Tag Archive | "Great Spring"

Royals Roster Breeds Little Suspense

It’s a so far, so good Spring Training for the Kansas City Royals. As of Wednesday, March 20, the Royals lead the Cactus League with a 18-6 record. There’s no major injuries. Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are playing well. The team hasn’t done anything that makes you scratch your head, at least not yet. They even made a good decision moving Hochevar to the bullpen. In other words, it’s an abnormal Royals Spring training.

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There’s some roster spots up for grabs, but they’re more set than the Royals let on. For instance, the “battle” between Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza for the fifth starting spot. If you go by stats alone, Mendoza is clearly having a better spring, with a 0.82 ERA in three games with 11 innings pitched, giving up an earned run and no home runs. Meanwhile, Chen has a 7.90 ERA in four games with 13.2 innings pitched, giving up 12 earned runs and seven (seven!) homers. So Mendoza should get the fifth starting spot, right?

Royals manager Ned Yost says he’ll decide the starting rotation this Friday and I’m betting Chen will get the fifth starting spot and Mendoza will be a long reliever. Why? Remember, Spring Training stats are meaningless and with Chen’s 14 years in the Majors, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt. Mendoza has six years of Major League experience, but except for 2008 and 2012, he’s had limited playing time. If anything, Yost is a traditionalist and he’ll go with the longtime Royals starter Chen over Mendoza. I’d be surprised if Yost chooses Mendoza over Chen.

This isn’t a battle for a roster spot, but with David Lough having a great spring (a .500/.513/.711 line, with 19 hits, six doubles, a triple and five RBI over 20 games and 38 at-bats), He’s making an argument to have a shot at right field. But it’s likely Lough will go to AAA Omaha.

It doesn’t matter what Lough does, he’s not supplanting Jeff Francoeur in right field. Yes, over 22 games and 53 at-bats, Frenchy has a .208/.250/.396 line with 11 hits, three doubles, two triples, a home run and seven RBI. Remember when I said Spring Training stats are meaningless? They still are, even when some fans want them to apply to Francoeur.

Like Chen, Frenchy has several years of Major League experience over Lough, who debuted in the Majors last year. Francoeur provides “veteran leadership” managers like Yost want to see. Plus the Royals don’t want to have a $7.5MM a year player on the bench. Unless Francoeur suffers injury or the Royals trade him, Lough will be in Omaha. Or Yost might surprise us all and choose Lough over Jarrod Dyson as a fourth outfielder. But with Dyson’s experience and speed, it’s not likely the Royals choose Lough over Dyson. If Lough stays on fire in Omaha and Francoeur crashes and burns, Lough might get a long-term roster spot with the Royals this season.

In the battle for second base, I believe Chris Getz will start at second base and Johnny Giavotella will go to AAA Omaha. This spring, Getz has a .359/.419/.513 line and over 20 games and 39 at-bats, Getz has 14 hits, three doubles, a home run (yes, Getz hit a home run) and six RBI. Meanwhile, Giavotella has a .273/.289/.409 line over 20 games and 44 at-bats with 12 hits, three doubles, a home run and 11 RBI. Despite Getz’s higher line, they have similar offensive numbers.

But it all comes down to defense, and Getz still has the edge. Like Chen and Francoeur, Getz has more Major League experience than Giavotella and Yost will go with the “safe” bet. Now with Getz’s recent issues with injuries, there’s a good chance Giavotella will be with the team sometime this season. But his offense and defense will need to improve if he wants to stay at second.

Salvador Perez will be the starting catcher this season, but there’s competition between Brett Hays and George Kottaras for the backup catcher role. Both are veteran backup catchers and with similar spring offensive numbers (Hayes with a .241/.313/.483 line, seven hits, a double, two home runs and eight RBI, Kottaras with a .269/.424/.346 line, seven hits, two doubles, and three RBI), it’s honestly a coin flip between the two. Either player will be a good backup catcher and let’s hope Perez stays healthy so Hayes and Kottaras stay backup catchers.

Besides the starting rotation, Yost won’t make his final roster decisions until the end of Spring Training. Unlike previous years, there’s not a real bad choice for Yost to make. But whatever roster decisions the Royals make, everyone on the roster has to play to their potential for the Royals to have a good season.

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Is Donnie Joseph for real, or a spring mirage?

You can’t take too much stock in Spring Training performances. For instance, there’s left-handed reliever Donnie Joseph. In two one-inning relief appearances, Joseph faced and struck out six batters, which is impressive. Of course the batters he faced were AAA level players and five of them were left-handed. But if a pitcher is going to make a good impression in Spring Training, Joseph is doing a good job of it.

John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star

Last July, the Royals got Joseph when they sent veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. In four Minor League seasons, Joseph pitched in 193 games over 225.1 innings with a 3.55 ERA and a 3.01 SO/BB ratio, all in relief.

Joseph struggled when he went to AAA Omaha. In 11 games over 17.1 innings, his ERA was 4.15. He struck out 19 batters and gave up 13 walks, ending up with a 1.46 SO/BB ratio.

Despite the two good outings striking out the side, Joseph is a long shot to make the team. His command of the strike zone is inconsistent, and he’s only pitched 29 games in AAA. And there’s the current makeup of the bullpen. The Royals plan to carry seven relievers and for now Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow are locks. And who doesn’t get the fifth starter job between Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar and Luis Mendoza will join the bullpen as long relievers. That leaves one spot and 14 pitchers are vying for that spot, including Joseph.

As a lefty, Joseph could be the left-handed specialist if he makes the team. He’s on the on 40-man roster and has options remaining, so even with a great spring, Joseph might end up in Omaha, especially with the strength of the Royals bullpen. If he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t hurt Joseph to get more experience facing AAA batters and improving his command. Even if he starts the season in Omaha, it’s likely he’ll be with the Royals sometime this year.

Donnie Joseph isn’t for real yet, but he’s not a mirage either.

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St. Louis Cardinals Fantasy Report Week 5

It’s a good thing defense doesn’t count in most fantasy circles. If so, you’d have to think twice before you start a Cardinal. Their defense is really holding the club back. Even so, the Cards won each of their series this week taking 2 out of 3 from the Astros and Braves and could have swept both series.

This week the Cards head home to play seven with four against Florida and three against division rival Milwaukee. The offense is hitting on all cylinders and will look to continue against a decent pitching force this week. The Marlins will throw Volstad, Sanchez, Vasquez and Johnson while the Brewers will send Wolf (L), Gallardo, and Narveson (L). Johnson and Wolf have been two of the best pitchers in the NL to start the season but the other five have been up and down in performances.

Photo Courtesy of Erika Lynn

Injury Front:

Skip Schumaker continues to recover and is still two weeks or more away from returning.

David Freese left Sunday’s game with a broken third metacarpal in his left hand. He’ll head to the DL and might need surgery.

Nick Punto also left Sunday’s game with tightness in his hamstring.

Playing Time:

Daniel Descalso will see his already increasing role grow this week with the injury to Freese. Matt Carpenter might get the call to replace Freese on the roster. He had a great spring but was ice cold to start the season at AAA. He now is getting back on track. He has great plate discipline and is an interesting one to watch but not worth owning at this juncture. He was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2010.

The bullpen is an ultra-committee right now. Boggs blew a save, Sanchez grabbed one, Miller grabbed one and Salas got two. There’s no way to tell who will get the call at this point and until a clear option presents itself it’s best to stay away.

HOT:

It feels like Lance Berkman has been on this list every week. Last week he made Houston fans remember what they loved about him and made them want to forget why they let him go. This week he went 11-24 with a gigantic performance at Houston on Thursday going 4-5 with 2 HR and 5 RBI. Over his last ten, he’s hitting .526 with 2 HR and 10 RBI with 9 Runs scored. Not too shabby.

David Freese was hot but finds himself with a frustrating trip to the DL ahead. In his last ten he’s hit .351 with 5 RBI. He’s worth stashing away ‘til he gets healthy but the lack of power is somewhat concerning, of his 31 hits this season only 6 are for extra bases. It feels like he is younger than he really is (he turned 28 on Thursday) so expecting a breakout in power is not reasonable. If he stays healthy, his HR ceiling may be around 12-15.

Matt Holliday continues to rake and has an 8 game hitting streak. Usually a slow starter, Matt looks locked in and could experience a year closer to his career best in 2007.

Kyle Lohse has now thrown 4 straight quality starts. He’s going deep into ball games displaying good control and decent strikeout rates. Opposing hitters are only managing a .173 average. He’s a must start against Florida and with the way he’s going it would be worth considering him against Milwaukee, only because he is at home.

NOT:

No one really warrants be named on this list this week. We’ve already surmised that Ryan Franklin is done and praised the heavens because defense is not a problem in fantasy baseball.

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