Tag Archive | "Reason"

George Kottaras is Much Better Than You May Think

GeorgeKottaras

 

I’m going to say something which may ruffle some feathers. Salvador Perez is a little overrated. But I’m going to follow that up with something that hopefully will win everyone back, George Kottaras is very, very underrated. He’s also the best back-up catcher in baseball and is as much the reason The Royals are on this hot streak as anyone else on the team.

The praise for him online has been around for a while, long before he was on The Royals. Here is a Fangraphs article from last year, criticizing The A’s for using Derek Norris over Kottaras at catcher.

Meanwhile, Kottaras, in his incredibly limited amount of time, has outproduced Norris offensively.  Norris may have the edge defensively, but it’s really not by that wide of a margin.  Not wide enough to play an offensively inept guy in lieu of, that is.  And while the offensive difference between the two hasn’t been that significant in August, the overall numbers for the season show that Kottaras is better suited to play during this home-stretch playoff run.

Kottaras is an incredibly modest guy who admits he tries to puts team first. He claims getting on base and trusting the guy behind you is the best philosophy to play with. Being quoted in this article:

“The whole ‘Trust the guy behind you’ really made sense finally,” he says. “It’s about patience and doing the little things. You don’t always get a pitch to bring in the guy from third with less than two outs. So if it’s not there, let it go. Take the walk and let the next guy have a shot at it.”

Originally I wanted this article to be a comparison between The Cardinals and The Royals and how they were doing (or did, now that Perez is back)without their starting catchers. Essentially comparing Kottaras to Cruz. But two paragraphs in I realized it was no contest, Kottaras was much better. So the comparison I want to make now is Kottaras versus Perez.

If you look at standard statistics, Perez is much better. Kottaras is hitting .176, 5 hrs, 12 rbis. Those stats place him statistically in line with other back-up catchers, and would indicate he is possibly one of the worst. Perez on the other hand is hitting .278, 4 hrs, 43 rbis. Perez is clearly better right? Not so fast.

When you evaluate their slash lines, it tells a different story. Kottaras: .176/.384/.432 verses Perez: .278/.309/.382. Kottaras is a walking machine. I realize his sample size is much smaller than everyday starters, but if Kottaras was able to maintain that as a starter, he would be 12th in all of baseball with on base pct. He’d also lead The Royals, just over Billy Butler. But what’s more impressive is his slugging pct. Kottaras slugging is about 50 points higher than Perez. Kottaras only has 13 hits this year, but 5 of them are homeruns and 4 of them are doubles. Kottaras’ objective at the plate seems to be to take a walk. But when he does decide to swing for a hit, he really makes it count. In his career, he has 143 hits. 40 have been for doubles and 29 for homeruns. His 2013 ISO is .257. And not to be accused of small sample size, his career ISO is .200. His career slash is .215/.328/.414. He has never posted an on base pct under .300 and has only finished twice with an on base under .310. But even with an impressive career .328 on base pct, it’s been even higher the last 2 years as a result of him coming to terms with what he does best. From the same article as above:

“Just keep the line moving,” Brett says(about Kottaras). “Each guy just keeps it all moving. Don’t be that guy that tries to win it all yourself. You have guys behind you.”

Still, Kottaras, 30, wasn’t able to connect that philosophy to his game right away. In his one full season in Boston and his next two in Milwaukee, his on-base percentages were a modest .308, .305 and .311.

“It took me a couple of years to totally understand that because when you’re in the minors or when you just get up to the big leagues,” he says, “you’re always searching and finding what you do right.”

Also, for the last 3 years, his slugging has been well over .400.

Since the All Star break, Kottaras has an OPS of .853. He is as hot as anyone else on the team, yet the general consensus in the media is The Royals were dying to get Perez back. When Kottaras was starting at catcher with Perez out, The Royals were 5-2. I’m not saying that Kottaras is necessarily better than Perez. In fact, he probably isn’t. But I do think he is much more in the conversation than people think.

Losing Perez for a while should have been a bigger blow. But Kottaras was there to really soften that blow. And unfortunately, to a much larger degree than he gets credit for.

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Yahoo Sports: A Look at the Future St. Louis Cardinals Hurlers

COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals organization has been named by many different sources as having one of the best farm systems in baseball and the pitching talent is a large reason for that. Perspective becomes increasingly important however when determining if a pitcher is considered a major-league pitcher or a top-of-the-rotation major league pitcher.

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My previous article took a look at why the Adam Wainwright extension was a much more sound decision than the possibility of signing Albert Pujols to a long-term deal would have been. During that discussion, I point out that Wainwright was much harder to replace since there were very few arms in the minor league system that project to take over his position as “ace” with this club.

Many fans have to wonder what I might have been talking about. The young pitching has looked more than impressive at the end of 2012 and during the spring of 2013. Why then, fans wonder, would I say that there is only one pitcher that projects to be the potential heir to the Wainwright throne?

Click here to read an in depth look at the young hurlers in the Cardinals organization.

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Royals Fans Feel Duped

Kansas City Royals fans woke up to an exciting email in their inbox today, they had been given the opportunity to purchase Opening Day tickets.  Once they opened the email, frustration set in very quickly.

The subject line of the email gave fans reason to get fired up, it read “Your Royals Opening Day Ticket Opportunity”.  Many fans had signed up recently for the opportunity to purchase tickets to the Royals home opener and most jumped quickly to the assumption that their name had been drawn in that regard.

Unfortunately, the subject line did not match the body of the email.  As overjoyed fans opened the email to see what they needed to do to ensure their seat at the home opener, they found the following text:

RoyalsTicketOpp

“You are receiving an exclusive opportunity to purchase tickets to every 2013 game, excluding Opening Day, today! Buy tickets before the rush!”

That’s right, the email that stated it contained your opportunity for Opening Day tickets revealed that it, in fact, contained your opportunity to buy tickets to anything except opening day.

Fans have taken to social media with their displeasure with the club over what some are calling a “bait and switch” tactic.  Many felt slighted and wondered how the club could provide an email with such a glaring oversight.  Many seem to feel this is “par for the course” with the Royals business over the last few seasons.

There is a lot of excitement around the Royals going into 2013.  The team should take notice and make sure they are not coming across as “the same old Royals”.

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

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Is this progress?

Barring a complete collapse, it looks as though the Kansas City Royals will not finish in fourth or fifth place for the first time in ten years and the second in fifteen. They need to play one game over .500 in their next 32 to finish with their best record since 2003. They should comfortably surrender their lowest run total since 1995 while posting an improvement in wins for the third consecutive season, something they haven’t done since 1992. All of this begs the question, is this progress?

In terms of “The Process”, you would have to say that yes, this is progress. The Royals will head into 2013 with nearly an entire line up of players that are either homegrown or traded for while they were still unknown quantities. Nearly all of these players will either be locked up under a club-friendly deals or not yet eligible for free agency. The only real exception is Jeff Francoeur, who will most likely get one last chance to start in right field and prove exactly who he is toDaytonMoore…at least until after next year’s Super Two deadline. Francoeur and Bruce Chen will both be back in 2013 at a combined cost of $12 million. Still, what Moore has always told us is that once you have a majority of the team composed of your guys, under contract on your terms, then you can have the resources to go out and spend free agent money on one or two pieces where you need them. Mr. Moore, you have exactly that heading into 2013 with a club that I’m certain you’ll sell to us as improving, so where do the Royals need pieces?

In terms of position players there are two clear weaknesses in the Royals lineup. One of them we’ve already mentioned, right field, will be manned by Jeff Francoeur, and has a clear succession plan in Wil Myers. In other words, there is absolutely no reason to go add a right fielder. The second, and more glaring, weakness is at second base. Johnny Giavotella would have to hit a ton to make up for his defense, and to this point he hasn’t shown the ability to do that in the majors. Chris Getz, the likely starter in 2013, would have to be a gold glover to make up for his bat and he is not. The most prominent free agent at second base is Robinson Cano…even if the Royals had all the money in the world; I don’t think he’s coming toKansas Cityunder any circumstances. There are no other guaranteed upgrades over Getz available on the free agent market so it seems unlikely the Royals will add a major contract for a position player in 2013.

Obviously, the Royals major hole is in the rotation. In fact, their two biggest holes are in the rotation. They have a nice collection of 4 and 5 starters, but no one that figures to be a 3 or better in 2013. With a bullpen that is set and a lineup that isn’t changing, this is where all of Dayton Moore’s attention should be focused this offseason and he’s said as much. There is no telling how much money Moorehas to spend, but let’s just use $20 million. Why that number? That’s the prudent estimate of profit for the club in 2012, and you know David Glass has always said he’s just looking to break even. There are a lot of Royals fans dreaming about Zack Greinke, not only do I think that would be a pipe dream, it would also be ill-advised. Greinke will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million, best case scenario about 100% of the Royals free agent budget. One pitcher with a 2.3 WAR does not make this pitching staff that much better. The Royals need to go out and get two pitchers at approximately $10 million a piece. I’m not going to get into who they should or shouldn’t be until the offseason, but the Royals should have them all scouted and should go hard after the two pitchers in that range they think best fit this rotation. Just throwing out two names off the top of my head, a rotation of Shaun Marcum-Jeremy Guthrie-Bruce Chen-Mendoza/Hochevar-Odorizzi/Smith could be a competitive rotation. Even better, the club would have the possibility of Danny Duffy or Felipe Paulino in July. That would be progress. But back to the question, is this progress? 2012? It is, but like everything else involving the Royals, it won’t mean a thing unless Glass and Moore take advantage of it.

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Duffy Admits His Need For Improvement

The Kansas City Royals roster is loaded with youngsters who were baptized by fire during the 71-91 campaign of 2011. Hopes were soaring high in September, as nearly every one of those pups seemed to be putting it together.

But for the team to take the next step to contention, nearly every one of those youngsters will need to improve on what he’s shown thus far (save perhaps Alex Gordon, who may not be able to improve on his great showing).

While improvement from the likes of Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar is essential, and while Lorenzo Cain and Johnny Giavotella must prove they can do it over a long haul, the biggest improvement is probably needed from pitcher Danny Duffy.

Duffy was given a crack at the starting rotation perhaps because the Royals realized no one could do worse than the starters they were running out to the mound.

Duffy was called up the day after Kyle Davies broke down in the first inning of a start against the Indians. What followed was legendary. Vin Mazzaro proceeded to give up an unthinkable 14 runs in just 2.1 innings of relief.

So the bar couldn’t have been much lower when Duffy joined the club. Still the jump from Omaha to KC was a big one. Duffy was rolling along with a 2.96 ERA and 84/19 K/BB ratio in 76 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. But the big leagues aren’t called “the big leagues” for nothing.

“It’s night and day. Everybody up here is up here for a reason,” Duffy said this off-season about the difference between the minors and majors.

Duffy went 4-8 in 20 starts, but he rarely gave himself a chance to pick up victories. When he wasn’t giving up big leads, he was racking up so many pitches that he had to be pulled early.

Duffy didn’t make it to the fifth inning five times. That means that in one of every four starts, Duffy didn’t even finish the fourth inning!

The rookie never led the team deep into games – he only pitched past the sixth inning three times.

For all his troubles, there’s no denying Duffy’s strike-out stuff. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and knee-buckling curve, the Royals believe Duffy doesn’t have to continue beating himself.

Former Royal pitcher and current broadcaster Jeff Montgomery, for one, sees hope for Duffy.

“Consistency will be the key for Danny,” Montgomery said recently. “It’s really important for him to go out and be a more consistent pitcher. He’s got to learn how to become more of a pitcher than a thrower.

“He’s got great stuff, great ability. If he’s able to capture that magic and learn how to get people out and that he doesn’t have to get everybody out himself, allow the hitters to get themselves out occasionally, he will improve.”

Montgomery seemed to see some of that kind of improvement in Duffy during the season. The former closer said recently that he saw Duffy trying to make the necessary changes as the season went along.

“One thing I saw in him last year that I was very impressed with was that every time he had a failure or a struggle, he made adjustments,” Montgomery said. “And it’s a system of adjustments that you have to make before you finally become a quality plug-in guy that you can go to every day.”

Duffy was just 1-4 at the All-Star Break, and he did improve with a 3-4 mark after the break. But the quality of his starts seemed to remain about the same. A closer look doesn’t exactly show that Duffy got better from the “adjustments” Montgomery alluded to.

Judging by a split of the first half and second half, Duffy didn’t really improve in two key areas – earned runs per inning, and walks per inning.

Duffy pitched 52 innings in the first half of the season. In that half, he gave up 28 earned runs and 25 walks.

In the second half of the season, Duffy was shut down after 53.1 innings. In the second half, he allowed 38 earned runs, while walking 26.

Duffy is not unaware of the fact that he didn’t get it done last year. He knows that he was allowed to stick in the rotation in spite of his dismal performance because the team was determined to let him grow into the role.

He said he’s been focused and disciplined in his effort to be better. He knows his big-league livelihood is at stake.

I think this off-season I’ve done everything I can to be what it takes to stay up here,” Duffy said. “I’ve watched a lot of video and I’m doing a lot of stuff, even in the mirror, with my delivery to improve. I just want to get out there and prove that I belong up here.”

Duffy may not have long to prove he belongs. Not in the starting rotation at least. He’ll most likely start there, but he might not stay there. He’ll have Mike Montgomery breathing down his neck, and Jake Odorizzi, Chris Dwyer and John Lamb not far away. Add those calling for Aaron Crow to be given a shot at starting, and there are plenty waiting in line, should Duffy continue to sputter.

But Duffy is trying to not let the pressure bother him.

“Everybody needs to have a progression in their career, and I feel like I’m getting to that point where I’m going to be consistent,” Duffy said. He admitted he’s aware of the talk about his struggles.

“I know there’s a lot of critiquing going on about my walks and my pitch counts, but I think this year I’m going to conquer that,” Duffy said. “I’ve really worked hard to get strong enough to repeat my delivery every pitch, and I feel that once you get that delivery repetition, you start putting the ball where you want.”

Duffy knows he’s not guaranteed the fifth spot in the rotation come spring. But he says he’s not going to get hung up on his role.

“I’m going to just fill in wherever they need me,” he said. “I can’t get ahead of myself. I’m just happy to be lucky enough to be a part of the squad.”

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Trade Bloom

If you did not hear the news, the Royals have traded Willie Bloomquist to the Reds for a player to be named later or cash. I am normally a fan of the Royals trading players that are in the last year of their contract. It is always good to see a Royals player who has put in his time without crying get a shot at the playoffs. I also have stated that Bloomquist should have been traded earlier in the year, but this trade is anything but pleasing in my eyes.

Bloomquist was traded after the trade deadline so he will not be able to enjoy a playoff run on the field with the Reds. Secondly the Royals are getting nothing in return basically once the dust settles. A few dollars off the books or a low level prospect is not going to change this team one little bit. So, I just kind of have to shake my head at this deal. I guess the Royals thought that they could save some cash and at the same time open a roster spot for some young talent. But if they were going to trade Bloomquist for a player to be named or cash that could have been done at either deadline so at least the man could have a chance to play in the playoffs.

This trade seems like it is a day late and a dollar short on all accounts. The only thing that could make this trade seem logical is if Bloomquist was causing a problem in clubhouse due to his lack of playing time. Earlier in the season it was rumored that he was wanting an everyday spot next season if he were to stay in Kansas City. If this was the reason for the trade then I guess it was a good move but without knowing the details behind closed doors it is hard to really make a judgement.

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DeJesus Injury Could be A Blessing

DeJesus7.jpg image by dsanford

David DeJesus is out for the year with an injury to his hand. He was the Royals’ number one trading chip going into the deadline but his recent injury has guaranteed that he will not be leaving the club this season. He has an option for next season which will most likely be picked up by the team after the Alberto Callaspo trade.

The Callaspo deal gives the team enough money to keep DeJesus next year even at a price tag of $6 million. Replacing DeJesus for less than that might be a hard thing to do so it is safe to say he will be in blue next year.

His trade value may go down some next year but if he can regain his form after his hand heals, DeJesus will still be a good deadline pickup for a contending team this time next season. The Royals will have two options in my mind with DeJesus during the offseason. The first is to just pick up his option for next year, letting him play out the contract and trading him at the deadline if they are blown away by an offer. The second is to pick up his option in the summer to turn around and trade him before the season starts. I personally like the idea of letting him play the season out. Kansas City could get off to a good start and they might not even want to trade him them.

One good thing about DeJesus’ injury is that it allows the team to try out new players as an everyday outfielder for the remainder of the season. This can mean bringing up AAA talent or letting a bench player earn his way into the starting job for next year.

The second reason that DeJesus getting hurt is good for the team is because it has now put more focus on Jose Guillen and Scott Podsednik. The trade value for these two players is not as high as DeJesus but getting rid of these two players is a better move for the team. Podsednik was the first to move from the outfield yesterday after being traded to the Dodgers. The fact that Podsednik was moved just furthers the point that DeJesus being on the DL is actually a good thing.

Guillen will more than likely follow Podsednik out the door in the next few days. The market for serviceable outfielders has increased after injuries to DeJesus, Corey Hart, and Shane Victorino and gives KC the upper hand as teams such as the Giants are scrambling for a deadline move.

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