Tag Archive | "Jeff Niemann"

To Start Or To Relieve: Wade Davis

James Shields was the “big name” in the Shields/Wade Davis trade, but the success or failure of the trade hinges on Davis. Shields is the Kansas City Royals’ ace, but he’s a free agent after the 2014 season. Whether he pitches well or not, it’s likely he’s gone after two years. However, Davis is under team control until 2016. The Royals believe Shields will improve the team now. As for Davis, the Royals believe he will develop into a two or three starter and be a part of the starting rotation the next few seasons.


This spring, the Royals plan to give Davis every chance to make the starting rotation as their 3-4-5 starter. From 2009-2011, Davis started 64 games for the Tampa Bay Rays. But last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen, appearing in 54 games. During Spring Training, the Rays gave Davis a shot as their fifth starter, but he lost out to Jeff Niemann. And when Niemann went down with a broken ankle, the Rays promoted Alex Cobb to the starting rotation, leaving Davis in the bullpen.

So is Davis a better starter, or a better reliever? Let’s see what the stats say:

2009 3.72 6 6 36.1 15 1.266 8.2 0.5 3.2 8.9 2.77
2010 4.07 29 29 168.0 76 1.351 8.8 1.3 3.3 6.1 1.82
2011 4.45 29 29 184.0 91 1.375 9.3 1.1 3.1 5.1 1.67
2012 2.43 54 0 70.1 19 1.095 6.1 0.6 3.7 11.1 3.00
4 Yrs 3.94 118 64 458.2 201 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
162 Game Avg. 3.94 44 24 171 75 1.315 8.6 1.1 3.3 6.7 2.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

Davis prefers a starting role, but his stats say he’s a better reliever. He had a much lower ERA, and over nine innings gave up fewer hits and struck out more batters. However, he did walk more batters over nine innings, which isn’t good if you’re a reliever. And with the Rays talented starting rotation last year, Davis stayed in the bullpen.

But how does Davis as a starter compare to the 2012 Royals starting rotation? Here’s the stats of the top five Royals starters:

1 Bruce Chen* 5.07 34 34 191.2 108 1.367 10.1 1.5 2.2 6.6 2.98
2 Luke Hochevar 5.73 32 32 185.1 118 1.419 9.8 1.3 3.0 7.0 2.36
3 Luis Mendoza 4.23 30 25 166.0 78 1.416 9.5 0.8 3.2 5.6 1.76
4 Jeremy Guthrie 3.16 14 14 91.0 32 1.132 8.3 0.9 1.9 5.5 2.95
5 Will Smith* 5.32 16 16 89.2 53 1.606 11.1 1.2 3.3 5.9 1.79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/20/2013.

If you take Davis’ worst year, 2011, he had a better ERA than the Royals rotation, save Jeremy Guthrie and Luis Mendoza. The Royals rotation had more SO/9 than the 2011 Davis and except for Mendoza and Will Smith, the Royals rotation had a better BB/9 ratio than the 2011 Davis. If Davis was in the Royals starting rotation last year, he would likely be the number three starter behind Guthrie and Mendoza.

So what does this mean? Well, Davis is a good middle of the rotation starter, but is a better reliever. If Bruce Chen and Mendoza regress, Luke Hochevar pitches like Luke Hochevar and Davis pitches like he did in 2010, he’ll be in the starting rotation. But if Chen, Mendoza or Hochevar have a great Spring Training, Davis might end up in the bullpen.

But that’s not likely, despite what happens this spring. The Royals will give Davis every opportunity to make the starting rotation, just to show the Shields/Davis trade wasn’t a bust like some Royals fans and pundits think it is. If Shields and Davis are starters, the trade doesn’t look bad. The team got two quality starters to improve their rotation. But if Shields is a starter and Davis is a reliever, then the trade looks like the Royals got an ace for only two years and another bullpen arm in an already strong bullpen. Not bad, but not that good either.

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Trade Suggestions For The Royals

The baseball winter meetings have concluded with a number of moves that significantly altered the landscape of baseball. While the Royals did not strike any deals, there are a few trades that would be interesting to see them explore in the coming months in an effort to help get them to the next level.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas


Proposed Trade #1: Royals trade Billy Butler and Jeremy Jeffress to the Rays for Jeff Niemann, Brandon Guyer, and Tim Beckham.

The Rays are looking for a right-handed bat to play at DH and first base, and Butler would be a perfect fit for them. He is young and talented, yet has a reasonable contract. Jeffress has the reputation of having a million dollar arm and a 10 cent head. Any sting from his departure could be absorbed by the deep Royal bullpen.

The right-handed Niemann has won at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons, and would provide sorely needed stability in the Royals rotation. Brandon Guyer, an outfielder, has a .297 career average in the minors, but has not yet been given an opportunity to play regularly in the majors. Beckham, the first overall selection in the 2008 draft started out his career in disappointing fashion, but has been building momentum the past couple of seasons, and could fit in nicely at shortstop for the Royals.

There could be concern that this trade would leave the Royals lineup too lefty-oriented, but the Red Sox had a potent offense this past year with six or more left-handed hitters regularly starting. Giving up a great bat like Butler would be a major loss, but a trade centered on a player of his caliber would bring a good return and could help restock their starting rotation.

Proposed Trade #2: Royals trade Greg Holland to the Blue Jays for Travis Snider.

The Blue Jays have been rumored to be hot after Holland, and improving their middle relief corps. A talented pitcher like Holland would be difficult to give up, but might be worth it if they could pry Snider away in the deal. Snider has had several unimpressive trials with Toronto, but will still be just 24 in 2012 and has a ton of talent. A change of scenery could be just what he needs.

The middle of the Royals’ infield could use some more punch after this past season, when Chris Getz and Alcides Escobar, their starting second baseman and shortstop combined for 4 home runs and 72 RBI in 1,027 at bats. Lowrie could be the answer. His game is all about versatility; from his ability to play any position in the infield, to his switch hitting. Although he has struggled with injuries in the past, he would be worth taking a chance, and could likely be pried away for Jeffress, who would be coveted by Boston in their effort to restock their bullpen.

Because of their need to operate with a set budget, the Royals have a slimmer margin of error when it comes to assembling their roster. However, they also have the assets to afford to entice a trading partner and take a gamble or two. Spring training is still two months away, so there is plenty of time for the Royals to evaluate and explore every angle, and determine if it is in their best interest to stand pat, or jump into the trade market.

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