Tag Archive | "Mlb"

Kansas City Royals’ Rotation Finalized: What About Danny Duffy?

The Kansas City Royals have put the final touches on their starting rotation.  Throughout the spring, a competition was formed between Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura for the final spot in the rotation.  On Monday, that competition officially came to a close.

DannyDuffy4

Manager Ned Yost announced on Monday to a group of reporters, including Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, that there was no reason to hold back the announcement of the decision for the fifth starter.  With Duffy struggling this spring and Ventura being downright dominant, the time had come to make the decision official.

Ventura had thrown six shutout innings, striking out six Texas Rangers, on Monday night to solidify the decision.  That performance lowered Ventura’s spring ERA to 1.76 while elevating his strikeout total to 15 in just over 15 innings pitched.  The hard-throwing youngster did everything to prove that he was ready for this opportunity.

Competitions have winners and losers, however, and Duffy now finds himself on the outside looking in.  Early indications of the competition were that the loser would likely find himself in the starting rotation at Triple-A Omaha.  Due to the injury sustained by Luke Hochevar, now Duffy will be given the opportunity to claim the last bullpen spot.

The subject at hand is now which role better benefits Duffy in the long term?  He may be capable of claiming the final bullpen role but, despite his oddly weak spring performance, he has traditionally been a more than capable starter.

Ultimately, Duffy could see time as a starter this year and likely stands as the first player to receive a start should any of the current staff falter or become injured.  While sending him to Omaha may not be the best choice for his confidence, it may be the best option the team has for utilizing him efficiently later. Should someone find themselves hurt, it may be harder to slide Duffy out of the bullpen and into the rotation than it would to simply call him up from the minors.

Ventura pitched well enough to prove that he was ready.  He is likely the right man for the job.  Duffy carries the confidence of past success.  He has proven he can win at this level.

Both men will likely be in the rotation before the end of the season.  Until then, the question remains, what should be done with Duffy?

 

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

The Cardinal Caravan Is Headed To A Town Near You

While the Cardinals will host the annual Winter Warm Up event this weekend in downtown St. Louis, they will also take to the road for the first time this calendar year via the Cardinal Caravan. This is the annual event where players both current and past take to the road throughout the area and come see fans that may not be able to get to St. Louis for the season’s inaugural event.

P1010157-630x472

This year’s Caravan will feature stops in 18 cities across four days throughout Missouri and Illinois, and will feature a mix of prominent names of today and to come. The Cardinals will split into five different groups, each of which will spend time signing autographs (for children 15 and under), taking pictures and mingling with fans throughout each stop, along with prize drawings as well.

The first 400 children at each event will receive an autograph ticket, which is good for a signature from each player in attendance.

Current Cardinals scheduled to be a part of each Caravan are Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly, Kolten Wong, Seth Maness, Shane Robinson, Tyler Lyons and Kevin Siegrist. The minor leaguers currently slated to join the trip include top prospect Oscar Taveras, Minor League Pitcher of the Year Zach Petrick, Greg Garcia, Keith Butler, Stephen Piscotty, Jermaine Curtis, Eric Fornataro and new acquisition Randal Grichuk.

Among the Cardinal alumni to join the event are hitting coach John Mabry, former All-Stars Ryan Franklin and Andy Benes, as well as Danny Cox, Cal Eldred, Tom Lawless, Alan Benes, John Costello, Kerry Robinson and Jason Simontacchi. Al Hrabosky, Mike Claiborne, Tom Ackerman, John Rooney, Ricky Horton and Dan McLaughlin will represent the play-by-play members that will serve as emcees for each event.

For more info on what pairs are headed where and when, as well as what you need to do to be a part of your local Cardinal Caravan, head to Cardinals.com for more details.

Posted in Cardinals, I-70 Special Reports, MLBComments (0)

Peralta Signing Creates Best-Case Outcome

The aggressive Cardinal offseason continued this weekend, when the club came to terms with free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta. It is a signing that seems contrary to how the team has operated in years past, but it certifies one thing above all others: the team is ready to get over the hump.

Peralta_Jhonny

The woes that the club had at shortstop began early in the year, and continued on through the fall. Pete Kozma gave everything he had, but could not recapture the regular effort at the plate he found in September of 2011. The reality of the situation was grim: Kozma was the worst regular in baseball at the plate last season, who’s defense was solid, but not to a transcendent level that would entice the team to give him another chance. So the team gritted through a lemons-to-lemonade style situation at the position, but made no secret that making an upgrade was of the most essential of priorities.

While virtually every shortstop in baseball was discussed in some fashion or another as being a fit with the team, and “how much is too much for Player X” has been the hottest water cooler talk in the city, it is clear that John Mozeliak’s commitment to keeping his homegrown talent in tow continues to be the highest priority for the future of the team. However, with such an immediate need, there had to be not another fill-in resolution; there had to be an end brought to any further concern about the position.

Peralta represents both middle ground between upgrade, compromise and a rescue. What he adds is another extra-base hit threat. At his worst, he’s an above replacement level player (which is a .255 hitter, with a .308 on-base percentage), which are both numbers that Peralta has regularly surpassed over the course of his career. For the better part of the past decade, with Kozma, Ryan Theriot, Brendan Ryan, Cesar Izturis, and even Rafeal Furcal, the Cardinals have hovered around or below those replacement level numbers, and now have a drastic increase in the balance of their everyday equation, and potentially an All-Star level performer, although the depth at shortstop in the NL surpasses that in the American League.

A clear advantage that he brings to the lineup is a much needed upgrade against the left-handed pitchers that plagued the club over the last two seasons regularly. As a team, the Cardinals hit .242 against left-handed starters, nearly 30 points beneath their team mark of .269. Peralta hit .352 in 2013 against southpaws. Also, while framed with an image of being an offense-only performer, he is capable currently of making more plays in the field than he is credited with, although the Cardinals will likely take a step backwards regarding infield defense with Matt Carpenter restricted to third base and Peralta being in the mix.

All of this was made available in the form of a four year, $53 million dollar pact, which pays him just north of $13 million per year. For a player that has proven to be an above average player at a premium position, it is a fair amount. The roundabout word is that Peralta actually left money on the table to join the Cardinals, which shows signs he is motivated to win as well. There are the rumblings about rewarding a player that was suspended last fall for performance enhancing drug usage, and what the deal represents regarding the acceptance of these players post-suspension. And it is true that the deal represents a departure from the club’s usual method of operation: cost-controlled, low-risk/high reward deals, as well as a preference for defense-first production up the middle. Yet, in the current state of the team, a change of course was needed.

The reality of the case is that Mozeliak is going all in to get the Cardinals past the last step on the mountain right now, while not compromising any of the young talent that is the nucleus of the organization. Peralta’s signing is a victory on all of those fronts; the team has addressed all of its biggest concerns, made a win-now decision that won’t cripple the team long-term and keeps all of its greatest assets in tow, with protection of the potential yet to be fulfilled.

 

Matt Whitener is a staff writer for I70, and can be followed on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and contact directly at WhitenerCSP@gmail.com.

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (0)

In Pirates, Cardinals Face Path of Proven Resistance

There is no doubt about the task that lies ahead for the Cardinals in starting their playoff push with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The margin of a difference between the two teams was rarely much further apart than three games at any point in the season, and for much of it, it felt as if the Pirates owned the Cardinals head-to-head. The numbers are what the numbers are, and while the playoffs do reset the standings, they do not reset the match up; a series which has turned 10-9 in Pittsburgh’s favor thus far.

Mike-Matheny2

However, the Cardinals have had their usual late season swerve since much of the damage that was done to them by Pittsburgh. They were an NL-best 19-8 in September, which included a three-game sweep over Pittsburgh in St. Louis early in the month. Over the past two seasons, the Cardinals have played at their best the later the season has drawn, with a 42-27 mark in the months of September and October, including the postseason. Experience is their ally, and could be their greatest asset over the next (at max) five games.

Despite this, it would be fair to say that the general sentiment that the Pirates could be the arrow in the Cardinals Achilles is fair. They hold two pitchers that have been dominant against the St. Louis lineup all year. Nobody has had more success versus the Cardinals than Francisco Liriano, who in three starts is undefeated and carries a ridiculous 0.75 ERA and .127 average against. He is in line for the Game 3 start on Sunday in Pittsburgh, where they Pirates have won seven of ten games against the Cardinals this year. Another asset on their side takes to the mound today, in AJ Burnett, who also has three wins to only one loss on the year in the matchup, and carried a no-hitter into the seventh against the team early in the year.

Pitching has been a strength for the Bucs, and it is an upper hand that will have to be overcome by the Cardinals, who are countering with a less certain staff, but some definite strengths as well. Adam Wainwright is setup to be the alpha and omega of the series, throwing game one and in line to toss the decisive game five as well. Yet, outside of their ace, the Cardinals are primed to leave nothing off the table in taking down their most persistent foe.

Having the league-leader in wins for the season taking to the mound is an obvious strength, but there it is what is to follow him that has been the most debated element, but could be a smokescreen to much bigger strategy. The decision to start Lance Lynn in game two was rightfully questioned by both fans and media alike. Lynn is the most mercurial of all the Cardinal arms, and despite pitching much better down the stretch, with the club winning three of his final five starts and him posting a 2.12 ERA two of the victories for himself. Yet, the Pirates have hit him well, to the tone of 30 hits in 27 innings and a 5.60 ERA. However, he still carries two victories against the club this season, which is second to only Joe Kelly’s three victories against Pittsburgh.

Yet, winning in swarms is the Cardinals approach this year offensively, and it appears Matheny is looking to spread this approach the mound as well early in the Division Series. He is going all in with his arms, as he has made the decision to put his now-proven arsenal of young arms on full availability out of the bullpen. Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will both join the mix of Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen early in the series. With Kelly primed to start game three on Sunday in Pittsburgh, one will move to the rotation later, but both of the prized rookies will be available to go if needed before that crucial, but as of now if necessary, date.

This decision proves one thing clearly: the Cardinals are going all-in and sparing no part of its depth to do so. While the Pirates are the most formidable opponent the team could face, the Cardinals have reached the summit of entering as the National League’s best team over the past six months by holding nothing back. An approach they are appearing to be willing to go into overdrive to keep their year moving.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (0)

What’s The Move For Mujica?

One of the most debated elements to the late season, and now postseason, is the status of Edward Mujica. After an amazingly efficient start to the season, one that saw him rise from setup man to All-Star closer, he lost his way late in the second half. And now, the arm that was tasked with the majority of the most clutch moments of the year, is struggling to find relevance among the pitching staff.

Mujica_Motives

The downturn in Mujica’s productivity has been a debated subject with no clear reason offered yet. With ideas that have ranged from workload fatigue, to compensating for an injury that he does not want to be public knowledge with free agency pending, the reasoning is not quite clear.

What is however is that the club has moved in a different direction regarding the ninth inning, where as it has been officially stated by Mike Matheny that the ninth inning will be handled by “committee”, it has been a committee of one thus far, consisting only of Trevor Rosenthal thus far. The move to Rosenthal, who has spent the majority of the season as setup man for Mujica looks to be permanent, as Matheny has struggled to find time to safely deploy his former closer. After seven days off the mound to rest, he returned to the hill for the final weekend of the regular season, in what was clearly a “dipping a toe in the pool” type of test to see what was there. But the results were far from encouraging, where in a third of an inning on Saturday, where he faced four batters; he surrendered three hits, including a home run and a long double to centerfield, before giving way to Randy Choate and ultimately Seth Maness, who closed out the victory.

This leaves the decision on what to do with Mujica in a precarious position. It is clear he is not the arm he was a few months ago, and the decline looks to have already fell over the cliff. His fastball has slowed some, and thus is not making his out pitch in his changeup nearly as effective. Also there is a loss off location, which is causing for the extreme rise in contact on him, with batters getting hits in 18 of 35 at-bats, good for a .541 average against during September. As a result, this saw him surrender as many runs in September as he did April-August, combined.

This loss in effectiveness certainly moves him away from the zero margin of error that is needed in an October bullpen. But the better question is what to do with him in regards to a role in the bullpen, overall. It is the personal relations portion that makes it difficult, as it has to do with keeping with the usual path of least resistance of Matheny. A norm in his approach has been a faith in his personnel despite downtrodden stretches, and dumping Mujica works against what has been established there. Mujica is not only a vital personally within the team’s dynamic, but has rightfully earned the right to continue to accompany the team. It would send a questionable message to the chemistry of the team to exclude him after what he has accomplished, regardless of recent struggles, with no clear injury declared.

With the expanded bullpen that one less starter brings, there will be quality arms to throw any bonus innings that may approach, thus also limiting the impact his continued struggles could have. But at the same time, there is no wasted role in October, and one spot being called on could be the difference between living and flaming out. If that player can’t be Mujica, and he bumps a Carlos Martinez or Sam Freeman, it could bite badly in the end.

Perhaps the answer that is easiest is to reset his role with the team, via lessening the leverage of the situations he is deployed in for the time being. He arrived in St. Louis with a similarly questionable role, and then excelled in the sixth and seventh innings as a bridge to the end of the games. Perhaps a return to an earlier role such as this is the best option for putting him to use as needed. While the presence of Maness, Kevin Siegrist and John Axford now lessens the load he would be tasked with, perhaps the return to what was first familiar is the first key to finding the spark that Chief so often lifted the team at in its most essential moments, at the most critical part of the year.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (1)

FSKC Announces Remainder Of Royals Schedule To Be Televised

FSKC

KANSAS CITY, MO (September 13, 2013) — The Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City announced today that FOX Sports Kansas City is adding three Royals games to its telecast schedule – Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Texas; Saturday, Sept. 28 at Chicago (AL); and Sunday, Sept. 29 at Chicago. The additions ensure that all remaining Royals games will be televised as the team competes for a playoff berth.

“We can’t thank Jack Donovan and his staff from FOX Sports Kansas City enough for their effort in making sure our fans get the opportunity to watch the club play down the stretch,” said Kevin Uhlich, Royals’ Senior Vice President of Business Operations.  “This is not an easy task adding games and securing television mobile units at this late date and all of us here thank our partners from FOX Sports for making this happen.”

Royals remaining schedule (times Central)

Friday, Sept. 13                       6 p.m.              Royals at Detroit                     FOX Sports Kansas City

Saturday, Sept. 14                   6 p.m.              Royals at Detroit                     MLB Network

Sunday, Sept. 15                     12 p.m.            Royals at Detroit                     TBS

Monday, Sept. 16                    7 p.m.              Cleveland at Royals                FOX Sports Kansas City

Tuesday, Sept. 17                    7 p.m.              Cleveland at Royals                FOX Sports Kansas City

Wednesday, Sept. 18              7 p.m.              Cleveland at Royals                FOX Sports Kansas City

Friday, Sept. 20                       7 p.m.              Texas at Royals                       FOX Sports Kansas City

Saturday, Sept. 21                   6 p.m.              Texas at Royals                       MLB Network

Sunday, Sept. 22                     1 p.m.              Texas at Royals                       FOX Sports Kansas City

Monday, Sept. 23                    9 p.m.              Royals at Seattle                      FOX Sports Kansas City

Tuesday, Sept. 24                    9 p.m.              Royals at Seattle                      FOX Sports Kansas City

Wednesday, Sept. 25              9 p.m.              Royals at Seattle                      FOX Sports Kansas City

Thursday, Sept. 26                  7 p.m.              Royals at Chicago                   FOX Sports Kansas City

Friday, Sept. 27                       7 p.m.              Royals at Chicago                   FOX Sports Kansas City

Saturday, Sept. 28                   6 p.m.              Royals at Chicago                   FOX Sports Kansas City

Sunday, Sept. 29                     1 p.m.              Royals at Chicago                   FOX Sports Kansas City

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Could the Royals make the playoffs?

Perhaps it’s the Royals fan in me, but I’m waiting for the Kansas City Royals to go on another losing streak and fall out of the Wild Card race. Or totally collapse and not even finish at or above .500. Sure, the Royals are 77-69 as of September 12 and it’s almost certain they’ll finish above .500 for the first time since 2003. But if any baseball team can have an epic collapse, it’s the Kansas City Royals.

JamesShields3

Yet the Royals are playing well and winning games. In the last 44 games over 44 days, the Royals went 26-18. They have one of the best post All-Star Game records in baseball. After a seven game losing streak around three weeks ago, their season appeared to be over. Since then, they’ve gone 13-5. Last Friday the Tigers, arguably the best team in the American League, beat the Royals 16-2, handing them their worst loss of the season. If anything would sink this young Royals team, it was that game. But the Royals shrugged it off and won the next two games, then took two of three games against the Cleveland Indians. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Royals being 8.5 games back of Detroit and seven games back in the Wild Card, with little chance of making the playoffs. Now they’re seven games back of Detroit and only two games back of the final Wild Card playoff spot.

As a Royals fan, I’ve discovered this phenomenon called September scoreboard watching and checking the standings. I keep checking the baseball scores and MLB division and wild card standings on my ESPN Scorecenter app. I start rooting for teams like the Boston Red Sox to win their games against the Orioles, Rays and Yankees, the teams ahead of the Royals in the Wild Card race. Every time the Red Sox beat them and the Royals win, the chances of a Royals Wild Card spot improves. I root for the Chicago White Sox, a team I don’t really care for, to win their nine games between the Tigers and Indians. If the Royals win and the Tigers and Indians lose, the Royals have a chance to move up in the A. L. Central standings.

In a way, this Royals playoff run is surreal. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, expecting the Royals to go on another losing streak or a team ahead of them in the Wild Card gets hot. There’s so much recent historical disappointment and losing, I expect things to go bad. Until the Royals make the playoffs, I’ll still be skeptical. But if the Royals go on a 14-2 winning tear similar to what the Colorado Rockies did late in 2007… well, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Moustakas and Hosmer giving hope to Kansas City Royals’ nation

Mike Moustakas blasted a walk-off homer in the 13th inning to give the Kansas City Royals a 7-6 win over the Mariners on Thursday. In the same game, Eric Hosmer had two hits, bringing his season average up to .300. The standout performance by the duo was more of the same in a post All-Star break campaign that has been marked by a vast improvement for the sluggers.

MooseAndHos

While a playoff spot this season is improbable for the Royals, a strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer should have Royals fans feeling good about the future.

The start of the season was rough for the two young cornerstones for Kansas City. In 80 games before the All-Star break, Moustakas floundered to a slash line of .215/.271/.327, with six home runs and an embarrassing 17 RBI.

In just 36 second half games, the talented third-baseman is hitting .287/.333/.465 and the power has come around to the tune of five home runs and 19 RBI.

Hosmer didn’t even hit a home run until May 9 and in 344 first half at-bats only notched nine long-balls.

In just 193 at-bats after the All-Star break, Hosmer has six home runs and 30 RBI. His slash line is extremely impressive at .326/.391/.477.

These corner infielders should be fixtures in the Kansas City lineup for years to come. It was widely assumed that this would be a breakout year for the duo, but the slow start had Royals’ fans concerned about where these two would lead the team in the future. After trading Wil Myers to Tampa Bay, the Royals’ offense is counting on Moustakas and Hosmer to deliver in a big way.

The strong second half by Moustakas and Hosmer has been mirrored by the team as a whole. In the first half, the Royals were 24th in the MLB in runs and 14th in batting average. In the second half, the team is up to 6th in the majors in scoring and in batting average.

The Kansas City offense is often viewed as a weak point of the team. The rotation, led by James Shields and Ervin Santana, has been great the whole year. Greg Holland has been lights out as the closer and the bullpen as a whole has been dominant.

If Moustakas and Hosmer can lead a turnaround of the offense, the Royals should finish this year strong and have a lot to look forward to next season.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Pirates Gear Up For Playoff Run

A day after major changes for both franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets completed a trade that alters the remainder of the season for both.

Marlon Byrd

The Mets were told their ace pitcher, Matt Harvey, would miss the remainder of the season due to a UCL tear.  Meanwhile, the Pirates fell out of first place when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds in dramatic fashion.  The events of yesterday got the gears turning for both clubs and an agreement was reached.

The news was first reported by Anthony DiComo, the Mets beat writer for MLB.com.

The Pirates have acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets in exchange for second base prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Byrd is the notable piece of the deal for the Pirates as his stellar play this season shores up an outfield that has struggled for consistency.  His bat plugs nicely into the heart of the Pirates order and he brings with him 21 home runs and 71 runs batted in.  He has continued to produce in a season that was all but written off before it started.  Byrd was not expected to be a key piece at his age but he has provided a consistent bat and above-average defense to Pittsburgh and, more than likely, play right field alongside Andrew McCutchen while Starling Marte continues to recover from hand issues.

Buck, meanwhile, is a depth move that adds veteran leadership, solid defense, and a inconsistent bat to the bench.  He continues to throw out 30 percent of would-be base stealers and can drive in runs from time to time when he is playing well.

The Pirates part ways with a minor league second baseman who projects to be a decent hitter when he arrives at the big league level.  Herrera is only 19 years old and ranks just outside of the top ten prospects in the Pirates organization.  He benefits well from above average speed and surprising power, according to Baseball America, who ranked him 20th among Pirates prospects prior to this season.

The Pirates added two veteran pieces and a solid bat to their lineup as they enter the final push of a playoff run.  It is the type of mood that the Cardinals would have made under the Tony LaRussa leadership.

Cardinals fans hope it is not worthy of the same results LaRussa normally found.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.
You can find his work on Yahoo!InsideSTL, and here on i70.
Talk baseball with him on Twitter @poisonwilliam

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (0)

St. Louis Cardinal Fan Catches Allen Craig’s Homer In Milwaukee

Allen Craig lifted his 12th homerun of the season this afternoon in Milwaukee, extending the St. Louis Cardinals’ lead to 7-0 at the time.

The more impressive feat was that of the fan who covered a lot of ground to track down the ball and snag it out of the air.

Check out the video below and tip your cap to a Cards fan in a visiting ballpark giving maximum effort to bring home the souvenir.

Craig’s solo homer8/21/13: Allen Craig launches a solo homer to left-center field, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead over the Brewers in the top of the second

Embedly Powered

via Mlb

But who was the fan?  Well, thanks to the wonderful world of Social Media (and @gr33nazn on Twitter), we discover that it is none other than “Milwaukee’s Ballhawk” Shawn.  You can read more about The Ballhawk at his blog by clicking this link.  He claims to be a Cardinal fan, especially Ryan Franklin, and is sporting a Franklin shirsey in the video.

Well done, Ballhawk, well done.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)