Tag Archive | "Mike Moustakas"

Things are getting weird in Royals Nation

Remember when the Royals were 17-10 and near the top of the A. L. Central? It seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? But now the team is in a free-fall and things are getting strange. No, I’m not talking about the lack of offense or the losing streak. That’s business as usual for the Royals. I’m talking about the wacky things happening off the field.

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Take Royals manager Ned Yost. Please. (Ta Dum! I’ll be here all week.) I believe the Royals woes are making him goofy. When questioned about the lousy play of third baseman Mike Moustakas, Yost quipped in a May 18 article in the Kansas City Star, “You know what? Maybe when we get home I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. Obviously, third basemen who can hit for power, they must grow on trees.” Well, if there’s a third baseman tree somewhere, it’s not in Kansas City. When Yost said this, Moustakas was hitting .189. Now he’s hitting .178 and showing no signs of improving. Forget the third baseman tree, the Royals need to find a baseball offense tree.

When Yost made about the comment about the third base tree, the Royals were 20-19. But after a 1-9 skid and a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night, Yost was asked about how he holds players accountable. Yost replied, “What are you asking me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them? What do you want? These kids, every day, we go through the process. We’re talking constantly about approach.” Yost continued, “Do we need to make changes? This can’t continue. Somewhere down the road, yeah, we’re going to have to make some changes.”

It’s a bad sign when a manager has to ask the media what to do about a woeful team. Of course it was a rhetorical question, but it’s pretty obvious if the Royals don’t start winning again and playing better baseball, firing Ned Yost is the likely change. Will it make a difference? Ask Tony Muser, Buddy Bell and Trey Hillman if it makes a difference. But I guess the Royals have to do something.

So what’s a manager of a struggling team to do? Hey, the Chiefs are next door and having a minicamp. Maybe Yost can go over there and get some advice from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. So Yost jogged over to the Chief’s offices to see what was going on. Well, maybe he should called coach Reid first because Yost was surrounded by Chiefs security when Yost dropped by and was not allowed in. Thankfully for Yost, security didn’t tazer or spank him for the unauthorized visit, despite the wishes of most fans.

And if that wasn’t enough, later in the day Major League Baseball had Yost take a random, routine drug test. Given his recent statements and behavior, maybe the drug test wasn’t that random. Just saying.

It’s not news the Royals aren’t hitting many home runs. As of Wednesday, the Royals have 28 home runs, just one shy of the last in the Majors Miami Marlins. But home runs aren’t that important. Don’t believe me? Just ask Royals hitting coach Jack Maloof.

In a Fox Sports article, Maloof said, “There is just no reward here (for us) to try and hit home runs, (at Kauffman Stadium). We try to stay down on the ball, be more line-drive oriented, and do more situational hitting at least through the first two or three rounds (at home) here. That’s why I’m not overly concerned because I think we’ll lead the league in fewest home runs again this year. We don’t have a 40-homer guy in the middle of the lineup.”

Never mind one of the reasons former Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer was fired and Maloof and Andre David were hired so the Royals would hit for more power and home runs.

But what about the opposing teams who come into Kauffman Stadium and have no problem hitting home runs? Maloof has an explanation: “Here’s the thing: Other teams come in here from Anaheim or wherever and they have their swing already down,” Maloof said. “This park doesn’t even enter into their minds when they hit here. They have their swings, the same swings, because it pays dividends for them at home.”

Uh, so it’s not a good idea to have the Royals try to hit for power and hit more home runs? Other teams have their swings down, but the Royals don’t? You know what the dividend is for a home run? You score at least one run. And if you score runs, you have a better chance to win. Sure, situational hitting and moving runners is important. But if the lineup isn’t hitting or has much power, situational hitting doesn’t matter. If the Royals are looking for a change, they might want to take a look at Jack Maloof. As for fellow batting coach Andre David, he’s keeping his mouth shut.

Oh yeah, after the game Tuesday night the Royals had to ride the bus to St. Louis because their plane had mechanical issues. There was no word if Yost spanked the plane or if Maloof was thrown under the bus.

It’s one thing to lose if you’re expected to lose like the Marlins or the Houston Astros. But with all the “improvements” the Royals made this year, the team should be playing better. But they’re not and it’s hard to say when they will. I haven’t given up on the Royals yet, but like Yost said, “This can’t continue.”

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Making a case for the young corners

“(He) should hit for power and average because he has a sweet left-handed swing, strength, exceptional strike zone discipline and the ability to make adjustments. He uses the entire field and can drive the ball where it’s pitched.”

That was a scouting report by Baseball America of a Royals’ player before he was drafted.

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The sweet lefty swing would probably lead you to believe that the player in question is one of the team’s up and coming stars, Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer. Both were first round draft picks, who joined the Royals with plenty of acclaim. Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and Hosmer was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft.

But the player reviewed above is neither Hosmer nor Moustakas, but rather Alex Gordon, the second overall pick of the 2005 draft.

After Gordon was drafted in 2005, he quickly made a name for himself in the minor leagues and Baseball America named Gordon its 2006 Minor League Player of the Year.

All the praise, all the numbers and all the awards for Gordon didn’t immediately translate into success at the big league level. Gordon did have a solid rookie season, hitting .247 with 15 homers, 60 RBI and 14 steals. But after that year (2007), his batting average steadily declined over the next few years until it reached .215 in 2010. Injuries limited Gordon to 164 at-bats in 2009 and 242 at-bats in 2010.

After four seasons in the big leagues, many Royals fans and baseball experts wondered if Gordon would live up to the promise he showed in college at Nebraska and in the minor leagues.

The situation was very similar to what Moustakas and Hosmer are facing right now. Plenty of hype, but limited results early on.

Here are some early scouting reports on Hosmer and Moustakas from Baseball America.

“Hosmer’s approach is very advanced for his age, and one scout likened it to Joey Votto‘s. He already likes to use the opposite field and has the strength to drive the ball out of the park while going the other way.”

“With his (Moustakas’) excellent bat speed, he can drive the ball out of the park to any field. He may never walk a lot, but he also has an uncanny ability to make contact.”

Gordon’s early reviews as well as his numbers from his first two seasons, closely resemble those of Hosmer and Moustakas.

These are two young lefty’s career stats with the Royals compared to Gordon’s first two seasons:

Moustakas: 1040 AB, 107 runs, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 8 SB, .240/.294/.384.
Hosmer: 1202 AB, 149 runs, 34 HR, 150 RBI, 30 SB, .263/.321/.403
Gordon: 1036 AB, 132 runs, 31 HR, 119 RBI, 23 SB, .253/.332/.421

Gordon switched from third base to left field in 2011 and his numbers quickly transformed. For the 2011 season, Gordon scored 101 runs, hit 23 homers, drove in 87 runs, stole 17 bases and boasted a .303 batting average. After a solid 2012 season, Gordon has great numbers early in the 2013 season.

While Gordon is flourishing, Hosmer and Moustakas are struggling out of the gate in 2013.

Moustakas is hitting just .176 this year with an OPS of .550 and Hosmer only has one home run on the year and has .264 batting average. To his credit, Hosmer had a good rookie year, with 19 homers and a .293 batting average in 523 at-bats. But he took a step back in his second year (2012), with his average dropping all the way down to .232.

Because they were praised and looked upon so highly by scouts and analysts, many Royals fans expected the early numbers would be better. But not every player progresses the same way. Not every young player is Mike Trout or Bryce Harper or even Manny Machado. Struggles at the highest level are not uncommon.

While Royals fans may be frustrated with the progress that Hosmer and Moustakas have made, they have to look no further than left field for an example of what the talented duo can become.

Gordon is proof that talent can take time to develop. So if Royals fans can take a patient approach while critiquing Hosmer and Moustakas, in a few years the results may match the hype. And that could be scary for Royals’ opponents.

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No offense, but the Royals offense isn’t very offensive

It’s a quarter of the way through the season, and May hasn’t been a good month for the Royals. Since May 1, the team is 7-12 and 21-22 for the season. In 11 of their 19 games, the Royals scored 3 runs or less with a 1-10 record in those games. They’ve suffered two three game losing streaks and a four game losing streak Since May 6.

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Besides Alex Gordon (.352), Lorenzo Cain (.298) and Salvador Perez (.308), the other regulars on the lineup are hitting .267 or less. Mike Moustakas has the lowest batting average of .176. As a team, the Royals are last in the American League in home runs (27) and walks (108). They’re next to last in the A.L. in at-bats (1,483) and total bases (573). They’re 13th in the A.L. with 184 runs.

The bright side? Well, Royals batters have only 290 strikeouts, the least in the A.L. They’ve stolen 33 bases and caught stealing seven times. They’re second in the A.L. with 11 triples. They’re fourth in the A.L. with a .265 batting average, but are tenth in the A.L. with a .318 on-base percentage and 13th in the A.L. with a .386 slugging average.

The Royals focused most of their offseason upgrades on starting pitching, which was desperately needed. But little was done concerning the offense, except for firing hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and hiring new hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David. Maloof and David were brought in to help the offense to drive the ball and hit more home runs. So far, that hasn’t happened yet. But would the Royals offense be any better if Seitzer was the hitting coach? It’s hard to say, but realize Seitzer was the hitting coach when the Royals had their 12-game losing streak in April 2012 and were 13th in the A.L. with 131 home runs.

So what can be done? The Royals could send Moustakas down to AAA Omaha, but that means the 38-year old Miguel Tejada would be the third baseman the Royals pick off of the Third Baseman Tree. Sending Chris Getz to Omaha and calling up Johnny Giavotella might help, but Yost would probably keep Giavotella on the bench and play Elliot Johnson at second base. The Royals could bench or release Jeff Francoeur, but is David Lough capable of being an everyday league average outfielder until Jarrod Dyson returns? As for firing Ned Yost and/or Dayton Moore, it might temporarily satisfy a frustrated fan base, but that won’t improve the offense. If there’s any blame to be placed, it’s on the Royals offense. Yes, they’re a young team and they’re pressing. But they have to adjust and get out of this offensive slump or it’s going to be another losing season.

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Royals/Angels: Three To Walk With

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The Royals took two out of three against the Angels and now stand at 20-17, a game and a half back of the division leading Detroit Tigers. In the midst of a nine game road trip, the Royals will now head to Oakland to take on the A’s in a three game set. Here are three things we can take away from the series in Los Angeles (read: Anaheim).

1. Alex Gordon is raking: After going 6/13 with a double against the Angels, Alex Gordon has now posted a scorching hot  .357/.362/.571 line in 58 plate appearances in May.

2. Jeremy Guthrie is who we thought he was: We couldn’t have expected Jeremy Guthrie to win every start, but he certainly fun to watch, having gone nearly a half season’s worth of starts without registering a loss. It appears Guthrie has begun to regress to his career averages, but he’s still going to be a solid starter who will be able to eat innings and will pitch well enough to the Royals in the game and give them a chance to win.

3. It’s time to panic for Mike Moustakas: Struggling mightily coming into the series, Moustakas’ woes continued as he went 1/14 against the Angels, lowering his line to a meager .194/.266/.339 in 139 plate appearances this season. Moustakas hasn’t shown any signs to suggest that he’s going to figure it out anytime soon and the Royals front office should be thinking about other options at third base, if they aren’t already. I assume the front office would prefer to promote from within, so they might consider giving Anthony Seratelli a shot. Seratelli has put up a solid .326/.423/.516 in 111 plate appearances at AAA Omaha this season.

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The Evolving Kansas City Royals: The Offense

For several years now the Kansas City Royals have had one of the better farm systems in Major League Baseball.  Most teams should be so lucky.  The Royals haven’t been able to translate this advantage into success on the field and there would seem to be one very good reason for this.

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You can’t win the World Series with the AAA Storm Chasers.  It takes time to scout and develop major league talent.  While developing young talent can be exciting, it usually comes with long periods of growing pains while the fans wait for the team to assemble all of the necessary pieces to win consistently.  And if you’re a mid-market team like the Royals, then you hope that you have enough players developed each year to keep costs down.

But the patience may be paying off for Royals fans as they are now getting a glimpse at what a winning, home-grown baseball team looks like in Kansas City.  Mike Moustakas, who was a 1st round draft pick in 2007, had 20 home runs and 73 RBIs last year in 560+ at bats.  Despite having a slow start in April, Moustakas has shown signs that his bat is coming alive hitting 3 home runs in the last week.  Moustakas isn’t available for arbitration until 2015 and doesn’t become a free agent until 2018.  Moustakas is still far from the player the Royals want him to be though.  He drew only 39 walks and struck out 124 times last year.  However, if Moustakas can learn some discipline at the plate he is sure to be the guy holding down the hot corner for years to come at Kauffman stadium.

There is cause for optimism for Moustakas as his first year stats are not all that dissimilar to the numbers that outfielder Alex Gordon put up in his debut year.  Gordon, another 1st round pick from 2005 also struck out in excess of 130 times with only 41 walks.  You won’t hear anyone complaining about Alex Gordon though as the Royals have developed him into a player that turns in a 300 plus batting average every year.  Now hitting in the 3rd spot in the lineup, he is currently batting over .320 this year and already has 6 home runs to go with that average.  Gordon is signed through 2015 with a club option for the 2016 season.

Gordon’s breakout is exactly what the Royal’s front office is hoping will happen for Eric Hosmer this year.  Hosmer, yet another first round pick from 2008 broke into the league in 2011 with 19 home runs and a .293 average.  As with other rookies, the walk rate could have been better but this was certainly a better rookie season than most expected.  Unfortunately it was followed up by a lack luster year in 2012 as his average dipped 60 points.  His average on balls in play (BABIP) for 2012 was a head hanging 255.  Hosmer is still incredibly young and should be able to correct his issues from last year.  Balls in play for 2013 are already up to 326.  Hosmer is available for arbitration next year so this season he is the player to watch as the Royals have been pretty open about how much they expect from him.  In fact, they probably expect him to be Billy Butler…at least by the numbers.

Billy Butler, if you’re keeping track, is also a 1st round draft pick, consistently hits for average and power.  In his 7th year playing for the Royals he has racked up 107 home runs and over 500 RBIs and will probably get his 1,000th career hit before you finish reading this page.  This is the type of production the Royals want from Hosmer and it’s also why Butler’s 2015 option is starting to look like either the window for a home grown championship team or the year the Royals break out the check book and pay up.

While Butler is the type of player that all teams hope to develop, possibly the most important and likely the most overlooked piece to this young organization is Salvador Perez.  At 23 years old, Perez already holds the Royals franchise pick-off record for a single season.  The Royals believe that he will become one of the game’s best defensive catchers in years to come, something that no championship team can be without.  And the kid can hit as well.  In over 140 career games, Perez is hanging onto a 300 plus average.  The Royals feel so good about Perez that despite his apparent lack of experience, they have him signed through 2016 with options all the way through 2019.

In a weak division, this offensive core might be enough to keep the Royals out of the basement for the foreseeable future but to be yearly contenders we’re still missing something.

Check back tomorrow for a look at the pitching staff.

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Royals Weekly Rundown

After a strong start to 2013, the Kansas City Royals ended last week losing a three in a row to the injury plagued New York Yankees.  The Royals finished the week losing six of seven and find themselves two games behind the first place Indians with a record of 18-16.

In the first edition of Royals Weekend Rundown, let’s recap the week that was shall we?

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Best of the Week:  Alex Gordon

Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer deserve some credit for getting the monkey off their backs and belting their first home runs of the season (Moustakas hit three this week).  This still doesn’t top Gordon’s monstrous week in which he slugged three homers, scored five runs, drove in eight, and hit .393.

Ned Yost made perhaps his best move as Royals skipper by moving Gordon to the three-hole to generate more run production.  Right now he’s hitting .400 with a 1.108 OPS in that spot.

While the production is over a small sample size, its a testament to Gordon’s growth as a ballplayer and the Royal’s patience the last few years.  Look at the numbers from the two halves of his career to date:

2007-2010:  .244 Avg. / 45 HR / 161 RBI / .320 OBP / .404 SLG

2011-2013:  .301 Avg. / 43 HR / 187 RBI / .365 OBP / .482 SLG

Gordon has gone from the brink of receiving the dreaded “bust” and demotion to making a name for himself as a cornerstone player for the club.  If he keeps this up for another two months, I would be shocked if he isn’t selected to his first All Star team.

Worst of the Week:  Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar

One could argue that this should go to the entire Royals offense except for the aforementioned Alex Gordon.  The team hit an abysmal .233 this week averaging around four runs per game.

While Escobar and Butler don’t deserve all the blame, they stand out because they hit first and fourth in the order respectively and hit a combined .105 (6-for-57) this week.  No need to worry, I expect both will bounce back soon in the next couple weeks against weaker pitching.

The Road Ahead:  Go West Young Men…

Monday night marks the first of a 10-game road West Coast road trip starting in Anaheim against the soul-searching Angels.  The Halos begin the series with a record of 14-23 and have at least found some rhythm on offense.  However, their pitching staff is still a mess.  Kansas City will face Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, and Barry Enright who are a combined 1-10 and could help the Royals heat up.  After the three game stint in Anaheim, the Royals head to Oakland for a three game set with the A’s.

Probable Pitchers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Monday at 9:05 CT:  Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.38 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-6, 5.66 ERA)

Tuesday at 9:05 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-0, 2.28 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (1-3, 4.26 ERA)

Wednesday at 9:05 CT:  Wade Davis (2-3, 5.86 ERA) vs. Barry Enright (0-1, 11.37 ERA)

Follow Adam Rozwadowski on Twitter @adam_roz

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I really like this Lorenzo Cain fellow

In a way, the 2013 performance of center fielder Lorenzo Cain is bittersweet. On one hand, I’m glad he’s playing well, especially with the struggling Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in the lineup. But if Cain stayed healthy last year, would he play as well in 2012 as he is now? It’s hard to say, but Cain played well before various leg injuries limited him to 61 games, ending up with a .266/.316/.419 line with 222 at-bats, 31 RBI, nine doubles, seven home runs, striking out 56 times, drawing 15 walks and stealing 10 bases.

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Cain knew a good 2013 performance would decide if he was the Royals center fielder of the future or another has-been. In the offseason, Cain worked on strengthening his legs to avoid the leg and hip injuries that plagued him last year. And so far, it’s paying off. He’s played 17 of 18 games with a .350/.420/.483 line, 60 at-bats, nine RBI, five doubles, a home run with 14 strikeouts, six walks and two stolen bases.

Against lefties, Cain has a .357/.500/.357 line with 14 at-bats, four RBI, two strikeouts and three walks. Against righties, Cain has a .348/.392/.522 line with 46 at-bats, five RBI, five doubles, a home run with 12 strikeouts and three walks. He’s hitting and scoring well against left and right handed pitching, though he’s faced more righties than lefties.

Among regular staring position players, Cain leads the team in batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.420), on-base percentage with slugging (.904) and he’s got caught stealing three times. Actually, he leads the American League in being caught stealing, so his running game needs some work.

Cain has a .970 fielding percentage in center field, with the league fielding percentage being .990. His range factor per nine innings as a center fielder is 2.41, with the league range factor per nine innings is at 2.66. He’s only committed one error in 119.2 innings of play, so while his current defense is below league average, he’s far from a defensive liability in the field.

It’s unlikely Cain will keep up his high batting average and he won’t hit a lot of home runs. But so far, Cain is a good center fielder who can hit, get on base and play average defense. If he stays healthy (and there’s still a question if he can) and works on his running game, Cain will be a solid center fielder for the Royals. And at 27, he’s got the potential to improve. With the Royals offense being what it is, let’s hope he does improve.

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Are the Royals For Real This Year?

I believe the Royals will do well this year. I know, there’s been a few years when it seemed the Royals would do well and they fell flat (like 2004, 2009 and 2012). If there’s any team out there who crushes fan’s expectations and pulls the rug out from underneath their fans, it’s the Kansas City Royals.

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But 2013 isn’t like the hopeful mirage of the 2012 season. Yes, there was optimism in 2012, but with the exception of the bullpen, the team wasn’t that good. Throw in the injuries, the dismal play of Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur, the inconsistent play of Mike Moustakas and the 12-game losing streak in April, it’s a surprise the Royals finished as well as they did.

But this year, things are different. The Royals overhauled the starting rotation by getting James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis and resigning Jeremy Guthrie. Last year’s Opening Day starter, Bruce Chen, is in the bullpen. So is Luke Hochevar. The bullpen is strong and should be stronger with the improved starting rotation pitching more innings. Except for the question marks of right fielder Jeff Francoeur and second baseman Chris Getz, the Royals have a competitive lineup, a lineup not relying on washed-up veterans like Juan Gonzalez or Jose Guillen (the jury is still out on Francoeur). And unlike the Injury Bug Attack of Two Aught Twelve which decimated a part of the team, this spring has almost been injury-free. And the Royals are Cactus League Champions, which doesn’t mean anything, but at least they played well.

And the team did things that made sense. Like moving Hochevar to the bullpen instead of forcing him to be a starter. Choosing Luis Mendoza over Chen as the fifth starter. Making Getz the starting second baseman (Johnny Giavotella didn’t play well enough to earn a spot). The Royals didn’t do anything this spring that made you go, “what were they thinking?” Well, Sluggerrr getting a lap dance at a 2005 bachelor party notwithstanding (Google it if you must, But I warn you it’s NSFW and a little, well, awkward).

But we are talking about the Royals. The Royals starters got roughed up in a few Spring Training games. Lately, lefty reliever Tim Collins hasn’t been pitching well. Eric Hosmer might be playing right field and Billy Butler might be at first base in Interleague games. Key players may suffer injuries. The momentum and winning in Spring Training may not continue into the regular season. The Royals might have another 12-game losing streak early in the season. Sure, all this happening is unlikely, but if any team can do it, the Royals can.

But not this year. I believe the Royals will play much better this season. Winning the World Series? Not likely. Winning the American League Pennant? There’s a slim chance. Winning the American League Central? Only if the Detroit Tigers suffer a rash of injuries and their offense, defense and pitching falter. A Wild Card Berth? With good teams in the A.L. East and A.L. West, it’s unlikely. Finishing above .500? I believe an 87-75 record and a second place finish in the A.L. Central behind Detroit is a realistic possibility.

I hope so anyway. I am a Royals fan, after all.

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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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Naturals Hall of Fame Debuts This Season

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SPRINGDALE, AR – The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are proud to announce the creation of the Naturals Hall of Fame. Four former notable Naturals will appear on the first ballot.  Fans, prominent community members and local media members will be voting and collaborating to determine the first member of the Naturals Hall of Fame.

“We want to recognize individuals for their accomplishments and contributions to not only the Naturals but the baseball community,” said General Manager, Eric Edelstein.

The Naturals used the following criteria used to determine eligible candidates for the Hall of Fame:

  • Players who have appeared with the club only on rehab assignments are not eligible.
  • Player or coach must not be an active member of the team.
  • Individuals who have not coached or played for the Naturals are eligible for nomination/inclusion by “veterans selection” committee beginning with the second year inductee class.

After much consideration and various rounds of discussion the Naturals have announced the candidates for the first inductee to the Naturals Hall of Fame. The inaugural ballot for the Naturals Hall of Fame includes: Mike Moustakas, Kila Ka’aihue, Eric Hosmer, and Clint Robinson.

A member of the Naturals during the 2010 championship season, Mike Moustakas batted .347 in 66 games and hit 25 doubles, 21 home runs and drove in 76 runs. Moustakas was named the 2010 Texas League Player of the Year.

Kila Ka’aihue batted .314 with 11 doubles, 26 home runs and 79 RBI in 91 games with the Naturals during their inaugural season in 2008. Ka’aihue was named the 2008 Texas League Player of the Year.

Eric Hosmer joined the Naturals late in the 2010 season and was a key part of the title run. In 50 games with the Naturals, Hosmer batted .313 with 14 doubles and 13 home runs. Hosmer hit six home runs and had 12 RBI for the Naturals during the Texas League Playoffs.

Clint Robinson won the Triple Crown in 2010, leading the Texas League in batting average (.335), home runs (29) and RBI (98). Robinson became the first player since 1999 to win the Triple Crown and only the third player in Texas League history.

The Northwest Arkansas community will get their first chance to vote starting at FanFest on Saturday, March 2 at Arvest Ballpark. Fans will also be able to vote online at nwanaturals.com. The fan votes will be tallied and will be counted as one vote.  The fan vote will be added with the votes of the Naturals Hall of Fame Committee.  The Naturals with the most votes will be declared the winner and will be the first inductee to the Naturals Hall of Fame.

The Natural with the most votes will be announced on Opening Day, Thursday, April 4 and will be inducted into the Naturals Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 17. The first 2,000 fans through the gates at Arvest Ballpark on August 17 will receive a replica plaque of the Naturals player voted into the Naturals Hall of fame. 

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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