the team faces a stretch against AL Central powerhouses such as the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Hang on tight, folks, the rough ride of the past week could continue for a while.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Double-A no hitter

The Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, experienced the joy of participating in one of baseball’s truly rare moments, the no-hitter.  The Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals experienced the agony of being on the receiving end.

The following press releases were sent in to the i70 mailbox from the two teams.

Naturals No-Hit Cardinals
Holland, Dwyer, Lafferty, Volz combine to throw gem

SPRINGDALE, AR- The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (17-16) got the second no-hitter in franchise history topping the Springfield Cardinals 2-0 on Thursday night at Arvest Ballpark.  The no-hitter was the first in the history of Arvest Ballpark, and the second for the Naturals, the last coming on July 19, 2011 at North Little Rock.

Greg Holland was brilliant in his second major league rehab start.  He used just 14 pitches to strikeout the side in order.  The Naturals offense wasted not time getting to Cardinals (14-19) starter Trevor Rosenthal (2-4) getting three consecutive singles to start the game.  The last one was an RBI single from Wil Myers to give the Naturals a 1-0 lead.  Rosenthal was able to get Mario Lisson to ground into a force out and strike out Eric Duncan to strand runners on second and third.  The Naturals offense tacked on a second run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Julio Rodriguez smacked an RBI single to right field to score Duncan making it 2-0.

Chris Dwyer (2-4) came in the second inning and picked up right where Holland left off.  Dwyer worked six and two thirds inning without allowing a hit walking two and hitting one batter.  Brendan Lafferty came on and kept the no-hit bid alive getting Kolten Wong to fly out to Paulo Orlando just one step in front of the fence.

Kendal Volz got Jermaine Curtis to line out to Colon at short to get the first out of the ninth inning.  Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras grounded out to second base for the second out.  Kyle Conley stepped to the plate as the last chance for the Cardinals and he grounded out to shortstop to complete the no-hitter.

Naturals No-Hit Cardinals in 2-0 Loss
Springfield Suffers First No-Hitter in Franchise History

Springfield, MO – After a tremendous eight-game homestand which saw the Cardinals go 6-2, the Springfield squad embarked on yet another eight-game road trip beginning with four in NW Arkansas against the Naturals.

The last time away from Hammons Field the Cardinals went 0-8 and set a franchise record for most consecutive road losses in a row; they looked to snap that stretch Thursday night with Trevor Rosenthal on the mound. The Naturals countered with Major League Rehabber Greg Holland for an inning then lefty Chris Dwyer, coming off a start in which he allowed 10 runs to Springfield.

After a quick top of the first, Rosenthal battled through to bottom of the inning.  After allowing three straight singles, including an RBI single by Wil Myers, the Naturals had a 1-0 lead.  The righty settled down however to retire the next three batters to limit the damage to just the one run.

The Naturals added another run in the 4th as former Springfield Cardinal Eric Duncan singled, stole second with two outs and scored on an RBI single by Julio Rodriguez to grab a 2-0 lead.  Rosenthal would leave after just 4.1 innings and gave way to Kevin Thomas with a runner at second and one out.  Thomas would strikeout the next two batters to keep the game 2-0 after five.

Springfield had their first real scoring chance in the 6th with two outs after a hit by pitch and a walk brought Oscar Taveras to the plate, but the Cardinals’ centerfielder flied out to shallow center field to retire the side.

Chris Dwyer was dominant for the Naturals pitching 6.2 innings of no-hit ball while striking out five and walking just two.  After a two out walk in the 8th, Dwyer gave way to Brendan Lafferty.  Kolten Wong was able to get good wood on the ball, but flied out to the wall in right field keeping the Cardinals out of the hit column.

In the 9th, closer Kendal Volz retired the Cardinals in order to complete the second no-hitter in Naturals history.  It was the first time in Springfield’s history that they were no-hit.

The Redbirds will continue their four-game set against the NW Arkansas Naturals Friday night at 7:30pm.  Michael Blazek will start for Springfield against Jake Odorizzi of the Naturals. 

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, Minors, RoyalsComments (0)

March Madness – All Time Cardinals Tourney Second Round

Drop by our friends at Pitchers Hit Eighth, C70 At The Bat, and Aaron Miles’ Fastball to vote in the Musial, Smith, and Gibson Regions of the tournament.  The turn out to this point has been outstanding and we move forward today with the opening of the second round of the tournament.  I-70 is the home of the Buck Region, and the bracket now looks like this:

Which brings us to your participation.

Voting for this round closes Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Central Time.

It’s time to get the Buck Bracket down to four teams and we need your vote in the following four games:

The top seed in the bracket, the 1942 Cardinals, posted a shut-out in their opening match-up.  It is important to note that this is the most successful team in Cardinal history.  With 106 wins (most in franchise history) and a decisive 4 games to 1 victory over the mighty Yankees.  The 1942 team was the beginning of one of the few dynasties in Cardinals history, which would see the team play in four of five World Series and bring home three titles.  A young rookie named Stan Musial had joined the team and pitcher Mort Cooper would bring home a Most Valuable Player Award for his performance.

The 1957 Cardinals were the loan “upset” in our opening round in the Buck Region, knocking off the 1947 team placed just ahead of them in the seeding.  The team that year would finish in second place, watching the Milwaukee Braves represent the National League in the World Series.  A winning record of 87-67 would not be enough for an offensive heavy edition of the Birds-on-the-bat as Stan Musial would once again lead the team in production.

Round 2 Game 1

  • (1) 1942 (92%, 11 Votes)
  • (9) 1957 (8%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The fifth seed in our bracket, the 2005 Cardinals, breezed into the next round, and rightfully so.  A great team at a low-seed, the 2005 edition produced 100 wins before losing in heart-breaking fashion to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series.  That series produced memorable moments for many Cardinal fans despite ending prior to reaching the pinnacle of the game.  The team was so dominant that they would bring home a Cy Young Award for Chris Carpenter and a Most Valuable Player Award for Albert Pujols.

Our number four seed, however, is part of the dynasty that we discussed with our number one seed in the tournament.  If the 1942 Cardinals started the dynasty, the 1943 Cardinals were the only stumbling block.  They won 105 games, second most in franchise history and Stan Musial would bring home the Most Valuable Player Award.  They were dominant from wire to wire, until they reached the World Series.  The only team in the 1940′s run to not win a World Series, the team was very successful otherwise.  The match-up of two great teams that couldn’t win the World Series promises to be one of the best in this bracket.

Round 2 Game 2

  • (5) 2005 (58%, 7 Votes)
  • (4) 1943 (42%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The dynasty of the 1940′s continues with our fourth seed, the 1944 Cardinals.  Matching their previous year, the team would win 105 games and, this time, would not disappoint in the Fall Classic.  The second World Championship of the decade would find it’s way home to St. Louis as Stan Musial continued to become a household name.  The World Series would never leave St. Louis that year as the Cardinals would defeat the Browns four games to two.

The 2009 Cardinals were expected to be a force when they reached the playoffs after winning 91 games during the season.  Unfortunately, when they arrived at the National League Division Series, the team seemed over matched and out of place.  The Los Angeles Dodgers sent them home quickly and brought a disappointing end to another strong season under Tony LaRussa.

Round 2 Game 3

  • (3) 1944 (83%, 10 Votes)
  • (6) 2009 (17%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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Our final game pits our number seven seed, 1935, against the number two seed.  The 1935 group is yet another promising team that did not play in the World Series.  With 96 wins, the team fell four games back of the league winner that year, the hated Chicago Cubs.  This team would see Dizzy Dean finish second for the Most Valuable Player Award, three spots in front of teammate Joe Medwick.

Our namesake here at i70baseball, the 1985 Cardinals, may be the emotional pick and one of the best, non-championship teams in our bracket.  A team built on speed, defense, and fundamentals, the 85 crew was lead by Willie McGee and his .353 batting average and two hurlers that would finish in the top five of the Cy Young voting – Joaquin Andujar (4) and John Tudor (2).

Round 2 Game 4

  • (2) 1985 (100%, 12 Votes)
  • (7) 1935 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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There you go, run and vote and share with all your friends.  Visit the other sties above to cast your votes in their brackets and help us decide who the greatest Cardinal team of all time is.

A bit of a teaser from Nick at Pitchers Hit Eighth today: Also, stay tuned to the United Cardinal Bloggers website later today for a fun contest you can participate in along with the Tourney!

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, FeaturedComments (0)

March Madness Cardinal Tourney – Round One

Earlier today we introduced the UCB All Time Cardinal Team Tournament.

This tournament of 64 different Cardinal franchises will start today here on i70baseball and on Pitchers Hit Eighth.

The Buck Region belongs to us and our match-ups follow below.  Please take the time to vote on the various games and help us determine who the best of the best really is.

Voting for this round will close on Saturday, March 17, at 8:00 p.m. Central Time

The 1942Cardinals hold the record for the most wins in franchise history (106). They won the World Series, only losing one game to the Yankees. Enos Slaughter was the team’s top performing player posting a 7.1 WAR.

The 1917 Cardinals finished 3rd in the National League with a 82-70 record. Rogers Hornsby led the team in WAR, posting a 9.2.

Round 1 Game

  • (1) 1942 (100%, 26 Votes)
  • (16) 1917 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1947Cards posted a 89-65 record while finishing second in the National League. Whitey Kurowski was the best on the team, posting a 6.2 WAR.

The 1957 team was also a second place finisher, posting a 87-67 record. Stan Musial would lead the team with a 6.6 WAR.

Round 1 Game 2

  • (9) 1957 (69%, 18 Votes)
  • (8) 1947 (31%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 The 2005 team won 100 games, yet lost in the NLCS to the Houston Astros.  Albert Pujols led the team with a 8.2 WAR.

The 2008 team would finish in 4th place while posting a 86-76 record.  Albert Pujols would lead this team with a 9.6 WAR.

Round 1 Game 3

  • (5) 2005 (100%, 26 Votes)
  • (12) 2008 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1943 team would win 105 games and lose the World Series to the New York Yankees.  Stan Musial led the boys with a 8.9 WAR.

1977 was a sentimental pick.  The year I was born, the Cards went 83-79 and finished 3rd in the National League East.  Ted Simmons led the team with a 6.3 WAR.

Round 1 Game 4

  • (4) 1943 (92%, 24 Votes)
  • (13) 1977 (8%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 In 1944 Cardinals won a World Series title after winning a second consecutive 105 win season.  Stan Musial would post a 9.1 WAR to lead the team.

The 14th seed is the 1914 club.  They finished 81-72, 3rd in the league.  Pitcher Harry “Slim” Sallee led the team with a 4.8 WAR.

Round 1 Game 5

  • (3) 1944 (96%, 25 Votes)
  • (14) 1914 (4%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 2009 would see the Cardinals finish at 91-71 and lose the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Albert Pujols would led the team with a 8.8 WAR.

The 1991 Cardinals would finish in 2nd place, their highest finish under Joe Torre.  Ozzie Smith would led the team with a 4.7 WAR.

Round 1 Game 6

  • (6) 2009 (65%, 17 Votes)
  • (11) 1991 (35%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1935 Cardinals would finish second in the league despite a 96-58 record.  Dizzy Dean posted a 7.6 WAR.

1989 would give the Cardinals a 86-76 record, good enough to finish third.  Ozzie Smith would lead the team with a 6.3 WAR.

Round 1 Game 7

  • (7) 1935 (88%, 22 Votes)
  • (10) 1989 (12%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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The number two seed represents the site well, coming from 1985.  The team won 101 games and lost the World Series to the Royals.

The 15th seed comes from the year prior, in 1984.  They would finish 84-78 and third in the division.  Bruce Sutter’s 4.5 WAR would lead the team.

Round 1 Game 8

  • (2) 1985 (100%, 24 Votes)
  • (15) 1984 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Please vote and share the brackets with your friends.  The polls will close on Saturday and the winners will move on to next week’s rounds.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, FeaturedComments (3)

One signature a “sign” for the future

Not many Major League baseball players have to opportunity to sign a long term contract after playing only 51 games above the AA level.  That is exactly what Kansas City Royals catcher, Salvador Perez, got the chance to do this past week and he took it and ran with it.  The financial security for him and his family played a big part in this deal obviously but it also gave the Royals the chance to lock up a potential all star with an back end heavy contract that will allow the Royals to do many things.

First, it allows them to reward a player that they believe to be able to develop into an all star.  With the talents that he has shown at every level in which he has played many are comparing his abilities to a young Yadier Molina. Molina as a young catcher, like Perez, was sought after for his stellar defense but was not a highly touted hitting prospect.  Over time he has proven that his development at the Major League level paid off for the St. Louis Cardinals. If Perez pans out like the Royals think he will, this non high risk contract could end up being one of the biggest steals in franchise history.  Just after Perez sign his contract with the Royals, Molina signed his own 5 year deal worth, reportedly, up to 75 million dollars.  If Perez if able to live up to his potential then the two contracts could be a good comparison in the years to come and show the Royals how much money, say 68 million dollars, they saved by signing an all star leader like Perez early. Signing such a incentive latent contract means that Perez has to perform.  If he does not work out in the long run than they only spent seven million dollars. This gives the Royals the security both financially and on the field because they can use this as motivation not only for Perez but for other young players on the ball club.

What this kind of a contract does to the psyche of the young players on the Royals roster is as positive as it gets.  While Perez has not played as much as a Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, or Lorenzo Cain, the signing shows that if these young guys step up to the plate do what they are ask and perform, the Royals are ready and willing to reward them for the actions. Though, the deals for these players may not be as club friendly as the Perez deal but if the three previously mentioned players are performing to a high enough standard that they require big money to play then that means this team could be winning some ball games and a lot of them. These are the types of things that if the Royals prove that they are willing to lock players up with long term contracts, the young players will not only want to play in Kansas City but that they will need to play in Kansas City. As evident by the tweet of one pitcher Danny Duffy stated, #burymeaRoyal which took Royals fans, following Duffy on twitter, by storm. Could this be the sign that these young guys not only want to win but that they want to do it in Royal blue? This is a question that can be answered over the next 5 years on the field and in the size of the Glass family checkbook.

The final accomplishment are the fans.  The fans are the ones who get to enjoy the play on the field.  They are the reason that sports are possible because without fans the money would not be there.  So, for Royals fans, a deal like Perez’s could be the sign that they may want to go all in on the Royals regime.  But not so fast my friends, this is just one deal and yes it is a good sign for the future but this is a signing of a 21 year old from a small town in Venezuela who would have loved nothing more than to be able to take care of he and his family.  His new contract does that and will provide him with a great life after baseball. But, Scott Boras may have something else to say when his clients start hitting the negotiation table with the Royals.  He is what I call a bleeder.  Although his client may be happy with the team and happy with the contract that has been offered, he is going to bleed every last penny out of an organization until they are seeing the bright light and then he will sign. So as fans yes encouraged is a good thought to have right now with the way things have started in early Spring but will the Royals put their money where their mouth is when the time comes and goodness how much money that will have to be.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

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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Royals Avoid Arbitration With Three Pitchers

ROYALS AGREE TO TERMS WITH PITCHERS HOCHEVAR, PAULINO AND SANCHEZ ON ONE-YEAR CONTRACTS FOR 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 17, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has agreed to terms on one-year Major League contracts with right-handed pitchers Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino, and left-handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for the 2012 season, avoiding arbitration with all three. Consistent with club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed. Outfielder Alex Gordon is the Royals lone remaining arbitration-eligible player.

The 28-year-old Hochevar compiled an 11-11 record with a 4.68 ERA in 31 starts in 2011. He set career bests in wins, starts, innings (198.0), strikeouts (128) and quality starts (16). The Royals Opening Day starter last season was 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts following the All-Star break, holding opponents to a .222 average which ranked sixth in the American League among starters. The first-overall selection in the 2006 June Free Agent Draft resides in Knoxville, Tenn., with his wife, Ashley, and daughter, Laney.

Paulino, 28, joined the Royals on May 26, 2011 in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for cash considerations. He was 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for Kansas City following the deal, striking out 119 in 124.2 innings. He struck out 8.59 hitters per nine innings as a Royal, which ranks as the fifth-best in franchise history among hurlers with at least 120 innings. Paulino followed up his 2011 campaign by being selected as a member of the MLB All-Star team that toured Taiwan in early November, starting the third game of the five-game exhibition series. Paulino initially signed with the Houston Astros as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2001. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he now resides in Pearland, Texas, with his wife, Paola, and daughter, Victoria.

Sanchez, 29, was acquired from San Francisco with left-handed pitcher Ryan Verdugo on November 7, 2011 in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera. He has posted a 3.75 ERA over his last three seasons with the Giants in 85 games (81 starts). In 2011, Sanchez was 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts before missing the final month and a half with a left ankle sprain. He posted a breakout 2010 campaign for the World Series champions, going 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA, tossing 5.0 shutout innings in Game 162 vs. San Diego as the Giants clinched the N.L. West. The 6-foot-2, 198-pounder is 38-46 with a 4.26 ERA in 174 career outings, including 118 starts. He tossed the 13th no-hitter in Giants history on July 10, 2009 vs. San Diego. Sanchez has posted 736 strikeouts in 708.0 innings, a rate of 9.355 strikeouts per nine innings which ranks as the third-best in baseball (min. 700 IP) since 2006, trailing the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (9.87) and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (9.360), who have won three of the last four National League Cy Young Awards. Sanchez was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and now resides in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. He has one son, Christian.

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Winter Worries

Kansas City Royals fans are excited for the coming baseball season. I’m not sure if they’re excited to have any kind of baseball back, or they think the Royals have a legitimate shot at winning games during the 2012 season. Like most either-or situations the truth is most likely in the middle. I’m excited too, and I have been since the end of the regular season.

I have not been this excited during a Royals off-season since the winter of 2003-2004. Remember that? I do, and it has me slightly worried. The Royals finished the 2003 Season 83-79. While the 2003 Royals faded down the stretch, and dropping their last three to White Sox there was lot to be excited about that fall. The Royals had a collection of young guys. Angel Berrora was the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year. He flashed some leather in the field, and was surprise at the plate. Surely Berrora would get better during the off-season? Ken Harvey had a good first half of the season and became an All-Star. Even though he faded during the second half of 2003, surely he would figure some things out and get better? Mike MacDougal would learn some control. Jose Lima had eliminated his demons and was back to being a productive starter. Mike Sweeney will get healthy over the winter. Runelvys Hernandez, Brian Anderson, Jeremy Affeldt, DJ Carrasco, Jimmy Gobble, would all come back in 2004 and be better. Because that’s what young ball players do. They get better. They don’t ever regress? Do they?

Not only was the current roster going to improve but Allard Baird signed veteran free agents Benito Santiago and Juan Gonzales. Zack Greinke was waiting in the minors. Some national media prognosticators even picked the 2004 Royals to win the division! The Royals future was bright, and the Royals fans had to wear shades to even look at it. How could anything go wrong?

You're looking at the best moment of the Royals 2004 Season.

The 2004 Off-Season concluded with one of the most exciting Opening Day’s in franchise history with Mendy Lopez hitting a home run off Damaso Marte in the bottom of the 9th. I was at that game, and it’s one of my favorite Royals memories. The Royals march to October was underway. I went to two more games that opening week. The Royals finished up the opening home stand 4-2. Of Course, we don’t need Paul Harvey to tell us what happened to Ken Harvey and learn the rest of this story. The Royals only won three more games the rest of April, finishing 7-14. This included a six game losing streak. May got even weirder with Tony Pena fleeing the country and the wheels officially coming off the wagon. Thus began even darker days for the franchise and it’s fans, and truthfully I don’t know if we’ve ever fully recovered.

This season does look promising. But years, and years of disappointment have dulled my optimist’s blade a little. After all, the 2003 Royals won twelve more games than the 2011 Royals. I claim to not be a very big statistics person. But one statistic that came to my attention during the 2003 season was the Pythagorean Win-Loss Formula. You use total runs scored and total runs allowed for a team to determine what a team’s record should be. The 2003 Royals had a better record than their Pythagorean W-L: 78-84. Their actual W-L was 83-79. In other words, the 2003 Royals were lucky. Any team that got to play the 2003 Tigers 19 times was lucky. The 2011 Royals Pythagorean W-L: 78-84. Their actual W-L was 71-91. The 2011 Royals were more unlucky than the 2003 Royals were lucky. This tells me that last season’s Royals weren’t all that far off from being a .500 team.

Knowing that last season’s team was better than perceived sort of eases my mind. However, a lot of assumptions on 2012 being a good season for the Royals are dependent on the same things that made us think 2004 was going to be a good season. Youth taking a step forward, no major regressions from the established roster, and new additions being as advertised or better. I’ve been this excited before only to see the worst team in franchise history trotted onto the field. There are always a lot of ifs for a baseball team this time of year. Too many times the answer to those ifs has been wrong for the Royals. That’s what has me worried. If this group of players doesn’t turn things around for the organization the only thing we’ll have to look forward to is another GM and another process. For once it would be fun to be excited about the Royals, and not worry that the wheels might fall off. Of course, like a lot of Royals fans problems only consistent winning will take care of that.

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