Tag Archive | "Infielder"

Maybe St. Louis Cardinals discount rate suggests Aledmys Diaz isn’t worth the hype

St. Louis Cardinals officials said they wanted to make a “big splash” in the market for Cuban baseball players when they signed infielder Aledmys Diaz on Sunday, but their first signing might turn out to simply be a drop in the proverbial bucket.

AledmysDiaz2

The Cardinals signed Diaz, 23, to a four-year, $8-million contract and will likely send him to the Double-A Springfield Cardinals to begin his American baseball career.

However, the excitement Diaz generated when the Cardinals brought him to their spring training headquarters in Jupiter, Fla., nearly three weeks ago suggested they were about to sign a player more similar to Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder sensation Yasiel Puig rather than someone who would have to labor to take a spot away from utility players such as Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso.

The organization’s interest and subsequent offer are not unfounded, to be sure. The $8 million it will pay Diaz in the next four years is substantially less than the $15-20 million many people thought it would take to sign Diaz with teams in play such as the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, San Franscisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays.

Those teams ultimately steered clear of Diaz and the Cardinals might have gotten him at a discount, which could be important if he never develops beyond the Kozma-Descalso level and yet another incredible Cardinals bargain if he becomes a starter in Major League Baseball.

But he has plenty of work to do to get there. Although he hit .315 and had 12 homeruns in 2012 in the Cuban professional league, he has not played since because he falsified his age when he defected after that season and Major League Baseball suspended him for a year before he could sign with an American team.

So the projected start in the minor leagues is well-founded, and the Cardinals have little reason to rush Diaz up to St. Louis after they signed Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53-million contract in November to be the starting shortstop.

Yet the fact Diaz is now in spring training camp with the Cardinals does not mean fans should expect him, rookie second baseman Kolten Wong and outfield prospect Oscar Taveras to be the next Albert Pujols-Jim Edmonds-Scott Rolen trio that will carry the team to World Series championships.

That’s a possibility, but it’s a small one at this point.

While some reports say Diaz will be an impact righthanded hitter at the major-league level, others suggest he will be merely a utility infielder.

Of course, projections about former Cuban players are always difficult because the information on them is so scarce.

The Oakland Athletics lucked out in 2012 when they signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36-million contract. He has hit more than 20 homers and had 80 or more runs batted in, in each of his first two years although many people around baseball thought the A’s made a misguided move to sign an unknown player to such a large contract.

Other Cuban players such as Puig and Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman have also made big splashes in the big leagues within the past three years, but those three players signed contracts worth a combined $105.25 million.

Maybe the Cardinals have gotten away with one of the greatest steals in the history of the Cuban-American baseball, but any further hype about Diaz should probably wait until he at least gets to the top level of the minor leagues, much less the majors.

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Royals Add Infield Insurance

The Kansas City Royals recent play has them a contender in both the AL Central and the race for a wild card spot. Now playing meaningful games in August and September for the first time in years, the Royals have made several moves recently to add depth to their team as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Emilio Bonifacio

Kansas City recently placed Miguel Tejada on the 60-day DL. The absence of Tejada coupled with Mike Moustakas nursing a sore left calf led the Royals to make two moves to bolster their infield depth.

First they acquired 12-year MLB veteran Jamey Carroll from the Twins and then they added super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays. Both players cost the Royals cash and/or a player to be named later.

Carroll is a light-hitting infielder who started 46 games for the Twins this year and did not hit a home run, while driving in nine runs. Offense is not Carroll’s game, but he does provide veteran leadership and he can fill in at multiple positions on the infield. He is a good defender, even at this time in his career.

Carroll started Tuesday’s game against the Marlins at third base and was 0-4 with one strike out. He also pinch hit in Monday’s game and was 0-2.

Bonifacio is also expected to have a utility role. Like Carroll, Bonifacio can fill in all over the infield. Unlike Carroll, Bonifacio has also logged time in the outfield and can play a corner spot or in center field. Bonifacio doesn’t hit for average (hit .218 with the Jays this year), but he does offer speed. He can steal bases when he gets regular at-bats and can also come into the game as a pinch runner, providing a threat on the bases in late-game situations.

These moves have gone under the radar in baseball circles. However, Royals’ GM Dayton Moore identified a need and got two players without giving up much in return. As the Royals enter the dog days of the season, these acquisitions could loom large. The young Royals have never been in contention and they can learn from veterans Carroll and Bonifacio who have experience on winning teams.

 

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Francoeur had his chance, Giavotella gets another chance

Last Saturday, the Royals cut ties with outfielder Jeff Francoeur, designating him for assignment. Taking his place is infielder Johnny Giavotella, who will get regular playing time at second base.

Johnny-Giavotella

Royals fans clamored for these moves, but it’s too early to tell if they will make a difference. This year, Francoeur spent most of his time on the bench and ended up with a .208/.249/.322 line with three home runs and 13 RBI. Giavotella went three for four with two RBI in his 2013 debut against the Minnesota Twins and went 0-3 with a walk against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night.

Giavotella will get plenty of playing time at second, with Chris Getz being sent down to AAA Omaha. Giavotella still doesn’t have the defensive prowess of an Elliot Johnson (or Chris Getz for that matter), but he does have offense, something desperately needed in the Royals lineup. Giavotella didn’t make the most of his opportunities at second base the other times he was on the team, but with Getz in Omaha, Giavotella will get an opportunity to see if he belongs in the Big Leagues.

As for Francoeur, it was a move that needed to be done. He couldn’t find his hitting stroke and with David Lough and Jarrod Dyson playing well, the Royals weren’t doing themselves or Francoeur any favors. The players and the team like Francoeur and he does have leadership qualities, but he wasn’t getting it done on the field. And Francoeur would be the first to admit he wasn’t playing well enough to stay with the Royals.

These moves needed to be done, but there’s still more issues the Royals need to overcome if they hope to become contenders in the A.L. Central. Mike Moustakas is improving with a .218/.279/.326 average, but he still has a long way to go. Wade Davis is 0-3 in his last three starts and Jeremy Guthrie went 1-1 with a no decision. In those games, the Royals went 1-5. Billy Butler is still being Billy Butler, but he isn’t hitting with power, with only one home run in June. Alex Gordon had a rough June with only three extra base hits, but with his grand slam Tuesday night, he appeared to be getting on track again. That is, until Gordon left Wednesday night’s game with a concussion and a hip contusion. Let’s hope Gordon makes a quick recovery.

Given all the Royals troubles this year, they’re still hanging in there. They had a 16-11 June and were 38-42 on July 2, 5.5 games back of the Indians. But they need to do more than tread water. They need to win games and win series to get above .500 and contend.

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Eric Hosmer to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic

Due to a strained right wrist and forearm from Team USA and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Eric Hosmer gets the opportunity to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic

After getting permission from general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost, Hosmer joined team USA Wednesday night to play an exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies. Team USA begins WBC play against Mexico this Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

Hosmer joins fellow Royal Tim Collins on the USA team and is the ninth Royals player to take part in the World Baseball Classic. Other Royals players are reliever Kelvin Herrera, infielder Miguel Tejada and reliever Atahualpa Severino playing for the Dominican Republic, catcher Salvador Perez with Venezuela, pitcher Luis Mendoza with Mexico, infielder Irving Falu with Puerto Rico and Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando with Brazil.

Now there might be some concerns about Hosmer being away from the Royals to play in the WBC, but to put into perspective, the WBC is like Spring Training: the games really don’t matter. Of course it’s an honor to represent your country in the WBC, but the games are the same as Spring Training games. And Hosmer will be the Royals first baseman this season, so it’s not like he’s competing for a job. He’ll get to play with different players and be managed by Team USA manager Joe Torre, which is a good thing. There’s the risk of injury, but that can happen in Spring Training games too. Overall, it’s a good experience for Hosmer and the other Royals players participating in the WBC. Oh yeah, Go Team USA!

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Wacha Wacha Wow

The St. Louis Cardinals have shown offensive prowess over the last week, racking up the run support and showing midseason form at the plate.  The offense was impressive, but may have been overshadowed by the presence of pitching prospect Michael Wacha.

MichaelWacha

Wacha took the mound behind starter Lance Lynn on Wednesday against the Mets.  The young prospect was making his second appearance in a Spring Training that has had many Cardinal officials raving about his work.  On the heels of Wednesday’s performance, I doubt the hype will be dying down anytime soon.

Mets announcers seem to be uttering the same phrase repeatedly in that highlight, “Oh Boy” seemed to be the order of the day.

The Cardinal farmhand took over for Lance Lynn to start the third inning and went right to work striking out Mets’ shortstop Ruben Tejada.  Superstar David Wright would follow with a base hit, the only blemish on Wacha’s day, before Ike Davis and Marlon Byrd would send fly balls into left field for an easy inning.

If the third inning was easy, the fourth was borderline dominant.  Lucas Duda and Justin Turner would both strike out, the former looking and the latter swinging, before John Buck would ground out weakly to second baseman Daniel Descalso.

The fifth inning would be more of the same with different names at the plate.   Matthew den Dekker, who’s name is familiar thanks to his home run robbing catch earlier in the week (seen below), would watch strike three while Mike Baxter would take his chances swinging even though he would come up empty.  Ruben Tejada, seeing the Cards right hander for a second time, would also ground out to Descalso, though the Cardinals infielder had moved across the diamond to third base.

Wacha seemed dominant, at least on paper, but watching the young man pitch made it obvious that he was pitching smart.  His fastball was in the lower 90′s, but it was also in the lower part of the strike zone.  His changeup was pinpointed and seemed to keep guys off balance while his “third best pitch” as the Mets’ announcers pointed out, his breaking ball was sharp and kicked up dirt.  He truly stepped on the mound to pitch, not throw, and it was clear by the outcome that he was successful.

Most impressive might have been his efficiency.  Wright’s base hit was the only ball struck hard, and even that one was not crushed.

Fans have been hearing for some time now that this is a great farm system.  Spring training gives them their first chance to see this first hand.

Michael Wacha is the future of the organization.

The future looks really, really good.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Cardinals Farmhand Aims To Help Troops

Vance Albitz is a minor league infielder in the Cardinals organization who makes his offseason home in Torrance, California.  There is a good chance this is one of the first few times you have heard his name.  Thanks to the team, the upcoming Winter Warm Up, and his own challenge to help out the troops of our country, you will probably hear much more about him in the coming months.

Gloves4Troops

This is not to say that Albitz will not be on the Cardinals’ radar in the near future.  The young man has performed well at various levels in the organization.  He is not a flashy player and when asked about the part of his game that is his strength he replies with a one word answer: “defense”.

Albitz took a few minutes of his offseason to answer a few questions for us here at i70.  He took time to talk about himself, his career, and his desire to provide something to troops of the United States Armed Forces that are stationed abroad.

I asked Albitz about his expectations for the season ahead and got a very professional sounding “I have no idea what is in store for the 2013 season for me.  I am looking to help the organization any way I can, any place they need me.”

I got a glimpse of the young man’s personality when he opened up about his favorite player growing up.  Albitz replied, “David Eckstein.  He once told me, “You have to prove yourself every single day.”  He practiced what he preached and I respect him for that.”

Ask him about his best friend in baseball and you’ll find a man that loves the game, and his teammates, to the fullest extent. “My best friends in my life have come from baseball.  I still keep in touch with my best friends from baseball in college.  The Cardinals have a number of guys in the organization that I enjoy being around.  There are literally too many to choose just one.”

Most impressively, and the reason you will hear more about him in the next few weeks, Albitz undertook a very special project this offseason.  While reading an article, Albitz discovered a conversation with a solider:

“What would you like people back home to send you?”

“Baseball gloves and a baseball,” he said.  “So much of our tasks are hurry up and go, followed by waiting.”

That inspired Albitz to go to work.  He set a goal for himself to reach out to as many people as he could.  His goal?  To send 1,000 baseball gloves to troops stationed overseas before the first day of Spring Training.

“My grandparents served and I have a number of friends serving right now.  My objective in starting this was to send the game of baseball to our soldiers who are doing so much for our country”, Albitz told me.  He has currently collected 250 gloves and expects the next month to pick up steam, thanks in part to the Cardinals asking fans to help contribute at this year’s Winter Warm Up.

The team will have donation bins setup this weekend at various locations around the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch during their annual Winter Warm Up celebration.  Fans are urged to donate new or gently used gloves by dropping them off at these bins.  Thanks to the club and Rawlings, Albitz hopes to greatly increase the number of gloves he has already collected.

The best way for people to help is to send me a used baseball glove, new baseball, or cash donation.  All the information on the website,www.gloves4troops.com.  What I would appreciate just as much if somebody doesn’t have those items is a thank you letter to a soldier (I can put these in the gloves).  The information can be found on the website.

I took a moment to ask Ablitz to share with our fans his favorite baseball movie (For Love Of The Game) and to also share with our fans if he was a collector of baseball cards growing up.

My brother and I collected baseball cards like crazy when we were younger.  I always remember the time my brother tricked me into trading him my Mike Piazza Bowman Rookie Card for Joel Skinner.  I still haven’t gotten over that.

If you are going to Winter Warm Up, grab that old glove out of the closet and drop it in a bin for a soldier.  If you are not, head over to the website and learn how you can help.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Cardinals Urge Fans To Support “Gloves 4 Troops”

VanceAlbitz

ST. LOUIS, January 13, 2013 – The St. Louis Cardinals are urging fans attending this weekend’s Winter Warm-Up (#WWU) to donate a baseball glove in support of the “Gloves 4 Troops” effort organized by Cardinals minor league infielder Vance Albitz who hopes to collect at least a thousand baseball gloves and balls by Spring Training 2013.

“This is a great opportunity to support our troops while also helping kids in our community,” said Michael Hall, Vice-President of Community Relations and Executive Director of Cardinals Care. “We are inspired by Vance’s selfless efforts and want to do our part to help him achieve his goal.”

Cardinals Care, with the help of Rawlings, will have a number of collection bins set up as fans enter the 17th Annual Warm-Up at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch.  Fans are encouraged to donate gently used gloves and balls.  Cardinals Care has enlisted the support of the local chapter of Hope for Heroes of the Epsilon Sigma Alpha organization at Scott Air Force Base to assist with the delivery of the gloves to the troops deployed oversees.

“Gloves 4 Troops” (#Gloves4Troops) is a volunteer effort organized by Albitz, an infielder with the Springfield Cardinals, who has already collected over 200 gloves.  Fans can learn more at www.gloves4troops.com .

The highly-anticipated annual Winter Warm-Up takes place Saturday, January 19 through Monday, January 21, 2013 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day).  The event times are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.  Fans may still purchase passes for the three day event at www.cardinals.com/winterwarmup.

Cardinals Care was established to give fans a way of teaming up with Cardinals players and the Cardinals organization to help children in our community – both on and off the baseball field.   Since it was established 16 years ago, Cardinals Care has invested nearly $18 million in helping children, including providing nearly $11 million in grants to over 800 non-profit youth organizations, and building 19 youth ball fields in neighborhoods in both Missouri and Illinois.  For nearly a decade, Cardinals Care has run the innovative Redbird Rookies program, a free baseball league for kids who otherwise might not have the opportunity to play. In addition to providing all the uniforms, gloves, bats, balls and other equipment needed for each team, Redbird Rookies also provides extensive off-field support in the areas of health, education, mentoring and the cultural arts for each of the nearly 4,500 kids who participate in the program each year.

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Cooperstown Choices: Jeff Cirillo

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2013, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty four men on the ballot for the first time this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2013 menu at the top of the page.

In this article, we take a look at Jeff Cirillo

 

Jeff Cirillo
The corner infielder spent 14 years in the majors, playing for six different teams.  He would be selected as an All Star in 1997 while with Milwaukee and in 2000 as a member of the Rockies.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1994 MIL 39 126 17 30 9 0 3 12 0 11 16 .238 .309 .381 .690 75
1995 MIL 125 328 57 91 19 4 9 39 7 47 42 .277 .371 .442 .813 107
1996 MIL 158 566 101 184 46 5 15 83 4 58 69 .325 .391 .504 .894 122
1997 MIL 154 580 74 167 46 2 10 82 4 60 74 .288 .367 .426 .793 106
1998 MIL 156 604 97 194 31 1 14 68 10 79 88 .321 .402 .445 .847 123
1999 MIL 157 607 98 198 35 1 15 88 7 75 83 .326 .401 .461 .862 120
2000 COL 157 598 111 195 53 2 11 115 3 67 72 .326 .392 .477 .869 100
2001 COL 138 528 72 165 26 4 17 83 12 43 63 .313 .364 .473 .838 98
2002 SEA 146 485 51 121 20 0 6 54 8 31 67 .249 .301 .328 .629 70
2003 SEA 87 258 24 53 11 0 2 23 1 24 32 .205 .284 .271 .555 51
2004 SDP 33 75 12 16 3 0 1 7 0 5 14 .213 .259 .293 .553 50
2005 MIL 77 185 29 52 15 0 4 23 4 23 22 .281 .373 .427 .800 110
2006 MIL 112 263 33 84 16 0 3 23 1 21 33 .319 .369 .414 .784 101
2007 TOT 78 193 24 48 13 2 2 27 2 19 19 .249 .316 .368 .684 82
2007 MIN 50 153 18 40 9 2 2 21 2 15 13 .261 .327 .386 .713 92
2007 ARI 28 40 6 8 4 0 0 6 0 4 6 .200 .273 .300 .573 44
14 Yrs 1617 5396 800 1598 343 21 112 727 63 563 694 .296 .366 .430 .796 102
162 Game Avg. 162 541 80 160 34 2 11 73 6 56 70 .296 .366 .430 .796 102
MIL (8 yrs) 978 3259 506 1000 217 13 73 418 37 374 427 .307 .383 .449 .831 113
COL (2 yrs) 295 1126 183 360 79 6 28 198 15 110 135 .320 .379 .475 .854 99
SEA (2 yrs) 233 743 75 174 31 0 8 77 9 55 99 .234 .295 .308 .603 64
ARI (1 yr) 28 40 6 8 4 0 0 6 0 4 6 .200 .273 .300 .573 44
MIN (1 yr) 50 153 18 40 9 2 2 21 2 15 13 .261 .327 .386 .713 92
SDP (1 yr) 33 75 12 16 3 0 1 7 0 5 14 .213 .259 .293 .553 50
NL (8 yrs) 858 2900 458 912 183 8 65 413 37 317 381 .314 .383 .450 .833 107
AL (7 yrs) 759 2496 342 686 160 13 47 314 26 246 313 .275 .347 .406 .752 95
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2012.

Why He Should Get In
Cirillo was a light hitting player that patrolled the defensive areas of power hitters and run producers.  His career was average.

Why He Should Not Get In
Average does not produce greatness.  While he achieved minor milestones, he did not come close to the types of numbers that Hall Of Fame voters expect, much less considering he played first and third base.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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

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

Shields and Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Escobar Named Joe Burke Award Winner

Kansas City, MO (November 5, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals have announced that shortstop Alcides Escobar was selected as the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  The Joe Burke is awarded to an unsung player who contributed above and beyond what was expected, or someone who the writers felt deserved some recognition for an outstanding season.

Escobar had a breakout offensive season in 2012, his second with Kansas City after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2010.  The 25-year old set career highs with a .293 average, 177 hits, 30 doubles, five home runs, 52 RBI, and 35 stolen bases.  The 177 hits were 13 more than the previous single-season mark for a Royals shortstop.  His .293 average ranked second to New York’s Derek Jeter among MLB shortstops and was the third-highest single-season mark at the position by a Royal.  Escobar’s 35 stolen bases ranked fifth in the American League and were the most by a Royals player since 2003.  He became the first infielder in franchise history to post at least 30 doubles and 30 steals in the same season and the first Royal to accomplish the feat since Carlos Beltran in 2002.  Escobar’s first career multi-homer game on July 14 vs. Chicago was the first by a Royals shortstop since 1997.

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