Tag Archive | "Pitchers And Catchers"

Cardinals Rotation In The Spotlight

The St. Louis Cardinals entered spring training with the fifth starter position in the rotation up for grabs.  It appears that the spotlight on that competition will shine bright over the next few days.

Trevor Rosenthal - photo from FoxSportsMidwest

Trevor Rosenthal – photo from FoxSportsMidwest

As the spring air was pierced by the sounds of pitchers and catchers warming up and early batting practice taking place, the Cardinals settled in for a competition for the final spot in the rotation.  The guys gearing up for that competition were Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly.

It did not take long for plans to change.  Veteran ace Chris Carpenter broke the news that he would not be able to compete this year and Lance Lynn was all but assured his spot as the number four starter.

Then there were three.

Miller appeared to be the favorite early on based on his performance last year, his off season work, and the perception that the top pitching prospect in the organization was ready to take the next step.  The trio of right handers have seen very little time to this point in the spring and, despite much speculation, the team has not been forthcoming with any news.

Meanwhile, Kelly and Rosenthal had proven that they could handle the pressure of the big leagues down the stretch and repeatedly in the post season last year.  Kelly specifically showed over and over again that he could pitch in the rotation after taking over for Jaime Garcia last season due to injury.

Rumors began swirling on Thursday morning, while the team was dealing with news about shortstop Rafael Furcal, that there had been progress in making a decision in the starter competition.  One report surfaced saying that the Cardinals held a meeting for their starting pitchers, a meeting that Rosenthal did not attend.

Possibly the most telling and interesting part of that case is that minor league starters were in the same meeting.  Signs are pointing to Rosenthal’s fate being decided and he may very well open the season in the bullpen for St. Louis.

Now there are two.

The two pitchers left in the competition will take their cases to the mound on Thursday and Friday with Kelly starting Thursday afternoon and Miller toeing the rubber on Friday.  While it would be surprising if these two starts formed the firm decision in the mind of the Cardinals management, it would seem that the spotlight is shining on the next few games to showcase the talent the Cardinals have available.

The decision could come as soon as this weekend.  It will most likely come sometime around March 15.  Ultimately, the decision is coming soon and it’s down to two young pitchers that have shown they can be successful at the major league level.

Soon, there will be one…

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.

LanceLynn4

Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
@LangoschMLB
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

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

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St. Louis Cardinals Set To Travel East Bound And Down To Florida

To paraphrase Smokey and the Bandit, the St. Louis Cardinals loaded up their truck Friday because they’ve got a run to make.  That trip will take the Cardinals to Jupiter, Fla., to begin Spring Training 2012 and kick off the six-week journey to Opening Day April 5 in Miami against the Marlins.  That means this is the last weekend without official St. Louis Cardinals baseball activities on the lush, green fields in Florida set underneath the backdrop of palm trees.

Some teams such as the Seattle Mariners have already reported to their Spring Training complex. The Cardinals will get everything set up during the week, and pitchers and catchers will report to camp Saturday.  Hear that? I said Saturday. We are finally close enough to count down the remaining days by the day of the week rather than the date on the calendar.

A few players have already begun practice at the Cardinals’ Roger Dean Stadium facilities. Most notably, starting pitcher Adam Wainwright has thrown regularly from a mound and came away from those sessions saying he felt “danged good.”  That comment should bring a giddy smile to Cardinals fans’ faces. Wainwright’s competitive fire is right up there with teammate Chris Carpenter. Both guys have talent, but they can also will themselves through a game to put the team in position to win.  He also says the Cardinals will be better than last year. Time will tell us if that is the case for a 90-win team coming off of a World Series championship, but Spring Training is all about optimism, after all.

Most of Wainwright’s optimism is based on solid reasoning rather than mere hope. Unless something terrible happens to derail the season, the Cardinals will not be horrible. Most baseball fans would likely consider the team a disappointment this year if it finished close to .500 or worse.  A return trip to the playoffs, much less the World Series, will still be difficult for the Cardinals. The Milwaukee Brewers are worse on paper this year than last, and the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros are not substantially better than last year at this time.  The Cincinnati Reds are better now on paper than they were at the beginning of Spring Training in 2011, and they look to be the main competition for the Cardinals to win the division crown.

Either way, the Cardinals will be competitive, and that is really what makes a baseball game fun.

Yes, it is excruciating to lose late in the late innings of a game after the starter threw a terrific seven innings, but the fact the Cardinals are often in games where the late innings matter keeps the fan base energized.  That energy will start to build Saturday when Spring Training officially opens for the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Doesn’t that sound nice?

The delivery trucks might still have a long way to go and the team might have a relatively short time to get ready for the season, but it is time to say goodbye to winter.

This team is going to try to do what many say can’t be done: successfully defend its title in 2012.

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2012 Royals Potpourri I

Until the Royals open the 2012 Season I will start each article with important statistics: 16 Days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. 30 Days until Cactus League play starts. 62 Days until Opening Day (I guess night, late night). On to the article. I’m impressed that I made it this far into the off-season without having to resort to this. I have three thoughts on the Royals, but none of them long enough to create an entire article. So here is 2012’s first Royals Potpourri:

Silence From the Front Office – Coming into this week, Edwin Jackson & Roy Oswalt were the two remaining free agent starting pitchers that anyone feels can make a difference. Roy Oswalt has been covered here. I’m confident Oswalt would not have come to Kansas City based on his public statements of not wanting to go to Cleveland or Detroit. That left Edwin Jackson, who signed with the Washington Nationals this week.

I did not think Dayton Moore was going to sign either of these pitchers. That doesn’t mean I was hopeful of some surprising un-fiscal responsibility from the Royals front office. I get why the Royals are waiting to see what they have in Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino. That’s the most cost effective way to go. If all three take steps forward this season, which is optimistic. The Royals still need to spend some money or prospects to get a front line starter if they want to have prayer of getting past Detroit in the AL Central. If all three flame out it will be time to call for an end to “The Process”. It’s something to keep an eye on. Especially if the Royals get off to a good start this season.

Royals: You’re Doing it Wrong!Bob Dutton had an article in the Kansas City Star this week listing possible replacements for Frank White as the Royals television Color Commentator. It seems the leading candidate is former big league, and Angels Broadcaster Rex Hudler. I’ve heard Rex on Jim Rome’s show a few times. I like him in the interview setting. He’s kind of goofy, and brings the motivational speaker cheese. That’s fine for a radio interview every few months. I have a feeling if I had to listen to that shtick game, after game, after game that it would get old by Tax Day. If Rex Hudler is Frank White’s replacement I will have to mute or turn off the television and let Boulevard Brewing Company sell it’s beer to me on it’s own merits. Some baseball blogs contend that Hudler is one of the worst commentators in Major League Baseball.

I’m becoming more irritated with this situation knowing that Rockies Commentator George Frazier didn’t get the job. I used to live in Denver and always enjoyed Frazier as part of the Rockies broadcast. I think he would have been an improvement over White. I know that’s blasphemy in Royals Nation, but that’s just how I feel.

But, let me redeem myself. I have been on the fence about the whole Frank White firing. There are two sides to every story, and we’ll never hear the Royals side. However, the Royals organization does not have a good track record of doing things right. Until they start consistently doing that I’m going to assume they’re doing things wrong. Firing a living legend and ambassador for your organization; then bringing in a person who many feel is not very good at that role seems like the wrong thing to do. Cancelling Fanfast was doing it wrong too. I would expect this type of Public Relations indifference out of a winning organization whose games and merchandise are in high demand. The Royals have not been a model franchise since Bob Saget was rocking a Giants warm-up jacket on Full House.

Last season the Royals finally gained some credibility with their fan base with the infusion of prospects from their minor league system. Then they do the dumb stuff mentioned above. I’m not going to rant and rave and say I’m going to quit being a Royals fan. I’ve been over that before. However, the Royals organization isn’t compelling me to spend more money with them than I had already budgeted.

Can We Get This Over With? – In case this got passed you. The Super Bowl is tomorrow. Baseball is my favorite sport, football is a close second. However, this Super Bowl is so un-compelling to me I’ve thought about not watching it. No one close to me would believe that statement, so I’ll probably watch.

There is only so much you can say about a three hour football game. I’ve gone on a sports media black-out this week to avoid Evangelical Football Fan Hyperbole. However, the biggest reason I can’t wait for the Super Bowl to be over? Baseball Season is the next thing on the horizon.

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Royals Invite Brandon Sisk To Surprise

ROYALS INVITE LEFT-HANDED PITCHER BRANDON SISK TO SPRING TRAINING

KANSAS CITY, MO (February 2, 2012) — The Kansas City Royals announced today that the club has invited left-handed pitcher Brandon Sisk to Major League Spring Training in Surprise, Ariz.  Sisk becomes the 17th non-roster player to receive an invitation.  The Royals have now invited eight pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and three outfielders.

Sisk, 26, opened 2011 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, making 16 relief appearances.  The Elkhart, Texas, resident was then promoted to Omaha (AAA) where he went 4-2 with two saves and a 1.41 ERA in 25 outings, all in relief.  Signed from the Independent Bay Area Toros on July 8, 2008, Sisk was also a part of Major League camp in 2011.

Pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise on Monday, February 20.  Workouts for pitchers begin the following afternoon, Tuesday, February 21.  The remainder of the squad will report on Friday, February 24 and begin workouts for the 2012 campaign on Saturday afternoon, February 25.

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Monday Morning Linkage: Rounding Up The Royals

With less than a month until the wonderful “Pitchers and Catchers Report” story, some news has started to trickle in. Our Royals friends around the Internet have chimed in with some observations this week.

As is becoming a custom here on I-70 during the off-season, we suggest you give some other sites and writers some love and drop by to read what they have to say.

One of our favorite podcasts out there belongs to the talented guys at Broken Bat Single, and you can check in on their latest edition by clicking here.

The Royals brought back one of the most effective pitchers for the 2010 version of the ball club, Bruce Chen. Michael over at Kings Of Kauffman takes a look at the deal he received over here.

Craig over at Royals Authority took the time to break down the payroll of the 2011 bunch that the Royals will run out there. He openly wonders How Low Will The Payroll Go.

The Royals took a chance on Zach Miner for the upcoming season, and the folks at Royally Speaking break down who he is and what to expect from the young man. Read their breakdown here.

Finally, the trustworty Rany On The Royals breaks down the two left-handers that were signed this past week. One new to the franchise and one returning, they will look to shore up the rotation.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Time To Look At 2011

It is January. It is cold. The National Football League is chugging along through the playoffs. Baseball? It is right around the corner.

The National Pastime is gathering momentum, the “hot stove” is starting to simmer, and the teams are starting to take shape as we near those magical words: “Pitchers And Catchers Report”.

I-70 Baseball takes a look at the American League Central and the Royals this week. Throughout the week, expect to see in depth articles from our writers breaking down the Royals roster against each team in the Central Division. You will also find guest articles from writers of other sites, giving an in depth look at the team they write about the most. Tune in this week as we break down the American League Central here on I-70 Baseball.

Tune into I-70 Baseball Radio tonight as we welcome writers from around the AL Central to talk baseball, 2011, and the chances their team has going forward. You can catch us on Blog Talk Radio under the brand new Ivie League Productions banner. Stay tuned for new shows, websites, and New Media outlooks to be announced throughout the month.

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Spring Training Invitees, Free Agent Rumors Shape Ragged Rotation

It was only a week ago we invited the New Year, but only five short weeks marks a much bigger celebration around select Arizona and Florida cities. February 14th is a day known for its love, but it will be pitchers and catchers who are building chemistry when they report on Valentine’s Day.

As Major League rosters gain shape and Spring Training quickly approaches, it’s beginning to look as if the group in need of the most lovin’ is the Royals pitching staff.

Photo by Erika Lynn

While the Greinke haul looks good projected into 2013 and beyond, it’s like robbing a cupboard with only a few cans of beef broth left for this year’s rotation.

GM Dayton Moore’s first offseason move is already taking immediate effect. Hindsight makes the deal of two young arms for DeJesus obvious after later trading Greinke. Vin Mazzaro, 24, will be asked to take quite a bit of the load for a staff with lots of options, but little consistency.

In his rookie season, Mazzaro only threw 91.1 innings, while he bumped his load to 122.1 innings last season. Mazzaro is slated as a middle of the rotation righty. He doesn’t have spectacular stuff or strikeout rates, but is a solid young arm. In small sample sizes his numbers could be ugly early, but if he is able to throw between 180-200 innings, the marathon will prove Mazzaro worthy.

Three major pieces of the pitching staff’s fate will be decided before every one reports to Spring Training. Starting pitchers Luke Hochevar and Kyle Davies, Royals since 2007, and reliever Robinson Tejeda, since 2008, all have arbitration hearings scheduled during February.

With the departure of Greinke, it looks like the promotion department will be busy as Hochevar seems the next probable Opending Day Candidate.

Hochevar is another young arm, 26, who hasn’t found stability on a big league level. Injuries have unexpectedly posed setbacks during his four year career, but Hochevar has never thrown more than 143 innings in a season. Teams with number one starters who have never made more than 25 starts in a season and have a career 5.60 ERA produce obvious results.

Davies looked like a non-tender candidate, because his $1.8 million salary should see a significant raise. Considering his mediocre stats it’s hard to believe such a big pay bump would be in order. Arbitration rulings are based largely around the field time a player has seen. Since Davies has thrown 470 innings in four seasons with Kansas City, his workload indicates he is willing of a pay raise.

I can still hear some of you hecklers out their ragging Davies. I understand the skeptics wondering why a replacement level player should be getting a big raise. The first is he has been in MLB for six years. The second, if Davies is such an awful pitcher, why could the Royals find anyone better to throw his innings?

Davies fate was sealed with the ‘Greinke effect,’ making his potentially pricey contract acceptable for a club with some cash and no big league arms.

The last real roster option who has seen big league time is Sean O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan is another young, 22, arm who is still finding his way at the top level. Bill James projects O’Sullivan to make 23 starts, 131 innings pitched, 4.88 ERA, and 4.90 FIP. While those numbers are far from spectacular, 23 starts from O’Sullivan could help carry a scarce staff through the season.

Everett Teaford

Even with only four fairly solid rotation commitments, I don’t think the Royals are in a panic to fill the void by their recent actions.

The most obvious solution for a team with nearly all of their major contracts gone, as well as Gil Meche’s $12 million coming off the books next year, is pay a major league contract for a MLB starter. Throughout the offseason the Royals have been linked to starters like Kevin Millwood, Carl Pavano, and Jeff Francis. It looks as if Pavano is going to resign with the Twins, making him a division foe once again.

I think Francis would be a cheap alternative, also adding a lefty to complement the four righties in place. Francis had built his innings total to 215, before missing parts of 2008 and 2010, and all of 2009. A torn labrum was the most significant damage, which was the cause for the missed time in 2009-2010.

Injury plagued pitchers are usually a gamble, but not including his injury marred years Francis has never thrown less than 143 innings. A cheap price tag and big league knowledge to pass down to a fleet of up and coming lefties makes me perk my ears.

The other potential solution was released in a January 3, announcement by the Royals. Kansas City released their Spring Training invitations, which included invites to six of the top ten Royals prospects according to Baseball America.

While Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer were obvious position players, LHP John Lamp. LHP Mike Montgomery, LHP Danny Duffy, LHP Chris Dwyer, and RHP Aaron Crow are all possible rotation options depending on spring performances.

Kansas City has also invited several pitching prospect outside the top ten. A few other roster contenders will be LHP Everett Teaford, LHP Noel Arguelles, RHP Nathan Adcock, and RHP Kanekoa Texeira. Adcock was a Rule 5 selection by the Royals grabbing him from Baltimore. His fate will most likely be sealed by the end of Spring Training. To retain a Rule 5 draft pick, the selection must be on the 25 man roster. If Adcock was not, he would be sent back to the

Despite a shaky starting staff, the bullpen should perform admirably depending on their amount of use. Quite frankly any bullpen with Joakim Soria doesn’t need much to make it serviceable.

Soria will anchor a group of Tejeda, Gil Meche, Texeira, and a few others. Tejeda has proved his worth out of the bullpen since coming to Kansas City from Boston. In three seasons as a Royal, Tejeda has a 3.47 ERA in 174 innings.

Gil Meche should offer some support on a diminished workload. Look for Texeira, 24, to improve on the 42 innings he worked in relief for the Royals. Texeira posted a 4.63 ERA with Kansas City.

A few other late additions or starting rotation contenders will be left over to round out the bullpen.

While the pitching performances don’t look to promising, they still should get a boost from multiple defensive upgrades.

Outfielders Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera were both major defensive upgrades when signed. Hopefully those two along with the speed and quick jumps from youngster Lorenzo Cain can make up for DeJesus’ outfield prowess.

Alcides Escobar immediately becomes the best Royals shortstop I can remember because of his love with the glove and fast feet. Of course, I’m only 23 which leave me the likes of Angel Berroa, Neifi Perez, and Yuniesky Betancourt.

Moore has constructed a lineup with solid offensive corners and fast, slick fielding up the middle players. With a stable of young arms, it looks like the only missing piece is a catcher.

Unfortunately for Royals fans, the catching question is one Moore could address a while down the road, since a quality product isn’t expected in Kauffman until 2012.

The Royals rotation mystery is a question which will be answered soon. Only a few short months will decide which starters will break into 2011 as a Royal.

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