Tag Archive | "Prince Fielder"

2013?

Making his debut on i70baseball, the following article is from Carson Redmond, a young fan of the Kansas City Royals.  Carson’s articles will appear here from time to time and you can find thoughts from him, his father, and the rest of his family over at Redmonds On The Royals.

On July 10, 2012, the world turned their heads toward Kansas City while they hosted the All-Star game. Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers won the Home Run Derby, and what is the definition of a dumpster fire trade was capitalized. Yes, former Royal, Melky Cabrera won the All-Star game MVP, while still in the lead for the NL batting title. And you have to think that the Royals got a halfway decent return for the Giants star, and then you remember, that it is the Royals, the only team in baseball to spend an additional 24MM for 19 points of win %, and the only team in baseball with a scouting director for a GM. The Kansas City Royals who two months ago traded the best player in baseball for a starting pitcher with an ERA of 7.76. Today however, they traded a disgraced PED user for their only solid starter. Melky Cabrera’s batting average before his stats magically took a bump, and after;

Before: .262/.324/.370
Average HR/RBI’s per year: 8/54

After: .326/.365/.493
Average HR/RBI’s per year: 15/74

That is just not right. In the process the Royals also secured Jeff Francoeur to a 2 year 16MM extension. Jeff Francoeur has -3.0 WAR this year. So great job Dayton Moore! You did it again, but at least Frenchy isn’t here on a work visa, and he doesn’t get hit in the back with fly balls. But even blind squirrels find an acorn from time to time, and out of the ashes of what could be contemplated as the worst trade in MLB history, came Jeremy Guthrie. A man who’s ERA was 5.83 points higher at Coors Field than it was on the road.  Jeremy Guthrie, who was the Baltimore Orioles #1 starter for a matter of years, Jeremy Guthrie, who is better than Luke Hochevar. Yes, the Luke Hochevar that was selected ahead of Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Ian Kennedy. The Luke Hochevar whose career low in ERA is 4.68, The Luke Hochevar who either has “great stuff” is “tipping his pitches” or is “throwing the cutter to much” or maybe he just “throws too many pitches” (yes, he throws too many pitches in a Royals uniform).  Ya, THAT Luke Hochevar. Whatever the case may be, Hochevar is getting ready to pass Kyle Davies for the all time high ERA with at least 120 starts. And a couple of weeks ago Dayton Moore and Ned Yost hosted a press conference about why exactly they are undoubtedly going to bring Hochevar back for another miserable 2013 campaign. And Dayton Moore also refuses to call up Wil Myers, who has just 4 fewer home runs than Francoeur has RBI’s.

Jeff Francoeur is the worst player in baseball. He is dead last in the league in WAR (Wins above Replacement, how many more wins you would get with this player, than an Irving Falu type player). His Rfield (the value of runs the player creates or gives up with his glove) is -14. I mean, even with my various kabetching about Hochevar, he is better than Frenchy.

The earlier point I made about 24MM for 19 points of win %, what I meant was .019 points of win percentage. I am sure Dayton Moore is a brilliant man, but he spent that 24 million on;

Jeff Francoeur: 16MM, 2 years
Jonathan Broxton: 4MM, 1 year
Jonathan Sanchez: 5.6MM, 1 year
Yuniesky Betancourt: 2MM, 1 year

If you add that up, it comes out around 27, but Francoeur was paid 2.5MM last year. So out of those signings, you have 2 DFA’s (designated for assignment, Betancourt and Sanchez), One trade (Broxton) and a -3.0 WAR (no analysis needed). Maybe the recent call-up of Jake Odorizzi will help the Royal’s jenga tower of a starting rotation finish the season, but I don’t think you are going to go on many winning streaks when you are running the penultimate fly ball pitcher in Bruce Chen out there every 5th day, and in the small possibility that I have not made this clear enough, Luke Hochevar isn’t exactly an ace either. On that note, remember that amazing, lefty heavy, franchise saving farm system the Royals had a couple of years ago, even without Odorizzi seeing the light of a Royals minor league uniform? Look and see how well that farm system from 2010 has done;

Eric Hosmer, MLB, 1B
2012: .237/.311/.367

Mike Moustakas, MLB, 3B
2012: .246/.298/.422

Wil Myers, AAA, OF
2012: .314/.387/.600
(worth mentioning that Myers has 37 HR’s)

John Lamb, RKL, LHP
*Tommy John surgery*

Mike Montgomery, AA, LHP
2012: 5-12, 6.07 ERA

Christian Colon, AAA, IF
2012: .301/.376/.413

Danny Duffy, MLB, LHP
*Tommy John surgery*

Chris Dwyer, AA, LHP
2012: 8-12 5.89 ERA

Aaron Crow, MLB, RHP
2012: 3-1 3.36 ERA

Brett Eibner, A+,OF
2012: .199/.298/.408

So, if I were giving them letter grades it would go like this;

Hosmer; C
Moustakas; B-
Myers; A
Lamb; incomplete
Montgomery; F-
Colon; B-
Duffy; B-
Dwyer; F-
Crow; A-
Eibner; I, for I don’t care, because he will never see the light of a Royals uniform.

So, we have 2 major league players who we hope are better than they have shown. One fantastic replacement for Francoeur, but at this point, I would be happy to have Daniel Nava replacing Frenchy. One guy who will never see Kauffman Stadium if he doesn’t move to 2nd, along with Gio not panning out. 2 Tommy John surgeries. One good reliever. 2 left handers that got demoted to AA. One guy that will never see the majors period. 8 of the 9 Royals position players are settled. If Dayton Moore would bring us a little starting pitching, we could be a legitimate contender in 2013. The Royals are currently closer to being a contender than they have been in a long time. So if we hold on to hope, and don’t hit that off button on your television quite yet, it might pay off.

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St. Louis Cardinals need Octavio Dotel-type reliever for pennant race

The St. Louis Cardinals entered play Sunday with a 46-41 record, just one game behind their record at this point last season. To make a late-season run this year similar to 2011, the Cardinals will need to add some experienced arms in the bullpen.

The Cardinals sent Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays on July 27 last year as part of a three-team trade that gave the Cardinals three critical pieces of their championship team: starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, and relievers Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel.

Jackson started some critical games for the Cardinals in the second half of the season, and Rzepcysnki provided needed lefthanded relief to neutralize potent left-handed hitters such as Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard. However, the most important part of that group that is no longer with the team is Dotel.

Dotel, who now pitches for the Detroit Tigers, filled the role Julian Tavarez played for the Cardinals in 2004 National League championship and Braden Looper pitched in relief for the 2006 World Series championship team. Unfortunately, the Cardinals don’t have a pitcher similar to Dotel in their bullpen this year.

The team may have hoped Scott Linebrink would fill that role this year, but he got hurt in Spring Training and the Cardinals released him before he ever threw a pitch in the 2012 regular season. Now they have a group of 20-somethings that are pitching as typical 20-something pitchers without much experience.

Sure, much of that group pitched well during last year’s playoff run, but they also had a veteran leader in Dotel. He not only pitched well with a 3.28 ERA as a Cardinal, but he also provided leadership for the inexperienced bullpen. His absence has left a huge void in this year’s bullpen.

Victor Marte, 31, is the oldest of the group, but he is in his first full season is not ready to lead a group of other pitchers. Jason Motte, 30, has 20 saves this year and finished off the World Series last year, but he still has issues of his own, which include finding a reliable second pitch that he can throw with confidence.

The bullpen’s lack of experience has shown up in the numbers this year, as well. The Cardinals have a 4.49 bullpen ERA, which is 25th in the majors.

Manager Mike Matheny has grasped at straws in Memphis by bringing up Eduardo Sanchez and Sam Freeman, but both have looked overmatched and should stay in Memphis for the rest of the year. If Motte created nail-biting moments last year, just imagine Freeman pitching in an important game late in the year or in the playoffs. Those would be heart-attack inducing innings.

So, as the trading deadline approaches, the Cardinals have been linked to starting pitchers such as Brewers starter Zack Greinke, but they need to look toward pitchers who can throw key innings late in a game rather than the first six or seven innings.

Sure, the starting rotation is fragile with Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia on the disabled list, but Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly provide much more stability in their roles than Fernando Salas or Mitchell Boggs do in their bullpen roles.

Plus, a veteran reliever will likely be a cheaper find than a front-line starter who may or may not test the free agent market in the offseason.

Looking back, the Cardinals would have been wise to pursue Dotel a little more aggressively. Hopefully they get a second chance at a similar pitcher later this month.

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The Royals get ready for round two of interleague play

It’s that time of year, interleague play, where some National League fans are annoyed having to play American League teams during the regular season. American League teams don’t let their pitchers hit. And they have this “player” called a designated hitter to bat for the pitcher. A baseball blasphemy! Ok, maybe only a few National League fans think this way. But some N.L. fans do get worked up over not having an automatic out when the pitcher is up to bat.

Last month, the Kansas City Royals played the Arizona Diamondbacks at Kauffman Stadium and lost two out of three games. Tomorrow night, the Royals have five three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers, a home and away series with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros, all National League Central teams.

Last year, the Royals went 5-13 in interleague play against the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. How will the Royals fare this year?

At the Pittsburgh Pirates, June 8-10: The National League version of the Royals aren’t playing like this year’s Royals. The Pirates are 28-27 and three games back of the N.L. Central leading Cincinnati Reds. With star center fielder Andrew McCutchen and a starting rotation headed by James McDonald and A.J. Burnett, the Pirates are a better team than in years past.

The Pirates won’t be pushovers and with Luke Hochevar on the mound Friday night, who knows what will happen. I’m hoping the Royals take two out of three games, but they could as easily get swept or only win one game against the Pirates.

At home against the Milwaukee Brewers, June 12-14: The Royals go back home for a three game set with the 24-31 Brewers, who are fourth in the N.L. Central. There’s a chance the Royals will see former Royal Zack Greinke, who leads the team with six wins. With the loss of Prince Fielder, the Brewers aren’t playing up to expectations. But this series could go either way. I look for two out of three wins for the Royals.

At the St. Louis Cardinals (June 15-17) and at Kauffman Stadium (June 22-24): It’s time for Cardinal fans to remember there is a Major League team on the west side of the state. As of Wednesday, the Cardinals were 28-28, third in the N.L. Central behind the Pirates. The Redbirds are going through a rough stretch, going 3-7 in their last 10 games. They’ve had injuries to key players and the bullpen isn’t pitching well. But the Cardinals offense is being led by the good play of Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and David Freese. The Royals play the Cardinals six times, three at St. Louis and three at home. I’m predicting a 3-3 record against the Cardinals.

At the Houston Astros, June 18-20: The Royals conclude interleague play against the Astros, who as of Wednesday were 24-31 and fourth place in the N.L. Central. The Astros are playing better than expected, but they’re still in rebuilding mode. The Royals should sweep, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals win only one out of three games either.

In the National League ballparks, the Royals will have Jeff Franceour in center, Eric Hosmer in right field and Billy Butler at first. Hosmer has practiced in right field and it will be interesting to see how he plays in the outfield. But Butler’s bat is too hot and valuable to keep on the bench, so the Royals will go with Hosmer in right. And with the possible loss of Felipe Paulino due to a groin injury, the Royals already shaky starting rotation will be severely tested the next couple of weeks. The good news? The Royals will have have more opportunities to make sacrifice bunts. I’m sure National League fans will appreciate that.

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Don’t tell me to be patient!

Once again the Kansas City Royals are starting the season by solidifying themselves on the Mt Rushmore of baseball futility. They have yet to win a home game! They let Prince Fielder, and Jose Bautista steal bases. They found a way to lose a game that’s never been done before, or if it has no one can remember, by hitting two consecutive batters to force home a winning run. It’s frustrating to the point of being mystifying how one organization can come with so many ways to be terrible.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. In January I wrote a post called Winter Worries. Unfortunately it appears a lot of my worries are coming true. The past two weeks have reminded me of 2004 more than the Kauffman Era. Key players are on the Disabled List. Veteran players have regressed. Rookies have regressed, in the case of Greg Holland, spectacularly. The league has adjusted to the younger players and they appear to have trouble adjusting back. I don’t know if Ned Yost is going to jump in the shower with his uniform on, or flee the team in the middle of the night. Since that whacky stuff has already happened, probably not. But it would not shock me if the Royals find some other way to make their fan utter “WTF” and national media text “LOL” to all their friends. You see, this organization has more of a track record for creating scenes fit for a Yackety Sax Youtube video than winning baseball games.

I’ve been told thirteen games is not a large sample size. Let me tell you about a sample size: Since April 18, 2000, the date David Glass assumed sole ownership of the Royals, the Royals are 813-1144. That is the worst record in the Major Leagues during that time. (They are 2 games back of the Pirates in case you were wondering.) Is that a big enough sample size? Royals fans have been told by non-stake holders that the Royals have one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball. We’ve been told that this 2012 version is better on paper. I guess I should believe that, but fans don’t print up t-shirts, and you don’t get to hang banners in your stadium for being good on paper and winning awards from publications. You get those things by winning baseball games.

The organization tells us it takes 8 to 10 years to build from within and go from terrible to winner. Really? Tell that to Andrew Freidman General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He was promoted to General Manager after the 2005 season. At the end of 2008 the Rays were American League Champions. I hope Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers doesn’t hear that it takes 8 to 10 years to turn a team around. Daniels was also promoted to General Manager at the end of the 2005 season. It took him four seasons but the Texas Rangers won the AL Pennant in 2010 and 2011 and look to make another run, not just for the playoffs, but for the World Series title. Both of these General Managers took over their organizations six months before Dayton Moore took over the Royals. Want another example unfolding in front of our eyes? Look at the Washington Nationals. In March of 2009 Mike Rizzo was promoted to General Manager of the Nationals. Granted, the Nationals haven’t won anything yet, but they look a lot more promising than the Royals right now. Tell me again how long it should take to rebuild an entire organization?

DO NOT tell me I need to be patient! And that I’m some how not a good fan because I’m losing patience with “The Process”. I’ve been patient. The fact that I even care enough to let this baseball team make me mad says enough about my patience. It’s not like I’m being unreasonable. I was not expecting to see a World Series or even a division contender from the Royals this season. What I am expecting is for the Royals to not be fundamentally terrible in the field and on the base paths. I’m expecting them to not walk the bases loaded. I’m expecting them not do things that are so off the wall and terrible that the Royals land on baseball blogs for the wrong reasons, and become punch lines for late night television. All I’m asking is that the Royals be mediocre as opposed to historically terrible.

Is it too much to ask of the Royals to not open their home schedule with a half inning so bad that casual fans tune out for the rest of the year? Is it too much to ask the Royals to not spiral into a losing streak that has diehard fans questioning why they root for this team in the first place? Is it too much to ask that the Royals be more relevant than Major League Soccer in their own town? Is it too much to ask that the front office find some other marketing drivel to defend their terrible on field performance? It shouldn’t be. Other teams in worse markets than Kansas City have used a process to turn their organizations around. Asking Royals fans to trust Dayton Moore’s “Process” is becoming too much to ask.

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Three To Watch: Cardinals Meet The Brewers

Opening Day is in the books for the defending champions, now the St. Louis Cardinals will play the remainder of the month against the Central Division and it starts with a series in Milwaukee against the Brewers.

It’s time to grab a cold frosty one (heh, heh, heh), make some nachos and settle in on the couch, the season is starting.  Don’t get any cheese on the keyboard and I will tell you the three things you should be watching for during this series.

Ryan Braun
The reigning Most Valuable Player had quite the tumultuous offseason.   Follow that up with a decidedly uncharacteristic Spring Training, and many wonder whether or not it is all weighing on his mind too much to focus on the game.

When faced with a scandal that will get a player ridiculed around the league, there always seems to be an over-enthusiastic level of support at home.  Braun will certainly get some home cooking and be focused in the dome of Miller Park.  With the weight of a scandal, and a franchise, on his shoulders, it may be time that fans learn what Ryan Braun is really made of.  The team will be relying heavily on him to help with the transition away from the Prince Fielder years.

Adam Wainwright vs Zack Greinke
If you are like me and love a good pitching match-up, Saturday’s game is tailor made for you.  Adam Wainwright toes the rubber for the good guys while Zack Greinke is on the bump for the Brew-Crew.

Greinke is in a contract year, which is part of the business of the game that he does not feel we should discuss, and is establishing himself as one of the premier arms on the market this offseason, if not a prime candidate for an extension.  Wainwright took notice this week of Matt Cain‘s deal and will pitch in his first regular season game since 2010.

This setting may feature two hurlers that are in the discussion for the league Cy Young Award before all is said and done.

Matt Holliday
I’m not sure you can take much away from a one game series against the Marlins in a lime green ballpark, but one thing stood out more than anything else to me.   Matt Holliday seemed frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a guy to make a big deal out of the statistics for one game.  It will take more than that to convince me that a player is struggling or on a hot streak.  What I did notice, is that Matt Holliday was visibly upset at the call made by the umpire and at himself when he missed a few pitches.  A player that is that upset this early is one that seems to be pressing, to me at least.  Keep an eye on how the Cardinals’ outfielder not only performs in Milwaukee, but how he reacts if he is not performing well to determine if he truly is struggling.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Jaime Garcia still needs maturity to become top-tier pitcher

St. Louis Cardinals projected No. 3 starter Jaime Garcia could become one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, but his emotional control will have to catch up with his physical ability.

Garcia has the talent to be a 20-game winner in the big leagues. He kept opposing teams hitless the first time through the lineup several times last season, but still ended up with a 13-7 record with a 3.56 ERA.

Much of the reason for Garcia’s lack of spectacular numbers is because he allows himself to get rattled during a game. If a defensive play isn’t made behind him in the field or the umpire squeezes the strike zone, Garcia has a tendency to lose command and become hittable.

Unfortunately, that same script played out Saturday in his Spring Training start against the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers have a powerful lineup with MVP candidates Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder holding down the corners of the infield, but Garcia held the Tigers to one hit in the first three innings. With the Cardinals up 3-0 in the fourth, Cabrera singled, Fielder tripled on a questionable fair/foul call and all of a sudden the flood gates opened. By the time the fifth inning rolled around the score was tied 3-3.

Garcia left the game after recording one out in the fifth. He was charged with four runs on five hits with three walks and the Cardinals went on to lose 10-3.

Granted, this was just another Spring Training start and the Tigers have a good lineup, but Saturday’s start continued a frustrating trend with Garcia. At times he shows the talent of an ace but also shows the steadiness of a rookie.

As Garcia struggled on the road to a 4-3 record with a 4.61 ERA that was two full runs higher than his home ERA of 2.55, reports surfaced that Garcia had trouble focusing for his starts on the road. That problem wasn’t caused by any misbehavior. Rather, he cared so much about the upcoming game that he would get bugged up if something didn’t go as planned during the day, such as a taxi cab showing up late.

Garcia could be the next part of the Cardinals’ two-headed monster and join Adam Wainwright at the front of the rotation if Chris Carpenter is indeed in the final stages of his career, but right now Garcia could just as likely be a guy who remains stuck in the middle of a rotation.

We must remember, however, that 2012 is going to only be Garcia’s third full season in the majors. It often takes talented pitchers some time to develop before they become great perennial all-stars such as Justin Verlander.

Verlander won the Cy Young and MVP awards last season, and although he had success his first two full seasons, he went 11-17 in 2008 before starting a three-year record of 61-23.

Garcia doesn’t have Verlander’s fastball, but Garcia does have good enough pitches to potentially throw multiple no-hitters. He came close a few times in 2011, but one problem would always happen and then Garcia became an average pitcher for the rest of the game.

Garcia did go the farthest of any Cardinals starter so far this spring with his 4.1 innings Saturday, and soon starters will begin throwing regular-length games as the regular season approaches. Hopefully Garcia learns to focus for a full seven innings or longer without letting one issue mess everything up.

If that happens, the Cardinals could have a great starting rotation in 2012.

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I Don’t Know Is On Third

The Kansas City Royals have been quiet this week, only announcing their slogan.  Our Time.  Well Royals fans had thought for a couple days this could be Our Time.  Until, the Detroit Tigers shocked a lot of people when they signed Prince Fielder to the 4th largest contract in baseball history.  I thought Fielder would now be the everyday DH and Miguel Cabrera stays at first.  This week Cabrera has said he will play third.  That altered our look at third basemen quite a bit.  I doubt he plays too much third base because he defense could be atrocious.  In the American League Central and for the Detroit Tigers, all of baseball knows who is on third.  With that said we will now take a look at the American League Central third basemen.  The following statistics will give us a view of each player’s 2011 season.

Team Player Avg. OBP SLG OPS H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
Chi Brent Morel .245 .287 .366 .653 101 18 1 10 41 2
Cle Jack Hannahan .250 .331 .388 .719 80 16 2 8 40 1
Det Miguel Cabrera .344 .448 .586 1.033 197 48 0 30 105 2
KC Mike Moustakas .263 .309 .367 .675 89 18 1 5 30 2
Min Danny Valencia .246 .294 .383 .677 139 28 2 15 72 2

 

The Chicago White Sox will start Brent Morel.  Who?  That was my thought too. 2011 was Morel’s first full season in the big leagues.  In both of Morel’s stints in the bigs he has shown nothing.  Morel was a solid hitter throughout the minor leagues with an average of over .300.  The White Sox have to hope Morel can regain the form he had in the minors, or he just may turn out to be another AAAA player.

The Cleveland Indians will be starting Jack Hannahan.  Hannahan has been a career back up.  He had not over 150 at bats for three until last season with the Indians.  Hannahan had 320 at bats and his highest average in 5 years hitting .250.  Obviously when you look at Hannahan stats he is nothing but a major league bench player.  Good luck Cleveland with Hannahan at third.

Miguel Cabrera is officially listed as Detroit’s starting third basement per the Tigers official website.  Cabrera is a perennial MVP candidate.  In 2011, Cabrera posted his highest batting average ever at .344.  Cabrera also posted his highest OBP ever at .448.  That is not too far from the ordinary, Cabrera is a career .317 hitter and has posted a .395 OBP.  Imagine the impact of having Prince Fielder now hitting behind Cabrera.  The Tigers offense is going to be scary.  Their infield defense may be the size of an offensive line and may post the worst defensive ratings in MLB history, but their offense will easily outweigh their defensive struggles.

The Kansas City Royals will have second year man Mike Moustakas at third.  In his second big league season, the Royals hope Moustakas can continue to grow as a hitter.  Moustakas struggled immensely in his first couple months in the big leagues.  Moustakas has struggled at every stop throughout the minors after his initial call up.  As Moustakas saw more major league pitching he began to show flashes of what scouts said could be expected of Moustakas.  Can Moustakas take another step forward this year?  For the Royals to compete in the central, he will have to take a huge step forward.

The Minnesota Twins will begin the season with Danny Valencia at third.  Valencia in his first full big league season hit .246.  A huge decrease from the average Valencia had carried throughout the minor leagues.  A career .290 hitter in the minors Valencia, take a huge step back in his first full big league season.  Valencia and the Twins hope he can become the hitter he was in the minors, but it looks like we may have another AAAA player.

Now that all third baseman have briefly been discussed, I will rank them from 1 to 5 in my point of view as to how their overall production for the 2012 season will stack up.   Well I don’t know if it is even necessary, as no one can compare to Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera is by far and away the best player at third base.  As for my rankings, here they are.

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Mike Moustakas
  3. Danny Valencia
  4. Jack Hannahan
  5. Brent Morel

From my point of view, and anyone else who knows what baseball is, Miguel Cabrera will by far be the best and most impactful offensive player at third base.  Cabrera will continue to produce MVP caliber numbers and dominate all major league pitching.  It’s scary to think how much better Cabrera could be with Fielder hitting behind him.  The rest of the third basemen have a lot to prove.  Moustakas is a huge prospect for the Royals and if the scouts are right he should continue to improve.  Moustakas has a long way to go, but he should be better than the rest.

 

 

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Tigers ‘Heavyweight’ Deal May Benefit Royals

I received several texts, emails and phone calls in the days following the Tigers’ signing of Prince Fielder. The messages varied, but the tone was always the same:

“Now we have to go sign Roy Oswalt, there’s no way we can compete without him.”

“Now we have no reason to sign Oswalt, we can’t compete this year, period.”

“Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the same lineup? In the AL Central? This sucks.”

Yeah, well imagine you are a Royals fan that wrote this last week. Then you read that all signs point to Oswalt signing with the Cardinals. The Cardinals? Did anyone tell him that Dave Duncan left? Anyway, there was only one person that could wake me from this nightmare of the week… you guessed it, the Kool Aid Drinker.

See, the Kool Aid Drinker thinks the Fielder signing was great for the Royals. $214 million for a 275 lb first baseman that had his career high in HRs 5 years ago and his career high in RBI 3 years ago? Awesome! Prince will have 1000 games on those knees after the third game of 2012. His dad hit 1000 games, also with the Tigers, in 1999. He was also 5 years removed from his career high in home runs. He hit exactly 100 home runs from that season forward, and more than 20 just once. Sure, his dad was 4 years older, so how about another heavy first baseman? Ryan Howard hit 1000 games last season, 5 years after his career high in home runs, I guess you saw how that season ended. How about Mo Vaughn? He hit 1000 games in 1998, just three years after his career high. Vaughn played 4 more years, 2 of them productive, and had nearly twice as many strikeouts as RBI in that time frame.

Listen, the Kool Aid Drinker is not all about boring people with statistics. But feel free to check out John Kruk or Steve Balboni if you want. In fact, I think we can make some fairly simple deductions:

  1. Fat first basemen do not age well
  2. Prince Fielder is fat
  3. Prince Fielder plays first base
  4. The Royals are going to dominate the AL Central

Seriously, over the next 4 years Prince is guaranteed just shy of $100 million dollars. Eric Hosmer, over that same time, will likely make less than $20 million. Who would you rather have? In 2014 the Tigers will have a 30 year old Fielder, a 31 year old Miguel Cabrera, a 30 year old Justin Verlander, and a 35 year old Victor Martinez on the books for $83 million dollars. If you are counting at home that is a pitcher with a whole lot of mileage on his arm and 3 DHs for what figures to be 70% of their total payroll. The best part is the Royals will have control over almost all of their best players through 2014 at a much more reasonable price.

We have not even talked about defense, or the irony of Prince’s last name. A fielder he is not. Rumor has it the Tigers are planning on putting the 4th worst defensive first baseman in baseball at first base and the sixth worst defensive first baseman at third base. The Tigers should be the worst defensive team in the division, if not all of baseball. Can you imagine the hilarity of a bunt situation with Cabrera and Fielder charging? We may get some Ken Harvey humor out of this contract. By the All Star game it will be clear to even the Tigers that one of the big boys has to play DH, and neither of them wants to. That’s a chemistry builder.

Essentially, the point the Kool Aid Drinker is this: Even if the Tigers do win the division in 2012 (and I don’t think they will), they have set themselves up for failure in the future. They have behaved like far too many of our countrymen, deciding to get what they want now regardless of what effect it may have on their future. I have heard a lot about how the contract will never go 9 years because Fielder will opt out long before that, I assume the people saying that have not seen the Kool Aid Drinker’s very scientific study above. It would be pretty odd for a 295 pound DH hitting .250ish to opt out of $24 million a year, and that is exactly what Fielder will be in 3-4 years.

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The Great Divide

If you are not aware: The Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder a nine year, $214 Million contract this past week. Adding Fielder not only makes the Detroit Tigers the undisputed favorite to win the AL Central. It makes the divide between where the Kansas City Royals are, and where they need to be, to win the AL Central much greater than before.

The Tigers are just one of the Royals’ four divisional opponents. With the unbalanced schedule they will play each opponent 18 or 19 times. The divisional opponent I despise the most is dependant upon who is having the most success. In 2003 that team was the Twins. The Indians and White Sox have at one time been my most despised divisional opponent. Right now, I really don’t like the Tigers. Who ever the Tigers are playing 2012, I’ll root for them.

The Divide between the Tigers & the Royals might be bigger than this.

This is a new realization for me. Even last year when the Tigers won the division by 15 games I did not despise them as much as I despise them now. Maybe it was the horrendous 2003 season. Maybe it’s that the Tigers seem to draft a lot of players from Wichita State. Maybe, deep down I like the demeanor of their chain smoking manager Jim Leyland. I’m not sure why I had a soft spot for the Tigers until now. In fact the Royals Franchise should have a soft spot for the Tigers. After all, that 119 loss 2003 team is the only thing separating the Royals from being the WORST TEAM IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL this century! In the end the joke was on the Royals. The Tigers won the American League Pennant three seasons later. Meanwhile the Royals lost another 100 games, fired their general manager a week before the draft, and had a pitching staff so terrible an over the hill Scott Elarton was the Opening Day starter.

Because of Detroit’s separation from the rest of the AL Central I no longer have a soft spot for them. The White Sox and Twins have entered rebuilding mode. If the Royals are an improved team they should beat these two teams like a rented mule. I’m not sure I can feel sorry for them. Even there are repeated trips behind the woodshed. The Cleveland Indians are in the same place developmentally as the Royals. They might be ahead. They have already pulled the trigger for an ace pitcher to supplement their farm system. Something the Royals seem reluctant to do. If the Royals are ever going to make the playoffs they have to get through the Indians to do it. No love for the Indians, here.

This is how see the AL Central shaping up for the 2012 Season. The Tigers are miles head of the rest of the division. The Royals and Indians will fight for second and third. That is a fight the Royals need to win if they are going to seriously contend in 2013. The Twins and White Sox will be scrumming in the basement. I guess you could call it progress that the Royals are not being picked to finish last. Progress is good, but there is a great divide between the Royals and the Tigers. Dayton Moore and the Glass Family need to find a way to build a bridge.

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The Prince And The Paupers

With the signing of Prince Fielder on Tuesday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers have quickly become once again the favorites in the American League Central.  After losing top of the line player Victor Martinez  to injury, the Tigers solidified their lineup by bringing in their new masher. This sets up a problem for both Kansas City Royals of present and of future.

The Royals will have to face Fielder 18 times this season.  The one good thing about having to face such a powerful first basemen is the fact that his name does not have anything to do with his game.  The Tigers will be worse defensively withe him in the field but like others players in the Major Leagues he makes up for it at the plate and then some.

The bigger problem that the Royals face is the fact that now we have to sit and watch the Detroit Tigers spend gobs of money over the next ten years. The highest four contracts for the Tigers in 2012 will add up to 78 million dollars while the Royals only will be around 47 million depending if or when the Alex Gordon extension happens.  The problem with the numbers being that high across the division is because the Royals have expressed many times that even at a high point they will not be able to exceed a 75 million dollar payroll.  Now what is the problem here?  If the Royals begin to win over the next five years, just speculation, then they will have to start spending money.  The young talent that is presently playing and the more to come will have to start making money.

The top four contracts for the Detroit Tigers are between Prince Fielder, first base and designated hitter, Justin Verlander, ace, Miguel Cabrera, third base, first base and designated hitter, and Victor Martinez,catcher and first base. Now compare those to similar players that the Royals will presumably have to pay in the future. Eric Hosmer, first base, with all of the hype and the high ceiling of this young player the Royals will be spending a lot of money to not let this one get away. A number one starter, whether that comes from in house or they go find one in free agency, is probably where, if they spend money in the near future, they will have to go first. Mike Moustakas, all of the reports say that the way “Moose” played last year is the same way he started at every level and that he will pick up his game once comfortable.  This we saw a little bit of at the end of the 2011 season. Finally, Salvador Perez, the surprise call up of the 2011 season, showed that he may have the game to be an elite catcher for a long time in the Major Leagues.  With his defense alone he will be a reliable starting catcher but with the amount of knowledge at the plate that he showed he will make big dollars in the future.

These four contracts alone do not even include the amounts that will have to be paid to Billy Butler, if he is even a Royal of the future, and the other starters in the rotation.  The outfield that seems to be able to come together and put forth great season of productivity in the field.  The four contracts at the top will presumably take up at least 55-60 million dollars and then the holes have to filled in form their.

The Tigers have put a new pressure on teams in the division.  The one hurting the most from the signing of Prince Fielder is the Kansas City Royals.  They Royals will have to reevaluate how and when they are going to become grown-ups and spend the money that is necessary and needed to have a perennial contender not only for the division but also for a world championship.

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