Tag Archive | "Span"

Yahoo Sports: Wainwright Is Not Pujols

AdamWainwright

COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals have come to terms with ace pitcher Adam Wainwright on a five-year extension that makes the term “lifetime Cardinal” a real possibility just two years after they failed to do the same with Albert Pujols. Doing so shows that general manager John Mozeliak understood that this deal made a lot more sense than the potential investment in the team’s former first baseman would have.

Editor’s Note: I have joined Yahoo Sports as a contributor to the St. Louis Cardinals beat.  You will find my content there on a regular basis, as well as the first few paragraphs and a link to it here on I-70 Baseball.  This is my debut for them…

Just like many fans, I was extremely disappointed when the Cardinals were unable to come to terms with Pujols and he eventually found himself playing in Anaheim. The dust has settled on that deal and clarity has shown that many factors made sense for the team to allow its franchise superstar to leave.

This spring, many fans became concerned that history would repeat itself as the team and Wainwright entered negotiations. The feeling that, for the second time in a span of three years, a foundation piece of the organization would play for another franchise seemed to be developing into reality. The Cardinals and Wainwright announced during a March 28 press conference that the right-hander has been signed to a five-year extension through 2018.

Why was Wainwright retained and Pujols was not?

Read more by clicking here…

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Yuni being Yuni

When the Kansas City Royals announced that they had signed shortstop and now utility infielder Yuniesky Betancourt fans were shellshocked to say the least.  But what was the base of their discomfort with having Yuni back on the Royals roster? In 222 games over the span of two seasons with the Royals, Betancourt batted .253 with 20 home runs, 39 doubles and 105 runs batted in.  A good show of power from the shortstop position in a ballpark that does not help batters with power.  Last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, he batted .252, with 13 home runs, 27 doubles and 68 runs batted in.  So over the last three season he has show consistent power and been a good run producer from a position that does not always require these kinds of statistics, for example Alcides Escobar. Yet fans are still skeptical of Yuni’s defense which has been spotty throughout his career but not having to play as the everyday shortstop could help him be a more popular player with fans while he is in the field. But the big question is where and when will Yuni play for this Royals team?

Undoubtably he will be able to step into the utility role to give shortstop Alcides Escobar and third basemen Mike Moustakas their time off but that is not where Yuni will get the most of his playing time. Second base is where Yuni will make his mark in 2012 since the Royals are so thin at that position and truly do not have someone to play everyday. Royals young second basemen, Johnny Giavotella, has not yet shown in either his time at Kauffman in 2011 or in the early stages of Spring Training this year that he is ready to be a full time Major League ballplayer.  Chris Getz has also shown that over long periods of time that he is both lacking in the field and also not consistent with the bat, though he does have the speed that the Royals like on the base paths. But to be a good base-runner you have to get on base which Getz has not shown he has been able to do on a consistent bases. Shortstop, Alcides Escobar, is still developing as a hitter and will definitely, over the course of his career, show that he is a defensive first player. This being said, the Royals cannot afford to have both of their middle infielders struggle with the bat. Being such a young team at the plate, the Royals line-up will not be able to give outs away and with Getz/Giavotella that may be what they are doing. But now they have Yuni.

The fact that we know what he is and know what he can do is a big advantage for Betancourt.  We know that he will be consistent with the bat and showcase himself with a little bit of power. The one knock that people have given Yuni over the course of his career is his lack of range at the shortstop position.  If he is given the nod at second base then he will in turn be a better defensive player because the range will not be suspect and therefore able to be exploited like it was when he was an everyday shortstop.  The chemistry that both he and Escobar can develop over the course of the season up the middle could be a big plus for a team that will already be great defensivley.

So with all this said, Giavotella will have to improve his Spring Training stats and show the Royals that he is ready for the big league role or he will find himself back down in Omaha to develop his game more.  Chris Getz will probably make this team as a back up because he can be a filler and also has speed that he can showcase will on base.  But Yuniesky Betancourt came into the season as the utility player and has both earned and fallen into the de facto starting second basemen.

So Giavotella to AAA Omaha, Betancourt would be my starting shortstop while being able to play third base and shortstop to allow Moustakas and Escobar days off and Getz will fill his spot on those days. That is what I would do but what the Royals will do to fill their only hole in the field is still in question and only time will tell.

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Cooperstown Choices: Tim Salmon

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Tim Salmon

Tim Salmon
An outfielder that spent his entire 14 year career playing for the same team, though the team would change it’s name three times during that span, Tim Salmon grew up in Long Beach, was drafted by the Angels, made his major league debut for the team in 1992 and retired after the 2006 campaign. He is on the ballot for the first time.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1992 CAL 23 79 8 14 1 0 2 6 1 11 23 .177 .283 .266 .548 55
1993 CAL 142 515 93 146 35 1 31 95 5 82 135 .283 .382 .536 .918 142
1994 CAL 100 373 67 107 18 2 23 70 1 54 102 .287 .382 .531 .912 132
1995 CAL 143 537 111 177 34 3 34 105 5 91 111 .330 .429 .594 1.024 165
1996 CAL 156 581 90 166 27 4 30 98 4 93 125 .286 .386 .501 .887 125
1997 ANA 157 582 95 172 28 1 33 129 9 95 142 .296 .394 .517 .911 134
1998 ANA 136 463 84 139 28 1 26 88 0 90 100 .300 .410 .533 .943 142
1999 ANA 98 353 60 94 24 2 17 69 4 63 82 .266 .372 .490 .862 119
2000 ANA 158 568 108 165 36 2 34 97 0 104 139 .290 .404 .540 .945 135
2001 ANA 137 475 63 108 21 1 17 49 9 96 121 .227 .365 .383 .748 98
2002 ANA 138 483 84 138 37 1 22 88 6 71 102 .286 .380 .503 .883 133
2003 ANA 148 528 78 145 35 4 19 72 3 77 93 .275 .374 .464 .838 122
2004 ANA 60 186 15 47 7 0 2 23 1 14 41 .253 .306 .323 .628 67
2006 LAA 76 211 30 56 8 2 9 27 0 29 44 .265 .361 .450 .811 109
14 Seasons 1672 5934 986 1674 339 24 299 1016 48 970 1360 .282 .385 .498 .884 128
162 Game Avg. 162 575 96 162 33 2 29 98 5 94 132 .282 .385 .498 .884 128
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2011.

Why He Should Get In
Salmon was the 1993 Rookie Of The Year and won a Silver Slugger award in 1995. He found himself in the top 15 of Most Valuable Player voting three times during his career. He finished with 299 home runs and 1016 runs batted in, while compiling a .282 batting average over his career.

Why He Should Not Get In
A star rookie and solid career do not ensure you a place in Cooperstown. Salmon was a good player for a franchise desperately searching for an identity, but he was not a stand out player across baseball. All of his counting numbers fall short of the standards for Cooperstown.

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

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Royals Add A Winner To Their Rotation

Bruce Chen won 12 games in 2010. He came back to win 12 again last season. Name the last Royal lefty to post back-to-back seasons with at least 12 wins.

It looked for some time like Chen wouldn’t have the chance to add to that string of 12-win seasons. But last week Chen inked a two-year deal that will hold his place in the KC rotation.

Chen is what the Royals need at this moment. He’s not a fire-balling ace. He’s not a young phenom with limitless potential. Those are nice to have, and we would take them in a heartbeat.

But what Chen is fills a need in KC. You see, the Royals have phenoms. They have players with tons of potential. They even have starting pitchers with great ability. But they haven’t won anything yet. Not at the big league level.

Bruce Chen has shown over the last two seasons that he knows how to win games.

The other Royals last season? Not so much.

Kyle Davies showed for years that he knew how to lose games. Luke Hochevar showed last year that he knew how to let winnable games slip away. Felipe Paulino, for all his promise, didn’t show that he knew how to win games. And Danny Duffy showed he has no idea what’s going on.

The addition of Jonathan Sanchez was heralded as a significant upgrade in the Royals’ rotation. But it remains to be seen if Sanchez is not a year removed from his best work. A little too reminiscent of Jeff Francis to have the hope of a franchise placed on him.

I hope Sanchez is a difference maker in KC. I hope he’s a 20 game winner. But I feel safer in hoping that Chen can win 12 games again, milking the most out of his average physical ability. And by doing so, I hope he shows Hochevar and Paulino and Duffy how to get the most out of their considerable talents.

And if Chen can win 12 games in 2012 and in 2013, he’ll match which pitcher as the last Royals lefty to win 12 in four straight seasons?

That would be none other than Charlie Leibrandt, who won 60 games over a four-year span from 1985 to 1988, and picked up a World Series ring in the process.

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Rough Start, Strong Finish For Soria

The 2011 season did not start the way Joakim Soria wanted it to.

Soria

Through April and May, he gave up 16 earned runs over 23 innings. He was 3-3 with 5 blown saves in 12 opportunities.

Nearly every Royals fan was calling for his removal from the closer role (or the entire team, in some cases). There was talk about trading him before his value went any lower, converting him to a starter, or possibly even demoting him.

Many said his career was over and that the Royals needed to start fresh with the younger, more exciting Aaron Crow.

Well, Ned Yost did end up giving Crow the closer role.

However, he made it clear that it wasn’t permanent and that he wanted Soria to work some things out as a middle reliever until he felt more comfortable on the mound.

He ended up pitching 5 scoreless innings in 3 games as a middle reliever, which was good enough for the Royals’ skipper.

Yost immediately gave Soria back the title as closer, which turned out to be one of his best decisions of the year.

Since that point, Soria only has 2 blown saves while giving up 11 earned runs in 35.1 innings. He has also had 41 strikeouts compared to 7 walks in that same time period.

These numbers might seem completely inaccurate to most Royals fans because it feels like he has been much worse over the past three and a half months.

The main reason for this is because his two blown saves since the 1st of June were the two most heartbreaking losses for the Royals in that span.

The first of the two came on July 30th against the Indians. The Royals gave Soria the ball with a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th. He gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game and a walk-off 3-run bomb by Matt LaPorta to end it.

Then came the Tampa Bay Rays game on August 10th. No Royals fan will forget this one, so there isn’t a need to go into great detail. Crow and Soria gave up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose 8-7. It was the epitome of a heartbreaker for the Royals and their fans.

Other than those two games, Soria has been almost lights out. It’s hard for fans to see it, but he is back to his old self.

Wanting a trade or a role change for Soria needs to come to a stop. His first two months of this year were horrendous to say the least, but he has definitely regained his form.

Other than perhaps Greg Holland, Soria has been the most consistent pitcher for the Royals this year.

He is still the leader of the Royals’ bullpen and should continue to be as they make their push in the next couple of years.

A good closer is tough to come by, and the Royals have one in Soria.

It’d be a shame to mess that up as they get closer to becoming a real contender.

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Royals Five Year Bests: Pitchers

I recently looked at the top Royals position players by Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for rolling five-year periods in club history. Here is the same for the twirlers:

1969-73

13.9 WAR Dick Drago
8.0 WAR Paul Splittorff
7.6 WAR Roger Nelson

Drago was the only pitcher to pitch regularly during each of the five first years of Royals play. “Regularly” is an understatement–he averaged 227 innings a year in this span. His 3.52 ERA only translates to a 101 ERA+, but staying healthy and pitching, pitching, and pitching some more makes him the standout hurler from the first half decade. He still ranks ninth on the team’s all-time innings pitched list.

1970-74

 

12.1 Dick Drago
10.1
Steve Busby
9.4
Paul Splittorff

 

1971-75

 

16.2 Steve Busby
11.8
Paul Splittorff
11.6
Al Fitzmorris

 

Busby’s arm only allowed him three full seasons, 1973-75.

1972-76

 

15.7 Steve Busby
13.3
Al Fitzmorris
9.5
Paul Splittorff

 

1973-77

 

14.6 Steve Busby
13.6
Al Fitzmorris
10.1
Paul Splittorff

 

1974-78

 

13.2 Dennis Leonard
10.9
Steve Busby
10.7
Al Fitzmorris

 

1975-79

 

16.0 Dennis Leonard
8.3
Paul Splittorff
6.8
Larry Gura

 

1976-80

 

16.7 Dennis Leonard
12.6
Larry Gura
8.1
Paul Splittorff

 

1977-81

 

17.9 Dennis Leonard
15.0
Larry Gura
8.0
Paul Splittorff

 

Leonard’s top five WAR seasons all came in succession from ’77-’81. He averaged an impossible 261 innings during the stretch.

 

1978-82

 

15.3 Larry Gura
11.8
Dennis Leonard
9.2
Dan Quisenberry

 

1979-83

 

14.5 Dan Quisenberry
11.3
Larry Gura
9.4
Dennis Leonard

 

1980-84

 

17.0 Dan Quisenberry
10.2
Larry Gura
6.8
Buddy Black
6.8
Dennis Leonard

 

1981-85

 

18.1 Dan Quisenberry
8.4
Buddy Black
8.1
Bret Saberhagen

 

1982-86

 

17.7 Dan Quisenberry
10.8
Charlie Leibrandt
10.4
Buddy Black

 

The Quiz dominated the ’79-’86 stretch and is the only reliever to top any five-year period.

1983-87

 

16.9 Bret Saberhagen
16.3
Charlie Leibrandt
15.8
Dan Quisenberry

 

1984-88

 

21.4 Charlie Leibrandt
20.4
Bret Saberhagen
18.8
Mark Gubicza

 

1985-89

 

27.6 Bret Saberhagen
23.1
Mark Gubicza
20.0
Charlie Leibrandt

 

Leibrandt’s 20.0 WAR is the highest total for any number three on these lists. 20 WAR players tend to get strong consideration for the team hall of fame. That three Royals starters racked up that amount in the same five year stretch is crazy.

1986-90

 

24.2 Bret Saberhagen
22.0
Mark Gubicza
13.7
Charlie Leibrandt

 

1987-91

 

27.4 Bret Saberhagen
18.2
Mark Gubicza
10.6
Charlie Leibrandt

 

1988-92

 

20.4 Bret Saberhagen
16.1
Mark Gubicza
14.5
Kevin Appier

 

1989-93

 

22.9 Kevin Appier
16.9
Bret Saberhagen
16.6
Jeff Montgomery

 

1990-94

 

28.4 Kevin Appier
13.6
Jeff Montgomery
12.7
David Cone

 

1991-95

 

28.0 Kevin Appier
13.2
Jeff Montgomery
12.7
David Cone

 

1992-96

 

30.9 Kevin Appier
12.7
David Cone
11.8
Jeff Montgomery

 

Ape remains vastly underappreciated as one of the dominant pitchers of the ’90s. This is the only five year stretch in team history that anyone not named George Brett has 30+ WAR.

1993-97

 

28.6 Kevin Appier
12.7
David Cone
9.6
Jeff Montgomery

 

1994-98

 

20.0 Kevin Appier
9.4
Tim Belcher
7.6
Mark Gubicza

 

1995-99

 

17.0 Kevin Appier
9.8
Jose Rosado
9.4
Tim Belcher

 

1996-2000

 

12.7 Kevin Appier
9.9
Jose Rosado
9.4
Tim Belcher

 

1997-2001

 

8.4 Jeff Suppan
6.5
Kevin Appier
6.4
Jose Rosado

 

1998-2002

 

9.6 Jeff Suppan
6.6
Paul Byrd
5.3
Jose Rosado

 

1999-2003

 

9.0 Jeff Suppan
6.6
Paul Byrd
5.9
Darrell May

 

2000-04

 

6.6 Paul Byrd
6.6
Darrell May
6.3
Jeff Suppan

 

2001-05

 

6.6 Paul Byrd
6.6
Darrell May
4.4
Zack Greinke

 

After having strong pitching from the club’s inception through the mid-’90s, things get really ugly in the new millennium. 6.6 is the lowest list-leading total, and 4.4 is the lowest number period.

2002-06

 

6.6 Darrell May
4.8
Paul Byrd
4.5
Zack Greinke

 

2003-07

 

7.2 Zack Greinke
5.6
Darrell May
4.9
Gil Meche

 

2004-08

 

11.4 Zack Greinke
8.7
Gil Meche
6.3
Joakim Soria

 

2005-09

 

16.6 Zack Greinke
9.4
Gil Meche
9.0
Joakim Soria

 

2006-10

 

18.3 Zack Greinke
12.7
Joakim Soria
9.0
Gil Meche

 

Awarding three points for every number one spot on these lists, two points for number two, and one point for third place, the leaders look like this:

 

27 Kevin Appier
20
Bret Saberhagen
16
Dennis Leonard
14
Dan Quisenberry
14
Zack Greinke
13
Steve Busby
12
Larry Gura
12
Paul Byrd
11
Paul Splittorff
11
Darrell May

 

Keep in mind that is roughly a reflection of how each pitcher out-performed his own teammates in his own time with the Royals.

Number of five year periods at number one:

 

8 Kevin Appier
5
Bret Saberhagen
4
Dennis Leonard
4
Dan Quisenberry
4
Zack Greinke
3
Steve Busby
3
Jeff Suppan
2
Larry Gura
2
Paul Byrd
2
Darrell May
2
Dick Drago
1
Charlie Leibrandt

Retired pitchers from that list not in the team hall of fame: Paul Byrd, Darrell May, Dick Drago and Charlie Leibrandt. Byrd, May and Drago do not have much of a case for induction. Leibrandt is a borderline candidate in my mind, probably falling just short.

Looking ahead to the almost completed next stretch of five seasons:

2007-11 (through August 14, 2011)

 

18.2 Zack Greinke
13.2
Joakim Soria
9.0
Gil Meche

 

And now for something sad. The next three pitchers on that list:

 

2.8 Robinson Tejeda
2.8
Bruce Chen
2.8
Brian Bannister

 

 

(I have combined the position player and pitcher five-year period WAR lists to get the top three players overall on my blog here.)

You should probably follow Aaron Stilley on the Twitters.

 

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Four Steps To October

Heading into this weekend, the Cardinals trail the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings by 4 games. After losing the first two games in the series, the redbirds came back to avoid the sweep last night behind heretofore elusive solid performances by Chris Carpenter & Albert Pujols. Carp went 8 innings strong, and though he surrendered 10 hits, only 2 of those clowns crossed the plate. He didn’t have the level of masterful control that we’ve seen from him at times, walking 3, and striking out 4, but I’ll definitely take last night’s 119-pitch performance. Albert went deep for his 28th bomb of the year as part of his 4 – 4 night, with 2 RBI & 2 runs scored. There were other contributing factors by other players too, Furcal’s 1st inning HR for example. In order to win, and play in October, however, there are four things that must happen.

Albert Pujols celebrates the Cardinals postseason by ruining an expensive camera

  1. Starting pitching must show up, go deep, and pitch effectively. Every night. Chris Carpenter has improved over the version of him we saw during the first half of the season. In his last 10 starts, he’s 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA, averaging more than 7IP over that span. I’m not ready to call him John Tudor just yet, though. This recent turn-around is key, and as the ace of the staff, the Cardinals will need his leadership if they want to make a run at another division championship. There are a lot of questions surrounding Kyle Lohse and his finger right now, and while Jake Westbrook is capable of pitching well, he’s not done so consistently. Jamie Garcia has cooled off a bit, but is still pitching well, and Edwin Jackson has shown that he can be a tremendous asset as well. That said, there isn’t one of these guys that we haven’t seen go out there and get annihilated at one point or another this year. But trailing in the division in this final ⅓ of the season means there is less and less room for sub-par performances by the starting staff.
  2. The pillars of this team need to act like the pillars of this team. Last night was a perfect example of that with teams leaders like Pujols & Carpenter stepping up and leading. Thus far, Berkman & Holliday have “done what they’re supposed to do” offensively, Berkman far exceeding expectations, in fact. Both of these men were brought to this team for their presence in the lineup. The Cardinals wanted to make it clear: If you’re going to pitch around Albert, then you’re going to have to face Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. As it turns out though, going right after Pujols hasn’t really turned out to hurt opposing pitchers all that much. I mentioned Carpenter, but the other key pieces of this team are going to have to man up as we head into the middle of August if they want to be playing when the calendar turns to October.
  3. “Other guys” have to come out of nowhere with clutch hits (I know, I know, no such thing, right?) and other big plays that make a difference in games. I’m talking about Ronnie Belliard-type stuff. Reggie Sanders. Guys that 5 years from now, you’d have forgotten were even on the club without “those plays”. Remember Cesar Izturis? Me either, and that was ‘08. If players like Corey Patterson, Ryan Theriot, or Gerald Laird can step up when they get opportunities to help this club win, it’s going to be a difference-maker. If not, winter starts in September.
  4. Gonna have to have a little bit of luck. Let me clarify: The Cardinals will need good luck…even if that means the Brewers running into a little bad luck. Luck might be related to health (of, say, Lance Lynn or Kyle Lohse) or a blown call by an umpire, which, by the way, should NOT be hard to imagine happening these days. Having things go the Cards way may result in a winning of streak of more than (are you ready for this, their longest of the season) 4 games.
I believe that, barring injuries (to other clubs, like the Braves), the Cardinals are going to have to win the division to make the playoffs, and Milwaukee is the only team standing between them and that opportunity. Atlanta has been absolutely stellar this year, and are possibly the most overlooked team in all of baseball this season. (They’d be in first place in every other division in baseball, save the AL East) Couple that with a MLB environment that plays host to a meager one wildcard playoff spot, and I think the redbirds know what they need to do.

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Royals Treatment: Royals Face Indians Again

The excellent website, Royals Treatment, provides I-70 Baseball with series previews this season for the Kansas City Royals games. With the Royals on a bit of a slide, they head into Cleveland to face off against the Indians in a three game set.

After trading wins & losses over a 4-game span last week, the Royals get another chance to take aim at the upstart, division-leading Cleveland Indians in a 3-game series at Jacob’s Field this week:

Tues. Apr. 26. 6:05 pm CTLuke Hochevar (2-2, 5.12) v. Justin Masterson (4-0, 1.71)

Wed. Apr. 27. 6:05 pm CT - Jeff Francis (0-2, 4.06) v. Josh Tomlin (3-0, 2.33)

Thurs. Apr. 28. 6:05 pm CTKyle Davies (1-2, 6.23) v. Fausto Carmona (1-3, 5.76)

A hotly contested first series should provide for an equally entertaining second set between these two clubs.

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Royals Fantasy Report

Scott Yerbic is still out on vacation, but Matt Wilson has graciously stepped in again from BaseballDigest.com to bring you this week’s Fantasy Report.

The Royals had a tough week getting swept in Minnesota and only winning Saturday against the White Sox. Here is what to look for this week:

Billy Butler has been battling a bruised right hand for about two months. He aggravated that injury on a hard grounder hit by Dernard Span in the Minnesota series. He missed the game Wednesday and had an off day Thursday but was back in there against the White Sox over the weekend. He appears to be playing through it, so he should be fine going forward this week.

After a shellacking by the Twins this week, Ned Yost has decided to move Brian Bannister to the bullpen. Bruce Chen will retain his spot in the rotation.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not:

Hot:

In his last 10 games Alex Gordon has hit .294 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. Patience may really start to pay off with Gordon even though it appears his 15 SB a year potential is now gone. He has progressed in cutting down his strikeouts as his career has continued. He is swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone and making better contact on those pitches he does swing at that are outside the zone. The indicators are that Gordon is still learning. He is now 26, which puts him in his prime for a possible breakout next season.

Technically, we should call Kila Ka’aihue almost hot. But when a guy’s season average sits at .211, it’s good to look at his last 10 to see that he has hit .290, scored 6 runs with a HR and 5 RBI. He is horrible hitting against lefties (.103) and continues to sit against them. Oakland will be throwing back-to-back left-handers but Yost has stated that he will start Ka’ aihue this next week. The rest of the week should be a lock for Kila to get some AB’s going against righties.

Kyle Davies has had two nice starts in a row while working 6 IP and giving up 1 ER in each start. He will look to continue that while facing Cleveland. He is a much better pitcher at home than on the road by more than a full run. In his two starts versus the Indians this season he’s thrown 12 IP with an ERA of 3.65. Davies struggle continues to be his control. He may be worth a flyer if you are in need of a spot starter as the Indians coming into town with a .246-team batting average.

Brayan Pena had a great week on the road and is hitting .412 in his last 10 raising his average from .195 to .252. His zone command has been great as he strikes out only 15% of the time (league average is 20%). Do not expect a lot of power, but he appears to be a bat that w ill not hurt your average going forward.

Not:

Mike Aviles has 12 hits in his last 51 at bats (.235) and is sharing time at 2B with Chris Getz. At this point, unless you are scrapping to find some speed, neither is worth owning as they are taking away the other’s contribution to your fantasy roster.

Wilson Betemit had a nice game Saturday in Chicago going 3-4. However, he has been stuck in a worse slump than Aviles going 12-61 (.196). He started out hot this season but has been a steady decline. If you rode him while he was hot, do not be afraid to cut bait (career .265 hitter) and look at someone who is swinging the stick better than him.

The Royals are committed to a long-term look at Sean O’Sullivan. I am not sure why, as he has not shown any real evidence of putting things together since pitching in A ball back in 2007. O’Sullivan is young (23) and it looks like the Royals want to make use of him at the Major League level while he is young. He may sharpen out to be a reliable #4 in his career, but you will want to stay away while he figures out how to pitch at this level.

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Series Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals

Prologue:

The Royals and the A’s have been a part of quite a few pennant chases when it was just the West and the East. It didn’t take long for the fans in Kansas City to forget the team that left. In fact, the Royals eight wins against Oakland in 1969 the Royals prevented the A’s for reaching the playoffs. (The A’s finished nine games back of Minnesota) It also helped that the Royals also were swept in mid-September by the Twins. Well the A’s have been surging lately and the Twins just swept the Royals. Let’s see if history can repeat itself.

Game 1: Bobby Cramer (0-0) vs. Luke Hochevar (5-4)

Bobby Cramer is thirty years old and is finally given a shot in the big show. He started this season pitching in the Mexican league and was assigned to the A’s AAA squad. He is among Oakland’s late season call ups.

Luke Hochevar. A name that I have not typed in a long time is making his second start. He went three innings against the Twins and didn’t experience pain in his elbow, which is what the Royals were most concerned about. I just want him to have his command solidified by season’s end. That way he will be able to build on that going into the off-season. Hochevar is looking to notch his first career win against the A’s. He is 0-4 with an ERA of 11.37.

Game 2: Gio Gonzalez (14-8) vs. Zack Greinke (8-12)

Gio has been solid in his last four starts. He has won all four in convincing fashion, including two scoreless performances. He is 1-1 lifetime against the Royals. With another win he would join Cahill (Wednesday’s starter) with fifteen wins. His win against the Royals came back in July of this year. This win was also against Greinke. Betancourt and Butler are the only Royals’ hitters who have had any success Gonzalez.

Greinke has gone eight innings in three out of his last four starts. His only decision during this span was the loss he sustained against Minnesota this past Tuesday. His pitching quality has been consistent but the Royals offense sputters or the bullpen coughs it up late. Greinke has been solid against Oakland in his career. He is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.89. That lone loss came back in July when he faced off against Gonzalez. It was largely due to Greinke’s control being off. He walked four and gave up four hits. In addition, the Royals’ defense made two errors. Greinke’s control has been good lately and hopefully will finish the season strong.

Game 3: Trevor Cahill (16-6) vs. Bruce Chen (9-7)

Trevor Cahill is definitely a Cy Young candidate. He would be a shoe in if he were on a playoff contending team. He is 7-3 in his last ten starts and has an ERA of 1.77 during that span. He has 6 scoreless efforts and only one outing that he gave up more than three earned runs. He has also pitched the Royals tough too. His most recent start against the Royals was a complete game shutout. He allowed only three hits, walked four, while striking out three. Overall he is 3-0 versus the Royals with an ERA of 3.38.

Bruce Chen would love to get win number ten before the season ends. It would be only the second time in his career he has accomplished this feat. Ten wins would nearly guarantee a spot in the rotation next year. He will have to do it against the A’s ace though. In his career he is 1-2 with an ERA of 4.04 against the Athletics. His most recent start was back on July 17th. He went 5.2 innings while giving up nine hits and four earned runs. In that start, he didn’t keep the ball down at all and was lucky that he escaped with a no decision.

Offense:

The Royals offense is actually better than the Athletics in the two major categories that I mention frequently in my previews. The Royals current team average is eighteen points better and has hit seven more home runs than the A’s. However, the Royals will need to keep Oakland’s runners honest because they are third in the American League with 134 stolen bases.

Defense:

Last time these teams played, the defense of the Royals practically gave the games away. Errors will cost a team dearly. The Royals have committed twenty-one more errors than the A’s this season. The Royals have also allowed 119 stolen bases this season. The defense will have to play error free and keep the runners close to the bag as much as possible. The pitchers will have to work their pick-off moves to disrupt the runners’ timing.

Pitching:

Oakland is sending their two best pitchers against the two best pitchers the Royals have to offer. Both teams have had shaky bullpens all season long, which is a big reason why both teams will be watching the playoffs instead of playing in them. Both teams want their starters to go deep as possible into the ball game and get to their closer as soon as possible.

X-Factor:

The A’s have won three consecutive series to begin the month of September. This includes the Angels, Mariners, and Red Sox. Both teams will be travelling after Sunday’s game but Oakland will be making a two hour time change. The Royals have not been so fortunate. During that same span the Royals have been swept by Minnesota and nearly swept by Detroit.

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