Tag Archive | "Right Fielder"

The Top Seven Cardinal Coming Attractions

Youth has been served this season for the Cardinals, as the prophecy of their top ranked minor league system was fulfilled. From near perfect games and no-hitters to home runs and shutdown bullpen efforts, the fortune of the club has been decided in large part by its least experienced components.

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While some comings are more heralded than others, many aren’t that difficult to see coming. The depth of the Cardinal system has left even more talents that have a chance to make a breakthrough impact next season. The rules for determining these players is simple: it is not a look at the “top” prospects for the team currently exclusively, but rather players that will be rookie-eligible in 2014, that are within reasonable reach to push through to the Majors next spring.

 

1. Oscar Taveras: The most obvious choice is perhaps baseball’s best talent to not see the Majors yet. While injuries kept his season from making his debut this season, the 21-year-old outfielder still put forward an exciting .306 mark at the plate. While the roster is packed with both veterans and youngsters alike, Taveras will receive a chance to give the club every reason possible to keep him with the team in some capacity. His talent is such that it has put the status of Carlos Beltran’s future with the team in doubt, who has been an All-Star in both of his St. Louis seasons thus far. While the popular idea is that he can contribute in center field, he is a right fielder all the way in skill set, but has the type of bat that plays wherever room can be made for it…and his glove can be tolerated.

2. Carlos Martinez: Maybe the greatest enigma in the Cardinal pitching picture is Martinez, but not for any questions about his readiness. Rather, it is about where to fit him in the roster as soon as possible. With a starting rotation that could have no less than three completely open spots, and the likes of Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly, Lance Lynn, John Gast, Jaime Garcia, Seth Maness, Trevor Rosenthal, Tyler Lyons and Kevin Siegrist vying for it, Martinez still could be the best option of that entire group, and that is saying something. Yet, with his plus fastball and developing arsenal, he could easily bring to back of the pen yet another presence like what Rosenthal has done this year.

3. Kolten Wong: Wong hasn’t torn the cover off of the ball in his initial appearance with the Cardinals this year, but then again, neither did Matt Carpenter. But what he has made clear is that he can bring the team speed like it has from no other, as well as an instant improvement defensively. While his exact place is yet to be seen, due to the presence of Carpenter and Freese, Wong should be considered a favorite to not see minors again when camp breaks next spring, one way or another.

4. Greg Garcia: Wong’s college and both Triple and Double A teammate up the middle in Garcia could be the next option in the ongoing auditions at shortstop. After hitting .271 and showing improved range, he could get a chance to figure into the big picture for no other reason than playing the right place at the right time.

5. Stephen Piscotty: Versatility could be his friend, but hitting .295 over his first two professional seasons while playing three different positions is encouraging as well. The 22-year-old was drafted as a third baseman out of Stanford in the first round of 2012 as a compensation pick, but has built up a .362 on-base percentage and learned the ropes as a corner outfielder in a hurry. With the likely move to Memphis coming in 2014, he could be a candidate to be a nice utility option in the model of a 2010 Allen Craig or 2012 Matt Carpenter going ahead.

6. Boone Whiting: One of the most consistent arms in the Cardinal system since joining in 2010 as a 18th round pick, Whiting could be on the verge of seeing his chance to breakthrough. In 21 starts this summer, he posted a 4.09 ERA and struck out 99 in 105 innings. He could emerge as a dark horse candidate to fill into the long-reliever role that plagued the team at times this year, as well as be the Tyler Lyons spot start type.

7. Marco Gonzales: The team’s first round pick this year was on a short leash after a college season that saw him throw over 120 innings, as well as play in the field as well, but next summer could see him fully unleashed. The lefty got better as he moved up this year, posting a 1.62 ERA across four starts after moving up to Palm Beach, striking out 23 in 23 innings. It would be a stretch, but if he rapidly succeeds as expected once put into a rotation next year, the string of fast-rising former college hurlers (Wacha, Maness) could continue for the organization.

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St. Louis Cardinals can survive without Allen Craig until playoffs

After a season filled with injuries to the pitching staff, now the St. Louis Cardinals will have to deal with an injury to one of their starting fielders, who also happened to be one of their most important hitters.

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First baseman and occasional right fielder Allen Craig suffered a sprained left foot Wednesday in Cincinnati during a game against the Reds that the Cardinals eventually won 5-4 in 16 innings.

Craig went back to St. Louis for further examination Thursday and at least found out he did not have any broken bones in his foot. That probably gives him a chance to return before the end of the season, which is significant.

The Cardinals can likely survive through the rest of September without Craig even though he leads the team with 97 runs batted in and is tied with second baseman Matt Carpenter for the second-best batting average on the team at .315, behind catcher Yadier Molina’s .322 average.

In the worst case scenario, the Cardinals offense would fall flat without Craig’s contributions, specifically his incredible .454 batting average with runners in scoring position, and the team would lose the division title to the Reds or Pittsburgh Pirates and have to play in the one-game Wild Card round for the second consecutive year.

However, the Cardinals do have a solid backup for Craig. Matt Adams has been the Cardinals best hitter off of the bench this season, he has a .269 average with 11 homeruns and 38 RBIs in just 212 at-bats, which is about half of an everyday player. Plus, fans have clamored for Adams to get more playing time through much of the season.

Well, here’s his chance.

He certainly made an impressive first impression Wednesday with homers in the 14th and 16th innings to help the Cardinals win, but becoming a consistent hitter in the middle of the lineup will be vital for Adams now that he will be the starting first baseman for the foreseeable future while Craig’s foot heals.

The Cardinals also have 13 consecutive games against teams with losing records after they finish a three-game series with the Pirates during this upcoming weekend, so they will likely face less-than-dominant pitching that could allow the Cardinals to win even when the offense is not clicking on all cylinders.

But the Cardinals will be in an entirely different scenario come the playoffs in October. Those games are often dominated by good pitchers, and timely hits determine the outcome.

Craig is perhaps the best timely hitter in Major League Baseball, and the Cardinals would sorely miss his bat in the lineup during the playoffs.

The team got good news Thursday when Craig’s X-Rays and MRI came back negative, but it should not push its luck and force him back onto the field during the regular season unless he truly is fully healed.

If Craig can’t play the rest of the regular season, fine. It would certainly be nice to have his production in the lineup during the final weeks of the race for the National League Central Division title, but that will not determine whether or not the Cardinals are considered champions at the end of the year.

The most important title is settled in late October, and that is when Craig will be the most valuable

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St. Louis Cardinals will go as far as young players take them

The St. Louis Cardinals called up their latest, greatest prospect Friday when they brought second baseman Kolten Wong to the major leagues. That move, combined with another poor outing from 35-year-old starting pitching Jake Westbrook, signaled just how important the young Cardinals will be in the final six weeks of the 2013 regular season.

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Young players have been a vital part of the Cardinals success that had them in a wild-card position as of Friday. First-year players from Matt Adams to Carlos Martinez to Seth Maness to Michael Wacha to Kevin Siegrist and even Tyler Lyons have kept the Cardinals afloat during both good and bad times this season.

When Westbrook and fellow starter Jaime Garcia went on the disabled list in May, rookies Lyons and John Gast came up to fill their spots, and they performed admirably. Lyons won his first two starts before faltering in June. Gast also won his first two starts but injured his left shoulder in his third start and recently underwent surgery for repairs.

The Cardinals bullpen got off to a horrendous start with projected closer Jason Motte out for the season with an elbow injury, Mitchell Boggs struggling to a 12.66 earned-run average through May 2 as he tried to be the closer and lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski pitching only slightly better with a 7.88 ERA, although he was demoted to Triple-A Memphis at the end of April.

With the bullpen in disarray, Martinez, Maness, Siegrist, Keith Butler and Michael Blazek all came to the big leagues and provided stability. Some were terrific (Maness has allowed just 11 runs in 45.2 innings and Siegrist has allowed two in 23 innings pitched) but more importantly, none got torched. Blazek has the worst ERA of the group, at 8.13, but he held opponents scoreless in six of his first eight appearances.

Offensively, Adams has provided ample support at first base when right fielder Carlos Beltran needs a rest and regular first baseman Allen Craig has to play the outfield. Adams has hit nine home runs with a .277 batting average.

But all of those young players, and now others such as left-handed rookie reliever Sam Freeman who was called up Aug. 8, will have to keep playing at that same level, if not higher, if the Cardinals are going to maintain a playoff spot or more optimistically compete for the National League Central Division crown.

By and large, the Cardinals established veterans have been consistent throughout the season. Catcher Yadier Molina has been rock solid behind the plate and is among the league leaders with a .325 batting average. Second baseman Matt Carpenter isn’t far behind with a .315 average, Beltran leads the team with 20 home runs and left fielder Matt Holliday is hitting his typical .291 with 15 homers.

Those players will likely continue to produce as they have through the first three-quarters of the season. Third baseman David Freese and center fielder Jon Jay will still hit about .270 with rare flashes of power, and shortstop Pete Kozma will struggle to raise his average above .230.

So, that leaves any variables to young players such as Wong and the rookie pitchers. The Cardinals still have enough time to blast away from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds in the division race if the new major leaguers play superbly, or they could fall into another tight race just to make the playoffs if those same players falter in what’s left of August and September.

Molina, Beltran and starting pitcher Adam Wainwright might be some of the well-known faces of the organization, but it will likely be the newcomers who determine how long the Cardinals’ 2013 season lasts.

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Triple Play: Jay Bruce, Dan Haren, Pittsburgh Pirates

Welcome to this week’s Triple Play. This week, we look at a Red-hot outfielder, a National disaster of a starter, and more (including our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch). Off we go:

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Who’s Hot?

Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

Sorry for the pun up above. But take a look at that the Reds’ right fielder has done over the past two weeks and you’ll understand: a .322/.349/.796 slash line, eight home runs, 14 RBI, and 10 runs scored. What’s more, Bruce had a stretch where seven straight hits sailed out of the park. Red hot, indeed. For the season, he has 18 homers (tied for 4th in the NL) and 54 RBI (5th). The 26-year-old is on track to belt 38 homers, knock in 115 and score 95 runs, which would all represent career highs. Isn’t amazing what happens when Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are on base in front of you regularly? Each season of his career, Bruce’s home run total has gone up, and that’s on pace to continue in 2013. The .279 average and lack of stolen bases prevent Bruce from approaching Carlos Gonzalez-territory in the fantasy baseball world, but you won’t find a Reds fan complaining right now. With Ryan Ludwick’s injury, the team needed Bruce to step up and he has responded in a big way.

Who’s Not?

Dan Haren, Washington Nationals

How far has Haren fallen? While with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, Haren started 34 games and led the American League with a 5.82 K-to-BB ratio while winning 16 games. In 2013, Haren has started 16 games for the Nats and leads the NL in hits allowed (105), earned runs allowed (56) and homers allowed (19). What exactly has happened? Haren has offered no excuses for his ghastly performance, but after his most recent start Saturday, manager Davey Johnson said that his big righty has been dealing with stiffness in his pitching shoulder. Washington GM Mike Rizzo confirmed as much Sunday, saying a trip to the disabled list is imminent. Whether a shoulder injury actually exists is anyone’s guess, but the DL trip should serve as a welcome break to fantasy owners and Nationals fans alike.

Playing the Name Game

Name this team: .239/.306/.384, 283 runs scored, 72 HR, 50 SB, 3.20 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 61 HR allowed, 591 strikeouts.

This team ranks 11th in the National League in most batting statistics, but they are tops in ERA, fewest hits allowed and third in home runs allowed. As this team continues to rise and improve in a virtually unnoticed way, I am reminded of the old American Express commercial from the original Major League movie: “Hi, do you know us? We’re a professional baseball team. But, since we haven’t won a pennant in over (20) years, nobody recognizes us, even in our own hometown.”

Right now, their top starter is on the disabled list, their best position player hasn’t really gotten going yet and their most prolific slugger is hitting below .240. Recognize this team yet? They play in one of the most beautiful parks in all of baseball, where their fans are desperate for a winning season, which last happened when their pre-steroid slugger still played there. Got it now? Yes, it’s the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sit one game back of St. Louis in the NL Central.

The team hasn’t had a winning season since 1992, when Barry Bonds was last seen noodle-arming a throw home that failed to retire the slow-footed Sid Bream in Game 7 of the NLCS. It’s been a long dry spell for Pirates fans. The past two seasons, Pittsburgh flirted with first place in July, only to falter badly down the stretch. This current Pirates team is a fascinating bunch. Their ace, A.J. Burnett, is out with a torn calf muscle in his right leg, but was leading the NL in strikeouts before the injury. Andrew McCutchen, their All-Star center fielder, is currently hitting .288/.357/.453 with only eight homers – a far cry from the 18 he bashed in the first half of 2012. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez is red hot right now (three homers, seven RBI over the weekend against the Angels), but struggles mightily to make consistent contact. When he does, though, the results are mighty impressive. Despite a .234/.301/.498 batting line, he leads the team in home runs and RBI. If the 26-year-old Alvarez could drag his average up to the .275 range, he would be a threat to launch 50 home runs a season.

The keys to the Pirates’ success this season have been huge contributions from unexpected players. Left fielder Starling Marte leads the team with 22 stolen bases. Rookie lefty Jeff Locke is 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and the lowest H/9 ratio among the team’s starters. Veteran Francisco Liriano has been every bit as good, going 6-3 with a 2.30 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and the lowest HR/9 ratio in the rotation. Closer Jason Grilli has been among the best in all of baseball, saving 26 games with an eye-popping 15 strikeouts per nine innings. Best of all, prized rookie Gerrit Cole has been worthy of the hype, averaging over six innings in each of his three starts (all wins) while walking just one batter. Set-up man Mark Melancon (acquired in the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston) has been every bit as dominant, sporting a 0.99 ERA/0.88 WHIP.

What should be frightening for the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals (and the rest of the NL) is that lineup anchors McCutchen and Neil Walker have yet to get going offensively compared to 2012. McCutchen is just too good to keep hitting below .300. Walker isn’t the same kind of force, but he’s much better than he has shown. With Burnett, his injury may prove a blessing in disguise; if he can return from the calf injury rested, it may prevent the fatigue that slowed him down the stretch in 2012. The 2013 Pirates are 16 games above .500, largely on the strength of their starting pitching and dominant bullpen. If they can combine improved hitting with that pitching, they will not fade the same way they have the past two seasons – and the rest of the National League had better beware.

Incidentally, the Pirates and Cardinals still have 14 games against one another this season. It is shaping up to be an exciting season in Pittsburgh.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright pitched 37 consecutive innings before issuing his first walk of the season. All season long, we are keeping track of how few free passes are handed out by the Cardinals’ ace. Sunday night, he walked one batter (while striking out six) in a 2-1 loss to Texas. That gives him 10 walks on the season (versus 106 strikeouts), leaving him with a better than 10-to-1 K/BB ratio, which is still the best in the NL (as is his 0.8 BB/9 ratio). Sunday’s game was a struggle, though, as Wainwright went to a 3-ball count several times against the Rangers. He has now dropped two straight decisions, leaving him with a 10-5/2.31/ 1.01 pitching line for the season. He will look to bounce back at Oakland this Saturday.
  • Considering how the Rangers had been scuffling coming into the series in St. Louis (their first trip back since the 2011 World Series), their sweep was particularly impressive. Still, I don’t think that Texas truly considers it “revenge.” It’s a little like losing a winning Powerball ticket and having to replace it with a lottery scratcher. Nice, but just not quite the same.
  • Wil Myers’ stats after one week: .280/.440/.720, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 runs. Yasiel Puig really set the bar too high for everyone else.
  • In related news, Jeff Francoeur is still playing right field in Kansas City, where he sports a rally-killing .143 batting average this month.
  • The Angels get a rare quality start from Joe Blanton (7 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 6 K), only to watch the bullpen allow seven runs in the final two innings. It’s been That Kind of Season for baseball in Los Angeles.
  • Speaking of which, Matt Kemp with 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in his first rehab game with Triple-A Albuquerque. Yikes.
  • I have read twice in the past week that Toronto might trade Josh Johnson at the trade deadline. This makes no sense at all. The Blue Jays have won 11 straight and are on the verge of getting Jose Reyes back into their lineup. With no clear front-runner in the AL East (sorry, not buying Boston yet), why would they deal away one of their top starters? Oh, right. It’s coming up on the Silly Season – you know, that time of year when baseball writers start throwing as much stuff against the wall as they can think of, just to see if any of it sticks.
  • During their 11-game streak, the Blue Jays have swept three consecutive series for the first time in 15 years.
  • With each stellar start, I’m becoming more convinced that Matt Harvey should start for the NL at the All-Star Game at Citi Field. It might be the biggest highlight of the Mets’ season.
  • In the AL, Max Scherzer is looking like the guy. First time in Tigers’ history that a starter has gone 11-0 to start the season. Detroit has had some pretty darn good pitchers in its history. Think the Diamondbacks might like a do-over on that trade?
  • The Rockies have made some smart moves recently, namely jettisoning Jon Garland/Jeff Francis from the rotation in favor of Tyler Chatwood/Roy Oswalt, and dumping all-around liability Eric Young Jr. Here’s another they should make post haste: 1) promote Drew Pomeranz into the rotation and move Juan Nicasio to the bullpen, where he could serve as a late-inning weapon. Pomeranz is 8-1 with a 1.35 WHIP down at Triple-A Colorado Springs, with 96 punchouts in 85 innings and only 33 walks. He appears to be ready for his second try at the majors. Beyond closer Rex Brothers, Colorado’s bullpen is a mess. They desperately miss Rafael Betancourt (although he hopes to return within a week), and ballyhooed off-season acquisition Wilton Lopez has been abominable since day one. Nicasio and Brothers could form a strong bridge to Betancourt and allow the Rockies to avoid falling further behind in the NL West.
  • I’m still shaking my head at the Mariners’ box score from Sunday – Jeremy Bonderman and Oliver Perez both pitching well. Is this 2013 or 2006?

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Kansas City Royals Power Rankings

It’s week two of the I70 Baseball Royals Power Rankings, and to say this week didn’t go well would be an understatement.  The Royals defense was atrocious and their hitting and pitching weren’t too far behind. Let’s take a look at the power rankings through May 12.

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#5 Ervin Santana- (Previously: #2) Santana saw his ERA “balloon” to 2.79 with a couple of mediocre starts this week. The right hander gave up seven runs on 15 hits in 12 1/3 innings of work against the Orioles and Yankees. On the positive side he only walked one in the two starts and now sports a 39-6 K-BB ratio.

#4 Lorenzo Cain- (Previously: #1) Cain was due for a cold streak, and boy did he find one. He was just 4/20 on the week with two walks and five strikeouts. Cain is still amongst the team leaders in most every offensive category, but he only has one RBI in his last seven games.

#3 James Shields- (Previously: #5) Shields moves up in the rankings after allowing two runs over 16 innings in two fantastic starts. The week started off in controversy for Shields when he was pulled after 8 shutout innings against the White Sox. Of course, the bullpen lost that game and set the tone for a treacherous week. Shields now sits at 2-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 53 Ks in 58 innings.

#2 Jeremy Guthrie- (Previously: #3) Guthrie didn’t have his best stuff against his former team, but still managed six innings with only one run allowed. He’s now gone 18 starts without a loss and leads the team with a 2.28 ERA. One concern for Guthrie moving forward is his recent control issues. He’s averaged nearly three walks per outing in his last four starts.

#1 Alex Gordon- (Previously: #4) Alex Gordon responded to being moved to the three-hole with a bang and a hot week rose his average from .306 to .320. The 29 year-old right fielder now leads the team in doubles (8), home runs (6), RBI (28), average (.320), and slugging % (.548). Gordon has been the lone bright spot in an increasingly bad offense.

Honorable mention: Luke Hochevar- Before you throw anything at me, yes Hochevar has been terrible at letting inherited runners score BUT he’s been outstanding outside of that. In 12 1/3 innings, Hochevar has allowed 10 baserunners and struck out 13 batters. He has an ERA of 0.73 and a WHIP of 0.81. If we could simply convince Ned Yost not to bring him in with runners on, Hochevar may actually be an asset.

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Cardinals Spring Training Pics From InsideSTL

Our friends over at InsideSTL spent last week hanging out at a picnic table, and eventually under a tent, in Jupiter, Florida and talking with any Cardinal players that came by and were willing to sit down for a few minutes.

What resulted were some great candid shots of the guys as well as a very candid interview with Adam Wainwright about his contract situation.

The images below were posted to their website and are being shared here with their permission.

Carlos Beltran

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

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It can be done

I’ve not lived up to my name lately, and for that I apologize. Actually I shouldn’t have to apologize; David Glass and Dayton Moore should do that for me. Since they’re obviously not going to, I’m sorry. I’m going to try to fix that this week with five reasons to be optimistic about 2013. It’s not easy right now, what with the Tigers heading to the World Series, to think that this team can compete for a title in 2013. They can, and here’s how:

  1. While I’ll agree with anyone that David Glass is a miserly old man, he’s still a business man. He knows he has to acquire starting pitching that makes a difference this offseason or is cash cow may be slightly less profitable. I don’t think that means that Glass breaks the bank, but I do think the pressure is on Allard….er Dayton Moore to bring in a good starting pitcher. Not someone that could be good, but someone that is. Whether this happens by trade or not, the pitching will improve in 2013, you can count on it.
  2. The offense is going to take another step forward. Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar may not be able to improve on 2012, but Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas sure will, in a big way. You have to remember that these two will both be under 24 for a majority of next season. They have a lot of maturing and improving to do, and we’ll see some of it next season.
  3. Jeff Francoeur will likely improve or get cut. I’ve been saying it all winter, and I still believe it. Frenchy will be your starting right fielder on Opening Day. The difference this year is that the Royals can cut bait without having next year hanging over their head. My expectation is that Frenchy starts until the super two deadline passes and then right field is handed over to Wil Myers. Frenchy will most likely get the choice of being a role player or being cut.
  4. We will see more power from this club in 2013. I love Kevin Seitzer as a former Royal and especially as a person. I thought it was a complete joke that the Royals fired Seitzer while keeping Moore and Yost. But still, his up the middle/opposite field approach sapped a lot of power away from the like of Moose, Hosmer, Gordon and Butler. I would not be surprised in the least if three of the four set career highs for home runs.
  5. The Royals were better than their record in 2012. Even their Pythagorean record comes out to 74-88, but beyond that…imagine this team with Salvador Perez for a full season. He posted a 2.8 WAR in half a season. Imagine this team if Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino aren’t lost for the season. Imagine that bullpen with Joakim Soria. Are the Royals going to have injuries in 2013? Of course they are. But the likelihood that they have as many significant injuries at key positions is very, very low.

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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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Dayton + Frenchy 4 ever

As I listened to Dayton Moore’s interview with Soren Petro of 810 WHB last week I found many things hard to stomach. For one thing Petro’s questioning was so timid that it started a #ToughQuestionsForDayton hashtag on twitter that sarcastically made fun of him. If we can’t askMoorethe hard questions at this point, when will we? Second, I hated hearingMooremove the goal line once again by suggesting that 2014 will be the year the Kansas City Royals start competing for the playoffs. I thinkDaytonthinks as long as he keeps saying we’re at least two years away there will never be any consequences. Unfortunately, as long as he continues to line David Glass’s pockets, he’s probably right.

As angry as that made me, nothing irked me as much as when the conversation turned to Wil Myers, and of course Jeff Francoeur. It became pretty clear at that point the Frenchy is going to be the starting right fielder for the Royals on Opening Day 2013 and there’s probably not anything Wil Myers can do about that. We should have long known that Myers has no control over his own destiny. After all, he’s hit 33 home runs in 106 games between AA and AAA this season andMoorestill acts as if he has much to prove. He’s not just shown power, but patience as well, walking more times already this season (51) than Frenchy’s career high for one season (42). Now, everyone already knows thatDaytonloves Frenchy, but my question today is, why?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Frenchy too. He’s such a nice guy, he has a cannon for an arm, and he’s apparently a great leader in the clubhouse. All wonderful qualities, but can that really be the reason? IsDaytonthis attached to someone he drafted a little over ten years ago? Did he fall for his tools and remains too blinded by that love to see the facts? If so I’d like to lay them out for him:

-         Frenchy has had two seasons in his eight year career in which he played more than 70 games and had an OPS+ of 100 or better. For a right fielder, that is disgusting.

-         This great leader has made two postseason appearances ( .171 average/268 slugging %) and his arrival inAtlantacoincided almost exactly with the demise of the Braves dynasty.

-         His incredible arm has been far outweighed this season by the fact that he’s developed Jose Guillen range in right field.

-         He is currently having his worst season as a pro, his incredible -2.8 WAR may not even do justice to how terrible he’s been.

-         If the Royals are really two years away from beginning to compete in the worst division in baseball, they have no reason to let Jeff Francoeur stand in the way of their best offensive prospect.

I’m just beating a dead horse now, and we’re stuck with this dead horse for at least another year. Don’t worry though Royals fans, he won’t stand in the way of winning. We are now, and will always be, two years away from competing.

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The offense strikes back

After just a horrendous month of July, the Kansas City Royals start off the month of August on a good note.  A sweep, after a bad road trip and an even worse 30 days, is exactly what the Royals needed to get them back on the winning side of the game of baseball.  With timely hitting and some pretty good pitching the Royals started the month of August with two momentum shifting wins.

The month of July ended with the Royals trading their closer Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds for two pitching prospects. The prospects look to be a good return for a guy that would, it seems, only be a Royal for two months.  Turning a two month closer into two guys who may or may not make it to the majors seems to be very welcoming by fans in Kansas City.  In the trade the Royals received Class AA right-handed starter J.C. Sulbaran and Class AAA lefty reliever Donnie Joseph. Joseph seemed to be the straw that broke to camels back in the trade.  A guy who by all accounts is a strike out king who may pair well with fellow lefty Tim Collins in the bullpen of the future.  Sulbaran projects to be a back of the rotation guy who won a state championship with first basemen Eric Hosmer in 2008 at American Heritage High School in Florida. So the Royals continue to put guys on a team that have won together before and could win together in years to come.

With Broxton gone and Joakim Soria recovering from season ending Tommy John surgery, right handed reliever Greg Holland assumes the role of closer which he stepped into Wednesday night as he got his first save of the season against the Cleveland Indians in a 5-2 Royals victory.

The stand out development of the Royals beginning to the month of August is the benching of both second basemen Yunieksy Betancourt and right fielder Jeff Franceour.  The problem with them being on the bench is that they may not see much more playing time since both Chris Getz, who took Betancourt’s spot in the order, and Jarrod Dyson, Franceour’s spot, have taken their opportunity by the reigns and excelled with it.  Getz went 3-9 with 4 runs scored and 3 RBI in the three game sweep of the Indians while Dyson went 7-12 with 2 runs scored and two RBI both contributing to run production with stolen bases in the series as well.  So the spots that seem to have been lost by the lack of productivity by Betancourt and Franceour have been given away and so far earned with Getz and Dyson.

After a road trip that saw barely any offense outside of designated hitter Billy Butler, the start of the home stand saw a resurgence in the Royal’s offense, scoring 20 runs in the last three games, with the absence of Billy Butler’s bat.  Butler having only two hits in the series and only driving in one run. The brightest spot, outside of the fact that the Royals came back from the dumps and have now won three games in a row, of the sweep of the Indians has to be the walk off win the Royals secured on Thursday.  After jumping out of the gates with 6 runs in the first, highlighted by a lead off home run by Alex Gordon and a three run shot off of the bat of Eric Hosmer, the Royals and struggling starter Bruce Chen let the Indians all the way back and it took extra innings to seal the win.  But it is how they won it in the 11th inning that stands out the most.

After late game at bats in crucial situations that did not see any success, manager Ned Yost had to keep reiterating that the need for shortstop Alcides Escobar to get the experience of late game at bats that could win or lose a ballgame for the Royals club.  Well that all came to fruition on Thursday.  Escobar has come up with clutch hits late in games all season long but none bigger than his walk off single in the 11th inning. It has been a season of firsts for Escobar after his first multi-homerun game of his life, as he stated, and now his first walk off win in the major leagues. To top all of that off he is having a season at the plate that no one saw coming but it needs to continue.

The Royals have done it once again.  They have hooked everyone right back on to what they are doing.  Now that does no mean that they have a chance at the division, which would take a Herculean effort from all 25 men on the roster, but they can give us that little tease that gets us all hyped and ready for the 2013 season.  Maybe then it will be “Our Time.”

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